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Reports From Instructs: New York Yankees (Pt 2)

Posted By Kiley McDaniel On October 19, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In Game Report,Minor Leagues,Yankees | 4 Comments

Dante Bichette stormed onto the scene last season after surprising many by going in the sandwich round and tearing the GCL apart. He struggled to make as much contact this year in Low-A and his power evaporated. What I saw in a short look in the regular season is still what’s causing problems for Bichette currently.

Bichette has an active swing with a lot of early hand movement; his hands end up in a good position but all that activity makes it much easier for him to drift forward, fly open and generally be off-balance. This only needs to happen occasionally to get in a player’s head and cause him to overcompensate. I’ve seen Bichette locked in and while his swing is higher maintenance than many and his tools aren’t overwhelming, his pure hitting ability lets it all work. When he starts pressing, expanding his zone and getting pull-conscious, his swing breaks down and that’s what I saw too much of in instructs.

Bichette is a below-average runner that works hard on his defense at third base but he still looks a little too stiff to stick long-term. His instincts are fine, his footwork is improving and his arm is solid-average but his defensive ceiling is below-average. Bichette will likely move to right field and he has above-average raw power that will profile in right, giving him solid regular upside if he can get back to what works for him at the plate.

Dellin Betances has always struggled with command, mainly due to the trouble he has consistently syncing his giant, 6’8, 260 pound frame. He dropped in on instructs for a quick tune-up before heading to the Arizona Fall League and was what I expected from a guy that walked almost a batter per inning in 74.2 innings in AAA this season.

His delivery is stiff and slightly awkward as he over-strides and lands on his heel, sacrificing balance and body control while his arm almost stops at the bottom of his arm swing, causes it to drag behind his body. Betances’ frame presents a lot of problems that can’t all be solved by a new delivery and he’s getting better extension than in the past, but I can’t see a scenario where he’s a useful big league starter.

The good news is even in a short stint coming off of a long layoff, Betances showed the stuff that will allow him to pitch in late relief if he can get develop acceptable command. He worked at 91-93 and hit 94 mph but had trouble locating, frequently elevating his heater. Betances also threw a slider at 82-84 mph with three-quarter tilt that had some bite and depth at times. It was usually an average pitch but showed the elements to be above-average. I’ll assume his stuff is crisper in Arizona, but the priority here is to find a consistently repeatable, comfortable delivery to allow Betances’ stuff to play.

Yankees seventeen-year-old third baseman Miguel Andujar was one of the more interesting young players I saw in instructs. He’s raw and toolsy as his age suggests, with a toolset that profiles as an everyday third baseman. Andujar has solid hands, an above-average arm and solid-average speed. He’s got the quickness to be above-average defensively, though he has expected troubles with footwork, angles and playing under control at times.

Andujar’s above-average bat speed and looseness to his swing set him apart, but he still has a lot of adjustments to make. Power isn’t a big part of his game presently, but he has natural gap power with some projection remaining in his 6’0, 190 pound frame. Andujar shows advanced bat control for his age, but can fall in love with this ability and can drastically expand his zone for stretches. He also can get pull-happy and have a soft front side pull his mechanics apart, but that’s common with talented young hitters that haven’t faced much advanced pitching.

In games, Andujar barrels up more than his fair share of pitches even against pitchers many years older. His upside is limited by his well below-average plate discipline and ordinary power for a corner, but Andujar is so young and talented that a lot could still happen. The Yankees know they have a real prospect here and have a history of aggressively promoting players they think have the talent to survive, so there’s a chance he could start his age 18 season at Low-A.

I saw the Bombers recent 2nd round pick Peter O’Brien a few times this spring playing for the Hurricanes but, like Tyler Austin, he was fresh off a lengthy DL stint for my look, so instructs were a good opportunity to revise a tentative evaluation. O’Brien has a hand fracture, so he wasn’t catching most of the college season but he was behind the plate in instructs and didn’t look very comfortable. While he appeared to be healthy, O’Brien was slow to react to pitches in the dirt and lacked flexibility. This was my first opportunity to see him catch, but most scouts I talked to before the draft felt he was a first baseman despite his plus arm, due to his below-average hands, slow feet and 6’4, 225 pound frame. O’Brien is a 20 runner destined to find a home as a 1B/DH.

Those negatives aside, O’Brien went in the second round because of his bat. His strength, leverage and bat speed combine for big plus power. It looks like the Yankees have lowered his hands a bit to give him a shorter path to the ball and a better chance to hit for average. O’Brien has a surprisingly loose swing for a guy with his size and strength, and his feel to hit gives him a better chance to hit for power and average than most guys his size.


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