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Monday, January 24, 2005
 
FINALLY HERE The top 25 should debut the week of Feb. 1st on the RLYW and it will begin at number 25 and end with the number 1 prospect. Thanks for being patient. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, December 19, 2004
 
NEW POST ALERT I have a new post up at the RLYW, it can be found right here. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
 
CLOSING TIME (Please excuse any typos, I am crunched for time) As many of you know, this Fall I became a college student. Since arriving in college, I have found it much more difficult to post consistently as my daily activities are more time consuming than they were during high school. As a result, I have not been able to post on this site nearly as much as I would have liked to and that is upsetting for me. It makes me feel as though I am letting down some of the loyal readers of this site and I don't want that. As a result, I have decided to shut down the Minor Yankee Blog and join the team over at Larry Mahnken's Replacement Level Yankees Weblog. For those of you who are fans of what I have been doing for the past 11 months, you can check out my work over there where I will continue to analyze the minor leagues (the top 25 will be over there) in addition to throwing in some major league comments. Good bye for now, thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you check out RLYW. It's been fun. P.S.: If you are a Yankee fan and a prospect fan and haven't yet signed up for Pinstripes Plus, you must do so now. They are doing incredible work over there right now. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
 
HAPPY THOUGHTS As the groundwork on the Minor Yankee Blog Top 25 Yankee Prospects begins (expect it to begin coming out mid-December and be done by mid-January), let's think of some happy thoughts: Robinson Cano potentially making the team out of spring training or at being in the bigs for good by mid-year. Dioner Navarro having a big year and silencing his critics as he takes the final step in validating his status as the next great Yankee catcher. Eric Duncan and Melky Cabrera beginning the year in AA, with an outside shot of reaching the bigs by September. A Trenton rotation powered by Matt DeSalvo, Super Steven White (with his fastball now running 93-96 courtesy of BA), and Jeff Karstens tearing the EL apart. A Tampa rotation powered by Eric Abreu, Jesse Hoover, Tyler Clippard, and Abel Gomez creating heavy winds in Florida as opposing batters are consistently baffled. Hector Made and Erold Andrus carrying their blistering '04 finishes over to the FSL as the wave of solid Yankee talent begins to come in. A Riverdog offense powered by Vechionacci and Battle beating pitchers on the basepaths, over the fence, and in the gaps. A Riverdog rotation powered by Garcia, Hughes, and Stephens showing that a pitcher with low-to-mid 90s fastball always has to be appreciated. A return to greatness of the Yankee farm system. *** Feel free to add your own things or comment on some of mine in the Comments. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Saturday, October 23, 2004
 
