Q&A with Mark Newman

Yankees Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman, responsible for both player development and scouting, sits down for a Q&A session to talk about what he saw at both Instructs; which prospects stood out, which of the Latin American players there we should watch out for next season, to get injury updates on Ravel Santana, Slade Heathcott, and much, much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: First a general question about both Instructs in Tampa and in the Dominican Republic - who stood out for you in those two camps?

Mark Newman: In the camp [in Tampa] from a pitching standpoint, we have a young, smallish right-hander named Manny Barreda. His velocity has jumped. We had him up to 97 mph and he continued to show that. That's been kind of a pleasant surprise. The guy we had in Staten Island named Zach Arneson [has] a big-time fastball [and] really improved his breaking ball, so that was nice. Evan Rutckyj was pretty good; a little more velo, 93 mph. And Jose Ramirez; big arm, 94-96 mph. He struggled off and on this year trying to find a breaking ball and his breaking ball took a couple of steps forward. We're happy about that. Of the new guys Daniel Camarena was real good. He's a left-hander who can pitch and his stuff is better than, not that we had anticipated, but it was pretty good. .

PinstripesPlus.com: Among the position players in Instructs at Tampa?

Newman: Dante [Bichette Jr.] was very good. Miguel Andujar, the 16-year old that we just signed out of the Dominican; he competed. Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez are obviously pretty well established prospects, and he at the same age as those two in this rich, competitive environment for a 16-year old, he really did well. In fact he swung the bat better than those two as 16-year olds in their first mini-camp here. That was impressive.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about the Dominican? Who impressed you at Instructs down there?

Newman: In the DR a couple of our U.S. guys - Jordan Cote did a nice job [and] Hayden Sharp, right-handed pitcher, the slider really started to come on. He's a big strong guy with velo upside. He was a lot of 94s so that was good. Down there we saw some improvements in Juan Rincon, right-handed pitcher; up to 93 [mph] with pitch-ability. Maybe the biggest step forward down there was made by 6-foot-7 left-handed pitcher named Rony Bautista. He was up around 95 mph and we signed him for minimal [money], maybe $70,000 or something like that. He had a hard time throwing strikes a couple of years ago and our coaches down there have done a wonderful job. He's made giant strides. He's 95 mph with a hard-down breaking ball and getting the feel for a changeup, and had a boatload of strikeouts down there. [His breaking ball] is kind of a short-curve, down, hard, swing-and-miss type stuff. So that was good.

PinstripesPlus.com: How about the position players down at Dominican Instructs -- who stood out?

Newman: Eladio Moronta, nice run and throw. He's a real toolsy centerfielder who is starting to swing the bat some. Wilmer Romero, a power-hitting right fielder has made strides. Another outfielder, Erickson Leonora from Venezuela, was also impressive with the bat and can run.

PinstripesPlus.com: The next question that begs asking then is which of these Dominican Summer League guys or new International free agent signs could come over here to the United States next season. Who could pop up like an Isaias Tejeda, Jose Rosario, or Daniel Lopez did this year?

Newman: [Miguel] Andujar is one. Moronta is one. There's a guy named [Mikeson] Oliberto is one. Certainly Rony Bautista is one of those guys. [Among] catchers there's a guy named [Eduardo] de Oleo, he is pretty good. Our guys have done a nice job down there because we have had a lot of guys come here from that program and do well. In so many other situations those kinds of kids come here and struggle but our kids have come here over the past couple of years and have had improved performance at a higher level of competition; their numbers get better. That's encouraging. We had a bunch of them this year; Custodio, Rosario, Lopez, Tejeda, etc. Those guys really performed. Jackson Valera too.

PinstripesPlus.com: Is Valera starting to come around do you think?

Newman: Yep. A couple of years ago I thought 'this isn't looking too good'. He had much better shape, he was much better defensively, and he swung the bat well. In fact at the end of the year in the [GCL] playoffs, as well as Tejeda played they wound up playing Valera a little bit more. We give them the option of playing who you want to play. He made some big-time improvement.

PinstripesPlus.com: You and I have been discussing Ravel Santana ever since he tried out for you guys three years ago. Talk about the year he had this season and please give us an update on the status of his ankle injury.

