The new GCL team is not the savior of the farm

GCLIn cased you missed it (since it was far from the biggest news of the week), the Yankees  now have two rookie league GCL teams. The move has been a long time coming and will provide young Yankees pitchers a better chance to prove themselves against their peers at a young age.

In this case, the Yankees in particular have a slew of pitchers coming over from the DSL as well as from the draft that could profile as starters each year. This has been true in particular recently, as they have moved towards drafting more high school aged talent. In addition to pitchers, there are many position players signed in the draft or who come over from the DSL and haven’t been able to find at bats in the GCL.

On the surface, it looks as though these players will benefit immensely from increased reps, and some guys who otherwise may have never gotten the reps they need might end up developing into special players as a result. This will be true to a certain extent, but if we’re being realistic it’s not going to change things all that much.

Unless you have two teams all the way to High-A, these guys are eventually going to have to lose/share reps with someone. It’s essentially going to be an extended try out to see who is going to start at the next level. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it’s also not as much of a benefit as people might think.

It will be good to have the extra game time action, but it’s not going to change much in evaluating who plays at the higher levels unless there is some sort of a revelation and a player storms the league who was not expected to. Those battles are mostly won and lost at extended Spring Training and the time spent between the start of the full season leagues and the start of the short season leagues in Florida at the Yankees training site.

Finally, it’s been said over and over that GCL stats mean squat, and that’s because it’s a small sample size. An extra 25-30 innings pitched isn’t going to change a pitcher’s career course. An extra 100-120 at bats won’t affect a position players standing in an organization, just ask Miguel Andujar who the Yankees are still extremely high on despite a poor statistical season in the GCL.

Let’s also make one thing clear. This is not about innings limitations. Most of last year’s rookie only threw 25 or so innings in the GCL in 2012, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eligible for much more than that in 2013. They had been pitching in scrimmages and simulated games all season before the GCL started. Arm strength is built up before the season even starts in short season league pitchers.

All of the above being said, having the extra GCL team is obviously a positive step, not a negative one. Having more game action and more live game innings is never a bad thing. Facing new competition of your peers that has an end goal of playoffs and a championship is meaningful and is definitely an aspect of development that should not be poo pooed.

Sometimes all you need to give a kid is a chance and he goes wild with it. The new GCL team will provide Yankees prospects with that chance.  Some players may surprise everyone and increase their stock.

There is no substitute for in game experience. The spirit of competition and playing the game is a huge aspect of becoming a good ball player. Just think of how boring practice would be if there were no games to look forward to. For many of these kids, the new GCL team will provide them with that opportunity.

In addition to that, players like Giovanny Gallegos and others will no longer be forced to pitch in one inning increments so everyone can get their innings. Guys like Eduardo de Oleo won’t be robbed of at bats because of Chris Breen and Peter O’Brien.

These are all good things for the Yankees, and the new GCL team makes it even more fun to follow the farm system. Don’t, however, fool yourself into thinking that this team is going to turn the farm around. It is a small step in the right direction that will help slightly with development. What will help more is the addition of a new minor league pitching coordinator, Gil Patterson. What the Yankees minor leagues really needs is a magic pill to keep pitchers healthy all season, but that pill isn’t coming out any time soon.

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11 Responses to The new GCL team is not the savior of the farm

  1. Joe says:

    That's great news…Now we just have to develop and USE these talented players at the major league level instead of looking for overpriced veterans on the free agent market.

  2. wally says:

    Excellent point, Joe. The Yankees have become almost pathological in the way they treat their young homegrown players. If they don't show instant success, they're either buried or shipped out. George Kontos is one recent example. Another is Adam Warren, who was treated like a leper after one bad performance. Tyler Clippard was another given short shrift inthe Bronx. And last year, when youngsters like Adams and Mustelier could have benefited hugely from some MLB time at third, the Yanks went out and got Casey McGeehee, who failed.
    If Hal Steinbrenner is going to slash the Yankee budget, the only way he can get there is with a heavy presence of Yankee prospects. I estimate that they'll need seven first-and second year players in 2014 to have a chance of putting together a competitve team. They need to start integrating a few of these kids this year — Romine, Adams, Montgomery, Mustelier would be prime candidates.

