Interesting list over at USA Today, ranking 100 Names You Need to Know for the upcoming baseball season. It’s not a ranking of prospect talent, but rather a ranking of which young players could have the biggest impact this season. To be included, a player had to have more innings or at-bats in the minor leagues last season than during all of his major league career.
Phil Hughes doesn’t fit that standard, neither does Brett Gardner. The highest Yankee on USA Today’s list is Mark Melancon at No. 52.
“Next in line to continue the run of success the Yankees had last season with young pitchers setting up in front of closer Mariano Rivera, Melancon, 24, should fill one of the openings. He’s a hard thrower with a sharp-breaking curve. Groomed as a reliever since turning pro in 2006, he has bounced back well from missing 2007 after Tommy John elbow surgery.”
I’ve written before that it wouldn’t surprise me to see Melancon open the season in Triple-A but finish it in a key spot in the big league bullpen. That’s the path Dave Robertson followed last year, and I could see the same happening with Melancon. There’s a lot of talent there, and those two could really solidify the seventh and eighth innings.
Other Yankees on the list:
• No. 56, Zach McAllister: “Among the first to be considered if there’s a need for a major league starter.”
• No. 58, Jamie Hoffmann: “Has plenty of speed and is a consistent contact hitter.”
• No. 66, Jesus Montero: “Barring an emergency, his initial stay won’t be long because he has had only a half-season at Class AA and needs to continue developing his defensive game.”
For whatever it’s worth, I actually think Montero might be ranked a bit too high, only because I don’t see him having a significant impact this season. Hoffmann is also probably too high now that Marcus Thames is in the mix. If I could add a name to the list, it would probably be Ivan Nova. He looked good enough at the end of last season to suggest he could play a role either as an emergency starter or as a reliever.
Other familiar names on the USA Today list: Austin Jackson at No. 19, Dan McCutchen at No. 84 and Jose Tabata at No. 86.
The whole list is pretty interesting. Thanks to mlbtraderumors for linking to it. That’s where I first saw it.