Newman: The ankle is coming along fine. I saw him -- he just left here to go back home. I saw him in the DR [too] and he's walking around without a boot. He has some more rehab work to do but he's made a fabulous recovery.

PinstripesPlus.com: What did you think of his season?

Newman: Tremendous. He can hit, he can run, he hits for power, he walks, he can play defense, he can really, really, really throw. He's a five-tool guy who needs to learn to not be so hard on himself, but he's a great kid and he really has some ability.

PinstripesPlus.com: I've likened him to Melky Mesa with a much better hit tool. Have you seen that?

Newman: Yep, that's it, there you go. Melky may run a tad better but Ravel doesn't strike out as much, he's got the same kind of power. That's a good comparison there.

PinstripesPlus.com: What's the status with Slade Heathcott? He had another shoulder surgery?

Newman: Yeah he did. He's rehabbing now. He's doing fine. He'll be ready to rock and roll.

PinstripesPlus.com: Was it on the same labrum?

Newman: Yeah but it wasn't torn. He just had to have tacks put in there. He's cool, [it's not nearly as dramatic as the last one].

PinstripesPlus.com: Can you give us an update on the status of Jairo Heredia? He had shoulder surgery, right?

Newman: Yeah he had it but it was a cleanup. Basically it was fine. He's rehabbing in the DR and he'll be here in January, and he's supposed to be okay [by then].

PinstripesPlus.com: Is there a status update on Rafael De Paula or is he still in limbo right now?

Newman: No, we're working on it. It's been a long slog with him but one, he's a good kid. And two, he's got ability. So we're going to continue to work on it. We're providing as much support as we can.

PinstripesPlus.com: So you wouldn't even be able to guesstimate if he'll be here next year?

Newman: I think he will but that's not based on a whole lot of information. From lawyers looking at his case, they seem to think ultimately he'll be okay. I think this guy is going to make it but it's more a feel than a know.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about some of these lower-level guys if you don't mind. Dante Bichette Jr., your first pick this year, was met with a lot of scrutiny for his selection as it seems most of your first round picks usually are. What did you like about his performance this year?

Newman: One, he made adjustments. He started slow. His first couple of weeks were pedestrian at best but he made adjustments and he's a smart kid. He comes from a baseball family so he understands a lot about the game that the normal 18-year old doesn't. I've have people ask me, he's going to play first base, right? No he's going to play third and he's going to play it well. He did a nice job over there. He walks, he uses the field, and he does a lot of good things. He's got some pop as most people knew going into the draft and maybe more than anything his makeup is off the charts. It's Jeter-type stuff. This guy is fabulous. Players love him, he works hard, he leads, he has fun playing - he does all of the things you want a young guy to do. As long he keeps his head screwed on that [same] way, he's going to have a very nice career.

PinstripesPlus.com: Of the Latin American guys who played in the Gulf Coast League this year -- guys like Tejeda, Rosario, Lopez -- the one guy I didn't mention was Claudio Custodio. Which one of those guys do you see making that next step in their development next year? Is it Custodio?

Newman: He can. Rosario can, Tejeda can, Lopez can, Jackson Valera can. Ravel Santana did a lot of things really well. He hit for power and demonstrates plate discipline. All of those guys have certain aspects of the game that they have to upgrade but they are talented. Daniel Lopez? Talented, he can really fly. All of those guys are talented and they performed. Sometimes it's hard to say which one is going to step out, to take the next step. Certainly Ravel you would think would be one of them but several may.

PinstripesPlus.com: Of this year's draftees, among the ones who signed too late to see any significant playing time in the Gulf Coast League, is there a guy we should be paying more attention to for next season? Last year it was Mason Williams, obviously.

Newman: It might be one of those pitchers [we talked about earlier]. It might be Jordan Cote, it might be Joey Maher, it might be Hayden Sharp. Daniel Camarena, certainly. Those guys all have something going on. Jordan looks like may well take a step and Camarena may well take a step forward too. It's awfully hard to predict. We saw when Mason Williams played in the mini-camp last year, it was obvious. When he played in Extended [Spring Training], he was special. Obviously we paid more than we paid our first round pick so we obviously thought going in that there was something special there.

PinstripesPlus.com: On the heels of that answer then it begs the question -- Greg Bird got the highest bonus this year and he seems to at least physically be everything you want in a catcher -- he could be that guy, no?

