Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick observations from Sickels top 20 list.

Today as I was waiting to get on a conference call for work when I saw a tweet from John Sickels. He had put out his preliminary top 20 list for Yankees. I had to go over and check it out. First I will say I greatly respect him for all the work he does himself on his site and the book he annually puts out. Another reason I respect Mr. Sickels is that we are both from Des Moines Iowa and both went to Northwest Missouri Sate University. Also he lives in Lawrence which is about 15 minutes away from my house here in Kansas City.

Here is the link to the site and list.

Things that stand out to me about the list:
1. Hector Noesi has a very aggressive ranking. Hector did have a very good season this year. At 3 levels he pitched 160.1 innings with 153 strikeouts. He had an era of 3.20 with a FIP being in the 3’s. My only concern with looking at his stats is that his K rate dropped each level he jumped. Luckily his walk rate stayed pretty consistent never getting over 1.9 per 9. Hopefully Hector can keep dominating hitters with his fastball velocity and command. If he could only get a plus breaking ball he would be higher than a #3 starter but right now he has a high floor. I would call him the Ian Kennedy of the farm right now because of that high floor.

2. David Adams injury sapped a ton of prospect status. Sickels ranked him a C+ and I really wonder what he would have been if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Adams was destroying the ball and it wasn’t over 50 at bats but 173. His triple slash line was .309/.393/.507 for a nice .900 OPS. He also was doing this while playing in one of the hardest divisions for hitters. His wOBA was .403 and his wRC+ was 148 both great #’s. While his defensive isn’t going to be his calling card I think it’s really hard to gauge a guy defensively without a lot of data. Also with any prospect most of these guys are young men and do improve with more professional coaching.

3. Eduardo Nunez. John put that he is looking more like a utility guy. If that is the case I don’t think he should be ranked. I would have subbed out almost any prospect with some upside for him. I’ve slowly come around on Nunez (not quite how Mike A at RAB is)that he isn't good and is living off 1 good season some time ago . I believe only starting players or starters should make a top 20 list unless they have a possibility of being a closer.

4. Ramon Flores. This guy just keeps getting over looked by a ton of people. At 3 levels the 18 year old hit a combined .303/.390/.419 for an 808 OPS. He got 20 at bats at High A even before getting any at bats at Low A. The Yankees are very impressive with him and one major factor I believe going for Flores is his batting eye. He had 31 walks to 42 strike outs for an 18 year old. That is huge. The power #’s will develop and I think to somewhat of a degree a batting eye can develop. But that being said some kids really have a great eye and Flores is one of them. Where Flores got most of his at bats was at the Gulf coast league where he wOBA .433 with a wRC+ of 171 which are huge numbers for an 18 year old kid.

Those are just some quick observations after taking a quick look at Sickels list. I would have liked to have Bryan Mitchell be up since of the guys going to Low A I think he has the most potential. Hopefully he along with Brett Marshall will be the M and M boys next year that Yankee prospect watchers will be clamoring over.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Disappointments down on the Farm 2010 edition.

As Yankee fans are waiting for Cliff Lee to decide who he wants to play for next year I thought I would get my mind off the situation by making a blog post. So I thought I would look at some players who I was hoping to have good years and didn’t quite do it. The farm system as a whole had a great year, these are some guys who I was hoping would do well.

1. Bryan Mitchell. Coming into this year Mitchell was the number 11 prospect. His scouting report was a 88 to 92 mph fastball that could touch 94. That wasn’t even Mitchells best pitch which was a very good curveball which BA said could be the best in the system. Reading the scouting reports and the face it looked like Mitchell was going to start at Low A I was really excited. Mitchell ended up going to the Gulf Coast league to pitch. While he was good there he wasn’t great. The biggest concern was the BB/9 which was 4.8. He did have a good K rate at 7.8 per 9. Mitchell will be 20 years old going to Low A next year so hopefully he will have a great year to push himself back up to almost a top 10 prospect.

2. Nik Turly. I’ve always been a big Turley fan. Big lefties have a place in my heart. This was the year that I was sure the Yankees would send to Low A. Hurley was 20 years old going into the year and had been with the organization for over a year going into this season. He went to Staten Island to pitch and was ok. His K rate was ok at 6.9 but the big lefty had a 4.2 walk rate. I think Turley is starting to run out of time with the Yankees. If he doesn’t go to Low A again and probably really dominate I think he will go to college. Good thing for Turley he got a full ride paid for by the Yankees.

