Top Five Least Tradeable Prospects

The Yankees haven't just been promoting prospects from within to help the big club, they've used them as trade chips to get more established players or fill positions of need. While they've shown a willingness to deal prospects, not all of them should be for sale. Here's a list of the top five prospects down on the farm who should not be available heading into the Winter Meetings.

These are the players who might not bring back the highest return right now and/or losing them would hurt the organization's depth and long-term positional plans too much.

1. RHP, Bryan Mitchell: The trading of right-hander Shane Greene this past week to the Detroit Tigers in the 3-team deal that brought back shortstop Didi Gregorious from the Arizona Diamondbacks has waned the immediate depth of power right-handed starting pitchers at the upper levels for the Yankees. Already on the list prior to the deal, Mitchell has now catapulted right to the top of the list in a matter of days.

With the short-term health of Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova somewhat still up in the air, Mitchell, who made three big league appearances in 2014, now headlines the list of potential 2015 in-house candidates among their starting pitching prospects should the need arise. Throw in the fact that Mitchell [who boasts two plus pitches and a two more that are at least big league average] hasn't exactly posted eye-popping numbers yet, his trade value isn't at its highest peak yet and thus has more in-house value to the Yankees.

2. LHP, Manny Banuelos: The same theory very much applies here as it does with Mitchell; Banuelos is one of the few starting pitching prospects with some extended upper minor league level experience and, just a year back from Tommy John surgery, he too isn't seeing his full trade value at its peak.

The Yankees have some real depth among their relief pitching prospect options that are closing in on being big league ready but the shipping of Greene to the Motor City now shortens the list of starting in-house options. Banuelos, who first made it to Double-A Trenton back in 2010, has 233 career innings at the highest minor league levels so he gives the Yankees a bit more experience than most against more advanced hitters and that makes him less expendable too.

Throw in the fact that Banuelos pitched just 24 total innings in 2012 and none in 2013, despite having a solid first year back from Tommy John surgery this year [4.11 ERA, 71 strikeouts in 76.2 innings], his full trade value hasn't been completely resurrected yet. Another solid showing in 2015 would probably do that but at that point he might even become more untradeable should a rash of injuries besiege the Yankee big league rotation.

3. 1B, Greg Bird: He's not on the 40-man roster yet nor does he need to be and in this day and age that in itself has become a very valuable commodity for somebody of his ilk; usually players of his rather unique skillset who are closing in on big league ready are securing one of the vital 40-man roster spots [he's the only one in these rankings who isn't on the 40-man] and that alone arguably makes him one of the most valuable assets in the entire organization.

That being noted, however, while he certainly has a ton of trade value on the open market, he's just too valuable in-house. Throw in the fact that he is one of the few left-handed power bats [perhaps the only one] for the Yankees down on the farm at the upper minor league levels in an organization with some left-handed power question marks at the big league level too, he has found himself in a perfect storm situation where he is just too valuable to trade away at the moment. And with Mark Teixeira's health always a concern these days, positionally speaking he could slide right in when the need arises. Bird shouldn't be going anywhere.

4. OF, Ramon Flores: This Venezuelan native might be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Bird. Not noted for his power hitting yet, Flores will be entering his second year on the 40-man roster and he has just 235 Triple-A at-bats to his credit. Injuries limited him in 2014 obviously but the whole scenario -- rather average power potential for a corner infielder with mostly average physical tools, one with limited upper minor league level experience -- doesn't give him a whole lot of trade value on the open market right now.

Most scouts believe he can really hit and the Yankees firmly believe there is still some significant power potential yet to be untapped in this still [only] 22-year old so trading him now would be selling extremely low.. While he is holding a valuable 40-man roster spot right now, the smarter play is to allow him some more time to potentially break through. Patience is a virtue that could really pay off for the Yankees with Flores.

5. OF, Mason Williams: On paper it's been a bit of a disaster for this once top prospect. Not only has his on the field production slipped the higher he has climbed his way through the minor leagues, in fact hitting a mere .223 for Double-A Trenton in 2014, but he's been getting publicly crucified in the national media for a reported lack of hustle. To put it simply, his stock is right now at an all-time low.

However, despite his stock being where it is, he has still shown enough talent to warrant being placed on the 40-man roster this offseason and he still has a lot of supporters in the game of the baseball [not the media obviously], and it's because there is still a ton of upside left in his game. His development leash is almost assuredly reaching its breaking point and he is running out of time but it's also not quite done yet either. Holding on to Williams for one more year not only could pay huge dividends but it's really the only play the Yankees have right now because trading him now would basically being giving him away for nothing and a tad too prematurely too.

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