Minor League Barometer: Yankee Youth Movement

Minor League Barometer: Yankee Youth Movement

This article is part of our Minor League Barometer series.

The youth movement for the New York Yankees is officially in full swing. Following the retirement of Alex Rodriguez, the Bronx Bombers called up massive power phenom Aaron Judge, along with the formerly highly rated Tyler Austin, who at one point in time was considered the top prospect for the Yanks. The pair made history Saturday, hitting back-to-back home runs in their first MLB at-bats. Judge was all but assured the right field assignment after the trade of Carlos Beltran, while Austin is taking advantage of the season-long injury to Greg Bird at first. The 24-year-old Austin was raking at Triple-A before the promotion, slashing .315/.415.637 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 57 games. While Judge should be penciled into right field for the foreseeable future, Austin may force the Yanks to include him in their plans at some position as well. With Gary Sanchez also on the squad, the Baby Bombers are on the rise in the Bronx.

Let's take a look at some other notable prospects in this week's Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN – It'd be difficult to have a better debut in full-season ball than Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in this past June's draft. In 39 games for Low-A Dayton, the 21-year-old out of the University of Tennessee is slashing .324/.418/.576 with six home runs, 24 RBI and 12 steals. He has racked up nearly as many walks (22) as strikeouts (30). He has

The youth movement for the New York Yankees is officially in full swing. Following the retirement of Alex Rodriguez, the Bronx Bombers called up massive power phenom Aaron Judge, along with the formerly highly rated Tyler Austin, who at one point in time was considered the top prospect for the Yanks. The pair made history Saturday, hitting back-to-back home runs in their first MLB at-bats. Judge was all but assured the right field assignment after the trade of Carlos Beltran, while Austin is taking advantage of the season-long injury to Greg Bird at first. The 24-year-old Austin was raking at Triple-A before the promotion, slashing .315/.415.637 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 57 games. While Judge should be penciled into right field for the foreseeable future, Austin may force the Yanks to include him in their plans at some position as well. With Gary Sanchez also on the squad, the Baby Bombers are on the rise in the Bronx.

Let's take a look at some other notable prospects in this week's Minor League Barometer.

UPGRADE

Nick Senzel, 3B, CIN – It'd be difficult to have a better debut in full-season ball than Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in this past June's draft. In 39 games for Low-A Dayton, the 21-year-old out of the University of Tennessee is slashing .324/.418/.576 with six home runs, 24 RBI and 12 steals. He has racked up nearly as many walks (22) as strikeouts (30). He has been even hotter of late, hitting .350 with three home runs and nine RBI in his last 10 contests. Senzel is doing exactly what a polished college bat should do at this level, and he could be an incredibly fast riser through the Cincinnati system in 2017.

Kolby Allard, P, ATL – Offseason back surgery worried some pundits, and Allard showed rust to start off the season with an 8.25 ERA in his first three outings of the season at Low-A Rome. After this bumpy introduction, he took the shuttle back to the Appalachian League. Predictably, he dismantled the competition. Allard is now back at Low-A and has finally found his groove. Over his last three starts, the 19-year-old southpaw has been particularly superb. During that span of 18.1 innings, Allard has allowed just three earned runs while notching a 24:6 K:BB. Allard has tantalizing potential, even if he won't hit the big leagues for a few years.

Fernando Romero, P, MIN – In a system with Jose Berrios, Tyler Jay and Stephen Gonsalves, Romero does not get much publicity. However, the 21-year-old righty has been dominant this year. Romero is a control specialist, but he can also rack up the strikeouts. Hitters at Low-A were no match for him to begin the season, as he posted a 1.93 ERA and 25:5 K:BB in 28 innings. That earned him a promotion to High-A, where he has been equally as impressive. Romero has a 2.39 ERA and 48:8 K:BB in 49 innings. Romero works down in the zone, inducing a plethora of ground balls. He has a 1.64 GO:AO ratio in 2016. Further evidence of his ability to keep the ball down is the fact that he has surrendered just one home run this year. Romero missed all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, but has looked like a high upside hurler since his return.

Jharel Cotton, P, OAK – The Rich Hill deal looks better and better each day for the Athletics, and the main reason has been the recent performance on Cotton. While Hill has still yet to take the bump in a game for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cotton tossed a near perfect game in his last start for Triple-A Nashville. The 24-year-old righty allowed a single, solitary hit in a dazzling complete game shutout. Cotton fanned 12 batters and boasts a 17:1 K:BB in 15 innings since joining the Oakland organization. On the year, Cotton has an impressive 136:33 K:BB in 112.1 innings at Triple-A. Opposing hitters are batting a paltry .209 against him.

CHECK STATUS

Matt Thaiss, 1B, LAA – A first round selection from this year's draft, Thaiss has started only at first base thus far in the organization, despite playing catcher at the University of Virginia. Though his value takes a bit of a hit if he does not end up as a backstop, Thaiss still possesses an extremely advanced approach at the dish. He made quick work of the Pioneer League and has since been promoted to Low-A Burlington. Thaiss is batting .320/.385/.500 through 32 games at this level. His power stroke has also shown up recently, as Thaiss has been surging of late. The 21-year-old is batting .359 with three home runs and eight RBI over that span. Thaiss has tallied as many walks as strikeouts over that span (7). Not playing catcher takes away a bit of the fantasy luster for Thaiss, though he is still a polished college bat with an advanced eye at the dish along with deceptive power.