3. Caleb Cotham. He was considered a fast risers if he was healthy. Probably for Caleb was he wasn’t. He had surgery and didn’t pit at all. Hopefully starting next year he can be healthy and be a fast mover.

4. Jairo Herredia. What to say about Jairo. Mike A over at RAB had nicknamed him the Dominican Hughes. Well Hughes never took his conditioning in question. For 2 straight years Jairo has done that and struggled. To make matters worst the Yankees moved him over to relief pitcher. The guy is 20 for the whole year but the Yankees moved him to relief. Not a good sign. Hopefully Jairo decides that he wants to be a big pitcher and comes to next year ready to pitch.

5. Evan Deluca. He is another guy I had heard some hype going around after the 2009 draft. Deluca is a big time lefty that the Yankees decided to go hard after at the deadline of the draft. There were reports the he had a great arm but has no idea where the ball is going. Looking at his stats I think that is very accurate. He had a 10.4 K per 9 but a 8.3 BB per 9. Luckily for Deluca he is still young so hopefully in instructional league they were able start to harness his big time left arm.

Those are 5 guys in the system that had down years. Seeing the list I’m surprised that I didn’t have any position players. That being said the Yankee farm system has been all about pitching for some time, only recently has Damon Opp has drafted some high upside position players. Now out of these guys some still have good upside, especially Bryan Mitchell. I have a ton of confidence in him out of this group of guys. Hopefully next year all of these guys will have had good seasons to either improve their prospect status or make them prospects again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thoughts on Brett Marshall

Over at scouting the Sally, Mike Newman has a scouting report from when he was able to see Marshall this summer. That is the link to the scouting report and I highly recommend it because Mike does a great job on the site. One reason I enjoy reading Mike’s take on prospects compared to other guys is because he sees the guy, takes video of them along with notes. He and his site are a major boon to us prospect nuts. Mike also is a nice guy who will answer emails and tweets, I’ve bothered him a few different times.

On twitter Mike and I had a nice exchange after I read his scouting report on Marshall. I had asked him if he thought that with a plus slider that could Marshall could be a number 2 starter. Mike wasn’t sure if he had that ceiling but he did mention that a scout told him that he thought Marshall could be something special. I was a little taken by that. I thought Marshall would be a good #3 starter and contrary to some NY fans those are good things to have in a farm system.
One major thing to keep in mind about Marshall is that he got the highest bonus of any Yankee draft picks from the 08 draft. He got 800k from the Yankees as a 6th round pick instead of going to Rice. So even thou Jeremy Bleich was a supplement first round pick, he actually got less than the high school pitcher out of Texas. To me this shows that the Yankees thought that had something impressive in Marshall.

2010 was a year that Marshal had to prove something because of his 2009. In 2009 the Yankees were very aggressive with him and sent him to Low A as a 19 year old kid. On top of the very aggressive move to send him there they tweaked his mechanics and said no more slider Mr. Marshall. Good old Nardi Contreras taught him a curve and off he went. Problem for Marshall and the Yankees was he blew his elbow out and required Tommy John surgery. So this year being the first one back for Marshall it’s very encouraging to read Mike’s scouting report on him. One major thing to take note is that the Yankees gave Marshall his slider back. That’s important because Marshall did an interview with the guys over at and he said he blew his elbow out on a curve ball.

Fast forward to this year and Marshall comes back and he comes back a different pitcher than he was before the injury. The first year back from Tommy John surgery usually the pitchers have the velocity back but not the command. It doesn’t appear to be the case with Marshall. In 87 innings in 2009 Marshall had a BB/9 of 3.81 compared to 2010 when it was 2.75 in 72 innings at the same level.
Marshall also improved one major stat and that his is k/bb rate. In 2009 it was 1.62 compared to 2010 when it was 2.55. All of this tells me that his command should actually improve and he have a better rate in the future. I believe that this is one stat that you can take stock in when evaluating prospects because it eliminates the people behind the mound. This is all on the pitcher.

