By Mark Emery / MiLB.com
Inevitably and for infinite reasons, big-name prospects get snubbed from MiLB.com’s Organization All-Stars series every offseason.
Our 2014 Yankees feature ran on MiLB.com today. For informed input regarding the picks, I spoke with hitting coordinator James Rowson and pitching coordinator Danny Borrell.
In addition to discussing the 12 players who were honored, we talked about several notable prospects who narrowly missed being named to the list, including catcher Gary Sanchez (New York’s second-ranked prospect and MLB.com’s No. 69 overall) and lefties Ian Clarkin (NY’s No. 4) and Jacob Lindgren (NY’s No. 9). While Sanchez was outperformed at his position, Lindgren’s innings total was simply too small. And as for Clarkin, his omission had to do with both performance and time on the field.
Here is what the experts had to say about that trio of Top 10 prospects.
Gary Sanchez, Trenton (110 games): In the Double-A Eastern League this past season, the recently-turned 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic posted a .270/.338/.406 slash line with 19 doubles, 13 home runs, 65 RBIs, 43 walks and 91 strikeouts. Behind the plate, he compiled a .980 fielding percentage and threw out 38.9 percent of would-be basestealers (37 of 95) during his fifth professional season.
“I think Gary is still developing,” Rowson said. “I think Gary is a great talent. I think throughout the industry everyone knows the amount of talent he has. He’s still a young kid and he’s continuing to develop offensively and defensively, just overall I think. You can’t rush that. There’s no specific timetable on when that’s going to be ready. But when you look at the raw skills and the raw talent, he’s as talented as anybody out there.”
Ian Clarkin, Charleston (16 games), Tampa (one game): A year after making just three starts, the 33rd pick of the 2013 Draft appeared in only 17 games this past season. Over 75 innings, he went 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA, piling up 75 strikeouts against 23 walks. He ended the season with a .258 average against and a 1.25 WHIP.
“He was limited, and that’s obviously one thing that doesn’t count, is the extended spring training innings,” Borrell said. “He had his innings, and he came up to Tampa and made his one start in Tampa, and we just shut him down after that. We’re going to build on that coming up next year, but heck, Ian went from, once again, extended up to Tampa as a 19-year-old.
“From the kid I saw when we drafted him in 2013 as a first-rounder, kind of wild, kind of erratic with his fastball, and then he comes to Spring Training this season and then comes up to Tampa for his last start, man, the curveball is obviously a great pitch, it’s going to be a plus pitch for him. The changeup is going to be another plus pitch. His fastball control in the zone was so much better than it was after he signed. So, a testament to him and how he adjusted.”
Jacob Lindgren, GCL Yankees 1 (one game), Class A Charleston (four games), Tampa (six games), Trenton (eight games): The 21-year-old from Mississippi State was taken by the Yankees in the second round of the June Draft, and in his first season he worked his way up from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League all the way to the Double-A Eastern League. In 25 frames spread over 19 games, he went 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA, ending with 48 strikeouts, 13 walks, a .135 opponents’ average and a 1.00 WHIP.
“That guy is as filthy as they come,” Borrell said. “I’m sure he’ll be knocking on the door of New York soon, especially with his combination, fastball/slider.”
By Danny Wild / MiLB.com
We’re all recovering from the Winter Meetings in San Diego, an event that is a vastly different experience if you work for a Major or Minor League team. It can also be a stressful and exciting week for players, who are passed around like the free beers we all got at Petco Park on Wednesday.
Marlins Dodgers Angels prospect Andrew Heaney had quite a run by himself:
Yeah, you’re reading that right. Within a few hours, Heaney was traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers and then over to the Angels in two separate deals.
Chris Bassitt, in a really cool move, announced he’d be giving away his White Sox gear after Chicago traded him:
D-backs top prospect Archie Bradley was not traded, but he has been considering another team:
For others, like Padres prospect Ryan Miller, it’s been a less exciting offseason:
Apparently, he really has been working at Target this winter:
MiLB.com’s Kelsie Heneghan tipped me off to Mark Appel‘s zoo adventure, where his subdued selfies tell the story:
John Gast is impressed with his lady’s vacuuming skills:
Shawon Dunston is about to lose it:
More photos of J.P. Crawford‘s awesome dog:
Cole Tucker, throwing away all concerns about draining his phone’s battery in an airport, is really bored:
Get this free music off my phone now!