Newman: If you took a position player -- by the way he was really good in the DR. He hit home runs to the pull-side, he hit home runs to the opposite-field side. He caught and threw fine, much better than we had anticipated, and swung the bat as advertised. He was better defensively than we had anticipated. He's a mature hitter. For the next Mason Williams, it may be him with that level of performance although we haven't had many first-year 19-year olds go into the New York Penn League and hit .350 or whatever he hit.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know Jake Cave didn't get much playing time at all because of the injury but then had that one-on-one time in Tampa after Instructs was over. Would he be a candidate for something like that?

Newman: Yeah he just left a couple of weeks ago. Yeah we're looking forward to seeing him play. Obviously we like him and we like his bat. He'll get a lot of ABs. We missed having him in the DR. He's a get-after-it guy, he's a baseball player. He was rehabbing his knee here and getting stronger. I'm excited to see him.

PinstripesPlus.com: You've got all of these young guys at the lower levels -- I've asked this question before but I'll ask it again -- are you guys still looking at possibly adding another short-season league team in the Appy League?

Newman: It's something we've talked about internally. We have to see how this CBA plays out. We're not exactly sure what the details of it are yet. That's going go impact strategically what we do going forward from a development standpoint. But yeah, we've got a lot of young players now that it would be nice to more at-bats and innings pitched to provide them.

PinstripesPlus.com: I do want to ask about Ramon Flores. He put up some decent numbers this year but there were a lot of times where he seemed to be a heck of a lot better than the numbers he was putting up. Are you pleased with the progress that Flores is showing in the short going?

Newman: He's 19 years old in the South Atlantic League playing everyday for the first time in a full-season and he walked, he hit eleven home runs, he showed some power in a park that's not all that easy to hit them in, so yeah, we're happy with that. We think he did very well.

PinstripesPlus.com: In the past when you and I have talked you talked about not drafting on needs and it certainly has played out that way, but you guys seem to be focusing on the up-the-middle guys; catchers, shortstops, second baseman, and centerfielders. Is that a designed plan or has it just played out that way?

Newman: Well premium positions are hard to find and when we find them we want them. You can't have too many. They're athletic guys and catchers are a special breed. We've been lucky, we've been able to sign some guys in the middle of the field. Now we have to get some corner guys. One of the guys who really had a [good] year was Tyler Austin. I mean you look at his 900 OPS in Staten Island and the 1000 [OPS] in the Gulf Coast League, and he didn't play last year. He was Jake Cave last year, hand, not knee, but boy he played well. That's a corner guy. Certainly Dante is a corner guy. Matt Duran played well, he's a corner guy. You try to build depth and balance in terms of position, in terms of right-left hit, in terms of right-left pitch, and you try to have strength in the various classes of the system. We have a little bit of a dead spot in the middle now but we have some good ones coming so we're pleased with the position players.

PinstripesPlus.com: On that note you mentioned at the beginning of the season that you were not banking on having the same type of season this year down on the farm that you had a year ago, that last year everything broke right in terms of guys staying healthy and guys coming back from injuries. Obviously you had a lot more injuries this season. Where you feel the state of the farm system is right now?

Newman: It's good. Damon [Oppenheimer] in the draft and Donny Rowland on the International side have really made an impact. You see that. We see it in the Dominican, we see it in the Gulf Coast League and Staten Island, we saw with some guys like 'Murph', Gary Sanchez, Flores, do some nice things in Charleston. Those levels were good. What we hope we can do now is build on that but we're good. We're strong. We have some pitching depth in Triple-A. We need to get David Adams back playing because he's a legit guy. And we need to get Slade back playing. Austin Romine is obviously a guy. We need some guys to take a step forward like Zach Nuding who has a big arm and Bryan Mitchell who has a big arm. Matt Tracy is nice find by [scout] Andy Cannizaro, one of our young scouts and former player of ours. [Tracy] did a nice job in Staten Island, a left-hander with stuff. That was cool. He was a $2,000 senior sign. He can locate a fastball and he can get it up to 94 mph, he's got a feel for a changeup. He was a position player and pitched mid-week at Ole Miss. Some of the bullpen guys, Branden Pinder from Long Beach State, Jeff Patterson, our scout out there, did a nice job on him. He's a good looking guy. Arneson is a good looking guy, Paullus out of Memphis has good stuff. Mark Montgomery, nasty slider and big swing-and-miss stuff. So yeah, our system is good.

