A Good Year for Development in Yankees System


Earlier this week, comments were made about the Yankees system being “depleted.”

Had the individual making these comments even took a look at what went on in the system during the 2014 season, he might have had reason to reconsider.

Let’s start with an overview from veteran Trenton Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who expressed his desire to return to the Yankees’ Double-A club in 2015. Franklin has won three Eastern League championships in his eight years with the Thunder.

“The (Yankees) system is really recovering,” said Franklin. “You can see it in how the upper levels of the system are getting younger. There are a lot of good players at those levels, with the stuff to play in the majors.”

So who are some of these players, in no particular order?

RHP Luis Severino – With a fastball that reached 97 mph – and sits between 93-95, a solid slider and changeup that has come a long way, Severino finished 6-4, 2.46 in 14 starts at Charleston, 4 at Tampa and 6 at Trenton. He’s equally effective against right- and left-handed hitters. Will start at Trenton in 2015 and will continue to move quickly.

OF Aaron Judge – The whole package at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds with immense power potential and an advanced approach at the plate. Hit .308 (131-for-467) with 17 homers and 78 RBIs between Charleston and Tampa. His OPS was .903. Defensively, he has enough speed to play CF, but will be a corner outfielder. He has been compared to Giancarlo Stanton and will start at Trenton in 2015 after a stint in the Arizona Fall League.

LHP Jacob Lindgren – Has just filthy stuff. Future closer. Was 2-1, 2.16 in 19 games with the Gulf Coast Yankees, Charleston, Tampa and Trenton after signing out of Mississippi State. Threw a lot of innings both in college and the Yankees system. Getting a needed break. Could start 2015 at Triple-A Scranton and quickly move to The Bronx.

RHP Jaron Long – The son of Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long (“I stay out of everything with Jason”) established himself by going 12-6, 2.18 in stops at Tampa, Charleston and Trenton. He made 18 starts, 10 at Trenton in which he went 7-2, 2.35 and had a 50-11 strikeout/walk ratio. A sinker-slider guy who has a nasty dipping two-seamer, he will start at Trenton in 2015.

3B Eric Jagielo – After missing time due to injury, the former Notre Dame star batted .259 (85-for-332) with 18 homers and 58 RBIs and an OPS of .811 between a Rookie League rehab and time at Tampa.. After a stint in the Arizona Fall League, he will start 2015 in Trenton. He projects to hit 20-25 homers in the majors and is working to sharpen his defense.

1B Greg Bird – The reason Yankees were able to trade Peter O’Brien to Arizona for Martin Prado. Has both an advanced plate approach and power batting from the left side. Also plays excellent defense. He hit .271 (100-for369)  with 14 homers and 43 RBIs between Tampa and Trenton. He also had 30 doubles and an OPS of .848. After a stint in the Arizona Fall League, he will start at Trenton in 2015 and could be Mark Teixeira’s successor at 1B in 2016.

1B Mike Ford – Jersey guy burst into the scene by hitting .292 (109-for-373) in 105 games with Charleston and Tampa. Hit 16 homers, 26 doubles and had an OPS of .842.

C Gary Sanchez – Had a solid season at Trenton. His defense and calling of a game took major jumps. Offensively, he hit . 270 (116-for-429) in 110 games, belting 13 home runs and driving in 65 runs. Will start 2015 at Tripe-A Scranton.

OF Jake Cave – After missing the entire 2012 season due to a right knee injury, Cave, after a solid 2013 season at Charleston, batted .294 (165-for-561) with Tampa and Trenton. An excellent leadoff hitter, he is compared to Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner at that stage of his career.

LHP James Pazos – Emerged as a strong late-inning relief possibility. Can hit 95 mph with his fastball.  Was 0-3, 2.42 between Tampa and Trenton and 10-for-10 in save opportunities. He held hitters to a .209 average and had a strikeout/walk ratio of 75-25.

IF Rob Refsnyder – Had a breakout offensive season, batting .317 (163-for-515) with 14 homers, 38 doubles and 65 RBIs.  His OPS was .881. His defense at 2B needs to improve and that will be worked on over the winter and in spring training.

The above are not the only players who impressed. Relievers Danny Burawa, Nick Rumbelow and Tyler Webb showed stuff that can play at the major-league level. Starting pitcher Ian Clarkin advanced. Outfielder Taylor Dugas battled his way to Triple-A Scranton. Infielder Dante Bichette Jr. saved his career and will start at Trenton in 2015.  First baseman Kyle Roller hit for average and power at Trenton and Scranton and could be a backup with the Yankees in 2015.

There are some what-ifs as well. If OF Slade Heathcott could stay healthy. If OF Tyler Austin could finally put it all together. If infielders Gosuske Katoh and Cito Culver, so solid with the glove, would hit.

Yet, there is nothing “depleted” about the Yankees system at present.