Spring training games are slated to begin on Friday and I think I speak for everyone when I say, it’s about f***ing time. Of course because I’m a sad little human being, I’ll probably be watching for how the prospects in camp perform more than anything else. Here are some things you might want to look for as well.
David Phelps- RHP: Change-up. I’m not sure if any of Phelp’s pitches could be categorized as “plus” but his curveball would probably be closest. He also throws a nice little slider and along with his fastball, it’s a decent overall package. His change-up is the one pitch that’s probably lagging behind the rest. If he can harness a solid changeup it would go a long way to improving his future.
Hector Noesi-RHP: Secondary pitches. Noesi has plus command and a good curveball but his secondary stuff can be found lacking. His change-up is probably the best of the group but the curveball and slider need some more work. He’ll need a more consistent release point on his slider and the ability to locate his curveball a bit better.
Dellin Betances-RHP: Change-up/mechanics. Betances has a plus fastball and plus curve that we all hear about. His change-up is still in development however. Some reports have it as average, others as fringy. Betances really improved his delivery since his surgery but when he struggles it’s usually related to the challenges of keeping that 6’8” body moving consistently. When everything is right, his command should be pretty sharp.
Andrew Brackman-RHP: Change-up/command. Brackman and Betances are similar in that they both have a plus fastball and plus curve. Brackman though can get more inconsistent with his command than Betances and has even more trouble with his change-up. It’s no surprise that refining his 3rd pitch is a key for him. He’s even bigger than Betances and also can find his mechanics out of whack so it’s important to watch how he learns to adjust in games when this happens.
Ryan Pope-RHP: command. Pope is a reliever who has two very good pitches- a mid 90s fastball and sharp slider. For a bullpen guy the rest is about his command. He’s displayed it before in the minors but it’s all the more important against the big boys.
Manuel Banuelos- LHP: Curveball. Banuelos gets all the praise from scouts and after seeing him look pretty good in the AFL all-star game, I’m excited to see him so more as well. Banuelos has a good fastball and a great fading changeup but his curveball could use some more work. With a little more consistency it could also be a real plus pitch and help push Banuelos along much faster.
D.J. Mitchell-RHP: Curveball/Slider. Mitchell has a sharp sinking two-seam fastball that’s pretty good when he stays on top of it along with a decent changeup. His curveball and slider though need work. He has a lower arm slot so he can struggle with these pitches but if he’s going to become more than a reliever he’ll need to develop them into at least average offerings.
Adam Warren- RHP: Secondary pitches. Warren’s discovery of a bit extra speed on his fastball was an exciting development in 2010 but he won’t get over the next step without working on his secondary stuff. He throws a curve, slider and change, none of which really stand out right now. His slider is reportedly closer to a cutter and if he can stay on top of his curve a bit more, it’d be a big step forward.
Jesus Montero- C: Defense. Seriously, do we have to cover this? Of course I’m really interested to see him hit but I think his defense is really the thing to watch. Montero has a plus arm but he’s so big that his release on throws to 2nd is pretty slow. Also, how does he move around back there? Can he passably block balls in the dirt? So much has been said about his defense one way or the other that it should be nice to see what it looks like ourselves.
Austin Romine- C: plate discipline. Romine gets heralded as “catcher of the future” because he’s a better defender than Montero. Is he a good defender though? Probably not- almost every report I’ve read on him this year indicates he has bad receiving skills. For me though I’m watching his approach. Romine has good bat speed and a average power but is a bit of a hacker. A little more plate discipline would be nice to see from him.
Dan Brewer-OF: Power. Brewer is one of those guys who doesn’t have a tool that really stands out but when you add them all up, he’s a nice player. His future in pinstripes would be as a 4th outfielder- does he have enough power to hold that position down? He’s probably defensively inadequate for CF so he’ll need to show some more pop before he’s a realistic option there.
Brandon Laird-3B: Approach/defense. Laird has a lot of pop in his bat but for the Yankees, his utility comes in his ability to play multiple positions. This is a new experiment with him. He’s also never taken many walks which is something I hope will improve for the man.
Melky Mesa-OF: Contact. Mesa has a very alluring speed/power/defense combination which would all be great if he could just make some contact. His approach isn’t particularly good either but he did manage to cut down on the strikeouts a bit this year.
Justin Maxwell-OF: Strikeouts. Maxwell is another attractive OF prospect because he can get on base, hit for power, runs well and plays good defense. He just strikes out a lot. He has a history of struggling with contact but if he could work on shortening his swing, it would be a very big development for him.
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