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New York Yankees Top 21 Prospects: 2013 Review

yankeesPI2012

The 2013 season is over and we are taking a look back at the preseason Top 21′s. We’re looking at what was said preseason and what the point of view is now with the season at a close and entering the heart of the winter.

We’ll be following up with our 2014 Top 21′s and this is to give us a head start on breaking down each system, looking for the prospects of 2014 and beyond.

Let’s take a look back at the New York Yankees starting with catcher Gary Sanchez.

 

1. Gary Sanchez, C 12/2/1992 H:6’2″ W”220 – Sanchez had a rebound season with the bat in 2012. But that isn’t where the biggest development actually came from. His defense took a step forward and then another. His arm is above average, but in the past he was limited in his use of it because of poor footwork and setups.

In 2012 his work behind the plate began to show and he caught 30% of base stealers last year while blocking a lot more pitches and remaining an effective theft deterrent. As I mentioned last year, all of his focus on his defensive game, both in game and between, had begun to weigh on his offensive game. This year, both began to come together. He has plus power and pounds left handers. He’s effective against righties as well and should only get better against them as he matures.

Our Instinct: Sanchez K rate has remained solid at a slightly high 23%. Not ideal, and the reason I still don’t project a .300 hitter. But his power is there for a true 30 HR catcher and his defense is on target to be above average or better. There is little in his way to claim the catcher spot in the Bronx and if he remains on target with his development, we should see him within a couple of seasons. He’ll start 2013 in High-A FSL, so expect a little power outage. Once he bumps to Double-A toward the end of the season, expect the power to flourish. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: The little power outage occurred at High-A where he did he 13 HR in 399 PAs. But his K rate came down to 17.8% and his walk rate was solid at 7%. He bumped to AA and remained a more patient hitter. His power is going to be there. So the peripheral improvements are noteworthy. His AVG was dragged down by a low BABIP so a rebound in 2014 is probable. Expect him to remain in AA to start the season but the potential for a fast track could be there for 2014.

 

2. Mason Williams, OF 8/21/1991  H:6’0″ W:150 – Williams is one of the toolsiest players in the Yankees system. He has wiry strength and plus plus speed. He doesn’t utilize his speed as much as he should at this point and his power is average right now. But he’s a ranging CF with an average arm and should hold the position down at the highest level without much issue.

The biggest concerns at this point are his plate discipline and then his base-stealing acumen once he does get on. His tool set would indicate a need for a higher OBP than the .359 he posted in low-A last season. His walk rate of 6.8% is the culprit and it dropped to 3.5% when he was bumped to High-A Tampa. There’s still development here for Williams and he’ll need to start back in High-A to work on his approach, make his hitting mechanics more repeatable and concentrate on being a table-setter.

Our Instinct: If Williams is to become that top of the order presence, then he has to raise his OBP and find more ways to get on and refine his base-stealing. He has 15+ HR potential, especially as a lefty in Yankee Stadium. His SB potential is higher near the 30 SB range. His BABIP was low over both levels last year, so he’s projecting out as a .285 hitter with a possible shot at some .300 seasons. As I mentioned, he’ll head back to Tampa and if all breaks well he’ll need one more season in Double-A before becoming a factor for the Yankees. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: Williams had just 15 SB in 2013 and his low OBP is the reason. He had a solid albeit unspectacular FSL season. He needs to refine the approach and take more walks in order utilize his speed and adapt his average power to more production. He should spend all of 2014 in AA.

 

3. Tyler Austin, OF 9/6/1991 H:6’2″ W:200 – Austin was an unsung prospect heading into 2012 despite posting a .354/.418/.579 line in his 2011 debut. His numbers didn’t go unnoticed everywhere though and he hit the 252° spot in our 2012 360°:

252°. Tyler Austin, 3B, Yankees, 9/6/1991 (NYY) – Austin is a big 3B that is flashing the bat in a major way so far. His K rates are solid and he knows how to take a walk. It’s his current power output that makes him a high-end prospect. With his size you can estimate that the power is legit. But as he moves up the ladder he’ll need to continue to refine his approach and keep the K rates in check. Whether he sticks at 3B is still not a clear picture. He’ll start 2012 at Low-A Staten Island and should see Charleston at some point as well. ETA 2016.

