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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Yankees organizational all-stars

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jul 17, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

All-Star break seems like a good time to point out the position-by-position standouts in the Yankees system. Here’s an all-star team of sorts made of the players who put up the best performances of the year so far in the minor leagues. These aren’t necessarily the top prospects at each position, just the guys having — in one person’s opinion — the best years.

SanchezCATCHER — GARY SANCHEZ
Current level: Double-A
Slash line: .270/.339/.420
With disciplinary issues and good-but-not-overwhelming numbers, this season has been a bit of a disappointment for the guy who entered the season as the Yankees top prospect by most accounts. But Sanchez has still be the Yankees best minor league catcher this season. Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy haven’t done much in Triple-A, Pete O’Brien has largely moved off the position, and lowest-level standouts Luis Torrens and Isaias Tejeda are just getting started. Sanchez hasn’t been bad by any means, just a victim of high expectations:
Apologies to: John Ryan Murphy, who’s overall numbers aren’t great, but who held his own and occasionally thrived during his big league call-up.
Keep an eye on: Luis Torrens and Isaias Tejeda, who are legitimately promising young players off to a fast start with short-season Staten Island.

O'BrienFIRST BASE — PETER O’BRIEN
Current level: Double-A
Slash line: .266/.306/.588
A lot of strong options at first base, with a legitimately interesting option at every full-season level (Kyle Roller in Triple-A, Greg Bird in High-A, Mike Ford in Low-A).  O’Brien, though, has been one of the true standouts in the entire system and first base has become his regular position (he’s also spent time at catcher and right field). An early May promotion to Double-A did little to sap his enormous power, but it has proven to be a legitimate challenge as O’Brien’s batting average and on-base percentage have dragged considerably against the more advanced pitchers. Impossible to ignore 29 home runs at the break, though.
Apologies to: Kyle Roller, who jumped up to Triple-A and continued to get on base and hit for power. Also to Mike Ford, who was tremendous in the first two months but got hurt and saw his numbers dip after his return.
Keep an eye on: Greg Bird, who opened the year on the disabled list and has been good, but still not as good as he was last year.

RefsnyderSECOND BASE — ROB REFSNYDER
Current level: Triple-A
Slash line: .333/.403/.547
He was good last year, but Refsnyder has been even better this year. Pushed from Double-A to Triple-A in just his second full season, Refsnyder has continued to hit for average and draw plenty of walks, but he’s added surprising power and the Yankees continue to say that his defensive strides have been encouraging. His recent time in right field seems to be a pretty clear sign that the Yankees are sold on his bat and are considering him a realistic option for potential openings in New York. Absolutely no indication that he’ll be up any time soon, but he’s been awfully good in establishing himself as the top prospect on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster.
Apologies to: Jose Pirela, who’s primarily played second base during his outstanding Triple-A season before being pushed off the position by Refsnyder.
Keep an eye on: Gosuke Katoh, who was terrific last year and has finally gotten things going this year with a .316/.379/.430 slash line in his past 23 games with Low-A Charleston.

BichetteTHIRD BASE — DANTE BICHETTE JR.
Current level: High-A
Slash line: .284/.369/.425
Prospect status was essentially left for dead after two overwhelmingly unimpressive years with Low-A Charleston. Bumped up to High-A this season, though, the former first-round pick has put himself back on the map with a significantly improved on-base ability and some return to the power potential he showed immediately after being drafted. He’s already walked 44 times, which matches his full-season high for the past two years. One downside: he’s hit only one home run since going deep six times in the month of may.
Apologies to: Zelous Wheeler, who played all over the field with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but played more third base than anything else while hitting .299/.367/.467
Keep an eye on: Eric Jagielo, who just returned from the High-A disabled list and has shown encouraging power this season.

WadeSHORTSTOP — TYLER WADE
Current level: Low-A
Slash line: .266/.347/.329
Truth be told, there’s no great option here. Wade’s Charleston teammate Aviatal Avelino might have been the easy choice, but he was hurt after just 29 games. Wade took over as the regular shortstop and has played well. He’s gotten on base at a good rate — he did that last year as well — and he’s stolen 15 bases (granted, he was also caught stealing 10 times). Defensive reviews are also positive for last year’s fourth-round pick. Wade has been good at a position that’s been mostly thin and uninspiring so far this season.
Apologies to: Abiatal Avelino, who’s probably the top shortstop prospect in the system and was hitting .294/.349/.387 before the injury. He’s been playing rehab games in rookie ball and could be back soon.
Keep an eye on: Jorge Mateo, a young shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who’s making his U.S. debut in rookie ball and so far hitting .308/.390/.442. He’s a legitimately intriguing prospect, but obviously has a long, long way to go.

