New York Yankees: Four prospects to watch as Minor League Baseball begins

New York Yankees, Austin Wells

After taking the 2020 season off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minor League Baseball is finally set to resume play. In the 18+ months since the last MiLB action, the entire farm system structure has changed, including a few affiliates being swapped for the New York Yankees. Scranton remains the Triple-A affiliate for the team, however, the Double-A affiliate is now the Somerset Patriots. Tampa has dropped down to Low-A, while the Hudson Valley Renegades have filled their spot as the High-A affiliate.

With Minor League Baseball resuming, that means that there will be plenty of prospects to keep an eye on throughout the season. Here is one prospect to watch for on each Yankees’ affiliate.

Low-A: Austin Wells (C)

2021 1st round draft pick Austin Wells will make his minor league debut with the Tampa Tarpons this week. Wells, 21, impressed throughout Spring Training and is a likely candidate to replace Gary Sanchez in the future.

That being said, Wells’s progression is something to keep an eye on throughout the season. If Wells performs well in 2021, he could potentially make it to Double-A come September, putting him in a position where he could be MLB ready by the end of the 2022 or the beginning of 2023.

High-A: Luis Medina (RHP)

Ranked 7th in the Yankees orgamization, Luis Medina is looking for a breakout season in the minors in 2021. He struggled in 2018 and 2019 in A-Ball, however, he’s two years older now and has had a ton of time to develop. The Yankees are very high on him and he could be an arm in the MLB rotation in a few seasons.

With prospects Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia already proving themselves as MLB quality pitchers, Medina is essentially the No. 2 pitching prospect in the organization, only behind Luis Gil. If Medina starts off strong in 2021, he could quickly see a promotion to Double-A.

Double-A: Estevan Florial (CF)

Despite making his MLB debut in 2020, Estevan Florial finds himself in Double-A to begin the 2021 season. Currently the Yankees No. 2 outfield prospect behind Jasson Dominguez, Florial could potentially be an impact player for the Yankees this season. The team hasn’t had much production out of outfielders Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner, meaning Florial could potentially be in the mix.

If Florial were to make the MLB roster at some point, a strong performance for him is key to his Yankee future. With Dominguez likely MLB ready in 2023, Florial would like to show that he belongs on the Yankees’ roster and that Dominguez’s route to the majors isn’t as easy as it’s hyped to be.

Triple-A: Deivi Garcia (RP)

Picking Deivi Garcia as the player to watch for this season in Triple-A is a difficult one. Many players on the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders are either MLB veterans or lower-ranked prospects who have already made MLB appearances. However, with the expectation that Garcia will start games next season with the Yankees, we’ll go with Garcia.

2021 will likely see Garcia jump back-and-forth between the Triple-A and MLB roster, but he should hopefully get 25ish starts between the two teams. If Garcia can succeed at both levels this season, then it’ll put him in great shape to have a permanent MLB roster spot in 2022.

One Yankees pitching prospect is showing off his impressive pitch velocity

New York Yankes, Luis Medina

The New York Yankees don’t feel overly worried about their lack of healthy pitchers since they have several youth options that could play a part during the 2021 season. Consider last year, when James Paxton went down, and several starters were struggling, the Yankees looked to Deivi Garcia to supplement weaknesses.

While he did have a few tumultuous performances, he finished with a 4.98 ERA and 8.65 strikeouts per nine. It was his first MLB action, and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, Garcia had one performance against the Toronto Blue Jays where he lasted 7.0 innings, allowing five eights and two runs. The Yankees utilized him significantly when he was on the mound, as he clocked in at 103 pitches against Miami last year and had a low of just 75. I would be remiss not to mention his top performance against the New York Mets when he lasted 6.0 innings and didn’t allow single run on four hits.

With the Yankee youth taking steps forward, there is another pitcher on the rise, and his name is Luis Medina. The Yankees have been pleased with his recent outings, as he featured for Puerto Rico in his worst game of the off-season. He gave up five runs on seven heads over 3-2/3 innings, but this seems to be an anomaly. He’s ranked as the Yankees’ 11th overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who had some pretty great things to say about him.