Austin actually started the season in Full Season ball for Charleston and he raked, batting .320 with a .278 IsoP. He earned a promotion to High-A Tampa and then onward to Trenton, all the while staying productive. His BABIP continues to remain very high despite his LD% being very stable in the 16% range over his career. Eventually the BABIP will normalize, but he’s holding close to the fact that he’s a .300 hitter with above average power. His bat speed is legit and his short stroke is conducive to maintaining a solid hit tool.

Our Instinct: Austin should now start the year in Double-A. A huge jump from our guesstimate last preseason. But his hit tool is there and he’s not far from making an impact in the majors. He should be the first of the Big 3 to hit the Bronx. As with any prospect, projecting a potential .300 hitter is difficult. But Austin has the bat to do that and his power will be a surprise because it isn’t done developing. Expect additional power to show itself in Double-A in 2013. ETA: 2014

2013 in Review: An injury riddled season masked some of his power development. His start point in 2014 isn’t clear but more time in AA with Sanchez and Williams would provide him the proper environment to rebound on a lackluster season. His walk rate remained very strong despite the power outage so a repeat should yield good results.

 

4. Jose Campos, RHP 7/27/1992 H:6’4″ W:195 – If I was convinced that Campos elbow was sound he might be the #2 prospect in this system. But as it stands, he missed almost the entire 2012 season with a mystery elbow injury and every contact I have says that he should be able to begin the season at full health.

He is slated to begin the season in Charleston. If he’s healthy, he’ll breeze through Low-A and take his mid 90s fastball with life, his 12-6 curve, and his changeup to High-A Tampa where he should catch up with some of the top talent in the system. Campos’ command has been what sets him apart from other young pure throwers. He’s already a pitcher and his approach will only become more refined as he moves up the ladder. We said it when the trade with Seattle took place, Campos is going to be a huge part of that deal and the part that, if he’s truly healthy, tilts the scales in the Yankees favor.

Our Instinct: If Campos is healthy, he’s the top SP prospect in this system. He has the pitch mix and command of a top flight starter and reports are that he’s ready to go in 2013. He should make a major impact in the FSL this season, but needs to build up innings again after throwing just 24.2 last season. Expect a slow start to the season with innings limits and then building up to full starts by the time he reaches High-A. Expect 100 IP this year and that would put him on pace for approx 140 innings in Double-A next year. Then the gloves will come off and he’ll be expected to get a full range of innings and be ready for the rotation sometime shortly after he reaches Triple-A. With the injury risk, his downside is there, but he has top of the rotation stuff right now, is young enough to refine his secondaries, and the Yankees, for the first time in a long time, look to be ready to build from within. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: He never quite reached High-A, but the innings reached 87 and he had a successful return to the mound. A 2.83 FIP with a 21.6% K rate and low 4.5% walk rate. Everything that could be viewed as a strong indicator was there. The challenge will now come when he finally reaches High-A again and the gloves come off. 

 

5. Slade Heathcott, OF 9/28/1990 H:6’0″ W:195 - Heathcott has louder overall tools than Mason Williams, but he’s still a very raw hitter. He’s never logged more than 300 AB in a single season and injuries have derailed his development time the past two seasons. Despite the large amount of time missed, Heathcott has already made it to High-A Tampa. His 2012 season was a microcosm of his talents and potential future struggles. He hit .307 and that is getting him noticed at a higher level than he was heading into 2012. That .307 AVG in the FSL was powered by a .421 BABIP. It’s an unsustainable number.

The only thing that will save a collapse of the AVG is the approach he took in the AFL where he almost walked as much as he struck out. A huge change from the 66 K’s he put up in 215 FSL At-Bats last year.

