2004 Battle Creek Position Prospect Review

The Battle Creek Yankees finished the 2004 season with a 71-68 record and they had some good hitting performances. We will look at the peripherals stats of the Battle Creek positional players. A couple of players look like rising stars while others are finding their future roles in the organization. We will look at the guys who amassed 150 at-bats for Battle Creek and did not accrue 150 or more at-bats at Tampa.

Erold Andrus - LF

A product of the Yankees' Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) team, Andrus repeated Battle Creek again in 2004 after amassing just 140 at-bats in the Midwest League in 2003. At 6'2" and 170 lbs when he was signed as a free agent, Andrus has filled out nicely the last couple of seasons. His power numbers reflect his increased strength, clubbing 12 home runs for Battle Creek in '04...which more than tripled his career total. Andrus tried his hand at 1B in the Instructional League and it could be his permanent position within the next year or two. He's one to keep an eye on.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.291

.338

.421

.064

29.2

553



Matt Carson - RF

The Yankees' 5th round pick of the 2002 draft out of BYU, Carson was the victim of the numbers game prior to the start of the 2004 season. After a decent showing with Battle Creek in '03 (.259-11-52), Carson was blocked by the likes of Rudy Guillen and returned to Battle Creek this past season after a dismal start in Tampa. Aside from posting good peripheral numbers with Battle Creek, Carson also led the team in stolen bases with 21. There's nothing else for him to prove in low-A ball and should be a fixture in the Tampa outfield in 2005 with a quick call-up to AA-Trenton should he do well in the Florida State League.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Tampa

.171

.213

.295

.044

45.5

129

A

Battle Creek

.304

.355

.470

.055

31.9

381



Bryce Kartler - OF

Kartler was the Yankees' 11th round pick in the 2003 draft out of Arizona State University where he was both a pitcher and a hitter. Kartler, used primarily as Battle Creek's fourth outfielder, posted very good numbers despite not getting consistent at-bats. He's a patient hitter with very good gap power but did have some trouble with the strikeout (he struck out 81 times in 92 games). Along with Carson, Kartler does not have more to prove at low-A ball and should take over for Tommy Winrow as Tampa's fourth outfielder in 2005.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.252

.335

.404

.099

31.3

329



Hector Made - SS

Made gets lost in the shuffle when watching the prospects at Battle Creek. At just 19 years old, Made was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League and made a successful jump from the Gulf Coast League in 2003 to low-A ball this past season. His peripheral numbers were quite good, especially considering his age and level. He's a patient hitter with decent speed. As is the case with younger players, Made has a lot of work to do. His 33 errors at shortstop this past season can be somewhat forgiven and he should get better defensively with more seasoning. He'll also have to learn how to steal bases (he was thrown out 10 times in 22 attempts), but Made has the look of a special player. He'll get his chance to showcase his skills in the Florida State League next season with the Tampa Yankees.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.289

.336

.381

.060

24.2

515



Rafael Rodriguez - 2B/3B

A free-agent signing out of the Southeastern League of the Independent Leagues in 2003, Rodriguez logged some time at second base and third base as a valuable utility player for Battle Creek this past season. Rodriguez has some pop in his bat, but will have to learn to take more pitches as he continues to develop. He drew just six walks in 70 games! If he can learn to be more selective at the plate, Rodriguez could prove to be a decent prospect. He has real good power projection as he matures. He could be manning the hot corner for Tampa in 2005 or be the full-time 3B for Charleston, depending on where Eric Duncan begins the season next year.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.297

.316

.438

.027

30.8

219



Tommy Rojas - C

Drafted in the 30th round of the 2000 draft out of Silverado High School in Nevada, Rojas finally showed some of the power scouts projected him to have. Capping off his fourth season in the Yankees' system, Rojas displayed good power and selectivity at the plate despite sharing catching duties with Santos. Santos, who turns 23 in March, will probably get a shot as the full-time catcher for Tampa next season.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.272

.345

.404

.077

30.9

250



Pito Santos - C

Santos, serving at Rojas' backup behind the plate, showed why he is second string on the depth chart. Offensively, Santos did not do anything particularly well for Battle Creek. Chances are he'll be back in low-A ball with Charleston next season for some more seasoning.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.240

.277

.316

.039

22.0

171



John Urick - 1B

The Yankees' 22nd round pick in the 2003 draft out of Oklahoma State University, Urick had a fantastic season for Battle Creek and showed some of the power he displayed in college after not hitting a home run in his professional debut last year with Staten Island. As good as the 15 home runs and 29 doubles were, Urick drew 52 walks in 118 games to be the complete package at the plate. His peripheral numbers are just too good to ignore and it will be interesting to see how he fares when he's the starting first baseman for Tampa next season. Urick's one to keep an eye on!

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.282

.368

.469

.116

39.3

397



Jason Van Meetren - OF

Drafted in the 13th round of the 2001 draft, Van Meetren is from the same home town as Tommy Rojas. He's a very patient hitter, always willing to draw the walk. The problem with Van Meetren is his power. In four minor league seasons he has just 15 career minor league home runs (11 coming in his first two seasons) and that's not going to get it done as a corner outfielder. Van Meetren, who turned 25 in October, was quite old for the Midwest League and is not a factor in the Yankees' long term plans.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.286

.367

.357

.113

17.9

196



Willie Vazquez - UT

A switch hitter, Vazquez played every position on the field except catcher and pitcher for Battle Creek in 2004. His peripherals show he's a patient hitter with decent power and could prove to be a good prospect as a utility player for the Yankees down the road. Signed as a free agent out of Venezuela, Vazquez is still only 21 years old. He's an intriguing prospect, especially because of his versatility. He should have the same role for Tampa next season.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.243

.332

.376

.113

35.2

362



Nick Walsh - UT

A non-drafted rookie free-agent signing in 2004, Walsh played ball at Arizona State and served nicely as a reserve outfielder for Battle Creek in his professional debut. Like Vazquez, Walsh played all over the diamond, including second base and and third base. It's hard to project his development based on such a small sample, but one thing is certain: Walsh is not a power hitter! Walsh, who had just one career home run in 192 career games at Arizona State, is a contact hitter that draws more walks than he strikes out. His future appears to be as a pinch-hitter in the Yankees' system.

Level

Team

AVG.

OBP%

SLG%

BB/PA

XBH

AB

A

Battle Creek

.316

.433

.352

.159

11.3

196



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