New York Yankees A+ Ball: Tampa Yankees' Season in Review

GregCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2009

The Tampa Yankees had a dominant season, finishing with the best record in the Florida State League in the second half of the season and winning their division.  They went 77-56 overall, good for a .579 winning percentage.

Tampa Yankees MVP

Damon Sublett, 2B/OF: .270/.376/.416 with a wOBA of .367 in 473 plate appearances.

Sublett was drafted in the seventh round of the 2007 draft, and received an above slot bonus from the Yankees.

This award could have gone to Jesus Montero, because he was just that good in his 198 plate appearances in Tampa, but I think Sublett's added playing time and versatility made him the most valuable player in Tampa this season.

After an injury plagued 2008*, where Sublett only got into 42 games for Tampa, he really shined in 2009.  He mostly split time between centerfield and second base, but also played a few games in left field.  TotalZone had him worth -6 runs in centerfield this season, but it was his first attempt at the outfield, so there is definitely room to improve.

(*Sublett has a largely checkered injury history. It's one of the main things hampering his value as a prospect. He had multiple injuries almost every year in college and 2009 was his first season to avoid any serious injury at all.)

In 2007, with Staten Island, Sublett hit eight home runs, but has not been able to duplicate that power in Tampa.  Over 557 Tampa at-bats, he has hit only six home runs.  He has still shown some power, with an ISO of .146(MLB Average: .157) in 2009.

Sublett does strike out more than you'd like, 23.4 percent in 2009, which results in the somewhat low batting averages.  However, he also walks in 14.1 percent of his plate appearances.

I expect Sublett to start next season in Trenton, improve his defense in center field, increase his versatility, and continue hitting the way he has.

Tampa Yankees Pitcher of the Year

D.J. Mitchell, SP: 8-6 record, 103.1 IP, 93 H, 41 R, 33 ER, 1 HR, 38 BB, 83 K, 2.87 ERA, 3.05 FIP.

Mitchell was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 draft and has flat-out dominated since starting this season with the Charleston RiverDogs.  In six starts there, he posted a FIP of 1.85 and a tRA of 1.39, absurdly good numbers.  He was then quickly promoted.

While he didn't maintain his ridiculous Charleston pace, Mitchell was dominant in Tampa, too.  He posted a tRA of 2.49, because of his extreme groundball tendencies.  Mitchell relies on a sinker that sits around 88-90, and it seems to work very well.

In Tampa, Mitchell's GO/AO ratio was a great 3.13, which is quite an addition to a solid 7.05 K/9.  The one concern going forward with Mitchell is his platoon split.  To date, he has struggled versus lefties, giving up a FIP of 3.88 as opposed to a FIP of 2.28 versus righties.  However, he still maintains a ridiculous GO/AO of 3.67 against lefties, which is definitely an encouraging sign.

I also know he has been working on a cutter this season, which would definitely help him improve against lefties.  For a guy who only became a pitcher his junior season of college, he is moving quickly through the farm system.  Next season, he will most likely be starting for Trenton as a 22-year-old.

Tampa Yankees Surprise of the Year

Lance Pendleton, SP: 11-5 record, 104.2 IP, 101 H, 43 R, 30 ER, 1 HR, 31 BB, 87 K, 2.58 ERA, 2.69 FIP.

Pendleton was the Yankees' fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft.  He only pitched 13.2 innings total in 2006 and 2007 because of Tommy John Surgery.  He came back and pitched for Charleston in 2008 and was solid with a 2.86 FIP in 128 innings.  He was 24 and pitching in A-ball, though.

This season, Pendleton has continued to work back to complete strength.  He has been striking out enough guys and walking very few.  There is some reason to think he was a bit lucky in Tampa.  He gives up more flyballs than groundballs and still gave up only 1 HR while pitching for the Tampa Yankees.  That is a HR/9 of .09, completely unsustainable for any pitcher, and especially a flyball one.

Recently, Pendleton was called up to the AA Trenton Thunder and hasn't been quite as dominant.  The main reason for this is that he has given up four home runs in just 44.1 IP, a much more reasonable rate.  He is turning 26 tomorrow, so he would need to be very dominant in AA next season in order to get a shot at the majors.

Personally, I don't see it happening.  I expect him to start in AA next season, and not excel enough to advance to AAA quickly.

Tampa Yankees Disappointment of the Year

Adam Olbrychowski, RP: 3-2 Record, 65.2 IP, 56 H, 23 R, 19 ER, 43 BB, 54 K, 2.60 ERA, 4.21 FIP

Olbrychowski was the Yankees' fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft.  This guy seemed like an odd pick at the time, because he seemingly had no tools that stuck out.  He was basically decent at everything.  I saw him being compared to Tim Norton and George Kontos; that was no high praise at the time.

The Yankees drafted Joba, Ian Kennedy, Zach McAllister, George Kontos, Mark Melancon, and other pitchers who seemingly panned out in 2006, so there were very high expectations for the pitchers taken in the 2007 draft.  This has not turned out to be the case.

Since being drafted, Olbrychowski has never posted a FIP below 4.00.  This season, he was moved to the bullpen with hopes that his stuff would play up in shorter outings.

Olbrychowski is now a 23-year-old reliever who has had no real success in his career.  The Yankees have proven they know what they're doing when drafting right handed pitching, so it's disappointing to see Olbrychowski turning into a bust so quickly.  I assume he'll start at Trenton next season as a reliever, but he could repeat Tampa.