Saturday, June 22, 2013

Previewing The Short Season Leagues: Rookie GCL Yankees

The GCL season got started last night, with the Yankees now sporting 2 full squads.  You may have noticed that I didn't preview these teams before the season like I did with the Staten Island Yanks, and that's because after botching the Jordan Cote assignment I didn't want to take any more chances misspeaking about players.  The GCL rosters hadn't been announced prior to the start of the season, as is usually the case at this level.  The teams are made up of a combination of the HS guys from last year's draft, new draftees from this year's draft, young international free agent signings, and higher level guys rehabbing injuries.  Now that each team has gotten a game under its belt and we have an idea of what each roster is going to look like, here's what and who you should watch for.

The "upper" GCL roster is highlighted by a double play tandem of 2013 draft picks and the former shortstop who got the boot to the outfield to accommodate them.  Tyler Wade (4th round) and Gosuke Katoh (2nd) got the starts at short and second last night and both put up good nights with the bat.  That's expected to be the weaker part of both their games, so look for them to get a lot of PT and a lot of reps at this lower level to start building a better hitting approach to pro ball.  Former shortstop and 2012 2nd-rounder Austin Aune was out in right field last night, so it appears the experiment with him at short has ended before it could really get going.  He's still got a lot of tools and should rake at this level and get promoted quickly after spending a full season here last year.

On the hill, the GCL 1 staff will be anchored by 19-year-old righty Luis Severino.  He got the start last night after being bumped up from the Yankees' DSL affiliate last season and was very impressive in his debut, allowing just 1 run on 1 hit with 8 strikeouts through 4 IP.  He's got a live fastball and a pretty good slider already, so he's one to keep an eye on.  The previously mentioned Cote will start with the GCL 2 team but should move up here and possibly to Charleston late in the year if he dominates.  Lefties Caleb Frare and Chaz Hebert have shown big strikeout potential early in their young careers.

Another big lefty, Rony Bautista, is one to watch on the GCL 2 staff.  He's already 21 years old, but he stands 6'7" and showed signs of being a potential impact reliever after being converted to one in the GCL last season.  2012 pick Nathan Mikolas returns here to try to improve on last year's struggles in the outfield, as does 2013 pick Kendall Coleman.  The real player to watch here is Luis Torrens.  He's a very toolsy 17-year-old catcher who was one of the last big international signings for the Yankees before the new rules kicked in.  He signed for $1.2 million and went 2-3 with a double and an RBI in his American pro debut last night.

Nothing down here that's going to impact the future plans of the Major League Yankees, or even the Double-A Thunder for that matter, yet.  Still a lot of talent and a chance to get a first look at some of the team's recent high draft picks and international signings.  Severino and Torrens are both very legit prospects, as is Cuban pitcher Omar Luis Rodriguez, who I thought was going to start here or in Staten Island but now looks ticketed for Low-A ball.  There's a chance 1 or 2 from these teams ends up in the bottom half of next year's AB4AR Top 30.

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