The New York Yankees have been in the news lately signing some big free agents, particularly Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury. But we here at Grading on the Curve are going to tell you about the Yankees’ minor league system today, thanks to Ricky Keeler and Jason Evans over at Yanks Go Yard, our FanSided sister site.
The Yankees’ minor league affiliates, for those of you keeping track at home:
Triple-A: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders (International League)
Double-A: Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
High-A: Tampa Yankees (Florida State League)
Class-A: Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Short-Season A: Staten Island Yankees (New York-Penn League)
Complex-Rookie: GCL Yankees* (Gulf Coast League)
*Note: In 2013, the Yankees had two teams in the Gulf Coast League. They were called (coincidentally enough) GCL Yankees 1 and GCL Yankees 2.
Peter O’Brien – C, 3B
Date of Birth: July 15, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’3”/215 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-A||NYY||119||506||447||78||130||39||4||22||96||0||1||41||134||.291||.350||.544||.893|
Analysis: O’Brien has begun to move off of his original position of catcher because the Yankees’ system is so deep at behind the plate. O’Brien, now 23, is making a lot of noise with his bat, demolishing the Midwest League and maintaining solid numbers in High-A in a season with 22 home runs and an almost .900 OPS in 506 plate appearances. He also continued to get some work, particularly at third base, in the Arizona Fall League where he hit four home runs in 63 at bats but hit .190 with a .212 OBP. O’Brien’s 134 strikeouts last season are a big red flag and that, combined with his lack of contact in the AFL, means that he’s going to have to take some big steps forward going into the higher minors.
2014 Prognosis: O’Brien likely gets a chance to start 2014 in Double-A. He’ll turn 24 this year and will need to make an impact at the higher levels to maintain prospect status.
Jose Ramirez – RHP
Date of Birth: January 21, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’3”/190 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2007; signing bonus unknown
|2013||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-AAA||NYY||2||6||.250||3.67||17||16||1||1||73.2||57||35||30||10||36||78||7||9||1.262||7.0||1.2||4.4||9.5||2.17|
Analysis: Ramirez is a starter in the minors but is looking more and more like a guy who shifts to the bullpen in the big leagues. With a high 90’s fastball, a sharp slider and a surprisingly good changeup, he struck out more than a batter per inning last season in the minors. With a reputation as being a bit injury prone, Ramirez needs to stay healthy before he can make the big club. The biggest knock to Ramirez is his lack of control. After a very strong 2012 in High-A Tampa, Ramirez was still showing solid control in Double-A but it really got away from him when he made the jump to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre walking 21 in 31 1/3 innings while his strikeout rate dropped at the higher level.
2014 Prognosis: Once again, Ramirez’s health is probably the biggest factor here. If the Yankees want him to keep getting innings under his belt, he’ll probably be a starter in Triple-A. If the Yankees need a bullpen arm, he could see the major leagues in 2014.
Manny Banuelos – LHP
Date of Birth: March 13, 1991
Height/Weight: 5’10”/155 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Mexico in 2008; signing bonus unknown (the Yankees spent $450,000 on four prospects signed in 2008)
2013 Stats: Did not play
Analysis: Banuelos is coming off Tommy John surgery, and if all goes well, could get a look in September 2014. Banuelos would be higher on the list if he had had a healthy 2013 campaign. Banuelos opened eyes in Spring Training a couple years ago and at just 22 years old could still have a big big league career. Left-handed pitching plays well at Yankee Stadium, and they still have high hopes for Banuelos.
2014 Prognosis: He reached Triple-A at 20 in 2011 and started there in 2012 but struggled somewhat (particularly with his command). If Banuelos is right when he returns after Spring Training, he’ll likely get eased back into things in Tampa at High-A before ascending the tree to return to Triple-A by the end of the season.
Dante Bichette Jr. – 3B
Date of Birth: September 26, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’1”/215 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (51st overall) of the 2011 draft
Analysis: The former Yankee first round pick ended up repeating Class-A ball in 2013 and regressed in many areas, hitting just .214. One area in which he made some strides is in his power, hitting 11 home runs, up from three the year before. He does show a good eye at the plate, which could help him going forward. The Yankees know he has a good work ethic and is capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark. The negative on Bichette Jr. was that his strikeout numbers went up in 2013. He does have 40+ walks each of the last two years and the productive at-bats, however, should increase in the coming years. Scouts love his makeup and work ethic and believe that, at 21 for the 2014 minor league season, he’s still young enough to improve dramatically.
2014 Prognosis: With two years of full-season ball under his belt, he’ll likely move up to Tampa in the Florida State League.
Mark Montgomery – RHP
Date of Birth: August 30, 1990
Height/Weight: 5’11”/205 lbs
Acquired: 11th round of the 2011 draft
|2013||22||3 Teams||2 Lgs||AAA-Rk||NYY||2||3||.400||3.38||29||4||4||0||45.1||41||19||17||4||25||59||2||6||1.456||8.1||0.8||5.0||11.7||2.36|
Analysis: Despite shoulder injuries that sidelined him for much of the season, Montgomery is on track for a possible major league debut in 2014. He’s risen quickly through the minors as a college arm who was immediately profiled as a closer-type. He’s not overpowering, throwing around 93 mph but he has an excellent slider that will make him very effective against right-handed hitters.
2014 Prognosis: Montgomery has an outside shot at a bullpen spot in the big leagues in 2014.