Arizona Fall League
Manny Banuelos, LHP
25.0 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 16 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.55 G/F
Banuelos has been nothing short of impressive in the AFL. While the numbers may not bear it out, scouts have raved about the ease of his delivery - in terms of torque and repeatability - and his pinpoint command. A few even believe that his change-up and curve are already Major League quality offerings, which is incredibly praise - particularly for a 19-year old with all of three starts above Single-A.
Craig Heyer, RHP
18.0 IP, 16 H, 3 BB, 7 K, 2.50 ERA, 2.92 G/F
Heyer has consistently brought forth mixed sentiment. It's difficult to not get excited by his fantastic control and ability to garner grounders at a substantial rate. On the other hand, his two-seamer is his only quality pitch, and he rarely draws swings and misses. I don't see a great deal of quality in his future, but I do think he could be a valuable spot starter or long reliever.
George Kontos, RHP
12.2 IP, 21 H, 10 BB, 11 K, 12.08 ERA, 1.25 G/F
Kontos tossed back-to-back scoreless, hitless innings this past week, shaving two-plus runs from his ERA. I refuse to put too much stock in the AFL - particularly when it's something so very disconcerting - but I'm bothered by Kontos' apparent regression in terms of stuff and flyballs over the course of the short season.
Ryan Pope, RHP
11.1 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.00 G/F
I think Pope's more than earned a shot at a Major League bullpen job - either in the Bronx or elsewhere. With the sort of contracts being thrown around to relievers nowadays (such as Joaquin Benoit being given three-years and $16.5 million), it would seem prudent for the Yankees to exhaust their own resources before scouring a very volatile market.
Austin Romine, C
.276/.311/.328, 0 HR, 1 SB, 3:12 BB:K, 58 AB
Romine has only played once since last week's update. I've heard mixed reports regarding the reasoning, but I think it's safe to say that he's simply worn out. He caught more games this year than ever before, and adding to that number in the AFL does not appear to helping.
Jose Pirela, SS
.185/.247/.222, 0 HR, 2 SB, 6:19 BB:K, 81 AB
One of very few Yankees prospects that I knew absolutely nothing about heading into the offseason, Pirela has done nothing to make me feel ashamed. Poor defense, poor hitting, and poor base-running (he's been caught stealing three times) are the story here.
Brandon Laird, OF
.216/.266/.422, 4 HR, 0 SB, 6:26 BB:K, 102 AB
Laird is now 7 for his last 57, though he did add a double and a home run in his last sixteen at-bats. If there's anything positive to draw from his time in the AFL, it has to be his solid performance in the outfield. While he's unlikely to ever be much better than average in a corner outfield position, the positional flexibility adds a fair bit to his value - to the Yankees or a potential trade partner.
Other noteworthy performers:
Mexican Winter League
Justin Christian, the Willie Mays of the Mexican Winter League, is a minor league free agent, and it appears that he will seek employment elsewhere. A sad day for those expecting to see at least one solid batting line in these updates.
Venezuelan Winter League
Josh Schmidt, RHP
28.2 IP, 14 H, 13 BB, 32 K, 1.26 ERA, 0.67 G/F
I'm not sure whether or not his numbers should be described as 'dominant' or 'silly.' Either way, I will continue to tout his merits as a candidate for the Yankees bullpen in 2011. He's performed admirably throughout his professional career and, most importantly, the Yankees wouldn't have to surrender anything other than league-minimum salary to give him a shot. That's much better than surrendering a draft pick for Scott Downs or Jason Frasor, and preferable to giving a free agent reliever a multi-year deal.
For more names and statistics, check out MLB.com's page for Yankees prospects playing winter ball.