Might as well wrap up this off day with a look back at the recently completed minor league season. These are the Yankees prospects who stood out at each position this season — I’ll leave the pitchers for another off day — while playing for a full-season team. These aren’t necessarily the top prospects at each position, just guys who had seasons that were worth taking notice. The level listed is where they finished the regular season.
The Yankees traded away Jesus Montero during offseason, and Austin Romine missed most of the season with a back injury, but Sanchez remains a catching bright spot in the organization. Sent to repeat Low-A Charleston in April, Sanchez hit his way to Tampa and finished with a .290/.344/.485 slash line. He’s still just 19 years old, so don’t expect him in the big leagues any time soon, but his bat seems legitimate and there are no indications that the Yankees plan to move him to a different position. He’s one of the elite prospects in the system, and he’s proving he can hit. His second month in High-A was much better than his first.
Apologies to: J.R. Murphy who didn’t have a particularly impressive offensive season — .248/.316/.386 between High-A and Double-A — but did stay behind the plate all year rather than get his at-bats at third base and the outfield corners.
First base does not seem to be a priority for the Yankees — perhaps because of Mark Teixeira, perhaps because they can fill the spot with someone who plays another position in the minors — but the organization does have a couple of power bats in Roller and Luke Murton. In this spot, Roller gets the nod because of his slightly better slash line (.266/.357/.471). Murton’s overall numbers were slightly worse, but he did league the organization with 25 home runs while spending the entire regular season in Double-A.
Apologies to: Matt Snyder and Saxon Butler, who didn’t fit my guidelines of full-season players, but did put up good numbers for short-season Staten Island.
Where did that power come from? Always a nice hitter, Joseph became a potent hitter during his Triple-A debut. Joseph hit .266/.366/.474 as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s regular second baseman, and that power was pretty consistent throughout the season. Not sure this season was enough to make him a front-line prospect, but it was certainly enough to make him an interesting utility type if nothing else. He has some experience at third base, but he seems pretty set at second for the time being.
Apologies to: Ali Castillo who became Charleston’s regular second baseman after the Angelo Gumbs injury and came through with a .307/.381/.438 slash line.
Kind of an odd choice because Adams actually spent more time at second base than third base, but he moved to third for the final month and could fit there long-term. Adams hit .306/.385/.450 this season — his first after missing most of 2010 and almost all of 2011 with an ankle injury — and his numbers got better as the year went on. With Dante Bichette struggling this season and Ronnier Mustelier moved to the outfield in Triple-A, Adams finished this season as the best third baseman in the system. Bichette is probably still considered the bigger long-term prospect, but this was quite a return for Adams.
Apologies to: Kevin Russo who bounced back from a rough 2011 to give the Triple-A Yankees a consistent top-of-the-order bat while playing third, second and the outfield.
One of the system’s big surprises this season, Maruszak went from an afterthought of a utility man to a productive everyday shortstop in his second season with Trenton. It was a bad year for most organizational shortstops, but Maruszak hit .276/.330/.457, showing good power for a guy who can play every infield position (and catch in a pinch). He hit in every lineup spot except leadoff, and he homered twice in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs.
Apologies to: Cito Culver who’s .215/.321/.283 slash line is pretty bad, but who continues to get rave reviews for his defense. Maybe his glove is good enough to keep him in the Yankees plans, but the offensive results aren’t inspiring.
Flores played all but one game this season in High-A, but he earned that end of the year bump by hitting .337/.410/.494 in the second half. He’s not a stereotypical corner outfielder — more on-base than slugging — but what he does, he does well. This year he added a career-high 24 steals, and he played quite a bit of center field in the final month of the season. He homered in his only regular-season game for Trenton, and he’s already added another home run in the Double-A postseason, but even without that kind of power, Flores’ ability to get on base makes him a legitimate offensive prospect.
Apologies to: Ben Gamel who didn’t do enough to move up from Charleston, but he did hit for average and show some speed while also playing some center field.
Considered a position of depth when the season started, the Yankees only real center field disappointment was the short-season performance of Ravel Santana. Otherwise, Melky Mesa took steps forward in Double-A, Chris Dickerson put himself back on the big league map in Triple-A, and Slade Healthcott proved he can still hit in High-A. In terms of raw performance, Dickerson and his .316/.417/.515 slash line probably stands above, but it’s hard to overlook young Mason Williams who’d gotten red hot in Tampa before a shoulder injury cut his season short. Williams’ injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, which minimizes the long-term concern. Instead, his .298/.346/.474 performance stands out.
Apologies to: Chris Dickerson who was terrific in Triple-A after making a slight mechanical adjustment against lefties. He earned a September call-up and shouldn’t be ruled out of consideration for a big league job next year.
Moved from Charleston to Tampa to Trenton, Austin was the breakout star of the Yankees system. He was a name worth knowing when the season started, but he emerged as one of the elite prospects in the organization. Austin led the system with a .322 batting average, and he did it while hitting for power. His numbers did decline a bit after his promotion from Charleston to Tampa, but even those High-A numbers were impressive, and especially his last three weeks. An end-of-the-year promotion to Double-A suggests the Yankees are willing to be aggressive with the 21-year-old. Corner outfield seemed to be a system weakness not too long ago, but Austin’s move away from the infield corners gives the Yankees a legitimate candidate for their right fielder of the future.
Apologies to: Zoilo Almonte who hit 21 homers in Double-A and proved last season wasn’t a fluke, and to Rob Segedin who moved from third base and put up terrific Tampa numbers before struggling in Trenton.
A bit of an organizational wild card, Mustelier was signed out of Cuba and he’s already 28 years old, but he’s hit enough to suggest he could be a four-corner utility man in the big leagues. He was primarily a left fielder after a mid-season promotion to Triple-A, but he’s also played a lot of right field and third base, plus a little bit of second and center. He hit .314/.371/.488 for the season, including .462/.500/.590 in his final 10 games of the Triple-A season. Like most of the Triple-A bats, he went silent during the short playoff stint, but he did enough this season to get on the radar. He’s not an organizational star, but he could be useful.
Apologies to: Jose Pirela who hit .293/.356/.448 while playing some second base, third base and left field (but not shortstop, where he struggled in the past).