The strength of the Yankee farm system is in it's pitching and Trenton is loaded. Filled with four top starting pitching prospects (would have been five but Hector Noesi was promoted to Scranton yesterday), the Thunder boasts this week’s Eastern League Pitcher of the Week, Adam Warren. Warren threw seven shutout innings leading the Thunder to a 3-0 victory in the only game he pitched last week. What's notable about the performance is that he struck out a franchise-record 15 batters. The soon to be 23 year old Warren joined the Thunder on July 16th after starting the year with the High-A Tampa Yankees, where he posted a record of 7-5 with a 2.22 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 15 games. Warren was selected by the New York Yankees in the fourth round of the 2009 draft after going 32-4 with a 3.42 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 65 career appearances at the University of North Carolina.
Joining Warren in the rotation are Andrew Brackman, and recently promoted Delin Betances and Manny Banuelos. Each of these starting pitchers was a part of Baseball America’s top 30 Yankees prospects. Banuelos and Betances probably have the highest ceilings of all the prospects in the rotation.
The 19 year old Banuelos, called the “Mexican Whitey Ford” by Yankees VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman, was ranked the highest at number 6. Not quite as tall as the “twin towers” of Betances and Brackman, he is not known as a hard thrower. However, he was recently clocked at 97 MPH by scout Frank Pillatere who says he is normally in the 92-94 MPH range. Banuelos was roughed up a little last night in his first appearance. His numbers: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 HR. Too small a sample size to panic on this top pitching talent.
Betances follows tonight. He has come back strong from elbow surgery and was putting up some really good numbers at Tampa before being promoted. The 6 foot 8 inch Betances throws very hard, hitting the mid 90’s and occasionally closing in on triple digits. He clearly had nothing left to prove at Tampa.
It would be well worth the trip to Trenton to see how he and Banuelos fare against this next level of competition. The Trenton rotation going forward probably looks like this:
1. Banuelos (10 games with Tampa: 0-3 record; 2.23 ERA; 62K)
2. Betances (14 games with Tampa: 8-1 record; 1.77 ERA; 88K)
3. Warren ( 44 games with Trenton: 4-2 record; 3.29 ERA; 44K)
4. Brackman (12 games with Trenton: 3-7 record; 3.53 ERA; 59K)
5. Cory Arbiso (29 games with Trenton: 5-2 record; 3.42 ERA; 41K)
Moving east to Staten Island there have been three recent promotions of note. Gary Sanchez, Cito Culver, a 17 year old shortstop prospect who was the first pick in this year's draft, and 3rd base prospect Rob Segedin who was the Yankees' 3rd round pick this year out of Tulane, were promoted from the GCL.
Sanchez, who is batting clean up for the Baby Bombers, is another of the many top catching prospects working his way through the Yankee farm system . In a recent blog post by Josh Norris he interviewed Yankee hitting coordinator James Rowson who had this to say about Sanchez:
"Really talented young player. He can impact the baseball. He impacts the baseball as well as anybody we have. He’s fun to watch, a really talented young player. Right now, he’s done well in the GCL. We just want to let him progress and see how he goes from year to year.
There’s no rush. The thing’s going to be, just dominate every level, and as you move forward we’ll take it as it goes. It’s really exciting to see what he does, because you can’t teach what he does. He’s just a talented athlete."
When asked to compare Sanchez to the other top catching prospect, Jesus Montero he stated that he considers both of them to have plus-plus bats and had this to say about them:
"Both of those guys swing bats – I’ve been doing this for a little while in baseball – and those are two of the best young bats I’ve seen. Sanchy’s right there with Jesus Montero, so let’s just see what time does for them."