The Yankees 2010 second round draft pick was a surprise pick and many scouts and talent evaluators considered it a reach. Angelo Gumbs was just 17 at the time of the draft, the second youngest player drafted by any team that year. When he was originally drafted Gumbs really didn’t have a true position, having played short stop, center field and second base in high school. The only thing the Yankees were certain of when they drafted him was that he was an elite athlete with some good pop in his bat for a player that projected to play somewhere up the middle. After signing their first round pick Cito Culver as a short stop and Mason Williams as a center fielder, they decided to give Gumbs a look at second base.
It wasn’t until instructs his first year that the Yanks really got a good look at what they had and they were not disappointed. Gumbs quickly started to impress everyone with his abilities on both sides of the ball. Even though he was still young he showed an advanced ability for getting the bat on the ball and great bat speed. His plus running abilities were highlighted even more by advanced base running skills. He showed off his ultra quick hands and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. On the defensive side of the ball he quickly picked up second base even though it was his third position when he was drafted. He showed excellent range to both sides, an above average arm and quickly picked up on how to turn the double play.
Coming into the 2011 season hopes were very high for Gumbs. He didn’t fail to deliver. His solid performance went under the radar because of the huge stats of his teammates Mason Williams and Dante Bichette Jr. While he put up very solid numbers in Staten Island, Gumbs struggled to translate the impressive skill set that he showed at instruct and extended spring training into games. He had trouble recognizing and hitting better breaking balls. He wasn’t getting good jumps when attempting to steal bases, and on defense he couldn’t turn the double play. He put up a solid .268/ .332/ .732 line over 51 games, and finished the season with 10 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homers, 29 RBIs and 32 runs. For a guy with plus speed he struggled stealing bases, as he was caught seven times in 18 attempts. He also struck out 44 times in just 183 at bats. While turning in solid numbers, especially for a very young 18 year old, Gumbs wasn’t satisfied and was determined to improve before the start of the 2012 season.
Often referred to as one of the most determined and hardest working players in the system, Gumbs set out this past winter to add strength to his wiry frame. When he was drafted he was listed at 6’1 160lbs. By the time the Dominican instructs rolled around he had added 25 lbs of muscle to his frame. He also spent the winter working to refine his swing. When he got to spring training the coaches were impressed with his improved body and swing. Spring training was filled with reports of Gumbs smoking the ball. His defense had also reportedly improved.
Gumbs got of to a slow start this year in Charleston but the coaches kept raving about what Gumbs was showing in batting practice. The issue was bringing it into game situations. He finally started to heat up in May hitting .324 with 14 stolen bases with an .824 OPS, earning him SAL player of the week honors towards the end of the month.
Gumbs also received high praise from Yankee legend Reggie Jackson recently. Jackson said he really liked the way Gumbs played the game. Mr. October noted that he played with a lot of maturity, and was humble and appreciative of the opportunities and instruction he was getting. Jackson also went on to state that he saw potential in Gumbs on both side of the ball. He was impressed with Angelo’s solid approach at the plate and believes he has a great body type for a second baseman.
Gumbs is still only 19 but he has shown huge improvements and tons of potential since being drafted. He’s still learning the ins and outs of second base, but coaches rave about his defense. No matter how difficult the play, everything seems to stick in his glove. He has incredible athletic ability with outstanding speed and quick hands. While he hasn’t shown a ton of power yet he has a compact swing, gets good lift on the ball and hits the ball well to all fields. He also has a good ability to make hard contact. All of these things should lead to better power numbers down the road.
One of his attributes scouts love is his willingness to do anything to help make the team better. They also rave about his work ethic, toughness and desire to improve. We have already seen a significant improvement in his power, and that can be attributed to his off-season workout regiment and the changes he made in his swing. He had three homeruns in 51 games last season. This season he has six homeruns in one less game so far.
He has also significantly improved his base running. This season he has 19 steals in 22 attempts, which is much better than last year.
Gumbs is all about potential right now but coaches and scouts alike have high expectations. The future projections for him if he reaches his ceiling are pretty lofty. He projects to have above average to plus power and hit for a good average at the MLB level. He is such a gifted athlete with outstanding speed that he has the potential to be a big stolen base threat every time he gets on base. He could easily turn into a 40 steal threat in the future. Defensively he has outstanding range, soft hands and a strong arm for a middle infielder which all bodes well for his ability to stick at second base.
The ceiling right now is a more speedy Brandon Phillips. His floor, as with most 19 year old prospects in Low-A, is a total flame out.
Gumbs is still young and still learning his position but he is probably the most talented second base prospect in our system and could eventually be the replacement for Cano. Being so young Gumbs is probably going to move up one level per year so that puts his ETA around 2015. If it all clicks for him he has the talent and tools to move quicker. Gumbs’ solid performance often gets lost with the other great names he plays with like Williams, Austin, Sanchez and Bichette, but he is not someone who should be overlooked. With his natural athleticism, work ethic, and positive attitude Gumbs has as much potential as anyone in the system to become a future impact major leaguer.