News has spread that Aaron Judge will be called up after next week Florida State League’s All-Star game. This isn’t much as a surprise, as Judge deserves to be in High-A, but it’s a reminder that call-up season is upon us. We already saw Rob Refsnyder get a call-up, and other players, like Peter O’Brien, and Joel De La Cruz, have been called-up earlier in the season. Now that we are getting to the mid-point of the year, we will see even more players getting promotions.
Charleston to Tampa
Aaron Judge was already mentioned as being ticked to Tampa, but there a couple of others players that deserve to make the trip with him. One of the bigger names is Mike Ford, who is doing well this season, and is about the same age as Judge. Ford is having an incredible season, and is proving that the Yankees made a wise choice in offering him relatively big money as undrafted free agent.
Ford’s breakout year, is probably the most surprising story in the Yankees system. He has been a good consistent hitter all season, and he has the second highest OPS on the team at .881. He is the top 15 in OPS, OBP, HR, and SLG. These facts are even more impressive considering that he plays in one of the worst hitter’s park in baseball. His OPS on the road is 1.031. I haven’t heard much about his defense, but if he keeps hitting well, it probably doesn’t matter.
Finding playing time in Tampa would be difficult, even if Tampa has a few call-ups of their own, they still would have a permanent first-baseman in Greg Bird, and plenty of other players that could fill in at DH. He might be this year’s Greg Bird, and be forced to stay the entire year in Charleston.
The only other offensive player that I think might get a shot at a call-up to Tampa is Mike O’Neill All the other hitters on the team is either struggling and/or are too young to really make that kind of jump. O’Neill’s overall numbers aren’t great, but he does have some interesting tools, and has been doing a lot better as of late.
O’Neill has good power and speed, but has a very high K rate. The fact that he plays in Charleston hurts his power game, and his numbers on the road are much better. Sure his OPS is still just in the mid .700s, but it’s a lot better than .695 mark on the year. Over the past ten games his OPS is .772, and he only has 7 Ks, which is kind of an improvement for him. Getting him to Tampa will help his power, but he’d still be in a pitchers park. Like Ford, O’Neill would create a logjam if he joined Judge in A+.
It’s always a lot easier to push starters up a level, and the team has a couple starters that may get their shot. Both Luis Severino and Caleb Smith have good overall numbers in Lo-A. Smith has struggled lately, but is advanced enough to make the jump. Severino has really only had one or two bad starts all season, and might be the Yankees best minor league starter.
Smith has allowed 21 runs allowed in his last 20.1 innings, but still only has an ERA of 3.53, and a WHIP of 1.28. I’m not sure why his past few starts have been so rough, but hopefully it’s just because he is working on something new. Either way I thought he should’ve started the year in Tampa, and still thinks he deserves a promotion now. I can’t imagine a scenario where he is at Lo-A for the entire season.
Severino, on the other hand is pretty young, and might have a pitch limit. So it’s possible that he doesn’t move up. However, I still think they will push him to Tampa by the end of the year. Severino has a 2.92, a 2.91 FIP, a K/9 of 9.05, a BB/9 of 2.04, and a WHIP of 1.18. Putting in Tampa soon, would barely affect his progression, but would allow him to get his feet wet at a new level.
I suppose it’s also possible that Brady Lail also gets a call-up he hasn’t been as good Severino, but he has been good overall, and is coming off a great start. Lail has 71/13 K/BB in 69.2 innings this season, with an ERA of 3.49, and a WHIP of 1.29. His 69.2 innings are good enough for 13th in the league. He probably has a pitch limit this season, but he can get a few games in Tampa if they want to push him.
The only reliever on this team that hasn’t already been moved to Tampa that might get their shot late this year, is Phil Walby. Walby had a really rough month of May, but dominated April, and is doing well in June. Overall Walby has a 3.57 ERA, and 1.15 WHIP. Those numbers are still good enough to get the 2013 draft pick into Hi-A.
Tampa to Trenton
In order for Severino, Smith or Lail, to get promoted their needs to be space in the Tampa Yankees rotation. As of now there is one strong candidate to be promoted to AA, and clear that spot. That player is lefty Daniel Camerena, who is one of the better Yankees pitching prospects.
Camarena has a couple of rocky starts this season, but overall he has been very good. He has a 2.70 ERA, a 3.77 FIP, and a WHIP of 1.23. His K rate is a bit down from last year, and his BB/9 is 3.09 which is pretty high for him. But overall he has done very well in 70 innings of Hi-A ball. Camarena is among the top 30 inning throwers in the league. Camarena isn’t a hard throwing lefty, but he has been sitting closer to 90 MPH this season. He is known more for his secondary pitches, and his good command. The AA rotation has room for him now, and he would be a good call-up after a few more starts.
While it’s also possible that Rafael De Paula gets promoted, I doubt that will happen. He’s still too wild, though his peripherals do help put his ERA into context. I don’t think he or any other starter will move up right now, and the only other pitching promotions will come from the relief core. The Yankees have two former LSU closers at the level and while neither have put up too many innings at the level, they could both be promoted this season. Both Nick Rumbelow and Nick Goody, are advanced enough to go to AA.
