Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yankees Trade Jesus Montero

Yankees get: Michael Pineda and Jose Campos
Mariners get: Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi

Of course the day after I come out with my top prospect as Jesus Montero he gets traded.  Montero's name has been brought up many times before in trade talks but they have always broken down.  Most notably in a trade for Cliff Lee with these same Seattle Mariners.  However, it seem that unless they were blown away with the player they were getting back that Yankees would end up keeping Montero as a staple in their lineup for years to come.  This means that the Yankees are very enamored with Michael Pineda and with good reason.

Last year in his first season in the Majors he went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 28 starts and  171 innings.  He also made the American League All-Star team.  This is a very good rookie season and with this trade the Yankees will have two of the top rookie pitcher from last season (Ivan Nova being the other).  However, I'm gonna focus mainly on his time in the minors.  Pineda was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005 at the age of 16.  Since then he has had a very impressive minor league career.  His first professional season was in 2006 in the Dominican Summer League.  There he went 2-1 with a 0.44 ERA in 20.1 innings.  He spent a second season in the DSL and again dominated.  He went 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA.  In 2008 he had a dominant season in A ball.  He went 8-6 with a 1.95 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.  He then pitched 2009 in High A.  There he only pitched 44.1 innings so I assume he got hurt at some point during the season.  There he went 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA and 48 strikeouts.  He again got promoted in 2010, starting at AA.  There he continued his minor league domination.  In his first year as a full time starter he went 8-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts.  He then got called up around mid-season to AAA.  There he struggled for the first time as a professional.  In 12 starts he went 3-3 with a career worst 4.76 ERA and 76 strikeouts.  In total he pitched 139.1 innings.  Except for struggling a little, this is a very impressive minor league career.  And since he was signed so young he is still four days shy of his 23rd birthday.

The other pitcher the Yankees got in the trade is 19 year old righty Jose Campos.  Campos' minor league career isn't as impressive as Pineda but he did have a very nice 2011 season.  But lets start at the beginning.  He was signed out of Venezuela in 2009 at age 17.  He spent his first season in the Venezuelan Summer League.  There he went 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in 33 innings.  He then spent the next season in the same league.  2010 was a much more impressive season.  He went 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 57 innings.  This past season he was called up to Low A Short Season (Equivalent to Staten Island in the Yankees system).  There he went 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 81.1 innings.  Since Campos has not played above Low A he is hard to project into the future.  But from everything I have read about this trade he seems to have very good stuff and could be a top of the rotation pitcher if he continues to mature.

This trade reminds me a lot of the Matt Garza for Delmon Young trade in 2007.  A top young hitting prospect for a pitcher who had about a season worth of major league experience.  With one team needing pitching and the other needing hitting they just swapped top prospects where they had bigger need.  The Yankees had a very potent offense last season and have pretty much everyone coming back.  What they don't have is a young number two starter who is MLB ready.  Was I very excited about Montero's bat in the majors?  Yes, but the one big thing about Montero is that he doesn't really have a defensive position. And with the aging Yankees needing DH at bats for the likes of Jeter and A-Rod, Montero was somewhat expendable.  Especially with Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez behind him at catcher in the minors.  Pineda looks like he is the real deal and I really like what the Yankees did with the other prospects in the deal.  They traded a back of the rotation MLB ready starter in Noesi, that they now have no need for with the depth of the rotation for a young arm with loads of potential.  Right now the Yankees are overloaded with back end starters in Burnett, Garcia, and Hughes, so having another in Noesi was completely worthless.  Campos on the other hand will start the season most likely at Low A Charleston and hopefully have a good full season there.  He is about 3 years away from the big leagues but at that point who knows what the Yankees rotation will look like, depending on who pans out and who doesn't.  And if there isn't room for him he could be very attractive trade bait for a team in need of a starter.

When I originally heard of this trade I did not like it.  I am a big Montero fan and have been waiting for him to be in the majors for about three season.  Then right when he is MLB ready he gets traded.  However, looking at what the Yankees get in return this trade has started to grow on me.  A rotation of Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova, Hughes excites me a lot.  And yes I have penciled Hughes in as the #5 starter since I am higher on him then Burnett and Garcia.  He is still only a season away from his 18 win season.  Especially after following him for years as a top prospect I still have faith he can be a top of the line starter.  Then I'm hoping the Yankees can move one of the Burnett or Garcia for another bat and put the other in long relief or for spot starts.  Then, and I know this is getting a little ahead of myself, if the Yankees were able to sign a top free agent pitcher in next years class to take Kurado's spot, that would be a scary rotation.  And if they don't sign someone then Manny or Dellin could take that spot.  This trade shores up the rotation for years to come and we all know the saying that pitching wins championships.  After the crazy day that was yesterday I am very excited for this upcoming baseball season and could see this team making a major World Series push especially if they can add one more bat.

