Prospect Profiles: Luis Severino

2014 Stats:

Level: A/A+/AA

24 G     113 IP     28% K%     6% BB%     0.7% HR%     2.46 ERA     2.40 FIP

Background:

Luis Severino wasn’t viewed as a high-profile prospect when the Yankees signed him as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican for just $225,000. Nonetheless, he quickly began turning heads in 2012 by putting up a 1.68 ERA in the Dominican Summer League. Severino came stateside in 2013 and lit up the Gulf Coast League to the tune of a 1.37 ERA before closing out the year with a four start cameo with Low-A Charleston.

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Organizational Depth: Second Base

Our depth chart series continues today at second base. In the past couple of weeks, I did a high-level analysis of the Yankees’ catchers and first baseman. Now, on to the 4 position in your scorecard.

Starter: Stephen Drew

2014 was not a good season for Stephen Drew. In 300 trips to the plate, he hit an abysmal .162/.237/.299 (44 wRC+). That’s…just awful. So bad, that it was actually the worst performance (per wRC+) in the majors last season, minimum 300 plate appearances. Nonetheless, the Yankees retained Drew for one more season at a $5M salary to be the starting second baseman. In all likelihood, Drew isn’t as terrible as he was last year. After all, he’s a season removed from a 109 wRC+ with the 2013 Red Sox.

Steamer foresees an 84 wRC+ this season, with above average glovework at the keystone. Unless Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela absolutely annihilate Triple-A pitching, I think the Yankees would tolerate that kind of performance from Drew. A repeat of 2014, though, would probably cost Drew his job quickly. His salary isn’t large enough that the Yankees should feel obligated to run him out there for a full season. Continue reading

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Pinstripe Pundits’ 2015 Top 100 Yankees Prospects

Below, you’ll find my pre-season top 100 Yankees prospect list. This order of this list was determined through a combination of scouting reports and KATOH — my methodology for projecting prospect performance using minor league stats. Full disclosure: Aside from a few guys who played for the Staten Island Yankees in the past couple of years, I’ve seen almost none of these players in person. And even if I had seen them, I would have very little to add considering I have zero background in scouting. So for scouting and tools-based analysis, I turned to the experts. I relied heavily on Kiley McDaniel’s incredibly in-depth post on FanGraphs, but took into account scouting reports from Keith Law, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and anything else I could find to compliment my stats-based analyses. Continue reading

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Organizational Depth: First Base

Last week, we began our organization depth series at the catcher position. Today, we continue with a look the franchise’s first basemen from top to bottom.

Starter: Mark Teixeira

Barring injury, Teixeira is embedded at first for 2015. The problem is that he hasn’t been the pillar of health the past few years: he’s made at least one trip to the disabled list the past three seasons. Turning 35 in April, Teixeira’s won’t magically become invincible. I think 120-130 games played is the target for Mark at this stage of his career. When healthy, he still shows above-average power and a good eye, but he’s far from the guy he once was. Not to anyone’s surprise, of course. Teixeira is basically at the tail-end of his career, and wrist surgery in 2013 probably sapped some of his ability. Steamer forecasts Teixeira for a .223/.314/.414 triple-slash, with 23 home runs in 125 games. That seems about right.

Backup: Garrett Jones

Unlike recent seasons (i.e. Lyle Overbay, Kelly Johnson), the Yankees are better prepared for Teixeira’s annual disabled list stint. Jones is known for his power, even though he’s only hit 15 home runs in each of the past two seasons, spanning just under 1,000 plate appearances. Yet, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect him to benefit from Yankee Stadium. Last season, Miami (Jones’ former club) suppressed home runs for left-handed hitters by 15%, while Yankee Stadium inflated lefty home runs by 17%. With that in mind, Joe Girardi might use Jones as more than just Teixeira’s backup; he’ll probably get a good chunk of time as a designated hitter at home against right-handed pitching. Steamer projects 14 home runs and a .198 ISO in 342 trips to the plate, which is a better power output than Teixeira is pegged for on a rate basis. Continue reading

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Organizational Depth: Catchers

It’s hard to believe, but Spring Training is approximately one month away. The weather is still frigid in the New York region, but when the Yankees report to sunny Tampa, we’ll have a lot more baseball to discuss now that the hot stove season is behind us. As we approach the club’s report date, we’ll take a look at the organization’s depth at each position. This exercise will essentially provide a preview of the 2015 roster, injury contingencies, and an overview of some prospect hopefuls. Today, we start at catcher.

Starter: Brian McCann

McCann’s under contract for the next four seasons, so don’t expect him to be displaced anytime soon. The most likely scenario for another backstop to take the reigns would be a shift to first base after Mark Teixeira‘s contract expires, but that might not even be necessary, as I addressed in a separate piece about McCann’s future. Definitely take a look at that post if you’re interested in an in-depth discussion of McCann’s outlook. Turning 31 next month, he’s still an above average starting catcher, despite his disappointing first year with the Yankees. Both Steamer and the FANS projection systems see a rebound in 2015, at 3.2 and 3.7 WAR respectively. Sign me up for that today. Continue reading

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The Yankees biggest prospect flops: Nick Johnson

Shortly before the new year, I wrote a piece for the Hardball Times chronicling KATOH — a methodology I developed to project prospects’ big league performance. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty, technical details here — feel free to check out my original piece if you’re interested. Basically, KATOH looks at a hitter’s age and league-adjusted minor league stats and estimates the probability that a player will reach certain WAR thresholds. These probabilities can then be used to estimate how many fWAR he’s likely to accumulate through age 28.

