Welcome to the first rendition of the Pinstriped Prospects Mailbag. I will now be fielding questions from my inboxes throughout the course of the year. You can contact me directly on Twitter @Pags91, by Facebook at Paul Pagnato III, or via email at [email protected]. As always, your support is truly valued. Thank you in advance for your questions and time.
Do you think Clint Frazier will be a factor in the outfield in 2019?
Yes, I believe Frazier will have a breakout season this year. Remember, Frazier is just 24-years old and has elite bat speed. He can play all three outfield positions and will be a valuable member of the Yankees moving forward. Also, it is important to note that the Decatur, Georgia native is reportedly fully recovered from last season’s concussion’s symptoms that lingered on throughout all of 2018.
How long is the Yankees championship window with their present core?
This is a terrific question. Because the Yankees have the luxury of having a large payroll, their window with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, and company will last longer than most organizations championship windows. I would estimate their window of opportunity to win a championship began in 2017 and will last somewhere between six to eight seasons. To give you an idea, in my opinion, this is double the window most clubs have with their young core. Should Hal Steinbrenner allow, Brian Cashman to extend or sign Judge, Severino, etc. to long-term deals naturally that could stretch out just how long the Yankees can win with this group.
Can (Miguel) Andujar’s defense improve? Was he as bad in the minors as he was last year in the bigs?
To answer your first question, yes Andujar can and will improve. Miguel Andujar’s defense has vastly improved over what he was in the minor leagues. Every season he has improved over the previous season, that is including 2018. That is impressive taking into account the differences playing third base in the big leagues vs. in the minors. The game in the major leagues moves a lot faster; there are higher exit velocities, better runners, and more.
Andujar’s has had a tough time with his accuracy as a result of his sidearm throwing motion. His arm, while strong, is something that will always be a problem as long as he has his throwing motion. His elbow drops down, causing the ball to sail on him. Infield coach Carlos Mendoza has brought the Dominican Republic native a long way from what he once was, and is unquestionably the guy to assist in bringing Andujar to the next level defensively and has been working with him throughout this offseason on his positioning in the field.
Do you think Manny (Machado), (Bryce) Harper, and (Corey) Kluber will be on the Yankees next year?
At this point, it is hard to see any of the players mentioned above-wearing pinstripes next season, especially Harper and Kluber. As time goes on, it seems that Manny Machado will sign elsewhere. I would give the Phillies and White Sox and leg up on New York because they appear to be much more aggressive for the young superstar according to almost every report. From the start, the Yankees distanced themselves from Harper. It seems to me that ownership is no longer willing to spend lavishly on free agents. If Miguel Andujar’s defense doesn’t improve and the Steinbrenner’s don’t spend on Nolan Arenado, I would honestly be shocked. Kluber was a target earlier this offseason, but New York quickly pivoted to James Paxton after Cleveland wouldn’t lower their demands from a package including Justus Sheffield and Estevan Florial.
Would the Yankees be interested in (Madison) Bumgarner?
If you can acquire Bumgarner without parting with Gleyber Torres and Estevan Florial, I say you do it. Those are my only two untouchables, as both players will be selected to multiple All-Star games in their promising young careers. Madison Bumgarner is of baseball’s true ace’s, and a true leader who has been there and done that. The Yankees need someone who is a big game pitcher, and it doesn’t get any better than Bumgarner.
Best “under the radar” pitching prospect who can contribute by or before 2020?
I would say Nick Nelson would be my answer to this question. He is becoming more of a household name for diehard Yankee fans that pay attention to prospects but still very underrated in my opinion. His fastball has sink and touches 98 mph. His curveball is a solid second pitch in his repertoire, as it flashes plus potential. The 23-year old started this past season with the Charleston RiverDogs (Single-A) and finished it with the Trenton Thunder (Double-A). Look for Nelson to begin the season back with the Thunder. If he produces, he will climb up the ranks quickly from there.