Baseball America has a very good breakdown of the player in the trade.

ESPNs article on the trade.

ESPN article doing a good breakdown of the trade.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10

I finished my top ten this morning. Here are all the links:

Jesus Montero #1
Manny Banuelos #2
Dellin Betances #3
Gary Sanchez #4 
Mason Williams #5
Austin Romine #6
Dante Bichette Jr. #7
Ravel Santana #8
Slade Heathcott #9
David Phelps #10

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10: #1 Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero, C, AAA

In 2011, Jesus Montero finally got a chance at the big leagues and lived up to the hype so far. This season he spent most of his time in his second season at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA).  There he continued to hit.  He hit .288 with 18 HRs, 19 doubles, 52 runs, and 67 RBIs in 109 games.  Then he got called up to the majors late in the season and had a great ending to his season.  In the Bronx he hit .328 with 4 HRs, 4 doubles, 9 runs and 12 RBIs in only 18 games.  He truly burst on the scene and gave all of us prospects watching a glimpse of his bright future.

Montero was signed out of Venezuela as an nondrafted free agent in late 2006 as a 17 year old.  He played his first season in 2007 in the GCL.  In two years he was already in Trenton (AA).  In his second year in the minors, in Charleston (LoA) he had hit .326 with 17 HRs and 87 RBIs.  This season had him ranked as the #38 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America.  Then between Tampa (HiA) and Trenton in 2009 he had an amazing season.  In Tampa he hit .356 with 8 HRs, and 37 RBIs in 48 games and then in Trenton he hit .317 with 9 HRs and 33 RBIs.  Following this season Baseball America named him the Yankees top prospect and the #4 prospect in all of baseball.  He was then called up to AAA in 2010 (This is what it means to be fast tracked through the minors) and hit .289 with 21 HRs and 75 RBIs.  After that season he remained the Yankees top prospect and moved up to #3 overall by Baseball America.

Going forward Montero has a truly bright future.  This should be the last year he is listed on any prospect lists, since he should start the 2012 season at the big league level.  He has proved his is ready and can hit.  The biggest question mark with him is his catching.  Many scouts do not see him as a viable option at catcher at the big league level.  However, the Yankees have always disputed this and seem to think he is the catcher of the future.  Next year will be very telling.  Since the Yankees have Russell Martin signed, Montero should be the backup catcher and full time DH.  This will give him a chance to show if he can catch, without having to rely solely on him.  Hopefully he can succeed because he certainly can hit and having a good hitting catcher is a rare commodity in the majors.  Hopefully he can stick in the majors starting next season and have a very successful career.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10: #1 Manny Banuelos

Manny Banuelos, LHP, AA/AAA

Manny Banuelos' season was very similar to that of Dellin Betances.  The biggest difference between the two was that Betances made his major league debut and Banuelos did not.  In 2011 Banuelos made 20 starts at Trenton (AA) and went 4-5 with a 3.59 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 52 walks in 95.1 innings.  He was named at Mid-Season All-Star at this level.  He was then called up to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) for the end of the season.  There in 7 starts he went 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA with 31 strikeouts and 19 in 34.1 innings.  He also had one complete game shutout.  He was named a organization All-Star.    

Banuelos was signed out of the Mexico in 2008 at age 17.  In terms of stature he is the opposite of Betances, he is 5'11" and 155 LBs.  And also unlike Betances, Banuelos has yet to really struggle in the minors.  2011 was the first season that he had a yearlong ERA above 3.00.  In 2010, his first full year as a starter, he went from the GCL, to the Tampa (HiA), to Trenton (AA).  Although he went 0-4 he recorded a very good 2.51 ERA in 20 starts and 64.2 innings.  This season had him ranked as the #35 overall prospect by

Going forward Banuelos has a very bright future.  Him, like Betances, has control issues.  He has had them in the past but will hopefully quell them going forward.  Even with this it looks like he will have a very solid career.  Shaeffer Hall agreed in his interview.  Banuelos and Betances have very similar career paths and this looks to continue going forward.  The one main advantage that Banuelos has is that he is left handed.  This is one of the big reasons why he is rated higher on this list.  Both have control issues and both have also been dominant.  Therefore, either could have an impact in the majors the season, especially with an injury in the rotation.  However, I see both of them getting a September call up after spending most of this upcoming season at AAA.  They should then both be ready for the 2013 rotation as long as there are spots available for them, which could be the biggest hindrance in their upward mobility.  With free agents like Zach Grienke and Matt Cain available after next season, the Yankees may choose to go that route which could take a rotation spot that one of these, then rookies, could have.  This could then make them very attractive trade bait.  Then again they may have amazing season at AAA and make it impossible for the Yankees to not give them a shot.  I hope that this is the case, as they would be cheap, young talent.    