DEREK AND ALEX (Disclaimer: Derek Jeter is my favorite player on the current Yankees, but much of this is the product of frustration.) So, in case you hadn't heard, the Yankees lost their ALCS to the Red Sox this past week. What makes the loss so huge is that it came after the Yankees had been up 3-0 and everyone, including me, was sure that the Red Sox were dead in the water. Following the loss, a blame game amongst Yankee fans and media began and it seems the most common whipping boy has been Alex Rodriguez, he of the .320/.414/.600/.336 (AVG/OBP/SLG/GPA) postseason. While Rodriguez has taken the brunt of the blame, Derek Jeter has been praised, he of the .245/.339/.347/.239 postseason. So, if Rodriguez was being criticized and Jeter was being deified, despite A-Rod clearly outperforming him during the postseason, there has to be some deeper yet valid reason, right? Wrong. The Jeter backers point to Derek being the "only one who looked like he wanted to win Game 7". Were it not for some of the other arguments I've heard in the support of Derek Jeter through the years, that would be the stupidest thing I've ever read. The Yankees are a team built to win and anything less than a World Series title is a failure. I am almost 100% sure that everyone wanted to win, and just because they weren't being as much of a cheerleader as The Captain does not mean they didn't care. And as for all the support of Jeter that stems from his cheerleading...come on. Stepping outside of the world of stats for a second, in my history on athletic teams I have noticed two distinct styles of motivation/leadership. There is the extrovert, the leader/player who derives their motivation and ability to motivate others from cheering on and being vocal, and then there is the introvert, the leader/player who derives their motivation and ability to motivate others from being silent, focused, and getting their job done. I have always felt the extrovert is overrated. If you want to support Jeter for being that, go ahead, but I won't be joining that camp. Those types of leaders are nothing more than a joke to me. Do your job and shut up and I'll appreciate you more. Making that situation even more ridiculous was the media/fan outrage that A-Rod was beginning to try and be like Jeter. Process this for a minute: because Alex Rodriguez was cheering on his teammates and doing fist pumps...he was trying to be like Jeter, seeing as Derek Jeter is the first person ever to cheer on a teammate or do a fist pump. And what happened when the media asked The Captain about the team's failure? He gave a response that translated said, "past Yankee teams of the late '90s would have closed out this series, but not this team". Are you kidding me? You're the captain of the team and you did nothing all postseason long. You were an overall negative towards the goal of victory and you won't shoulder the blame? You'd rather pass it off on your newer teammates implicitly? That is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the media surging to defend Jeter by coming out with a wave of articles talking negatively of the new Yankees in comparison to the old Yankees. I love Derek Jeter as a baseball player. He is my favorite player on my favorite team. Sometimes, it is tough to accept that though because the media and many Yankee fans feel this insatiable desire to build Derek up to be more than he is, especially in reference to other players. Derek is a likely HoFer and has been a great postseason player over the course of his career. That said, he is nowhere near the regular season performer that Alex Rodriguez has been, he is nowhere near the postseason performer that Alex Rodriguez has been, he is nowhere near the baseball player that Alex Rodriguez is and has been. If you think Derek Jeter is better than Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to have to question your sanity. If you think Derek Jeter should be praised for anything he did this postseason and more so than Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to have to question your sanity. If you think Derek Jeter is a better pick to start a franchise than Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to have to question your sanity. Derek Jeter is many things, so it is sad that what he should be known for most commonly is being ridiculously overrated by the media and Yankee fans. *** School is back under control so more frequent posting will begin. In negative prospect news, Bronson Sardinha never made it to the AFL so the Yankees have no one worth tracking over there. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, October 17, 2004
 
... Sorry I haven't updated in a while, school is beckoning, but here is some great info on the Yankee farm system courtesy of Pinstripes Plus. Check it out, and let me know what you think of the developments in Comments. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Sunday, October 03, 2004
 
