TAMPA, FL - With rain derailing the Yankees' Instructional League plans for a good portion of the week, they scrapped their original tilt against the Pirates on Friday and played an intrasquad game instead so they could get more work in for their pitchers. It was there that right-hander Gabe Encinas stole the show, bringing some serious stuff on the final day of Instructs.
Encinas pitched two scoreless innings in the seven-inning intrasquad affair and he did walk a batter in each inning, but the stuff was unbelievable. Sitting 94-95 mph with good fastball command, he also showed a plus curveball and a plus changeup at times. He struck out three batters, one of which came on a changeup, and even his two walks came after full counts. He was simply overpowering.
Right-hander Rookie Davis also had it going on. While he did serve up one of the two runs scored in the entire game, he too was showing some really good stuff. He also struck out three batters in his two innings of work, but it was his 1-2-3 second inning against Tyler Austin [0-3, K], Gary Sanchez [1-2, SB, run], and Kyle Roller [1-2, RBI, K] in quick fashion that was truly impressive.
Second baseman Rob Refsnyder certainly has been one of the better hitters in Instructs this year. He led off the game with a ringing double down the left field line for his only hit in two at-bats and his one out was a hard-hit grounder. He really impacted the ball in mini-camp.
Yankees Starting Lineup: Rob Refsnyder, Cito Culver, Angelo Gumbs, Dante Bichette Jr., Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez, Kyle Roller, Rob Segedin, Ravel Santana, and Chris Breen.
Right up there with Refsnyder among impressive position prospects in camp has been Chris Breen. While he didn't have an official at-bat on Friday, he walked both times in his two plate appearances and scored a run. He's proven he has a very good swing for a young player and he's taken his patient approach up a notch or two.
First baseman Greg Bird has arguably been THE most impressive hitter during Instructs this year. He was the only hitter on either team to have a multi-hit game on Friday in a day ruled by pitchers, going 2-3 with a strikeout. Both hits were hard-knock singles to right field and his conclusion to the 2012 season [including Instructs] has him looking like a big-time breakout candidate for 2013.
Bombers Starting Lineup: Jake Cave, Austin Aune, Greg Bird, Saxon Butler, Abiatal Avelino, Peter O'Brien, Miguel Andujar, Daniel Aldrich, Bryan Cuevas, and Alexander Palma.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that stud reliever Mark Montgomery made quick work of his opposition. Sitting 92-94 and once again showing the unhittable slider, he struck out one batter in his lone inning of work -- his final tune-up before going to the Arizona Fall League.
As overpowering as Montgomery was though, right-hander Luis Severino was downright nasty too. Sitting 94 mph and touching 97 mph, he struck out all three batters he faced and was never behind in the count. Stuff-wise and even physically resembling Jose Ramirez, he has the look of a potential impact pitching prospect going forward.
Shortstop Cito Culver, batting left-handed all three times on Friday, hit the ball very hard twice. Though he struck out in his first at-bat, he had a laser RBI single in his second at-bat and lined out sharply to centerfield in his final plate appearance.
Right-hander Hayden Sharp put the bow on a solid first season by striking out four batters in his two scoreless innings of work. Sitting in the 92-95 mph range, he showed a real good slider and while it was a bit inconsistent he also popped a couple of good looking changeups too. He did give up a double and walked a batter in his first inning of work, but he buckled down. He has really grown as a pitcher this year.
Don't overlook third baseman Miguel Andujar. He too has had an impressive camp. Working on going up the middle to the opposite field more, he did just that on Friday, lacing a single to right field in his first at-bat before stealing second base. He struck out in his only other plate appearance but he has looked really good in the batter's box this mini-camp.
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