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10: #2 Dellin Betances

Dellin Betances, RHP, AA/AAA

Towering right hander Dellin Betances didn't have an amazing 2011 season.  However, it is his exciting potential that puts him this high on this list.  In 2011 he spent most of the season at Trenton (AA), got called up to Scranton/Wilkes Barre (AAA) toward the end of the season, and finally made his major league debut on September 22, 2011.  At AA he went 4-6 with a 3.42 ERA with 115 strikeouts, and 55 walks in 21 starts and 105.1 innings.  He was also named a Mid-Season All-Star for AA.  Then he was called up to AAA and made 4 starts there.  He went 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 15 walks in 21 innings.  He then made his major league debut in late September and pitched in 2 games, starting 1.  He didn't record a decision and posted a 6.75 ERA in 2.2 innings.

Betances was drafted in the 8th round of the 2006 draft out a New York City High School (Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.) by the Yankees.  After posting two good seasons in the GCL and Staten Island (LoA SS), he became known as a Yankees top pitching prospect with a lot of potential but still very raw.  Then he had two mediocre seasons, between the GCL, Charleston (LoA), and Tampa (HiA) which culminated in 2009 with a injured elbow that resulted in a Tommy John surgery.  This dropped him of many people's radar until the 2010 season when he re-emerged as a top prospect.  There he started the season at Tampa and dominated, going 8-1 with a 1.77 ERA.  This got him called up to AA and in 3 starts posted a 3.77 ERA.  

Going forward he has a lot of potential, his biggest issue this past season was control.  Although he has not always had this issue, 2011 was not his best year for control.  Therefore, if he can get that under control I see him have a very successful career.  Shaeffer Hall agreed in his interview.  This upcoming season he will most likely start at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but he could definitely make an impact on the major league level.  Especially if one of the Yankees starters goes down with an injury or is ineffective he would be one of the first people with the shot of being called up.  If he can work on his control issues then I could see him being in the Yankees rotation at the beginning of the 2013 season.  But with the Yankees and there free spending ways he may not have a spot with the high number of solid free agent starters available before the 2013 season.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10: #3 Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez, C, LoA

Gary Sanchez didn't quite have the 2011 season people expected him too.  He played 82 games, all in Charleston (LoA).  There he hit .256 with 17 HRs, 16 doubles, 49 runs, and 52 RBIs. Had he not gotten hurt for the end of the season he would have been within the league leaders in HRs and RBIs.  He played about 40-50 less games then the league leaders.  Now his average this season was definitely lower then most were hoping, his other numbers remained on par.  He then played in the Dominican Winter League, where he hit .300 in 8 games.

Sanchez was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old in 2009.  The Yankees gave him the very impressive $3 million contract.  His first season in professional baseball was in 2010 where he played mostly in the GCL and some in Staten Island (LoA SS).  In 31 games in the GCL he hit .353 with 6 HRs, 11 doubles, 25 runs and 36 RBIs.  He was then called up to Staten Island where he played 16 games.  There he hit .278 with 2 HRs, 2 doubles, 8 runs and 7 RBIs.  After this season he was ranked as the #32 prospect in baseball by

Going forward Sanchez has a lot of potential.  The biggest concern is with his health.  He has yet to make it through an entire season without getting hurt.  After signing a huge contract with the Yankees coming out of the DR there are a lot of expectations for Sanchez.  His scouting report puts him as the hitter that Montero is and a similar catcher to Romine, although I have heard some less then impressive reports of his defense.  However, Sanchez just turned 19, so that gives him a lot of time to turn from the raw player that he is today to a polished major leaguer.  If he can stay healthy he definitely has a bright future.  Although depending on how Montero and Romine work out ahead of him he could end up being stuck in the system as well and may end up being traded.  The way I see it however is that if Montero is moved to DH then this gives Sanchez a shot at the catching spot in a few seasons when he should be ready.  At this point however he has yet to play above Low A ball so he will still have to prove himself and show that he can stay healthy.  Best case scenario he is probably big league ready in two seasons so around the end of 2013/start of 2014 season.  He has definitely been fast tracked for the majors so I could see him jumping some levels if he gets healthy and starts hitting the way he did in 2010.  If he has a hot start I could see him ending this coming season at AA, stuck behind Romine who will most likely spend most of the season at AAA.  That again though is best case scenario so not to highly likely that it will actually occur.  If we are being realistic I could see him playing much of the season at Tampa and I just hope that he can get an entire season under his belt.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Yankees Minor League Links Jan. 9th

