Monday, June 4, 2012

Catching Up With The AB4AR Top 30

(Gone but not forgotten... )

A little over 5 months ago, I dipped my toe in the prospect pool and made my first attempt at creating a top Yankee prospects list.  Over a week at the end of December/early January, I unveiled my inaugural AB4AR Top 30.  Some picks were actually pretty good (ranking Rob Segedin 17th when many others didn't even have him on their lists).  Some were downright horrible (ranking Tyler Austin 30th).  Mine was really the first list that came out prior to the 2012 season, so I think for a first try it wasn't bad, but now that it's MLB Draft time, everybody is coming out with their updated pre-draft lists (see here and here).

To be quite honest, I've never really understood the value of re-doing the rankings so early in the MiL season.  Too much credit can be given for a really hot start, too much punishment can be given a really crummy start, and I don't think guys deserve to be bumped down the rankings just because they are hurt.  And let's not forget that the SS and GCL leagues haven't even started up yet.  It's no knock on the guys and sites that do it, but personally, I don't see how I'm supposed to honestly say that I think one guy has moved up over another when he hasn't even gotten 1 PA this year.

I can't.  And I won't.  But what I will do is revisit my Top 30 list from late last year/early this year and give a quick run-through of what each guy is doing and how that may affect his stock moving forward towards the eventual unveiling of the 2012/2013 edition of the AB4AR Top 30.  So if you're ready, I'm ready.  Let's take a look.

Monthly Minor League Report (May): The Upper Levels

(Where are the strikeouts, guy?  Courtesy of Martin Griff/The Times)

The lower levels were covered on Saturday before I went AWOL for the wedding, so I'm playing catch-up today.  One day late isn't that bad, right?  I mean, when you were faced with the kind of spread I was faced with at this wedding (Brooklyn Brewery beer on tap, top shelf liquor, killer after-party bar), it would have been downright un-American to curb my celebrating so that I could wake up early enough to write this yesterday.  So here it is today, the completion of the AB4AR Monthly Minor League Report for the Month of May.

Game 53 Wrap-Up: NYY 5 DET 1

(Who are you and what have you done with Phil Hughes??  Courtesy of The AP)

Being on the losing end of a walk-off win sucks.  It sucks even more when it happens on a game-winning sacrifice fly.  That's exactly how the Yankees lost on Saturday to even up this series in Detroit, and it put a major damper on their chances to get out with a series win considering yesterday's pitching matchup was Phil Hughes vs. Justin Verlander.  Now the Yankees have hit Verlander before, but with Hughes been so hot-and-cold this season, it's almost impossible to predict what kind of outing he would give in comparison.  As luck would have it, yesterday was a Good Phil outing, and not just a regular one but possibly the best Phil outing we've ever seen.

Game Notes:

- The Yankees didn't waste any time jumping on Verlander, as Derek Jeter hit the first pitch he saw, a changeup that was up in the zone, for a leadoff HR and a 1-0 lead.  They followed it up with a pair of walks, a passed ball by Omir Santos, and a sac fly from Mark Teixeira to make it 2-0.

- Verlander wasn't sharp early, and it showed.  His trademark electric stuff was there, but he couldn't establish consistent command of any of his pitches and his pitch count quickly increased.  He made a rookie mistake to Alex Rodriguez in the top of the 3rd, throwing him 5 straight fastballs.  The Horse turned the 5th one (a 3-1 pitch) into a souvenir and it was 3-0 Yanks.

- In direct contrast to Verlander, Hughes had much better fastball command than he usually displays.  He worked both sides of the plate well with it, generally worked from ahead in the count, and kept the Detroit hitters off balance.

- After working through 3 scoreless frames, allowing a hit and 2 walks, Hughes made his first and only mistake of the day in the bottom of the 4th when he hung a first-pitch curveball to Prince Fielder.  The Tigers were on the board, but Hughes was money from then on.

- The Yankee offense quickly got that run back in the 5th on a double by Curtis Granderson and a 2-out RBI triple by Robinson Cano, who scored on a throwing error to make it 5-1.  Yay for hits with RISP!

- After giving up a run on 2 hits and 3 walks through 5, Hughes really hit his stride in the final 4 innings.  He gave up only 2 more hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out 5 of his 8 total on the day.

- It was truly an outstanding performance for Hughes.  His fastball command was excellent and his curveball was working well as a swing-and-miss out pitch.  He definitely proved to Joe that he was worthy of finishing this game off, and he did it on 123 pitches for his first career 9-inning complete game.