Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/18/14
In the past week I’ve seen some amateur events (UF Scout Day, Florida Diamond Club) that I’ll write about here and I’ll be covering the WWBA tournament in Jupiter for ESPN. I also still have lots of instructs reports and extra regular season minor league reports to offload. So, before I move on to all these new topics, here’s the final notes from Yankees instructs, starting with some power arms. I saw two outings from 20-year-old righty Gabe Encinas, a 6th round pick in 2010 out of a California high school. He sat 93-95 in the first outing and 94-96 in the second outing, getting plenty of swings and misses from his plus-plus velocity. He’s got a clean arm but his delivery is a little rough as he’s throws across his body due to the angle he takes on the mound. This makes him tougher on right handed hitters and creates a little more deception, but also makes his delivery much more east-west than is necessary, costing him command. The arm is electric enough that a straight-on delivery would probably be a better fit and his velocity, arm stroke and high three-quarters slot mean he isn’t a matchup specialist type that needs to create deception to succeed. In addition to his four-seam heater, Encinas throws a 78-82 mph curveball that has some trouble staying on top of with tight, short rotation and average potential. He also throws a firm changeup at 85-87 mph that he also can lose up and to his arm-side and has average potential when he can command it in the zone. I’d simplify things as much as possible to see if Encinas can be a starter long-term, but he has the look of a potential late inning reliever if he continues to progress. I also saw Daniel Burawa twice: he also has a plus velocity and has a delivery designed to be tough on right-handers, but it makes more sense than with Encinas. Burawa sits 92-94 with above-average two-seam life and occasionally throws a hard cutter at 91. He has a lower arm slot at three-quarters, lives off his two-seamer, has a long arm stroke and effort in his delivery that means he’ll have to relieve, so going for deception makes more sense here. Burawa also has a three pitch mix, with an 86-87 mph slider that flashes above-average potential with length through the zone and late bite. He can bury this pitch or throw it for a strike, but his overall command is still below-average. Burawa will also mix in a firm 85-87 mph changeup that’s average now and he doesn’t throw it enough to get consistent action (it cuts at times), but will show late darting action, so it could be above-average with work. Minor league relievers can be tough to predict, but there’s 7th inning upside here if the 22-year-old can make some progress next season. Luis Severino is an 18-year-old, live-armed righty that spent this season in the DSL but blew some hitters away in instructs with his 92-94 mph heater. His motion can be a little inconsistent, with an aggressive stride, a longer arm stroke and some effort that can affect his timing and command. That said, he’s very young with a clean arm, big velocity, some idea of where it’s going and will flash an above-average slider at times. His slider is 82-86 and is best at the top of that range. He’ll frequently baby or get around the side of the pitch, but at its best, Severino throws it with three-quarter tilt, length and late bite. I didn’t see a changeup and Severino likely goes to extended spring and short-season next year where he’ll have plenty of time to learn one. There’s some real upside here from a guy that would’ve been a high draft pick if he was eligible. I saw Yanks’ 6th round pick Nick Goody as an amateur this season when he was relieving for LSU. With the Tigers, despite some noise in the delivery, Goody was frequently in the zone at 91-94 with a hard 81-82 mph spike curve. The hook had 11-to-5 tilt and was solid-average when he stayed on top and could command it. In instructs, he showed similar velocity at 92-93 but instead of throwing the curveball, he was using an 86-87 mph changeup. It was a little too firm but showed average potential as a power pitch with good deception via fastball arm speed. Adding an improving changeup gives the 6’1, 190 pound Goody an even better chance to reach his potential as a middle reliever. The Yankees took Jordan Cote in the 3rd round ($725,000 bonus) out of the 2011 draft from a New Hampshire high school and he pitched well this season in the GCL. He has a big 6’4, 220 pound workhorse frame with some projection remaining, along with a clean arm and simple delivery. Cote sat at 88-90 down in the zone with solid command, but late in the outing, he starting throwing a cutter at 87 with plus action that could be his best weapon going forward. Cote also showed a curveball with average potential at 75-79 and a tight slider that’s a third pitch. The current stuff doesn’t blow you away, but there are some things to like here and cold-weather arms typically take longer to develop. Rookie Davis signed for $550,000 as a 14th round pick as a prep arm from the 2011 draft and has some similarities to Cote. At 6’4, 245, Davis has a workhorse frame that is already maxed out, but also sits 88-90, hitting 91 and has a 73-76 mph curveball with 11-to-5 tilt and solid-average potential. Davis has occasional two-seam life to his fastball and while he’s a little better than Cote now, he doesn’t have the same projection. I got a short look at Zach Arneson and there’s some effort to the delivery, but he comes at the hitter with a 92-94 mph fastball that hits 95 and a curveball with 11-to-5 tilt at 82-85 that flashes average potential. The command is just okay and he’ll be a 24 year old reliever next season who hasn’t been above Low-A, so there aren’t a lot of expectations, but velocity always has a chance. With the arms out of the way, I’ll close out this series with some quick thoughts on the hitters I got abbreviated looks at. Cito Culver hasn’t quite lived up to his first round pedigree yet, but there are some tools here. The 20 year old switch hitter has some bat speed, potential average raw power and a solid approach at the plate. He’s had some trouble hitting in games, but should be fine and while he looks a little bigger than the typical shortstop, he has a chance to stick there defensively. The profile is more of a good utility infielder with some versatility, but Culver is still young, still has tools and still has a chance to become an everyday player up the middle. I saw Slade Heathcott a good bit this year and while he looks better, it still appears his shoulder is bothering him. When he has to extend his left shoulder to hit something away from him, he looks tentative and frequently rolls over and hits grounders. That said, this is happening less frequently and his raw tools (above-average speed and raw power) and intense approach give him a chance to surprise people next season. Austin Aune, along with a few other Yankee prospects that haven’t been to full-season ball yet, had some trouble against advanced pitching in instructs. Aune signed in June for $1 million out of the 2nd round as a toolsy prep shortstop and the tools are apparent. He bobbled some balls, looking a little tentative at times at shortstop and let some grounders play him. When Aune’s 6’2, 190 pound frame fills out, his hands and added weight may move him off shortstop, perhaps ultimately to right field but he has a smooth left-handed stroke with some pop that could be a force in time. Aune has limited baseball experience as high-profile Texas prep QB, so I’ll reserve judgment until I see him in a better setting.
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