There are some concerns when it comes to Marshall thou. I would like his strike out rate to be higher. The strikeout rate is one reason that at AAA Zach McAllister a similar prospect failed. McAllister went from a top 10 Yankee prospect to a player to be named later guy in the Austin Kearns trade. Brett can help himself and not fall into the same trap and that is sharpen up his slider. Improving the slider will give him a very good strikeout weapon to go along with an improving change up. Innings are also a concern for Marshall since he missed a year in development. But for the Yankees that isn’t too much of a concern because they can be patient with him because of the pitching that is starting to creep into the upper minors.

Now while he has some concerns there is a ton to really like. In my mind one major plus going for Marshall is how he has developed a manipulation of his fastball. While his 2 seam fastball was 89-91 what I really liked was from Mike’s scouting report is that he was able to sink it and cut it. Being able to move the ball different ways keeps hitters off balance which is what pitching is all about. Throw that he can run his 4 seam fastball up to 94-95 it makes his fastball play up. While Marshall has good fastball velocity he doesn’t have that big fastball that some prospect watchers want. With that being said I will take a guy who can manipulate the ball over a big fastball. Greg Maddux was a great pitcher because of that ability not because of huge velocity. The ability to change eye levels something Marshall also did while Mike was scouting him shows his pitching IQ which bodes well for his maturation as a pitcher and a very good prospect.

Coming into this year Marshall had fallen out of Baseball America’s top 30 prospects. I think with his performance in the sally I think he will definitely jump back into the mix. My guess is that Marshall will come in at the back end of the teens because of a deep Yankee farm system. That ranking isn’t being disrespectful to Marshall, it is just showing how good the Yankee farm system is.

Next year could be the year that Marshall really breaks out too because it will be his 2nd year from his Tommy John surgery. Even if Marshall never develops into an ace of a team like the Yankees there is a ton of value in mid rotation guys. I can’t wait to see what Marshall does in High A next year. With a good first half he could make a push for a AA spot by the end o the season.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zach Greinke

With the report today that Zach Greinke might be willing to waive his no trade to come to New York I will admit I was very excited. Let me explain that I’ve seen Greinke pitch in person probably 10 times. I live here in KC and thanks to my best friend working for a radio affiliate of the Royals I get to go to games for free. In those starts I’ve seen a guy who dominates hitters and has more talent than almost any starter.

A lot is being made of his social anxiety disorder and how he might get messed up with a large market team. I think this point is being way overblown. I think this is being overblown for a number of reasons. One is that when Greinke walked away he was 22 years old. That was 4 seasons ago and Greinke is now 5 years old. Age matures people and another major thing happened to Greinke is that he got married. I think this will help him out a lot. The 2nd major point is that Greinke wants to win now more than ever. He kinda quit on KC this year and he from indications wants to be a winner. He is tired of being the central’s Felix Hernandez a guy who has to throw a no no to get a win.

One major thing to consider about Greinke is that he is going to be playing this coming season as a 27 year old. He is just entering his prime and if the Yankees would acquire him and I assume sign him to an extension so that he would play a majority of his prime or his entire prime in NY.
Looking at what Greinke has given to the Royals if you average his last 4 seasons he has provided 24 million in value. I would say going into his prime years you could say he would perform 30 million each year in value for next year. Greinke is signed for just 13.5 million over the next year so his contract is very team friendly for the value he provides. So you would have to give them a ton of value which is something the Yankees with a top 10 farm system should be able to do. So here is my proposal to the Royals for their ace.

From reports the Royals want a starting pitching prospect or young starter at the MLB level who could step in and be the next Greinke. The package I would start with is obviously Jesus Montero. The Yankees best prospect is also a top 5 prospect in all of baseball. His bat is MLB ready and he would provide the Royals with a guy to protect Billy Butler in the lineup. Next would be Brett Gardner. He is a guy the Royals had been interested in the past. The Royals need a centerfielder and Gardner could do that. The last year he was a 5 win player according to Fangraphs and provided 21.6 in value. I will say that Brett regresses a bit but with moving to CF with his defense and offense ability he should be a 4 win player next year. I would offer up either Brackman or Dellin to the Royals which would give the Royals the young starting pitching prospect that they are looking for. I would add in Ivan Nova as a back end of the rotation starter who could fill in right now. The last piece for Greinke straight up would be David Adams. Of all the position players in the Yankee’s farm system I think he has the highest floor.

