Here's a breakdown of the Pulaski Yankees this past season, both team-wise and prospects-wise.

The Pulaski Yankees had a fantastic season in 2015, finishing the year with an Appalachian League best 45-23 record, good for first place in the Eastern division and 8 games ahead of the second place club. We take a look at where was the team's greatest depth, which prospects stood out, which ones could be 'sleeper' prospects down the road, and more.

Consistency was their biggest strength in 2015.  They had just two winning streaks of five games or more all season long, including a season-high nine game winning streak from July 13-22, but they also never lost more than two games in a row all season long.  In fact, they lost consecutive games just five times all season.

Offensively it was a tremendous season for the club.  They led the ten-team league in OPS [.793, a remarkable 61 points higher than the next highest club], ranked first in home runs [63, not only 15 more than the next highest club but they had more home runs than the two lowest clubs combined], first in walks [321, a mind-boggling 68 more than the next highest club], first in runs scored [393], first in on-base percentage [.366], slugging percentage [.426], and total bases [960], and tied for first in team batting average [.269].  They also finished second in the league in triples [22] and fourth in doubles [122].  The only blemish in an otherwise dominating offensive performance was leading the league in strikeouts [588].

The Pulaski pitching staff was nearly as dominant too, leading the league in ERA [3.08] on the strength of a league-best six shutouts.  They also led the league in strikeouts [618], allowed the fewest hits [522, in just 591 innings], and walked the fourth fewest batters [209], which placed them second in the league in WHIP ratio [1.23], just one percentage point behind league-leading and eventual Appy League Champion Greeneville.

The Greatest Depth

Just as the aforementioned statistical breakdown bears out, the team has nearly identical depth of long-term prospects between their positions players and pitchers.

The Bats

The club had a few offensive league leaders this season, including outfielder Carlos Vidal, who led the league in runs scored [49], and shortstop Hoy Jun Park who finished right behind him in the same category with 48 runs scored.  Second baseman Gosuke Katoh led the league in walks [49] with Park finished sixth in the same category [34], and all three of Kane Sweeney [31], Allen Valerio [30], and Kendall Coleman [29] finished in the top ten in walks.  Valerio also finished tied for first in the league-lead for home runs [12] and Vidal placed eighth with nine home runs of his own.  Coleman finished with the league-lead in triples [7] and Sweeney finished fourth in hitting [.320].

Top Position Prospects

As dominating an offensive showing it was for the club in 2015, the reality is they did it without a sure-fire elite position prospect on the squad.  The closest is shortstop Hoy Jun Park.  The Korean native was one of the top International free agent signings a year ago and not only bypassed the Dominican Summer League but made the jump over the Gulf Coast League too and chipped in with an impressive debut season, hitting .239 with eleven doubles, five home runs, and twelve stolen bases.  The 34 walks shows he has the requisite patience and pitch recognition to improve on his batting average going forward and the exit velocities on his drives, some of the best in baseball this year, suggests some significant long-term power potential too.  Throw in already smooth defensive abilities and it may not be long before he finds his name among the elite prospects in the organization; he's well on his way.

Outfielder Kendall Coleman, like Park, is not a top position prospect just yet but he's shown flashes of the above average to plus tools to perhaps one day get him into that grouping too.  The seven triples and five home runs are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of his long-term above average or better power potential and though he hit just .236 this season, a career-high for him, he was able to shake off the rust of three injuries in three seasons to hit .356 down the stretch in his final 25 games.  Like Park he's just now scratching the surface of his potential and could one day become an impact position prospect for the Yankees.

The Biggest 'Sleeper'

While the team was really devoid of an elite position prospect, it does offer a number of potential 'sleeper' candidates, highlighted by outfielder Carlos Vidal.  His outstanding production thus far in his short career doesn't make him much of a real 'sleeper' -- he did hit .303 this season with 15 doubles and 9 home runs after hitting .361 in his debut season in the Dominican Summer League in 2014 -- but scouts are baffled as to how he's able to generate so much success with his diminutive 5-foot-11, 170 pound frame.  The fact is though he can flat-out hit, shows above average or better patience and pitch recognition, he generates surprising torque with quick wrists that suggest at least moderate power potential, and he's a real gamer.  Garnering some Angel Pagan-like comparisons now, he might not be a 'sleeper' for long if he keeps up this kind of production.

Just like Vidal, third baseman Allen Valerio finds himself in the 'sleeper' category despite being among the Appy League leaders this year and it has more to do with his rather modest physical frame too.  Standing just 6-foot-1 and a [albeit] conservatively listed 173 pounds, his 12 home runs this season defy scouting logic.  While it may take some more time and repeated success for the scouting community to become believers in his power, it's his above average to plus defensive abilities at third base along with better than average patience and pitch recognition that gives him a solid long-term shot with the Yankees.  He is already 22 years old though and did not look great in his long-season league debut earlier in the year [he hit just .125 wiht 18 strikeouts in 13 games in Charleston], but if he can keep his Pulaski success going as he moves up he could sneak up on some folks.

Second baseman Gosuke Katoh appeared to be well on his way to becoming an elite prospect immediately after his second round selection in 2013 but struggled rather mightily in his two seasons in Charleston, including a .161 average in his return trip there earlier this season.  He had been working on shortening his swing and perhaps his .287, five-home run showing in Pulaski is evidence that it's coming back together for him.  Still, the 21-year old has much to prove in the long-season leagues before he can once again find his place among the better position prospects in the organization and for now is relegated to 'sleeper' status until such time.

