This edition of the "stock up, stock down" report catches you up on the progress of the New York Yankees' top 10 prospects after the second week of baseball.
We've seen a few injuries in the Bronx already, with Mark Teixeira and David Robertson recently hitting the disabled list, and with Brendan Ryan remaining sidelined and yet to play in 2014. Former prospects Yangervis Solarte (.357), Dean Anna (1 HR, 1 2B) and Dellin Betances (4.1 IP, 0 ER, 8 K) have all pounced on early-season opportunities, and Cesar Cabral has recently been added to the bullpen as well.
Anna even experienced a career milestone on Thursday night:
Unfortunately, the organization's top 10 talents (via our Apr. 3 breakdown) aren't assured of call-ups barring further injuries to the big league team, which has begun the year at 7-6 and taken three of four from the Boston Red Sox over the weekend.
Still, after Sunday's game, they may need reinforcements at catcher or infield: Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli injured his hamstring, starter Brian McCann was shaken up after a pitch was fouled off his index finger, Brian Roberts was scratched after an MRI came up clean on his lower back and Derek Jeter was rested for a quad issue.
For most of the top prospects, then, their first two weeks won't have adjusted their estimated times of arrival to the MLB as much as highlighted their cold starts or early streaks, though we can examine these two-week sample sizes in light of their 2013 numbers to get a better idea of their updated stocks (a few have not yet played because of injury or having been held back in extended spring training).
Below, we start with some additional news and notes from around the farm system before updated stocks of the preseason top 10 prospects.
|(Apr. 3) Top 10 Yankees Prospects at Start of 2014|
|Rank||Player||Pos.||Age||Week 1 Stock|
|3.||John Ryan Murphy||C||22||Down|
*For full breakdown, analysis and outlook of top 10 prospects at the start of the 2014 season, please check out the piece from Apr. 3.
SWB RailRiders (AAA, 5-5)
The Yankees' Triple-A club, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, won their last two, including Sunday's 7-1 victory over Syracuse. They're 1.5 games back of first in the International League North.
Third baseman Zelous Wheeler, who had a great spring training with the big league club (.297/.381/.486. 7 2B), is hitting .421/.476/.684 with five doubles through seven games and 19 at-bats. If an additional big league infield spot opened up, it could go to the favorite out of camp in Scott Sizemore; the comeback journeyman has started .344/.436/.500 with three doubles, five RBI and five walks in 32 at-bats. The deciding factor could be Wheeler's five strikeouts to Sizemore's 16, however.
Preston Claiborne, who stumbled out of spring training and was sent down to start the year, has pitched just four innings and struck out five but has walked three. Most impressive has been Matt Daley, striking out 10 and walking one in just 3.1 innings .
Trenton Thunder (AA, 5-5)
The Double-A Thunder are two games back in the Eastern League Eastern Division. In a lineup headlined by No. 1 prospect Gary Sanchez and No. 4 Mason Williams, it's two infielders who are off to notable starts, as shortstop Ali Castillo is batting .323/.382/.419 and third baseman Rob Segedin is right behind in average, slashing .320/.400/.440.
They won 4-2 on Sunday over Erie, with doubles by Sanchez and left fielder Taylor Dugas and round-trippers by Williams and first baseman Kyle Roller.
Tampa Yankees (A+, 6-4)
The High-A ballclub sits two back in the Florida State League North but is off to a solid start. Three infielders—third basemen Peter O'Brien and Dante Bichette Jr. and second baseman Angelo Gumbs—have each put together strong lines through two weeks. O'Brien is batting .333/.366/.692 with four home runs, two doubles and six RBI in 39 at-bats, Gumbs is at .308/.325/.308 with two RBI and Bichette Jr.'s slashed .267/.450/.400 with four doubles and 10 walks.
Notable pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, who had a negative outing in camp in his return from Tommy John, has begun the year with no earned runs, one walk four hits and 11 strikeouts in nine innings. Talented right-hander Rafael De Paula has tossed 8.1 innings for the High-A team with a 1-1 record in two starts, 3.24 ERA, four walks and 12 strikeouts.
On Sunday, Tampa topped Daytona, 7-3, stringing together 11 hits and a four-run fifth inning.
Charleston Riverdogs (A, 3-6)
The Low-A Charleston Riverdogs have begun poorly, losing their last four to drop to 3-6 and sixth in the South Atlantic League Southern. It's not good news that only two batters are currently above .250 and that the roster possesses the likes of noted prospects No. 7 Aaron Judge, shortstop Abiatal Avelino, third baseman Miguel Andujar and second baseman Gosuke Katoh.
First baseman Mike Ford is enjoying a great streak through 37 at-bats, though, with a .351/.429/.568 line that includes two doubles, two homers and four walks. Avelino and Andujar are batting a disappointing .226 and .200, respectively, and Katoh is just 3-for-22 (.136) so far. Well-known pitching prospect Luis Severino has pitched only 4.2 innings and has a 5.79 ERA, seven hits, one walk and one strikeout.
Charleston fell 3-2 to Augusta on Sunday despite a ninth-inning comeback that had narrowed the lead to one.
|Week 2 Stock, Top 10 Prospects|
|Player||Week 1||Week 2|
|John Ryan Murphy||Down||Down|
Stock: Up, Top 10 Prospects
No. 1 Gary Sanchez (Last Week: Up)
The top prospect, and one of the best in all of baseball, continued his hot hitting in Week 2, going 9-for-20 to move his average up to .353 on the year. The starting catcher in Trenton is 12-for-34 overall with five doubles, one homer, 10 RBI, six walks and seven strikeouts.
