Thursday, October 21, 2010

Winter League Weekly Update - 10/20/10

First, we'll deal with the Arizona Fall League, keeping in mind that it's an extremely offensive-friendly environment. While certain lessons and information can be drawn from players performances, it's important to realize the context - where information is available, I'll do my best to offer some insight beyond the numbers. As of this update, the Phoenix Desert Dogs have played seven games.

Manny Banuelos, LHP
6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.0 G/F

Banuelos has shown a fastball in the low-90s, a deceptive change-up in the high-70s, low-80s, and an 11/5 curve that he controls nearly as well as his fastball. The only concern stuff-wise is that his fastball tends to be a bit straight, making it a very hittable pitch when he leaves it up and over the plate.

Craig Heyer, RHP
4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.25 ERA, 4.5 G/F

A low-90s two-seamer is Heyer's lone weapon. He demonstrates fantastic control with it and garners a ton of grounders, but his lone offspeed pitch is a mediocre slider which he doesn't throw for strikes. Keith Law suggested he could be a valuable reliever with improvements to the slider, but he's unlikely to be a starter.

George Kontos, RHP
4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 4.15 ERA, 1.5 G/F

Just over a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Kontos is an interesting pitcher. His fastball has been sitting in the low-90s (having previously been a mid-90s offering, occasionally hitting the upper-90s), but his slider appears to be all the way back, working as a swing-and-miss pitch. I don't see him as a starter, as his change-up has never really progressed, but he could be an excellent reliever.

Ryan Pope, RHP
3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 G/F

Pope was drafted as a starter, throwing four pitches in college with decent feel and command. Since his professional debut, however, his progress has been underwhelming, and he hasn't shown much confidence in anything besides his fastball. Moved to the bullpen this summer, Pope's fastball ticked up from the low-90s to the mid-90s, where he has sat thus far. His slurvey breaking ball has shown marked improvement, as well.

Austin Romine, C
.333/.333/.429, 0 HR, 1 SB, 0:5 BB:K, 21 AB

Romine has looked rejuvenated thus far, having rested up a bit since his longest professional season behind the plate. It's too early to draw much of anything from his performance with the bat, but it's nice to hear that he's been hitting line drives to left and center thus far.

Jose Pirela, SS
.125/.176/.125, 0 HR, 1 SB, 1:5 BB:K, 16 AB

While Pirela's glove has drawn incredibly mixed reviews, the most popular sentiment seems to be slightly below-average shortstop, slightly above-average second baseman. I can't find anything on his glovework in the AFL, however. With the exception of his tremendous speed, however, Pirela doesn't seem like much of a threat to hit at the Major League level.

Brandon Laird, OF
.350/.381/.600, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1:4 BB:K, 20 AB

With Laird playing the corner outfield positions in the AFL, the Yankees seem to be either converting him to a four corners player, or showcasing him for potential trade suitors ... or both. The only thing I've heard about his work in the outfield thus far is that he's been 'fine.' I'm not sure what to draw from that, but I suppose middling praise is worthwhile.

Next, here's a list of the other Yankees prospects playing Winter Ball:

Mexican Winter League
Justin Christian, OF
Walter Ibarra, SS
Eric Wordekemper, RHP
Francisco Gil, RHP

Venezuelan Winter League
Jesus Montero, C
Emerson Landoni, 2B/SS
Edwar Gonzalez, OF
Eduardo Sosa, OF
Jose Gil, C
Luis Nunez, SS
Marcos Vechionacchi, 1B
Juan Marcano, LHP
Josh Schmidt, RHP

The rosters for the Puerto Rican and Dominican Leagues have yet to be released, but I'll keep my eyes open and post them as soon as possible.

And, finally, here's a quick link for the stats of every Yankees farmhand in any of the Winter Leagues. I'd suggest bookmarking it, as updates are made daily, but I'll be posting weekly updates with a bit of insight. Also keep your eyes open for my personal top-twenty prospects list, coming soon.

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