Minor Leagues

Yankees minor league update: July 31

The trade deadline frenzy has already shuffled the Yankees minor league ranks so far and may do so further before 4 p.m., but the Yankees have avoided selling off all of their top prospects so far. Of the generally regarded top 10 Yankees minor league prospects, only one, Blake Rutherford, has been traded away.

The Yankees have moved prospects ranked in the team’s 10-30 range, however, including Ian Clarkin, Zack Littell, and Dietrich Enns. All three had shown some promise, but were deemed moveable due to the Yankees’ abundance of pitching prospects and their Rule 5 draft status (both Clarkin and Littell could have been selected away from the Yankees this winter for virtually nothing.)

There has been plenty of Yankees minor league news. The Yankees added one minor leaguer in their trades, first baseman Ryan McBroom. McBroom has 15 home runs this season, but with a .250 average at age 25, his long-term upside as a prospect is relatively limited.

The Staten Island Yankees threw a no-hitter! Four pitchers, Jhony Brito, Alex Bisacca, Juan de Paula, Justin Kamplain, combined for the effort. None of the pitchers threw more than 4 1/3 innings, and despite five walks, the pitchers struck out 12 batters to complete the no-no.

Up in Triple-A with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, there are a pair of hitting streaks worth noting. Miguel Andujar is riding a 15-game hitting streak with the RailRiders and is hitting .400 with five home runs over that span. His teammate, outfielder Jake Cave, has a streak of his own, accumulating hits in 15 straight games, batting .459 (28-61), also with five home runs during his streak.

This week’s profiles include a mixed bag of Yankees minor league farmhands. This week, we shed some light on an outfielder helped by a change of scenery, two fireman relievers who have stepped up for their respective squads, and a pitcher who hurled a gem on Friday. Here’s more:

Jhalan Jackson– OF- Trenton (AA)– A 7th round pick by the Yankees in 2015, Jackson has warmed up nicely to his promotion to Trenton. In 15 games for the Thunder, he has hit .386 with a very favorable 12:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Jackson had scuffled in 59 games for High-A Tampa earlier this season, batting just .228 with a .311 on-base percentage.

Although it has been a small sample size, Jackson’s hitting has improved enough to post an OPS in Trenton that is over 200 points higher than his number in Tampa. And that’s despite having only three extra-base hits since he moved up. At 24, Jackson was a little old for A-ball, but the Yankees must have seen something in his development as a hitter to warrant the promotion.

Jackson is proving the Yankees made a smart decision to promote him, but he still has some work to do. He has the power to hit for around 20 home runs over a full season, but needs to work on his discipline and cut down on strikeouts to move forward. With a little bit more work, he could profile as a potential fourth outfielder.

Cody Carroll– RHP- Trenton (AA)– Carroll has totaled 68 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings this season, also posting a 2.24 ERA and 1.07 WHIP between Tampa and Trenton. The 24-year-old right-hander has performed consistently across both levels, posting similar ERAs and strikeout rates in similar sample sizes.

Carroll’s walk rate has risen since his promotion to Trenton, which raises some concern, but he has the stuff to work as a late-inning reliever. A converted starter, Carroll had thrown in the low-90s when he started in college, but he now consistently sits between 96 and 98 miles per hour with his fastball. He has also been known to top 100 mph on occasion.

He balances the fastball with a big breaking ball that sits in the high-80s and has significant break. Carroll’s biggest issue has been his control, but if he can refine it and throw more strikes, he has a lot of upside as a reliever. It would not be unreasonable to expect him to work out of the big league bullpen late next season.

Jose Mesa Jr.- RHP- Tampa (A-Advanced)– Mesa is a veteran of the Yankees minor league system, as the Yankees selected him out of high school in the 2012 draft. The 23-year-old has spent most of the season in Tampa, striking out 67 batters in 54 2/3 total innings this season.

The son of the longtime big league reliever Jose Mesa, the right-hander works well with all four of his pitches, a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, a curve, a slider, and a changeup. He lost some time last season to arm injury and has done well this season. It would not be surprising to see him get more time in Trenton in August and September, with a chance to make the majors sometime next season.

Brian Keller– RHP- Tampa (A-Advanced)– Unlike Carroll and Mesa, Keller is being developed as a starter, a role in which he has excelled this season. Keller displayed his talents Friday, when he threw a complete game two-hit shutout for Tampa, striking out nine hitters while walking just one.

Between Charleston and Tampa, Keller, the Yankees’ 39th round pick in last season’s draft, has struck out more than a batter per inning and pitched to a 3.21 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 115 total innings. The 23-year-old’s advanced metrics, his FIP and xFIP, which indicate expected performance, are even better, suggesting his ERA should be even lower. Keller strikes out a lot of batters and induces a lot of ground balls, an excellent combination in a pitcher.

As a college prospect, he could move quite quickly through the Yankees system next year and beyond. Although he’s currently an unranked, under-the-radar prospect, it would not be a shock if he starts pitching his way onto top 30 prospect lists by next season.

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