 

Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about the hard-armed pitcher:

With lightning-fast arm speed and little effort, Medina sits at 96-99 mph and tops out at 102 with some natural cut on his fastball. His low-80s curveball is a plus-plus hammer at its best and can be more unhittable than his heater. There also are times when his changeup merits at least a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, operating around 90 mph with devastating splitter action.

Despite his huge difficulties throwing strikes, Medina is athletic and has no red flags in his delivery. He does struggle to repeat his mechanics at times, with some observers believing that’s more of a mental than physical issue. There’s a huge gap between his ceiling (frontline starter) and floor (not enough control to contribute in the Majors), but he started to close it at the end of last season.

A pitcher with his velocity has unlimited potential, and at 21 years old, he is still extremely useful. The Yankees can continue to develop him and work with his fundamentals. The ability to throw 97 mph with ease cannot be taught, and adding a few offspeed pitches and improving his control to make him a productive pitcher down the line in the big leagues.

Yankees’ Luis Medina was crowned the Puerto Rican league’s Pitcher of the Year

New York Yankees

New York Yankees‘ pitcher Luis Medina may have lost a year of development on paper due to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancelation of the minor league campaign. However, he made strides at the team’s alternate training site and had a stellar season in Puerto Rico playing winter ball.

Medina, who pitched for Indios de Mayaguez at the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (LBPRC), was crowned this weekend as the Pitcher of the Year in the Caribbean circuit, a testimony of how dominant he was during his stint there.

The lanky right-hander, currently 21 years old, was a force to be reckoned with in Puerto Rico, and the Yankees are absolutely delighted with his performance. Over 16.2 innings, he only handed six walks, which is extremely encouraging progress given his past issues throwing consistent strikes.

The Yankees prospect had videogame numbers

Additionally, and maybe the most impressive part of his statistical profile in the winter league, he struck out a whopping 32 hitters in those 16.2 frames. That’s an insane strikeout rate for the youngster.

Medina was also named to the All Star team in the Puerto Rican league.

The hurler is on the 40 man despite not yet sniffing Double-A. The 2021 season will be big for the Yankees’ farmhand, as he will try to prove that the control gains he made over the last two years can stick in the long haul.

For years, Medina was stopped from advancing through the Yankees’ system largely because of himself and his control issues. Before 2019, he hadn’t had a BB/9 in a season lower than 5.48.

For most of the 2019 campaign, it was more of the same: he was in Low-A ball, and finished with a 6.48 BB/9 there in 93 frames. But if you look closely, during his last six starts, his BB/9 was a pretty 3.09 BB/9. Seeing this, the Yankees tested him for two starts in High-A, where he was excellent: a 10.13 K/9, a 2.53 BB/9, and a 0.84 ERA.

Now, Medina will likely start the 2021 season in High-A. If his control is now average, he can help the Yankees in the bigs by early 2022.

New York Yankees Analysis: The Yankees are building a Juggernaut of minor league pitchers

The New York Yankees are doing nearly nothing. At the same time, they wait to see if they can re-sign DJ LeMahieu; they are not addressing their Major League need for a premium type starting pitcher. They need to replace Tommy Kahnle in the bullpen, but they have been quietly building strength in the minor leagues’ available pitchers. In November, the Yankees selected RHP Roansy Contreras and Alexander Vizcaino from Tampa Tarpons. During December, they assigned pitchers Matt Krook and Reggie McClain to the Yankees.

In the mid-month of December, they signed pitchers Lucas Luetge, Luis Garcia, Matt Bowman, and Adam Warren, who previously pitched for the Yankees. During January, they have signed pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr., Tyler Lyons, James Reeves, and just yesterday, Jhoulys Chacin. Just this offseason, the Yankees have added 14 pitchers to the already 70 plus pitchers they have in the minor leagues, and that doesn’t include the rookies pitching in the Dominican Republic. It makes you wonder what the New York Yankees are up to.