Goody has pitched 14.1 innings at this level, and has an ERA of 2.51, and a WHIP of .98. He was bit shaky in his first few appearances, but overall his numbers are still excellent. He’s a year removed from Tommy John surgery, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they take it slow with him, but either way he could go to AA.
Rumbelow has one less inning than Goody, and his ERA is 2.57, and his WHIP 1.07. He was already called up once this year, but I think a few more good appearances gets him to AA. Both he and Goody, have the stuff to be late inning options in the future.
With the injury to Eric Jagielo, I’m not sure anyone on this offense will make the leap to AA. Both Dante Bichette Jr., and Jake Cave have cooled off a bit, and their best hitter O’Brien already moved up. One strong candidate to move back to AA, is Zach Wilson, but even he has cooled off a bit. I suppose they might move Jake Cave to make more room for Judge, but AA is pretty crowded right now.
Trenton to Scranton
Taylor Dugas deserves to be called-up. He has done nothing but hit his entire career. He has a .879 OPS. In order words he is having a better offensive season than Peter O’Brien is at the same level. Dugas is the older player, and doesn’t have that great power tool, but he has the ability to get on-base at a much higher clip. Dugas is looking like a player than could at the very least reach his ceiling as a 4th outfielder. Additionally moving him to AAA, would clear enough room for an outfield of Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, and Peter O’Brien. Dugas would be able to get more consistent playing time in AAA, and it’s really a move that should’ve happened already. Rob Segedin, could also move up, but would first have to start playing like his pre-injury self. He would also need the team to clear room for him by cutting some of the non-prospects in AAA.
Trenton has a lot more pitchers that are worthy of a promotion than hitters. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, as many of their pitchers have already spent some time in AAA. Graham Stoneburner, Caleb Cotham, Matt Tracy, Zach Nuding, Jairo Heredia, and Manny Banuelos, all spent some time in AAA in the past, and could end up back there at a moment’s notice. Once the Yankees get Pineda or CC back, they probably will feel a lot more comfortable cutting some of the organizational depth that they have in AAA. Alfredo Aceves, and Bruce Billings, are just two of the names that could be gone soon.
Manny Barreda and Bryan Mitchell are probably the only two AA pitchers that have a possible shot at seeing AAA. Barreda is certainly old enough to make the move, and at the moment is pitching very well in AA. He has a 2.45 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.28. He still needs to work on limiting walks, but he can do that in AAA. Mitchell actually made his way to the Bronx this season, but has yet to appear in AAA. He was having a good year, but then had elbow inflammation, and hasn’t been the same since.
Scranton to Bronx
AAA Scranton has generally been used to reinforce the major league Yankee roster. There aren’t that many prospects on the team. The team has sent players like Brice Billings, Alfredo Aceves, Chris Leroux, Austin Romine, Zoilo Almonte, Scott Sizemore, and Shane Greene to the majors this season. These players will have the chance to the majors this season, but the team has some other prospects that could make the jump to the majors.
One of the better performers in AAA is Jose Pirela. Pirela always starts the year off slow, but as of now he has a .823 OPS. He is mainly a second-baseman, but the team has been trying to make him more versatile by playing him at first. He already has playing experience in the outfield and third-base. He also has played short, but I don’t think that’s a realistic option. At this point it’s hard to see him being a worse option than Brian Roberts. Sure Roberts has been unlucky, but he is also old, and a bad defender. I’d say cut Kelley Johnson, but at least he has power, and has been a league average offensive player the past few years.
Ramon Flores could’ve also been moved to the majors but he is injured, so we’ll see, probably still gets a September call-up.
The pitchers that can be moved are Mark Montgomery, Danny Burawa, Jim Miller, Robert Coello, Pat Venditte, Joel De La Cruz, and Brian Gordon. Coello has done very well this season, and proves just how misleading spring training can be. He has an ERA of 1.93, and a WHIP of 1.29. The Yankees don’t really need him now, but if their pen sustains an injury he might be in line for a call-up.
The same can be said about Burawa, and Montgomery. Burawa hasn’t done so well since his injury, but his overall numbers and stuff are still very good. I’m not sure about Montgomery’s stuff, but he has also done well enough to get a shot at some point. Gordon shouldn’t make the team, and would only be called-up if they need an emergency starter. De La Cruz is having a very good year, already has 40 innings at the level.
Injured Players That Could Debut on One of These Levels
- Tyler Hensley: Currently building up his arm strength in extended spring training. Is stretched up to throw 5 innings. Could begin the year in Low-A, if he isn’t sent to the NYPL or the GCL.
- Gabriel Encinas: The righty underwent Tommy John surgery about a year ago, and should be making his way back soon enough. He could start the year in Tampa or Charleston.
- Ericson Leonora: Undisclosed injury, could begin the year in Tampa.