Scouting Notes: Talent Galore In Yankee Camp

TAMPA - Every year there seems to be a minor league team that is downright loaded. This year that team may be Charleston, the Yankees' Low-A squad. The roster at different points could boast names like Gary Sanchez, Ravel Santana, Dante Bichette Jr. and Tyler Austin. All of those players, as well as one unknown newly signed pitcher, stood out in a big way on Monday.

- Ravel Santana is back. And, that's good news for Yankee fans right off the bat. He seems to be well ahead of schedule compared to original expectations, and made his spring debut on Monday, coming in for the final three innings of the game to play center field.

The best news of the day? Santana got down the first base line on a ground ball in a time of 4.22 seconds. That grades out as plus speed or a 60 on the 20-80 scale. And, it says a lot about the health of his ankle.

Santana's timing was clearly not back just yet in these first two at-bats of the spring, but his bat speed still stands out and creates outstanding loft off the bat. In other words, all the tools that made Santana a potential impact prospect appear to be very much intact. The Yankees will take it slow with him and may even put him in extended spring training rather than Charleston, but Santana looks as exciting as ever.

- The Yankees didn't trade away Jesus Montero because they knew they had Gary Sanchez. However, having him certainly has to take some sting out of it. Sanchez may very well have the same offensive upside as Montero, but his vastly improved defensive ability make him a completely different animal.

Sanchez truly did it all in Monday's game, driving a rocket over the right-center field wall, followed by another opposite field single and a line out to the right fielder. When he's at his best, this is where he's hitting the ball. His pull power is tremendous, but his ability to go the other way could make him a special offensive force.

But, coming into the game I was already more than aware of Sanchez' offensive prowess. So, it was his defense that was the most pleasant surprise. Sanchez looks very agile behind the plate, and showed off his quick release by picking off a runner at first base.

- Entering the 2011 draft I had a great deal of faith in Dante Bichette Jr.'s hit tool, but also thought he would need to quiet down his approach somewhat. Well, he's done that without losing his identity at the plate, still using his leg kick as a timing device. His balance is solid and his bat speed is well above average, but it's still his feel with the bat and plate discipline that stands out most.

- Some players have the ability to wow scouts with their bat speed. Tyler Austin is one of those players. He showed blistering bat speed on Monday and outstanding loft, launching a long home run to left-center field.

- Familiar with the name Andury Acevedo? Probably not. But, given what he showed on Monday, it's probably about time to learn his name. An infielder in the Pirates' system previously, Acevedo was released, signed by the Yankees and promptly put on the mound. And, on Monday Acevedo topped out at 98 mph and sat consistently at 95-97. His 6-foot-4 frame suits the mound nicely and his arm works pretty well also. The secondary pitches aren't really there just yet, although he did spot a couple short sliders in this outing. He's going to be a project, but this has to be considered a colossal find by the Yankee scouting department.

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