It appears at the moment that baseball is counting on a 162 game season that might possibly allow some fans in the stands at some point in the season. However, with the slow distribution of the new coronavirus vaccines, it doesn’t look as though those stands will return to full occupancy until very late in the season if then. The full health protocols and whether rules implemented last year will be continued yet to be seen.

However, after a 2020 canceled minor league season, there will be changes this season as well. It appears that the Triple-A season will start on time, but the lower levels will be delayed until the Triple-A players leave camp. This is obviously being done to increase social distancing and limit player interactions.  There is no definite date set as of yet.

With the Yankees pitching needs, the New York Yankees will be watching all of these pitchers to see how they may contribute during the 2021 season. We know that Deivi Garcia will certainly be on the opening day roster. Depending on what the Yankees do to augment the every day pitching staff, fans will surely see Clarke Schmidt, Micheal King, Luis Gil, and Luis Medina at some point in the season. As far as the bullpen is concerned, the Yankees will have many arms to evaluate. Two relievers could come into play this season; Greg Weissert and Glenn Otto have worked their way up through the ranks.

A photo accompanying the article is of Yankee pitcher Luis Media who has have an excellent winter season in Puerto Rico.

Yankees: Luis Medina keeps dominating hitters in Puerto Rico

Nothing has changed since our last update on Luis Medina’s winter campaign. More of the same, actually: he keeps making hitters in the Puerto Rican winter league look like rookies, which is quite the accomplishment for a guy who is just 21 and has spent the better part of the last few years trying to throw strikes. The New York Yankees, of course, are rejoicing.

The young Yankees’ fireballer had a phenomenal week in Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, he struck out 10 hitters in 4 2/3 innings for Indios de Mayaguez. Additionally, he had another superb outing on Sunday, reaching five innings for the first time on the season and allowing just on run, his first of the winter campaign. He punched out seven Criollos de Caguas hitters in the masterpiece.

Overall on the week, the Yankees’ farmhand whiffed 17 batters in 9 2/3 frames across the two outings, conceding just four hits and walks apiece.

The right-hander is now the LBPRC leader in strikeouts with 32, but the most amazing part is that he has earned them in just 16 2/3 frames. That’s an amazing ratio. For the Yankees, though, the most satisfying part of it all is that he is still throwing consistent strikes.

The Yankees have to be pleased with his performance

All in all, Medina has a microscopic 0.54 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP in four starts and 16 2/3 innings. He has been, without a doubt, the best pitcher of the Puerto Rican circuit.

The Yankees have to be pleased, as Medina used to run BB/9 marks over five in most of his minor league seasons until something clicked late in the 2019 season. He seemed to find consistency with his release point and finished last year with a 1.77 ERA, 63 strikeouts and 15 walks over his final 45 2/3 innings between Class A Charleston and Class A Advanced Tampa.

If he has a positive spring training, he could start the season in Class-A and could conceivably reach the high minors in 2021. Or he could be trade bait for the Yankees right now (there are several starters available) or in the summer.

New York Yankees: A look at Yankee players in Winter ball – How did they do?

The New York Yankees have had a number of players playing in LINDOM the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League.  Now that the winter ball season is over they presented this Friday the game schedule for the series or mini playoff that the Eastern Stars and Lions of the Chosen One will play to define the last qualification quota for the semifinal round. They playoffs with start tomorrow. The Greens and Reds will face off at San Pedro de Macorís.

Then, it will continue on Monday at 6:00 in the afternoon, at the Quisqueya Juan Marichal Stadium in Santo Domingo, and if necessary a third match will return to the Sultana del Este Park. Los Gigantes del Cibao, winners of the regular series with a 16-14 record, will wait for the winner of this series to start their semifinal on January 2. The other semifinalist round will be between Águilas Cibaeñas and Toros del Este, in the Don José Manuel Fernández in memoriam Autumn Winter Baseball Championship and as an option to the BHD-León Cup. Most of the New York Yankees players play for the Toros del Este. Those players are Gary Sanchez, Domingo German, and Miguel Andujar.