BREAKOUT PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: '04 The qualifications for this award are that the guy needs to be someone who was not hyped much before this year, but had the type of performance that was impossible to ignore, and as a result made himself into a serious prospect. This was probably the most seriously contested award as many players emerged as potential prospects for the Yankees this year. There was Erold Andrus, who started the year as an all-or-nothing A- slugger, turned into a slap hitting offensive negative, and then concluded the year hitting for average, hitting for power, getting on base, and just being an all around force. There was Hector Made, who also started out the year on that BC team doing absolutely nothing, but concluded the year on fire and beginning to live up to BA's selection of him as the system's sleeper prospect entering this season. There was Melky Cabrera who began to develop the 5th tool as the year went on and has began earning quite a reputation amongst prospect followers on the internet. In the end, none of these players were chosen. Melky was already too much of a known commodity to me, Made already received BA attention, and Andrus just missed making the cut. Amongst pitchers there was Eric Abreu, who some of the more avid Yankee minor league followers had already heard of, coming stateside and dominating 3 levels of minor league baseball. There was also Jesse Hoover, leaving a lasting impression on the NYPL in his pro debut and Matt DeSalvo, who quickly earned a name as one of the best pitchers in the FSL and the Yankee system. In the end, none of these guys were chosen, Hoover because of his age, though his performance was still outstanding, DeSalvo because his season was derailed by a back injury, and Abreu for the same reason as Hoover (though that was a much harder decision to make). So, who IS the winner? Well, for some of you who've been following this blog for some time, this is probably the most obvious award I've given out. Marcos Vechionacci, 3B, 18, R GCL Yankees/SS Staten Island/A+ Tampa So what was it that separated Marcos from all the others in my mind? A huge part of it is that though he is now 18, Marcos was 17 for most of the season and this qualified as his age-17 season. It is difficult to put a value on statistical performance in R ball, but I can find no problems with what Marcos did in the GCL. In addition, the lone fault I could possibly find with his NYPL performance is that there was not much, if any, power and then I remember that the league average IsoP was .113 in a league comprised mainly of college draftees age-21 and above. In addition, though he wasn't given much of a chance to participate at Tampa, it is important to remember that was where his whirlwind year started. The Yankee minor league brass was impressed enough by him to choose him as a fill-in on their A+ team when roster-filler was needed. That speaks volumes, and that is what started my obsession with him. Outside of his near faultless statistical performance, the other thing that must be considered with Marcos is his physical ability. According to BA, Marcos does not have an outstanding tool, but at the same time, he is not below average in any tool. In addition, what appears to be his best aspect thus far, outstanding plate discipline/patience does not count as a tool. Getting excited about what a player does in a small sample in a R or SS league is foolish. That said, I have a hard time conceiving of a measure in which Marcos does not have the look of an offensive stud. For those concerned about defense, don't be. Marcos played the majority of his games as a 3B this year, which is why I have that as his listed position, but whenever needed, he slid over to 2B and SS for his teams and did the job there as well. To put what Marcos did in '04 in his main leagues into some perspective, here are some numbers: Player A: .301/.364/.473/1:2.2 (AVG/OBP/SLG/UiBB:K) Player B: .320/.392/.458/1:1.4 Both players played in the same leagues, but Player A played in the lower league for 49 more ABs and Player B played in the higher league for 13 more ABs. Player B has the clear advantage in plate discipline and seems to be a more polished hitter while Player A has a clear power advantage. Both players play the same position though Player B does so much better than A. Lastly, Player B put up those numbers in his age-17 season while A did so in his age-18 season so the power advantage becomes smaller and perhaps even negligible. Player A is Eric Duncan in '03 and B is Vech in '04. That performance by Duncan was good enough for him to become the organization's number 2 prospect entering '04 (as ranked by both BA and myself), and it will be interesting to see where it leaves Vech entering '05. One last thing to keep an eye on in regards to Vech is where he begins next year. I had assumed that he would begin '05 at Charleston in the SAL, which would put him a year ahead of most prospects, but based on what BA has been saying, it seems the Yankees are seriously considering placing him at Tampa to begin the year. That is how impressed they are by the advancements he has made and is making at the plate. If he does start at Tampa, I might have to rename this the Vech Blog. And if he starts in the SAL, I will have a hard time not keeping track of his numbers and comparing them to what B.J. Upton and Delmon Young, two of the best prospects in recent memory, did on that same team during '03 and '04 respectively. *** YANKEE PROSPECT 1st TEAM: '04 C: Dioner Navarro, 20, AA/AAA .263/.340/.366 (AVG/OBP/SLG) 1B: Eric Duncan, 19, A-/A+ .258/.357/.473 2B: Robinson Cano, 21, AA/AAA .283/.337/.457 3B: Marcos Vechionacci, 18, R/SS/A+ .319/.390/.454 SS: Hector Made, 19, A- .289/.336/.381 0F: Erold Andrus, 20, A- .291/.338/.421 OF: Melky Cabrera, 20, A-/A+ .304/.355/.446 OF: Bronson Sardinha, 21, A+/AA .290/.372/.393 LH: Brad Halsey, 23, AAA 2.63/6.8/2.3/8.0/0.5 (ERA/K:9/BB:9/H:9/HR:9) RH: Tyler Clippard, 19, A- 3.44/8.8/1.9/9.2/0.7 This team was based on performance in age context. There was a minimum of 75 IP for the starters and 225 PAs for the hitters. In addition, I tried to place guys in positions that they spent the majority of their minor league season at with some flexibility when it comes multiple top performers at one position. In those cases, I took the liberty to shift guys to less demanding defensive positions, but never more difficult ones. Overall, this gives a good idea of the positions that the system is lacking in (power-hitting COF, I'm looking at, or more appropriately, for you). *** The AFL starts on Tuesday so I will most likely begin updating more frequently on the multitude of respectable prospects the Yankees sent there, i.e. Bronson Sardinha. In addition, I will begin doing the research for the updated top prospect list. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Thursday, September 30, 2004
 