  3. wally says:

    (continued from last post)…..And let's just hope they don't make the biggest mistake of all — trading away their best kids for a short-term fix.

    • Based on recent years I don't think this is going to happen anymore. Guys like DJ Mitchell and Kontos are basically expendable in the end, because we have 3-4 others who can fill that role. To trade them for a short term fix is not a travesty to me.

      I think the Yankees have wised up in that way though. The only way you're going to see any of their top 5 prospects go anywhere is if they get a young, cost controlled, long term player in return. We all thought that's what we got for Montero, but it remains to be seen if we will get any benefit from that trade whatsoever.

  4. wally says:

    Hope you're right but I am fearful they'll package two or three top kids to get a guy like Upton for four years. The problem is one good player doesn't fill three positions. Ang good talent will be harder to come by under new CBA. But I hope you're right.

    • Who knows? If it's me, I wouldn't give more than one of their top four for Upton (Williams, Heathcott, Sanchez, Austin). I could probably be convinced to part ways with any pitcher in the organization right now outside of Manny Banuelos though (because we'd get zero value for him right now).

  5. wally says:

    Exactly, Greg — no more than one of the top four position player prospects for someone like Upton. Yanks will have to find replacements for just about every one of their starting position players by 2015 (I exclude Tex). Simply can't be done without major help from farm (along with some savvy free agent signings when Hal opens purse strings again). Sanchez, Austin, Williams, Adams, Romine, Heathcott (and a few others) all offer reasinable promise of filling those holes. Around this new core the team can be rebuilt. One big question, of course, is whether Cano is worth re-signing. Personally, I would avoid anything beyond six (possibly seven) years. If that doesn't get it done, you have $22-25 million a year to play with. People sometimes forget that when you don't sign a costly free agent you get to spend the saved money elsewhere. With Yankee need for replacements at multiple positions, a creative GM should be able to put $25 mill a year to good use.

    • greg m says:

      they wont start 2014 with 7 youngsters i can envision two of the 7 joining the team. c- romine, 1b- tex, 2b=cano/ adams, ss jeter, 3b- arod/adams, lf- ichiro, cf gardner, rf b-austin utility /bench , nunez, mustelliuer, stewart, almonte,, pitching, cc. hughes, nova, pineda, banuelos, phelps joba, robertson, ripada, montgomery, goody

  6. wally says:

    By my calculations, they will need to have 6-7 first and second year players on the 2014 roster to make 189. You have most of the candidates in above post though I'm not sure whether you're saying just two are likely to make it. They really need six or seven. Top candates: Romine, Adams, Montgomery, Banuelos, an outfielder or two (from Williams, Austin, Mustelier, Almonte?) and another reliever . Without these kids they will simply have to patch with the lowliest scrap heap pick-ups. And these will be really BAD players as other teams have emulated Yanks in picking up the better scrap heap types, thereby raising thier salries.

  7. greg m says:

    wally
    i show adams as part of the 25 man roster splitting time with cano and arod allowing them to DH, 3b will be adams going fwd until andular or bichette make a case for the position at least two years away. the top 4 williams sanchez, heathcott and austin only 1 will be ready in 2014. 2015 is the year for williams sanchez and heathcott with depaula, turley and tracy on the pitching side all will be az fall league candidates. in 15 williams sends gardner to the bench, heathcott surplants ichiro and sanchez splits time with romine, they will need to spend for a ss and 3b studs and for whoever of the top 3 dont make it

    • We'll see. It's tough to predict the lineup in 2015 because there will be so many trades and pickups done between now and then. I would say if they want to reach their goal they'll need quite a few rookies to step up and possibly make some trades for cost controlled young starters.