Looking forward to the 2014 MILB season

gil-patterson-401x540This was a rough year for the Yankees farm system. Overall the system took a step back. Expectations for 2013 were high. That said, even after a season of dashed hopes, injuries, and ineffectiveness, there is a lot to look forward to in 2014. Despite such a poor season, the Yankees still have a middle of the pack farm system. While this is disappointing considering most felt by the end of 2013 the Yankees would be a top 10 system, it also bodes well for 2014 considering the talent in the system.

The Yankees still have all of the same talent fans were dreaming upon last season. While there were few successful seasons that put players on the map, not a single top prospect in the organization played so poorly that they are off the prospect map. In addition, the system has nowhere to go but up from here, and that likely means that 2014 will be a rebound year, and likely a year that will result in the system being again better than middle of the pack.

The system will be automatically upgraded at the start of 2014 due to players returning from injury. The most significant player returning from injury is Manny Banuelos. He is apparently back to 100% now and will be good to go to start 2013. He’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, which is NBD in this day and age. Word is that he is already back to his old tricks. If that truly is the case, Banuelos alone immediately takes this farm system to new heights.

The other big name pitcher coming back from injury is Ty Hensely. He will finally be healthy to start 2014 and can move past all of the injuries that have effected his career. Before the injury he was unable to fully use his legs to bolster his delivery. His new and improved hips will allow him to finally be able to do that, which could actually result in a bump in his velocity long term. It also makes him a completely different pitcher than the guy the Yankees drafted, so there are definitely question marks for this ballplayer in his return. That said, all he has to do is return to his presurgery self and he is immediately a top prospect in this organization and will bolster the system in a major way.

Gabe Encinas exploded onto the scene in 2013 with his new stuff before suffering an elbow injury which led to Tommy John surgery. He will be back at some point in 2014 and the same applies to him as Manny Banuelos. If he returns to form he is undoubtedly a top prospect.

There are also some less heralded players returning from injury who could improve the margins of the system, making it better overall. Of this group, Corban Joseph is the closest to contributing. He had shoulder surgery last year and would be both a decent trade chip and a major improvement in the second base depth behind (hopefully) Cano in this organization.

In addition to Joseph, Matt Tracy will be a full go in 2014. He had a rough season even while healthy in Double-A in 2013, but it was also a statistically uncharacteristic season as he struggled with control. If he can just get back to his old self, he is another potential starting lefty in the organization who could really help the team and would be another solid trade chip. Aaron Judge will also presumably be healthy and we will finally see what he can do.

Mark Montgomery was mostly healthy in 2013, but he was suffering from minor injuries and poor conditioning that really derailed his season. He still had a decent showing, but this offseason he is on a new conditioning program and will show up ready to go in 2014. His stock really suffered last year but he still has one of the nastiest sliders in all of the minors, so his health would be huge for this farm.

Yet another injured player is Matt Snyder. His twin brother batted .280 with 25 homeruns in High-A in 2013. Obviously twins are different people, but suffice it to say he has the physical talent to do the same. If he does, the Yankees will have a solid 1B prospect on their hands. Caleb Frare will also be 100% healthy to start the season, as will the latest incarnation of top Yankee reliever prospects Nick Goody.

Finally Ravel Santana will be fully healthy. At this point in his career he is a sad story of freak injuries between his ankle and his broken arm in 2013. When healthy he is a physical specimin with the best tools in the system. It’s unlikely he’ll ever reach his potential at this point but on the off chance he does the Yankees will have a super athlete on their hands who could be a beast.

Aside from injuries, there are several players poised to become impact players or at least return to form next year. Tyler Austin is much better than he played in 2013. He was banged up for a good part of the season and will be ready to get back to his mashing ways next year. Slade Heathcott made significant strides throughout the season in 2013. Mason Williams is in the AFL fine tuning his game. Rafael DePaula finally has a full season under his belt and will look to build on that. Luis Severino will be in full season ball and I predict he will explode onto the scene. Jagielo and Clarkin will be primed and ready to go as well. Abiatal Avelino and Gosuke Katoh will be ready for their coming out parties.

Daniel Camarena had a difficult start to his career, but about seven games in something clicked and he has been stellar since then. Bryan Mitchell struggled all year in High-A Tampa, but his control improved in a major way this year and he was dominant in a late season promotion to Double-A. If he carries that momentum into 2014 he has top 100 prospect written all over him. Jake Cave finally had a healthy full season campaign and will look to expand on that in 2014. Ramon Flores also really clicked late season and is the consummate professional and patient hitter. Cito Culver abandoned switch hitting last season, and by midseason he learned to hit righty. He broke out late season and was promoted to High-A where he tore pitchers apart. If he can hit like that in 2014 with his defensive ability, he is finally back to being a top prospect.

Rookie Davis had an uptick in stuff in 2013 and managed to control his new stuff. Next year he is likely to be another Encinas, hopefully minus the injury. When I say his stuff is fantastic that is not an underestimation.

Guys like Greg Bird and JR Murphy had big seasons and will look to expand on that and continue to improve. For some reason neither has garnered a ton of attention but both are some of the best in the minors at their respective positions. If either has another season like 2013, they should garner further attention.

Jose Ramirez is a guy who just needs to put together a full season and will be considered a top guy. He just has to stay healthy in 2014. The other Jose, Jose Campos had a successful, healthy 2013 and will be ready to log some serious innings next year. If and when that happens, he could go back to top prospect status.

The last person I would like to mention is Gil Patterson. In 2013 he was getting the lay of the land and implementing some of his policies for the Yankees’ system. Now in his second year, we should start to see some of the effects of his development program and we should see some improvement in the pitching output.

The key to any farm system is health. The Yankees had statistically ridiculous bad luck with injuries in 2013. A relatively healthy season in 2014 from Yankees prospects will result in a major improvement in the perception of their system in 2014. There’s no such thing as a crystal ball and no one can predict the future, but by the law of averages the Yankees are due for a relatively healthy season. If this happens, don’t be surprised if this time next year everyone is talking about the Yankees farm and how good it is.

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11 Responses to Looking forward to the 2014 MILB season

  1. Joe says:

    Cashman refused on numerous occasions to trade unproven minor leagers for proven major leagers. I forget who said that he would trade prospects for proven talent every time. Perhaps over the last couple of years if the Yankees would have pulled the trigger on some of those trades instead of saying these guys are too valuable we could have obtained players who could have helped the team unlike the players who we got off the scrap pile Mr. gm

    • gcorcoran says:

      I'm all for trading unproven prospects for select proven major leaguers. The key is to trade for guys in their 20's. The other key is to trade for those players while not giving up your entire farm. If you have no prospects to trade then when you need a player you will have nothing left to give.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        I think you nailed it. To add a player already 30 it should have to be an exceptional circumstance and not standard policy.
        Trading prospects for proven players? Every day
        But also prospects for prospects. The Pineda for Montero deal was a smart move because they gave up a catcher who cannot field and a so-what pitcher for 2 high ceiling pitchers.
        On the other hand the Almonte for Shawn Kelley trade stunk. Trading an OF for a middle reliever is pretty comical and what one expects from Kevin Towers, not Cashman.
        What I'd like to see is Corban Joseph get a shot at 2B (Cano goes to Texas). I know the club would rather sign a retread like Brian Roberts, but Joseph has been good or better hitter every year but 2013, and that could have been due to injury.
        Also, should we give David Adams another shot at 3B? I know he sucked in 2013, but this kid has hit at every level, and he didn't look terrible defensively. What do you think Greg?

        • greg says:

          im gonna use the franchise tagline on this one. i think the yankees should do whatever they can to "put the best team on the field in 2014." i like david adams, but he is not the type of player i hold a spot for. if something better comes up, even if its just temporary one year replacement.

          that said, i think hes better than he played last year. i wouldnt be disappointed at all if he ends up being the 3b next year.

          as for second base, im gonna decline to comment until i find out whether or not they sign robinson cano. this is because i feel pretty confident theyll resign him

  2. Bronx bomber 22 says:

    Need big years from Jones, Gumbs, Mikolas, Duran, Cote, and Aune

    • gcorcoran says:

      I wouldn't say we NEED big years from these players. In fact, outside of Jones and Cote, I have serious doubts whether the other players are even likely to put up big numbers.

      It would be great for the farm even if one or two of these guys stepped it up in a big way though.

  3. Bronx bomber 22 says:

    Do you think Gumbs can play? I see scouts evaluate him with high grades but he can't hit and makes a ton of errors. Aune going to play football at TCU anytime soon?

    • gcorcoran says:

      If I was Aune I'd probably be going there after next season if it doesn't work out in 2014, if not sooner.

      As for Gumbs he has either been injured or not performed, but his tools are off the charts. He is fast and has a lightning quick bat. If he somehow puts it together he will be a special player.

  4. Bronx bombers 22 says:

    How is Peter O'Brien adjusting to 3B? If he can cut down on the K's and make the plays the field he could be a big help in 2015.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Ya know he's okay over there. Looking at the stats he makes a lot of throwing errors but he does have a cannon. He's not the most mobile guy in the world but he has plenty of time to develop those skills and become better. Tough to say at this point given the lack of experience.

  5. Bronx bomber 22 says:

    Sounds good, I'm looking forward to your top 50 prospect list.

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