But the tools are there for Heathcott. His power is there at the above average range and still developing and his speed is plus as well. That speed helps him range in CF, and his arm, despite the shoulder surgeries, is still at least average or better.

Our Instinct: Chances are good that Heathcott will be pushed to a corner spot by Williams who is a more polished talent. Heathcott should return to the FSL for a half season, but news is that he will be in Double-A. If that occurs, there are two scenarios: his BABIP normalizes and his AVG plummets causing him to press and struggle; or his discipline took a leap during the AFL and he will begin to flash the above average power with a 20+ HR season. He has all the talent and the all out gamer mentality to succeed. But he needs time and past injuries may now be forcing him to the fast track 500 ABs before he’s ready to make the jump. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: Well the BABIP normalized and his AVG dipped to the .261 mark. His power still remains average as does his speed. But with no plus tools a move to LF will press his offensive capabilities at this point. The is enough talent here that the power tool could make a leap but as I mentioned, he is now knocking on the door and the chance to succeed in NY will come with a very small window of opportunity.

 

6. Ty Hensley, RHP 7/30/1993 H:6’4″ W:220 - The 1st round pick of the Yankees in the 2012 draft. Hensley went #30 overall. Considering that we had him ranked as the #13 overall talent, it’s safe to say we think the Yankees got a hold of a steal late in the 1st. This was the Draft Preview of Hensley:

13. Ty Hensley RHP Santa Fe HS, Edmond, Okla. - Hensley is a solid 6’5″ and 220 lbs with a plus fastball that has spiked in 2012 to the mid 90s touching 97. He holds his velocity deep into games and when his mechanics are in tune his curveball is a plus major league pitch. He scrapped his changeup in 2012, which had been a developing offering.

Our Instinct - Hensley is a solid framed righty with premium velocity and a power curveball that is already near plus. He has some minor mechanical issues but nothing to hold him back. I don’t see a reason why he can’t pick up where he left off with the changeup and add it back into his arsenal is short order. His arm speed and slot are conducive to a changeup and if it develops as hoped he has mid rotation stuff or better.

Hensley is right there. Mid 90s fastball, touching 97. His curve is better than pre-draft and he’s already making strides on reintroducing the changeup. He spent time in the Dominican Instructs working one on one with Nardi Contreras who is the Yankees pitching coordinator. He’s polished enough to start in full season ball.

Our Instinct: Hensley has the two pitches needed to be a front of the rotation starter. His changeup and obviously his maturity are still a work in progress. He will need time to fully develop the changeup and how far along he can take it will determine if he is a front of the rotation starter, mid-level or ends up in the bullpen. The spectrum here is wide. But a mid-rotation floor with #2 starter upside is the current projection. He may actually add some velocity as he matures physically, so he should be able to maintain the premium fastball even as he becomes more fine with his control. Low-A Charleston to start the year sounds like the assignment being handed down. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: Hip surgery in April relegated Hensley to a DNP in 2013. He pitched in extended Spring Training though. He should have the green light once the 2014 season rolls in and that assignment to Low-A could finally come due.

 

7. Manny Banuelos, LHP 3/13/1991 H:5’11″ W:200 – The Yankees top prospect a year ago, post-Montero. He had been one of the tops in the system since signing in 2008, but established himself as a legitimate SP in 2009 and then held his new found velocity into his 2010 season where his true breakout occurred. He followed that campaign up by dominating in 2011′s Spring Training, garnering attention to the point of vying for a possible rotation spot. The only thing that kept him from earning that spot was a stacked and highly money leveraged rotation. So Banuelos went to Double-A and from there, lost his command, which had been above average the prior season and elite during Spring Training.

The 2011 campaign still had him flashing the plus stuff with his low to mid 90s fastball and his plus changeup with tumble and fade. His curve was a third pitch and when he could harness it there was above average potential. But his walk rate spiked in Triple-A and with that he struggled to make it back to NY. It’s possible that the injury was there during the 2011 season and just hit him fully at the start of 2012.

