Q&A with Pat McMahon

McMahon likes Andujar's batting potential

We sat down with Yankees Coordinator of International Development Pat McMahon for a Q&A session to get his thoughts on the young crop of prospects at the Yankee Dominican Academy, who might be coming over to the United States soon, how good Miguel Andujar is already, what he likes about towering left-hander Rony Bautista, what the book is on right-hander Angel Rincon, and much, much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's start out at what I believe is the top and that's third baseman Miguel Andujar. What have you seen from him development-wise in the early going and what are your early impressions of him?

Pat McMahon: Miguel Andujar is a young player who is very hitter-ish young man. He's got great hit skills, he's shown a good worth ethic, the ball sticks in his glove defensively, and he's making that transition as a very young player in a very, very positive way. When I use the term 'hitter-ish', he does that, he has more hitting qualities [than most]. He has a wonderful knack of barreling the baseball and good hitters do that. He is somewhat of an advanced hitter in our minds.

PinstripesPlus.com: The book of Wilmer Romero when he first signed was the great tools he possesses and that seems to be the case in my opinion. Have yous seen the hitting starting to catch up with his other tools?

McMahon: He has made tremendous strides defensively and worked extremely hard, so from a defensive package he's working very hard on his skills to improve and perform. From a base running perspective, the same thing, he's working extremely hard on that part of his game. From an offensive perspective he has outstanding power to all fields, [which is not] typical of many young hitters. He's a young man trying to get his power to translate into contact, trying to translate it to game pitching. That takes time and repetitions -- that's our goals for him so he can continue to barrel it to let his power play in the game.

PinstripesPlus.com: Is he a little Melky Mesa-like in that regard then?

McMahon: There are some issues there but he's a different type of player than Melky. Wilmer has outstanding raw power and to get that to translate is what he's working so hard on.

PinstripesPlus.com: Could the same thing be said of outfielder Sandy Brito? The book on him is the great tools but the batting averages have been lacking it seems.

McMahon: Sandy is a switch-hitting young man -- he had a knee injury that he's overcoming. That takes a lot of time. His advancement has been slower with that knee injury. One of our developmental challenges from an offensive perspective is strike zone discipline and strike zone awareness because a lot of these pitchers hitters from Latin America face, balls are all over. Command and accuracy here from a pitching standpoint is different here than what a lot of pitchers from the United States would see. So when we see young players in the Dominican Republic who show strike zone awareness and show a walk [willingness] in the Dominican Republic, it takes special note. Sandy Brito is one of those players. He's working very hard to cut down on his strikeouts but he has shown outstanding advancement in the last year because the knee injury is gone, he's feeling better, he's working hard on his defensive skills and throw skills. Left-handed he hits the ball a long way to all parts of the field. He has a little bit more power left-handed than he does right-handed but he's making strides both ways.

PinstripesPlus.com: Is he quicker than the three stolen bases would suggest he is? It seems so to me.

McMahon: Yes he is. Again, that knee injury really retarded a lot of those base running skills so we're seeing a huge improvement in that area.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about left-handed pitcher Rony Bautista. What have you liked so far?

McMahon: Ooh, he's interesting. Rony is a 6-foot-6ish left-handed pitcher. He's tall with long levers. Making those levers work in sync so often is difficult and the issue becomes command. He's worked extremely hard on his delivery and he's worked extremely hard on location. His breaking ball is a hard breaking ball in the 83 mph range. It's a hard curveball and he has a feel for a changeup. His development is not typical of many young pitcher, in particular tall lanky people. You're going to see a lot of command issues and a lot of strikeouts. That has significantly improved this last Instructional League. It was down to a four to one ratio [strikeouts to walks], which was tremendous. Again, there's some inconsistency with his delivery as he's working through his pitch-packaging and delivery agenda.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know he's an older prospect but I also know a lot of people inside the organization are big fans of Eladio Moronta. Should his age be a concern at this point?

McMahon: It's interesting, one of the things you talk about with age - age can be equated also in playing time so he is a young player. Let's look aside at age for a second. Obviously at 16 or 17 they have a larger window. If one is 22 or 23 the window narrows so the advancement is on the player to improve quickly and to use his tool package. Eladio Moronta is an interesting player. He's a plus-plus runner, plus throw, so you look at him and profile him as a plus defender in centerfield. He's working very hard on his steal break skills and his short game skills to help his hit package because he's such a plus run guy. His player developmental objective plan is a little bit different than a Wilmer Romero for example. His tools are plus-plus run, plus throw, and he's working hard to utilize those skills, and he's shown to hit for some power too.

