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June 21, 2006


Staten Island Yankees: June 20th
by Fabian

(Scroll down for SG's take on last night's game)

The score of last night’s Staten Island Yankees-Brooklyn Cyclones game was 13-0 when I left after the fourth inning and 18-0 when all was said and done. As can be expected when an offense puts 18 runs and 19 hits on the board, just about everyone looked good at bat. For those four innings, everything a Cyclones pitcher threw was hit hard. There were line drive singles, doubles, and home runs and when a batter made an out it was usually a hard hit fly ball or a hard hit groundball.

That said, the guys that stood out the most for me, and I tried my best to go into this game with no bias, which wasn’t that difficult considering this is a relatively non-descript SI team at this point, were Wilmer Pino, Wilkins De La Rosa, Kyle Larsen, James Cooper, and Jose Gil.

Of that group, Pino is the guy who I’m least knowledgeable of, but I’m going to keep a closer eye on him following last night’s game. In the at bats that I saw, Pino had two line drive singles and grounded into a double play. He’s said to have good speed and he seemed to do a good job busting down the line on his double play, though it wasn’t stand up and take notice speed. In his at bats Pino appeared to be somewhat of a hacker, but this didn’t hurt him last night as he consistently made good contact with the ball and fouled it off before he got his line drives to drop in fair. Defensively, Pino only had one opportunity while I was in attendance on that opportunity he turned a solid double play. His arm didn’t seem Robinson Cano strong, for instance, but it was one play and I have no idea how hard he was attempting to throw. Clearly, the most impressive aspect of the 20-year-old’s game was his ability to put bat on ball and make good contact. He doesn’t have a large frame, with a listed height of 5’11’’ so it remains to be seen where he can go in the power department, but nonetheless he’s a guy I now want to keep an eye on.

Wilkins De La Rosa was the guy I was most excited to see going into this game as he was a part of last year’s impressive GCL OF featuring him, Tabata, and Jackson, but has been left behind this year due to poor performance during his short time in Charleston as well as a roster crunch exacerbating his situation. De La Rosa, a 21-year-old, grounded out, struck out, walked, and lined out while I was at the game and was involved in 3 plays defensively. At the plate, he demonstrated patience without discipline. To me, an example of this would be when Soriano was on the Yankees and he would get into a slump so he would attempt to “take pitches” to get out of the slump. This consisted of essentially having pitches where he told himself beforehand he wasn’t going to swing and sometimes would even begin stepping out of the box before having the umpire make the call, only to eventually hack away once more. It’s a plate discipline façade. So while De La Rosa certainly seemed more patient than Pino, for example, I don’t think his discipline is superior and in addition his swing seemed a bit loopier/longer than Pino’s swing so while he did have his share of hard hit balls during his at bats, it wasn’t with the consistency of Pino. In the OF, he was never really able to demonstrate what kind of rage he had, so I’m not going to comment on that, but he did demonstrate a good arm in the 1st as he tried to catch a runner advancing from 2nd to 3rd on a fly ball to CF. The throw didn’t catch the runner, but it was a two hopper from relatively deep CF, which is especially impressive given that my life as a Yankee fan has consisted of watching Bernie Williams and Johnny Damon “throw” the ball in.

Kyle Larsen is a guy that some people love for his power potential, but I can’t get myself too excited about a 23-year-old 1B in the NYPL. It was clear why people could like him though. Larsen was 2 for 2 with home runs to RF and RCF as well as a HBP with me in attendance. The first home run was a low line drive that got out of the park in a hurry and the second one was another line drive, but with more arch to it that you knew was gone at the crack of the bat. In addition to performing like one, Larsen looks the part of power-hitter as well with his listed measures of 6’5’’ and 235 pounds. Most days, that wins you the Biggest Baseball Player on the field award, but that was not the case yesterday with the Cyclones behemoth of a 1B, 6’5’’ 262 lb Junior Contreras. Defensively, Larsen’s memorable play involvement was one where he was charged an error on a Tony Roth throw during the 4th inning. I think the play was more Roth’s fault than Larsen’s, and Roth did apologize to the pitcher, but it definitely was a throw most big league 1B handle.

When the Yankees drafted James Cooper last year, my first thought was “organizational filler”. I still think that is the likely future for the 22-year-old, but he has some usefulness. Cooper doesn’t look the part at a stocky 5’10’’ 190, but he does have some speed. Offensively, he didn’t get out of the box quickly, but once he got going he was generating good speed. Defensively, he read the ball well on each of his chances, highlighted by a play in the 2nd inning where he robbed a Cyclones batter of what everyone thought would be a sure line drive double on The Play of the First 4 Innnings.

I’m not sure why the Yankees had such a short leash with him as a member of the Charleston Riverdogs, but Jose Gil was impressive last night. I didn’t see him make any throwing attempts so his arm is still a relatively unknown entity to me. Aside from that he seemed to call a good game as Edgar Soto was able to get through 4 innings unscathed on what the stadium gun, and it could be wrong, had as a fastball topping out at 81 (I’m assuming that MUST be wrong though Soto definitely seemed to be throwing slop). Additionally, he seemed like a leader behind the plate, which is important. What that means is that he was attempting to frame pitches to get calls from the home plate ump as well as heading towards the dugout on borderline 2-strike pitches. This might seem insignificant, but stuff like that does get calls to go your way and is a part of helping your pitcher out as a catcher, especially in situations with less senior umpires. At the plate Gil’s swing was nice and to the ball, which resulted in a line drive single up the middle and into CF as well as a hard hit fly ball to LF.

The SI Yankees seem like a team that should beat up other teams on their way to contending for the NYPL crown once again. Every night won’t be as good as last night, obviously, but they should still be successful. Despite that, they don’t seem to have much in the way of legitimate prospects; they have lots of interesting guys. That’s where you see the effect of the weak ’06 draft class, though the situation in SI could get more interesting if Joba and Kennedy sign and are assigned to that league.

(Scroll down for SG's take on last night's game)