PinstripesPlus.com: Do you feel the farm system is as deep as it ever has been?

Newman: I don't know that I'd go that far but we've got good depth. We have some position player depth which is good. We had all of that pitching. We took some guys to the big leagues in the last couple of years with Hughes, David Robertson, Nova, Noesi, traded Melancon, traded Ian Kennedy. So we had some pitching depth. That was depth. We're not at that point pitching-wise but position player-wise, shoot, we've got Montero, Romine, Murphy, Sanchez, and Tejeda [among just catchers]....

PinstripesPlus.com: ...I'm still holding out hope for Kyle Higashioka. He's better than he's shown in my opinion.

Newman: Higgy would be a fan favorite in New York if we can get him there. He's a tremendous guy. We've got some shortstops. Cito needs to have a good year next season but he's doing young and doing fine. Custodio and Rosario, that's nice. [With] position players we still have work to do but we're solid. We're good.

PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned the pitching depth at Triple-A. In a lot of the analysis out there not from our site or with interviews with Brian Cashman, the guys always mentioned as potential guys for the rotation are Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and then Banuelos and Betances right behind them, but D.J. Mitchell is hardly ever mentioned. Is he still in the mix?

Newman: Oh yeah, we just put him on the roster. Yeah he is. He's commanding the fastball and lowered the walk rate a little bit, but he's got good movement and he can change speeds. He's a lot like Ramiro Mendoza was at the same stage but Mendoza didn't walk as many guys but they have very similar stuff.

PinstripesPlus.com: True, but in my opinion Mendoza didn't have the same plus secondary pitches that Mitchell has.

Newman: Probably better breaking ball but both have great changeups.

PinstripesPlus.com: You guys are the Yankees, known for spending money, but it seems like you guys in recent years have been doing a better job finding these guys later in the draft. Are you pleased with that ability to find quality prospects later in the draft to help build your depth?