PinstripesPlus.com: Erickson Leonora has been down there in the Dominican Summer League for a while now and he's hit, he's shown power, he has shown speed, and I know he was tried at second base too -- I know he has to be in the United States next season but do you think he could come here and surprise some folks because even with Yankee fans he seems to have become somewhat of an afterthought now given the amount of time he has spent down there?

McMahon: You bring up a really neat point. When you take a player who is 16, at 16 there is a lot of issues. He's also from Venezuela, not the Dominican, so living away from home at that age -- the social skills can be tough because they don't go home at all. That's a process as a 16-year old away from home and the family. That can weigh into the factors. In Erickson's case we worked him and tried to utilize him in the infield -- anytime you have his kind of package you'd like to see it in the infield -- in his defense he dove back into [the bag] and hurt his shoulder. So he had a shoulder issue for a while. But he had an outstanding season a year ago and dove for a ball and broke his wrist [too]. He is an above average run guy, he's maturing and getting stronger, getting more power and it's starting to play. He's an interesting player in our system that profiles more as a left fielder but can play centerfield. He's doing very well, he's maturing into a very strong young man.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know all too well not to get hung up on DSL stats, either good or bad, but outfielder Mikeson Oliberto had a great year this past season but he too is a little older. Is he somebody to watch?

McMahon: He plays with energy plus and has tools. He's ready to come over [to the United States] and he could surprise some folks.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's switch back to the pitchers for a moment and get an update on Chris Cabrera. He was pitching so well before his rib removal and struggled this year. What's the status with him?

McMahon: His development has been slowed dramatically by that but pitched well in Instructional League and has a real feel for a plus changeup. He's coming back a little better, he's making strides.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about right-hander Jean Batista. What's the book on him?

McMahon: He's a down the line guy. He's an interesting pitcher. He's a tall, lanky right-hander with stuff but command is still an issue right now. He has potential though down the road.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know the numbers were pretty pad for right-hander Eduardo Rivera down there this past season but I've heard some good things about the stuff and at 6-foot-5 he seems to be a guy worth tracking, no?

McMahon: He's going to need some time in the DSL but he's a tall, lanky right-hander that's throwing 96 mph at times and has a good curveball, but his command issues are very difficult right now.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about Angel Rincon, what can you tell us about him?

McMahon: He's an interesting player. He ha a fastball, more of a hard curveball, has feel for a changeup, and his pitch-ability is above average with the chance for an above average change. He's polished enough to come over [to the United States].

PinstripesPlus.com: Right-hander Cesar Vargas struck out a bunch of guys this past season and put up some strong numbers. What can you tell us about him?

McMahon: He's made outstanding strides. He's pitching in the low-90s, has an outstanding curveball, and a good feel for a changeup.

PinstripesPlus.com: Right-hander Erick Canela is another guy who put up some good numbers this past season. What's the book on him?

McMahon: He's not a big frame guy but he has a quick arm, has a big league fastball, a hard curveball and a back-off curveball -- he has two curveballs -- and has a good feel for a changeup. He's a very competitive young man. He's not a big guy. He's a little guy but wiry strong. We're excited about the pitching in the DR at this point. There's some young players that we think have a chance to really perform for us.

PinstripesPlus.com: What can you tell us about right-hander Luis Niebla? He had some outstanding numbers in the DSL this year.

McMahon: He's in the same velo range as most of these guys, 90-92 mph, but he touches 93 mph and has a true 12 to 6 curveball, and he has a pretty good feel for a changeup. He's 20 years old and he's got a good chance to come over next year.

PinstripesPlus.com: Is Edison Mejia a guy worth watching?

McMahon: Yes he is but Edison is a guy who can pitch but has some delivery issues. He has some stuff but he's a command guy that can pitch.

PinstripesPlus.com: Going back to the position players, tell us about catcher Daniel Vavrusa out of the Czech Republic.

McMahon: He's a high makeup guy that's a projectable body, a projectable player that's young. He can really receive, he's working hard to improve his arm throw. He's got the chance to be a good player. He's gap to gap at this point offensively because he's so young.

PinstripesPlus.com: On the subject of catchers, I got a chance to see Eduardo de Oleo at Instructs and he was impressive behind the plate. Can he be Isaias Tejeda-like next year?

McMahon: Receives well, throws, and has a bat. He has really improved in every facet of the game. His hit skills are little bit below Tejeda's but he has an outstanding work ethic. He's a conversion guy [from the outfield] so he's making good strides.

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