Yankees Instructional League Notebook: Closing Thoughts

The Yankees ended their 2018 Instructional League on October 12. There were many takeaways to note going to 2019.

For starters, Brandon Wagner played second base. The lefty slugger is looking to add to his versatility after primarily playing on the infield corners. He looked passable at the keystone and given his plus game power; he could become an intriguing utility infielder option.

Anthony Garcia and Stanley Rosario often shared outfield duties. Having both teens in camp is a sign of how the Yankees view them as long-term projects. Both hitters are extremely raw and struggled against older pitching. The experience though will be invaluable as the duo enter 2019 with a potential future assignment at Pulaski.

Nelson Gomez and Canaan Smith were the biggest risers in my Yankees prospects list. While neither is in the top 30, both for me, are in the 35-45 range. Smith has a short stroke and a good feel for the barrel. He hit a towering three-run home run in one look. Gomez’s 2018 numbers were extremely poor, striking out nearly 38% in the Appalachian League. A league, mind you, where most pitchers struggle to command their second and third pitches. This fall, Gomez, who has a strong, athletic build, made consistent contact in my looks. He still lunges a bit and drops his back shoulder, but when he is able to keep his hands back, he flashes plus power potential. Defensively, Gomez impressed at 3rd. He is smooth for a bigger guy and has a strong throwing arm.

Ezequiel Duran showed much of the same aggressiveness as he did in the spring. He is hyper-aggressive with a pull-heavy approach. He tends to always be behind in the count and expands the zone with two-strikes. His approach neutralizes his plus bat speed and potential power projection. However, he will need to learn to trust his hands and shorten his swing to maximize his tools.

Glenn Otto, who missed most of the season with a blood clot in his shoulder, not only looks healthy, but this dude is nasty! In my one inning look, his fastball was 93-95 miles per hour, touching 96. The pitch had occasional arm-side run. His curveball is a true 10-6 hammer with consistent shape with good feel for the pitch.

Another Yankees pitcher working his way back from injury is Jhony Brito. Brito’s stuff looked average, his fastball sat 92-93 mph, and curveball was clocked at 79mph. He lacked feel for the pitch, struggling to throw it for strikes. His best pitch of the day was a change-up which was clocked at 84 mph. Despite the lack of stuff, and that is to be expected with only seven innings pitched since 2016, Brito is athletic with good separation between his pitches.

Matt Wivinis, whom I saw quite a bit in Tampa got some work before shipping off to Arizona. While I did not get instructional league video, here is something to salivate over from May. Wivinis is a relief pitcher with a high 90’s fastball and a plus slider. The slider has two-plane tilt with sharp bite.