I think this is a package that the Royals would really like for a number of reasons. It fills a lot of needs that they have for position players and in starting pitching. The Royals think that their window is over a year away and all of these players would have a ton of team control years which is what the Royals have done recently by trading some of their veteran players for players who are under team control for a long time. Look at the Dejusus trade, they got barely nothing for him. I think the draft picks would have been better than the guys they got except that those 2 guys are control at the MLB level for years.

If the Royals do agree to this trade if I was the Yankees I would try to add another piece and get something from the Royals. I would trade Joba for Alex Gordon. This would get Joba out of NY which is something I think very badly needs to happen. Both players look to me to be guys who could thrive with a change of scenery. This would also give the Yankees a left fielder to put into the outfield and a guy who could backup Alex if he needed a day off. It also is a lefty bat that Kevin Long could really work with. The Royals could put Joba into the rotation again or do what I’ve heard they are intrigued with and that is put Soria into the rotation. There have been rumblings that the front office wants to do that and Soria does seem to have the stuff to start this would also give the Royals an ace to replace Greinke that’s already in house.

I think this trade makes a ton of sense also for the Yankees. While they love Jesus’ bat it seems to most prospect observers that the Yankees don’t have a ton of faith in him catching long term. Catching is a position of strength for the Yankees along with starting pitching. I think giving up either Dellin or Brackman doesn’t hurt the Yankees because Manny B isn’t traded. He is the one guy in the minors who I would have a problem with giving up because of his increase in velocity to go along with his pitchability. While the trading of the prospects hurts the farm system with a deep draft the Yankees should be able to restock it with 2 picks probably falling in the first 50 picks. So I ask you world what do you think of my thinking?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A look back.

In one of my last posts before life got in the way I looked at a hitter and pitcher at each level. Let’s see if I knew anything.

- Hitter. Jesus Montero. Wow I went all out with this pick. In my defense thou there was no one else at the AAA level to really pick. Montero’s triple slash line was the following .289/.353/.517. Extremely impressive stuff for a guy who was 20 for the whole season. His walk rate in 09 was 7.38%, in 10 was 9.12 which is good for one of the youngest players at AAA. While Montero did strike out more than double his total from last year I am not too concerned. Overall a great year for Montero
- Pitcher – Zach McAllister. Wow terrible pick. McAllister dropped off the prospect map almost. In every aspect except one did Zach have a terrible year, he had more innings then he had before 149.2 actually. Whip in 09 was 1.083, in 2010 1.537, K/9 was 7.1 in 09 to 6.0 in 2010. ERA in 2009 was 2.23 which is a good, 5.29 in 2010. Overall a terrible season for Zach and oh ya they shipped him off to Cleveland.
- Hitter – David Adams. I wanted to see if the 2nd half surge that Adams had wasn’t a fluke. It sure wasn’t. Adams was derailed by a very bad ankle sprain that turned out to be broken. Only bad part of Adams season was he got 173 at bats but his triple slash line was this, .309/.393/.507. Strike out rate for Adams was 15.4% in 2009, 2010 it was 17.9% but the way he was scolding the ball I don’t have a problem with his. His walk rate was 10.7% for 2009 while his walk rate in 2010 was 10.4% so roughly the same. Out of all the hitters in the Yankees farm system I think Adams has the defensive ability to be average which means he should be an average MLB player. Not too bad for a 3rd round pick.

- Pitcher – DJ Mitchell. Mitchell had a good season, not great just good which is fine. I don’t think he will be a starter going forward as lefties continued to hurt him. His K rate did jump up in AAA but it was only 17 innings. If he can limit lefties and keep his K rate over 7 I think he might be a starter, the problem is his change up isn’t developing. Mitchell should compete to be the #8 starter of the Yankees.

- Hitter – Abe Almonte. An injury season for Almonte. When he was out there it wasn’t great thou. Good luck next year Abe, you’ve been a favorite of mine for a few years. Please put all that talent together next year. Be the Melky Mesa of 2011.

