MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:36 am

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Chance Adams

Chance Adams went from reliever to starter in 2016, and made a pretty big impact along the way.

by Tanya Bondurant @TanyaBondurant Oct 4, 2016, 3:00p

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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Grade: A-

2016 Statistics: 24 games started, 127.1 IP, 2.33 ERA, 144 strikeouts, 39 walks

2016 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Double-A/Non-40


After being drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Dallas Baptist, Chance Adams worked out of the bullpen for his first half-season as a professional. His numbers were good in limited time, pitching to a 1.78 ERA in just 35.1 innings last year.

Adams moved to the rotation in his first full season with the Yankees in 2016, and started all but one game he appeared in all year. He began his season at High-A Tampa, where he threw 57.2 innings for the T-Yanks before being bumped up to Double-A Trenton.

While in the Florida State League, Adams walked 15 batters in 12 starts, held opposing hitters to a .196 batting average, and struck out 73 batters. He left Tampa with a 5-0 record and a 2.65 ERA for Trenton, where he pitched even better.

As a member of the Thunder roster, Adams’ ERA dropped to 2.07 across 69.2 innings despite the higher caliber of offense he was facing. He did walk 24 batters, but also struck out 71 in that time. He lost just one decision in his 12 starts for Trenton, going 8-1 after his promotion.

The Yankees are starved for pitching help at the big league level without much help to be found on the free agent market anytime soon. There aren’t an abundance of options in the high levels of the minors who could be suited for filling that void, but Adams could definitely work his way into the conversation in 2017.

Depending on how the Yankees work things, Adams probably finds himself at Trenton to open the season unless his spring is so good that the team feels like he can already make the jump to Triple-A. He is a college pitcher, so that is working in favor of a more aggressive approach. The Yankees have already shown they aren’t exactly afraid to move him quickly through the system.

If Adams can emerge as an option for the big league rotation by the time that the Yankees are facing losing nearly their entire rotation at the end of 2017, it will be one less thing for them to worry about heading into the offseason. Adams alone won’t be enough, of course, but hopefully he’ll be joined by the likes of James Kaprielian and Jordan Montgomery.

What Adams was able to do in 2016 was definitely impressive, and puts him in a great position to make an impact on the Yankees as early as the end of next season if everything goes well for him. The core of the team is definitely shifting toward a younger offense, and the rotation will need to come through and produce some homegrown talent for the Yankees’ “rebuild” to feel like a success. Getting Adams and co. to the big leagues would be a huge boost in that department for sure.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:42 am

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Tyler Austin

Tyler Austin finally made it to the majors in 2016 and he managed to contribute while he was here.

by Jason Cohen @Jason00Cohen

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Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Grade: B

2016 Statistics: 107 G, 294/.392/.524, 17 HR, 78 RBI (AA/AAA)
31 G, .244/.303/.463, 5 HR, 12 RBI (MLB)

2016 Roster Status: Pre-Arbitration


Tyler Austin only spent 30 games with the Yankees in 2016, yet he was an integral part of the second-half turnaround that managed to make the team watchable once again. Although no one expected much from Austin this year, he found his way into the spotlight with some big games that ultimately made him worthy of our attention.

A top prospect back when the youth movement was still in its infancy, Austin looked like the next big thing until a wrist injury sapped his him of his strength and made him look helpless. He was removed from the 40-man roster last season and it didn’t seem like we would be hearing much from Tyler Austin anytime soon.

To his credit, even when most had forgotten him, Austin pushed his way back into the picture. He started the season in Double-A for the fourth year in a row, where he managed to hit an adequate .260/.367/.395. In June he received a promotion back up to Scranton and became someone to watch again. Austin hit .323/.415/.637 with 13 home runs, but still needed to wait his turn.

Following the trade deadline sale and release of Alex Rodriguez, Austin finally received his long-awaited call up alongside Aaron Judge. The two quickly managed to make history as the first rookies to hit back-to-back home runs in their first plate appearances. Before anyone knew it, Tyler Austin was heading to Cooperstown and hype came along with it.

Now considered a future star by some, he was lumped in with top talent like Aaron Judge. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned in the first month as he only managed to hit .167/.189/.250 in August. It seemed like his career had peaked just as it was getting started, and as promising as his debut was, this was his true talent level. However, come September, Austin’s bat came to life and he finished with a .304/.385/.630 batting line the rest of the way.

