Perhaps some of these Yankees moves Wednesday came as a surprise to some.
Outfielder Ben Gamel, who played six games with the Yankees this season and earned International League MVP honors after batting .308 (149-for-483) in 116 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was sent to Seattle for two right-handed pitching prospects who performed in the Arizona League this season.
Gamel has always been a nice player, but when you have a Dustin Fowler in the system at Double-A Trenton, who does just about everything better, and power prospect Clint Frazier at Triple-A Scranton, in-house, Gamel was expendable.
Two right-handed pitchers, Seattle’s No. 24 and No. 29 prospects, respectively, came back. The first, Jio Orozco, a Tucson Salpointe Catholic High teammate of Yankees farmhand Donny Sands, has a plus-fastball that hits 95. The second, Dominican Juan DePaula, has a velocity that is increasing, to around 95 as well.
To the Yankees, and with the way the system is now, this pair, who will both turn 19 in September, are more valuable in the future than Gamel, who certainly has a better chance of establishing himself as a big-league player with the Mariners rather than the Yankees.
Gamel is not the first prospect to go, and he won’t be the last. Fowler and Frazier are on the front burner with Yankees development people. Gamel was a trade chip. The key is whether either Orozco or DePaula, who will likely play at either Pulaski or Staten Island in 2017, develop into something. Gamel, to the Yankees, was worth that gamble.
There are others who may have been bypassed as far as their Yankees possibilities are concerned. Two who quickly come to mind are infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder and infielder Jorge Mateo. Both have gone from stars of the system to very likely a pair whose times have past.
It would not be a surprise if the Yankees swap one or both over the winter in their quest for starting pitching, which is a No. 1 priority to better things for 2017. Both, like Gamel, are expendable.
In Refsnyder’s case, the Yankees gave him plenty of chances to play second base. The man can hit, but he will never be more than adequate at any infield position. He also is not a corner outfielder. He has value in his bat. He deserves a shot with another organization and will likely get it over the winter.
If the Yankees need a backup at second base, Tyler Wade had a strong season at Trenton and can certainly fill in by mid-2017 or 2018. Otherwise, Cito Culver can certainly give Starlin Castro some relief.
Mateo has had a roller-coaster season at Class-A Advanced Tampa. He has shown flashes of brilliance at times, ragged play at other times. His darkest moment occurred when he decided to play farm director when he was not promoted to Trenton. It was figured he would have been promoted to Double-A after the All-Star Break, but, having shown immaturity, and knowing the Trenton clubhouse, he was as much a fit there as pizza and peanut butter.
Now, with shortstop Glyber Torres, who is a more advanced player than Mateo coming over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade, Mateo is expendable.
This is not the Yankees system of old. The Yankees want players to act like they will in the majors. If not, you are expendable. The Yankees expect players to keep working to get better. If not, you are expendable.
Forget the ways of the past.