The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Minor league seasons underway

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Apr 11, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The Yankees minor league seasons got underway last week. An off day seems to be a good time to look at all four full-season teams.


Prospect watch: The big name here is obviously Jesus Montero who has six hits, including a home run, in his first three games. Montero is the biggest name in the Yankees minor league system, and he could hit his way into a major league call-up, possibly forcing the Yankees hand at some point this season.

Worth watching: Montero is the big name, but the rotation might be the best part of the Triple-A roster. Hector Noesi, David Phelps, Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell and Andrew Brackman are legitimate prospects, and one of them could very well be in New York by the middle of the summer… Plenty of familiar names are playing for big league call-ups, including Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson and Kevin Russo. Spring addition Chris Dickerson is also a viable call-up candidate… It’s worth mentioning that left-handed reliever Andy Sisco is off to a strong start and has big league experience… Blocked at the corners, Brandon Laird and Jorge Vazquez need to prove they have big league bats, forcing either a call-up or a possibly trade.

By mid-season: Might not be long before Mark Prior is ready to join the Triple-A bullpen. He was better than might have been expected this spring, and he could pitch his way back to the big leagues… While the Triple-A starters are pushing for big league call-ups, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances will be working toward replacing them with promotions from Double-A… At some point Kevin Millwood and Carlos Silva might play a role, but that’s uncertain at this point.

Opening day lineup
Kevin Russo 2B
Chris Dickerson CF
Jesus Montero C
Jorge Vazquez 1B
Justin Maxwell LF
Brandon Laird 3B
Greg Golson RF
Jordan Parraz DH
Ramiro Pena SS


Prospect watch: Activated today from the temporary inactive list, Manny Banuelos is making his season debut tonight. The top pitching prospect in the Yankees system made a huge splash in spring training at just 20 years old. He could move quickly, but the major leagues seem unlikely until at least September.

Worth watching: He didn’t steal as many headlines as Banuelos, but Dellin Betances also had a solid spring and seemed to make a good impression. He’s another real-deal pitching prospect who needs to stay healthy… Austin Romine was sent back to Double-A after spending all of last season there. How long he stays there might depend on how long Montero stays in Scranton… He’s not a huge name, but Corban Joseph has shown a pretty good bad for an infielder. He could be a Russo-type utility option within a year or so… ¬†Lefty Steve Garrison very nearly made the major league roster and got the win on Opening Day… A strong Double-A season could push Graham Stoneburner among the elite pitching prospects in the organization. He’s often labeled as a future reliever, but he’s so far had tremendous success as a minor league starter.

By mid-season: Might not be long before second baseman David Adams is ready to return from last year’s ankle injury. He and Joseph are somewhat similar prospects, both with intriguing infield bats… Jeremy Bleich and Alan Horne are currently on the Trenton roster, still working their way back from surgery… Could a strong Double-A season push switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to Triple-A and make him a viable major league option next season? He turns 26 in June… A few months should be enough time to give an indication whether Melky Mesa can make enough contact to keep his career moving forward. He’s a toolsy outfielder, but seems hit-or-miss as a prospect.

Opening Day lineup
Austin Krum LF
Jose Pirela SS
Austin Romine C
Bradley Suttle 3B
Cody Johnson DH
Melky Mesa CF
Corban Joseph 2B
Addison Maruszak 1B
Ray Kruml RF


Prospect watch: Right now, this is the least prospect-heavy roster of the four full-season teams, but starting pitcher Brett Marshall is one of the most intriguing arms in the lower-levels of the season. His upside might be as high as anyone in the organization — he has a huge fastball — and last season he made a strong return from Tommy John surgery. Now he needs to stay healthy for a full season. He’s never thrown 100 innings in a season.

Worth watching: My old friend Patrick Teale over at Pinstripes Plus believes center fielder Abe Almonte could be on the verge of a breakout season… Starter Jose Ramirez is another low-level starter who could really emerge as he climbs through the system. He had a 3.60 ERA with 105 strikeouts in Charleston last year, his first full-season… The Yankees got aggressive in pushing 2010 draftees Chase Whitley and Preston Claiborne to Tampa this season. The pair of college relievers could make some noise… Kyle Higashioka didn’t have an especially good 2010 and will need a solid 2011 to keep pace with the Yankees strong crop of catching prospects.

Mid-season: Not many huge prospects on the Tampa roster right now, but that could change within a few weeks if Slade Heathcott hits his way out of Charleston… Utility man J.R. Murphy — who can catch and play the corners — could also hit his way into a call-up to Tampa by mid-season. ¬†This is a make-or-break year for shortstop Carmen Angelini. He seems healthy and needs to get off to a strong start to prove he’s still worth getting at-bats… Doesn’t seem likely that reliever Mark Prior will stay in Tampa very long.

Opening Day lineup
Abe Almonte CF
Carmen Angelini SS
Rob Lyerly 3B
Luke Murton 1B
Taylor Grote RF
Ziolo Almonte LF
Kyle Higashioka C
Deangelo Mack DH
Walter Ibarra 2B


Prospect watch: Four games into the season, former first-round draft pick Slade Heathcott is hitting .500 with two home runs, a triple and four doubles. He was only so-so last year, but he’s an exceptional athlete who’s showing early signs of a big year. Might not be in Charleston for long.

Worth watching: The hot start from Heathcott is impossible to ignore, but the biggest prospect on this roster is catcher Gary Sanchez. A legitimate offensive and defensive prospect, Sanchez is getting his first taste of full-season ball… Third-round pick Rob Segedin is the highest pick in last year’s draft to open with a full-season team… Outfielder Ramon Flores opened a lot of eyes in rookie ball last season. So did second baseman Anderson Feliz J.R. Murphy was drafted as a catcher, but he’ll see time at third base and the outfield corners. The Yankees love his bat… Last year’s fifth-round pick, Tommy Kahnle is opening in the Charleston bullpen. He had 25 strikeouts and allowed just three hits in 16 innings last year with short-season Staten Island.

By mid-season: Much like the Yankees did with Heathcott last season, first-round pick Cito Culver was held back in extended spring training this year. If he follows the Heathcott plan, he could be in Charleston by the middle of the year as the everyday shortstop… Also possible heading for a mid-season promotion to Charleston are second-rounder Angelo Gumbs and fourth-rounder Mason Williams. In some corners Williams is considered the top Yankees prospect from last year’s draft, and he could replace Heathcott in center field… Is outfielder Kelvin DeLeon still a legitimate prospect? We might know that by mid-season.

Opening Day lineup
Slade Heathcott CF
Anderson Feliz 2B
J.R. Murphy DH
Gary Sanchez C
Rob Segedin 3B
Roman Flores LF
Kelvin DeLeon RF
Kyle Roller 1B
Jose Mojica SS

Associated Press photos of Montero, Banuelos and Prior




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