Notes from around the AFL and Caribbean Winter Leagues.
There was a full slate of action in the Dominican Winter League, although not one player did anything interesting enough to make my list. Not that there wasn't anything interesting going on. For instance, thirty-seven year-old Vladimir Guerrero, a career .318 hitter with 449 HR in 16 big league seasons, went 2-for-4 for the Tigres del Licey. And then there was Manny being Manny, playing for Aguilas Cibaenas. The 40 year-old, who is stuck at 555 career HR, homered in his DWL debut off the first pitch he saw from former big leaguer Daniel Cabrera, who ended up pitching seven strong innings and only allowing a pair of solo homers to Ramirez and former NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, who was celebrating after I recently moved him into my Marlins' projected lineup after a certain blockbuster trade. See, I told you there were some good times being had in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.
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Jason Martinez of MLBDepthCharts makes his Minor League Update debut ...
I'm new here, so let me introduce myself. My name is Jason, and I'm kind of obsessed with baseball, especially when it comes to prospects and how they fit into an organization's depth chart. If you're familiar with MLBDepthCharts.com, you know what I mean. I'll be doing these updates regularly, so you're stuck with me for awhile. Be sure to leave feedback in the comments section and let me know your preferences for this feature. You can also find me on Twitter @mlbdepthcharts.
A number of high-profile prospects are off to disappointing starts. But how worried should we be?
We’re three weeks into the minor league season, and so far there are a few prospects that entered the year with high expectations, yet are falling well below them. It's easy to just say small sample size, and chances are that plays a huge role, but the question remains: are there reasons to be concerned? Here's a look at a quintet of players having slow starts, and why you should be concerned. Or not.
Parks dishes pessimism on Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and more.
Prospect #1: C Gary Sanchez Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: Sanchez, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic for a cool $3 million, is one of the most promising offensive prospects in the minors. He has precocious in-game power, a projectable and playable hit tool, and a game plan at the plate that goes beyond “grip the bat and swing as hard as possible.” Sanchez was only 18 years old when he made his full-season debut in 2011, but he managed to slug .485 against much older competition in the prospect-heavy Sally League. His work behind the plate wasn’t as attractive, and there are already whispers of a future position switch. The arm is plenty strong and the necessary athleticism is present to handle the physical demands of the position, but his receiving ability is immature and will require years of additional development. The catch here is that Sanchez’s bat is setting an accelerated timetable that his glove development won’t be able to match strides with.
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: Sanchez is a hitter who seems to see the ball very well; he tracks and diagnoses pitches like a much more experienced player. In High-A, the young right-hander will no doubt face a more advanced secondary sequence, and despite the good pitch-recognition skills, the characteristics of his swing could limit his ability to make contact against such offerings. Like most power hitters, Sanchez has a leveraged swing with length and loft, making him susceptible to inner-half velocity and off-speed stuff that will require barrel manipulation to stay on. Sanchez has a good feel for hitting, but I don’t think the hit tool can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the power, which should end up as an easy 70 on the 20/80 scale, and possibly a legit 80 at the top of his developmental arc. The explosion that occurs on contact is loud and violent and sexy and people will pay money to see it and the skies will turn red with the blood of his enemies, but the hitchy trigger and the lengthy path to the ball make exploitation possible. However, it should be noted that Sanchez’s offensive game doesn’t have the glaring weaknesses that scar the faces of most prospects his age. This is a minor nitpick. Sanchez could be very special at the plate. I want to have a son and name him Gary.
New York's offense will keep the club afloat, but things get tricky if CC opts out
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the league division series, league championship series or World Series. It combines an overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
A kid's vintage and relative experience has less than a predictive effect on his arriving to stay in The Show.
With Cliff Lee's surprising detour to Philadelphia and Andy Pettitte's unsurprising detour into retirement, the Yankees' major-league rotation is in a decidedly unfinished state. Happily, their farm system is chock full of quality pitching prospects. On the surface, the solution—fill the rotation's two open spots from within—appears obvious, but the Yankees are auditioning veteran retreads such as Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre, and Bartolo Colon for first dibs on those spots. Not long after pitchers and catchers reported to camp, general manager Brian Cashman dismissed the idea of either of the team's blue chippers on the mound, Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances, breaking camp with the big club, stating to the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand that "(t)hey’re going to get their first taste of big-league camp, then they're going to get slotted into Trenton. They have no chance to make this team."
The Yankees' pitching prospect hopes to be a hero in his hometown of New York.
Dellin Betances knows where he came from, and if the 22-year-old right-hander can stay healthy, he’ll soon be pitching in his backyard. Drafted by the Yankees out of a Brooklyn high school in 2006, Betances has battled back from injuries and emerged as arguably the best power arm in the system. The 6-foot-8 flamethrower went a combined 8-1, 2.11 between High-A Tampa (14 starts) and Double-A Trenton (3 starts) this summer, notching 108 strikeouts while allowing just 53 hits in 85 innings. In Game One of the Eastern League playoffs, he outdueled top Blue Jays prospect Kyle Drabek in a 2-0 Trenton win.
The prospects positioned to campaign for the top spots in-house and within the game at large.
Prospecting is all about the future, so let's look deep into the coming year and try to figure out who might be topping next year's prospect lists in their respective organizations, as well as who could be moving up, down, or even out, beginning today with the American League.