Of the three only Miguel Andujar impressed at all. Gary Sanchez started off well looking impressive but his last two games dragged his batting average down to just .245 when he went 2 for 20. Even though the winter league is a small sample his 19 strikeouts are concerning. In 62 plate appearances, he did hit 2 homers. If we were to give Sanchez a report card for winter ball it would be a C.

More concerning was the performance of Domingo German, most due to the fact he will probably be the Yankee’s second starter at the beginning of the season behind Gerrit Cole. German has not pitched in over a year after returning from suspension. In his first game in winter ball he was impressive going four strong innings not issuing a run. Germán faltered as the season went along, failing to get out of the first inning in his next appearances. He finished with a 7.16 ERA in 16.1 innings. He struck out 18, but walked nine and hit four batters. Not good going into a season when the Yankees will depend upon him. Winter ball report card: D.

A more encouraging report is for the Yankees Miguel Andujar. Andujar played like the “Miggy” we had become familiar with before his disastrous 2019 season was derailed by shoulder surgery. He was replaced with Gold Glove-like ball from Gio Urshela, replacing Andujar and leaving him with no permanent place to play. During winter ball he missed a few weeks due to muscle but he looked sharp when he returned to the team, finishing with a .308/.333/.410 line. He remained the Andújar that Yankees fans have come to know, only walking twice and pounding out 12 hits with four doubles on the season.  It could be the only thing he has done is to increase his trade value. Report Card B+.

Lesser Yankee players shined in winter ball

Centerfielder Estevan Florial, playing for Leones del Escogido. Florial, who has played one game above the High-A level (it was with the Yankees this summer), held his own alongside major leaguers and those on the cusp of playing in the majors. In 18 games, he slashed .280/.373/.420. His 27% strikeout rate was still high, but he hit the ball much harder as the season went on. He is one of the most promising Yankees going forward. Once the Yankees number one prospect he slipped in recent years but may now be back to contributing. He had 14 hits with one homer. Report Card B+.

The most impressive New York Yankees prospect so far in winter ball is Luis Medina who has been nearly unhittable. Pitching for Indios de Mayagüez he has been in complete control of his opponents through his first three games, tossing 11.2 innings and recording 25 strikeouts. Medina has allowed just four hits, four walks, and zero runs. These stats were up to last week with one start to go. He finished the season with an ERA of 0.00. Yankee report card: A.

Besides having a discouraging outcome for Domino German, the Yankees have other worries. Deivi Garcia after having his Major League Debut late in the last season. he has struggled mightily in winder ball.  Never finding any rhythm he tossed just six innings, finishing with a 7.50 ERA and just three strikeouts against five walks. Not a great sign for the Yankees. Luis Gil began the season with Tigres del Licey and pitched two games for the team. In those two appearances, Gil recorded 5.2 innings pitched, a 6.35 ERA, with four strikeouts and three walks. Albert Abreu tossed 19.1 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP but still gave up far too many walks.

Nestor Cortes found himself with the Yankees again after agreeing to a minor league deal earlier this month. In five starts, he pitched 18.1 innings, recording an impressive 27 strikeouts against five walks. He finishes with a 4.91 ERA and is heading to the playoffs with Estrellas Orientales. His excellent pitching led to a Ne York Yankee contract where he can hopefully help a bullpen that is not longer potent with the loss of Tommy Kahnle and the questionable pitching of Adam Ottavino.

New York Yankees prospect seems to have finally turned the corner

New York Yankees

For years, Luis Medina was one of the most promising arms in the New York Yankees‘ system. Yet, he was continually held back by a well-below average walk rate. His control problems prevented his high strikeout rate (usually higher than 9.00 K/9) from having a positive effect and from keep ascending through the ranks.

The 2019 season started in a similar way for Medina: lots of strikeouts, but with a boatload of walks. In 93.0 Low-A ball innings, he had a 6.00 ERA (4.72 FIP) with an 11.13 K/9 and a 6.48 BB/9. However, in his last six turns there, he finally found some consistency with his release point and cut his walks to a 3.09 BB/9 mark.

