OF, Trey Amburgey: It seems so long ago but there was a point earlier in the 2016 season where this former 13th round pick was not only well on his way to another terrific season but also on his way towards becoming one of the top prospects in the entire Yankee farm system. He had posted an .847 OPS through his first 16 games in low-A Charleston and was among the extra-base hit and stolen base leaders when a bad hamstring injury sidelined him for the ensuing two months. Despite having a solid season overall, he just wasn't the same player when he came back. Considering the shape he showed up in at Spring Training camp and the hot start he had gotten off to, there's a beast waiting to be unleashed when he's completely healthy. Don't be surprised if he's one of the top names discussed during the 2017 season because he comes across as the type of player who doesn't like unfinished business.
SS/2B, Diego Castillo: When it comes to pure numbers it doesn't appear like this burgeoning plus hitter had much of a sophomore campaign in 2016, hitting just .267 in the Gulf Coast League with a rather meager .659 OPS. Throw the numbers out the window -- he's a much better hitter than those rather pedestrian numbers show. Keep in mind the still 18-year old was going through his first season in the United States and was learning to play other positions defensively too. A lot was thrown at him in one year and he's just too good not to turn things around not just in a big way but in quick fashion as well. He still has to endure the trials and tribulations of playing night games for the first time so the breakout might not be immediate but his plus plate discipline and natural center to opposite field approach should serve him well in the not so distant future. A big turnaround is likely in the cards.
OF, Kendall Coleman: There's an old adage: 'if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it's probably a duck'. Well, now four seasons into his career and Kendall Coleman, despite showing the pitch recognition and plate patience to be an advanced hitter, is still just a .206 hitter in his career. He appeared oh-so close to breaking out after his strong finish to the 2015 season in short-season Pulaski but he quickly eroded this year when he began the season hitting just .202 in 37 games with low-A Charleston. His confidence wasn't quite the same and he just couldn't find a rhythm at the plate. Like many of the names on this list he's just too good a natural hitter to not turn things around soon but, an average defender at best, what he has working against him is time; he might not be given the same ample opportunities to turn it around as some others. There's a Kyle Higashioka-like comp offensively that can't be ignored but he, perhaps more than anyone else, needs to break out sooner rather than later.
OF, Estevan Florial: There wasn't a more talked about Yankees prospect entering the 2016 than this burgeoning top prospect. With above average speed and power, and a gregarious nature that was only surpassed by his natural intelligence [he speaks three languages], there was every reason to like him. And while he flashed many of those same traits in his first season in the United States [eight home runs and ten stolen bases in just 67 games], he wasn't exactly the breakout player many had anticipated, especially considering his .227 average and 85 strikeouts. Perhaps the victim of his own press, he just tried a bit too hard at times and it showed. He's a much better hitter than the numbers suggest and there is still immeasurable talent left to be tapped as well. Many thought he was on the precipice of being a top prospect in 2016 and he'll most likely show why in 2017.
SS/2B, Hoy Jun Park: Like Diego Castillo, there is still a ton of hitting potential left to be tapped in this middle infielder. Unlike Castillo, however, Park, a Korean native, is pretty much all along from a language barrier standpoint and he's still adjusting to life in the United States. Like Castillo though, there have been some flashes of what potentially could be when it all comes together for him. He's still growing physically and filling out, and yet he collected 29 extra-base hits playing half of his games in a notorious pitcher's park. He shows the kind of requisite patience [67 walks], bat velocity, and speed [32 stolen bases] too that make his rather low .225 average seem more like the eventual exception than the rule when his development is all said and done. It may not come next year in the Florida State League either but a breakout season does seem inevitable at some point for the still 20-year old.
C, Donny Sands: Last year's eighth round pick out of high school made a rather immediate splash in his debut season, hitting .309 and advancing all the way to low-A Charleston in his first season, a feat that not many have accomplished in the Yankees system before and he seemed to be on the fast track. He quickly, however, became the forgotten man in 2016 as he was transitioned defensively to the catcher's spot and began the year in Extended Spring Training as a result. He still wound up hitting a solid .286 with two home runs in just 30 short-season league games and did so while dealing with some nagging injuries, and while learning the nuances of a new position. A bit more experience behind the plate could lend itself well to somebody already really comfortable at the plate; a breakout season seems inevitable at some point for this natural hitter and it may not be all that far off.
C, Luis Torrens: "The" poster child for potential breakout candidates is this Venezuelan native, and an emphasis could be on 'child' too as Torrens is still just 20 years old [and will be at the start of the 2017 season too]. Defensively he's already a stud. In fact, now that the general masses have gotten a look at Gary Sanchez at the big league level, it should be noted that Torrens is light years ahead of where Sanchez was defensively at similar points in their careers and that's a scary thought. Offensively while the numbers are far from identical the plate presence is nearly as palpable too. What Torrens [who admittedly doesn't have near the same degree of power] has had working against him is health. Once he gets past his health issues though he has the kind of game that is not only going to impact the game on both sides of the ball but one that is going to move extremely quickly.
OF, Carlos Vidal: This was one of the real helium prospects a year ago, perhaps not as an overall top prospect but one that seemed poised to begin tracking upward quickly on the strength of his .303, nine home run showing in short-season Pulaski. He was never healthy though in his second full season in the United States this year and battled to accumulate just 67 at-bats spread out over three different minor league levels. Perhaps even more so than Sands he has become the forgotten man as injuries tend to do to prospects. However, as evidenced by his tremendous 2015 campaign, there's significant upside here that still hasn't been tapped. A return to health should be the main ticket to resurrecting numbers and a potential breakout too. The makeup and talent are reminiscent of Angel Pagan so don't sleep on him turning things around soon.
Other Breakout Candidates to Watch: Angel Aguilar, Drew Bridgesnull