I was guilty of it in my first stint as one of the beat writers in Trenton from 2008-13, and I still am now in my second stint of covering the Yankees Double-A affiliate, albeit in Somerset this time.
In any event, let’s be up front and tell you that, largely, this is going to be a story that focuses on the two consensus top-ten prospects in the organization that will be breaking camp in Bridgewater in Luis Gil and Estevan Florial.
Those’ll be the guys that draw the “clicks,” and that’s the nature of the business.
Sure, from an outside perception, fans can often look at a roster that’s perceived to not have a lot of the organization’s top talent and be disappointed in it. Of Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankees prospects, only two are here, which tells you that the remainder of it is spread out far more generously over the other three full season squads in the farm system.
But this isn’t a *bad* roster. Not by a longshot, really.
As Mosquera said in his availability, there’s a lot to see here.
“There’s a lot of young talent in here, our pitching staff is really good and we have a lot of young players and a lot of talented players,” he said. “A lot of versatility, a lot of speed, we have some power, we have some guys who can put the ball in play. We just hope that we can continue to help them develop and continue to refine their games. It’s time for them to get out there, but I think our team is really well-balanced.”
Between a solid duo of catchers, a big bat like Dermis Garcia, an outfield that’ll see some pretty intense battles for playing time and a bigger than usual pitching staff with some potential high-upside arms, and he would seem to be right, prospect rankings be damned.
So, let’s all actually see how it looks in reality instead of making bad assumptions by what you may want to read on paper, and we’ll all be free to make any judgments — accurate or inaccurate as they may be — once they get a few weeks worth of games under their belt.
Now that we’ve said all that? Let’s talk about Gil and Florial, shall we?
Perhaps indicative of that outside interest, those were the two players made available — by media request, to be clear — in Monday afternoon’s Zoom session, and there was no shortage of questions for either player.
While Gil is universally considered to be the higher-ranked prospect, Florial may be the more intriguing of the two. Entering the 2018 season, he was regarded as a Top 50 prospect in all of baseball, but a broken wrist cost him much of that year. In 2019, it was more of the same, as another broken wrist, this time suffered in big league spring training, again squashed much of his momentum.
Now 23, Florial is hardly an organizational afterthought, as evidenced by a brief big league-call up last season before he ever even got to Double-A for regular season games.
This is, unquestionably, also a very big year to make sure he doesn’t become one.
“For me, every year is big for me, not just this one,” Florial said. “For me, every time I have the opportunity to wear a jersey and can go out there and perform, it’s a blessing. I try to do the best I can, to do better and to help my team win. My first priority is to go out there and be better every time and win a ballgame. It’s to go out there, help each other, and contribute to a win.”
For now, that happens in Somerset, although it’s very possible and perhaps even likely that he could move quickly if he’s able to get off to a strong start.
“Man, I’m real excited,” Florial said. “Everything here is great, absolutely. I was impressed with the facility, locker (room), the field.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Gil, who will make his Double-A debut with his Tuesday night start, although he jokingly was a little unsettled by what he’s seen out of Mother Nature so far in Somerset.
“I like everything around here, but the last couple days, I’ve been seeing the wind has been blowing out,” he said, through an interpreter. “Hopefully by the time the game starts, the wind will go down and will be an advantage for me.”
Gil, only 22 years old, likely doesn’t need much help. With a career 11.5 K/9 thanks to a high 90’s fastball plus a curveball and changeup, he’s blown through the lower levels of the minors quickly, and was impressive during a brief stay in big league spring training this season as well. Like Florial, a fellow member of the Yankees 40-man roster, he too could move quickly if he’s able to find his groove at this level early on.
“I’m really excited and happy to be here,” Gil said. “This’ll be the first time I pitch at the Double-A level. I was actually at the alternate site and did my best to make that team (in Scranton), but my priority right now is to pitch here and get better.”