'SPLAININ As you probably notice, there is now an ad at the top of the site. I know some people out there probably hate ads with a passion, but I hope that those of you who do don't stop reading my site because of it. This was what I felt to be a good decision on my part and I hope everyone is understanding. Thank you and that is all. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
 
OFFENSIVE PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: '04 To be truthful, going into the process of choosing this award, I thought there were only two contenders worth considering. In my mind this award was going to clearly be a battle between Melky Cabrera and Eric Duncan, keeping in mind that the award should go to the offensive prospect who had the best year in my opinion. Then when I went into the process of analyzing the performances I realized that there was another viable contender. Not only was he a viable contender, he legitimately deserved the award, so without further ado I present the MYBOPotY: Robinson Cano, 2B, 21, AA Trenton/AAA Columbus Duncan, Cabrera, etc. lovers, please hear me out. Detractors of Cano's year will point out several valid concerns that I agree with. The most obvious would be that he started out on fire, posting an OPS in the 1.000 range into May and then cooled off considerably. While it would have been great for Cano to keep that pace up, and if he had done it he would be arguably a top 10 prospect in baseball, it was unrealistic. What is important is to look at what he DID manage to do. After spending the end of May through the early portions of mid-June tailing off Cano found his game and was able to raise his average from .285 to .301 in his final week at AA. A huge part of sorting through prospects is finding players who make adjustments and crediting them for that adjustment. Cano started out on fire and the league adjusted to him, making him a non-factor in the AA lineup for some time until he was able to re-adjust to the league. To be cautious, it should still be noted that that final adjustment by Cano was in a very small sample size. The other point that is often made against him is that in addition to tailing off in comparison to how he started his '04 AA stint, he also tailed off in AAA. I don't think it's as simple as that. As the numbers cited above show Cano maintained the same control of the strike zone, which is very important, but lost a lot of his power and BA. Digging further one will see that it's not as simple as that. The lost power that Cano experienced was in terms of doubles and triples as he actually increased his home run rate from once every 41.7 AA at bats to once every 36 AAA at bats. Meanwhile his doubles and triples per at bat went from once every 10.4 AA at bats to once every 19.6 AAA at bats. So, what happened here? As Baseball Prospectus and others have shown, aspects of the game where the defense comes into play, singles, doubles, and triples in this case, are prone to fluctuation. In other words, noting Cano's improved over-the-fence power and maintained plate discipline/patience it becomes apparent that perhaps some of his decline was hitting in front of better defense's rather than through some fault of his own. While I will give him the benefit of the doubt on this, readers of the site who were regular attendees at Clippers' games can share observations on whether or not he seemed to be a victim of the "ol' attem ball" since that is what the statistical evidence seems to point to. The other negative to consider with Cano's AAA performance is that he started off incredibly hot, going 8 for his first 10 and then seemed lost for a long period, which once again points to him being figured out by a league's pitchers. Then, just like in AA, he closed his stint on a brief hot streak that points to a possible readjustment on his part; including the playoffs, Cano was 10 for his last 21. As evidenced by my feelings about the most glaring negatives of Robinson Cano's game, I do like him as a prospect. He was always a favorite of mine for his 2002 season and coming into this year I promised to be more positive about him if "he corrects either the plate discipline or power 'problems'". Apparently, he has and his reward for that is the 2004 MYBOPotY. *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
Monday, September 27, 2004
 
