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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

SSTN Mailbag: Favorite Non-Top Prospect, Back Of The Rotation, And Cashman On Dominguez!


I need baseball.  Hyperbolic?  Probably, but that’s besides the point.  I love the roster building that is front-and-center in the off-season.  By the time we get to mid-January, though, I haven’t seen a professional baseball game in 3 months, and I get itchy to see some baseball again.  I get tired of debating the relative merits of Jordan Montgomery vs. Blake Snell; reading the tea leaves to see how long Scott Boras holds his guys out of signing deals; and even debating; and even devising ways to improve the Yankee roster.  The reality is that by this point of the off-season, 90% of off-season team building is complete.  I’m ready to hear the smack of a ball against a mitt; the sound of a baseball’s seams ripping through the air; the crack of a bat; and the cheers and jeers of the crowd. 

 

Even though Spring Training games don’t count, I wait excitedly for players to report every year.  For those of you who read the comics in the paper, maybe you’ve seen Mother Goose and Grimm.  In one comic, Mother Goose find Grimm sitting outside in a lawn chair in the snow while wearing shorts and sunglasses.  When Mother Goose asks Grimm what he’s doing, he simply replies that it’s pitchers and catchers reporting day.  That cartoon is me.  It’s been cold and snowy where I am, and sadly baseball feels too far away.  That being said, you can be sure that I’ll be outside in my Yankee shirt in February when pitchers and catchers report.

 

As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com.  In this week’s SSTN Mailbag, we’ll talk about my favorite non-top prospect, back of the rotation depth, and Brian Cashman’s recent comments about Jasson Dominguez!  Let’s get at it:

 

Dave asks: All of the prospect lists are starting to come out and I see a lot of varying opinions on the Yankees prospects. What is missing from a lot of the write-ups I read is a discussion about prospects who aren’t at the top of the radar. Maybe those are coming, but I want to know if you could highlight one guy who people aren’t talking about who you think is better than the expectations?

 

Of the write-ups that are available for free, Fangraphs is the only one I know of that really goes deeper into the system.  They do a great job, though some years I agree with the rankings and grades more than others.  This year’s write-up for the Yankees went up in December, and it’s probably the most I’ve disagreed with the evaluation in the last 7 or 8 years.  That said, Fangraphs hits on pretty much everyone you should know about in the Yankees’ system.

 

I am going against the grain a bit with my answer.  This player is unranked on Fangraphs’ rankings, but he is mentioned briefly in the Prospects of Note section: 1B TJ Rumfield.  It is very difficult to crack the prospect rankings as a 1B-only prospect, because the threshold for offensive performance at the position is so high.  Prospects who are 1B-only as their coming up also are usually limited athletically, so there’s even more pressure to develop plus hit and power tools.  Rumfield gets a quick write-up as a balanced hitting prospect who is defensively limited.  I had the pleasure of watching Rumfield play this summer down in Somerset, and I loved what I saw.

 

The numbers are very positive.  Rumfield posts strong walk and strikeout rates while also posting strong contact numbers prior to his first taste of AA.  Beyond the numbers, though, there’s a lot to like about Rumfield’s swing.  The swing is simple and fluid, without a lot of extra triggers and moving parts to manage.  Rumfield has real pop from the left-side, with a fairly level swing that produces line drives at his best.  When the Yankees got Rumfield from the Phillies, he was a groundball machine, but they’ve managed to help him make some swing tweaks without turning him into a launch angle darling.  Rumfield has plenty of raw pop with an ability to make solid contact around the strike zone.

 

I don’t know if Rumfield will be a big league regular at 1B; he has a big strike zone to cover and I’m still not sure if he’ll get to enough of his power as he climbs the ladder against better pitching.  There’s a chance that he won’t make quite enough contact to make an impact offensively.  However, I think he’s a talented ballplayer with enough of a toolbox to make it work at 1B.  It wouldn’t shock me if he makes enough of a jump this year to be in position to spell Rizzo in the second half of the year.

 

Rumfield is a high variance prospect at a non-premium position who doesn’t necessarily get prospect evaluators excited, but I believe enough in his swing and raw skills that I think more people should keep an eye on him.