Perhaps the deepest 'REM sleeper' from this year's team is outfielder Frank Frias.  Like Vidal all he's done since entering the farm system is be an above average performer, hitting .307 three seasons into his career thus far.  And just like Vidal it all starts with his better than average plate patience and pitch recognition.  However, physically the two are worlds apart as Frias stands 6-foot-2 and rock-solid 190 pounds.  He has some thunder in his swing and, prior to breaking his ankle a year ago, possessed above average running speed.  It stands to reason that he and the Yankees decided not to let loose on the base paths in his first full year back from the gruesome leg injury and that is the reason he stole just three bases in Pulaski this year, but few can match his blend of physical tools and production.  The 21-year old could really make a move up the prospect rankings with a similar showing in the long-season leagues.  He's one to keep an eye on.

Not Just Yet

It's tough to criticize anyone who had the kind of production first baseman Kane Sweeney had in his debut season this year, hitting .320 with 15 doubles and ranking second in the league in OPS [.999].  However, it needs to be noted that the now 23-year old was playing against much younger competition in the Appy League this year and was a 29th round pick too.  That could make him a 'sleeper' of sorts but he also plays a power-hitting position.  He'll need to keep up his lofty production as he ascends the minor league ranks before getting more attention as a viable long-term prospect for the Yankees.

Top Prospects On The Mound

Just as is the case with the position prospects, despite the incredible pitching statistics posted by the Pulaski staff this year, the team doesn't really offer a now elite pitching prospect.  Just like with Park and Coleman, however, right-hander Drew Finley may have the requisite skills to one day become one.  Drafted in the third round this year out of high school, he skipped the Gulf Coast League level entirely and more than held his own in the Appy League, posting a very respectable 3.94 ERA and striking out 41 batters in just 32 innings.  The stuff is above average right now, including a 90-93 mph fastball and advanced curveball that he can throw for strikes.  The command and control though have room to get better as he walked 19 batters, and the changeup, while solid for a first-year pitcher, needs refinement too.  He stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 200 pounds so there is some ceiling left power-wise.  Much like Brady Lail was when he first entered the organization, how his power develops and command improves will go a long way towards determining his eventual status as a prospect, but the rather lofty ceiling is there.

The Biggest 'Sleeper'

Just like with the position players, while the team doesn't offer a whole ton of elite pitching prospects there is no shortage of 'sleeper' candidates, including left-hander Nestor Cortes and right-handers Simon De La Rosa, Juan Jimenez, and Eduardo Rivera.

Cortes, a 36th round pick out of high school in 2013, was one of the top pitchers in the Appy League this year, posting a 2.26 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP ratio and striking out 66 batters in 63.2 innings.  He boasts three average or better big league pitches right now, including an above average curveball-changeup combination, and he has an advanced feel for pitching.  Standing just 5-foot-11, however, and averaging more in the high-80s to low-90s with his fastball, it's the rather modest ceiling that prevents him from being an elite pitching prospect right now.  Still, the stuff plays and he knows how to pitch, so much so that he could sneak his way up the minor league ladder and surprise some folks long-term.

De La Rosa is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  He has a big-time arm, averaging anywhere from 93-96 mph with his fastball, and he boasts a plus big league breaking ball.  Standing 6-foot-3 with loose arm action too he has the potential to throw even harder as he continues to mature.  However, unlike Cortes, he doesn't yet have full control of the strike zone and walking too many guys [he walked 37 in 53.1 innings this year in Pulaski] can be problematic for him, and his changeup remains a work in progress.  He has the kind of wicked stuff to work his way out of trouble but pounding the zone more will absolutely be needed as he continues to climb the minor league ranks, and further developing his changeup will be needed if he's to remain in a starting capacity.  But his natural arm and stuff make him a big-time 'sleeper' worth tracking.

Jimenez, like De La Rosa, is a Dominican native who brings a De La Rosa-like arm and size with Cortes-like strike-throwing ability.  That kind of combination should give him the ability to be an elite pitching prospect but, the victim of health issues the past couple of years, is not quite there yet.  His inconsistency staying on the field and subsequent lost development time has him still working on his overall feel for pitching.  Still, he posted a very respectable 2.88 ERA in eleven appearances for Pulaski this year with 32 strikeouts [and just 8 walks] in 25 innings.  However, the 22-year old gets dinged a bit for not being in the long-season leagues yet and therefore is a 'sleeper' candidate.  He has the goods to work his way up the prospect rankings in the coming seasons, he just needs to stay healthy.

Rivera, yet another Dominican hurler, has long been noted for his plus arm, one which can routinely top out in the high-90s with his fastball but for years had a hard time consistently throwing strikes; he pitched three full seasons in the Dominican Summer League and often times would walk as many batters as he struck out.  He had a massive turnaround throwing strikes in 2015, however, walking "just" 18 batters in 35 innings for Pulaski.  He's still not where he needs to be in that department and he is 23 years old now without an inning in the long-season leagues to his name, but anyone with his kind of power on the mound who is showing some progress control-wise needs to be tracked.  He has 'sleeper' potential, even if it's a bit of a longshot given his advanced age.

Not Just Yet

Right-hander Adonis Rosa made a name for himself after not only skipping the Gulf Coast League level in 2015 but having a more than solid showing in the Appy League, posting a very respectable 7-2 record with a 3.93 ERA in eleven starts for Pulaski.  His fastball and curveball are both big league average, and he can throw strikes consistently.   What makes him a bit of a 'REM sleeper' is his plus big league changeup but the soon to be 21-year old will need to improve on his average 88-91 mph velocity to become more than a middling prospect long-term.  He tops out at 93 mph on a still rather slender 6-foot-1, 170 pound frame so there is some potential here but he's not quite there just yet.  Stay tuned.


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