PITCHING PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: '04 Halfway through the season it seemed as though Matt DeSalvo would run away with this award. Unfortunately, his season was derailed by back injuries following a promotion to AA. With him gone the field seemed much more open, that is until Brad Halsey went on a season ending tear. With his struggles in the major leagues fresh in the minds of many, it may seem like a reach to name Halsey the pitching prospect of the year, but based on my criteria, there was no other choice. Despite the lack of overwhelming physical talent, Halsey was able to put up the best pitching performance of anyone in the system and at an age where he can be considered a legitimate prospect. What he is a legitimate prospect to become still remains to be seen. At the very least, his big league performance thus far warrants him consideration as a lefty arm out of someone's bullpen and if he can develop in the bigs like he did over the course of the AAA season he could be a decent 3 or 4. Brad Halsey, LHP, 23, AAA Columbus Overall, the lefty had an outstanding season that was actually 4 parts. When the season opened it seemed that Halsey was overmatched at AAA as he sported a hefty 6.53 ERA in April. Coming on the heels of a middling 2003, when hits allowed are given heavy consideration, Halsey seemed destined to return to AA. Fortunately for him, something clicked and he went on a tear that eventually led to his promotion to the ML level. After that brief stint in the majors Halsey returned to the minors and upon his return once again struggled. After giving up only 2 homers in his first 80+ AAA innings, Halsey began letting the long balls fly, before once again finding his self. This time, when he righted the ship, not only was Halsey not allowing the opposition to score, he was also striking out more than his fair share of batters to conclude the minor league season. In the grand scheme of evaluating players, this may mean nothing as every player has their different ups and downs through the course of a season, but it may mean something in Halsey's case. Based on how he performed in April and in the middle of the summer upon returning to AAA it would seem that Halsey is not one to quickly adjust to changes in leagues/hitters. This would seem to go hand-in-hand with his less than great stuff as he would need to learn leagues/hitters in order to take advantage of what he does have, which is good control and decent secondary pitches. I'm sure most readers of this blog know where I'm going by now, but I'll say it outright nonetheless. The Yankees should give Brad Halsey a shot. To those that say he has been given a shot, what he was given was not a shot. It was more like an opportunity to start a game. Giving him a shot would entail Joe Torre trusting him to stay in games when options include bringing in someone from the Circus of Ridiculously Atrocious Pitchers that is the back end of the Yankee bullpen. Giving him a shot would entail perhaps working him into a situation where he can be tested as a potential playoff LOOGY when you, the manager, are determined to have one and thus far big league lefties have "3" hits off him in 26 at bats. 2 of those hits were gifts to David Ortiz courtesy of the Yankees outfield defense. I've given up on him having a shot this year, but with next year's rotation being potentially more injury-susceptible than this year's Halsey should at least be with the team from the start and take the Ramiro Mendoza role of year's past. Just somehow get him on the team as it's inefficient use of resources to keep him at a level that he has demonstrated he is better than in addition to the fact that the bullpen isn't compromised of a bunch of worldbeaters. In the end, though Halsey does not have the highest ceiling of the main competitors he had for this award (it came down to him, Abel Gomez, and Tyler Clippard in my mind), his performance and assurance of being worth an ML role with some team somewhere makes him both a safe and solid pick. Oh yeah, and to put his '04 performance into more perspective, Baseball Prospectus, the premier number crunchers on the internet, have a system of rating pitching prospects. In that system, "STUFF", a pitcher gets a rating based on his peripheral numbers and age. Brad Halsey's 2004 was given a 31 on a scale where above 30 is considered "truly elite". *** Questions, comments, suggestions to minoryankeeblog@hotmail.com
 
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    Alfonso Soriano

    Batting Average:.279
    On-Base Percentage:.322
    Slugging Percentage:.464
    Gross Production Avg:.261

    Alex Rodriguez

    Batting Average:.284
    On-Base Percentage:.372
    Slugging Percentage:.536
    Gross Production Avg:.301

    Nick Johnson

    Batting Average:.258
    On-Base Percentage:.365
    Slugging Percentage:.404
    Gross Production Avg:.265

    Javier Vazquez

    Earned Run Average:4.16
    Strikeouts:111
    Walks:37
    Home Runs:23

    Brandon Claussen

    Earned Run Average:4.02
    Strikeouts:9
    Walks:7
    Home Runs:2