He only managed to hit five home runs in his time with the Yankees, but he made them count. Four of them came when the game was either tied or the Yankees were behind, helping to bring the team back into the game. In the last month of the season, he hit a game-tying home runs, two go-ahead home runs, and had a walk-off against the Rays.

It wasn’t all great for him, though, as he proved why he probably won’t be an everyday player going forward. His strikeout rate approached 40% in his short exposure to MLB pitching, and he struggled mightily against right-handed pitching. It could all be a product of a small sample size, but as a right-handed hitter with minimal power, Austin might ultimately end up as a platoon bat.

That’s not a bad thing, though, because this team still needs role players who can contribute when they are needed. Austin has excellent opposite field power, which will help him succeed in Yankee Stadium. He also did an admirable job at first base, given all the uncertainty around the position this season. He was no Mark Teixeira (who is?), but he looked comfortable out there and managed to make a few impressive plays of his own.

Greg Bird will return in 2017, but Austin proved to be an adequate backup ready to contribute whenever he’s needed. He can also play the outfield and, with his help, maybe the Yankees won’t be completely useless against left-handed pitching next year.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:44 am

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Ian Clarkin

Clarkin has struggled with injuries while avoiding Tommy John surgery so far.

by Tanya Bondurant @TanyaBondurant

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C

2016 Statistics: 98 IP, 3.31 ERA, 18 games started, 72 strikeouts, 30 walks

2016 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Non-40


After not pitching in 2015 and somehow managing to avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery, Ian Clarkin returned to the mound for the Tampa Yankees for just under 100 innings this season. He spent his entire year in the Florida State League, going 6-9 for the T-Yanks.

Injuries certainly cannot be helped, and the fact that Clarkin’s cost him an entire year of development is fairly significant. The first round pick from 2013 will only turn 22 in February, giving him plenty of time to still make an impact if he can stay healthy.

The innings that Clarkin threw for Tampa weren’t spectacular, but they were fine. He kept his ERA below the mid-3.00 range in 18 starts, but opposing batters did manage to hit .265 against him. That at a low level isn’t really what you want, but it could be worse for a guy who sat out an entire season the year before.

Clarkin may be in a little danger of losing his shine as a prospect, but age is still on his side if he can put together a strong showing in 2017. He isn’t especially young anymore, but nothing has really been derailed.

As is the case with all the Yankees’ pitching prospects, the team is in desperate need of success on the farm. New York is looking at a complete turnover of their rotation after 2017, and they need bodies to fill those spots. Clarkin likely won’t be in contention for that right out of the gate, but positioning himself to be able to be considered for a big league rotation in 2018 or so would be very helpful for the team.

The good news is that Clarkin will presumably be able to enter 2017 on a healthy note an entire year removed from missing significant time. The next step is to ramp up his innings totals and try to get him moving up through the system. The likeliest scenario is that he probably starts and finishes the year at Double-A Trenton, which would be perfectly respectable.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:46 am

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Luis Cessa

No one knew what to expect from Luis Cessa, but things turned out alright

by Jason Cohen @Jason00Cohen

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C+

2016 Statistics: 3.03 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 8.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 77.1 IP (AAA)
4.35 ERA, 5.52 FIP, 5.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 70.1 IP (MLB)

2017 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible


Heading into the 2016 season, the Yankees needed some additional starting pitching depth, so the team made a move that no one saw coming. Left-handed reliever Justin Wilson was traded to the Tigers for pitching prospects Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Everyone knew the Yankees needed pitching, but these were the guys they went with? No one expected much from either of them, however, they both ended up playing useful roles this season.

A former Mets farmhand, Cessa signed in 2008 and almost immediately converted into a pitcher. The change meant he wouldn’t get into an official game until 2011, but at only 19, he still had plenty of time to develop. He showed plenty of promise for the Mets before he hit the high minors and struggled against tougher competition. He was eventually traded to Detroit in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

Still, he had reached Triple-A and would likely be ready for a call up at some point during the long season. It turned out that he was ready for a shot almost immediately, after an impressive spring training (and a few injuries) earned him a spot on the Opening Day roster in the bullpen.

He spent most of the year traveling between Scranton and the Bronx, but Cessa still managed to give the Yankees a reliable arm to fill the rotation when they needed one. He was great in Triple-A, helping to carry the team to the playoffs. Both Cessa and Green spent some time at the major league level, and both proved to be adequate major league replacement players. Cessa appeared sporadically over the first half of the season, pitching in at least one game a month, until he was permanently added to the rotation in mid-August.