- Pitcher – Jairo Heredia. He has now fallen off the Yankees radar and the prospect map. 2 years in a row he has shown up to camp out of shape. He is now a reliever in the Yankees mind and I’ve lost all faith in him going forward. Bad pick Jake.

- Hitter – Slade Heathcott. For being a teenager in Low A Slade did a good job. I would have liked a little more power but he had a bump left shoulder that he had operated on after the season. Slade had a triple slash line of .258/.359/.352. The power wasn’t there but a .359 OBP as a teen is impressive. I would like to see Slade cut down on his K rate while hitting for some power. Hopefully the Yankees aren’t too bullish with Slade. Send him back down to Low A to start the year then go to High A after a month or 2.

- Pitcher – Nik Turley. A personal favorite of mine didn’t make to Low A still. He pitched in Staten Island for the first time and was ok. Not great just ok. I want to see them turn the big guy lose but I think the Yankees know something that I don’t. He is a large guy so maybe they are still working on his mechanics.

Looking at the guys I picked I will pat myself on the back for picking Adams. If he had stayed healthy for the whole season he would have gotten to AAA. He also probably would have been the best AA player for the Yankees based on everything. I will not give myself credit for picking Jesus, it was a pretty easy pick. Slade also was a pretty easy pick but I should get a little credit for that one. Almonte is a pass because of the injury. On the pitching side to say I sucked it up is being kind. Mitchell had a decent year but not great. Every other guy sucked or didn’t pitch for the level I thought. Hopefully next March I can do a little better with my picks.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Matt Harvey

Baseball season starts in 6 days and I’m pumped. While I love college basketball after the first weekend of the tourney my excitement goes down. Luckily this year the tourney was very good but now baseball season is starting Sunday. College and high school baseball has been going on for a little bit now. It’s 10 weeks away from the draft. So I will be looking at players that I think the Yankees could draft
Usually the Yankees get in the first round players who struggled because of injuries or other concerns. But one guy who I think is rising to the Yankees is Matt Harvey of UNC.

Matt Harvey was drafted in 07 by the Angels in the 3rd round. He was considered a 1st round talent but because of signability concerns he dropped in the draft. With Scott Boras as his agent/advisor he ended up following up on his commitment to UNC.

When he went to UNC most draft experts thought that he would be a top 5 pick easily in this draft. Some thought that he would be the #1 pick if he pitched to his ability at UNC. His freshman year helped him keep those thoughts there. Pitching mostly out of the starting rotation Harvey started 16 games with 3 games out of the pen. He pitched to a total of 67.2 innings with a 6.9 H/9, 6.3 BB/9 and 10.6 K/p. He backed those stats up with a 1.46 WHIP and a 2.79 ERA. All of those numbers were great except the walks but that is something that can be improved on.

On the way to being a top 5 a big problem happened, it’s called sophomore year. Harvey got into 21 total games with 13 of them coming in the starting fashion. In those starts and games Harvey got 75 innings problem is he wasn’t very good in those innings. 10.6 H/9, 5.0 BB/9 and 9.7 K/9. Those stats gave Harvey a 1.73 WHIP and a 5.40 ERA. The only improvement was in BB/9 but he did keep his K/9 almost at 10.
Coming into this year most draft experts thought Harvey would need a HUGE year to get higher than a late 2nd round pick. So far he hasn’t disappointed. 39 innings in over 6 starts Harvey has put up some dominating #’s. He has struck out 48 batters for an 11 K/9 to go along with a 1.85 ERA. His walk rate has lowered to 4.6 per 9 while still bad has improved.

Stuff wise Harvey has been flashing a mid 90’s fastball sitting in the low 90’s along with a plus curveball and an average change up. His height and weight are good for a starting pitcher being 6’4” weighting in as 225 lbs. I haven’t seen any video of Harvey pitch so I can’t give an opinion on his mechanics but guys who flash those pitches are nice to have.

The Boras factor is going to up his price but Harvey is the type of guy the Yankees don’t normally get in the draft. He struggled and those are the type of players that the Yanks go after. Legit top 5 guys don’t fall to the Yankees unless they have a big injury concern or have other concerns. The concern with Harvey is that he won’t ever be able to keep his stuff on check. His walk rate is a big concern but I have faith in the Yankees staff to fix that.

