Everybody knows I love me some Yankee prospects. But if you read the blog enough, you also know that I don't devote as much time to following the Yankee MiL system as other sites. Basically that's because I don't have the time or the resources to devote to that coverage, but that doesn't mean I still don't follow the comings and goings of the system. So here's my belated quick run through of some of the standouts, both good and bad, for each team so far.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees:
Pleasant Surprise- Jorge Vazquez
Already 29, Vazquez has been a constant source of power all season. His .960 OPS and 17 HR leads the team, and his .403 wOBA is very good. Vazquez's big issue is his 28.9% K rate, which pretty much makes him an "all or nothing" type player. But that doesn't take away from his monster production so far. If only he were 24...
Not So Pleasant Surprise- Brandon Laird
After raking in Double-A last season, Laird was a dark horse candidate to make the MaL roster coming into ST in 2011. He hasn't been able to replicate that success this year, however, hitting just .244/.281/.340 with just 10 XBH so far. He has been better so far in May than in April, but he still has some work to do to re-establish himself as a serious prospect.
Adam Warren, David Phelps, and D.J. Mitchell have all pitched well in the rotation, with Warren throwing 8 1-run innings in his most recent outing. Justin Maxwell has 21 XBH and an .885 OPS to go along with his 68 Ks. The Jesus, while not mashing quite the way we'd all like to see, is still holding his own with a .308/.343/.417 tripleslash. Kevin Whelan is filling J-Alba's shoes nicely as the closer.
Double-A Trenton Thunder
Pleasant Surprise- Tim Norton
Norton has picked up right where he left out last season, pitching to a 1.88 ERA and 2.37 FIP in 24 innings so far this season, striking out 36 batters. He doesn't get a lot of ink because of the higher-profile names on the pitching staff, but at 28, Norton is making a name for himself as a potential future relief option.
Not So Pleasant Surprise- Melky Mesa
The kid is still striking out like a mofo, posting a 33.8% K rate so far this year. Combine that with a .673 OPS and he continues to be a question mark moving forward.
The other 2/3 of the Killer Bs are performing well (1.30 ERA, 10.12 K/9 in 7 starts for Betances. 1.96,8.35 in 8 starts for ManBan), and with Shaeffer Hall pitching well and Graham Stoneburner rehabbing, the rotation is still the best in Double-A on paper. At the plate, Austin Romine (.754 OPS) and Corban Joseph (.753) are leading the charge.
High-A Tampa Yankees
Pleasant Surprise- Rob Lyerly
Lyerly has continued his march up the ladder this season, hitting .339/.379/.500 with 20 XBH, 41 RBI, and a wOBA in the .380s. He isn't exactly a Gold Glove candidate at the hot corner (10 E already), but the dude can rake and he's increased his offensive numbers at every level so far.
Not So Pleasant Surprise- Jose Ramirez
8.14 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, and no wins in 6 starts is not what the Yankees or Ramirez had in mind after this promotion. The good news is that he's striking out over a batter an inning and has a FIP in the 4s, so once his BABIP bad luck changes, he might see some better results.
Not a lot to speak of at the plate, where "Punch and Judy" might be an overstatement. DeAngelo Mack has held his own with a .799 OPS. Brett Marshall and Jairo Heredia have looked better recently after rough starts in April.
Low-A Charleston River Dogs
Pleasant Surprise- Ramon Flores
With just a little over 19 years on this planet and only 116 games of pro ball under his belt, Flores has shined at the plate this year. His .859 OPS is 2nd on the team to J.R. Murphy and his 16.7% BB rate shows patience and plate discipline far beyond his years. A .384 wOBA for a 19-year-old is something I'll sign up for every day.
Not So Pleasant Surprise- Gary Sanchez
The kid who came into the season as one of the Yankees' (and baseball's) top prospects hasn't exactly lit the world on fire early on. He's sitting at a .238/.312/.402 line for season and is currently rehabbing in ExST after going on the DL. The good news? He was hitting .314/.455/.657 in his last 10 games before getting hurt.
For all the weaklings at High-A, there are plenty of solid hitters to be found in Charleston. Kyle Roller (.918 OPS), the previously mentioned Murphy (.867), Slade Heathcott (.845), Rob Segedin (.829), and Eduardo Sosa (.769) have all shown the ability to get it done with the stick. Tommy Kahnle (11.42 K/9) and Daniel Burawa (7.67) look like potential relief studs.