Newman: Yeah. You look at Pinder, Arneson, those guys; Paullus is later, Nuding was later, Tracy was certainly later, Montgomery was later, Brandon Laird was later, and it's the same thing Internationally. Ravel Santana got $150,000. Same with Rosario. Custodio got a little bit more; Mesa not all that much. Noesi got $125,000 and Nova like $80,000. Eduardo Nunez got $125,000 to $150,000. Cano got $150,000. We've been doing well on both sides of the aisle scouting-wise. We've gotten some value from guys that were not considered from the industry to be premium. On the draft side [especially], our guys have done a nice job.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: First a general question about both Instructs in Tampa and in the Dominican Republic - who stood out for you in those two camps?
\r\n
\r\nMark Newman: In the camp [in Tampa] from a pitching standpoint, we have a young, smallish right-hander named Manny Barreda. His velocity has jumped. We had him up to 97 mph and he continued to show that. That's been kind of a pleasant surprise. The guy we had in Staten Island named Zach Arneson [has] a big-time fastball [and] really improved his breaking ball, so that was nice. Evan Rutckyj was pretty good; a little more velo, 93 mph. And Jose Ramirez; big arm, 94-96 mph. He struggled off and on this year trying to find a breaking ball and his breaking ball took a couple of steps forward. We're happy about that. Of the new guys Daniel Camarena was real good. He's a left-hander who can pitch and his stuff is better than, not that we had anticipated, but it was pretty good. .
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Among the position players in Instructs at Tampa?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Dante [Bichette Jr.] was very good. Miguel Andujar, the 16-year old that we just signed out of the Dominican; he competed. Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez are obviously pretty well established prospects, and he at the same age as those two in this rich, competitive environment for a 16-year old, he really did well. In fact he swung the bat better than those two as 16-year olds in their first mini-camp here. That was impressive.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What about the Dominican? Who impressed you at Instructs down there?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: In the DR a couple of our U.S. guys - Jordan Cote did a nice job [and] Hayden Sharp, right-handed pitcher, the slider really started to come on. He's a big strong guy with velo upside. He was a lot of 94s so that was good. Down there we saw some improvements in Juan Rincon, right-handed pitcher; up to 93 [mph] with pitch-ability. Maybe the biggest step forward down there was made by 6-foot-7 left-handed pitcher named Rony Bautista. He was up around 95 mph and we signed him for minimal [money], maybe $70,000 or something like that. He had a hard time throwing strikes a couple of years ago and our coaches down there have done a wonderful job. He's made giant strides. He's 95 mph with a hard-down breaking ball and getting the feel for a changeup, and had a boatload of strikeouts down there. [His breaking ball] is kind of a short-curve, down, hard, swing-and-miss type stuff. So that was good.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: How about the position players down at Dominican Instructs -- who stood out?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Eladio Moronta, nice run and throw. He's a real toolsy centerfielder who is starting to swing the bat some. Wilmer Romero, a power-hitting right fielder has made strides. Another outfielder, Erickson Leonora from Venezuela, was also impressive with the bat and can run.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: The next question that begs asking then is which of these Dominican Summer League guys or new International free agent signs could come over here to the United States next season. Who could pop up like an Isaias Tejeda, Jose Rosario, or Daniel Lopez did this year?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: [Miguel] Andujar is one. Moronta is one. There's a guy named [Mikeson] Oliberto is one. Certainly Rony Bautista is one of those guys. [Among] catchers there's a guy named [Eduardo] de Oleo, he is pretty good. Our guys have done a nice job down there because we have had a lot of guys come here from that program and do well. In so many other situations those kinds of kids come here and struggle but our kids have come here over the past couple of years and have had improved performance at a higher level of competition; their numbers get better. That's encouraging. We had a bunch of them this year; Custodio, Rosario, Lopez, Tejeda, etc. Those guys really performed. Jackson Valera too.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Is Valera starting to come around do you think?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yep. A couple of years ago I thought 'this isn't looking too good'. He had much better shape, he was much better defensively, and he swung the bat well. In fact at the end of the year in the [GCL] playoffs, as well as Tejeda played they wound up playing Valera a little bit more. We give them the option of playing who you want to play. He made some big-time improvement.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: You and I have been discussing Ravel Santana ever since he tried out for you guys three years ago. Talk about the year he had this season and please give us an update on the status of his ankle injury.
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\r\nNewman: The ankle is coming along fine. I saw him -- he just left here to go back home. I saw him in the DR [too] and he's walking around without a boot. He has some more rehab work to do but he's made a fabulous recovery.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What did you think of his season?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Tremendous. He can hit, he can run, he hits for power, he walks, he can play defense, he can really, really, really throw. He's a five-tool guy who needs to learn to not be so hard on himself, but he's a great kid and he really has some ability.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I've likened him to Melky Mesa with a much better hit tool. Have you seen that?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yep, that's it, there you go. Melky may run a tad better but Ravel doesn't strike out as much, he's got the same kind of power. That's a good comparison there.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What's the status with Slade Heathcott? He had another shoulder surgery?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yeah he did. He's rehabbing now. He's doing fine. He'll be ready to rock and roll.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Was it on the same labrum?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yeah but it wasn't torn. He just had to have tacks put in there. He's cool, [it's not nearly as dramatic as the last one].