Tommy John surgery has a high percentage for a  full recovery, so while he will miss the entire 2013 season, he will be just 23 when he returns in 2014. The recovery should give him ample time to refine some of the command issues and without his premium fastball coming out of the recovery he will be forced to pitch instead of throw. Then, as his fastball velocity comes back, he should be a better pitcher for having gone through the recovery. This is not much different then when Jarrod Parker of the Athletics came back from TJ.

Our Instinct: The surgery obviously sets his time table back. But after he returns to the mound in 2014, his time table puts him on target for a season in the minors to regain his command and then his velocity. If done properly he should overcome his 2011 inconsistency within the strike zone. He has the 3 pitch mix to be successful inside the rotation and his upside of a #2 is still there based on his fastball and changeup, with a solid floor of a back of the rotation starter. His build doesn’t project an ace, so mid rotation starter with solid K rates is solid projection. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: Missed all of 2013 rehabbing back from October TJ surgery. He will be back on the prospect radars come April and after knocking the rust off in either AA or AAA he will be a possible call up to NY toward the end of 2014. TJ does not change the future outlook.

 

8. Rafael DePaula, RHP 3/24/1991 H:6’2″ W:210 - DePaula hasn’t even made it stateside yet, having major issues with his paperwork and a suspension from MLB before ever even signing a contract. His paperwork is finally cleared up and after a year and half of working out at the Yankees Dominican Complex, DePaula signed with the Yankees officially and made a stellar debut in the DSL. He struck out 85 in just 62 innings and only walked 18. He was 21 in the DSL and the kids there really never stood a chance against him. So we take those numbers with a grain of salt.

DePaula has a mid 90s fastball touching 98+ and he holds it deep into games. He pairs it with a hard breaking curveball and a change with solid fade. Both secondaries are still being refined, but project out as at least average. He’s currently a diamond in the rough, but his size and ability to repeat his mechanics bode well for his jump to the States.

Our Instinct: DePaula is going to be pressed in his US debut. There is even talk about him debuting in High-A and bypassinig the GCL, NY-Penn and the Sally and heading straight to the FSL. If that happens he’ll be throwing to the Yankees catcher of the future, and fellow Dominican, Gary Sanchez. That could be well thought out. Plus the FSL deflates power production some which could help DePaula in the short term. If he can refine the changeup he has dominant stuff and has the best upside to become a force in the rotation. He’s already 22, so expect the ride to be a short one, for better or for worse. If he flames out as a SP he’ll find himself a dominant bullpen arm type. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: DePaula got a start in Low-A and he dominated the Sally, rising quickly on prospect radars. His move to the FSL didn’t go off quite as dominantly as his time in the Sally League, but still successful for a fast tracked player. His 6.06 ERA in the FSL was inflated by bad luck, but I wouldn’t expect his 2.94 ERA in the Sally to be the bench mark. If he settles in a 3-3.50 ERA it will be a solid high K rate production because even as his ERA inflated his K rate stayed above 20% in the FSL. Expect him to build strength and bounceback in a repeat of High-A.

 

9. Mark Montgomery, RHP 8/30/1990 H:5’11″ W:205 - The first of the RP that will show up on the list. We tend to lean away from RP simply because so many RP come from SP turned RP. But Montgomery is an anomaly since he has pure RP stuff in his low 90s fastball with movement that he commands and a plus plus slider that is rare for any pitcher.

The slider gives him one of the top strike out pitches in the entire system if not the entire minor leagues. It’s afforded him more than 13 k per 9 and that doesn’t seem like something that will change as he advances closer towards the Bronx. He also uses a changeup at times to combat lefties a little better but the slider is even highly effective against them as well.