I produced a projection for every player who played in the minors last year, and you can see how your favorite prospect projects by clicking here. But today’s about the prospects of yesteryear. To identify prospects who most fell short of expectations, I simply took players’ actual WAR value, subtracted their projected WAR value, and found the guys with the biggest difference. So say a prospect was projected to produce 20 WAR, but only produced 15. His difference would be 5 (20-15). Got it? Good.

Without further adieu, here are the 20 biggest Yankees hitting prospect flops since 1990 according to KATOH. Continue reading

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How good is Chase Headley on defense?

After an impressive two-month run in Pinstripes, the Yankees locked up Chase Headley to a four year, $52M deal. That price felt relatively light for a player of Headley’s caliber, especially compared to the 5/$95M the Red Sox gave to Pablo Sandoval — who has a similar 2015 Steamer projection — just three weeks earlier.

One of the factors that makes Headley’s contract seem so team friendly is the value he provides on defense. Per UZR, Headley’s been one of the best third sackers in the game over the past few years, racking up 35 runs above average since 2012 — more than any other other third baseman. Not all agree with UZR’s rosy outlook of Headley’s defense, however. FRAA and DRS — the house metrics for Baseball Prospectus and The Fielding Bible respectively — peg him much closer to average. Continue reading

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Will Brian McCann rebound?

A new contract, the pressure of New York, age, and the shift. Those are just a few of the explanations for Brian McCann‘s disappointing offensive performance in 2014. There’s no question that his debut in pinstripes didn’t go as planned in year one of a five year contract. A big reason for the team’s signing of McCann was his reputation defensively and his ability to handle a pitching staff, but undoubtedly the greatest attraction was McCann’s forte with the bat. It was easy to expect McCann, a left-handed hitter, to tatter the short porch in right field. Plus, the 2013 collective of Yankees’ catchers hit for a dismal 61 wRC+, making McCann’s career mark of 117 entering 2014 even more alluring. Yet, after hitting just .232/.286/.406 (92 wRC+) in 2014, it isn’t crazy to wonder if the Yankees have yet another albatross deal on the books for a player in decline.

Can 2015 be a year of redemption for McCann? It sure seems like the Yankees are counting on it. This offseason, the club hasn’t made any significant offensive additions around the diamond or in the outfield, which leads one to believe that the front office expects McCann, among others, to carry the load this season. That might prove to be a tall task for the Yankees’ backstop, who has a few factors painting an unfavorable picture for 2015 and beyond. Continue reading

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Potential help for Eovaldi’s lefty problem

Nathan Eovaldi is a lottery ticket for the Yankees. It’s easy to dream on the 25 year-old flamethrower, especially under the tutelage of Larry Rothschild. Yet, it’s alarming that the Marlins gave up on a big arm with three seasons of control remaining for Martin Prado. There are a number of areas for improvement in Eovaldi’s game, but today’s focus will be the pitcher’s trouble with left-handed hitters.

Last season, Eovaldi allowed a .336 wOBA against lefties while holding righties to a .304 mark. This wasn’t a blip on the radar, as his career split is .338/.299. That type of performance moving to Yankee Stadium…no explanation necessary. Eovaldi needs to minimize this weakness if he plans to have success in pinstripes. I’m sure Rothschild and the rest of the coaching staff have some ideas to combat this issue — better ones than I do — but one I’d like to discuss today is his fastball location and usage. Continue reading

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Is Jacoby Ellsbury slowing down?

Since breaking in with the Red Sox in 2007, Jacoby Ellsbury has been widely regarded as one of the game’s better defensive center fielders — he took home the Gold Glove Award in 2011. Not only did Ellsbury’s defense not pass the eye test, but it also rated extremely well by advanced defensive metrics. Or at least he did until 2014. Here’s a look at Ellsbury’s UZR numbers since 2011, when he began playing center field exclusively.

Jacobs

To the untrained eye, this looks like Ellsbury lost a step or three between 2013 and 2014; but if you’re familiar with the volatility of defensive metrics, you know it’s not that simple. Stats like UZR can be tricky in small sample sizes, and the samples are always smaller than we’d like them to be. So in reality, Ellsbury’s UZR trajectory tells us that his defense probably took a step back in 2014, but we can’t say say that with any certainty.

It’s not hard to talk yourself into the idea that Ellsbury’s defense may be on the decline. Running speed — the hallmark of a plus center fielder — is a skill that peaks in a player’s early 20’s, if not sooner. And at 31, Ellsbury certainly could have crossed the precipice separating his defensive peak from his decline years. Defense is a young man’s game. Continue reading

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