Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees' Farm Is Stocked

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees' Farm Is Stocked

Article excerpt

Maybe a Rob Refsnyder or a Jose Pirela is called up and can provide some instant dividends for a Yankees club in need of a jolt of offense.

Already, the Yankees have tapped the services of right-handers Shane Greene and Chase Whitley, who otherwise would be toiling at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if not for the injury situation at the big league level.

Any additional help for 2014 may have to arrive from outside the organization, but there is reason for optimism when it comes to player development.

Although the Yankees had no player ranked in the Baseball Prospectus midterm top 50 ratings, hope resides in the club's depth of talent.

"In that sense, the farm system is quite good," said Patrick Teale, the publisher of PinstripesPlus.com, which focuses on the minors. "They have the pieces to get whoever they want [in a trade]; it's just if they want to part with those pieces."

The Yankees have seen some of their big-name prospects stumble recently, which is part of a discomforting trend.

Outfielder and former No. 1 pick Slade Heathcott is hurt again, 2012 Yankees minor league player of the year Tyler Austin is batting .248 at Class AA Trenton a year following wrist surgery and once highly touted outfielder Mason Williams is hitting .206 with a .557 OPS at Trenton.

"They do have some prospects and they've had prospects come up, but you just have the feeling that they should have had more," said one MLB scout. "It seems like every year we're talking about their guys at the lower levels."

As with Heathcott, Austin and Williams (coming off shoulder surgery), injury has played a part in derailing some of those prospects.

Lefty Manny Banuelos is struggling with a 5.79 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) at Class AA Trenton, 21 months removed from Tommy John surgery.

But the Yanks have begun promoting some of their better lower- level prospects, and there's reason to keep in mind names such as those of left-hander Ian Clarkin, outfielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird and third baseman Eric Jagielo.

"Yes, the better prospects are probably not coming this year," Teale said. "But I thought [their system] was vastly underrated going into this year."

The lefty-hitting Bird ranks among the top hitters in the organization, according to Teale, though the former catcher has been slowed by back issues. …

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