The High-A Tampa Yankees are in the middle of their All-Star break, and with the time off, this is a good opportunity to check in on the more notable prospects on the team:
Jake Cave, CF, 21
290 PA, .299/.349/.396, 7 SB, 119 wRC+, 6.6-BB%, 19.3-K%, .097 ISO
It has been a solid, if not spectacular, season so far here in 2014 for Cave. Like his days in Charleston, he's mostly collecting singles without hitting for much power or drawing walks; hopefully that changes a bit here in the second half. His first half performance, however, earned him a deserved trip to the Florida State League All-Star Game, so good for him. If Cave keeps this production up, you have to wonder if he'll leapfrog the struggling Mason Williams, who is currently just one level ahead of Cave. But that's probably a story for 2015.
Dante Bichette Jr, 3B, 21
263 PA, .276/.361/.430, 132 wRC+, 11-BB%, 18.6-K%, .154 ISO
When we last checked in with DBJ, he was tearing the cover off the ball, thanks to some improved mechanics at the plate. It was just 11 games, but he was hitting .313/.489/.438, with a 7:12 K:BB. He has understandably cooled off in the 53 games to follow, hitting .270/.335/.429 with a 42:17 K:BB, but it's not like he's fallen off the map entirely. Overall, this has easily been his best season since debuting in 2011 with the GCL Yankees. DBJ might stay in Tampa for the duration of the year, but if he doesn't fall apart in the second half, he'll surely find himself with Double-A in 2015, where the fun will really begin.
Dan Camarena, LHSP, 21
13 games/starts, 70 IP, 2.70 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9
Like Cave, Camarena is not a big name prospect, but still had a good first half for the Tampa Yankees, earning him a trip to the FSL All-Star Game. The reason why Camarena isn't a huge name comes from the fact that his stuff just doesn't jump out at you. Camarena's fastball sits in the 88-90 mph range; his change-up is his best put away pitch, but isn't spectacular; his curve is more of a third offering. Stats wise, as listed above, he hasn't missed a whole lot of bats this year (as well as last year with Charleston), and doesn't induce a whole lot of grounders (~40%). Add all of this up, and you potentially have yourself another Vidal Nuno. This isn't a bad thing, it's just... there isn't a whole lot of upside here to really get excited about.
Nick Rumbelow, RHRP, 23
10 games, 14 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.68 FIP, 11 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0 HR/9
The Yankees love hoarding college relievers in the draft, and Rumbelow is another example. Picked in the seventh round in 2013, Rumbelow has had (unsurprisingly) success in the lower levels of the system. His fastball sits more in the lower-90's, but it's his wipeout slider that puts batters to bed. He steamrolled through the South Atlantic League earlier in the season to earn a promotion up to the FSL, and with continued success at this level, you wonder if a promotion up to Double-A Trenton will soon be in the cards.
Nick Goody, RHRP, 23
11 games, 14.1 IP, 2.51 ERA, 1.71 FIP, 15.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9
Like Rumbelow, Goody is another right-handed reliever named Nick that was drafted from LSU. Goody's 2013 was cut short thanks to Tommy John Surgery, but he has since come back strong for the T-Yanks. He's also in the same boat with Rumbelow in that they're 23-year-old relievers in High-A, so a trip to Trenton could be in the works and soon.
Trying to find their rhythm
Greg Bird, 1B, 21
144 PA, .238/.340/.385, 111 wRC+, 14-BB%, 23.6-K%, .148 ISO
Last season was a smashing success for Bird, as the catcher-turned-first-baseman put up a monster season in his first full year at Charleston. Bird's fortunes haven't been quite the same here in 2014, though, as a bad back delayed his start by more than a month. Overall, Bird is drawing fewer walks and hitting for less power than he did in 2013, but his season is still young and there is plenty of time to turn it around in the second half.
More of the same
Cito Culver, SS, 21
270 PA, .243/.313/.331, 8 SB, 90 wRC+, 9.6-BB%, 24.4-K%, .088 ISO
Culver was highly-criticized back in 2010 because most didn't think his bat would develop into much, even for a shortstop. For the most part, those critics have been right. While a 90 wRC+ isn't terrible for a shortstop who is over a year-and-a-half younger than the average player in the league, it still isn't what you're looking for. Cito has always been a guy who can draw some walks (which he has this year), but the strikeouts are way too high for a guy who doesn't hit for much power, which has been a recurring theme throughout his career. For what it's worth, Culver has an .818 OPS over the last month, but until we see a (much) longer period of success, we'll just chalk it up as small sampled noise.
Rafael De Paula, RHSP, 23
13 games, 54.1 IP, 4.97 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 11.4 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9
After a dominating showing in the Sally League last season, De Paula got promoted mid-season to High-A, where he got a real reality check during an 11-game trial. Instead of blowing by hitters with high heat like he did in Charleston, De Paula found out he had to "pitch" more (things like: change speeds, throw more strikes, etc.) in High-A. Now back in the FSL, De Paula has dealt with the same problems as he did to close out 2013. From listening to his games, when De Paula gets into trouble he tends to let it snowball and ruin his outings. A move to the bullpen feels inevitable, but the Yankees are right, for now, to let him ride it out and see if he can make strides as a starting pitcher. But at 23 years of age and 24 games in High-A, you wonder if that'll ever happen.
Eric Jagielo, 3B, 22
177 PA, .256/.339/.500, 142 wRC+, 10.7-BB%, 23.2-K%, .244 ISO
Jagielo has been shelved for the better part of the past month thanks to an oblique injury suffered in the middle of an at-bat. In fact, during that at-bat, Jagielo fell behind 0-2, felt the pain, had the trainers check on him, said he was fine enough to finish the at-bat, then homered. Jagielo was then taken out of the game and hasn't been seen on the field since, but according to Mark Newman (via Josh Norris), the third baseman could return in around a week. When he was on the field, Jagielo hit for a lot of power and drew some walks, but not much else. Jagielo is said to be a disaster at third base, to the point where a switch to first may very well happen in the future, which would undoubtedly hurt his overall value. We'll see if he can improve in that regard once he returns.
As a whole, the Yankees' High-A team really isn't too eye-popping. Jagielo is certainly the most interesting name here, and it'd be really nice if he can come back soon and continue to develop with the bat and (especially) the glove. This squad is set to get some more firepower, though, with Luis Severino and (presumably) Aaron Judge coming in from Charleston, a group in which I'll look more at in the coming days.