Baseball Americas Jim Callis did a list of top Yankees prospects traded.  Very interesting stuff.  Didn't trade anyone that great.  I've done something similar in my "Ones that got away" segment.  I've done:
Gerrit Cole
Ian Kennedy
Mike Lowell
Jose Tabata
Eric Milton
Ross Ohlendorf
Austin Jackson

The Tampa Yankees announced their 2012 coaching staff

The Charleston RiverDogs announce a new manager

The Staten Island Yankees announced their new coaching staff

Danny Wild of wrote an article about the Yankees system

Not a Yankees story, but the Mets have cut their GCL team to save money since their owners are going through tough economic times

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10: #4 Mason Williams

Mason Williams, OF, LoA SS

This past season Mason Williams went from being a relatively unknown prospect to becoming the top non-catching offensive prospect in the Yankees system.  This is a pretty big leap for a player but after the incredible season had a Staten Island (LoA SS) it is definitely earned.  This season in a league where only seven hitter hit better then .300, Williams hit .349 and was second in the entire league.  He led the league in hits with 94 and stolen bases with 28.  He was also tied for second in the league with 6 triples and was top ten in runs scored with 42.  He also had three home runs and 31 RBIs in 68 games.  In the New York-Penn League that is a very impressive season.  To cap it all off he was Topps Minor League player of the year for his league and named a Baseball American Short-Season All-Star.

Williams was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 draft out of high school.  He started his career in the 2010 season in the GCL.  However, only got into 5 games.  In those games he hit .222 with 4 hits.  The 2011 season was his first full season as a professional and as I stated above it was a very impressive one.

Going forward Williams has immense potential.  First off he is still only 20 years old and will definitely move up at least one level next season.  I could see the Yankees promoting all the way up to Tampa to start the season, skipping Charleston all together.  That being said he has only had one full season in the system so next year will be most important to find out if he is really an elite prospect.  If he has another good season he could move up in the top 3 of Yankees prospects going into next season.  And with another good season could get himself into one of the upper levels of the minors by the start of the 2013 season.  With a monster season one could see him climbing into potentially AA by the end of this upcoming season.  However, this may be getting ahead of ourselves.  He will need to prove that he was not a one hit wonder and continue to hit at higher levels.  I would say that the earliest that he would see the majors would be an end of season call up in the 2013 season and as a full time player at the beginning of 2014.  But that again is best case scenario as the highest level he has played at so far is LoA SS.  If he regresses a little in the upcoming years the 2015 season would be a good guess as to when he would be a full time big leaguer as long as he doesn't fall of the map by then.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Road to Yankee Stadium Top 10: #5 Austin Romine

Austin Romine, C, AA/AAA

This past season was a very interesting one for Austin Romine.  He was stuck in the system behind Jesus Montero, which was the main reason he spend almost the entire season at AA.  In Trenton (AA) he hit .286 with 6 HRs, 13 doubles, 43 runs,  and 47 RBIs in 85 games.  While at AA he was selected to the mid-season All-Star team and for the second year in a row played in the Future Game during MLB All-Star weekend.  Then at the end of the season when Montero was called up to the majors, Romine got his chance at Scranton/Wilkes Barre (AAA).  However, he only played there for four games, hitting .133 with a run and a RBI.  Then when the New York Yankees needed another catcher he got called up to the majors at the end of the season.  He played nine games at the big league level and hit .158 with 2 runs.

Since being drafted in the second round in 2007 his career has been continually overshadowed by Jesus Montero.  Although he has made his way through the minors.  From the GCL in 2007; to the Charleston RiverDogs (LoA) in 2008; to the Tampa Yankees (HiA) in 2009; and then the past two season mostly at Trenton (AA).  The biggest knock on Romine is his offense.  He is the anti-Montero.  Where Montero has the major league ready bat with the question marks about his defensive skills, Romine has the major league ready defense but question marks about his bat.  His highest batting average in the minors was back in 2008 in Charleston where he hit .300.  Since then he has not been able to duplicate that. He has not has a season with over a .280 batting average since them.  As he has made it to high levels his hitting stats have not been great.  That is the biggest thing Romine will have to work on if he wants to be a long tenured major leaguer.

Going forward Romine will most likely spend most of next season at Scranton/Wilkes Barre (AAA).  With Montero almost definitely starting the season in the majors, it finally opens up the AAA catching position.  I see Cashman keeping Romine in the minors for most if not all of  next season so that he can get as many starts as possible, instead of being a backup in the majors.  However, he will most likely get another late season call-up and will hopefully have more success at the plate.  However, still being stuck behind Montero, going forward he will either most likely be a backup catcher or the starter if Montero is moved to full time DH.  As Shaeffer Hall said in his interview he feels that Romine has a ton of major league potential going forward.  Hopefully he will be a big part of the Yankees catching positing by the start of the 2013 season.