Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner appeared on the Michael Kay show – simulcast of the YES Network and ESPN-New York (FM 98.7), and naturally the subject of Player Development came up.
The reality is, as Steinbrenner confirmed, the Yankees cannot do business as they have in the past.
“There are a lot of good young teams out there,” said Steinbrenner, referring to the Kansas City Royals qualifying for the postseason this year and the Pittsburgh Pirates doing so this season and last. “Player Development will play a big part. (Dellin) Betances and (John Ryan) Murphy helped this year.
“(Rob) Refsnyder, Jacob Lindgren and (Luis) Severino could come next year. We hope to have more (like) Betances.”
This corner has refrained on commenting on Refsnyder’s chances for 2015. He did hit .318 (164-for-577) combined between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but showed he had a lot of work to do defensively. The Yankees opted to call up Jose Pirela, who performed well in seven games with the Yankees, hitting .333 (8-for-24) and playing competently in the field.
What is good for the Yankees is Refsnyder and Pirela will likely battle for the second-base spot – or a key backup role -in Spring Training. We will then know where exactly Refsnyder stands.
Lindgren, the fire-balling lefty, who late-inning setup and potential closer stuff, was 2-1, 2.15 among the Gulf Coast Yankees, Charleston, Tampa and Trenton, appearing 19 times with a strikeout/walk ratio of 48-13, ought to arrive in The Bronx in 2015. He held hitters to a .135 average, tiring some at the end of the season after being drafted out of Mississippi State last June.
Righty Severino was 6-5, 2.46 among Charleston, Tampa and Trenton, had a strikeout.walk ratio of 127-27 in 24 starts. He features a fastball that can hit 97, a filthy slider and a solid changeup. He could make it to the Yankees mid- to late-2015.
“We need a good balance of young players and veterans.” said Steinbrenner. “We are getting better in Player Development. We’re not there yet, but we are getting better.”
Steinbrenner also praised homegrown pitchers Chase Whitley and Shane Greene for their contributions, also mentioning, “We only got six innings out of them, which taxed the bullpen.”
As far as trading prospects, he has been “adverse” to trading young prospects.” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman did execute a superb trade by sending power-prospect Peter O’Brien to Arizona for the versatile Martin Prado, knowing he still had power prospects Greg Bird and Aaron Judge, a first baseman and outfielder, respectively, who will likely arrive in The Bronx in 2016, in the system.
There are others who had strong years in 2014, outfielders Taylor Dugas and Jake Cave made huge strides. Outfielder Michael O’Neill , who stole 42 bases, and first baseman Mike Ford had strong seasons at Charleston. Third baseman Eric Jagielo will certainly advance from Tampa to Trenton in 2015.
And right-hander Brady Lail put together an 11-5, 3.62 season between Charleston and Tampa. Lefty Manny Banuelos is recovering well from Tommy John surgery and may be a factor in 2015.
Steinbrenner confirmed how important Player Development is in the Yankees picture. There will be some changes there, with Trey Hillman replacing retiring Mark Newman, according to reports. He is correct in stating the system is improving, but it’s not there yet.
He also praised Cashman as “a good GM.” There have been mistakes, but Cashman values Player Development as well, and the Yankees are working on a contract extension with him.
The Yankees system had a strong 2014, certainly something the ownership on down is looking to build on.