When I went to Tampa yesterday to watch the Blue Jays’ and Yankees’ Double-A and Triple-A teams square off, I thought I’d be able to give you, dear readers, some good scouting reports on some of the young Yankees players. Sadly, I have failed you but I place the blame squarely on the Yankees and not on me.
I’ve been to two other minor league complexes here in Florida and wherever I’ve gone, I’ve either been able to watch the action from directly behind home plate or slightly off to the side and I’ve been able to get radar gun readings from either the pitchers charting the action or from scouts in the area. I’ve been able to see movement, get reliable MPH readings that allow me to classify pitches and I’ve been able to get pretty good reads on hitters, catchers, pitchers and how they interact.
At the Yankees’ minor league complex, access is severely limited for everyone, even media (although I didn’t see anyone else with a media pass there; I think they know to avoid the place). There are four diamonds that are set up like a four-leaf clover with about 15 feet of space in between them. Fans are herded into a corral in between the two north-facing diamonds and can only use the space from the outfield fences to the end of the dugout (about half to two-thirds of the way up the foul line) to watch the game. There are bleachers to sit on but they only face one of the diamonds.
If that was the only issue, it would not be insurmountable. The biggest problem is that the Yankees do not put the players’ names on their backs. Only a player’s number identifies him and, in the Yankees’ infinite wisdom, I counted as many as four players with the same number and, in one case, all of them were pitchers. Since I’m not a big Yankees prospect guy (although I saw their Triple-A club, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders a couple of times last year), I can’t identify all of these players by sight and therefore, I was completely lost with a couple of exceptions.
Finally, the Yankees do not have a big group of good young prospects. The ones that they do have, like Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy, Mason Williams, etc., are still in big league camp and really, the only guy that I could identify accurately was Abiatal Avelino who struck out twice and hit a single through the 3-4 hole on the right side of the infield. (Probably) Jose Rosario showed off his speed by hitting a double down the left-field line by Andy Burns at third base and then stole third base a couple of batters later. Mikeson Oliberto also looked very quick trying to beat out a ground ball.
In general, the pitchers in the Triple-A game were more effective. I think Cesar Vargas started with (probably) Zach Woods, Cole Kimball, Diego Moreno, Stefan Lopez and Phillip Walby throwing in the game. One of Rookie Davis, Evan Rutckyj or Adam Smith pitched in the game (they all wear #56) and whichever one threw had a nice slider (from what I could tell from the side).
All I can tell you is that I had to do a lot of detective work to let you know who was who and I still can’t be positive on a couple of the players. It made for a very frustrating day watching the Yankees on Sunday. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have names on the backs of their jerseys and I was able to provide a much more detailed report over at Blue Jays from Away. The Blue Jays had Daniel Norris start the Double-A game and had Andy Burns, Kenny Wilson and Derrick Chung all playing: all three were in the Arizona Fall League last season.