Friday, March 23, 2012

Under the Radar: Branden Pinder

Past Under the Radar Segments: Zoilo Almonte

In the second installment of Under the Radar I will look at 2011 draftee Branden Pinder.

For a look at what he did before he was drafted you can check out my draft write up on him.  For a recap he was drafted in the 16th round out of Cal State-Long Beach.  He is a 23 year old, right handed relief pitcher.

The 2011 season was a very impressive one for him.  He played the season in Staten Island (Low A Short Season), where he was thier closer.  In 24 appearances he went 2-2 with an amazing 1.16 ERA.  He also converted 14 saves while pitching 31 innings.  He had a great strikeout to walk ration, striking out 38 and only walking 5.

Going forward Pinder has a lot of promise.  He had a lights out rookie campaign in Staten Island and should definitely get promoted to start the 2012 season.  I would imagine that he will start the season at Charleston (Low A), since he does have Mark Montgomery, who had a very similar season to Pinder's at Charleston last season, right ahead of him.  My biggest concern with Pinder is that he was converted to a reliever so early on in his career.  Pitcher are usually converted to reliever when they just aren't as good as the starters.  Therefore, for him to be a reliever already at Low A Short Season is not a good sign.  However, with his very impressive stats last season he may be able to buck that trend.

Best Case Scenario: If Pinder continues to put up gaudy numbers a reliever the Yankees will have no choice but to continue to promote him throught thier system.  Since he is already 23 I could see the Yankees trying to move him quickly through the system to see if can help them at the major league level.  If everything goes well for Branden I could see him being in the majors as a September call up at the end of the 2014 season.

Worst Case Scenario: For Pinder it would be to flame out next season as he goes against better competition.  Then toils around the minors for a few seasons before calling it a career. 

Prediction: I think it reality will be somewhere inbetween the two scenarios above.  I do believe he has some very real ability so I don't think he will flame out next season, however I also don't see him skyrocketing through the minors.  I think he will get tested over the next few season, as he makes he way up through the system.  I think he is in Charleston to start next season but if he performes could make it to Tampa (High A) before the season ends.  Then, again depending on performance, could start the next season at Trenton (AA).  This is all very dependent on how he performs.  I believe he will make it to Trenton but then it may take him a few more seasons to make the jump to the pros.  I predict that he will make the majors as a reliever during the 2016 season.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Under the Radar: Zoilo Almonte

There are a number of under the radar prospects in the Yankees system, who have real potential to contribute to the Yankees down the road.  In this segment I will profile some of those players. 

The first player I will write about is Zoilo Almonte.  Although he has gotten some press with his impressive spring training, I still believe he is a relative unknown to most Yankees fans. 

Zoilo is a switch hitting outfielder who stands 5' 10" and weighs in at 165 pounds.  He was signed out of the Domincan Republic in July 2005 at age 16 by the Yankees.   

His first professional season was in 2006 in the Dominican Summer League (DSL).  That first year and hit .219 with 6 HRs, 6 doubles, 28 runs, and 36 RBIs in 53 games.  Although the batting average is not what one would like, the power numbers are pretty good. 

He played the 2007 season in the Golf Coast League (GCL).  There he hit .268 with 3 HRs, 11 doubles, 25 runs, and 24 RBIs in 50 games.  This season his average went up but his periferals took a little hit. 

During the 2008 season, Zoilo again played in the GCL.  This season he regressed to hit .239 with 5 HRs, 7 doubles, 24 runs, and 20 RBIs in 57 games.  This was not a good season for Zoilo.  He saw almost all of his numbers decline in the same league he had played in the year before.  Usually playing in the same league two years in a row is a bad sign especially when one doesn't drastically improve in year two.  With Zoilo however, he made it through and got promoted.

The promotion occured to start the 2009 season.  He started in Staten Island (Low A Short Season).  There he put up the best numbers of his career up to this point.  He hit .274 with 7 HRs, 20 doubles, 43 runs, and 39 RBIs in 69 games.  This was a very promising season.  The New York-Penn league where Staten Island plays is not known as a hitters league. Therfore this season was quite impressive for Zoilo.  He was even selected as a mid season All-Star.

Following up the solid 2009 season he was promoted again, this time to Charleston (Low A).  There he only spent a half season, hitting .278 with 10 HRs, 13 doubles, 33 runs, and 35 RBIs in 58 games.  He was also selected to the Mid-Season All-Star game.  After posting these good numbers he was promoted mid-season to the Tampa Yankees (High A).  Finishing out the season he hit .261 with 3 HRs, 10 doubles, 26 runs, and 26 RBIs in 63 games.  The second half of the season in Tampa was not as impressive.  However, still decent numbers for a 20 year old.

Zoilo started the 2011 season back in Tampa.  This time he excelled.  He hit .293 with 12 HRs, 15 doubles, 38 runs, and 54 RBIs in 70 games.  This put Zoilo on the map as a legitimate Yankees prospect. He showed he could hit for average and power, which is very coveted.  He was then promoted to the Trenton Thunder (AA).  There he struggled, hitting .251 with 3 HRs, 11 doubles, 23 run, and 23 RBIs in 46 games.  Following this season MiLB.com named him a Yankees organizational All-Star.  

This spring training, Almonte played with the big league squad.  Up to this point he has hit .333 with 2 doubles, a run, and 4 RBIs.  This caused Pinstipe Alley to do a piece on him being an outfielder of the future. 

Going forward, I would expect Zoilo to go back to Trenton.  Since he had a poor showing last season I would expect the Yankees to want to see him get a few more at bats there to try and prove himself.  If he continues his hot hitting, I could see him being promoted to Triple A (Wherever they are at that point in the season) by midseason.  From there it depends on how he produces.  If he has a great year I would not be surprised if he got a September call up at the end of this season.  If he has a bad year he could stay at AA.  I think best case scenario for Zoilo is to have a great season this year, get that September call up and then fight for a roster spot in spring training next year.  Zoilo is definitely a player to watch over the next few year as a possible replacement at corner outfield.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yankees Minor League Links March 20th

There have been a lot of minor league post around the internet recently. This is not surprising because they are getting some play in major league camp and it is a new year with new hopes.

Pinstripe Alley:

Tuesday Prospect Thoughts looks into a replacement for Mo, the viability of Austin Romine, and the top signing bonuses the Yankees have given.

A discussion on the trade value of David Phelps and Adam Warren. I found this article very interesting because with the signing of Andy Pettitte they are now about the 10th and 11th guys in line for a rotation spot.  However, they could contribute on another team.  I think the Yankees could find some good value for them in a trade.  This would seem like a win-win for all since those two are stuck in the system for now.

Lohud's Yankees Blog:

A very comprehensive look at all the minor league camps.  This is a very good write up in terms of who is playing where at this point and where they look to be once the season starts.

A write up on Mason Williams getting his first spring training big league appearance.  He got caught stealing and then hit a single.  He is a player I am very excited for going forward.

Yankees Fans Unite did a spanning the blogs post with many interesting prospect articles.

NorthJersey.com did a nice article on Mason Williams.  Again he is someone to keep an eye on.