 

Luke asks: When you look at the guys who will serve as starting pitching depth this season, which guy do you think is most capable of soaking up decent innings?

 

We all want to get excited about the kids at the top of the farm and returning from injury.  Warren, Beeter, and Gil all have talent, but I am very skeptical that Beeter and Gil can start, and I worry about trusting Warrant right out of the gate when he arrives in the Majors.  Learning how to work through a lineup multiple times, even when you have good stuff, is a real learning curve.  It’s great to have these guys around, but I wouldn’t be so sure that they’d be the ultimate answer should a starter go down.

 

The more I watch video, the more I like Cody Poteet.  For those of you who remember Aaron Small, I get some very similar feelings about Poteet.  He’s not flashy, but he has a great change-up and an ability to pitch.  Maybe it’s just the doldrums of January talking, but I’ve convinced myself that Poteet will throw 75+ good innings for the Yankees this year as a swing man and starter.  Given the lack of durability in the Yankees’ rotation, they will need guys like Poteet and Luke Weaver to step up.  I think Poteet has the best mix of experience, stuff, and talent to make that happen.

 

Mark S. asks: Did you see Cashman’s comments about Jasson Dominguez today? It sure sounds like he’ll be with the Yankees when he’s ready to return from surgery. How will that work?

 

This is why I love our readers – I had no idea Cashman said anything about Dominguez yesterday.  Thanks for the tip, Mark!

 

For all we pick on Cashman, I think he said a lot without really saying anything.  When asked when Dominguez will return from TJS, Cashman said that he expected “sometime this summer,” which doesn’t put any pressure on the kid to return in a particular month.  That’s a solid way of speaking for someone who’s had foot-in-mouth disease for years.

 

The comment I found most interesting was this: “We’re going to need him whenever he’s ready.”  Again, Cashman isn’t putting pressure on Dominguez to return, but he also makes it very clear that he expects Dominguez to play games in the Bronx whenever he comes back.  It pretty overtly puts to bed a lot of the speculation that Dominguez would be optioned to AAA when he was healthy.

 

How will the Yankees fit Dominguez in the lineup sometime between June and September?  It almost doesn’t matter right now.  Yes, the Yankees have gained a lot of outfield depth, but injuries can and will happen.  Stanton will not be healthy all season (as Cashman was kind enough to remind us earlier this off-season).  That alone will inevitably free up a spot at some point.  Get all of the talent you can and figure out how to play all of it when you get there.  By the time Dominguez is ready to return, there might well be space in the outfield or at DH for him.  Either way, I’m excited to know that the Yankees plan to assign him to the Bronx when he’s ready.

24 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jan 19

The next debate on SSTN could be which reliever the Yankees go after now that Josh Hader is off the board...Dave Robertson, Robert Stephenson, or Hector Neris? My preference would be Stephenson because he was very effective last season with Tampa Bay, and he is the youngest of the 3 at age 30. Neris is age 34, and Robertson is age 38. But I am going strictly by age, as well as by how good Stephenson was last season.

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autmorsautlibertas
Jan 20
Replying to

Stephenson just agreed to a three year contract with the Angels, per MLB Trade Rumors. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2024/01/angels-to-sign-robert-stephenson.html

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Jonathan Silverberg
Jonathan Silverberg
Jan 19

Yanks just announced claiming Diego Castillo (INF/OF) from Mets, DFA'ing Jeter Downs to make room on 40 man roster

Like

Jonathan Silverberg
Jonathan Silverberg
Jan 19

The Athletic:

Hader and Astros agree on 5 years, $95 mil

Like
Jonathan Silverberg
Jonathan Silverberg
Jan 20
Replying to

Repeat: Curry on Yankee Hot Stove Wednesday: Yanks out on Neris.

Like

jjw49
Jan 19

Amazing scenario.... Dominguez returns from TJ surgery and fans will expect miracles from the kid... reality he will start some games in AAA to get his rythmn back against live pitching and get called by mid-August but to expect anything more is fools gold at this point in mid-January. Expectations need to be tempered.

Like

Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jan 19

So you're saying Rumfield is a known unknown?

Like
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