Miguel Andujar: Signed as their top International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, the now 18-year old has a ton of tools. Despite hitting just .232 with one home run in his debut season last year after skipping the Dominican Summer League entirely, the right-handed batter shows advanced hitting skills that could make him a high average hitter down the road.
He shows a mature ability to use the entire field when hitting, he has good strike zone awareness and pitch recognition, and plus bat speed. Despite being a little on the skinny side right now, he already displays excellent gap power and he has the type of frame that could really put on some useful muscle mass in the coming years. Throw in great agility, soft hands, and a plus arm, he has the chance to be an impact player on both sides of the ball.
Dante Bichette: The 2011 first round pick has had a hot and cold start to his professional career thus far, hitting a robust .335 in his debut season in 2011 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees before tinkering with his swing a bit too much last year, causing him to hit just .248 with the Charleston RiverDogs in his first taste of the long-season leagues.
Showing good patience and pitch recognition, his hitting ability is closer to the former more than the latter. Critics point to his three home runs last year as unimpressive but power is always the last tool to develop so scouts are not too concerned there. The son of a big league slugger, he shows long-term above average power potential and he should be a good hitter. Defensively, however, while he is solid right now, there are some concerns that he simply might outgrow the position down the road given his current size and room to fill out more, but the bat should play anywhere when it's all said and done.
Closest to the Majors
Kevin Mahoney: Drafted as a college senior back in 2009, the former 23rd round pick is one of the more unheralded prospects in the organization despite already boasting Gold Glove defensive potential at the hot corner. A total vacuum, his glove is where would-be doubles down the line go to die. He simply makes every play imaginable at third.
Offensively he's a left-handed batter with average to above average pull-side power and he has shown an ability to draw a good number of walks too. A Double-A Eastern League All Star last year with the Trenton Thunder, he just hasn't gotten the everyday starting opportunities a guy with his combination of power and defense should get. However, with an ability to play above average second and first base, the soon to be 26-year old could get some looks as a potential utility player.
Matt Duran: The 2011 fourth round pick, like Bichette Jr., struggled in his first time under the lights last year, hitting just .221 for the Staten Island Yankees a year after hitting .301 in his debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees.
|PULLING BACK: Duran has learned to allow the game to come to him more. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Need to Make Their Move
Fu-Lin Kuo: The Taiwanese native has shown all of the requisite skills to be an impact player on both sides of the ball; excellent gap power, a solid offensive approach, a steady glove, a solid average arm, etc. However, whether it's because of his cultural adaptation or not, he simply has not proven to be the consistent force many believe he can be. Now 22 years old and buried behind the likes of Bichette Jr. and Duran at the lower minor league levels, he is rapidly approaching sink or swim time in pinstripes. He desperately needs a breakout season.
Rob Segedin: The third round pick in 2010 has some solid overall skills. He shows good plate discipline and that's his real strength, but his power potential grades out as average at best and he has been flip-flopping back and forth between the outfield and third base, mostly because he's just serviceable defensively at the hot corner. With Rob Lyerly officially retired and a host of great outfield prospects destined for Trenton in 2013, the 24-year old Segedin will get an opportunity to play third again and to prove he's much better than his .188 showing in Trenton last year. He really needs a bounce-back season at the plate.
The Jury is Still Out
Dalton Smith: Drafted as a catcher in the 36th round out of University City High School in California last year, Smith has begun to transition to third base. Also a pitcher in high school, he shows above average arm strength and he is pretty confident offensively. A bigger framed guy, it remains to be seen how he'll handle the defensive duties at third and he has just seven official professional games under his belt to he still has a lot to prove with the bat.
Christopher Tamarez: The Yankees' top International signing in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic had a whale of a season in the Dominican Summer League last year, hitting .338 with a team-leading six home runs and 18 doubles for DSL Yankees1 last season, bouncing back from his .197 performance the year before. The former shortstop has really just begun to switch over to third base and while the power was impressive last year, it remains to be seen if the power will continue to improve as he still remains a bit too skinny. There's some 'sleeper' upside here though if he gets physically stronger.