Our Instinct: NY is a difficult place to take on a premium role such as closing out games. Well, Mo hasn’t exactly given many opportunities for anyone else. But after the 2013 season, the greatest closer in the history of the game will retire, leaving NY with a gaping hole to be filled. Montgomery has the stuff to battle David Robertson or any Free Agent that they may bring in. He could be the future closer for this team. His floor is probably a dominant RP specialist against righties and a solid chance of at least taking David Robertson’s set up man spot if Robertson ultimately wins out as the future closer. ETA: 2013

2013 in Review: An injury riddled season with shoulder issues derailed his season and shoulder issues are never pretty. There hasn’t been an talk of surgery though. He’ll start the season with the Yankees in ST and if he’s healthy he could break camp with them. If not he’ll be back to AAA to prove his health. His stuff has never been the question.

 

10. Angelo Gumbs, 2B 10/13/1992 H:6’0″ W:175 – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, Gumbs has been paired with 2010 1st rounder Cito Culver. I voiced my questions about the Culver pick during the draft and Gumbs has proven to be the better player so far. Gumbs shifted to 2B to accommodate Culver and has taken to the position well. He has SS tools with excellent range and plus arm, it’s taken time to translate those tools to 2B, but it looks like it will be a shift that works.

The biggest concerns about Gumbs and his upside are centered around his hitting mechanics. Not his tools. He has some extra bat waggle and a leg kick that don’t work together. The leg kick is fine with me, but he will need to find a more solid base with his arms if he’s going to be able to take full advantage of his above average bat speed. Right now, pitchers are beating him in because he gets his swing started too late. A simple mechanical tweak of voiding out the last waggle will get his bat in position earlier and allow him to pound fastballs and stay in on off-speed pitches.

He has plus speed and could be a 30+ SB threat as early as 2013. He stole 26 in just 257 Low-A at bats last year and he has a solid approach on the bases getting caught just 3 times.

Our Instinct: He’s already flashed average power numbers with .150+ IsoP showings and there is more there when you see his bat speed. Despite missing half of the 2012 season with a non-throwing arm elbow issue, Gumbs should move to High-A with the rest of that wave. He still has work to do but the mechanical tweak will take place in Tampa. He has the highest upside of the Yankees middle infield prospects and if he takes to the changes quickly we could see a breakout season from him with career highs in AVG and XBH, but his HR production won’t be on display until he reaches Double-A. He has the potential to be a .280 hitter with 20+ HR power and his SB upside is pretty high. So he has top of the order tools and refinement is the only thing holding him back.  If the mechanics are refined this season, I would place him in the Top 5 of the system. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: Struggles with BABIP dragged his AVG down in High-A prompting a demotion to get back on track in the Sally League. But he seems to have pressured himself into over swinging and his K rate ballooned to 25.2% there. The tools are here for a rebound and I have to wonder if his head is there to overcome the ups and downs that come as an MLB player. Still love the talent though.

 

11. Dante Bichette, 3B 9/26/1992 H:6’1″ W:215 – Bichette was a highly touted prospect heading into 2012 after winning the Gulf Coast League MVP in his debut. He came in at #5 on our 2012 Top 10:

Our Instinct – (T.B.) Clearly an outstanding debut. 12.7% walk rate and just a 16.9% K rate along with elite power. It hasn’t shown as HRs yet, but in time those doubles start leaving the yard. He’s a long way off and the defensive spot is still in question. He’ll start 2012 with the Staten Island Yankees but could see Low-A before the end of the 2012 season. 

Starting off a power prospect in full season ball before ever getting an AB above the GCL is going to cause that hitter to run into better pitching than he has ever seen and leave him prone to struggles. That’s what happened to Bichette in 2012. His contact skills kept him from completely bombing the campaign. He kept his K rate under 20% while holding onto a solid 8.4% walk rate. The power was down a lot based on seeing a lot more breaking pitches and notorious home pitchers park.

