Angelo Gumbs: This former second round pick fits in all sort of categories among the second base prospects, including the 'need to make their move' group too considering the lackluster offensive production he had last season [.213, just 29 extra-base hits]. Still, he had missed the entire second half of his first full season the year before and battled some nagging injuries last year too so he deserves a little bit of a mulligan.
The fact is the tools are still above average or better in nearly every category; the bat speed is plus, the power and speed combination is above average, the makeup and work ethic are tremendous, and defensively he's able to make some head-turning plays. He still has to smooth out the rough edges but the ceiling is enormous.
Gosuke Katoh: Last year's second round pick might not have quite as high a ceiling as Gumbs but it's not too far off either. What makes him so good though is the floor is considerably higher, thanks to his superb plate discipline, short compact swing, and advanced patience.
Forget the fact that he hit .310 in his debut season and was among the home run leaders in the Gulf Coast League, he's also a plus runner who has one of the better short and long games in the entire farm system. With great makeup to boot, he has the chance to be a special player down the road.
Closest to the Majors
Corban Joseph: It's commonplace in the prospect game to get overly excited about the young high ceiling guys and forget about the ones who were once considered such prospects [like Joseph] and are now closing in on being big league ready, especially ones coming off of either down years or injury-plagued seasons, and Joseph fits the bill in all respects.
He hit just .239 for Triple-A Scranton last year and missed most of the season after shoulder surgery, but it would be a huge mistake to forget about his potential impact. Yes the defense is still average at best but the 25-year old can still flat-out hit, get on base, and it was just two seasons ago that he hit a career-high 15 home runs. It's not implausible to believe he could pull a Robinson Cano and have a strong Triple-A start before securing the starting second base job for the Yankees later in the year.
Jose Pirela: Just like Joseph, Pirela is also closing in on being big league ready after spending the past three seasons in Double-A Trenton. And just like Joseph, he too could also wind up being in the big league starting second baseman mix at some point in 2014 if he keeps on raking [he hit .301 in the second half last season].
|SLEEPER FOR NOW: Refsnyder might not fly under the national prospect radar for long. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Rob Refsnyder: As crazy it may sound, this former College World Series MVP who has yet to step on to a Double-A field is also closing in on being big league ready, thanks in large part to one of the best combinations of plate discipline, patience, advanced swings, and high-energy style of play around.
He led the farm system in hitting a year ago, swiped 23 bases, and finished second in walks [with 82 base on balls], so offensively he's pretty close to ready right now. And the power, while average right now, still has room for improvement. Defensively he's been playing the position for just one year but he has shown the ability to be a very good defensive player after he gains more experience. Watch out, he could sneak his way into the starting second base mix by 2015.
Need to Make Their Move
Jake Anderson: This former seventh round pick back in 2010 has had a rough go of it in his career, hitting just a total of .218 in his first three professional seasons and spending nearly the entire time in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He is running out of time to make a mark of any kind.
Anderson Feliz: When it comes to pure tools and natural talent, Feliz actually belongs in the 'highest ceiling' category. He has plus speed, average or better power potential, shows an ability to hit, and defensively he could be special [and second base is clearly his best position]. However, he just needs to prove he can stay healthy along enough to stick on the field after amassing a grand total of just 276 at-bats total the past two years with an array of injuries.
The Jury is Still Out
Bryan Cuevas: There's enough talent in this Dominican native to potentially become a 'sleeper' prospect because the overall game is quite solid. He shows a good offensive approach, the power is average, he can run a little bit, and he makes all of the routine plays on the field. Signed as an older player, however, and now 20 years old, it remains to be seen if he can step up his game a little more going forward to become more of an impact guy.
Derek Toadvine: Last year's 22nd round pick out of Kent State University has the kind of plus-plus speed that could warrant being a 'sleeper' prospect as well and he can flash the leather defensively too, but the bat lags further behind, hitting just .237 in Staten Island last season. It remains to be seen if he'll hit enough to move up the prospect depth chart but if he can get the bat going more consistently he could be a factor.