PirelaLEFT FIELD — JOSE PIRELA
Current level: Triple-A
Slash line: .321/.362/.452
Zoilo Almonte has hit for power and played a lot more left field in Triple-A, and Taylor Dugas has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season, but Pirela really deserved a spot somewhere on this list, so he slides in as the left fielder. The only Scranton/Wilkes-Barre player to make the Triple-A All-Star Game, Pirela was a largely forgotten prospect before creeping back on the map the past few years in Double-A. This standout Triple-A has season has put him one phone call away from the big leagues, where he could be a possibility at second, third, first and the outfield corners. In early June, Pirela shifted primarily to left field, and he’s been remarkably consistent as a leadoff hitter with some pop.
Apologies to: Zoilo Almonte, who continues to struggle against lefties but has positively crushed right-handers to the tune of a .309/.350/.541 slash line in Triple-A. Against lefties, he’s hit .191/.257/.294.
Keep an eye on: Taylor Dugas, who’s been thoroughly overshadowed by other left-handed outfield prospects, but who’s also hit .300/.398/.420 while playing all three outfield positions in Double-A and Triple-A. Also worth watching for Ramon Flores to return from his ankle injury. He was making a name for himself in Triple-A before getting hurt.

CaveCENTER FIELD — JAKE CAVE
Current level: Double-A
Slash line: .304/.354/.395
That slash line comes strictly from High-A, where Cave has played all season before an All-Star break promotion to Double-A Trenton where he could seriously challenge higher-profile prospects Mason Williams and Tyler Austin. Cave was a sixth-round pick in 2011, lost a year to injury and has since been a steady hitter for average with a good on-base percentage and some speed. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees assign the center field playing time now that both Cave and Williams are on the same roster. Williams is the more highly-touted prospect, but Cave has been the far more productive player.
Apologies to: Antoan Richardson, who’s been a terrific on-base guy in Triple-A, and to Dexter Fowler, who’s slugged .485 in Low-A.
Keep an eye on: Mason Williams, who’s hit just .206/.282/.275 and has been especially bad in the month of July. Remember when there was some question of whether Williams or Slade Heathcott would have to eventually move to left field so that the Yankees could make room for both of them? Safe to say that’s no longer an issue.

JudgeRIGHT FIELD — AARON JUDGE
Current level: High-A
Slash line: .321/.427/.523
When Judge didn’t hit for much power the first few weeks of the season, Mark Newman basically laughed at me for asking about it. Hitting for power is the least of Judge’s concerns, and he’s since shown that his massive frame is more than capable of driving the ball. He’s also shown a willingness to draw walks and get on base. And that slash line is not the product of beating up on Low-A pitchers early in the season. Judge has hit .321/.446/.528 through his first 15 games in July. Just a tremendous professional debut that has almost certainly made him the top position prospect in the Yankees minor league system. There are some other young guys with promise, but in terms of current production and long-term possibility, Judge is about as exciting as it gets in the Yankees organization.
Apologies to: Adonis Garcia, who’s played more right field than anything else and has hit .302/.340/.464 in his first year at Triple-A.
Keep an eye on: Tyler Austin to see if he can get it going, Austin Aune to see if he can stop striking out, but really — who are we kidding? — just keep an eye on Judge.

SeverinoLongPITCHERS — LUIS SEVERINO, JARON LONG
Current level: Double-A
Severino: 2.45 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 98 strikeouts
Long: 2.16 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 81 strikeouts
Doesn’t make much sense to pick just one starting pitcher for something like this anyway, so we’ll go with two of them. First is Severino, the system’s top pitching prospect who’s lived up to the hype — or exceeded it — with a dominant year in Low-A and High-A, prompting an aggressive All-Star break bump to Double-A. Severino is still just 20 years old, but he throws hard, throws strikes, and the results have been tremendous. It’s little surprise that his first half has been among the organizational bright spots. Long, on the other hand, went undrafted out of Ohio State and has forced his way onto the radar with an incredible first half. Hitting coach Kevin Long’s son opened in Charleston and has pitched his way to Double-A, where he has a 3.00 and 1.00 WHIP through his first two appearances. He’s pitched as both a starter and a reliever but has primarily worked out of the rotation recently.  His ERA is the lowest of any Yankees pitcher with significant innings.
Apologies to: Brady Lail and Matt Tracy, who are tied for the organizational lead in wins and each just earned promotions; Rafael De Paula, who’s pitched very well lately and has the second-most strikeouts in the organization; Dan Camarena, Caleb Smith and Miguel Sulbaran who are among a handful of others who have pitched awfully well this season.
Keep an eye on: Ian Clarkin and Ty Hensley, two former high-round picks who are healthy and pitching well so far this season. Hensley has been in rookie ball getting roughly three innings at a time, but Clarkin has been a full starter in Charleston since early May. Also worth watching Manny Banuelos who has a 5.79 ERA but has occasionally strung together encouraging starts in his first year back from Tommy John surgery.
In the bullpen: Minor league relievers are always a bit tough to pick out largely because future relievers are often working as starters in the minors. The Yankees, though, have been encouraged by lefty Tyler Webb, who was just bumped up to Triple-A. Another lefty, James Pazos, has also pitched very well in Double-A. Top pick Jacob Lindgren had 11 strikeouts and no walks in five innings before being bumped from Charleston to Tampa.

 
 

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