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Can you give us an update on the status of Jairo Heredia? He had shoulder surgery, right?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yeah he had it but it was a cleanup. Basically it was fine. He's rehabbing in the DR and he'll be here in January, and he's supposed to be okay [by then].
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Is there a status update on Rafael De Paula or is he still in limbo right now?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: No, we're working on it. It's been a long slog with him but one, he's a good kid. And two, he's got ability. So we're going to continue to work on it. We're providing as much support as we can.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: So you wouldn't even be able to guesstimate if he'll be here next year?
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\r\nNewman: I think he will but that's not based on a whole lot of information. From lawyers looking at his case, they seem to think ultimately he'll be okay. I think this guy is going to make it but it's more a feel than a know.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about some of these lower-level guys if you don't mind. Dante Bichette Jr., your first pick this year, was met with a lot of scrutiny for his selection as it seems most of your first round picks usually are. What did you like about his performance this year?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: One, he made adjustments. He started slow. His first couple of weeks were pedestrian at best but he made adjustments and he's a smart kid. He comes from a baseball family so he understands a lot about the game that the normal 18-year old doesn't. I've have people ask me, he's going to play first base, right? No he's going to play third and he's going to play it well. He did a nice job over there. He walks, he uses the field, and he does a lot of good things. He's got some pop as most people knew going into the draft and maybe more than anything his makeup is off the charts. It's Jeter-type stuff. This guy is fabulous. Players love him, he works hard, he leads, he has fun playing - he does all of the things you want a young guy to do. As long he keeps his head screwed on that [same] way, he's going to have a very nice career.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Of the Latin American guys who played in the Gulf Coast League this year -- guys like Tejeda, Rosario, Lopez -- the one guy I didn't mention was Claudio Custodio. Which one of those guys do you see making that next step in their development next year? Is it Custodio?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: He can. Rosario can, Tejeda can, Lopez can, Jackson Valera can. Ravel Santana did a lot of things really well. He hit for power and demonstrates plate discipline. All of those guys have certain aspects of the game that they have to upgrade but they are talented. Daniel Lopez? Talented, he can really fly. All of those guys are talented and they performed. Sometimes it's hard to say which one is going to step out, to take the next step. Certainly Ravel you would think would be one of them but several may.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Of this year's draftees, among the ones who signed too late to see any significant playing time in the Gulf Coast League, is there a guy we should be paying more attention to for next season? Last year it was Mason Williams, obviously.
\r\n
\r\nNewman: It might be one of those pitchers [we talked about earlier]. It might be Jordan Cote, it might be Joey Maher, it might be Hayden Sharp. Daniel Camarena, certainly. Those guys all have something going on. Jordan looks like may well take a step and Camarena may well take a step forward too. It's awfully hard to predict. We saw when Mason Williams played in the mini-camp last year, it was obvious. When he played in Extended [Spring Training], he was special. Obviously we paid more than we paid our first round pick so we obviously thought going in that there was something special there.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: On the heels of that answer then it begs the question -- Greg Bird got the highest bonus this year and he seems to at least physically be everything you want in a catcher -- he could be that guy, no?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: If you took a position player -- by the way he was really good in the DR. He hit home runs to the pull-side, he hit home runs to the opposite-field side. He caught and threw fine, much better than we had anticipated, and swung the bat as advertised. He was better defensively than we had anticipated. He's a mature hitter. For the next Mason Williams, it may be him with that level of performance although we haven't had many first-year 19-year olds go into the New York Penn League and hit .350 or whatever he hit.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I know Jake Cave didn't get much playing time at all because of the injury but then had that one-on-one time in Tampa after Instructs was over. Would he be a candidate for something like that?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yeah he just left a couple of weeks ago. Yeah we're looking forward to seeing him play. Obviously we like him and we like his bat. He'll get a lot of ABs. We missed having him in the DR. He's a get-after-it guy, he's a baseball player. He was rehabbing his knee here and getting stronger. I'm excited to see him.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: You've got all of these young guys at the lower levels -- I've asked this question before but I'll ask it again -- are you guys still looking at possibly adding another short-season league team in the Appy League?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: It's something we've talked about internally. We have to see how this CBA plays out. We're not exactly sure what the details of it are yet. That's going go impact strategically what we do going forward from a development standpoint. But yeah, we've got a lot of young players now that it would be nice to more at-bats and innings pitched to provide them.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: I do want to ask about Ramon Flores. He put up some decent numbers this year but there were a lot of times where he seemed to be a heck of a lot better than the numbers he was putting up. Are you pleased with the progress that Flores is showing in the short going?