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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview with John Manuel - Question No. 4

Earlier this month, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question 4: You've mentioned the innings cap (earlier in the conversation). Do you think the Yankees do their kids a disservice with such conservative workloads?

John Manuel: The Yankees know their pitchers better than I do, but to me it'd have to be individualized, so I think an innings cap doesn't make sense, period. ... I think everybody's different.

Jhoulys Chacin of the Rockies is a great example of a guy who, I don't even think the Rockies knew or thought he was that good of a prospect ... I don't think he threw more than 170 innings in either of his two full minor league seasons. I've always thought that it made more sense for a guy to throw.

If you want a player to be able to make a contribution in the major leagues, he's got to be able to pitch a full minor league season and be able to throw 150 innings or so in the minor leagues before he can go to the major leagues. I think Ivan Nova was a good example of that. In his 2010 year, he had 40 innings in the big leagues and he'd thrown 145 in the minors, so he was ready for a full big league load. He'd thrown 180 innings, so he's an example.

I think that's more innings than the Yankees usually let their minor league guys throw. A) That's one of the reasons why I was the low man on Nova, because I thought the Yankees didn't think that highly of him because they let him throw that many innings. And B) I think it prepared him for a full big league season, and they never did that with Joba and they never did that with Phil Hughes, and I think it's been to their detriment.

I won't say they do them a disservice, but I do think it has made it harder for young Yankees starting pitchers to hit the big league ground running.

John Manuel: Were you there for the year (in Trenton) when Phil Hughes had the five-inning limit?

Josh Norris: No. I was still in college.

John Manuel:  That was kind of crazy. He was clearly dominant and they limited him, and I don't think it helped him. He's had some big league success. I'm not sure that it's causation that you can say, because he was handled this way, he hasn't been as successful in the major leagues.

I guess the best way to put it is that there are people in the industry who I've talked to about that, and they think that that could be a factor. It's not like it doesn't get noticed that the Yankees are very careful with their minor league pitchers, but that's more of the industry norm now than out of the norm, but that's starting to change.

You see teams like the Rangers and the Diamondbacks are little more open-minded about it than they used to be, but usually you see guys,  like even an Ian Kennedy, his one full season in the minors was 140-150 innings, and that was pretty much it. The Yankees don't generally let those guys throw more than 150 innings, and that's what's going to happen with Betances and Banuelos. They're going to have to be more efficient even to get to 150. They haven't even been efficient enough to get to 150.


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