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Yankees prospects stock watch
The 2013 Minor League Baseball Analyst arrived in the mail the other day, which can only mean one thing: time to check out how last season’s top prospects advanced (or declined) over the course of the 2012 season.
Instead of simply giving scouting quotes about a particular player, the Analyst gives them a letter and number grade as a projection. For instance, an “E” gives them a ten percent probability of reaching their potential, while an “A” means they have a 90 percent chance of getting there. Meanwhile, a “2” designates a minor league reserve, a “5” an MLB reserve and a 10 a “Hall of Famer.”
The Yankees had 15 players who were featured in the 2012 Analyst and again in the 2013 guide. Four saw their ratings increase, three held steady and eight fell. If the Yankees’ prospect reserve were a series of stocks (which, essentially, is what prospects are), here’s who you would want to buy and who you would want to sell:
Bull market (BUY!!!):
Tyler Austin: Austin’s ceiling of being a solid regular stayed the same, but his probability of reaching that level increased from 30 percent to 70 percent following a Double-A campaign in which he hit .286 with a .375 on-base percentage. The Analyst says the outfielder “hits for pop with natural strength, leverage and patience.”
Slade Heathcott: Heathcott went from having a 70 percent chance of being an average regular to a 50 percent chance of being a solid regular outfielder. He hit .307 with a .366 OBP and five home runs in Single-A advanced and the Analyst says his “Bat has chance to be special.”
Gary Sanchez: The Yankees’ most prized catching prospect still projects as an elite player, but his probability of reaching that level has increased from 30 percent to 50 percent. He batted .279 with a .319 OBP and five home runs in Single-A advanced after earning a promotion from Single-A. Sanchez hit .297 with 13 home runs for Charleston. The Analyst calls him a “Big, strong C thriving in power department while showing improved defense.” His “Receiving and blocking getting better while strong arm remains.”
Mason Williams: The third in a trio of young outfield prospects to see their stocks rise, Williams projects as a solid regular with his probability of reaching that level increasing from 50 percent to 70 percent. Williams hit .304 with a .354 OBP and eight home runs at Single-A before earning a promotion to Single-A advanced.
Holding steady (Hold the phone):
Ramon Flores: Still on track to be a starting outfielder in the majors, Flores has a 50 percent chance of becoming a solid regular. He batted .302 with a .368 OBP and six home runs for Single-A advanced in 2012. The Analyst calls him a “Pure-hitting OF with myriad offensive tools.” He “Profiles as top of the order hitter…threat on base.”
Angelo Gumbs: Like Flores, Gumbs, a second baseman, is projected to have a 50 percent chance of becoming a solid regular in the major leagues. He hit .272 with seven home runs in Single-A last season. While there are reasons to like Gumbs, every silver lining has a touch of gray. From the analyst: “Drives ball with plus bat speed, but struggles with long swing” and “Not an agile defender, but has improved glovework and good quickness.”
J.R. Murphy: Murphy, another one of the Yankees’ prized catching prospects, hit .257 with five home runs at Single-A advanced before earning a promotion to Double-A. While he struggled with a .231 average, a solid eye led to a .307 OBP. He also hit for power, which is the norm for Murphy, who is given a 50 percent chance of becoming an average regular. Continuing his power development at Double-A could go along way to boosting this rating, but his defensive skills are still in development as well.
Bear market (SELL!!!):
David Adams: Adams shot at becoming an average regular in the majors was reduced from 70 percent to 50 percent, and his ceiling went from starting second baseman to reserve infielder. He did hit .306 with a .378 OBP and is known as a “Fundamentally-sound infielder” with “solid gap power.” But injuries the last several seasons have hampered his development.
Zoilo Almonte: Almonte, who competed for a major league outfield job during spring training but lost out due to a poor camp, also lost some of the sheen on his prospect status. He went from a 10 percent chance of being a solid regular to a 70 percent chance at being an average regular. His eye (.318 OBP) is an issue, but he has power (21 HR).
Dante Bichette: Bichette disappointed at Single-A, where the third baseman hit .248 with a .313 OBP and three home runs. Still his chances at becoming a solid regular were only reduced from 50 percent to 30 percent. But the Analyst’s description of a “Pure hitter” whose “bat speed slowed and was content with weak contact to opp field” is not encouraging.
Cito Culver: Culver, a shortstop prospect, plays excellent defense and has a good eye. But he didn’t show an ability to hit for average or power, leading to a downgrade from 50 percent chance to be a solid regular to 30 percent chance to be an average regular.
Claudio Custodio: Despite Custodio’s “keen instincts,” he’s another shortstop who failed to hit adequately in Single-A (.253, 1 HR). He still has a shot at being an average player, but his chances to get there slid from 90 percent to 50 percent.
Corben Joseph: Joseph, who owns a 40-man roster spot with the Yankees and can play second and third base, projects as a reserve second baseman in the big leagues. His shot at being an average regular were downgraded from 50 percent to 30 percent, though his Triple-A stats in 2012 were impressive: .266 average, .368 OBP, 13 home runs.
Austin Romine: Romine, who’s twice missed out on a shot to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster as either a backup or starting catcher, has been stymied by health issues the past few years. But the Analysts says that “When healthy, [he] exhibits above-average raw power and keen ability to make hard contact.” But he hasn’t been able to stay on the field, and that’s led to projections of a 30 percent chance at being a solid regular being reduced to a 70 percent chance of becoming an average regular.
Ravel Santana: Santana, an outfielder, is a scout’s dream with “excellent tools across board” and “exemplary bat speed.” But he hasn’t produced, hitting just .216 with three home runs at short-season Single-A. Initially given a 30 percent chance of being an elite player, if he harnesses his raw talent, he’s still given a 50 percent chance to become a solid regular.