That development gained him a promotion to High-A. In two starts there, he notched a 10.13 K/9, a 2.53 BB/9, and a 0.84 ERA. Then 2020 arrived, and the pandemic robbed him of some valuable development time in the minors. Instead, he was in the Yankees’ alternate training site.

The Yankees assigned him to winter ball and he’s thriving

In an attempt to have Medina pitch some competitive innings, the New York Yankees assigned him to Indios de Mayaguez in Puerto Rico to play some winter ball. He had a phenomenal debut on December 11, with three shutout innings with six whiffs.

Last week, in his second turn, he was even more dominant, throwing four scoreless frames while recording nine of his 12 outs via the strikeout. He only conceded a pair of hits and did not issue a walk in the outing.

Overall with Mayaguez, Medina has a 15/2 K/BB ratio in seven frames, with no runs and three hits allowed.

Now, the Yankees have a legitimate pitching prospect rather than a thrower than doesn’t know where his pitches are going. If he manages to show that the control gains he made in 2019 and 2020 are legit, Luis Medina can see the major leagues in late 2021 and be a major contributor in 2022.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Luis Medina, who after Chapman, Clint Frazier, and more

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

Luis Medina, the next Yankee pitching prospect?

Luis Medina is one of the top New York Yankees pitching prospects. Some say he is number six others say number five.  He was signed by the Yankees in 2015 when he was just sixteen years old.  Since he was signed there has been much and continual hype for the possibilities with the young man.  This writer believes the hype is not deserved.

Media has all the tools to become a top of the line starter for the Yankees.  He has the ability to throw a fireball at 102mph.  He has the ability to be a strikeout king.   Some have suggested he is a young Luis Severino.  Bullpen coach Mike Harkey has said, “Stuffwise he’s off the charts.”

I can’t really argue with any of this praise that has been heaped upon him during his minor league tenure.  What I can do is point out to all that praise is that he is inconsistent, although he has had flashes of genius, he has all demonstrated that he can’t hold it together.  An example of how he is overhyped is the statement that he has had a fantastic spring training for the New York Yankees, pitching to an ERA of 2.25. Although that is true, it is hardly representative of good pitching.  It was only three games and a total of four innings.  In the four innings, he gave up a run and walked two while allowing more than a hit per inning.

His whole minor league career has been mostly the same, flashes of greatness but with the inability to pitch to a low ERA.  In his best year, he pitched to an ERA of 1.93, but then again, that was like his spring training this year, only 4.2 innings.  In his short four year career, he has an ERA of 5.51. Another example of his inconsistency is his latest campaign.  In two games at Tampa in 2019, he had an ERA of .084.  He was then promoted to Charleston, where he pitched in 20 games for a 1-8 record, with a 6.00 ERA.

It is the opinion of this writer that unless Media can stop walking hitters, gain better command and find some consistency in his game, he will never make the major leagues.  At present, there is no reason to believe that will happen.  Scouts that know more than I do think he may be the next great Yankee pitching prospect.

Who comes after Aroldis Chapman?

The New York Yankees were blessed with having Mariano Rivera in their bullpen for nineteen years.  During that time, he had an ERA of 2.21.  In eleven of those years, he had ERAs under 2.  He retired after the 2013 season.  Last year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously, the first player to ever receive the honor.  Aroldis Chapman briefly pitched for the Yankees in 2016 before being traded to Chicago Cubs.

Chapman came back to the Yankees in 2017 and since then has recorded a 2.51 ERA while saving 111 games.  Chapman is is no Rivera and often makes Yankees fans sweat when he takes the mound.  Chapman now 32 years old, is not going to be around forever.  In 2019 he showed a slowing of his incredible missile of a fastball.  In the minors, the Yankees don’t have anyone to replace him as exhibited by the contract extension he was given during the offseason.  According to his performance, they may or may not resign him again.  If they don’t they may ever well have to venture out into the trade market to find a replacement.