While Cessa’s time in the bullpen was highlighted by an ugly 5.30 ERA, a bear minimum 4.01 ERA as a starter is perfectly acceptable from a 24-year-old rookie with no expectations attached. He induced a healthy amount of ground balls and worked quickly on the mound, but his strikeout rate dropped from 8.0 K/9 in the minors to 5.9 K/9 in the majors, and he suffered mightily when it came to allowing home runs. A 2.0 HR/9 is probably not sustainable, but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Heading into the future, Cessa should continue to offer quality pitching depth to a system that is desperate for some. It would be interesting to see what he could do with a full year in the majors, but I don’t think Cessa has a future as a full-time starting pitcher. Give him a long look in spring training, and install him as the longman in the bullpen going forward. He’s not going to be the answer to the team’s ongoing pitching problem, but he can certainly help. There’s still value in that.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:48 am

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Dietrich Enns

This lefty pitcher had a great year in the minors.

by Caitlin Rogers Oct 8, 2016

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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Grade: A

2016 Statistics: 26 G, 1.73 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 135 IP

2016 Level/Roster Status: Double-A/Triple-A/Non-40


The Yankees selected Dietrich Enns out of Central Michigan in the 19th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. As he made his way through the farm system, Enns more or less split his time working as both a starter and a reliever. In May 2014, Enns was forced to cut his season short to have Tommy John surgery. He successfully went through the rehab process and returned in June of 2015. Interestingly, Enns has mostly worked as a starter since his return. He finished the 2015 season with a 0.76 ERA through 47 and one-third innings in Tampa.

After tossing well over 100 innings in Tampa across three different seasons, Enns finally earned a promotion to Trenton. The lefty was dominant right out of the gate, pitching 24 and two-thirds scoreless innings before he allowed his first run of the season to score during his fifth start. Enns even took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in back-to-back starts. For his efforts, MILB.com awarded Enns the Eastern League Player of the Month in April. He made 12 starts with Trenton before finally sticking in Scranton for good (after briefly being called up to start two games).

In some ways, Enns pitched even better in Triple-A, which is encouraging. He posted a 1.93 ERA in Trenton, but that dropped to 1.52 in Scranton. His home run rates remained the same across both levels, and he actually gave up less hits in Triple-A (1.12 WHIP), and walked less batters (3.6 BB/9). However, Enns’ strikeouts did drop from 9.5 K/9 to 6.9 K/9. He was still able to hold opponents to a .208 batting average though.

By the time September rolled around, he was more than deserving of a September call-up, especially considering the fact that the Yankees were dealing with injuries to both Chad Green and Nathan Eovaldi. Unfortunately, Enns was not a legitimate consideration because the Yankees had him on an innings limit. He was actually moved to the bullpen at the end of the minor league season because 2016 was his first full season back from TJS, and he had only pitched 58 and two-thirds innings in 2015.

The Yankees are going to have to decide whether they want to add Enns to the 40-man roster or risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft. He could have been scooped up last year and he wasn’t, but now he has another full year under his belt, and he pitched consistently well between Double-A and Triple-A. Assuming that Enns is still with the team next year, he should get a long look during spring training. He might even be in the mix for some sort of starter competition, though he could also be an option in the bullpen. If he doesn’t make the team in April, he will likely make it to the big leagues to help out at some point during the season.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:09 am

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Dustin Fowler

Dustin Fowler shows a lot of promise, and he could be just getting started


by Jason Cohen @Jason00Cohen Oct 9, 2016, 11:00a

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

2016 Statistics: .281/.311/.458, 12 HR, 25 SB, 15.0 K%, 3.8 BB%, 574 PA

2016 Level/Roster Status: Double-A/Non-40


Dustin Fowler has been one of the Yankees’ best prospects for a couple of years now, but he gets very little attention because of all the other names around him. When a system is filled with the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Clint Frazier, and Gleyber Torres, it’s easy to lose track of a light-hitting outfielder who didn’t look like much of a prospect at first.

Drafted out of high school in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Fowler didn’t look like much of a prize until he started making his way onto prospect lists. He moved quickly through the system, hitting .298/.334/.394 with 30 stolen bases in his breakout 2015 season. This year, he played at Double-A Trenton for his age-21 season. Now the No. 12 prospect in the system, you can add him to the list of unending outfield depth that the Yankees possess.

