Keith Law saw the Trenton Thunder recently and had some disappointing things to say about Manny Banuelos, Peter O`Brien, and Mason Williams.
Law was not very impressed by what he saw from Manny Banuelos coming off Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old lefty sat at 90-92 mph, which was down from the 92-95 mph he averaged before the injury. It wasn't just the velocity though, as his secondary stuff, his curveball and cutter, saw varying degrees of effectiveness throughout the night.
Things weren't all bad, though:
His delivery is still compact and on line, providing a little deception because he keeps everything close to his body...he may be more likely to find a role as a starter who relies more on an assortment of offspeed pitches and some touch and feel, especially if he can tighten up the rotation on his curveball and doesn't have to lean so heavily on the cutter.
In my opinion, that's a bit harsh for someone coming off Tommy John. I mean, it's conventional knowledge that it takes over a year for a pitcher to properly recover from the procedure. He's also been dealing with a dead arm. It's obviously not what you want to see, but let him get a little further removed from surgery and wait for him to actually get stretched out and fully healthy before determining that he's a completely different pitcher now and forever.
Slugging first baseman Peter O`Brien was a big concern for Law as well, believing that he'll never hit for enough power against major league pitching because "he doesn't have great bat speed and he has poor plate discipline, including recognition of non-fastballs." He could get by with one or the other, but both is pretty damning. My concern is that he might not even be a three true outcome hitter because he doesn't ever walk. I imagine the best case scenario for him is a Mark Reynolds-type bat, which certainly has its value, but he needs to continue to improve for that to happen.
Law didn't have much to say about Mason Williams:
@1Pierre64 at the plate? Awful. Extra OF at this point— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 19, 2014
At this point I'm right there with him. Mason has the abilities to be a useful bench player, but he doesn't make enough quality contact, and probably makes too much poor contact, to ever be a competent offensive player. Yes, he's still young for his level at just 22 years old, but that's all he has going for him now.
There are many evaluators who don't think much about the Yankees' starting pitching prospects. After seeing Jose Ramirez move to the bullpen, it seems like that is now the new norm in this system, but at least some are more likely to stay than others.
Both Luis Severino and Rafael De Paula have been projected as future relievers, but it's clear that Severino has a better chance to remain a starter.
At the age of 23, De Paula continues to struggle in High-A Tampa. He's able to get strikeouts (11.5 K/9), but control and command (4.3 BB/9, 10.2 H/9) seems to be a problem. His lack of a full repertoire will likely move him to the bullpen where his velocity can play up and he can focus on what he does well.
Severino just made the move up to High-A Tampa at the age of 20 after putting up a 2.79 ERA with a 9.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in Low-A Charleston. He's described as having a reliever's delivery, but if he continues to find success he should be fine.
Ben Badler of Baseball America spoke about several of the Yankees' 2013 international prospects, but he spoke most highly of their high-dollar signings:
Signed to a $1.4 million bonus, Leonardo Molina has a projectable body with plus-plus speed in the outfield and an above-average arm, but he's inconsistent against live pitching. Badler says that he has great bat speed as well, but an unusual load that throws his swing out of whack. Molina started his professional career in the GCL at the age of only 16 because that's how highly the organization thinks of him.
Signed to a $550,000 bonus, Yonauris Rodriguez is projected to remain at shortstop with above-average speed, good hands and an above-average arm. His bat is behind his glove and, according to Badler, his wiry frame suggests that he'll never hit for much power. Rodriguez has hit .333/.442/.472 in 16 games at the age of 17 in the Dominican Summer League.
A player to keep your eye on is Jorge Mateo:
Name to watch is Jorge Mateo. Shortstop with what Newman called the best tools in the organization. 80 runner with power. #Yankees— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 12, 2014
After two seasons in the Dominican, Mateo has finally made the jump to America this year at the age of 19. In 2013 he stole 49 bases while hitting seven home runs and six triples, so if he can get stronger and continues to run, he could be a real threat on every side of the ball.