If the Yankees could get Harvey it would be a big boom to their farm system. While he would be a college pitcher I think he would need more time than other college pitchers because they would be working on his command. Harvey definitely is name to keep an eye on over the next 10 weeks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hitters and Pitchers

So the blog has taken a backseat to life right now. I just finished buying a house so I’m in the process of packing for the move which will take place in mid April. Also with the wife being prego I’ve had to do a bunch of stuff also. I’ve kicked ideas around for multiple blog posts and I’ve started research into a bunch of things I want to write about. The problem is finding time while doing all these other things and working. So I’m sorry for the lack of updates. I will be posting more now thou because it is an escape from all the hassle of everything else. So here we go.
In this blog post what I want to cover is a hitter and pitcher at each Yankee affiliate that people should be looking into.


Hitter: Jesus Montero. The guy is the best prospect in the Yankee system and I would say he has the biggest gap from his ceiling and the next guy. I have no doubts about Jesus’ hitting ability. I believe he will crush pitching. The biggest concern is now he is at a level where Yankee pitchers are going to be paying attention to runners so they won’t be getting great jumps off the pitchers. It is now where we see if Jesus will be able to throw out runners. If he can just be a slightly below average defender then his bat will play up hugely.

Pitcher: Zach McAllister. Zach is the best pitching prospect which is in the upper minors. In the last two seasons he has pitched extremely well. It would be nice to see that continue. I want to see him continue refining his secondary stuff. BA keeps changing it’s scouting report on him. Last year they said he had a plus fastball when you consider his movement and velocity with his secondary pitching lagging behind. Now they say he throw s an average fastball but has a plus slider. I would like to have Zach keep his k/9 over 7.


Hitter: David Adams. Austin is the 2nd best prospect in the Yankees system so I’m not worried about him. David Adams had a breakout season last year. I want to see if the changes he made to his swing are legit or not. If David Adams keeps up this performance in AA he will push himself into the top 10 easily of the Yankee prospects. I want to see the same hitting and keep his solid defense up there.

Pitcher: DJ Mitchell. DJ did a very good job pitching this last year at Charleston and Tampa. The only problem for DJ is splits against left handed hitters. He needs to develop a change up to keep them off his sinker and curveball. If he can develop that pitch and keep lefties from not killing him his prospect status can go up from a Justin Masterson to a #4 starter.


Hitter: Abe Almonte. Abe has some great tools and was a top 30 prospect until he had a terrible year in 08. He rebounded somewhat to put up some respectable numbers. With the Yankees lacking a lot of outfield prospects with big ceilings especially getting into the upper minors Abe could really help his case with a big season. I could see the Yankees being aggressive with Abe this year if he starts off Tampa with a big first half.

Pitcher: Jairo Heredia. Jairo really had a down year mostly because of injuries. He came to camp last year out of shape and it showed. He dominated in 08 the Sally league. Before Jairo had the down 08 Mike at RAB called him the Dominican Phil Hughes because Jairo struck out a ton of hitters and got a ton of groundballs. If Jairo comes to camp in good shape with his fastball being more consistent in it’s velocity he could really jump up into top 15 category for the Yankees.


Hitter: Slade Heathcott. He has one of the highest ceilings in the system. Also when you invest a 1st round pick and give him $2.2 million bonus you expect much. Staying healthy is one major thing for Slade since he has fought some injuries the last year. I would love to see a healthy Slade put up some big numbers. If he puts up the numbers he is capable of he will be a top 100 prospect in baseball.

Pitcher: Nik Turley. The guy to me has a good upside from the left side. Also big projectable guys are a flaw to most prospect watchers. Turley was in short season last year and pitched pretty well. I want to see what he can do in full season and while he is raw I think he will do well. If he does I could see him spend all year in Low A this year and split next year between High A and AA. The Yankees didn’t just give a six figure bonus to a 50th rounder unless they thought he had talent.

So there you go people. Those are guys that I will be watching closely this year in the full season leagues. I will be doing one of these for SS and GCL closer to the start of those seasons. Also it will be interesting to see which 09 draft picks made the jump from full season to short season. Baseball is almost here. I know I can’t wait.