Our Instinct: His BABIP of .305, points to a rebound in 2013 and if he repeats Charleston he could get back on track quickly. He still holds plus power potential and the same tools that had him so high on this list last year. His rebound could be a significant one and I would expect a boost in doubles power with his AVG on a bounce back into the .280 range. His defense is much less of a question now and he looks like he’s going to be long to remain at 3B. If his bat comes back around and the power potential is realized, he looks like he could be a prototypical 3B with average 3B glove work, a solid arm and plus power. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: Struggles across the board as his AVG dropped to just .214 on the season and his K rate jumped to 24.5%. Not what you would expect with a player of his talent repeating a level. His BABIP was just .267 and his walk rate stayed steady at 8.8% but his lack of power is disturbing. A third season in Low-A wouldn’t make much sense and move the FSL is clearly a jump but might be whats needed to kick start his bat.

 

12. Jose Ramirez, RHP 1/21/1990 H:6’3″ W:180 – Ramirez has been in the system since 2007 when he signed out of the DR. One of the main aspects of Ramirez game, that has had him on the radar since 2009 when he was our Yankees Breakout Candidate, is his plus fastball. It sits in the mid 90s deep into starts. His mechanics don’t lend him any deception, so he lives off of the late life on his fastball and his above average changeup, which is his best secondary. He lacks a power breaking ball, which is the reason he still hasn’t cracked the top 10 despite having solid K rates of 22% and a solid 2012 walk rate of 7.1% that provided him with a 3.19 ERA.

He has made solid progress with the slider and if he’s going to remain a starter, that progress, which he flashed in a dominant second half, will need to remain when he takes on Double-A in 2013. That pitch will be the difference between him being a mid rotation starter or a long relief middle man. The other scenario is that the slider really upticks and then the Yankees put him in the bullpen where he could be dominant in short stints.

Our Instinct: The slider will round into form and he will be on track to have mid rotation talent. He’ll need a full healthy season in Double-A to get his innings into the 140 IP range and then a season in Triple-A to get him into full season 180+ range in 2014. So he’s still a couple of years away. If he stays with the Yankees he will probably be a back of the rotation candidate, but a trade would put him in a better spot for a mid rotation spot elsewhere. He has the stuff, but at 23 his time for development is running a little short. He could be 25 before he is ready to take on a major league rotation spot. But the bullpen path has him arriving earlier. Too many questions for a Top 10 prospect despite Top 10 prospect talent. ETA: 2015

2013 in Review: 73.2 innings. 3.67 ERA and more than a K per inning. He has the stuff to start but he’s close to the majors and the Yankees will need him in the bullpen at some point in 2014. That should solidify his role for the future. Only a trade will give him a good enough shot of developing into a SP full time. Still wish he could have stayed healthy.

 

13. Nik Turley, LHP 9/11/1989 H:6’6″ W:230 – Turley put together a breakout season in 2012 for the Tampa Yankees where he went 112 innings and struck out more than a batter per while really boosting his k/bb rate. Turley doesn’t have the pure stuff that some of the other Yankees pitching prospects do, but what he does have is an ability to manipulate his 88-91 mph fastball, getting it to cut and dive.

His frame is very big and he should be able to pile up innings. His fastball and secondaries, a change and curveball, are all average pitches that he commands well. None of them is plus, which holds his potential back. But he has the approach and enough of an arsenal to work at the back of a rotation. ETA: 2014

2013 in Review: He looks like a 4.00 ERA type with some decent K numbers, but the back end of a rotation could be his upside. Nearly a K per inning with AA in 2013. Expect him to see extended time in AAA in 2014 and would also be well suited if the Yankees include him in an offseason trade.

 

14. Brett Marshall, RHP 3/22/1990 H:5’11″ W:200 – Marshall is the pitcher in the system that could make a solid impact with the big club in 2013 if injury strikes. He’s not a high end talent, but does a lot of things right. His fastball sits 90-94, with the best changeup in the systems higher levels. He pounds the zone but sometimes tries to get too fine which leads to him losing his arm action and it leads to walks.

