1. Jesus Montero, C – Montero can hit, plain and simple. He’s probably the top catching prospect in baseball. There are concerns defensively; scouts question his ability to call games. He loses some luster if he has to move to first base, but will still have a solid bat for the position.
2. Manny Banuelos, P – Banuelos is small for a pitcher, but as a lefty with a mid-90s fastball, many will look past this. He’s working with a curve and change-up that project as average but should improve with time. He’s got strong strikeout numbers (8.8 K/9), which is a positive. His walk numbers aren’t bad either. The Yankees will be patient, so it’ll be a few years before we see him.
3. Austin Romine, C – I think Romine is a better catching prospect than Montero, but he lacks the impact bat. He improved his walk rate and power last season, along with his defensive skills. He’ll start the season at Double-A, where he’ll handle the catching duties full time.
4. Slade Heathcott, OF – Heathcotts tools are his calling card. He’s average or better for the 4 of the standard 5 tools, and has been improving across the board. I don’t see him developing much power, but he’s got time to prove me wrong. He’ll still need at least 2 years in the minors, but should be ready once Granderson’s contract is up.
5. Zach McAllister, P – McAllister is a sinker ball pitcher, so he’s very effective but his K rates are low. He is a control pitcher who will challenge hitters. His sinker will get him a lot of groundball. He’s projected as a back of the rotation pitcher.
6. Mark Melancon, P – Melancon has the potential to be a great set up man, but I don’t think he’ll make it as a closer, especially following of the years of Rivera. He’s averaged a 4:1 K to BB ratio over his minor league career and less than 1 base runner per inning. He should be a fixture in the bullpen this year.
7. Kelvin DeLeon, OF – DeLeon’s U.S. debut was promising but shows he has a long way to go. He’s got raw power and good speed, which should help him as he moves up the system. He really needs to work on his pitch recognition and plate discipline; he struck out in 30% of his at bats. If he can work on this, he’s got the potential to be an all star.
8. D.J. Mitchell, P – Mitchell pitched well across both A-Levels last year and surprised a lot of people. He’s got a lo-90s sinker ball and a great curve, but doesn’t have a change-up to make him a top starter. He also struggles against lefties, so he seems destined for the bullpen. He’ll see most of his time this year at Double A.
9. David Adams, 2B – Adams jumped to Hi-A last year, and saw his power number jump with him. He’s got gap power, but it looks like it might be transitioning to pure power. He’s a strong contact hitter and a solid approach to hitting. He’ll be able to stick at the position, but this year will show what type of power he has.
10. Jose Ramirez, P – Ramirez is coming into this year as a sleeper. He’s young, but already has a fastball that tops out at 96. He limits hits strikes out more than 3 hitters for every walk he issues. The only thing holding him back at this point is the fact that he’s faced very little competition. This season will see what he can do.
Tags: 30 Teams in 30 Days, Baseball, Baseball Preview, New York Yankees