Johan Mieses, OF, LAD – Mieses has been punishing the ball of late. The 21-year-old Dominican outfielder is batting a crisp .424 over his last 10 games at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Mieses has six home runs and 16 RBI over that span, giving him 26 dingers and 68 RBI on the season. While Mieses has certainly taken advantage of the hitter-friendly confines of the California League, plate discipline remains a red flag. Mieses has 128 strikeouts in 103 games, while drawing just 32 walks during that time period. Likewise, even with the recent hot streak, he is batting only .253 on the season. It remains to be seen if Mieses is a legitimate power prospect, or if his numbers are inflated due to the league in which he plays.

Rowdy Tellez, 1B, TOR – Speaking of power prospects, Tellez is tied for fifth with 16 home runs in the Eastern League. If it wasn't for the
dynamic duo of Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens at Double-A Reading, Tellez would almost certainly be gaining more notoriety. Still, Tellez has an impressive slash line in 2016, showing increased patience at the dish. He is batting .295/.389/.509 on the year. His .389 On-Base Percentage is second in the league. His 53 walks on the year are by far a career high, as the 21-year-old continues to come into his own at the plate. His walks are up, his strikeouts are down, and Tellez already owns a career best in home runs. He should be considered one of the best first base prospects in baseball heading into the 2017 campaign.

Alex Young, P, AZ – Young may never be a frontline starter in the bigs, but he should become a serviceable hurler. The southpaw started his collegiate career as a reliever, but made a seamless transition to the rotation at TCU. A second round pick in 2015, Young has been on quite a tear of late. He has not allowed an earned run in each of the last three starts for High-A Visalia. Over that span of 21 innings, Young has a 17:6 K:BB. The southpaw can throw strikes with three pitches and succeeds when he keeps the ball down. However, he's been a bit wild overall in 2016, while allowing six home runs in just eight starts at High-A. Still, Young has been better recently, dropping his ERA at High-A to the lowest it has been since he started at this level, 3.31.

DOWNGRADE

Derek Hill, OF, DET – A first round selection in the 2014 draft, Hill hurt his dominant elbow making a throw from centerfield in a recent game. He has since undergone elbow reconstruction surgery, and will miss the rest of the 2106 campaign, and likely at least the first half of next season as well. The 20-year-old Hill was hitting .266/.312/.349 at Low-A West Michigan, with his best asset being his speed. Hill swiped 35 bases in 41 attempts. While the injury is significant and his growth will almost certainly be stunted, Hill was not going to have much power anyway, so perhaps he will not be as adversely affected as some other prospects.

Foster Griffin, P, KC – Griffin has not lived up to the hype since being picked in the first round in 2014. In fact, he's been rocked in 77 innings at High-A, as opposing batters are hitting a robust .310 against him. That has ballooned his ERA to an unmanageable 6.31. Of course, walks have not helped his cause either, as Griffin has been rather wild. The southpaw has 40 walks as compared to 64 strikeouts in those 77 innings. Griffin's secondary pitches have developed extremely slowly, and he has been unable to induce ground balls anywhere close to the rate that he posted at Low-A. As a result, he is relying too much on his fastball. The lack of variety in his pitch selection and inability to locate his secondary pitches has made him predictable and pedestrian. The 21-year-old Griffin could still turn things around, but it is becoming clear that he is not quite as malleable as the Royals had hoped.

Mitch Brown, P, CLE – Brown's stock has fallen even as his strikeout rate continues to be elevated in 2016. That's because Brown has now walked at least 70 batters for the second consecutive season at High-A. As a result, the Indians have shifted Brown to the bullpen, where perhaps he was always meant to be. Walks should be less of a bugaboo, though he still has issued at least two free passes in four of his last five outings. Brown does have strikeout stuff, though, as evidenced by his 100 strikeouts in 87.2 innings. However, the 22-year-old also has 72 walks over that time frame, and a move to the bullpen dampers his fantasy outlook significantly.

Kodi Medeiros, P, MIL – As the Milwaukee farm system has gotten better, and Medeiros has struggled to get the ball over the plate, he has plummeted down the rankings for the Brew Crew. Medeiros has a 61:55 K:BB in 80.1 innings at High-A. He has been far more hittable than a season ago; opposing batters are hitting .299 against the 20-year-old lefty. Though he has kept the ball in the ballpark for the most part, too many baserunners have simply led to too many opportunities for the opposition, resulting in a bloated 5.49 ERA. The Brewers picked up Luis Ortiz and Phil Bickford at the trade deadline; add in Josh Hader and perhaps Cody Ponce, and Medeiros is no better than the fifth-best pitching prospect in his own organization right now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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