Clint Frazier and the coronavirus

Clint Frazier may have been adversely affected by the coronavirus that hit the world this spring.  With injuries suffered during the shortened spring training, it seemed almost certain that he would be in a starting lineup at the New York Yankees Stadium.  In spring training he showed off his stuff hitting .320 in twelve games played with one home run.  He also showed that he might have improved with his defense in the outfield.  His new footwork seemed to allow him to get to the ball quicker.

Enter a shortened spring training and a delay fo the regular season.  With the longer than expected delay in the start of the season, Frazier’s chances of playing with the big team seem to be evaporating quickly.  During the delay, Giancarlo Stanton has healed, Aaron Judge will most likely be ready, and the Tommy John recovering Aaron Hicks may be ready to play as well.  With Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Tyler Wade ready fill in, Frazier may find himself the man out.

The Unspoken rules of baseball

There are many rules in baseball, but there are also unspoken rules that should not be violated.  Because they are unwritten, they can be a bit of a challenge to navigate.  The no-nos include showing up an opponent, you don’t steal bases when you’re far ahead in the game.  One of the golden unwritten rules is that you never mention a Yankee no-hitter when it’s going on or even talk to the pitcher in the dugout between innings.

Other unwritten rules that are not found in the 173 MLB rule book, includes never flipping your bat, it’s disrespectful.  Never make the first or third out at third base.  Never use your closer in a tied game when on the road. Don’t admire your homes run, standing and watching instead of immediately running is in bad taste.  Above all, you never bunt to break up a no-hitter, that just isn’t right.

A few other things that are unwritten rules may be a bit difficult to understand.  Never step on the baseline when walking to and from the dugout. Never walk near the pitcher’s mound when returning to the dugout.  Oh, and did I mention if your pitcher you never hit an opposing batter on purpose.  Wait a second that a subject for a different article.

 

New York Yankees: Analyzing Possible Breakout Prospects

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

There has been a lot of buzz about the way Clarke Schmidt has looked so far for the New York Yankees. Last year there was a ton of buzz surrounding Deivi Garcia with how quickly he was rising through the New York Yankees system. Now, both of those guys deserve the hype they’ve received. I mean, I’m a huge fan of Clarke Schmidt and believe he is a future staple of the rotation. I believe Deivi Garcia has a very high ceiling as a reliever, but I’m not 100% sold on him as a starter just yet. However, there is one pitching prospect that I think fans should keep their eyes on in 2020. This is a prospect that might have the best stuff in the entire system. This prospect has a fastball that touches triple digits, an incredible curve, and 90 MPH+ splitting change. The prospect I’m referring to is Luis Medina.

CHECK OUT OUR RECENT FIRESIDE YANKEES PODCAST EPISODE

Up & Down 2019

Medina is getting ready to turn 21 and he is looking to build off of a great end to his 2019 season. Medina has really struggled with command at times during his first few years in the minors but showed flashes at the end of last year why many believe he can be the top arm in the Yankees system. Medina really struggled for the majority of 2019 with Single-A Charleston. Medina went 1-8 with a 6.00 ERA and was walking almost seven batters per nine innings. On the flip side of that, he was striking out 11 batters per nine innings. Medina has been very hot and cold during his first few years, but the stuff is undeniable when on. The location is the part that he really needs to figure out. He turned a corner in his last couple of starts with A+ Tampa last year. In his final two starts, he pitched 10.2 innings and only gave up one run. He struck out 12 batters while only walking three. Something seemed to click with him and I think that will carry over to the 2020 season.

2020 Preview

This year I expect Medina to make it up to AA. I am not expecting Medina to come close to the majors, but I do expect him to really garner a lot of attention from people in the baseball world. You’re going to see Medina fine-tune some of his mechanics and use his three-pitch mix to really go after guys when he’s on the mound. I expect to see his strikeout numbers stay about the same, but I expect those walk numbers to go down. Medina is too good of a pitcher to never figure out his command. Expect a breakout season from Medina that will turn him into a top-five prospect in the system going into the 2021 season.