His slider and curveball are both below average but usable offerings. His lack of a power breaking ball limits his upside to the back of the rotation and gives him little chance of finding success in the bullpen. In NY it might be tough for him to carve out a career, but he could be used in 2013. ETA: 2013

2013 in Review: He made his debut and looks to be what we said. A possible back end of the rotation type although I don’t see it sticking long term in the Bronx. May have over rated him last year based on his proximity to the Bigs.

 

15. Corey Black, RHP 8/4/1991 H:5’11″ W:175 – Black, drafted last year, has already seen Low-A action and his plus plus fastball reaches triple digits and works well in the 94-96 range with hard sink. He pairs it with a  solid changeup and two breaking balls that still need refinement. A curve and a hard breaking slider. His mechanics were high level power coming out of the draft, but as a starter the Yankees are working on smoothing him out, since he has velocity to spare.

He’s another lower level arm that could move quickly if his mechanics are brought in line. He would be well suited to start out in Low-A and eventually move to Tampa in the FSL around midseason, though he has the pure stuff to make the jump to High-A now. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: Black was traded to the Cubs midseason. But he had a solid FSL season witha  sub 4.00 ERA and more than a K per inning. He may be better suited for the bullpen though. Just a gut feeling after watching him pitch several times. 

 

16. Gabe Encinas, RHP 12/21/1991 H:6’3″ W:195 – Encinas was a 6th rounder in 2010 and we considered him the “One they had to sign” in order to make the draft year successful. They got him signed. The 2-seam fastball upticked from 90-92 in High School to the mid 90s with upper 90s range on his 4-seam. He’s just learning how to use them both effectively, because the each pitch has excellent movement. Expect him to work in the pure 4 seamer more often in 2013 with 96-97 velocity.

His mechanics are still being refined and when he’s right, his curveball is above average. The changeup is still an inconsistent pitch for command but has good movement as well. He should see the Charleston rotation in 2013 and could be a breakout candidate. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: 7 games of 35 dominant innings where he amassed a 0.70 ERA. His K rate was 22% and the only thing holding him back was a high walk rate. He still has work to refine his stuff and unfortunately his season was cut short by injury. He’ll miss most of 2014 on the comeback trail for TJ. The stuff is there.

 

17. Bryan Mitchell, RHP 4/19/1991 H:6’2″ W:175 – Mitchell is another soon to be 22 year old that is the same wave as Black and Encinas. Mitchell has a projected plus fastball and plus curveball. The fastball sits in the 92-94 range and the curve has knee buckling tendencies in the mid 80s. He’s still raw, but has been a K per inning pitcher so far, based purely on stuff. The two pitches are already swing and miss offerings. So his stuff isn’t in question, his changeup and mechanics are still a work in progress.

There are some hurdles for Mitchell to start to hit his true stride. He might head back to Low-A to start the season and then jump to High-A Tampa around midseason. He has mid-rotation starter or better stuff, but unrefined. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: Mitchell started in High-A and did well. His 5.12 ERA is overshadowing his 3.47 FIP and he kept his K rate solid at 18.3%. A drop slightly from previous years, but his assignment was a tough one. He’s already seen some AA time and should start there again in 2014. Back end rotation stuff.

 

18. Ramon Flores, OF 3/26/1992 H:5’11″ W:190 – In another system, Flores may be a more highly touted prospect. He has a good feel for hitting and is one of the best pure hitters in the system, but a lack of power limits his upside. He has above average speed and uses it well in CF, but there is little chance that he remains in CF especially for the Yankees and will eventually shift to LF. That could happen as early as this season on a full time basis.

His 5’11″ frame with 190 lbs is probably maxed out and his power is pretty much capped at 10 HR. But he has 25+ SB speed and if he finds himself in another system he could see regular ABs somewhere. With NY, he’s slated to be a 4th OF. ETA:2014

2013 in Review: Still a 4th OF at best, but his approach is refined and he gets on base. A little pop but his SBs came down to just 7 in 2013. 

