Miguel Andujar: This Dominican native was signed as the Yankees' top International free agent back in 2011 and he is now beginning to show why after hitting .323 with 15 extra-base hits in just 133 Gulf Coast League at-bats last season. He turns 19 years old on Sunday and he is starting to get his man strength, putting on nearly 20 pounds over the past two years.
He has plus bat speed, good plate discipline, average or better power potential that should only get better, real athleticism in the field and plus arm strength, and shows a maturity beyond his years. He's at his best when he uses a whole field approach and doesn't try to do too much at the plate, and that game plan needs to show more consistency going forward. He also has to smooth out his defensive play in the field and just be a calmer presence there too, but the whole package screams huge upside.
Eric Jagielo: Last year's top overall pick by the Yankees, this former Notre Dame product has a significant offensive ceiling of his own. With a sweet left-handed stroke that shows a real propensity for finding the opposite field gap, he employs plus bat speed, shows above average or better power potential, and a knack for coming up in the clutch. The power could jump up a level too once he learns to pull the ball more consistently in the right situations.
Often compared to a young Adrian Gonzalez type offensively because of the aforementioned reasons, defensively is where there are some question marks. He shows the requisite nimbleness and hands to handle the position in serviceable fashion, but his arm strength is merely average and that has some evaluators believing his long-term position might be shifted over to first base. The good news is the bat should play there too but he should not be written off as a viable eventual option at third base just yet. The huge makeup and work ethic could combat some deficiencies right now.
Closest to the Majors
Kevin Mahoney: It was a lost year for the former 23rd round pick back in 2009 as he battled injuries last season. Defensively he is a plus-plus defender in every way and offensively he shows a little bit of pop and an ability to draw walks. Double-A tested, he is the ultimate gamer but the bat isn't consistent yet and he turns 27 years old this season. He could be called upon if defense is what's sorely needed at the big league level and he could provide some power, but he would most likely have some short-term struggles with the bat too.
Ronnier Mustelier: This 29-year old Cuban native is the exact opposite from Mahoney in that offensively he could provide a real consistent bat for the big league club right now with his ability to make contact and use the entire field. The power is below average, however, and defensively he would be more of a liability than anything, but with two years at Triple-A he could provide a little short-term offensive help if needed.
Drew Bridges: Last year's 20th round pick out of high school has a tremendous offensively ceiling of his own. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 230 pounds already, the 19-year old is a physical specimen with plus power potential and a patient approach at the plate, conjuring up images of a younger version of Greg Bird. Because of his bigger size, however, he isn't the most nimble defender in the field and he might not be done growing either. He could shift to first base down the road but if he can stick at third the Yankees could have a special bat at the hot corner on their hands in due time.
Matt Duran: The 2011 fourth round pick played in just six games last year while dealing with both a foot and an elbow injury. When he's healthy he shows an ability to use the whole field when he doesn't press too much, some viable patience at the plate, average or better power potential, and average or better defensive abilities. More than anything right now he just needs reps in the field and at-bats to keep developing in his game. There is a real ceiling on both sides of the ball if he can stay healthy.
|WILL HE GET THE REPS?: O'Brien has the arm and the power, but will he get opportunities to play third base remains the big question. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Need to Make Their Move
Dante Bichette Jr.: The 2011 first round pick is in dire need of a breakout season after hitting just .214 last year repeating the low-A level, not only to resurrect his fading prospect status but even just keep getting playing time now that he has been caught up [and perhaps surpassed] on the depth charts by the likes of Andujar and Jagielo. He has big league bloodlines, above average power potential, and some innate hitting ability, but he has to prove it quickly.
Rob Segedin: The third round pick in 2010 missed most of the season last year after having two hip surgeries. He and the Yankees believe his abnormal hips were the reason for his lack of mobility and range in the field, and the hope is not only will that aspect of his game be much better but also his ability to use his legs more driving the ball offensively. He can hit, there's no question about that, but will he hit for enough power to stick at third and can his defensive game make marked improvements now that he's healthy? Those are significant questions for a 25-year old at this point.
The Jury is Still Out
Dalton Smith: A 36th round pick out of high school in 2012, Smith, a former catcher and pitcher too, could fit into the 'need to make their mark soon' category as well after hitting just .169 in the Gulf Coast League last year. He also played more first base than third base last year but that could be more to try and get him some confidence offensively. He has above average arm strength so don't be surprised if he moves back to third sometime soon. At either position, however, the 19-year old needs to starting hitting more.
Christopher Tamarez: The former shortstop was the Yankees' top International signing in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic and he shifted over to third base after a monstrous performance in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, hitting .338 with a team-leading six home runs and 18 doubles. There were real questions though about whether or not his power would play at third and he hit just .235 with no home runs in the Gulf Coast League last season. The 20-year old still has some real ability but has enough question marks to keep the jury still out on his long-term impact potential.