An apparently rare Steven Matz selfie. Your welcome:
Joc Pederson just watched the Dodgers basically trade one of their star players, Matt Kemp, to make room for him in 2015, and he’s over here tweeting about breakfast:
Dustin Geiger needs help:
This would be really dangerous:
Apparently, this week was Taylor Swift’s birthday, so you can safely assume that Todd Van Steensel effectively lost his mind:
He also occasionally thinks about baseball:
Cody Decker, also a mechanic:
And loves his parents:
Don’t like your own Instagram posts. That’s almost as bad as liking your own Facebook status:
Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon giving back to the community:
Royals prospect Ethan Chapman just wants to cuddle:
Micah Johnson looks surprised he just took a photo of himself:
Will Startup showing off more of his baseball art:
Here’s Ty Kelly eating dinner:
Chiptole Tweets of the Week
By Tyler Maun/MiLB.com
While the emphasis of our 2014 Orioles Organization All-Stars story was the impressive development of some of Baltimore’s highest-rated prospects, one notable name was missing from this season’s honors. Top prospect Dylan Bundy missed out on all but nine outings in last season due to 2013 Tommy John surgery. Baltimore director of player development Brian Graham and Double-A Bowie manager Gary Kendall had more to say about Bundy, No. 2 prospect Hunter Harvey and more.
Coming into 2014, it seemed a pretty safe bet that by the end of the year Jesse Biddle would have pocketed a slew of awards, not least of all a nod as a Phillies Organization All-Star. Well, here we are, and that hasn’t come to pass.
Biddle, who struck out 154 over 138 1/3 innings while posting a 3.64 ERA in 27 starts for Double-A Reading last year, struggled mightily this season. He went 3-9 with a 5.03 ERA in 15 starts for the Fightin Phils before departing the Eastern League after a June 23 outing.
By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com
Danny Wild is off this week, either because he’s filled with turkey and stuffing or he’s busy packing all of his cargo shorts for the Winter Meetings in San Diego next week, so I’ll be filling in as your Minoring in Twitter guide. Unlike Danny, I actually have a Twitter account, and you can follow me there: @SamDykstraMiLB. But this isn’t about me and my tweets, it’s about the Minor Leaguers and their 140-character thoughts.
We start with a roller coaster of emotion. Those who run the MLB Twitter account decided to start following some Minor Leaguers this week. Said Minor Leaguers received notifications of their newest big-time follower, only to be reminded that they weren’t quite on the big stage yet. Take it from Cubs farmhand Dustin Geiger:
— Dustin Geiger (@D_Geiger) December 2, 2014
Aw, thanks ☺️……… pic.twitter.com/qNLJLuQ3eb
— Cody Decker (@Decker6) December 2, 2014
Meanwhile, Dayton Dragons marketing manager Jason McKendree caught a case of FOMO:
Danny covered Todd Van Steensel’s Taylor Swift obsession last week, but in case you needed more proof (or wanted to be jealous because you are also a T. Swift fan), the Australia native threw it back to this picture from a year ago:
Not to be outdone, D-backs farmhand Steve McQuail has a female-singer crush of his own. (more…)
By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com
With the Mets Organization All-Stars feature already full to the brim, there was plenty of information on other players that didn’t make it into the heart of the story. Paul DePodesta, the Mets’ vice president of player development and amateur scouting, had thoughts on the club’s farm system, their 2013 first-round pick Dominic Smith and others.
DePodesta on the way the system is constructed:
The way our system is set up, and it’s not necessarily by design, but just the way it’s worked out, Brooklyn is a very tough hitters’ ballpark. Savannah is maybe the toughest. The Florida State League is very pitcher-friendly and even our ballpark there in St. Lucie is very pitcher-friendly. When you get to Binghamton, it gets to be about neutral, and at Vegas, it’s very hitter-friendly. As guys move up, the environment tends to get more conducive for the power output. It really helps them that they hit in these difficult environments early on because I think they learn how to become good hitters first and they don’t get into bad habits. The way our system is set up, with a lot of our guys, you’ll see increased power as they mature physically and progress through our system.
By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com
Over on the site today, we have a breakdown of the Braves Organizational All-Stars, which include big performances from top prospects Jose Peraza, Christian Bethancourt and Ozhaino Albies, among others. There are thoughts from members of the Braves organization provided within that write-up, but for a little more info, here are some expanded quotes from assistant director of player development Jonathan Schuerholz and Double-A Mississippi manager Aaron Holbert.
Schuerholz on 17-year-old shortstop Ozhaino Albies:
“This guy really impresses me. The first time I laid eyes on him was at the end of Spring Training this past spring. He comes in, obviously he’s small in stature, not a big guy, but he has this look about him. He’s always smiling, confident. He speaks like five languages, and it looks like he’s out in the backyard playing, when he plays.
