Eight Teams, Eight Sleepers

The Yankees have eight minor league teams from the Dominican Summer League all the way up to Triple-A. Each teams has its fair share of top prospects, but each team also has some 'sleeper' prospects the pundits choose to overlook so we point out which ones to keep an eye on.

Triple-A Scranton: RHP, Preston Claiborne: He doesn't possess a plus fastball or a plus breaking ball and that allows this reliever to fly under the radar. However, while the ceiling isn't all that vast, he is above average with his 90-94 mph fastball and his slider has become a solid big league pitch. Throw in a plus changeup and his overall pitch-ability, Claiborne, who owns a sub-3.00 ERA for his career with nearly as many strikeouts as innings pitched, should not be overlooked. He could be a quality big league middle reliever.

Double-A Trenton: RHP, Kelvin Perez: Perez is nearly the polar opposite of Claiborne, possessing three plus big league pitches but often times doesn't pitch like it because the pitch-ability can evade him at times. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and both of his secondary pitches are fantastic, but if he can learn to get ahead in the count more consistently he could be a real difference maker on a team even like the Yankees.

High-A Tampa: RHP, Manny Barreda: This smallish reliever is nearly a Kelvin Perez clone when it comes to his plus stuff and inconsistent pitch-ability. He's a bit more coach-able though, possessing great makeup, and that's a good sign that he can turn the corner in setting batters up better if he can get ahead in the count more consistently and limit the walks. If he learns to not nibble as much and just attack batters with each pitch, he could be an impact back-end big league reliever someday.

Low-A Charleston: RHP, Phil Wetherell: Not uncommon for lower level pitchers, Wetherell does lag behind the aforementioned pitchers because the changeup and slider remain works in progress. He does have a plus fastball and a plus split-finger, however, and the changeup and slider did make some solid improvements after he was transitioned to the starting role in Charleston late this past season. Forget his dreadful numbers [5.97 ERA] -- he has a vast ceiling if he can get ahead in counts more consistently too and make some more improvements with the changeup-slider combo.

Short-Season Staten Island: LHP, James Pazos: As is often the case with lower level prospects, there's a lot of work to do here with Pazos but there's a solid foundation that makes him so intriguing. He shows great arm strength for a left-hander, able to sit in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball and he can throw strikes with his eyes closed. The breaking ball needs work and the changeup has a long way to go, but if he can just get one of those pitches going he could carve himself a nice role going forward.

Rookie Level Gulf Coast League: RHP, Hayden Sharp: There's no shortage of potential 'sleeper' candidates from this team -- Mikeson Oliberto, Erickson Leonora, Rookie Davis, Cesar Vargas, etc, etc -- but Sharp gets the nod here because the ceiling is significantly higher than anyone else's not currently ranked in the Top 50. He can sit in the mid-90s with his fastball, the slider is coming along nicely, and the changeup also has a ton of room to get better. He has frontline starting potential if everything breaks right but there's a lot of hard of work needed to tap that ceiling.

Dominican Summer League Yankees2: C, Alvaro Noriega: The recently turned 18-year old is making the transition from corner infielder to catcher and reports have been solid. He shows good footwork, a strong arm, and the Yankees really like his offensive potential. He finished tied for second on the team in doubles this past season and many scouts believe he could blossom into a quality two-way player over time.

Dominican Summer League Yankees1: 3B, Melvin Aquino: This Dominican native is already a little long in the tooth after turning 20 years old this past season, a year in which he hit just .241. However, he has two plus tools at his disposal that will allow him to continue to get long looks, including plus speed. He also boasts plus-plus arm strength, the kind of elite arm that could make him a potential pitching conversion candidate if the bat [he does have solid power already] doesn't come around as planned.

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