Yankees Mid-Season Review
The New York Yankees started off the 2017 campaign playing much better than expected. They peaked on June 12 at 15 games over .500. However, mounting injuries have taken their toll, resulting in them stumbling to the All-Star break, a meager four games over. The optimism that was felt mere weeks ago has continuously eroded away with each mounting bullpen collapse.
The injuries have limited several key players to miss significant time. Their starting catcher (Gary Sanchez, 57 games played), shortstop (Didi Gregorius, 63), center fielder (Jacoby Ellsbury, 60), designated hitter (Matt Holliday, 68), second baseman (Starlin Castro, 73), and first baseman (Greg Bird, 19) all have been on the disabled list. Aaron Hicks, second on the team with a WAR of 2.8 is also on the shelf.
CC Sabathia missed three starts. Closer Aroldis Chapman and key reliever Adam Warren had extended stays on the DL, which coincided with the team blowing 17 out of 34 save opportunities. Their record in one-run games is a dismal 9-17.
First base has been a revolving door of futility. Ten players (including the ill-fated Bryan Mitchell) have manned first. They have combined to slash .198/.292/.380.
Injuries have not been limited to the majors. The Yankees have a trio of top prospects recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Shortstop Gleyber Torres injured his left (non-throwing) elbow diving into home plate. James Kaprielian missed almost all of last year with elbow discomfort. He appeared healthy during spring training, but once again was shut down and opted for surgery. Clarke Schmidt had his surgery several weeks before the Yankees selected him with the 16th overall pick in last month’s draft. Another significant injury was the ruptured patella tendon suffered by Dustin Fowler during his Major-League debut — 112 years to the day that Moonlight Graham made his lone appearance.
The Silver Lining
Several Yankees’ players have been having excellent seasons, led by Aaron Judge. The American League Rookie of the Month for April, May, and June, Judge ranks in the top three in runs, RBIs, HRs, BBs, Avg, OBP, Slg, OPS and put on an epic show at the Home Run Derby — claiming the championship.
Five players were chosen to represent the Yankees at the All-Star game. Starlin Castro and Dellin Betances were each selected to their fourth mid-summer’s Classic. Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and the aforementioned Judge were all first-time attendees.
During the first half of the season, the Yankees have already summoned 10 prospects to make their Major-League debuts. Miguel Andujar (Pinstriped Prospects preseason #10), Clint Frazier (2), Dustin Fowler (14), Giovanny Gallegos, Domingo German (47), Ronald Herrera (41), Kyle Higashioka (36), Jordan Montgomery (15), Tyler Wade (11), and Tyler Webb.
Five other players from the Pinstriped Prospects’ top 50 have spent time in the majors this year. Judge (7), Chad Green (20), Jonathan Holder (23), Mason Williams (24), and Ben Heller (49). Tyler Austin has been injured most of the season, but has also been on the team.
Several of the injured Yankees will soon be making their return. Holiday and Castro are both expected to join the team this weekend in Boston. Hicks should be returning soon, as well. Also, our own Rob Terranova has reported that Greg Bird took batting practice with the Staten Island Yankees recently and is expected to start a rehab assignment soon.
It also seems like just a matter of time until Chance Adams will make his Major-League debut.
Dietrich Enns has been one of the Yankees’ best starters in the minors the last couple of seasons. This past fall the club added him to the 40-man roster. Enns was shut down earlier in the season. Now, he is back pitching, and he will not have to worry about any innings limit down the stretch if he is needed on the big-league roster.
With health returning to the team, the second half should see the Yankees poised to take a run at the division, or at the very least, a wild card spot.
The Cashman Plan
Brian Cashman has been the general manager of the New York Yankees since the dynasty years of the late 90s. However, for much of that time, he was not in complete control. He was forced to make deals, even if he didn’t always agree with them. That changed a couple of years ago. He now runs the organization as he sees fit, with Hal Steinbrenner’s blessing.
Cashman has put more emphasis on the draft and player development. He allowed Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher to sign elsewhere and used the compensation picks on Ian Clarkin and Aaron Judge, respectively.
Cashman allowed ample time for his young players to develop. He built up his farm system by signing lots of top international players, well aware that it would take six to seven years for a teenager like Gary Sanchez to be Major-League ready.
The fruits of the 2014 IFA draft class haul won’t be in the Bronx until 2020 at the earliest. Most of those signees were position players. Meanwhile, this past June 27, out of his 40 draft picks were 20 or older. 28 were pitchers. These college players are more advanced and should be ready in about two to three years, or 2020.
Last year’s trades accelerated the Yankees’ timeline. By trading Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova, Brian McCann, Ben Gamel, and James Pazos. Cashman was able to infuse a lot of top talent into the organization.
