LHP, Nestor Cortes: Last year's 36th round pick out of Hialeah Senior High School in Florida is the newest version of Camarena in that he doesn't throw very hard but the secondary pitches are above average to plus already, he's a superb strike-thrower with three big league pitches, and the overall pitch-ability is mature beyond his years. Like Camarena there isn't a whole lot of power projection in his game given his smaller size, but the broad shoulders and fluid delivery could eventually squeeze out another tick or two on the gun in the coming years and that bears watching.
LHP, Dietrich Enns: This 19th round pick in 2012 out of Central Michigan University is a true 'sleeper' prospect. While it remains to be seen if his eventual role is either as starting pitcher or a reliever, it doesn't really matter -- he's a 'sleeper' in either capacity. Considering he now has three big league average pitches or better and he's a lefty with some size [6-foot-1, 195 pounds], the smart money says he'll continue to get reps as a starting pitcher, a role in which he showed glimpses of real dominance at times last year.
|COMING BACK: Frare returning to health is key. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
RHP, Giovanny Gallegos: At 22 years old and still not breaking into the long-season leagues yet, a strong argument could be made to put him in either the 'jury is still out' or even the 'need to make their move' category. But given his lack of experience, all a result of nagging injuries thus far, and the fact he sits 92-93 mph, has a plus curveball, and a solid big league changeup with room to grow, and advanced pitch-ability to go along with a frame that could get stronger, he could also slot into the 'highest ceiling' realm too and that kind of potential with a mixed bag of results thus far makes him a legitimate 'sleeper'.
RHP, Juan Jimenez: This Dominican native has pitched a grand total of ten innings over the past two years after dealing with reported identity issues after he first signed and then having an appendectomy last summer. Stuff-wise though he's legit as they get, sitting 92-95 with his fastball and boasting two above average big league secondary pitches. The pitch-ability is going to need a little bit of work given the lack of development time he's had thus far, but he's a strike-thrower with stuff and size, and nobody knows about him yet. He could go from off the radar to squarely at the top of it in one year this coming season.
RHP, Dallas Martinez: The Mexican native just turned 19 years old this offseason and already has a plus curveball to go along with an above average fastball that projects to potentially be a plus pitch in due time given his frame and that fact that he already tops out at 96 mph. He's still a baby though development-wise and has a ton of room to get better, a truly scary proposition for opposing batters given how good he already is. The ceiling is enormous even though there is a lot of work to be done.
LHP, Caleb Smith: A 14th round pick out of Sam Houston State University last year is a good place for any 'sleeper' to start, but throw in the fact that he was downright dominant in his debut season with the Staten Island Yankees [1.89 ERA, .189 opponents' batting average] without the benefit of a plus breaking pitch, the sky is the limit for this changeup specialist. He has an above average fastball too that plays up to the plus level given his deception too, so if he can just continue to throw strikes, work ahead of batters, and incorporate a consistent slider that proved to be an above average pitch during Instructs this offseason, he could really begin to open some eyes and quickly move up the minor league ladder.
LHP, Matt Tracy: Very Caleb Smith-like when he was drafted in 2011, this former former 24th round pick out of college spent most of his amateur time as an outfielder. Stuff-wise he has three big league average or better pitches and a fourth one that's quickly developing with his brand new cutter, and some real moxie on the mound. His numbers weren't all that great in his second full season last year, one which was riddled by injuries, but that only helps disguise just how good he could truly be when it's all said and done.
Need To Make Their Move
LHP, Rony Bautista: This Dominican monster has it all; size [6-foot-7], stuff [plus fastball, plus slider, developing changeup], and an ability to make adjustments. However, while he could easily slide into the 'highest ceiling' group with his unique set of tools, the fact is he has pitched just one game above the rookie levels thus far in his career and he is already 22 years old. He needs to get into the long-season leagues very soon and be productive almost immediately.
|MORE STUFF: Jordan Cote either needs more zip with his fastball or a better breaking pitch. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
RHP, Caleb Cotham: His 2013 campaign was a lot better than most stat junkies might realize considering his ERA in Triple-A last season went up nearly one full run in one disastrous start [his final one of the season]. Had it not been for that start, his ERA would have been a more solid 4.66 but it still would have needed a bit more improvement, especially since the former shoulder surgery recipient is now 26 years old. Fair or unfair, he needs a breakout season in 2014 to have a realistic shot of getting any chance with the big league Yankee ball club.
LHP, Chaz Hebert: This former 27th round pick out of high school in 2011 has made some real progress in his first two seasons with the Yankees, especially with his curveball and overall physical conditioning, but like Cote he has yet to get out of the Gulf Coast League and he's now 21 years old. And like Cote, he needs a breakout season because younger and higher-ceiling arms are beginning to catch up [and in some cases surpass him] on the pitching depth chart.
RHP, Jairo Heredia: Armed with arguably the best curveball-changeup combination down on the farm, this Dominican native doesn't even need a breakout season -- he just needs a full, healthy one. His pitch-ability is off the charts and he is a superb command guy in every sense of the term. But with a shoulder injury that seemingly won't ever heal, his velocity has fluctuated from the mid-80s to 94 mph in recent years. He really needs to get back to the 90-92 mph velocity level and sustain it for a full season. If he could do that he would find an opportunity at the big league level.
RHP, Joey Maher: Like Cote and Hebert, this former 38th round pick was drafted back in 2011 and has spent his first two seasons in the Gulf Coast League. And like the other two, there is still a lot of long-term potential that simply can't be written off just yet and there has been steady progress in his game. However, he needs a consistent curveball going forward if he hopes to break into the long-season leagues, something the now 21-year old really needs to accomplish soon.
RHP, Angel Rincon: This Dominican hurler opens up eyes nearly every time he steps to the mound because he can flash three plus pitches on any given day. Now 21 years old, however, it's time to stop flashing the potential and start proving it game in and game out. He has put up consistently good numbers in his career thus far but he needs to prove it in the long-season leagues in quick fashion if he has any hopes of realizing his potential in Pinstripes.
LHP, Evan Rutckyj: Standing 6-foot-5 with three above average or better big league pitches, this Canadian native has enough talent to fall into the 'highest ceiling' or 'sleeper' categories. However, while stuff isn't his problem, his pitch-ability is and that has aided in some lackluster production on the mound. The soon to be 22-year old is coming off of a 5.00-plus ERA season at the low-A level and he still walks a few too many batters. Shaving either of one of them [or both] would put him in a better prospect position going forward.
RHP, Cesar Vargas: He certainly could fit into the 'sleeper' category given the fact he gets overshadowed by everybody despite the fact he possesses three big league average pitches or better with solid command and has some decent numbers lately [3.24 ERA in Charleston last season], but the now 22-year old needs to develop at least one of his pitches into the plus category to open up even more eyes and put himself in better prospect radar position.
The Jury Is Still Out
RHP, Brett Gerritse: Certainly a 'sleeper' of sorts given the season he had just last year [3.56 ERA, 108 K's in 101 innings] for the Charleston RiverDogs and the fact he went to the Arizona Fall League, it remains to be seen if his 91-94 mph velocity bump that he saw towards the end of the year will remain a constant going forward. Should he do that again in 2014 and keep going on an upward tract statistically, he could carve himself a long-term chance with the Yankees.
RHP, David Palladino: Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 240 pounds, last year's 5th round pick from Howard College certainly has the intriguing size to potentially be a factor down the road. However, while he is big the power hasn't really shown up on the radar gun yet at the professional level [sitting more average velocity-wise] and there are also mechanical and strike-throwing issues to be ironed out. He is going to be a long-term project with an array of short-term issues.