Scranton Yankees Season In Review

Corban Joseph saw a power boost

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees fell short of the International League Championship title but still had a great season in 2012, finishing the year with the second best record in the entire league at 84-60. We take a look at where was the team's greatest depth, which prospects stood out, which ones could be 'sleeper' prospects down the road, and more.

The Team

They finished second in the 14-team International League in runs scored [667], tied for fourth in the in batting average [.260] and finished fourth in home runs [128]. They also led the league in walks [598], finished third in total bases [1,961] and in OPS [.747], and fourth in stolen bases [101].

While they were not as successful on the mound, they were still better than average in all of the important categories. They finished sixth in ERA [3.86], sixth in strikeouts [1,052], and seventh in WHIP ratio [1.35].

The Greatest Depth

As often is the case with most Triple-A teams, the Scranton squad wasn't exactly loaded with actual big league prospects, although they had a few more than in previous seasons. Perhaps by a small margin though the team had a bit more on the pitching side.

Top Offensive Prospects

Catcher Austin Romine missed the majority of the season with an ailing back and only scraped together 17 games at the Triple-A level. And while his .213 average left little to be desired, the fact that he walked eight times and clubbed three home runs in limited duty were both good signs. He just needs to stay healthy going forward to be a viable big league option for the Yankees.

Second baseman Corban Joseph didn't begin the year in Triple-A either but he had a very solid offensive impact with the club, hitting .266 and more than doubled his previous career-high in home runs [six] with 13 round-trippers at the Triple-A level. He's more okay on the defensive side of the ball than anything but his bat is beginning to look like a legitimate tool as he inches his way closer to the big leagues.

Outfielder Melky Mesa hit just .230 in his 33 Triple-A games but still clubbed nine home runs in limited duty [23 home runs total when including his time in Double-A] and slugged .524 for Scranton overall. He still strikes out a bit too much but his plus-plus defensive abilities and plus power potential are great positives.

The Biggest 'Sleeper'

Utility player Ronnier Mustelier, a 28-year old Cuban native, quietly had one of the most consistent seasons down on the farm for the Yankees. He hit .303 with 32 extra-base hits in 89 Triple-A game and posted a solid .815 OPS -- quite good for a utility guy. He can play some third base, second base, and all three outfield positions, but he's more serviceable defensively at all of them than a standout. He can be used in a pinch though at those spots and he has proven he can be a consistent offensive player if given the opportunity.

The Arms

The Scranton team had a smattering of quality pitching prospects amongst a group of older pitchers, but the top two had disappointing seasons for different reasons.

Top Pitching Prospects

Left-hander Manny Banuelos lasted just six starts before being shelved with elbow problems for the remainder of the season that ultimately ended with Tommy John surgery this offseason. He seemingly had turned a corner too with his control -- going three starts without issuing a walk -- before going down with the injury. At 21 years old, however, he is still a top pitching prospect, especially if he can regain that three-game form he had when he returns.

Right-hander Dellin Betances lasted a bit longer, posting 16 starts with Triple-A Scranton, but he battled control issues all year long, even including his time in Double-A Trenton after he was demoted. He still has electric stuff, including three plus big league pitches, but his 1.88 WHIP ratio and 69 walks in 74 2/3 innings are just bad signs of his control problems not only not getting any better but actually getting worse. He still has big upside.

Most folks remember Adam Warren for his disastrous big league debut but the fact is he had a very, very solid season in Triple-A this year. He posted a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts, including a great 2.98 ERA over his final ten starts. The curveball-slider combo is more average than anything but both have shown above average potential at times. His fastball-changeup combination is good enough though on the days he can't locate his breaking pitches. He's more solid than spectacular but he can be a real innings eater.

Reliever Chase Whitley is kind of the bullpen version of Adam Warren in that he's not overpowering but he just gets the job done with command of quality pitches. His bread and butter is a plus changeup [lefties didn't hit as well off of him as right-handers], and both his fastball and slider are average to above average. He is a real viable middle of the bullpen option for the big league Yankees.

The Biggest 'Sleeper'

Right-hander Preston Claiborne is just a notch below Whitley in the pecking order prospects-wise but he too has solid command of a big league repertoire. His changeup is more average to above average though in comparison to Whitley's, but he can strike batters out a higher clip and he only served up three home runs all year in 2012. If he can keep the ball down like he did this year, he could sneak his way into the middle of the big league bullpen mix.

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