Periphery Prospects

The big talk in the prospect game is who is ranked where and which top prospects could wind up being impact big league players someday. As everyone in baseball knows, however, it takes a full 25-man roster to compete these days and those final roster spots aren't always filled by top prospects. Here are the fringy prospects, the ones on the periphery, who could impact a 25-man roster someday.

RHP, Cale Coshow: A 13th round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft out of Oklahoma Christian, Coshow is a big boy; really big! Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 260 pounds, he gets a lot of power behind him and it shows in his 95-96 average fastball. The secondary pitches are fringy at best right now and his fastball command could use further improvement, and the combination has him as a prospect outlier at the current time. However, should he either begin to harness a little more control and/or develop a strikeout secondary pitch to go along with his plus heater the Yankees could have themselves quite the 'sleeper' prospect.

UT, Claudio Custodio: The Yankees have recently begun transitioning the former shortstop to the outfield in the hopes of keeping him healthier and also as a way of utilizing his top-notch speed. There's some surprising gap power in his swing despite his wiry frame and he has a pretty solid approach at the plate too. His biggest problem to date is staying healthy but if he could ever avoid the injury bug and stay in the lineup consistently he has the rare kind of plus-plus speed and now defensive versatility that could make him useful at the big league level someday.

UT, Anderson Feliz: Unlike most of the names here, Feliz was once considered a burgeoning top prospect. He had plus speed, switch-hitting abilities, average or better power, and average or better defensive abilities. A slew of injuries later he's barely holding for his baseball life with the Yankees but the ultra-high ceiling still remains. Nothing more than a fringe prospect right now, like Custodio if he could ever chip in with a full healthy season he could provide some late-blooming help. He plays shortststop, third base, second base, and now the outfield, and he has power and speed. You can't bank on him because chances are he will get hurt again but at the same time he can't be completely written off yet either.

C, Kyle Higashioka: Like Feliz, there was a time when this former seventh round pick back in 2008 had his prospect stock on the rise. An elite defensive catcher with makeup to spare, 'Higgy's' biggest issue was lackluster offensive results despite one of the best approaches at the plate. He's still just a .229 career hitter and he's had all of 74 official at-bats over the past two seasons while working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but there's still just enough power in his swing, enough maturity at the plate, and standout defensive abilities behind it that he could potentially play his way back on to the prospect map. About to turn 25 years old in April it can't be expected but most baseball insiders wouldn't be completely shocked if a big-time turnaround happened either.

RHP, Jaron Long: The leader of the 'periphery prospects', this former undrafted free agent signing is doing what most of these players haven't been able to do; stay healthy and be productive. The stuff is underwhelming for the most part. He will average mostly 88 mph with his fastball and he doesn't really have the knockout breaking pitch. He compensates, however, with impeccable command of what is still an average big league fastball and he boasts the kind of plus changeup that allows his other pitches to play a level up. The ceiling isn't vast at all and his prospects at a future big league career are limited, but he has just enough overall game and makeup to carve a role for himself down the road.

RHP, Conor Mullee: A 'sleeper' prospect from the day he was selected, this former college shortstop turned relief pitcher burst on to the scene back in 2010 with a 95-mph sinker with amazing movement. He subsequently has had three separate Tommy John surgeries and the now 27-year old seems to be clinging on to his baseball life. Any further setback health-wise could have him submitting his retirement notice but while the leash doesn't get any shorter he still has the kind of great makeup, overall above average to plus stuff, and untapped potential to perhaps one day not only find his way to the big leagues but even be an impact reliever. The odds of it happening are extremely long but he still has a fighter's chance.

RHP, Zach Nuding: There was time when this former 30th round pick back in 2010 was a bonafide Top 50 Prospect, albeit in the lower-end of the back-half of the Top 50. Always projecting a bit better as a future reliever given his ability to crank up the heat with his fastball in short one-inning stints [as high as 98 mph at one point], the Yankees have kept trotting him out in a starting capacity over the years in the name of allowing him more opportunities to further develop his slider and changeup. The secondary pitches haven't made huge strides, however, still ranging more average than anything, but what has happened is he's become one of of the real innings-eating stalwarts. With health concerns abound throughout the majority of the current big league rotation it is not out of the question that Nuding could provide some valuable big league innings as soon as 2015. And given his propensity for power, there's no telling what the adrenaline rush of pitching in the big leagues could do for him should he get there.

RHP, Angel Rincon: Like Nuding there was a time when this Dominican native found residence in the lower-end of the back-half of the Top 50 Yankees Prospects. Unlike Nuding, however, Rincon had big league starting potential all the way given the fact that he had flashed three different pitches with plus potential on any given day. Always battling nagging injuries, however, the Yankees went the other way with Rincon and transitioned him to the bullpen last year, and the results were encouraging as he posted a solid 3.01 ERA in 26 appearances for low-A Charleston. He pitched mostly in long relief, however, and there's some real projection as a short-inning reliever too. He is a fringy prospect now but still has a high enough ceiling that warrants keeping an eye on him.

1B, Matt Snyder: The recipient of freak injury after freak injury, this former Ole Miss standout simply can't stay on the field for any length of time. As frustrating as that is for he and the Yankees, the fact is with some of the best plate discipline around and one of the best left-handed swings around, despite the massive amount of development time he's missed he really doesn't need all that much. He still has to prove the 40 pounds of useful weight he's put on since he was drafted will translate to better in-game power and now he's firmly entrenched behind the likes of Kyle Roller and Greg Bird at the first base position, and the combination has him squarely on the prospect periphery, but a return to full health could have him becoming an eventual big league option someday. He just has to prove he can stay healthy.

RHP, Phil Wetherell: If there's a guy absolutely buried in a proverbial avalanche of prospect depth it is this former eighth round pick back in 2011. Whether it's Nick Rumbelow, Nick Goody, Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, Tyler Webb, Danny Burawa, Branden Pinder, or others, Wetherell lags behind nearly all of them on the current reliever depth chart. While that certainly has him on the prospect outskirts, it shouldn't detract from his long-term potential either. He averages in the mid-90s with his fastball and his splitter is a big-time pitch. He just needs to show a more consistent breaking pitch and better overall command. Should even just one of those facets of his game materialize it would not be out of the question that he could become a more viable in-house relieving option for the Yankees. The odds are long given how many guys he would need to leapfrog but it's not impossible given the talent here.


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories