I would be remiss not to mention this, but several Yankees prospects have made their debuts recently for the big league team. Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores, Jose Pirela, and Jacob Lindgren all had opportunities with the Yankees. Pirela hit his first career homerun yesterday. Slade Heathcott already got injured, but the rest have done an okay job. They have definitely held their own. Chasen Shreve, although not technically originally a Yankees prospect, is also back up with the major league team and has shown he absolutely belongs there. The draft is tonight, and it will be exciting to see who the Yankees pick up, especially since they have their best draft position in years.
Down in the minors, there are some real breakout seasons in the works. Mason Williams finally appears to have turned the proverbial corner. He played really well in Double-A, and he is playing even better in Triple-A. After yesterday’s game he is now 12 for his last 37 (.324). He also has two SB in his last six games, and has a .404 OBP and a .378 SLG in the past 10 games. He is on fire right now and still as gifted physically as ever.
Just as Tyler Austin was looking like he was getting it going, with a three game hit streak, he injured his leg and is now facing possible DL time yet again. It remains to be seen if he will be day to day or need some time off.
Rob Refsnyder has started to hit the ball well again after a short slump (his slumps are always short-lived). He is quietly 11/36 (.306) in his last 10 games with a .390 OBP, a .388 slugging percentage and one homerun.
Jose Ramirez has been continuing his success, with a 1.98 ERA and 13 K in his last 13.2 innings. He had a rough go of it in his first major league opportunity this year, but I have faith that he will impress if he is given an extended opportunity. The major league team is in need of a right handed relief pitcher, and I don’t believe they have to look further than their own farm system to replace Esmil Rogers.
Bryan Mitchell has allowed three earned runs total in his last four starts. He has 17 K in his last 25 innings, but also has 16 walks. He has been wild and effective. If he can start getting a grip on his walk totals he could be this year’s Shane Greene after all. His ERA over his last 10 games is 2.72. His numbers on the season look good. He has a 2.86 ERA in 56.2 innings, with a .216 average against and 44 K. He is only beginning to reach his potential. The 31 walks during that span is going to have to improve for him to be successful and pitch late into games though.
Luis Severino continues his torrid play. As just a 21 year old, he has a 3.1 ERA over his first 10 starts in Double-A and Triple-A. He has struck out 52 in 49.1 innings, and walked just 14. He is unquestionably a top prospect at this point.
Mark Montgomery has sneakily been effective all year. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in nine appearances and has struck out eight in 9.1 innings during that time while walking three. His slider is apparently back, but I’m not sure where his fastball velocity is sitting.
Ali Castillo is completely on fire. He is 15 for his last 39 (.385) with four walks and four SB in his last 10 games. In a season where Triple-A has had horrible results from it’s shortstops, it would seem a promotion is in order soon for Castillo. On the season he has a .360/.400/.360/.760 quadruple slash and he has stolen seven bases in just 17 games. Of note he does not have a single extra base hit yet on the season.
A week ago I would have told you that Jake Cave was slumping. Now he has three straight 2/4 games with a triple. His season numbers are still looking good, with a .294/.377/.379/.756 line, seven SB, and two home runs. I would like to see more power out of him but I do believe it will come with time.
Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo are both slumping a bit right now but still holding their own at the plate. Each are still having breakout seasons and I fully expect a rebound. They are both among the league leaders in homeruns in the Eastern League at a “younger than league average” age.
One thing that concerns me is Jagielo’s recently missed start due to “hyperglycemia.” I don’t want to speculate too much on his health, but if he is a diabetic then that would indicate that he could have some problems with coming back from injuries in the future. It could also lead to a laundry list of other medical problems if not controlled tightly.
One of the slowest starts in the farm system belongs to Cito Culver, but in his last nine games he has shown some real signs of life. He is 10 for his last 28 (.357) with five walks, two doubles, and a stolen base. He has had a .468 on base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage during that stretch. His average has gone from .114 to .175 in the last 13 games. With Tyler Wade and Abiatal Avelino breathing down his neck, he’s going to have to continue this if he ever wants a legitimate shot at the bigs though.
Gary Sanchez has been extremely effective in his last nine games. He is 9 for his last 33 (.272) with three homeruns, a double, and three walks (.333 OBP, .576 SLG, .909 OPS). He is among the lead leaders in at bats per homerun, and is still young for his level.
Greg Bird is now back after a one month layoff and is 4/11 (.354) with a double and a walk since his return. I’d be surprised if that .240 average doesn’t climb up near .300 by the end of the season.
Brady Lail has been an absolute beast after a short adjustment period in Double-A. He has let up two earned runs total in his last five starts (although two lasted just 0.1 and 0.2 innings respectively). He allowed three earned runs total over his last six starts. On the season he has a 2.23 ERA and has struck out 38 in 51.1 innings so far with just 12 walks. He is looking like a stud this year.
One guy who has been a major surprise this year has been Eric Ruth. He has 41 K in 62.1 innings and a 2.31 ERA over 11 starts. He is more of a Jaron Long type in terms of stuff, but his .209 BAA is impressive so far for the 24 year old in Double-A.
Caleb Smith has had an adjustment period since arriving at Double-A, but he seems to be catching on. He has allowed three earned runs total in his last four starts, although he really needs to work on his control. His season could go either way at this point, depending on which Caleb Smith we see going forward.
Nick Goody is really showing he belongs in the conversation of the top relievers in the system. Over his last 10 appearances he has a 1.23 ERA with 16 K in 14.2 IP. He is walking too many batters with eight walks in that span, but he has a .194 average against on the season and a whopping 37 K in 29.2 innings.
