Tuesday, May 27, 2014


At BYB we like to keep an eye on the future when it comes to our Yankees, so in our continued effort to do that, we present updates on five more “Baby Bombers”.

(Photo Credit: Charleston Riverdogs)
Aaron Judge, OF – Originally selected by the Oakland Athletics out of high school in the 2010 MLB draft, the outfielder/DH elected to instead attend college at Fresno State; a decision that would benefit both himself and the Yankees.  In 2013 he was selected in the first round by the Bombers, but had to wait until 2014 to make his debut as he tore his quadricep in a base running drill. 

To date, Judge has not disappointed.  Batting in the heart of the Charleston RiverDogs (Low-A) lineup, the right-handed slugger is hitting .327 with 5 home runs and 24 RBI through 46 games.

Pressure doesn’t seem to affect the 22-year-old – he’s hitting .295 with runners in scoring position and the only area of improvement would be in bettering his walk/strikeout ratio (he currently has just 26 walks and 37 strikeouts in 147 AB).  With a little more seasoning, one would expect the youngster’s plate discipline to only get better.

Expect a promotion soon for the sixth ranked prospect (Baseball America) in the organization.

(Photo Credit: Charleston Riverdogs)
Ian Clarkin, LHP – Like Judge, Clarkin was selected by the Yankees in the 2013 MLB Draft.  Unlike Judge, Clarkin was right out of high school.  The left-handed hurler was sent to the Gulf Coast Yankees and in three starts posted a less-than-sparkling 10.80 ERA and 1.80 WHIP (Walks + Hits per inning pitched). 

In spite of those numbers, Clarkin was assigned to Charleston for 2014 and seems to be holding his own.  Through four starts he holds a very respectable 3.66 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.  Even more impressive is that he has struck out 20 in a little over 19 innings of work while walking just 4 (he walked 4 in just 5 innings during 2013).

With that rate of improvement, the 19-year-old pitcher could find himself moving quickly through the organization chain.

Clarkin, the seventh ranked Yankees’ prospect, still has some work to do.  In looking at his splits this season, it is evident that he has issues on the road.  While his ERA at home is a miniscule 0.82, in visitors’ parks it sky-rockets to 7.27.  The numbers also suggest that the youngster needs work out of the stretch, as his ERA with runners in scoring position is 8.10 (it’s 1.46 with the bases empty). 

Those things being said, other splits show just how valuable this southpaw could be to the Yankees.  Most lefties hold distinct advantages over left-handed hitters and try to limit damage caused by right-handers. 

Clarkin is an exception to that rule. 

Most of the hitters he has faced have been right-handed, and they are hitting just .236 against him.  That kind of split shows great potential for our young pinstriper. 

Look for continued improvement with experience and don’t be surprised if this hurler one day occupies one of the top three spots of the Yankees rotation.

(Photo Credit: Charleston Riverdogs)
Greg Bird, 1B – The left-handed hitting Bird was drafted as a catcher out of high school in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft by the Yankees.  He quickly transitioned to first base, and as we’ve seen with many of our “Lil Bombers”, his progression through the system has been steady. 

In 2012, his first “full” season in the organization, Bird experienced a back injury that limited him to just 28 games, yet hit .337 with two home runs and 13 RBI between the Gulf Coast Yankees (Rookie League) and Staten Island (low A).  Last season he was moved up to Charleston (A) and promptly flashed his power; hitting 20 home runs and driving in 84 over 130 games (including 107 walks).

This season, lower back issues forced Bird to miss the first five weeks of the season at Tampa (high A), but upon his return he picked up where he left off; hitting .300 with two home runs and 10 walks through his first 13 games.

Still only 21-years-old, if Baseball America’s eight ranked Yankees prospect can remain healthy he’ll likely move up at least one level during the course of this season.  Given that Mark Teixeira still has another two years on his contract, Bird has the time to fine tune his skills in the minor leagues. 

Don’t be surprised if in 2017 Greg Bird is the opening day first baseman for the New York Yankees; he has all the tools and only needs the experience to become a genuine “diamond in the rough” for the Bombers.

Photo Credit: Charleston Riverdogs)
Luis Severino, RHP – Just 20 years old, the Yankees 9th ranked prospect has only impressed since joining the organization.   Last year while splitting time between the rookie league and Class A Charleston, the right hander posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and struck out 53 in 44 innings pitched. 

When he first joined the Yankees his fastball was clocked at 91 mph, last year he hit 97 on the gun.   Yeah, he’s got the stuff.

This year he has started nine games in Charleston holding a 1.76 ERA, 1.098 WHIP, and has struck out 43 while walking just 9 in 41 innings.  If he keeps that up, he won’t be with the RiverDogs for long.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Severino’s game is how he handles pitching to left-handed hitters.  To survive in Yankee Stadium, right-handed hurlers need to keep the ball from clearing the short right field porch.  This season lefty hitters are batting just .194 against him, and their ground ball to fly ball ratio is 2.78 to 1.

His ceiling appears to be limitless, and with the numbers he’s posting it is safe to assume he will move quickly through the ranks of the Yankees’ organization. 

As reported by Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Baseball America’s Josh Norris wrote this about Severino:

“Severino intrigues me for a couple of reasons,” Baseball America’s Josh Norris, who has extensively covered the Yankees’ farm system, said in an email. “First and foremost, he's shown very advanced qualities in terms of both stuff and ability at a very young age. He has a fastball that's touched as high as 97 miles per hour, which plays up because he gets good extension. He couples it with a solid-average change up that's hit as high as 90 miles per hour, a big plus for someone his age. He also has a slider that flashes plus at times.  Moreover, after dominating the Gulf Coast League [32 strikeouts and 16 hits over 26 2/3 innings], the Yankees saw fit to skip him over Staten Island and send him straight to Charleston in the South Atlantic League, where he fanned 21 in as many innings and walked just four. He has to prove it over a full season, obviously, and he's a bit on the smaller side, but three excellent pitches and command of the strike zone is an excellent recipe to start”

Keep an eye on this one Yankee fans.  He’s a rocket ready to launch.

Gosuke Katoh, 2B - Yet another prospect (ranked 10th in the organization by Baseball America) drafted right out of high school by the Yankees (2nd round, 2013), Katoh had a strong debut last season in the Rookie League.  In 50 games, the second baseman hit .310 with six home runs and 25 RBI; good numbers for a middle infielder.   In the field he was equally successful; having just four errors in 176 chances.
His success in 2013 led to the Yankees putting Katoh at Single A Charleston this year.   To date, he hasn’t picked up where he left off.  The 19-year-old is struggling at the plate, hitting just .183 through 36 games.  Even more disturbing are the 51 strikeouts and just 20 walks he has in 139 plate appearances.

It is still too early in the season to determine if Katoh has been moved up too quickly, and clearly patience is in order given his youth, but he’ll likely either stay at Charleston or be moved down a level as the Yankees walk the tight rope with his psyche in 2014.

Well, there you have it - another installment of updates on our “Baby Bombers”.   We’ll have another one for you next week, and look for a very special Father’s day article about one of our top prospects.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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