Fowler hit .281/.311/.458 with 25 stolen bases over 574 plate appearances in his 2016 season. At first glance, it looks like he might have taken a step back, but it’s important to note the addition of power to his game. He hit 12 home runs this year, along with 30 doubles and 15 triples, all career bests. Fowler also led all of minor league baseball in triples, following in the footsteps of former Yankees farmhand Ben Gamel the year prior.

The power addition is especially nice to see, considering he only walked at a 3.8% rate, which is obviously not good. His K-rate has lowered slightly to 15%, but we’ll have to see how that continues to develop going forward. Fowler’s 69.4% success rate on the bases could also use some work, but the Yankees can take their time with him. Some have compared him to the next Brett Gardner (one of the many), but he will have to work on his plate discipline before that comp sticks.

A lot of credit should be given to him for improving his work in the field. He started out in the corner outfield positions for his first two seasons before becoming Trenton’s starting center fielder. He’s reportedly improved his instincts in getting to the ball as well as his ability to throw.

He might have spent time in Triple-A if the organization didn’t have so many minor league outfielders. With Ben Gamel, Aaron Judge, Jake Cave, and Mason Williams in the mix, you can see why Fowler was never going to get a chance this season. However, he could see reps in Scranton at some point next year, depending on what happens to the team’s current depth chart. If he’s up there at any point, his development in center should take precedence over others players like Cave or Mason.

When assessing Fowler, it’s important to reiterate his age. He was a high school signing, so his power needed time to develop. He was also three years younger than the league average in Double-A this year, which makes his performance there even more impressive. Add it all up, and you have a player with a lot of potential who just needs more time to hone his craft.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Mon Oct 10, 2016 1:23 pm

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Clint Frazier

Red Thunder was only a Yankee for half the season, but the future is bright.

by Tanya Bondurant @TanyaBondurant Oct 10, 2016, 11:00a

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

2016 Statistics: 119 games, .263/.335/.447, 16 HR, 13 SB

2016 Level/Roster Status: Triple-A/Non-40


The Yankees acquired outfielder Clint Frazier when they decided to part with Andrew Miller at the trade deadline. Although the Yankees would have probably liked to keep Miller around, the price for closers on the trade market was too enticing for them to pass on at a time when it looked like they were going nowhere.

Frazier spent the majority of his season at Double-A in the Indians system. He played 89 games in Akron, hitting .276/.356/.469 for the RubberDucks in the Eastern League. He had only five games under his belt at Triple-A when he was sent to the Yankees, where he played the rest of the season for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in the International League.

The Triple-A numbers for Frazier weren’t quite as impressive. He batted .228/.278/.396 with three home runs in 25 games for the RailRiders. He did miss a small amount of time with injury, which should be taken into consideration. That’s not to say that his Triple-A numbers are concerning, because they aren’t. Most players are going to see a dip in production when they are bumped up to the next level. It’s to be expected.

With three outfielders (Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Judge) ahead of him on the depth chart, the Yankees can afford to get Frazier more time at Triple-A to start next season. He only turned 22 years old a month ago, so there is no need to rush him to the big leagues before he is ready. There will be plenty of time for him to get there now that he has already made it to the highest level of the minors successfully.

Frazier was definitely the gem of the Miller trade, and his inclusion made the Yankees’ system instantly better. He is definitely among their top five prospects, and could be considered in the top prospect by those who may put a little more weight on big league readiness.

The Yankees will invite Frazier to big league spring training before likely sending him to Scranton to start the season. It’s unclear how they will fit him on the big league roster at some point in 2017 unless there is a trade, but these things have a way of working themselves out. He should make his debut in the Bronx at some point next season, though, if everything goes according to plan.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:35 pm

Yankees land three on Baseball America’s top Single-A prospects lists

October 10, 2016 by Mike Axisa

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Baseball America’s annual look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued last week with the various Single-A leagues, including the Low-A South Atlantic League and High-A Florida State League (subs. req’d). Nationals OF Victor Robles was the top prospect in the Sally League while Mets SS Amed Rosario was the top prospect in the FSL. You can see all the top 20 lists right here, without a subscription.

The Yankees landed three prospects on the FSL list, starting with SS Gleyber Torres. He is the No. 2 prospect in the circuit behind Rosario. Gleyber came over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade — Baseball America (subs. req’d) also ranked Torres as the No. 4 prospect in the High-A Carolina League, where he started the season before the trade — and is arguably not even the best prospect the Yankees acquired in the trade deadline.

