Alex Yarbrough has some work to do in 2016. The Ole Miss alum, a highly rated prospect in 2015, has fallen out of the top 30 in Baseball America’s rankings of the Los Angeles Angels’ best minor leaguers. Yarbrough, a switch-hitting second baseman, hit .236 with three homers, 48 RBIs and 56 runs in 128 games at Triple-A Salt Lake City last season, not a disaster but less than what was forecast for the 2014 Texas League player of the year. “It now looks like most of the industry was too high on Yarbrough coming into the 2015 season, when he didn’t make adjustments after struggling at the plate in Triple-A and struck out far too often,” BA’s Bill Mitchell wrote on the magazine’s web site. “That’s a big issue since he’s not a good defensive second baseman (14 errors in 2015) and is a below-average runner (one steal).” Yarbrough, 24, a fourth-round pick by the Angels in 2012, is expected to get another shot in Triple-A this season. Sometimes it takes two tours at the same level for things to click.
After a big year in Double-A in 2014, Alex Yarbrough appears to be finding a groove at the Triple-A level with roughly a quarter of the season in the books. The ex-Ole Miss standout has hit .270 with six runs and two RBIs over his last 10 games for Salt Lake in the Los Angeles Angels’ system. His season numbers are up to .256, 19 runs and 14 RBIs in 38 games. Yarbrough, a switch-hitting second baseman, hit .285 with five homers, 77 RBIs, 66 runs and 38 doubles for Arkansas in 2014, winning Texas League player of the year honors. He went to big league spring training this year as a darkhorse candidate for the second base job left vacant by the trade of Howie Kendrick. Yarbrough was 4-for-19 in the spring before he was sent out. Johnny Giavotella, picked up in a trade with Kansas City, emerged as the Angels’ second baseman and has played well this season, batting .274 to date. Yarbrough, 23, rated the team’s No. 14 prospect by mlb.com entering his fourth pro season, figures to get an opportunity at the big league level, if not this summer then surely next spring.
Sifting through the many trade rumors that pile up this time of year, we come across at least one that might be worth keeping an eye on. It could have ramifications for a Mississippi college product, Alex Yarbrough, who is knocking on the big-league door. A writer for Sports on Earth predicts that the Los Angeles Angels will trade veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick to Washington for some young arms. Should that deal go down, it would open the door for former Ole Miss star Yarbrough to take the second base job with the Angels this spring. Yarbrough, 23, is rated the No. 9 prospect in the LA system. He isn’t on the 40-man roster because, as a 2012 draftee, he doesn’t have to be protected yet. True, he hasn’t played above Double-A, but plenty of players have jumped from that level to The Show. Yarbrough is a switch-hitter who batted .285 with five home runs, 77 RBIs, 66 runs and 38 doubles at Arkansas in 2014. He is a .295 career hitter in the minors. Defense is said to be his shortcoming — 10 errors, .982 fielding percentage this past season — but he was an All-SEC defensive player at Ole Miss, so he’s not exactly a liability in the field. The Kendrick-to-Washington trade might not happen this off-season. But Yarbrough appears close enough to being ready that the Angels may be forced to make some kind of move soon to clear a spot. P.S. The roster remake in Atlanta has seen the departure of several former (and well-regarded) Mississippi Braves, including Jason Heyward, Tommy La Stella, Jonny Venters and, possibly, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. But, M-Braves fans will note, there are still 25 alums of the Double-A club on Atlanta’s 40-man roster, including recent additions Jose Peraza and Kyle Kubitza, intriguing prospects who could be in the lineup sometime in 2015.
The Double-A hurdle, which has tripped up many a fine player, has not been a problem for Alex Yarbrough. The former Ole Miss standout, a 6-foot, 195-pound switch-hitting second baseman, is batting .288 with five home runs, 54 RBIs, 32 doubles and 45 runs in 94 games at Arkansas in the Los Angeles Angels system. (Yarbrough’s manager is former Mississippi Braves skipper Phillip Wellman.) Yarbrough, an All-American at UM, was a fourth-round pick in 2012. He established himself as a legit prospect in the high Class A California League in 2013, when he hit .313 with 11 homers and 80 RBIs. If Yarbrough has a problem, it’s that there is another second base prospect — Taylor Lindsey — ahead of him in the pipeline at Triple-A Salt Lake. And the second baseman in the big leagues is Howie Kendrick, who is 31 and having a solid season. But if Yarbrough keeps putting up numbers, a door will open somewhere. … Also in the Angels system now is catcher Wade Wass, the former Meridian Community College slugger who recently signed out of the Cape Cod League (see previous post). Wass, who was a redshirt junior at Alabama in 2014, is 1-for-12 in four games at rookie-level Orem in the Pioneer League.
Alex Yarbrough, the former Ole Miss infielder, is a player worth keeping tabs on in the minors this season. Yarbrough, 22, a switch-hitting second baseman, is a consensus top 10 prospect in the Los Angeles Angels system and received a non-roster invitation to their big league camp. A fourth-round pick out of UM in 2012, he batted .313 with 11 homers, 80 RBIs, 77 runs and 14 steals at Class A Inland Empire in the California League in 2013. Yarbrough’s defense reportedly still needs work. He is expected to spend 2014 at Double-A Arkansas, where his manager will be Phillip Wellman, the former Mississippi Braves skipper.