Baseball Prospectus had nine Yankees ranked amongst their top 101 prior to the start of the season. Torres, Frazier, Jorge Mateo, Blake Rutherford, Justus Sheffield, Kaprielian, Judge, Albert Abreu, and Wade. Judge has graduated to the majors, Kaprielian had season-ending surgery, and Mateo had a lackluster first two months of the season. Baseball America has replaced Judge, Kaprielian and Mateo with Adams, Fowler, and Estevan Florial.
Domingo Acevedo joined Florial at the SiriusXM Futures Game in Miami during the All-Star break. They each have opened a lot of eyes with their play. Mateo has had a career resurgence since his promotion to Trenton. Zack Littell has been the system’s standout pitcher. Eric Wagaman, Jorge Guzman, and Nick Solak are also some of the top performers.
Cashman has traded Webb to the Milwaukee Brewers for first baseman Garrett Cooper. This is the first of several second-half moves you can expect to see this season.
The Yankees have been able to almost completely overhaul the Major-League roster without suffering in the standings. Cashman has rebuilt the farm system into one of the industry’s strongest. The organization is primed to put together another period of sustained excellence. The players being promoted will be pushed by the next crop of talent.
Here are the Yankees’ and their affiliates’ records through the All-Star break. Also, some notable stats from some of their players.
New York Yankees. 45-41 3.5 games out of AL East 1st Wild Card
Scranton RailRiders 56-34 first place by .5
Trenton Thunder 61-28 first place by 9.5
Tampa Yankees 48-40 Won 1st half
Charleston RiverDogs 48-42 first place by 1.5 in 2nd half
States Island Yankees 17-6 first place by 4
Pulaski Yankees 15-6 first place by 1
GCL East 9-4 first place by 1.5
GCL West 7-8 4 games back
DSL 15-19 10 games back
Total 321-228 .585
Minor league ERA 3.20
Minor league runs per game 4.62
Minor league 4067 strikeouts In . 4032.2 innings
Trey Amburgey 12 HR
Miguel Andujar 10 HR, 60 RBI .304/.340/.489
Manny Argomaniz .400/.571/.467
Antonio Arias .341/.453/.432
Leobaldo Cabrera .293/.396/.439
Gustavo Campero .400/.511/.714
Jake Cave 12 HR .289/.342/.465
Ji-man Choi .289/.371/.505
Frederick Cuevas .333/.375/.500
Roberto Espinosa .321/.367/.536
Thairo Estrada .320/.375/.418
Estevan Florial 11 HR 15 SB .295/.377/.495
Mike Ford 14 HR .290/.418/.507
Dustin Fowler 13 HR 13 SB 40 XBH .293/.329/.542
Clint Frazier 12 HR .256/.344/.473
Dermis Garcia .250/.358/.515
Chris Gittens .292/.387/.484
Kyle Higashioka .286 /.340/.490
Brayan Jimenez .382/.400/.412
Ryan Lidge .375/.474/.375
Tim Lynch .286/.375/.471
Jorge Mateo 33 SB 38 XBH .265/.328/.457
Billy McKinney 10 HR .269/.350/.476
Jhon Moronta .300/.364/.438
Carlos Narvaez .308/.406/.423
Pablo Olivares .333/.474/.450
Starlin Paulino .316/.382/.392
Tito Polo .302/.358/.455
Steven Sensley .302/.413/.566
Nick Solak .307/.404/.455
Carlos Tatis .348/.392/.583
Gleyber Torres .287/.383/.480
Tyler Wade 24 SB .313/.390/.444
Eric Wagaman .288/.353/.470
Brandon Wagner .295/.384/.406
Zack Zehner .276/.381/.410
Domingo Acevedo 3.09 ERA 107 K 99 IP
Chance Adams 10-3 1.94 96 K 92.2 IP
Ian Clarkin 2.62
Colton Brewer 10 saves 2.11
Cale Coshow 12 saves
Philip Diehl 8-2
Cody Carroll 1.84 60 K 44 IP
Nestor Cortes 5-2 2.64
Abel Duarte 2-0 0.79 15 K 11 IP
Dietrich Enns 1.93 28 K 28 IP
Raynel Espinal 1.29 58 K 48.2 IP
Matt Frawley 2-0 1.00 24 K 18 IP
Giovanny Gallegos 2.42 38 K 22.1 IP
Deivi Garcia 3-1 2.28 36 K 27.2 IP
Jorge Guzman 3-1 1.99 26 K 22.2 IP
Ben Heller 2.68 48 K 37 IP
Ronald Herrera 8-0 1.60 ERA
Tyler Jones 6-2 3.12 57 K 43.1 IP
Brody Koerner 6-1 1.80
Zack Littell 13-1 1.74
Jose Mesa 2.01 58 K 44.2 IP
Caleb Smith 8-0 2.11 91 K 89.2 IP
Dillon Tate 3-0 2.66 24 K 23.2 IP
Alexander Vargas 4-0 1.88
Tyler Webb 3-1 3.24 47 K 33.1 IP