Q&A with Pat McMahon

McMahon really likes Avelino's chances

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 could Abiatal Avelino be, who stood out at Dominican Instructs, what he has seen from Dallas Martinez development-wise, and much, much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's start out with Dominican Instructs -- who among the pitchers down there, not the American kids but the Latin pitchers, stood out for you?

Pat McMahon: Rony Baustista continues to make tremendous strides in all three of his pitches and in particular his location. That's a guy who I think has become a top guy and worked extremely hard.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let me interrupt for a second because he was a guy who reportedly last year was sitting low to mid-90s, topping out at 97 mph, and was raw mechanically. He looked anything but raw mechanically this year in the States and he wasn't throwing nearly as hard. Is he a guy who has slowed things down in the name of development to iron out the mechanics and throw more strikes now and then worry about powering up later?

McMahon: I think that's a wonderful question and an astute assessment on your part. He's a tall-bodied, left-handed pitcher so his levers work in a lot of different directions. I think through the pitching coaches' work and his individual work the premium part has been spent on location and to pound the strike zone. As a result of that I think he's pitching more rather than just throwing. We're not as concerned with the velo factor, hopefully that will come in time. I think the spin and rotation on his breaking ball has increased significantly and his changeup is a third pitch. He has three quality pitches and your assessment, I see it exactly the same.

PinstripesPlus.com: What have you seen from Dallas Martinez growth-wise over the last calendar year?

McMahon: He's a young Mexican pitcher, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-2 size. He's got a quick, live arm, breaking ball with tight spin, and has a good feel for the changeup. So he's a young performer that is improving consistently. He's working hard on his fastball command and I'm very pleased with his progress.

PinstripesPlus.com: I've seen Giovanny Gallegos and I'm a big fan. How do the two compare? Are they similar?

McMahon: I think you'll see -- not that you clone pitchers but with pitchers from different areas of the world you'll see similar styles and similar deliveries. With Gallegos and Cesar Vargas, Dallas Martinez fits into that mindset. He's got a nice quick arm, a quick breaking ball, and working extremely hard on his delivery. So yes, there are a lot of similarities.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about newly signed pitcher Simon De La Rosa. The word is he's really talented.

McMahon: Simon De La Rosa joined us recently and was here for just a couple of weeks [of Dominican Instructs]. On tape he's got a quick arm, he gets down the hill of the plane very well. He looks like he's a bright young prospect for us. We're very excited about his future career. He's got above average stuff. His fastball has life with downward plane, hard type breaking ball, those are the two quality pitches we set at this point. He's got a great pitcher's frame.

PinstripesPlus.com: I got to see Luis Severino down at Instructs and he reminds me so much of Jose Ramirez; quick arm, plus velocity, breaking ball needs some work, etc. What have you seen from him?

McMahon: He's really interesting. He throws a fastball with life, his breaking ball is more slider spin with tightness, and he's working very hard to create depth with his slider. It's not atypical of many young pitchers but he's a little inconsistent with his secondary pitches at this point. He's working diligently on his changeup too. He's a very exciting prospect for us. He competes, has a quick, live, powerful arm.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Rafael DePaula. We all know he throws hard and has the good breaking ball, but sometimes guys down in the Dominican Summer League don't throw a lot of changeups. Was he throwing it down there and did you like the progress he made with that pitch in particular?

McMahon: Yeah. The thing we like about DePaula is not only is he able to pitch to both sides of the plate with his fastball -- the breaking ball is a work in progress, he's going to be more of a harder slider breaking ball guy at this stage -- his changeup is his third pitch. That's been his goal objective, to work on that pitch. He's made outstanding strides with that. The changeup still has a ways to go.

PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about right-hander Erick Canela. He had an outstanding statistical season this year. Is this guy ready to come over to the States next season?

McMahon: Yeah he's an exciting pitcher for us. He's throwing 92-94 mph. He's not a tall or big guy -- he's 6-foot-1 -- but he's got a quick, live arm and more of a sling in his arm. In other words his breaking ball is powerful. It's a true curveball. He has a firm, hard changeup and he is working hard at backing it off. He's an interesting pitcher for us. He has worked so hard and kind of has emerged from our Latin American staff.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know he pitched here in the States this past season but what are your thoughts on Angel Rincon? He seemed pretty good to me but also seemed to be fastball heavy -- what can you tell us about his secondary pitches?

McMahon: Rincon is a prospect. He has a fastball that comes out of his hand clean and free, the breaking ball is more of a slider type shape, and an outstanding changeup. He's working very hard to continue to work down plane and the ball gets out of his hand very easily.

PinstripesPlus.com: Word is pitcher Chris Cabrera looked really good down there this year, particularly during Dominican Instructs -- is he about ready to come States-side now? Are you liking the progress he's shown since he's come back from the injury?

McMahon: Obviously that injury was a major setback. He's work very hard. The first part of the plan was to get his body back in shape. He's worked diligently on that part of the plan, his body is in great shape. He still works below the fastball a little bit and is trying to throw more down plane. He can spin the ball. He's got above average to plus spin. He really has the chance to push the envelope in getting more consistent. And depending on what happens he could pitch [in the United States] or have more development here [in the Dominican] because missing a whole year and even more than that is really difficult. He's low to mid-90s velo, that's come back very well.

PinstripesPlus.com: Last year you tabbed Eduardo Rivera as a high-ceiling talent but very raw. Obviously the numbers this year weren't very good. Talk about Rivera's progress over the last year. What has he gotten better at?

McMahon: He's a young man with a powerful arm and I want to say he's a projection [guy], not atypical of many young pitchers here learning to pitch in games with command, that's what he's working hard on and refining. As a result of that you're going to see more walks out of some of these guys, guys who haven't pitched a lot in game situations and handle the rigors of a season. He's got an outstanding breaking ball with great spin. The fastball command is his primary goal at this point.