 

19. Greg Bird, 1B 11/9/1992 H:6’3″ W:215 – A full time move to 1B will open up the offensive game for the big 1B. Bird was a catcher when drafted, but there was little hope that he would stick behind the plate, especially since his bat was his best tool. He had an injury filled 2012 season, but his hit tool and plus power put him in line for a news worthy 2013 season.

He’ll start off in Charleston and could be in line for a breakout season in AVG and power. He’s only 101 AB into his career, so he’s going to move station to station the first couple of years and being a right-handed 1B he’s going to need to hit for that full plus power to move up in the system. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: I’m happy we didn’t over look Bird because of his move to 1B. He tore the Sally League up with a .288 AVG and .223 IsoP coming from 20 HR and 36 doubles while walking an astounding 18.7% of the time or 107 BBs. He’s not a .300 hitter, but with that power and that eye he could be a very interesting future piece.

 

20. Ravel Santana, OF 5/1/1992 H:6’2″ W:180 – Santana fell of the map after being the Yankees biggest 2011 breakout prospect. He never fully recovered from the horrific broken ankle suffered in 2011 and his speed just never materialized, while his power dropped to just .085 worth of IsoP. The tools that made him a Top 10 prospect are still there and I don’t see the possibility of a top prospect to fall as far or as fast as he did in 2012 with there being room for a bounce back.

His walk rate was even better in 2012 at 10.1% than it was in 2011 at 9.2%. His BABIP was under .300, so there is some upside there with his AVG since he raised his LD% to 16.6% from 14.2%. He will need to prove healthy, but if he is and can get off to a quick start he could pop back up the list quickly. Which would make the 2012 touters turned doubters look pretty silly. ETA: 2016

2013 in Review: The kid just hasn’t been able to get back on the field. There is no way to know how he will respond and a full year without development is tough to come back from. 2014 will be a telling season for him at Low-A.

 

21. Austin Aune, OF 9/6/1993 H:6’2″ W:190 – Last years 2nd round pick is a two sport High School star with Football having been his best sport. But his tools are very loud on the baseball field with plus speed and good power potential as well. He’s a left-handed hitter with a smooth swing but raw approach. The Yankees will need to give him plenty of slow moving development time and he might be prone to hitting snags as he advances before mastering a level.

The Yankees moved him to the OF this spring and SS is now a thing of the past. His speed should play up defensively but he needs to refine his routes. He’s an even more raw talent than Ravel Santana at this point, but has an even higher upside. ETA: 2017

2013 in Review: I’m not sure things could have gone worse. He hit 0 HRs and stole 0 bases. He hit .192 with a high BABIP. Struck out 43.6% of the time as well. Things can’t get worse? He was learning the OF but that can only account for so much of the struggles. Something is seriously wrong with those numbers.

 

Other players to watch in 2013: Rony Bautista, Fu-Lin Kuo, Luis Garcia, Corby McCoy, Ben Gamel, Ronnier Mustelier, Adonis Garcia, Zoilo Almonte, Jake Cave, Alexander Palma, Kelvin DeLeon, Claudio Custodio, Pete O’Brien, Luis Torrens, Evan Rutckyj, Cesar Cabral, Nick Goody, J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine, Melky Mesa, Dellin Betances, David Adams, Adam Warren, Matt Tracy, Corban Joseph, Cito Culver, Tommy Kahnle

 

biballblackno360Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon as we release our top 21 prospects for each organization. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our in-season top 360 prospects, and we will be updating it throughout the season. Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at mailbag@baseballinstinct.comAnd while you’re at it head over to Facebook and join the Instinct page You can also follow us on twitter: @BaseballInstinc.


I was born and raised in NYC. My father was a diehard Yankees fan but not biased and raised me to love the game more than any one team. For that I'm truly thankful to him. My love for the game runs deep, and after crunching numbers all day long, I tend to spend my nights at the FSL ballparks.

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