Zoilo Almonte: It usually takes the 22-year old switch-hitter a second tour of duty at a particular minor league level before hitting his stride. He hit just three home runs in Tampa in 2010 before clubbing 12 of them in his return trip last year and he could follow suit in Trenton this year after hitting just three home runs in 46 Double-A games in 2011. That shows a good ability to adjust but he might not be afforded the same opportunity once he gets to the big league level and that make his long-term potential impact with the Yankees a little sketchy.
Matt Duran: If there's a 'sleeper' in this group it certainly could be Duran, last year's fourth round pick. Not exactly physically imposing, standing just 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the ball just sounds different coming off of his bat. He smacked three home runs in his first 23 professional games last season and a few more balls went right up against the outfield fence. He's not Top Ten worthy just yet but don't be surprised if he finds permanent residence in that group in the coming years.
Anderson Feliz: Still just 19 years old, the switch-hitter has a bit more pop than his modest six home run total with the Charleston RiverDogs would suggest. He led the club in doubles as a teenager who struggled mightily offensively and once his confidence gets a bit better, and physically continues to get stronger, a few more of those balls are going to leave the yard. He has intriguing power potential.
Slade Heathcott: Like Feliz, Heathcott has yet to consistently hit balls out of the park but that's more of a result of inconsistent hitting than anything. He naturally possesses long-term average to above average power potential, and his power from the pull-side can be downright prodigious at times during batting practice. It may take some for that power to show up in game situations but it's coming.
Kyle Higashioka: Everyone knows of his struggles with his batting average but there's still nothing wrong with his power. He has 14 home runs over the past two seasons in what equates to a little more than a full season's worth of at-bats. Should his bat ever get consistent he could really be up there in the home run mark. Don't discount his power based on his lower batting averages.
Melky Mesa: The natural power is a plus tool but several years into his professional career, despite being on the 40-man roster, that power hasn't played up to nearly that level yet because the consistency of his bat lags far behind. He'd be a top three or four guy power-wise if he could ever land a starting outfield job for the Yankees, but he's on the outside looking in here until he does. Just realize the power potential is enormous but unfortunately many may not be able to see it unless the bat comes around.
Reymond Nunez: Based just on pure power alone Nunez is already a Top Ten power hitting prospect. However, in-game situations have been a different story for the Dominican native. While he led the Staten Island club in doubles last season, he hit just three home runs along the way, completely belying his actual power. His rather high strikeout ratio has held back his power from showing up just yet but he is getting better. He's certainly a candidate to break out power-wise at a moment's notice.
Kyle Roller: Like Nunez, Roller's 'now' power certainly is among the best in the farm system but, profiling solely as a first baseman/designated hitter type long-term, the power has to be even better for it to have a better impact on the Yankees' big league club more so than others who don't have the same kind of power just yet. His average power overall is actually below average for a first baseman type.
Isaias Tejeda: The overall catching prowess needs to get better but offensively he has very few question marks. In fact, it's because of the bat that he has the chance to be an impact player at the catcher's position just as long as the defensive abilities catch up [pun intended]. He launched six home runs in 157 GCL at-bats last season and he could continue to show good power numbers while he works behind the plate.
Jorge Vazquez: The 30-year old has great power but he's not really a prospect anymore because of his advanced age. Here's here to let people know he's still in the system.
Top Ten Power Hitting Prospects
10) Brandon Laird: Like Roller, Laird has very good power overall but it's not quite the plus tool it needs to be as a corner guy for the Yankees, especially since nearly all of his value as a player is tied into his bat. He has hit over 20 home runs in a season twice in his minor league career and not many modern day Yankees prospects can tout that, but while he could be a good home run hitter for a second division team someday, his power impact for the Yankees -- which is what this ranking is all about -- doesn't project to be all that high given his position. The fact that he's been playing outfield does give him some glimmer of hope role-wise and that's why he breaks into the Top Ten.
9) Tyler Austin: Certainly his 'now' power and perhaps even his long-term power potential grade a tick below that of Laird's, but Austin, a better overall athlete, at least has the better chance to stick with the big league Yankees long-term and if so his power could play higher in that instance. They might wind up being the exact same kind of hitter but Austin could provide a little more value in terms of speed and defense.
|IT'S IN THERE: Austin Romine has a lot more power than folks realize. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
7) J.R. Murphy: Like Romine, Murphy is more of an advanced hitter than a pure power guy but he has a bit more power than most folks realize. He's showcased that power in a big way behind the scenes, more than holding his own against the likes of Reymond Nunez and Kyle Roller during power hitting drills, and considering how good he is at hitting and how he projects to remain at catcher, his power impact could really be felt long-term. He won't be a 30-home run guy at the big league level, but he could post some Buster Posey-like home run seasons that approach 20 home runs and do it consistently once he reaches his prime.
6) Ramon Flores: Like Murphy, Flores is a better natural hitter than pure power guy. He won't flash the plus power potential like Mesa or Nunez, but an exceptionally disciplined hitter, his power has a far better chance of playing up in game situations. He's a little Robinson Cano-like as a young prospect not exactly noted for his power potential but could wind up being a consistent home run hitter at the big league level because of his innate hitting prowess.
5) David Adams: Staying with the consistent power hitting theme, Adams is yet another prospect whose bat is ahead of his natural power but who also has the opportunity for his power to play at a higher in-game level going forward than some of the high-upside power hitters who can't hit consistently. While he may never be among the league home run leaders, he could be among middle infielders if he could ever stay healthy long enough to be as productive as many believe he could be. He's going to hit for a lot of extra-base hits when and if he gets to the big leagues. Only his health is standing in the way of that.
|IT WILL PLAY UP: Bichette's hitting prowess will allow his power to play at a higher level. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
3) Greg Bird: Bird is behind Bichette right now in the proof department but his lack of exposure to the professional level thus far should not detract from his long-term power potential. The consensus among the scouting community is that he too is going to be a high-average hitter and blessed with more natural power than somebody like Bichette, he too should be a productive power hitter going forward. Should he prove he can remain at catcher long-term, he'll jump up a spot or two here because few catchers can offer his kind of offensive ceiling. And even if he has to move to first base the power still projects as potentially plus there too.
2) Ravel Santana: His plus-plus arm strength is his best tool but his plus power potential isn't far behind. How good is his power? He has 19 home runs in his last 361 at-bats and he's still just 19 years old! Blessed with good plate discipline, showing an ability to make in-game adjustments, and a willingness to use the whole field, he's not just a pure power hitter either. He already is what Melky Mesa should have been -- a power hitter who can actually hit. The scary part is he has room to be even better going forward.
1) Gary Sanchez: The departure of Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners in the Micheal Pineda deal allows Sanchez to move up one spot. Hitting the exact same number of home runs  at the same minor league level in their careers, however, and doing so in 50 less games, Sanchez might have grabbed the top spot even if Montero had stayed, his power is that special. Throw in the fact he is a much more gifted hitter than his .256 average in Charleston last year suggests, he too has barely scratched the surface of his power potential.