PinstripesPlus.com: Pitcher Reynaldo Polanco was a guy who went back to the Dominican Summer League this past season after pitching in the Gulf Coast League a year ago. His numbers in the GCL weren't great but he showed some good stuff. What was he back there to work on?

McMahon: He's working extremely hard too throwing down plane with fastball command and working on to continue the flow of his arm path. He had some issues where he would jab and stop his arm path, and cut himself out in front. That's what he's working on, trying to create some more freedom out front so he has a little bit better life on his fastball.

PinstripesPlus.com: Of the lower level Latin American guys, who among the position prospects at Dominican Instructs stood out for you?

McMahon: Let's go positionally. Catching-wise Luis Torrens was with us the entire time. He's working hard on his catch skills as a converted [infield] guy. The bat is impressive. His defense is coming along very well. It's something that has to be learned and there will be some issues. Eduardo De Oleo continues to improve with catch and throw skills. A young catcher that we like, Daniel Vavrusa, he's a Czech Republic boy who receives well, blocks primo, throws well, and he really handles a pitching staff extremely well. There are a couple of catchers who are probably a year or so away [from the States] -- one is Jesus Aparacio. Another kid out of Columbia is Alvaro Noriega. They would be at the top of that list.

For corner guys, Renzo Martini is a young Venezuelan who put together an outstanding year on our DSL1 team this past season. He has plus defensive hands and the power is starting to come. He has the chance to be a wonderful hitter. The middle infielders, the second baseman, Bryan Cuevas is doing well. Jose Javier continues to impress. He's plus run, good defense, and has a chance. He can hit, he the chance to be a good player for us. A kid Allison Reyes, his bat might play. He's a little bit [farther] away but he has barrel awareness.

PinstripesPlus.com: Not to cut you off but before you get into your shortstops I wanted to specifically ask about Abiatal Avelino because for me he really, really stood out at Instructs in Tampa. What are your thoughts on him?

McMahon: You've got good eyes Patrick. We're real excited about our shortstop play. Avelino's glove has the chance to be primo. We're really excited about that. He's got barrel awareness at the plate. He had 21 out of 22 stolen bases and has great energy. He has outstanding game awareness. We're very excited about the potential he brings to the table. He has an outstanding work ethic too. He plays well beyond his years right now.

PinstripesPlus.com: Mark Newman was telling us about shortstop Jorge Mateo. What can you tell us about him?

McMahon: Mateo is a very exciting young player for us too. He was injured last year. He was with his family at the beach and got hit with a rock in the head and we had to shut him down. He and Avelino are very close. Jorge Mateo is plus run, exciting run. His bat, he has impact and power, and we're working on strike zone discipline issues at this point as many young players do. He can really, really run though.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about Angel Aguilar? That's another Mark Newman told us about.

McMahon: This group of shortstops -- Avelino, Mateo, Angel Aguilar -- has great game feel for young players. Aguilar really knows how to use his arm. His bat is starting to come. He hit two home runs his last week [of Instructs]. The bat is starting to come. He's a 16-year old, 17-year old player.

PinstripesPlus.com: Where does Yancarlos Baez fit in that group?

McMahon: I'm very excited about this kid. He's just learning to switch-hit left-handed. He's another middle infielder that we're very excited about. Another young infielder with plus skills that just signed is Thairo Estrada; plus run, good arm, and he's an interesting player for us. The bat, he uses the [whole] field and he can use the short game. He's got barrel awareness so he's an interesting player.

PinstripesPlus.com: How about the Christopher Tamarez? I noticed he's been playing more third base. Is he still a shortstop or is he moving over?

McMahon: He's playing third base. He's moved from short to third. He can play shortstop but he's not a real run grade guy and so as a result has moved to third base. He's getting bigger and stronger and a result of that he had an outstanding offensive year in the Dominican. He hit with double power here so [the power] is staring to come.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know Miguel Andujar played in the States but how did he look down at Dominican Instructs?

McMahon: He had an outstanding camp down here. He really made strides offensively. He's really, really exciting for us.

PinstripesPlus.com: Outfielder Wilmer Romero put up some pretty strong numbers this year outside of the walk to strikeout ratio. Is he a guy who is ready to come over to the States next season?

McMahon: I think our hitting coaches here did an outstanding job with Wilmer. He really worked hard on the effort in his swing and his swing mechanics. He had an outstanding summer. He's worked very hard on his defensive skills, his throw skills, and he's a very good base runner although not really a fast base runner. He's got baseball awareness on the bases. The power is there to play so you're going to see some swing and miss with a young player like that.

PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about the progress of Sandy Brito.

McMahon: Sandy Brito is an interesting player. He's a switch-hitter and he's really prided himself on working hard and making tremendous defensive strides. Offensively his strikeouts to walks are way off the charts. He's a tall, lanky guy so there are a lot of levers that are working. He can really impact the baseball. He's working hard to be a little more aggressive and our hitting coaches have made some adjustments to his swing. He has strike zone awareness. Particularly left-handed, he is an impressive young player.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know Daniel Lopez was down there with you guys at Dominican Instructs and he just didn't seem to be the same player in 2012. Talk about his progress there.

McMahon: We've made some adjustments with his swing and he had an outstanding Instructional League. Mikeson Oliberto, who played in the GCL this year, played extremely well too. Those guys have worked extremely hard. The other interesting guy is Alexander Palma.

PinstripesPlus.com: Talk about Palma if you would please because I didn't get a long look at him at Instructs in Tampa.

McMahon: He really, really had an outstanding Instructional League. He's got a nice bat. He can grow. He's a good defender in the outfield and he just needs overall repetitions to help him play the game. He's a real exciting kid.

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