Monday, July 25, 2011

Checking up on the 2010 Draftees

Cito Culver: Culver is still playing with Staten Island, hitting .297 through 34 games. Culver also has a respectable .357 wOBA, and continues to draw walks at an above average rate. The only real negative aspect about Culver so far is his lack of power, as he hasn't taken the ball out of the park in 49 games with Staten Island, beginning from last year.

Angelo Gumbs: Angelo has been playing with Staten Island since the beginning of the year, after playing with GCL rookie league last year. Gumbs is hitting .294 with the Yankees and has a .369 wOBA to his credit. Angelo's strikeout rate is something to keep an eye on, however, as he goes down at the plate 23% of the time.

Culver (R.) and Gumbs (L.) playing with Staten Island

Rob Segedin: Segedin has struggled somewhat after being drafted third round out of Tulane. Segedin is currently playing with High-A Tampa after moving up from Charleston earlier this year. Yet, his average and wOBA are below average so far, although he hit very well in Charleston, having a .323 BA and .394 wOBA to his name.

Mason Williams: Out of all the 2010 Yankee draftees, Williams has arguably had the best season so far. Playing with Low-A Staten Island, he's hitting .348 with a .406 wOBA (!). The only minor concern for Williams is his low walk rate, which could become a problem when and if he is promoted to higher levels of MiLB.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ubaldo: Is he worth the young guns?

As many of you know, Ubaldo Jimenez was recently "put on the market" by the Rockies. The Rockies claim to be seeking four players, preferably two "blue chip" prospects, an additional prospect, and a Major League ready player that the Rockies could immediately plug in. The Yankees are one of the prime candidates to offer this kind of talent. Yet, this wouldn't come without emptying a large part of the farm system.

Yesterday, as per Jon Heyman, the Rockies released who they would potentially want in a deal with New York. Colorado was supposedly seeking Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Ivan Nova. Yet today, it was made known that  Colorado doesn't have any interest in Montero as they only view him as a future first baseman... so that leaves us with Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Ivan Nova.

Colorado would ideally want to acquire all three of those guys in a deal, with an additional player coming along too, possibly Corban Joseph or David Adams.

But if I were Brian Cashman, it would be tough to make a trade like that and deal three of your top young pitchers, even for such a premier arm like Jimenez. Yes, Jimenez has been nothing short of great during his career, averaging a 8.08 K/9 and 3.83 xFIP throughout his career. Jimenez is also good at drawing ground balls, as he has a 50.2% career ground ball rate. Furthermore, he is 27 and about to enter his prime, and we all know how valuable young pitching can be, especially when signed to a long term cheap deal.

As we know, Jimenez wouldn't come without a hefty price tag. Dealing Banuelos and Betances would likely be a deal breaker for Cashman, even for a guy who is arguably one of the top ten best pitchers in Major League Baseball. Cashman would, however, likely pull the trigger on a deal that only includes one of Banuelos/Betances, plus Ivan Nova and other prospects. This would clearly be Colorado selling low on Jimenez, which is something that isn't likely to happen. Which leads me back to my original point...

Being "put on the market" is a funny thing. When such a premier player is placed on the trading block, with a team friendly contract, it can be tough to gauge how interested said team would be in actually dealing him. Most of the time, that team is only looking for someone to completely overwhelm them with an offer. If they aren't overwhelmed, they are almost guaranteed to hold onto the player.

Brian Cashman is a smart guy. He knows what Colorado is thinking and who they want from the Yankee system. And most importantly, he knows when a deal doesn't become worth it anymore.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adam Warren: Bronx Potential?

One of the top pitching prospects in the Yankees system is Scranton-Wilkes Barre starter Adam Warren. Warren has risen quickly through the Minors, being drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 draft and already arriving at AAA for Opening Day 2011.

 Adam Warren while pitching for UNC in 2009

Beginning his professional career with Low-A Charleston in 2009, pitching his way to a 4-2 record in 12 games. Warren logged a strikeout rate of 7.94/9, while managing a walk rate of just 1.54/9. This helped him accumulate a very sharp 2.19 FIP. Warren's success continued in 2010, going 11-7 with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. He again managed to keep his strikeout rate high and have a low walk rate, striking out as many as 9.77/9 while with Trenton.

2011 has been a different story for Warren, however. In 17 games with Scranton, his walk rate has been alarmingly low, averaging only 5.8/9, while his walk rate has risen to 3.29/9. Although this works out to a very economical 3.91 xFIP, one would believe his K/9 and BB/9 rates would be enough to keep him out of the Bronx anytime soon.

Or would they?

Considering the Yankees promoted Hector Noesi to the long reliever's role earlier this year, there really isn't a reason why they would hold Warren out of NY. Noesi struck out just 4.79/9  and walked 3.92/9 before being promoted, so what's holding Warren back?

Pitchers like Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, or even Graham Stoneburner are too far away from being called up, and guys like Andrew Brackman are simply not pitching well. If Hector Noesi had an opportunity at pitching in the Bronx, then Adam Warren should certainly get a chance too.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who's the next Great Yankee Shortstop™ ?

Photo by Bill Kostroun, Associated Press

By now most of you know Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit via a home run during yesterday's game. Derek Jeter has been the Yankees starting shortstop since 1996, and for the younger generation of fans (like myself), it's hard to imagine anyone else playing the position. Yet eventually, the time will come where Jeter will need to be playing less SS and more DH. Even though I don't want to admit it, this time is definitely coming sooner rather than later.