“Torres isn’t as flashy but earned comparisons with the Cubs’ Javier Baez for his leg kick, aggression and power potential at the plate … He has a knack for the barrel but also has bat speed, with some loft in his swing and pull power” said the write-up. The scouting report also says Torres is considered “at least above-average if not plus” defensively at short. He has the bat to profile at third if a move is necessary down the line.

SS Jorge Mateo ranked fifth on the FSL list and the write-up says “maturity (was mentioned) frequently as a need for Mateo, not just with his makeup but with his fairly raw game.” His top of the line speed still is still there, but he needs to get stronger to better drive the ball. While Mateo’s defense at short is good, the scouting report says some believe he fits best in center field long-term. The Yankees have had him play some center in Instructional League recently.

The third Yankees farmhand on the FSL list is RHP Chance Adams, who broke out in a big way this season. He ranked 18th. “Adams repeats his delivery, uses his legs well and produces plus fastball velocity, usually sitting 93-95 mph and touching 97,” said the write-up. He also throws a slider, changeup, and curveball, with the latter lagging behind the other two. One evaluator said “Adams dominated the league when he was here. He just imposed himself on other teams.”

RHP James Kaprielian did not throw enough innings to quality for the FSL list, but, in the chat, John Manuel said he “definitely would have been the first pitcher ranked” had he stayed healthy. LHP Ian Clarkin wasn’t a serious consideration for the list because “he pitched with less stuff and fringe-average stuff.” OF Mark Payton also earned a mention in the chat, though he didn’t play enough to qualify for the list. “I can see him being a fifth outfielder type, an up and down guy … I suspect he’ll wear an MLB uniform at some point,” said Manuel.

The Yankees did not have any prospects on the South Atlantic League list, which isn’t too surprising. Low-A Charleston wasn’t a great prospect team in 2016. SS Kyle Holder and SS Hoy Jun Park were the team’s top prospects. J.J. Cooper said RHP Dillon Tate was “not all that close” to making it in the chat. “Tate’s stuff was a little better in August with Charleston, but right now he looks more like a potential reliever than the front-line starter that scouts hoped to see coming out of the draft,” said Cooper.

Baseball America ranked three Yankees among the top rookie ball prospects this year. The Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League top 20 lists will be the fun ones. The Yankees should be well-represented on both. Well, that assumes guys like C Gary Sanchez, OF Aaron Judge, RHP Chad Green, 1B Tyler Austin, and RHP Luis Cessa spent enough time with Triple-A Scranton to qualify for the IL list. We’ll see.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:45 pm

2016 Yankees Roster Report Card: Giovanny Gallegos

The right-hander soared from obscurity to become a potential 40-man roster option by season’s end.

by Andrew Mearns @MearnsPSA Oct 11, 2016, 11:00a

Grade: A

2016 Statistics: 42 G, 78 IP, 1.27 ERA, 12.2 K/9, 2.0 BB/9

2016 Level/Roster Status: Double-A/Triple-A/Non-40


Way back in spring training, Jason, Tanya, and I tried to scope out some under-the-radar prospects in the Yankees’ system who wouldn’t crack most top 30 lists but had a chance to make an impact. Although the first player I picked, outfielder Isiah Gilliam, was decent in Pulaski, he paled in comparison to my other selection, reliever Giovanny Gallegos:

Signed out of Mexico in November 2010, Gallegos needed to fully recover from a knee injury and find his niche as a reliever before making an impact. At age 23 in 2015, the righty finally did that, pitching to a 1.71 ERA with a 0.794 WHIP and 9.1 K/9 over 35 games, mostly in High-A Tampa. There are certainly several relievers ahead of him on the depth chart, but if his 92-94 mph fastball helps keep his strikeouts up and walks down, then he can remain in the picture.
Victory laps are extremely rare in this business, so kindly excuse me for feeling pretty pleased about this pick (but keep in mind that I also once said Slade Heathcott was the third-best prospect in the organization).

Gallegos was always going to be a long shot since he was advanced for his level. He didn’t even pitch well in the Mexican Pacific Winter League in the off-season, surrendering 11 runs in nine innings. Well in 2016, he surrendered 13 runs in 78 innings. That’s a decent improvement.

