It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Yankees’ farm system. Two of their most major league-ready players have returned from their short stint in the Bronx, while their top prospect is in the dog house. Injuries have plagued the top ten prospects all season, and it appears to be taking their toll. Here is a look at the Yankees’ Top Ten (plus a few) in this week’s Prospect Watch.
C John Ryan Murphy, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Murphy literally just got back in time to make this week’s Watch. He hasn’t played yet, but was demoted with the return of Francisco Cervelli to the Bronx. Mark this writer’s words: this is a mistake. Murphy proved himself in the bigs, batting .286 with a home run and eight RBI. Did he hit some bumps behind the plate? Sure, but there is always a learning curve. He will be back soon in the majors, let’s just hope it is with the Yankees.
OF Zoilo Almonte, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Is Almonte a Quad-A hitter? He certainly has outgrown the minor leagues. Since returning to SWB upon the activation of Carlos Beltran on June 3rd, Almonte has hit in all 13 games, going 18/53 with four home runs and 11 RBI. SWB is glad to see him back, but we need this production in the Bronx.
1. C Gary Sanchez, Trenton Thunder. Not only is Sanchez slumping offensively, he has caught the ire of Tony Franklin. He was benched for five games last week for undisclosed disciplinary actions. Sanchez is not only supposed to be an elite talent, he is supposed to be a leader. It’s no coincidence that Trenton has lost 7 of 8 games since Sanchez’s mini “suspension”.
2014 stats: .246, 7 HR, 36 RBI
2. OF/IF Tyler Austin, Trenton Thunder. Austin is finally coming around. Bouncing around from a variety of positions all season had its effect on him, but he is settling in a becoming more comfortable at the plate. His pop is coming back and he is up to 20 RBI on the season.
2014 stats: .253, 2 HR, 20 RBI
3. Mason Williams, Trenton Thunder. The .225 batting average is disappointing to the naked eye, but you have to remember he was well below the Mendoza line a month ago. Williams is hitting well above .300 over the last month, and his mayhem on the base paths is producing runs at a high rate. He is making a strong case that he is ready to jump to SWB.
2014 stats: .225, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 41 Runs scored (leads Thunder), 15 SB (leads Thunder)
4. OF Slade Heathcott, Trenton Thunder. 7-DAY DL. Heathcott’s is still MIA and hasn’t appeared in a game since May 27th. Based on his history with injuries, it may be time to ponder turning the page on the Slade Heathcott experiment.
2014 stats: .182, 1 RBI
5. 3B Eric Jagielo, Tampa Yankees. 7-DAY DL. Jagielo is still on the shelf, and hasn’t appeared since May 20th which caused him to miss his first career All-Star Game that he was rightfully voted into. The DBJ has stepped up admirably in his stead, however, Jagielo needs to be back soon.
2014 stats: .256, 10 HR, 31 RBI
6. OF/ 1B Aaron Judge, Charleston RiverDogs. Judge’s numbers have progressed with every Prospect Watch this season. The kid is an absolute stud, and this writer wants to rank him higher on the Yankees’ prospect list. I know, it is a small sample size on Low-A level, but the kid is a beast and fun to watch, plain and simple.
2014 stats: .333, 9 HR, 45 RBI, .428 OBP, 124 total bases
7. 1B Greg Bird, Tampa Yankees. This is not the Greg Bird the Yankees know. You have to start wondering if his offseason injuries are still lingering and are hurting Bird. He is one of the sharpest hitters in the Yankees’ system and right now, he simply can’t hit. Something seems wrong.
2014 stats: .238, 3 HR, 10 RBI
8. SP Ian Clarkin, Charleston RiverDogs. Clarkin has bounced back nicely from a few shaky starts, and has shown why he is the top pitching prospect in the system. He has allowed just four runs over his last three starts, striking out 13 over the 14 innings he pitched. He is starting to show the consistency needed to make the jump to the next level.
2014 stats: 2-3, 3.67, 42 K/ 8 BB in 41.2 innings
9. SP, Luis Severino, Charleston RiverDogs. Finally the RiverDogs are winning some games for Severino. He is riding a two-game winning streak and is finally over .500 as he perpetually was receiving bad run support in his outings. His walks have risen just a tad since the last Prospect Watch, but let’s not kid ourselves, this kid is a star in the making.
2014 stats: 3-2, 2.79, 70 K/15 BB
10A. SP, Manny Banuelos, Trenton Thunder. Banuelos is going to get many wins since he hasn’t been stretched out past three innings this season. The important thing is that he is not losing, which means the Thunder are in the games when he leaves the field. At some point, the Yankees are going to have to loosen the reigns and let him throw.
2014 stats (Trenton): 0-1, 3.66 ERA, 20 K/9 BB
10B. C/OF Peter O’Brien, Trenton Thunder. We know O’Brien can smash the ball with 23 total homers on the season. We also know he can drive in tons of runs. We also know he strikes out a ton and has poor plate discipline. While his power numbers are on the rise every week, his batting average and OBP is falling fast. He needs to control his strikeouts and string along some hits or the Yankees may have the newest Adam Dunn on their hands.
2014 stats (Trenton): .231, 13 HRs, 31 RBI
Others to keep an eye on:
2B/ 1B/ OF Jose Pirela (SWB) continues to impress and leave Yankees fans wondering why he is in the minors. He is amid yet another hitting streak (this one at 6) and is batting .328 with four homers and 28 RBI on the season……2B Robert Refsnyder, who was hitting any and everything at Double A, has struggled mightily since his promotion to SWB. It is very discouraging as the extra base machine from Trenton is batting a meager .214 with no home runs or RBI… OF Taylor Dugas (Trenton) is quietly putting together a nice season and is starting to become more of a candidate for future promotion. He has his average up to .301…OF Jake Cave (Tampa) has cooled off a tad but is still having a solid season. He has a lot of hustle and plays hard all the time.…3B Dante Bichette, Jr., (Tampa) continues to shine in Jagielo’s absence and made quite the impression at the FSL All Star Game finishing third in the home run derby… 1B Mike Ford (Charleston) is legit and has to now be considered a Top 20 Yankees prospect. He sits at .305 on the season with 8 home runs and 30 RBI.