The 21-year-old hasn't hit over .300/.400/.550 since rookie ball, but his exceptional spring training (.364/.364/.909), current hot hitting and ability to get on base (.450, 6 BB) are all excellent signs this early. There isn't much room for Sanchez to move through the organization this soon, with McCann and Cervelli in the Bronx and John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine occupying roster spots in Scranton.
But 2014 has begun promisingly, as he's shown some pop in spring training (2 HR in 11 AB) and early on in Double-A (1 HR). His stock is certainly trending upward after a handful of games, and the big league club should be confident with his progress; he can only help his cause by remaining productive through the remainder of the first month of baseball.
No. 4 Mason Williams (Last Week: Up)
One of the Yankees' two top outfield talents, Williams took a step back in 2013, as he hit .245/.304/.337. For all his speed, he swiped just 15 bags last season (28 in 2011; 20 in 2012). In 17 games in his promotion to Trenton last year, he hit .153/.164/.264 and struck out 18 times.
In spite of a strong Arizona Fall League (.267/.330/.337), Williams started slow in the spring with a .154/.172/.231 line in 26 at-bats. But this past week, he's remained the fifth-best batter in Trenton, finishing 7-for-27 with a homer to bring his season numbers to .262/.326/.476.
The added boon is that Williams has walked four times, although you don't like that he has no stolen bases on the year. To continue to boost his stock among organizational outfielders, you'd like to see Williams reach base more often and turn up his aggressiveness on the basepaths (no stolen-base attempts).
No. 7 Aaron Judge (Last Week: Up)
The 6'7" college outfield product is near the top of a Class-A Charleston lineup saturated with slumping batters (69-for-328 overall, .210). Though after a 4-for-15 first week, Judge has followed 5-for-21 to take his early-season average to a respectable .250, good for third on the team.
For all his size and the Yankees' depth of outfield talent in the system and at the major league level, you'd like to see him begin to generate some more power (no extra-base hits so far), but his contact and patience (8 BB) are encouraging for his 2014 pro debut.
More than anything, we could just be seeing Judge work out some early pro ball "jitters" (as he mentions in the video below)—especially considering this is a guy who hit .369/.461/.655 in his final year of college ball. Look for his numbers, and his stock, to continue to rise this month.
No. 5 Eric Jagielo (Last Week: Down)
The 26th pick of the 2013 draft was off to a cold start last week (1-for-15) in High-A Tampa, though his one hit, since it left the ballpark, seemed more of a good sign than a portend. His average is still subpar through 10 games (.220), but he's patched together a 9-for-26 run with two more home runs, two doubles and nine RBI in the past six games.
He was a smart draft selection—and one of a few by New York in 2013 that signaled a new direction of scouting—for a farm short on pro-ready, college-tested talent. The 6'2" third baseman hit an outstanding .388/.500/.63 in his final year at Notre Dame and finished 2013 pro ball at .268/.381/.458.
To describe the Yankees' third base situation as "thin" would be an understatement (Kelly Johnson and Solarte have been the starting third basemen), so it'll be interesting to monitor the continued development of the lefty-hitting 21-year-old, who just might have the swing and upside to be a perfect fit for the Bronx in a few short years. His biggest challenge as he rises through the system (maybe as soon as the second half of 2014) will be getting on base, as he's drawn just three walks to 13 strikeouts this year (.273 OBP).
Stock: Down, Top 10 Prospects
No. 3 John Ryan Murphy (Last Week: Down)
Murphy has essentially struggled since his September call-up in 2013, when he went 4-for-26 (.154) in his big league debut. He went 2-for-26 in spring training (.077) and 0-for-7 in his first week of 2014 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which has seen a 5-for-26 (.192) slide overall.
His 5-for-19 second week was definitely an improvement, but it wasn't enough to turn his stock around after failing to instill confidence in his average-to-below-average bat. He wasn't just beat out of the backup catcher competition by Cervelli this spring; he wasn't even close after an abysmal camp.
Through seven Triple-A games, he's only struck out five times and has a solid three doubles to his name, but he hasn't drawn a single base on balls, and his .192 OBP leaves way too much to be desired as of this week. Luckily for Murphy, he'll still be the next catcher called up this year since he remains the most pro-ready (Romine has already been recalled this month), so his overall stock hasn't changed dramatically—it simply wasn't very high entering the season and hasn't improved.
No. 6 Tyler Austin (Last Week: N/A)
Due to injury (wrist/thumb), the outfield prospect didn't appear in 2014 spring training or play the first week of Double-A ball. Since returning, Austin has begun quietly at Trenton through six games. He's 6-for-25 (.240)—which isn't too bad—but he has no extra-base hits, only one walk and six strikeouts.
After he slashed a .322/.400/.559 with 17 homers, 36 doubles, six triples, 80 RBI and 51 walks in 2012, his stock slipped in 2013, as he hit just .265/.351/.378 with six homers, 17 doubles, one triple and 42 walks after playing the majority of the year at Double-A for the first time (83 games).
Austin is known for his plate discipline (see: walk totals), gap power (doubles) and flashes of pop that make him a projectable big league corner outfielder. He'll just have to prove he's worthy of his first-ever promotion to Triple-A, and then will have to wait for an opportunity in the Bronx. It'll be easier said than done, as the likes of Zoilo Almonte, Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott will each vie for a call-up this season in an outfield stacked with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki.
No. 2 Slade Heathcott
- knee injury
No. 9 Jose Ramirez
- oblique injury
No. 10 Ian Clarkin
- extended spring training
No. 8 Greg Bird
- lower back injury