Latin Flavor At Instructs This Year

A lot of the Yankees' prospects are preparing for intense one-on-one coaching at the Instructional Leagues, which start on Wednesday, September 17th, and has all the invited players. While there will be some veteran presence at this year's camp, there will also be a heavy Latin American presence at Instructs this year, including many of the top young International free agents.

While youth will be served in the field with the Yankees sending 29 of their 36 position players under the age of 21, there will be a different feel on the mound as the Bombers will be inviting 16 of their 29 pitchers over the age of 21, highlighted by the likes of Manny Banuelos, Tyler Webb, and Mark Montgomery.

Banuelos had a solid first full season back from Tommy John surgery, posting a combined 4.11 ERA over three minor league levels with a 1.24 WHIP ratio and striking out 71 batters in 76.2 innings. Like Banuelos, Montgomery also had a solid season of his own, posting a combined 2.10 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, and striking out 51 batters in 51.1 innings. And Webb, a tenth round pick in the 2013 draft, struck out a whopping 94 batters in just 68.2 innings over three minor league levels in his first full season this year with a combined 3.80 ERA.

Twenty-three year old Nick Goody and 22-year old Gabe Encinas, both of whom returned from Tommy John surgery this year, will continue their way back with some more seasoning at Instructs. Goody showed some great stuff this season, including hitting 97 mph on the radar gun and striking out 46 batters in just 31.1 innings. Encinas, however, while he showed some recovering stuff, struggled on the mound to post a 5.26 ERA in just 14 games for the Charleston RiverDogs.

Right-hander Luis Severino [2.46 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 127 strikeouts in 113.1 innings], Nick Rumbelow [2.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 81 strikeouts in 58.1 innings], Danny Burawa [4.70 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts in 59.1 innings], Cesar Vargas [2.58 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in 69.2 innings], and Philip Walby [4.21 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 61 strikeouts in 51.1 innings], and left-handers Jacob Lindgren [2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts in 25 innings] and Conner Kendrick [5.78 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, and 62 strikeouts in 76.1 innings] are the only other pitchers attending Instructs who pitched in high-A ball or higher this season.

Right-handers Andury Acevedo [24], Cale Coshow [22], Jonathan Holder [21], David Palladino [21], Manolo Reyes [24], and left-hander Rony Bautista [22] all saw significant time in Staten Island this year and will be attending Instructs, as will right-handers Andy Beresford [24] and Rookie Davis [21], and left-hander Omar Luis [21] from the Charleston RiverDogs' roster.

There will be some youth and inexperience toeing the rubber at Instructs this year, including Dominican Summer League standout right-handers Anyelo Gomez [21] and Daris Vargas [22], and Gulf Coast League right-handers Domingo Acevedo [20], Simon De La Rosa [21], and Melvin Morla [21].

The Yankees will be sending just three teenage hurlers to Instructs this year, including right-hander Austin DeCarr [19], this year's third round pick, RHP Alexander Vargas [17], one of this year's top International free agent pitcher signings, and left-hander Anderson Severino [19], who served a 50-game suspension this year following positive tests under the minor league drug program.

Some Experience Behind The Plate

The Yankees will be sending six catchers in all to Instructs this year, five of whom have at least played in the United States already and four of which have at least played in short-season A-ball already.

Eighteen year old Luis Torrens highlights this year's group. He hit a respectable .256 over three minor league levels this season while dealing with a nagging shoulder injury.

Both Eduardo De Oleo [.214 with 12 home runs for low-A Charleston] and Alvaro Noriega [.252, 0 home runs for GCL Yankees2] will be making their second straight Instructional League appearance, and 22-year old Isaias Tejeda [.276, 15 doubles, 6 home runs for Staten Island] and 24-year old Trent Garrison [.254, one home run for the Tampa Yankees provide some "veteran" presence behind the plate.

This year's Instructional League will be the first extended look at newly signed catcher Miguel Flames. The former third baseman turned catcher will turn 17 years old on September 14th and he's been noted for his great eye at the plate and plus power potential.

First Looks In The Infield

Flames isn't the only newly signed International free agent set to debut at Instructs this year. Shortstops Diego Castillo [16], Dermis Garcia [16], Wilkerman Garcia [16], and Hoy Jun Park [18], as well as 16-year old third baseman Nelson Gomez are all slated to be in Tampa for this year's camp. Gomez and the two Garcias in particular are notable burgeoning power-hitting prospects, and both Castillo and Park are lauded for their advanced defensive games already.

It won't be just the new signees flashing their tools at the minor league complex in Tampa, however. Nineteen year old shortstop Jorge Mateo [.276, 17 stolen bases in 15 games] and his sky-high skillset will also be there, as will 19-year old shortstop Angel Aguilar [.311, 7 home runs, 8 stolen bases for GCL Yankees2] and 18-year old shortstop Thairo Estrada [.272, 8 stolen bases for two teams].

Miguel Andujar [.267, 10 home runs, 70 RBI in Charleston], Gosuke Katoh [.222, 71 walks, 20 stolen bases in Charleston this year], Tyler Wade [.272, 24 doubles, 22 stolen bases in Charleston], and Drew Bridges [.222, 5 home runs for GCL Yankees2], all of whom are 19 years old, give the Yankees an extremely young infield at Instructs this year.

The only non-teenage infielders going to camp this year in fact are Chris Breen [20], Vincent Conde [20], Cito Culver [22], Ty McFarland [22], Greg Bird [21], and Eric Jagielo [22]. Bird and Jagielo will be attending camp merely as a warmup before their trip to the Arizona Fall League.

Youth In The Outfield Too

The Yankees are sending twelve outfield prospects to Instructs this year and only four of them [Mason Williams, Michael O'Neill, Ericson Leonora, and Dustin Fowler] have seen any significant at-bats in the long-season leagues thus far, and Fowler, still just 19 years old, hit a respectable .257 with nine home runs for low-A Charleston this season.

Outside of those four, the only other outfielders who have played above the rookie levels are Austin Aune and Nathan Mikolas, drafted in the second and third rounds respectively back in 2012. Both are coming off of disappointing showings in Staten Island this year, hitting just .218 and and .225 respectively, but both are still quite young.

The only other outfielders attending camp who were part of the Yankee organization a year ago are Leonardo Molina [17], last year's top International free agent signing, and Alexander Palma [18]. Molina hit just .193 with one home run in his debut season this year with the Gulf Coast League Yankees but has been lauded for his advanced approach and Palma hit .305 with four home runs and just 15 strikeouts in 52 games with the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

The rest of the outfielders -- Jonathan Amundaray [16], Juan de Leon [17], Reymundo Moreno [16], and Carlos Vidal [18] -- are all first-year pros. Only Vidal has made his debut in pinstripes among the quartet, hitting a ridiculous .361 with ten more walks [42] than strikeouts [32] in the Dominican Summer League this year. de Leon signed for $2 million and both Moreno and Amundary are noted for their 5-tool potential.

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