Wednesday, May 14, 2014


(In Photo: Tyler Austin)
It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote about a few of our up-and-comers that are making themselves heard in the Yankees’ minor league system, so it’s time for another update on some others.  It is my hope to provide you with regular posts on the status of players that will one day take the field in the Bronx.

 Ty Hensley – In 2012 Hensley was the first round draft pick of the Yankees.  At age 18, the pitcher had a promising career in front of him and struck out 14 in 12 innings at the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League that season.

Unfortunately for Hensley, 2013 was a complete wash as he had to undergo surgery to repair a bone impingement in his right hip.  He was expected to be ready for Spring Training this season but his recovery experienced a setback when he had to undergo hernia surgery.  It is expected that he will be able to resume throwing sometime this month; possibly this week.

The baby Bomber recently tweeted:

Keep in mind that the right-hander is still only 20-years-old, so his prospects remain bright, and he certainly hasn’t let the setback affect his attitude. BYB is pulling for him 100%.

Mason Williams- The 2010 fourth round pick by the Yankees is slowly working his way through the farm system.  Rated by Baseball America as the team’s third ranked prospect, the outfielder is blessed with great speed (rated fastest base runner in the organization) and tremendous defensive ability (ranked the top defensive outfielder in the organization). 

To this point, it would seem that the only thing holding Williams back is what he has done at the plate.  After hitting .349 as a 19-year-old at the low-A NY Penn League Staten Island Yankees in 2011, his average has steadily declined.  In 2012 he hit .298 while splitting the season between single A Charleston and A+ Tampa, and last year his average dropped to .245 (hitting just .153 over 17 games with AA Trenton).

As of this writing, Williams is hitting .193 through 34 games at Trenton.   At 22-years-old there is still plenty of time for him to turn things around at the plate.  His speed and sparkling defensive abilities make it worth the Yankees’ time to be patient while they help him work through his hitting issues.

 Cito Culver- A 21-year-old shortstop who was a first round pick in the 2010 draft, the Rochester native is a defensive star with a cannon for an arm and great speed to boot.  Like Williams, the drawback to Culver has been what he’s accomplished at the plate. 

Since 2010, Culver has slowly worked his way from the Gulf Coast league (rookie level) to the NY/Penn league (Low-A) to the South Atlantic League (A) to, most recently, the Florida State League (High A).  Through 399 minor league games, he carries a .235 batting average; though in 16 games last season at Tampa (FSL) he did hit .355 – perhaps a result of Culver giving up on hitting from the left-side of the plate (he was a switch-hitter, and in an effort to simplify things decided to solely hit right-handed).

This season he has struggled to a .203 average through 32 games.  As with both Hensley and Williams, the Yankees continue to exhibit patience with their young shortstop.  He continues to be used at both the 2nd spot in the order and the 8th spot in the order with Tampa – a sign that they are trying to help him find his “niche” in the lineup.

If he can finally reach his potential offensively, Culver has the tools to one day occupy the ground Derek Jeter currently calls home.

Tyler Austin- Injuries have slowed the progress of the 22-year-old outfielder through the Yankees farm system.  Until a wrist injury last season while with Double-A Trenton, Austin had hit .354 in 2011 and .322 in 2012; belting 23 home runs in 157 games across those two seasons.  

Hampered with a bad wrist, Austin’s 2013 season saw him play in just 83 games with the Thunder, and his home run total dropped to six.

This season began with promise, but he has been limited by a groin injury to just 16 games for Trenton.  He has yet to hit a home run and his average sits at .262, but in the two games since his return he has gone 3 for 9 with two runs scored while batting fifth in the lineup.  Hopefully it is a sign of good things to come for Austin.

Eric Jagielo- In 2013, the 21-year-old third baseman was the first college position player selected by the Yankees with their first pick since 2001 (John-Ford Griffin).  A graduate of the University Of Notre Dame, Jagielo is ranked fifth in the Yankees farm system by Baseball America.

Last year in 54 games the left-handed hitter slugged six home runs and hit .268 for the Gulf Coast League (rookie) Yankees and low-A Staten Island.

Already this season Jagielo has seven home runs over his first 34 games at high-A Tampa.  His average is on the low side at .244, but he hits fifth in the Yankees lineup and is blessed with an above-average arm at a position where the organization desperately needs depth. 

In only his second year of professional baseball, Jagielo is already showing the potential for a meteoric rise through the ranks of the organization.  Given the uncertainty at third base over the past few seasons, it can’t happen fast enough.

There you have it - updates on five of our “baby Bombers”.  Next week we’ll bring you up-to-date on five more future Bronx residents.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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