“He plays like he’s having fun, like a backyard kind of game. Something good is always going to happen when it involves Ozhaino. He has more power than you’d expect. You bring in the left fielder, thinking he’s small, can’t hit it over your head, then he’ll hit a home run out to left. He has sneaky power. It’s not home run power by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a good, strong switch-hitter who can run, play shortstop. He tested off the charts on all our hand strength and forearm strength tests, and agility and quickness. He’s a good athlete.”
Schuerholz on outfielder Connor Lien:
“He’s awesome. I managed him for two years. You look at him, he’s 6-whatever, very learn body, very strong, almost like a Hunter Pence body or a Mike Trout body. He’s a strong kid, runs a 4.5 down the line. He’s got power. If everything falls in place with him, he has a chance to be a five-tool player. The hitting power, run, throw — he can already run and throw. He’s learning to steal bases and be that type of player. He hit .275 this year, and the home runs are going to come. When he hits the ball hard, it makes a different sound off his bat.”
Holbert on Jose Peraza’s move from shortstop to second:
“There’s a different feel on the other side of the diamond. He did a good job of getting the proper work in and making plays over at second base. One thing I think he does best is he handles the runner coming in extremely well, gets himself out of the way and protects himself. He has quick hands, quick feet and a strong arm, which allows him to make that turn very efficiently.”
Holbert on Peraza’s offensive profile:
“Just so long as he stays within himself, putting balls in play, utilizing his speed, I think he’ll be fine. He gets a lot of infield hits, works the ball the other way, up the middle really well. He has the ability to turn on the ball in. The power isn’t truly there, but he hits doubles, had a couple of home runs. We play in a large park that isn’t conducive to the home run, but that’s really not his game anyway. For him to have five home runs would be a good year, if you ask me. It’s a matter of getting on base, creating havoc on the basepaths and allowing the guys behind him to drive him in.”
Schuerholz on how quickly Peraza could make the Majors:
“I can’t speak to what [John] Hart and [John] Coppolella and Fredi [Gonzalez] are thinking, but I’d think sooner rather than later, seeing what he’s done as he’s progressed through the system. Obviously, he was added to the 40-man. He has speed, and, as he gets stronger, he’ll hit for a little more power. He can really steal bases. A top-of-the-lineup guy is something we haven’t had here in a few years. You look at what he and Kyle Wren did at Lynchburg, it was a track meet when they got on. They were stealing second and third and scoring before you knew it. A guy who can set the table is something we haven’t seen in a while with that kind of plus-plus speed.”
Holbert on third baseman Kyle Kubitza:
“I was impressed by Kyle. He has a slight uppercut in his swing, but when he does things right and can stay level, he can drive balls to all parts of the field. He’s basically a true gap-to-gap guy. He had [eight] home runs, but he would maybe have 15 or so in another ballpark. He has a very good approach at the plate, a good eye. He strikes out a little more than what we as an organization want, but at the same time, he walks a lot and a lot of the strikeouts are just about how good his eye is. The ball will be maybe an inch or two off the plate, and he knows it’s a ball, but the umpire might give it to the pitcher. Every now and then, we want him to be slightly more aggressive and get up there to do a little damage and put the ball in play. He’s not truly a No. 4 hitter, but he can get on for those 4-5-6-type guys to drive him in.”
Holbert on outfielder Kyle Wren:
“Every now and then, he gets a little loopy with his swing, which causes him to work under the ball. That doesn’t play at all into any of his strengths. Outfielders will play him way in, shaded to the opposite side, and if he does try to lift balls, that’s just an automatic out. The most important thing is to stay on top of the ball, stay with his level swing. When he first got to us, it was level as could be, line drives all over the park. Then he got a little more comfortable with his swing, and sometimes when that happens with players, they start actually losing some of their discipline with the slight mechanics of their swing. That happened toward the middle part of when he arrived to us, and then the last part of the season, it clicked back in and he was on top of the ball, getting infield hits.”
By Danny Wild / MiLB.com
Happy Thanksgiving! If you survived the shopping stampedes and turkey leftovers, congrats — you’ve made it. Your weekly dose of Minor Leaguers on Twitter begins now:
Blue Jays prospect Dalton Pompey is exploring Canada:
Saskatoon is a funny name for a town, and it’s also derived from the Crie Indian phrase for “at the place of many saskatoon berries.” You’re welcome.
Eric Aguilera is exploring Cary, which I assume refers to the city in North Carolina and not just someone named Cary:
Cary has somehow produced three NHL players: Aaron Ward, Glen Wesley and Jesse Boulerice.
Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo has these on his Black Friday list:
Justin Bour presented this lady with a tiny snowman, and he had a photographer there to capture the moment:
By Ashley Marshall/MiLB.com
Today on MiLB.com we continued our series of Organization All-Stars with the Minnesota Twins. Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels skipper Jake Mauer and Twins director of player development Brad Steil gave their thoughts on the players selected to the team. Here are a few other quotes that didn’t make the original story.
