Mood Music - Bell Boy by The Who
In continuing our efforts to make Pinstripe Alley your best source of New York Yankees coverage, this season, I have pitched to the powers that be a weekly featuring of the Yankees minor league system. During these weekly recaps, I will try to keep you updated on all of the developments: Who's hot, who's not, scouting reports, more information on the guys you already know, and an introduction to the guys you don't.
As always, I don't have much of a set plan on how I'd like to cover the entirety of the farm system, so your suggestions are just a comment or an email away from consideration.
To start things off, I'm going to write about one of the Yankees prospects who I'm most excited about. At the end of this season, don't be shocked if the name Graham Stoneburner is said with the same weight as the Andrew Brackman-Dellin Betances division of the Killer Bs.
After being picked in the 14th round of the 2009 draft out of Clemson, Stoneburner made short work of A ball in 2010, compiling a 2.41 ERA in 142 innings across Low A Charleston and High A Tampa. Here are some (dated) scouting reports to give you an idea of what he's working with. First, from Mike Axisa of RAB:
Despite being somewhat undersized at 6′-1″ and 190 lbs, Stoneburner offers premium arm strength and life on his fastball. He’s shown the ability to sit at 94 with boring action in on righties with his heater, and can ramp it up even more when working in relief.
Stoneburner’s delivery is simple, easy to repeat, and somewhat deliberate, which bodes well for future arm health. The arm action is just a bit long in the back, which will always hinder his command somewhat, but nothing extreme. He’s a very good athlete who ran track all throughout high school, and it allows him to field his position well and make adjustments mid-game.
Next, from Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog:
Pretty much every scouting report you’ll ever read about Graham Stoneburner suggests his ultimate role could be as a reliever rather than a starter. The Yankees, though, will continue to use Stoneburner out of the rotation, and they believe that he could remain a starter if his changeup continues to develop. Stoneburner had a 2.41 ERA between Tampa and Charleston last season, and the Yankees won’t change his role until he pitches himself out of the rotation.
With the effectiveness that Stoneburner has shown in the rotation, as well as the improvement in command (~2.2 BB/9 in 2010), effectiveness of his offspeed pitches, and showing the ability to generate ground balls, the Yankees have no immediate plans to move him from the rotation. As a 23 year old, I expect Stoneburner to quickly be on the move to AAA if he continues to have success, and could be another one of the young kids in the mix for a rotation spot in 2012 and beyond.
In two starts so far at AA Trenton, Stoneburner has given up two runs in eleven innings (1.64 ERA), to go along with two walks, three strikeouts, and a continued trend of groundball outs (1.70 Ground Outs/Air Outs).
Also worthy of note: Jesus Montero is hitting .421/.421/.579 in 8 games at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre and Slade Heathcott is hitting .364/.396/.705 in 10 games at Low-A Charleston.