James Pazos finally made his debut for Double-A this year, and picked up right where he left off. He has 4.2 IP and 7 K already with one earned run. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t dominating Triple-A by the end of the year.
Tyler Wade is off to a great start to the season. He’s hitting .294/.343/.371/.713 with 21 SB, eight doubles, two triples and a homerun. At this rate, he will steal 40 bases and hit close to 20 doubles. He may be nearing a promotion as he is having a similar season to Jake Cave at the same stage. Despite his lack of power if he continues to improve he could be a valuable major league shortstop. It’s important to keep in mind he’s doing what he’s doing at just 20 years old.
Speaking of stolen bases, Abiatal Avelino has 28 of them on the season. He is still trying to figure out High-A pitching, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened towards the end of this season. He’s only 20 after all and already in High-A
The pitching staff at High-A is probably the best in the system.. Jonathan Holder, the Yankees’ sixth round pick last year, has been really good, and he’s still just 21. In his first 11 starts of the season, he has thrown 62.2 IP with 50 K and a 2.15 ERA. He has just a .227 average against and has only walked 10 batters all season. Holder was a sleeper coming into this season and he is breaking out. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in Trenton very soon. Less of a velocity guy and more of a control guy, he has been extremely effective.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Rookie Davis. Davis has great stuff but last year was unable to control it. This year in nine starts he has found that control. He has thrown 49.2 innings and has a 3.26 ERA with 58 K. He is striking out more than one batter per inning, and isn’t walking a ton as he has just 10 on the season. This is definitely a guy to watch out for.
Gabriel Encinas is another player of the same ilk as Davis. In the past he has had trouble with control. The difference between them is that Encinas doesn’t appear to have completely solved his control issues. That said, he is still having a fine year. He has 40 K in 32.2 innings, with a 2.48 ERA and 18 walks. The walk rate is too high, but he has just a .148 average against. The Yankees are taking it slow with him, because he does have an injury history, but he appears to be back.
Evan Rutckyj has finally shown some signs that he has gained control. He has 37 K in 28 innings this year in High-A, and his walk rate has gone from 6.7 BB/9 last year to 3.5 BB/9 this year. That’s a big difference, especially if he can keep up those strikeout rates.
Jordan Montgomery was recently promoted to Tampa from Charleston, and did not disappoint in his debut. He had 6.2 no-hit innings with six strikeouts. On the season he is 4-3 with 50.1 IP, 61 K, a .202 average against and just 12 walks.
Dustin Fowler has continued to play well for a 20 year old in Low-A. He has a .295 average over his last nine games, with three SB. He is hitting for a better average and on base percentage this year, but his power is down a bit. He’s going to be a fun player to watch going forward. He has a lot in common with Jake Cave, but has more power.
One of the strangest stat lines I have seen this year belongs to Austin Aune. He has 62 K in just 38 games, and yet he still boasts a .268 average. His slugging percentage is an impressive .458. His BABIP is over .500, which is remarkable. When he hits the ball he is making hard contact almost every time. The problem is he is not hitting the ball too frequently. Something about this stat line has to correct soon, whether it be his strikeouts going down or has average going down. Funny, as I write this and look at his last four games, he has only struck out twice during that stretch. It is possible he has made an adjustment but only time will tell.
Jorge Mateo has continued to put up video game stolen base numbers in Charleston. In his last 10 games, he has five SB, and is hitting .317 with a .363 OBP. He has one double and one triple in that 10 game stretch, making his slugging percentage .559. On the season, he has 38 SB in 50 games. He’s by a longshot the best base stealer this system has had in a long, long time.
It’s great to see Joey Maher finally getting a shot in Low-A, and he’s playing well. In 54.1 innings he has a 2.65 ERA and 36 K with a .197 average against. I haven’t seen the exact numbers but I think it’s safe to assume his sinker is inducing a lot of soft contact, which is the name of his game.
David Palladino is also having a fine season. His first three starts were a bit rough, but since then he has only allowed more than one earned run once. He has a 2.59 ERA and 36 K in 41.2 innings, with 24 walks (red flag), but has just a .207 average against.
The DSL season is officially underway and we are four games in. There are already several players off to a hot start, which is not entirely surprising given the recent influx of talent into the system due to the high spending on international free agents this year. Oliver Cedeno, a 19 year old catcher from Venezuela, has seven hits in nine at bats, so far including two doubles. Wilkerman Garcia, a 17 year old SS from Venezuela, already has five stolen bases in two games. Leobaldo Cabrera is a 17 year old OF who has 10 hits in 24 at bats, and already has one homerun and two doubles. Jason Lopez, another 17 year old catcher from Venezuela, is 8/21 with a SB already. Gilmael Troya is an 18 year old pitcher from Venezuela who has already thrown 9.0 innings and struck out 10 with a 2.0 ERA. Carlos Diaz is a 20 year old lefty who throws extremely hard, and struck out five in 4.2 innings of work in his debut with no earned runs. Brayan Emery was a late signing, but is 17 and a switch hitter who plays OF. He already has a homerun, two triples and a double with four walks in three games. Miguel Flames has destroyed DSL pitching with a .350 average in six games, with a homerun and a double. Juan De Leon was another big name signing and already has a homerun and a triple. Miguel Yajura is a 17 year old in his first season who threw 4.0 innings and struck out four in his debut. I know nothing about him but I will try to find out.
That wraps up this edition of “Who’s hot on the farm.” Feel free to ask questions in the comments.