LHP, Rony Bautista: Signed out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2009, this 6-foot-7 southpaw has always had one of the higher ceilings in the entire organization. Able to sit in the low to mid-90s, it has taken some time for the Yankees to get his mammoth-sized frame to work in sync and the progress has admittedly been very steady.
However, while he posted some scintillating numbers last year, including a combined 2.21 ERA, less hits than innings pitched, and more than a strikeout per inning pitched, the fact is he is now 22 years old and he has but one appearance above the rookie levels to his credit. He needs to get into the long-season leagues in the worst way in 2014 and be nearly as productive as he was in 2013 to keep his stock on an upward track.
3B, Dante Bichette Jr.: Few prospects have seen their stock slip as much as this 2011 first round pick. He was forced to repeat the low-A level in 2013 after hitting just .248 with three home runs for Charleston in 2012, and while the power production was better [clubbing eleven home runs], he hit just .214 for the RiverDogs last season.
He hasn't made a huge amount of progress defensively either. He's still solid at the position but with a frame that carries some long-term agility concerns as he gets older it would be better to iron out those issues now. He is in desperate need of not only a breakout season but just a consistent one from start to finish on both sides of the ball because he has the likes of Eric Jagielo and Miguel Andujar now catching up to him [and perhaps surpassing him] on the minor league depth charts at third base.
RHP Jordan Cote, LHP Chaz Hebert, and RHP Joey Maher: Selected in the third round, the 27th round, and the 38th round respectively back in 2011, all three former high school hurlers have slowly made progress during their time with the Yankees and each of them have done fairly well statistically in their careers, but none of the trio have yet to get out of the short-season leagues and each one of them is now 21 years old.
It is time for at least one of them to emerge and break into the long-season leagues. As it is they'll already be fighting the likes of Luis Severino, Ian Clarkin, Ty Hensley, Brady Lail and others for a spot in low-A this coming season, and unless they step up their games they could find themselves begin to be buried by the increasing pitching depth not only present at the lower levels but others surely to be entered into the system after the upcoming draft. It's time for them to make a move now.
SS, Claudio Custodio: Signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2010, he has quickly become the poster child of what could happen should an injury arise. Possessing plus speed and plus defense, and a solid knack for hitting with some surprising power potential given his smaller frame, an oblique injury limited him to just 43 games with Charleston last season.
Now 23 years old and with just 150 long-season league at-bats under his belt, he is quickly getting a little long in the tooth and not only is he fighting for playing time with Cito Culver at the A-ball level but he has a hard-charging Abiatal Avelino [and others] quickly coming up behind him. This coming season could be a make or break year for this speedster in the organization.
RHP, Angel Rincon: A lot has been made in recent months about how Cuban defector Omar Luis will be exposed in the Rule 5 Draft every year going forward and it is true that Luis will need to move quickly if he hopes to stick with the Yankees long-term, but Rincon, signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2010, is in the same boat too.
He was reportedly exposed this past offseason and wasn't selected, and he has a high enough ceiling that it makes his future with the Yankees tenuous at best as well. The now 21-year old has flashed three plus pitches at any given time, he has continued to post solid numbers in his first four seasons [albeit all in the short-season leagues], and he shows a solid combination of control and command. However, it's time to stop flashing stuff and become the consistent top pitching prospect he clearly has the talent to be. This coming season will be a make or break year for him in Pinstripes.
Five Needing Breakout Seasons
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