The right-hander began the season in Trenton, but he so thoroughly dominated the competition there that by June 8th, he was with Scranton for almost the entire season (save for a two-game cameo in Trenton in late August). Gallegos fanned 53 batters at each level, though he pitched more in Triple-A. Even if one only focuses on his numbers at the toughest level of the minors, Gallegos had a 1.40 ERA, a 10.6 K/9, a 2.0 BB/9, and a 0.84 WHIP. By season’s end, he was Scranton’s closer and finished off their International League championship:



Gallegos does have a number of factors working against him. He doesn’t exactly light up the radar gun with his low-to-mid-90s fastball. He does have a wider repertoire for a reliever by mixing an impressive slider in with a change up and curveball, remnants from his pre-major injury days as a starter. None of these pitches are overwhelming though, so it’s unclear how much they could fool major-league hitters.

The 25-year-old also has Father Time running against him, not that he’s a fossil. However, the Yankees do have a decision about how confident they are in his future whether or not to protect him on the 40-man roster during the Rule 5 draft. He will be eligible this year, and given his Triple-A success, it’s certainly not a stretch to imagine that he could survive in a big-league bullpen all year long.

If the Yankees think he could make an impact on the Scranton Shuttle in 2017, then they might have to protect him. Given that they sent him to Double-A in the midst of a bullpen logjam in late August though, perhaps it’s an indication about how they feel. It’s also possible that he was simply amenable to the situation, but it’s probably an Occam’s razor scenario and the most obvious answer is correct.

At the very least, Gallegos did everything he possibly could to put himself in the Yankees’ future plans, and he deserves top marks for his efforts. The bullpen will need a boost next year, and the right-hander just might be part of the solution. He has played himself into the conversation.
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Re: MINOR LEAGUE NEWS UPDATES

Postby BigGuy » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:00 pm

Higashioka hits his way onto Yankees' catching depth chart

THE LOHUD YANKEES BLOG
Chad Jennings , cjennings@lohud.com 12:49 p.m. EDT October 12, 2016

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(Photo: Chris O'Meara, AP)

I've known Kyle Higashioka for a few years now. Always liked the guy. He carried himself with quiet confidence when the Yankees first invited him to big league camp a few months before his 20th birthday in 2010, and that personality never changed. In my seven years on the beat, Higashioka has been invited to every big league camp except one.

When he homered this spring, the players in the Yankees' clubhouse went nuts.

"The kid has a real passion for the game," manager Joe Girardi said. "(He) loves to play and has been to a number of our big league camps. It’s always great to have him. He’s good to be around."

Small talk always seems to be forgotten over time, and I don't remember the details of many conversations with Higashioka -- although, I'm pretty sure he once tried to talk me into listening to more Iron Maiden -- but I do remember this one.

At some point in the middle of March, Higashioka said: "I hope I see you this season."

He wasn't looking to hang out or asking me to cover a game in Trenton. With 19 career games above A-ball, Higashioka was talking about getting to the Majors.

And wouldn't you know it, he was probably an injury away from actually getting there.

"My goal this year was to make the big leagues," Higashioka told milb.com. "I know that sounds crazy for a guy who had only really played at (Class A Advanced), but it's my ultimate goal and I thought, 'Why not now?' I definitely did all those good things this year, and I'm proud of that. The opportunity just didn't arise."

With an .847 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A, Higashioka had one of the best offensive seasons of anyone in the Yankees minor league system. He faded in August but still finished tied for the organizational lead with 21 home runs (he'd never before hit more than eight). Only Tyler Austin had a higher slugging percentage.

"Higashioka has always been a tremendous defensive catcher," Brian Cashman said at his end-of-the-season press conference. "And offensively, he showed up significantly this year. He will go on our 40-man roster."

Higashioka didn't get to the big leagues this season, but he might have done the next best thing by playing his way onto the big league radar. While the Yankees consider whether to carry three catchers next season, they have an unexpected depth chart addition to consider.

Unexpected, perhaps, to everyone except Higashioka himself.

"It was about refining my approach and knowing my strengths and weaknesses," he said in the milb.com interview. "As a catcher, I'm not the biggest speed guy out there, so when I looked at it, it does me no good to put the ball on the ground. At the upper levels, 90 percent of ground balls are outs because the infielders are so good there. So instead, I'm trying to do a better job of hitting line drives, hitting the ball to the outfield.... I'm pretty much a math and science guy, so it made a lot of sense to me to try and match the plane of my bat with the plane of the pitch. That's when things clicked. The power numbers came around, but I wasn't forcing anything. It was more a byproduct of the little adjustments."
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