The first thing you need to know about The Fish Watch is that it’s not a list of sleepers. It is instead a list of players at various points in their respective minor league journeys that for one reason or another have piqued my interest enough that I am watching their development more closely than the bulk of prospects out there. To read more about this project, check out the introduction and master list.
This is the second round of updates in this series so I will not rehash why each player made my list but you can always go back and read previous installments of the series. While doing the installments by division worked the first time around, I’m going to go team-by-team from this point forward.
New York Yankees (S2S 2012 Yankees Team Prospect List)
P – Pat Venditte (26) – Yankees 2008 20th Round Pick
2011 – Trenton (AA): 3.40 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 80 H, 31 BB and 88 SO in 90.0 IP
2012 – Scranton/WB (AAA): 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11 H, 6 BB, 12 SO in 13.0 IP
Notes – Venditte has not pitched since April 29th and has been on the disabled list with a torn labrum. Since he’s effectively done for the season I need to pick a replacement Yankees prospect to take his place in this series.
2B/OF – Jose Pirela (22) – Signed out of Venezuela as a NDFA on July 2nd, 2006
Notes - Pirela gets the honor of replacing Venditte in this series and it’s not hard to figure out why based on what he’s done at the plate this year. Sure, he’s repeating the level, but how many guys increase their slash stats by essentially 100+ points across the board from one year to the next? If you answer anything other than “not many” you’re dead wrong.
Between April and May he only played 11 games but has played 26 and 27 in June and July respectively and has had success in both months. In June he hit 0.377/.442/.481 and has followed that up with a 0.294/.353/.541 this month.
At the root of his significant improvement from last season to this one is without question his approach at the plate. In 2011 he drew 25 walks in 128 games for the Thunder, whereas this year he’s nearly matched that total with 23 in just 67 games. Going by percentages he’s up from a 4.8 BB% to 8.0% this season. Pirela has also shaved off some strikeouts dropping his K% from 16.9% last season to 12.0 this year.
With both his BB and SO rates going in the right directions, he also offers some versatility in the field having played both 2B and LF with some measure of success and plenty of SS in previous seasons. He’s also played in 11 games at 3B this year but he’s made 7 errors (0.708 Fld%) and can’t be considered a viable option at the hot corner at this point given his limited experience and lackluster results.
OF – Ravel Santana (20) – Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a NDFA on November 17th, 2008
Notes – Santana entered 2012 as the Yankees #7 prospect and had the system’s best outfield arm (as rated by Baseball America). He also garnered attention as the #2 prospect in the Gulf Coast League – behind fellow Yankees prospect Dante Bichette Jr. – after the 2011 season wrapped up.
Things started off a little rough this year as Santana hit 0.176/.317/.176 with 16 SO in 10 games during June, but he’s started to turn things around of late. The young outfielder has hit 0.268/.342/.380 in 20 games this month while cutting his SO rate from 39.0% last month to 25.3% in July. The strikeouts continue to be a problem, including 12 in his last 10 games with only 3 walks, and he hasn’t yet taken the step forward that I expected but he has the second half of the NYPL season to make the necessary adjustments and improvements.
1B/RF – Tyler Austin (20) – Yankees 2010 13th Round Pick
2011 – GCL Yankees/Staten Island: 0.354/.418/.579, 26 XBH, 18 SB, 15 BB and 39 SO in 201 PA
2012 – GCL Yankees/Charleston (A)/Tampa (A+): 0.316/.399/.586, 23 2B, 6 3B, 15 HR, 18 SB, 39 BB and 74 SO in 343 PA
Notes – Ravel Santana has been a bit of disappointment thus far, but the same cannot be said of Austin who hit 0.320/.405/.598 with 14 HR and 17 SB in 70 games with Charleston. He played his last game in the SAL on July 3rd, missed about three weeks and then after a two game rehab tuneup in the GCL was promoted to the FSL.
He only has 7 games under his belt and is currently hitting 0.240/.296/.360 with Tampa, but based on what he did last season and the way he followed that up in his time with Charleston I have little doubt he will be very productive in August.
For more on the New York Yankees, check out Yanks Go Yard