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: He's 19 years old in the South Atlantic League playing everyday for the first time in a full-season and he walked, he hit eleven home runs, he showed some power in a park that's not all that easy to hit them in, so yeah, we're happy with that. We think he did very well.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: In the past when you and I have talked you talked about not drafting on needs and it certainly has played out that way, but you guys seem to be focusing on the up-the-middle guys; catchers, shortstops, second baseman, and centerfielders. Is that a designed plan or has it just played out that way?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Well premium positions are hard to find and when we find them we want them. You can't have too many. They're athletic guys and catchers are a special breed. We've been lucky, we've been able to sign some guys in the middle of the field. Now we have to get some corner guys. One of the guys who really had a [good] year was Tyler Austin. I mean you look at his 900 OPS in Staten Island and the 1000 [OPS] in the Gulf Coast League, and he didn't play last year. He was Jake Cave last year, hand, not knee, but boy he played well. That's a corner guy. Certainly Dante is a corner guy. Matt Duran played well, he's a corner guy. You try to build depth and balance in terms of position, in terms of right-left hit, in terms of right-left pitch, and you try to have strength in the various classes of the system. We have a little bit of a dead spot in the middle now but we have some good ones coming so we're pleased with the position players.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: On that note you mentioned at the beginning of the season that you were not banking on having the same type of season this year down on the farm that you had a year ago, that last year everything broke right in terms of guys staying healthy and guys coming back from injuries. Obviously you had a lot more injuries this season. Where you feel the state of the farm system is right now?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: It's good. Damon [Oppenheimer] in the draft and Donny Rowland on the International side have really made an impact. You see that. We see it in the Dominican, we see it in the Gulf Coast League and Staten Island, we saw with some guys like 'Murph', Gary Sanchez, Flores, do some nice things in Charleston. Those levels were good. What we hope we can do now is build on that but we're good. We're strong. We have some pitching depth in Triple-A. We need to get David Adams back playing because he's a legit guy. And we need to get Slade back playing. Austin Romine is obviously a guy. We need some guys to take a step forward like Zach Nuding who has a big arm and Bryan Mitchell who has a big arm. Matt Tracy is nice find by [scout] Andy Cannizaro, one of our young scouts and former player of ours. [Tracy] did a nice job in Staten Island, a left-hander with stuff. That was cool. He was a $2,000 senior sign. He can locate a fastball and he can get it up to 94 mph, he's got a feel for a changeup. He was a position player and pitched mid-week at Ole Miss. Some of the bullpen guys, Branden Pinder from Long Beach State, Jeff Patterson, our scout out there, did a nice job on him. He's a good looking guy. Arneson is a good looking guy, Paullus out of Memphis has good stuff. Mark Montgomery, nasty slider and big swing-and-miss stuff. So yeah, our system is good.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Do you feel the farm system is as deep as it ever has been?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: I don't know that I'd go that far but we've got good depth. We have some position player depth which is good. We had all of that pitching. We took some guys to the big leagues in the last couple of years with Hughes, David Robertson, Nova, Noesi, traded Melancon, traded Ian Kennedy. So we had some pitching depth. That was depth. We're not at that point pitching-wise but position player-wise, shoot, we've got Montero, Romine, Murphy, Sanchez, and Tejeda [among just catchers]....
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: ...I'm still holding out hope for Kyle Higashioka. He's better than he's shown in my opinion.
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Higgy would be a fan favorite in New York if we can get him there. He's a tremendous guy. We've got some shortstops. Cito needs to have a good year next season but he's doing young and doing fine. Custodio and Rosario, that's nice. [With] position players we still have work to do but we're solid. We're good.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned the pitching depth at Triple-A. In a lot of the analysis out there not from our site or with interviews with Brian Cashman, the guys always mentioned as potential guys for the rotation are Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and then Banuelos and Betances right behind them, but D.J. Mitchell is hardly ever mentioned. Is he still in the mix?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Oh yeah, we just put him on the roster. Yeah he is. He's commanding the fastball and lowered the walk rate a little bit, but he's got good movement and he can change speeds. He's a lot like Ramiro Mendoza was at the same stage but Mendoza didn't walk as many guys but they have very similar stuff.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: True, but in my opinion Mendoza didn't have the same plus secondary pitches that Mitchell has.
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Probably better breaking ball but both have great changeups.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: You guys are the Yankees, known for spending money, but it seems like you guys in recent years have been doing a better job finding these guys later in the draft. Are you pleased with that ability to find quality prospects later in the draft to help build your depth?
\r\n
\r\nNewman: Yeah. You look at Pinder, Arneson, those guys; Paullus is later, Nuding was later, Tracy was certainly later, Montgomery was later, Brandon Laird was later, and it's the same thing Internationally. Ravel Santana got $150,000. Same with Rosario. Custodio got a little bit more; Mesa not all that much. Noesi got $125,000 and Nova like $80,000. Eduardo Nunez got $125,000 to $150,000. Cano got $150,000. We've been doing well on both sides of the aisle scouting-wise. We've gotten some value from guys that were not considered from the industry to be premium. On the draft side [especially], our guys have done a nice job.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
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