The Yankee farm system has cooled off a bit since the beginning of the season, but they continue to impress. They fight every day to prove the experts wrong and show that the Yankees are not a barren and depleted system. Several Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have been up and down over the last few weeks with the Yankees faulty bullpen and iffy infield and have struggled to impress. The lower levels for the Baby Bombers, however, continue to show hope for the future of the pinstripes. Let’s take a look in this week’s Prospect Watch.
1. C Gary Sanchez, Trenton Thunder. Sanchez may have cooled down a bit at the plate, but he is still an RBI machine. If you read yesterday’s article on Sanchez on Yanks Go Yard, you’ll know it’s the strides that he has been taking behind the plate that is most impressive. At just 21 years of age, Sanchez is learning how to command his young pitching staff and become the leader of the Thunder.
2014 stats: .273, 4 HR, 21 RBI
2. OF/IF Tyler Austin, Trenton Thunder. Austin is struggling to start the 2014 season, still looking for his first home run. Perhaps the transition from outfielder to infielder is deterring his focus at the plate. Regardless, he is still an everyday fixture in the Thunder line-up and he won’t be going anywhere soon.
2014 stats: .250, 6 RBI
3. Mason Williams, Trenton Thunder. Looking at his slash line it would be hard pressed to convince you he is one of our elite prospects. However, if you look at what he is doing in the runs department, you’ll see it’s his speed and havoc on the base paths that are his strength. He is too talented for his bat to not catch up. Have patience, Yankee fans, Mase is on his way back.
2014 stats: .203, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 21 Runs scored (leads Thunder)
4. OF Slade Heathcott, extended spring training. Heathcott has yet to suit up in 2014 as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. He is widely considered one of the better defensive prospects in the system with a cannon of an arm. He should be returning soon.
5. 3B Eric Jagielo, Tampa Yankees. One of the trio of first round picks by the Yankees in 2013, Jagielo is certainly proving them correct. He is still working on his average, but his power and RBI production is what you want to see from the hot corner. He has been struggling a bit in the field, but that is what Single-A ball is for: to work the kinks out. At 21 years of age, Jagielo is only trending upwards.
2014 stats: .248, 6 HR, 18 RBI
6. OF/ 1B Aaron Judge, Charleston RiverDogs. The second of the Big Three 2013 first round picks looks to be completely heeled from that lingering quad injury. Judge has been scorching hot since the last Prospect Watch and is turning it up in the field as well. The Yankees certainly began rebuilding their future in the first round of 2013 draft.
2014 stats: .324, 2 HR, 13 RBI
7. 1B Greg Bird, Tampa Yankees. Still recovering from the back injury that set him back last season, he has just began his 2014 season this week. Bird is coming off a monster .288, 20 HR, and 107 walk campaign for the RiverDogs. With the lack of a real first baseman to back up Mark Teixeira in the Bronx, Bird can not return to full strength soon enough.
8. SP Ian Clarkin, Charleston RiverDogs. Welcome back, Mr. Clarkin! The third of the 2013 first round draft picks’ long-awaited debut was worth the wait. After his return from extended spring training, Clarkin’s first start for the RiverDogs last week was what the Yankees envisioned from their first round pick. It’s a small sample size thus far, but the Yankees may have hit the jackpot.
2014 stats: 1 start, 5 IP, 5 K, 0.00 ERA
9. SP, Luis Severino, Charleston RiverDogs. Severino is still searching for his first win on the young 2014 season. Since the last prospect watch, however, his peripheral stats have improved greatly. He has lowered his ERA tremendously while improving his strikeout rate as well. The wins will come if Severino keeps up his recent ways.
2014 stats: 0-1, 2.16 ERA, 29 K in 25.1 IP
10. SP, Manny Banuelos, Tampa Yankees. I’m keeping him in the Top Ten prospects as he works his way back slowly from past injuries. He has yet to be stretched out this season, going three to four innings per start, but he hasn’t looked terrible. Still looking for his first win, he continues to pitch decently enough in his limited work.
2014 stats: 0-0, 2.84 ERA, 14 K over 12.2 IP
Others to keep an eye on:
RP Danny Burawa (SWB) hit the DL, but was lights out before getting injured. He is 2-0 and has still yet to allow a run this season striking out 12 over his 5 appearances. The Yankees desperately need him to return to health with their shaky bullpen… RP Mike Montgomery (SWB) has also been dominant and you have to begin to wonder why he has yet to be given his chance in pinstripes. Montgomery sits at 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA, 2 saves and 17 Ks over 15.1 IP… C Peter O’Brien (Tampa) refuses to cool off this season. He is now batting .333 and leading the Florida State League with 9 HRs. He also has 17 RBI on the year.… 3B Dante Bichette, Jr. (Tampa) is putting together a nice season batting .311 with 3 HR and 18 RBI… SP Caleb Smith (Charleston) may be the steal of the 2013 draft. The 14th rounder took home a South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week award and doesn’t seem to be cooling down. He stands at 3-1 with a 0.66 ERA and 33 Ks in 27.1 IP… RP Nick Rumbelow (Charleston) has been on fire closing out games. He has yet to allow a run this season in picking up 8 saves while striking out 18 over 9 IP… 1B Mike Ford (Charleston) is still showing he has the goods to hit, batting .326 with three home runs and 14 RBI… OF Michael O’Neill (Charleston) won’t be replacing his legendary uncle Paul anytime soon, however his power bat has certainly come alive. He is batting .232 but has 5 HR and 18 RBI on the season, both of which lead the RiverDogs offense.