Spring Training News & Notes: New Farm System Rankings, Steven Matz, Madden Leagues, & More

That’s right. We’re using this one again.

I have a new favorite baseball subgenre: watching superstars hit the everloving crap out of golf balls. Just look at this:

Other players to do this included Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. I am here for it. I’ve already watched the Trout video a few dozen times, it feels like. Am I insane for wanting to see Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit do the same? It would be fun. (P.S. You can save your unoriginal “but they’d get hurt!” jokes for another time.)

I’m leading with this tonight because there’s not a whole lot in terms of an update today…which doesn’t feel great? As we learned yesterday, Judge went in for more testing today. I know I’m just being paranoid – there doesn’t appear to have been any media session today – but I would have really loved an “Aaron Judge is fine” tweet or two today. Alas, it was not to be. Everything is fine, I’m sure. [Laughs nervously] I mean, it’s usually fine with Yankee injuries these days. (But seriously, as YES’ Seth Rothman says, there was no media availability today, so everything probably *is* fine.)

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s very brief news and notes update.

The Big Story: The Yankee Farm System

Our son Deivi.

Keith Law, now of The Athletic, released his organizational farm system rankings today (subs req’d). The Yankees ranked 6th (!) overall. Here is what Law had to say:

The Yankees have clearly figured out some things on the development side, especially finding ways to help pitchers throw harder or throw higher-quality pitches (like boosting spin rates), and have also stayed active on the international side. Their Latin American contingent helmed one of the most lauded groups of short-season prospects I found during the process of assembling these rankings, with teams already asking for some of their GCL kids in trade talks. They’ve also got pitching coming, headlined by a risky first-round pick who’s worked out extremely well so far in Clarke Schmidt.

This was shocking to me, honestly. Not because I disagree with anything Law wrote. Obviously I don’t. The Yankees have figured out player development – particularly adding velocity and spin – and are very active on the international market. And there is no doubt that the Yankees are locked and loaded with young, high-upside low-minors talent. None of this is surprising.

What is surprising is the fact that Law is buying so high on this talent right now and not in a year or two. The Yanks being a top 10 system feels more like something we’ll be saying a year from now if guys like Luis Medina, Luis Gil, Kevin Alcantara, Albert Abreu, and T.J. Sikkema all take big strides forward in 2020. (Jasson goes without saying at this point, right?) So, all of this is to say that Law’s rankings are very aggressive.

Baseball America, for example, ranked the Yanks 17th overall. That is more in line with my own expectations. But you know, this is all just guesswork anyway. If Keith Law wants to buy on the Yankees’ low-minors talent, that sure as hell works for me. Sign me up for the Yankees having a better farm than the Blue Jays while contending for the World Series. That’s a scenario I like quite a bit, actually.

Leftovers

As I said above, slim pickings today from Bomberland. Here’s the best of the rest:

  • The Yankees and Mets are talking about Steven Matz, though a trade remains unlikely. (Andy Martino) Matz owns a 4.05 ERA (4.30 FIP) in about 600 career innings with the crosstown rivals with roughly league-average strikeout and walk rates. His other peripherals – velocity, spin rates, etc. – are below-average at best. A trade between the Yanks and Mets remains as unlikely as ever, but I’m generally meh on Matz overall.
  • However…the two teams were apparently engaged last July on Zack Wheeler. So much so that they had a deal worked out and were “checking medicals.” (Andy Martino) Martino says “something” came up that stopped it. My guess is that “something” was named “Wilpon”, but that’s just a hunch. Losing Wheeler to the inter-division rival Phillies is one thing, but trading him to the contender Yanks feels impossible from the Mets’ point-of-view. I wonder what the deal was.
  • Lindsey Adler at The Athletic has a really fun article about a Madden league between a bunch of the Yankees this spring. Highly, highly recommend if you have a subscription.
  • Finally, Bucky Dent has a podcast now. (Bryan Hoch)

More tomorrow, when the Yankees take the field once more. And tomorrow will be the day we get an update on Aaron Judge, so fingers crossed for that. Have a good night, everyone.

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1 Comment

  1. Mungo

    Law seems to be focusing even more than usual on the high-end potential of players, and thus probably farm systems too. The Dodgers have been able to build a sustainable pipeline of high end talent, even though they are drafting later than just about every team and they have limited IFA money. The Yankees seem to be trying to replicate that, and the recent changes they made in their minor league system is probably part of that entire makeover.

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