Friday, September 7, 2012

A Few Yankees-Phillies Minor League Notes

The Trenton Thunder and Reading Phillies played in the AA playoffs, and on I watched the Friday September 7th game on MiLB.TV and wrote a few notes on a few of the players I hadn't written about this year.

Zoilo Almonte is a left-handed hitter with good size. He is having a pretty big power year, but he doesn't have the most desirable swing. Almonte was definitely looking to go the other way. He chased breaking balls way out of the zone and had serious contact issues (which isn't surprising considering the K/BB he has put up this year)

Addison Maruszak is a right-handed hitting shortstop fooled by changeup. I thought he had a GB-looking swing, but that really hasn't played that much in the minors. In fact this year, he has a nice 4.8 HR/Contact %, and decent ISO of .182. He was fooled by a curveball that was way out of the zone, but his K/BB has been solid over the past couple of years. The big concern is age, as he is slightly old for the level.

Tyler Austin played 1st base and handled it pretty well. He looks like a first baseman or a slow corner outfielder in size. His bat has been one of the big stories in the Yankees system. The problem is that he has spent so little time at each stop that it is hard to evaluate his numbers at each level. He has a pretty looking swing, as it is really effortless looking and still provides him with plenty of power. He has good speed scores throughout his stops so far (for what that is worth) and at least has average looking speed currently.

Mikey O'Brien at 5-11 is probably too short for a starting pitcher that throws 200 innings. He has a straight fastball with decent looking velocity. He was able  to give it some movement later in the outing and the straight fastball pretty much disappeared. O'Brien can throw the curveball for strikes but not all of them were quality and he didn't show the ability to keep it down. With that said, he threw several really nice ones. He threw a couple of changeups but it wasn't a pitch he much feel or (apparently) much confidence in it. He lost his release point for a while, but threw a lot of good pitches that barely caught the corner. He mainly worked inside to righties and away from lefties. He left a couple of pitches up that hurt him. Perhaps it is confirmation bias, but short pitchers usually have a hard time getting on top of the ball and keeping it down. His GB% is below average for the league (but he has also been slightly below average according to both FIP and SIERA in his 103 AA innings this year). He has actually done a good job keeping the ball in the park, but he really isn't missing many bats.


Troy Hanzawa is old for the league and has yet to show anything with the bat since being drafted out of college in '08, but he is a good looking defense shortstop. You would like to see him steal some bases, which he hasn't done. This makes him a very one dimensional player. He looks very susceptible to the inside fastball. The bat speed just isn't there.

2B Tug Hulett is a left-handed hitter with solid bat speed and good patience. He has only hit about league average this year according to OPS, but his LD/GB/FB is really good. He is 2 years older than Hanzawa and was with the Nationals organization last year. He is the kind of guy that is usually in AAA, but the Phillies must have an organization need in AA at 2B. It looks like he has the range to play at least a decent 2nd base, but the arm looks pretty weak (which keeps him at 2nd as opposed to a shot at 3rd or SS). He also is not real speedy and is short but stout looking. I am sure he will get a job in the off-season with a club to play in AAA and serve as an emergency 2nd base option in the organization.

Tyson Gillies is fast and this makes him ideal for centerfield, even if his jumps aren't very good. His arm wasn't very impressive though. He had problems chasing pitches way out of the zone. This has always been a problem and he is walking under 6% of the time this year. He is hitting well above league average this year in 67 games (around .100 OPS points), but he also has a big BABIP. While the speed will probably give him a high career BABIP, it is doubtful he can keep it above .350 (just because it is hard to count on someone consistently doing that). He is making plenty of contact and hitting plenty of line drives, so there is definitely some hope that he can hit enough to make it to the Majors and contribute. He is just going to be a decent average guy with a low OBP. If his defensive skills continue to improve, this will be an acceptable package.

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