So who will be the one to fill the big shoes and take over for Derek? Brian Cashman seems to have pretty high hopes of Eduardo Nunez, although he's not exactly a prospect anymore. The way I see it, if Eduardo Nunez was a legit prospect, he'd be down in Scranton getting more at bats, not sitting on the bench as a super utility player. The same hold's true for Ramiro Pena. It's clear these guys aren't Jeter's successors. So let's look a little deeper into the Minor League System.

One name that springs to mind is Corban Joseph. Joseph is hitting .292 for Double-A Trenton, but is also logging a very pretty .375 wOBA. He also has an above average walk rate, but lacks skill in the power department, hitting only four home runs up to this point. Minus his power numbers, Corban Joseph is a decent hitter that might be able to fill the gap at SS for brief periods of time, but that might be the extent of it. Furthermore, he is a 2B and not a SS, and although it is not the biggest issue it the world, it makes a difference.

The last name that comes to mind in the Yankee system is Cito Culver. A first round draft pick last year, Culver is currently playing for the Staten Island Yankees in the NY/Penn league. Through 20 games in 2011, he's hitting .306 with a wOBA of .354. His strikeout rate is above league average, which is something to be concerned about, but was in his scouting report when he was drafted so it shouldn't come as a surprise. Culver is only eighteen years old, and has a long way to go to the big leagues. Out of the three players I have mentioned, I believe Culver has the best chance to be a long term Yankee's SS based on his raw talent. 

Yet, players like Culver who tend to have high potential also tend to be no sure thing. It's something to keep an eye on, as Culver could either become the next Great Yankee Shortstop™... or be the next Matt Bush.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Case For (And Against) Calling Up Jesus Montero.

Francisco Cervelli's throws into CF, Russell Martin struggling at the dish... Many Yankee's fans feel this can all be fixed in one way: giving Jesus Montero the big call to the Bronx.

Montero has had a questionable season, based on the way you prefer your stats. For SABR "geeks" like myself, Montero has been subpar, notching a .338 wOBA through 70 games. What's perhaps most alarming is his strikeout rate. In 2009, Montero struck out just 12.1% of the time, a very good rate. Yet in 2010 and through 2011, he has regressed to a 22.7% strike out rate, slightly below MLB average. His wOBA per year has also steadily decreased about .30 points per year since 2009. For the record, 2010 was Montero's first year at the AAA level, and he is still in Scranton as of July 6th, 2011.

Yet, when looking at Francisco Cervelli's troubles and Russell Martin's recent slump, Montero doesn't seem that bad. Francisco Cervelli has totaled -0.2 WAR this season, hitting just .214 with a horrendous .258 wOBA. Martin has also come back down to earth, after a torrid April in which he had .423 wOBA, he hit .200 in May, .185 in June, and .105 so far in July. What's the reason for his struggles? It really could be anybody's guess...

Montero's triple slash traditional line is .287/7/33. To any basic fan of the game, those are poor numbers all around through 70 games. It should be noted that Montero struggled early last year, then turned it on for the 2nd half of the season.

The big question is will Montero produce at the level of Francisco Cervelli and/or Russel Martin in the big leagues? Clearly, this is tough to answer. At this point in time, Montero is struggling, and it doesn't appear it will suddenly change.  Yet, if he turns it on in the 2nd half of the season again, and Russell Martin continues to struggle at the dish, he deserves a call up. Until then, when he shows us that he can produce (again) at the AAA level, Scranton will be his home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Roundup: 6/5/11

Lehigh Valley: 5 Scranton/Wilkes Barre: 2

- Greg Golson went 3-5, driving in 1 RBI.
- Luis Nunez went 3-4, with a double.
- Brandon Laird jacked his 9th HR of the season.
- Brian Gordon had an excellent day on the mound, going 5 IP with 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, and no walks.  
Yes, the longevity wasn't there, but that's a damn good sample size.

Richmond: 5 Trenton: 1

- Not a very good day at all for anyone at Trenton, Bradley Suttle went 1-3 with a double and a walk, but that's about it on the hitting side.
- Josh Romanski got pulled after one and a third, presumably with an injury. Steve Garrison came in to replace him, going 5 IP and giving up four runs. I doubt he has any shot at a call up to take Hughes spot after his start now.

Tampa: 8 Daytona: 5

- Abraham Almonte and Kelvin Castro both went deep with HR's.
- JR Murphy went 1-4, and continues his disappointing season, hitting just .220.
- Zoilo Almonte continues to hit the ball well, going 2-4, raising his average to .287.
- Jose Quintana had a good day on the mound, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and one run. He went 5 IP. (I really hope these guys aren't being groomed to throw 5 IP these days...)

Augusta 4: Charleston: 1

- Not a whole lot to love here, Kevin Mahoney went 1-4 with a walk. That's about it.
- Zach Nuding got smacked for four runs in four innings. Also gave up four hits and three walks.

Staten Island: 6 Brooklyn: 5

- SI won it in the 11th off their rivals from across the harbor. Always nice.
- Cito Culver went 2-4 with an RBI and a walk. Now up to .299 on the season.
- Reymond Nunez went 2-4 with two walks and an RBI.
- Wes Wilson was 3-4 at the dish.
- It was a long day for the SI bullpen, Wilton Rodriguez went 5 IP giving up a run, but also four hits and four walks.