Mauer on catcher Mitch Garver:
That’s not to say he lets his pitch go by, because if they give him something he can drive early on in the count, he’ll go ahead and drive it. He’s definitely got an older approach at the plate than most of the guys in the league this year.
He really took some steps defensively. We were pretty confident he was going to hit, but I was most pleased with how he came defensively. His arm strength improved and he threw the ball a lot better. He started to immerse himself with game calling and he did a nice job working with our young staff. Mitch made a commitment to making himself a better catcher.
Steil on Garver’s improvements offensively and defensively:
Mitch had a good year. He provided a good mix of power and on-base skills in the middle of the Cedar Rapids lineup. He is one of the best in our system when it comes to discipline and quality at-bats. He also made a lot of progress behind the plate. His receiving skills, game-calling and throwing all improved over the course of the year. We expect that he will continue to catch [as opposed to moving to a corner infield spot].
Steil on first baseman Kennys Vargas‘ growth:
With the power and hit skills he shows from both sides of the plate, he has the potential to be a run producer in the middle of a lineup. With what he did this year, he certainly has a good chance to start  in Minnesota, but we probably won’t know for sure until we go through Spring Training.
Mauer on third baseman Bryan Haar‘s defensive home:
I think he’ll probably be able to play [first and third], but like with any prospect, it will depend on how his bat plays at the higher levels. They always say if you can hit, we’ll find a place for you. He’s above average at first base in terms of his glove work and he’s adequate at third base. You have to make longer throws from the left side of the infield and you have to be more efficient with your footwork because you don’t have as much time to make the play.
Steil on Haar’s adjustments in 2014:
Bryan had a really productive year and teamed with Garver and Chad Christensen to give Cedar Rapids a solid middle of the order. The strength of his game is the power he can provide at the plate. He did a nice job adjusting to playing third base every day, after playing mostly first base his first two years for us. He has the ability to play both positions and I expect he’ll continue to improve at third with more experience.
Steil on shortstop Jorge Polanco‘s tools:
He saw a lot of off-speed when he was promoted to Double-A and I think that challenged his patience a little bit. He will continue to learn how to make those adjustments and I expect he’ll show some more power as he matures and gets stronger. He has arguably the best plate discipline in our system.
Mauer on outfielder Max Murphy‘s first year in the Minors:
For a first-year guy to hold his own in the Midwest League, that says a lot. He made the changes from college ball where he was playing four times a week to playing every day. He learned how to hit with the wooden bat compared with the aluminum bat and he faced guys coming out of the bullpen throwing mid-90s. Not many college teams have guys that do that, maybe one, two at the most, but in pro ball you get that on a daily basis. I think he’ll probably end up in left field. That’s where he profiles, but he was in center field for us because he was our only true outfielder. We had a catcher in right and we’d run a couple guys out in left. That’s not to say he can’t play center, but we think he probably profiles better as a left fielder. He barrels a lot of balls up. He’s aggressive to the fastball early in the count and he got the job done in RBI spots.
Steil on Murphy’s production:
Well, he put up some big numbers in the Appy League and showed that he was ready for the Midwest League. He wasn’t as productive at Cedar Rapids, but he still showed power potential with the bat and gave that team some offense in center field to help them qualify for the playoffs. The nice thing is that he can play center if needed, but he’s probably going to fit better in left or right going forward. He has surprising pop for his size, I think that’s probably the thing that stands out the most.
Steil on what the Twins look for out of collegiate players in their first year of pro ball:
The first year, you’re looking for them to make the adjustment to the schedule and life in pro ball. The wood bat is part of it too, but most have summer league experience to fall back on. After the first year, it’s just about skill development and advancing to the next level. Really, all players are at different stages of their development when they come into the organization, so the expectations are going to vary from player to player.
By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com
The Royals Organization All-Stars were published Monday, featuring the top performers at each position in the club, but there were a few players that just missed the cut. With that in mind, here are the honorable mentions and bonus insight from Royals director of player development Scott Sharp.
First base — Ryan O’Hearn, Idaho Falls (64 games): From the time he went 5-for-5 in his professional debut, the 21-year-old impressed in his first season. After leading the Royals with a .361 average over 64 games and smacking 13 homers with 54 RBIs, the Sam Houston State product was crowned the Pioneer League Most Valuable Player.
“He’s got bat speed and he’s got strength. He’s got the ability to use the entire field, he hits the ball very well,” Sharp said. “All those things in my opinion should translate to him being productive as he moves through the Minor Leagues.” (more…)