Today Josh Norris tweeted some good news. Mark Newman told Josh, that top prospects Greg Bird and Slade Heathcott, should be back in two weeks. Bird and Heathcott, are both top 10 prospects so there returns are very important. It isn’t all good news as Newman also reported that Nik Turley, and Danny Burawa won’t be back as soon. If needed the team might as well put Turley on the 60-day D.L. as he has missed a lot of days so far.
Players who look like they might have rebound seasons.
The season of redemption continued last week as several more players who had disappointing 2013 seasons began playing better. Last time I highlighted the performances of Dante Bichette, Mason Williams, and Manny Banuelos, but since then Angelo Gumbs, Rafael De Paula, Michael O’Neil and Bryan Mitchell, have all started to get hot.
All these players fit with the Yankees theme of redemption, but Gumbs stands out as the player who most needed a big rebound season.
Gumbs began the 2013 season in Hi-A Tampa. This was an aggressive jump for him, but he had a good spring training, and was one of the more toolsy players in the Yankees system. Gumbs was about 3 years younger than the average player in Hi-A, and his inexperience was pretty obvious. His early struggles with Tampa forced the team to send him back to Charleston, where he continued to struggle.
Overall he had a .593 OPS last season. This was pretty surprising as he was pretty good in 2012. Gumbs, like many other Yankees suffered through an injury, but even with that injury his numbers were very disappointing.
Before this season it was unclear if Gumbs would even get another shot at Hi-A, but he did and has done well so far. Overall his .704 OPS isn’t that great, but he has really gotten hot since my last update. In his last ten games he has an OPS of .840. He has shown good power for a second baseman and has gotten on-base nearly 40 percent of the time.
Gumbs is a very important part of the Yankees farm system, and was a former top-10 Yankee prospect. With the emergence of Rob Refsnyder, and Gosuke Katoh, he needed this type of start. He could regain his status as the system’s best second base prospect if he keeps this up.
Like Gumbs, O’Neill also needed a big bounce back season to be considered a good prospect. O’Neill draft stock fell quite a bit before last year’s draft, and he performed poorly in his first taste of professional baseball. So he obviously needed a rebound season. So far he has shown that he will strike-out a lot, but he can provide some offense.
Overall he has a .706 OPS, but a .893 OPS in his last 10 games. He has 15 strikeouts in his last 37 at-bats, but also has 2 homeruns, 2 triples, and a double. He also has 4 steals during that span. He still needs to cut down his k rate, but for now he looks like he might be able to tap into his potential.
The Yankees also have a couple pitchers who are turning things around. De Paula has only allowed two walks in his last 11 innings, and Mitchell had one of the best starts in minor league baseball last week.
Mitchell had 12 ks, and 2 walks in 6 shutout innings in his last start. His performance truly showed his potential, and if he can pitch that way all season the Yankees may have a new top pitching prospect. Mitchell’s previous two starts were pretty awful, so we’ll have to see which Mitchell shows up the rest of the way.
The same can be said about De Paula, except he has had two good starts in a row. He has finally shown the ability to adjust to Hi-A. Of course he still needs to work on his command and secondary pitches but this is a step in the right direction. Listening to the games it seemed obvious that he was still leaving pitches up in the zone, and they were hit a long way for outs. As he moves up in the system those might drop for base-hits, so he will still need to work of keeping the ball low.
The star of the redemption group is the same as last week, as Dante Bichette Jr, is third in the league in OPS. His OPS is currently 1.031. His OPS is the result of his .500 OBP and a .531 SLG%. He has sixteen walks on the year, and has only struck out 11 times. Bichette made some serious adjustments to his swing, and it really looks like it is paying off.
It’s possible that the team has told him to focus mostly on his offense, as he hasn’t gotten a lot of games at third. Maybe that helped him focus at plate.
Unlike Bichette, Mason Williams has really stalled since his hot start. He has a .639 OPS in his last ten games. It’s still early, so it’s hard to be overly excited about Bichette or disappointed in Williams, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Players who are starting to emerge.
While most of the Low-A Yankee team is made up of struggling young players, there are a few players that seem to be getting hot. Abi Avelino and Tyler Wade are two of these players,and have both looked good this season. Avelino has a .736 OPS this season, though he has struggled recently. Wade is the exact opposite, as he has .750 OPS, and has been very hot in his last ten games. Both of these players are young shortstops that can field their position, so the fact that they are showing okay bats so far is a very good sign. Especially when you consider that they play in an extreme pitchers league, and park.
The Yankees are also getting good performances from their 2013 first round picks. Aaron Judge has finally gotten his first two extra-base hits, and is hitting for a .886 OPS in the last ten games. If he continues to mash he won’t be in Charleston for long, people thought he should have started the year in Tampa anyway.
Jagielo has slowed down a bit, but he has an OPS of .793 in his last 10 games, overall his OPS is .851. He has really limited his strikeouts over the past ten games as he has only 7 and has 4 walks. Overall on the year he has 17 ks and 6 walks. Assuming the k problem doesn’t persist, his biggest weakness is his defense. The Tampa Yankees employ a lot of shifts, which may be one of the reasons his defense hasn’t looked great.
Lastly Jake Cave, is quietly having a pretty good year. He has a .730 OPS, and has been very good over the last ten games, with an OPS of .930. Cave has yet to hit a homerun, but he does have 5 doubles and two triples. This is his first taste of Hi-A, so it’s good to see that he is adjusting to it quickly. He’s probably one the team’s most underrated prospects, but I guess that might change if he keeps this up.
Players that have consistently performed well so far.
Gary Sanchez, Bichette, Rookie Davis, Caleb Smith and Peter O’Brien, have easily been the most consistent performers this season. Sanchez has .873 OPS, in AA, O’Brien and Bichette both have an OPS that is greater than a 1.000. Considering O’Brien’s age it may be time to put him AA, though there may be no room for him there.
Smith might be the systems most consistent starter and has a 1.26 ERA, and a 1.12 WHIP in three starts. I still think he should have started in Tampa, but I will admit that he seems a bit wilder this season.
Rookie Davis has also done well so far, he has a 2.75 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.26. Davis is 8 months younger than the average player in Lo-A, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets to Tampa this season. Right now he looks like a back of the rotation starter, but he still has time to improve.
MVP so far: 1. Peter O’Brien. 2. Dante Bichette Jr, Gary Sanchez. If I were to factor in age, O’Brien would probably not finish first. He is a bit old for his level. Bichette despite having two awful seasons in Lo-A, is still about 2 years younger than the average player in the league.
Best pitcher so far: Caleb Smith. 2. Eric Wooten. 3. Rafael De Paula. Wooten is 7 months older than his average competitor, and Smith is also a little older than a pitcher in Lo-A should be. De Paula is young for his league, and has a higher ceiling. It should also be noted that Zach Nudging has done very well this season, and that Luis Severino has had two nice starts in a row.