Anderson Feliz: He hit just .217 with a whopping 129 strikeouts in just 116 games for the Charleston RiverDogs in his first taste of the long-season leagues, and had his inconsistencies defensively in 2011, and it's that kind of poor performance that could also put him into the 'sleeper' category below too.
The fact is the soon to be 20-year old is still very toolsy, showing very good power for such a young player and he possesses a lot more speed than his rather modest stolen base totals would suggest too. Nearly every young switch-hitter battles highs and [mostly] lows coming up in the beginning, and that's what his current growing pains are. He still has potential big league All Star type talent if he can get his confidence up and get back to being more patient offensively. There's still a world of talent here.
Angelo Gumbs: While not quite as drastically inconsistent as Feliz, the now 19-year old Gumbs possesses similar traits; sky-high upside on both sides of the ball including above average power potential for a middle infielder, above average speed, above average hitting potential, and some mental lapses in the early going that has caused his game to be not nearly as consistent as it could be.
It's his natural patient approach though and more consistent swing mechanics [to be fair to Feliz it's easier for hitters from one side to develop the swing path quicker] that allows him to be a safer long-term bet of reaching his really high potential down the road. He too has potential big league All Star talent in nearly every phase of the game.
Closest to the Majors
David Adams: With an incredibly consistent swing, an advanced big league approach, very good power to all fields, decent speed, and perhaps the best ability at turning double-plays in the field, talent-wise Adams has literally no weaknesses in his game so even though he has collected very few higher minor league level at-bats at this point he is still very close to being big league ready. He just needs to prove he can stay healthy for an extended period of time, that's it.
Corban Joseph: Like Adams, Joseph could certainly fit into the 'highest ceiling' category but currently sits atop the minor league depth chart at second base as one of the most ready in-house candidates. With patience, a big league swing and approach, developing power, and ever-improving defensive abilities, he too has very few weaknesses right now. A little more home run power is really the only thing from holding him back as a viable big league option right now, to mention a pretty talented player in front of him depth-wise on the big league team.
Claudio Custodio/Fu-Lin Kuo/Jose Rosario: We're lumping all three of them together here because none of them have secured a starting position at second base at the current time, each of them playing other positions primarily. However, all three of them would be much better long-term offensive contributors, and therefore better value prospects, at second base should any of them get converted their full-time.
|A MOVE WOULD HELP: Kuo could be an offensive standout at second base if the Yankees moved him there. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Kuo, a third baseman by trade, doesn't project to have quite the plus power potential to man a big league infield corner spot someday, and Rosario, currently a shortstop, doesn't have the plus range to safely project as a long-term, big league shortstop at this point. All three players have the kinds of bats that could make them potentially special players offensively at second base.
Need to Make Their Move
Kevin Mahoney: An elite defensive player at third base, the former four-year college senior has shown he can be nearly as good defensively at second base and his power plays better there too profile-wise. He can walk also, giving him some real potential here. However, the soon to be 25-year old hasn't grabbed a starting minor league position yet and he'll need to do so to continue to get any realistic long-term chances with the Yankees as anything more than a potential utility player type.
Jose Pirela: In trying to fit a square peg into a round hole type fashion, the Yankees have remained adamant about sticking with Pirela at shortstop when he clearly doesn't project to be good enough there long-term. Switching him over to second base full-time, where he has been nothing short of stellar defensively in some brief looks, could really boost his confidence. He's a little sleeper-like at second base, but he needs to get his offense going again to continue to get his chances and moving him defensively to the right side of the field could do some good for his bat.
The Jury is Still Out
Jake Anderson: The 2010 sixth round pick had a rough go of it in his first full year last season offensively, hitting just .215 in spare time for the GCL Yankees. He made some outstanding progress defensively, but a thyroid condition didn't allow him to put on the necessary weight needed to fill out his slender frame. Both he and the Yankees believe they've corrected the problem and he does have some natural talent, but now he has to go out and prove it on the field.
Junior Valera: Part 'sleeper' given his world-class speed, the 19-year old Dominican native has some real long-term potential. He can run the 60-yard dash in 6.3 seconds but the natural right-handed batter just picked up switch-hitting so it could take a while for his bat to be productive enough for him to make use of that great speed. For now the jury is way out on whether that can happen.