RHP, Steven White: People forget how the 2003 fourth round pick out of Baylor University had one of the better arms back in the day. He sat mostly in the 91-94 mph range with good movement with his fastball and topped out at 96 mph, but a series of injuries kept him off of the mound for long periods and it slowed down the development of his secondary pitches, which tapped out at being merely average and he simply didn't miss enough bats. He also lacked some confidence and that didn't help in his development.
RHP, Rolando Japa: Not many will ever truly realize just how good his stuff was simply because he wasn't with the Yankees for very long. He pitched just two seasons in the United States for the Yankees, including posting a combined 5.00 ERA for short-season Staten Island and low-A Charleston back in 2006. However, boasting a mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup, he was very much like former Yankee farmhand Jose Ramirez. Japa though inexplicably quit baseball following the 2006 season and we will never know how good he could have been with some more development.
LHP, Garrett Patterson: This 7th round pick back in 2005 out of the University of Oklahoma had one of the truly special arms. Able to dial it up consistently to 97 mph from the left side and compliment it with a wicked changeup, he was simply besieged by injuries in his career. Being out so much cost him a ton of development time and it had devastating effects on his lackluster command -- he averaged more than six walks per inning pitched in his career when he was healthy enough to pitch -- and that cost him dearly.
LHP, Angel Reyes: Perhaps the poster child for 'What Could Have Been', this Dominican southpaw, who had ranked here the Top Ten for years, was exceptionally blessed physically. Able to sit 92-94 mph and top out routinely at 97 mph as a starting pitcher and consistently throwing a plus curveball, like Patterson he was ultimately done in by terrible command. Reyes' problems though were not injury related, they were more mental than anything. Better makeup -- a little less stubbornness, a little more humbleness -- could have tied things together for him.
OF, Eduardo Sosa: Signed out of Venezuela back in 2007, the consensus in the scouting community was that his floor was that of a fourth outfielder type cut in the mold of Endy Chavez and his ceiling was perhaps a more powerful version of Brett Gardner. While the physical tools were all there, his uber-shyness never allowed his tools to flourish and he became yet another one in a long list of players who capped out in A-ball [he had just 383 high-A at-bats for the Yankees].
OF, Carlos Urena: As physically gifted as they come, Urena was flashing plus power potential from the moment he signed back in 2006. In fact, he once hit a home run in four straight Spring Training at-bats back in 2007. He also had plus arm strength and some real plus defensive instincts. He didn't take his conditioning seriously enough, however, and never really made the swing adjustment to using the whole field more. He is just another example of top-shelf physical talent that never materialized.
Top Ten Untapped Yankee Prospects
10. 3B, Marcos Vechionacci: 'Nacci' was signed out of Venezuela back in 2002 and was immediately seen as one of the top prospects in the organization, a switch-hitter with real long-term plus potential and was silky smooth defensively at the hot corner. He even had great makeup. Unlike most of the players in this ranking who had either injuries or some mental lapses in their games derail them, 'Nacci' simply was unable to put it all together for whatever reason and became another five-tool potential stud who capped out at the higher minor league levels.
9. 3B/1B, Eric Duncan: The 2003 first round pick was a New Jersey native and in many respects his selection was perceived as the Yankees returning importance to their very much barren farm system at the time. With virtually nobody in front him he was advanced all the way to Double-A in two short years and perhaps that accelerated track hurt his development. Known more for his left-handed power, he didn't have a true defensive position and that limited his value to a bat that stalled out in Triple-A.
8. 3B, Bradley Suttle: The fourth round pick back in 2007 out of the University of Texas was Vechionacci-like in almost every way; switch-hitter, a willingness to use the whole field, a patient approach, and very good defensively, but he had a bit more tangible power potential. Unlike 'Nacci' though, Suttle, a Type-1 diabetic, battled injuries throughout his career, including two shoulder surgeries and even requiring a third before calling it quits in 2012. The power display put on this year by rookie Gary Sanchez is nearly the kind of power Suttle once touted but the injury bug ruined what could have been a very solid big league career.
7. RHP, Alan Horne: This 11th round pick back in 2005 out of the University of Florida was once a former first round pick out of high school whose stock slipped because of injuries. The signs were on the wall back then because after ascending all the way to Double-A and even becoming the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year in 2007 on the strength of a plus fastball and two above average breaking pitches, he succumbed to shoulder surgery the following year. His stuff, and subsequent lackluster command, were never the same again and he pitched less than 100 combined innings over the following three seasons before retiring in 2011. There was a prevailing thought at one point that he and Joba Chamberlain could anchor the Yankee bullpen for many years.
6. RHP, Jairo Heredia: Signed back in 2006 for a mere $285,000, this Dominican native appeared to be the bargain of a lifetime when he immediately began showing three above average to plus pitches with stellar command and highly advanced pitch-ability. Earning the nickname 'Baby Pedro' at the lower levels from his coaches for all of the aforementioned reasons, he began experiencing shoulder problems back in 2009, however, and was never the same pitcher. His velocity that once sat 92-94 mph began to dip down into the mid to high-80s before ultimately requiring shoulder surgery and he missed the entire 2012 season. He had put up solid minor league numbers since then but the above average velocity never returned. He had signed with the Atlanta Braves initially before shortly being released and later signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has not pitched since 2015.
5. RHP, Andrew Brackman: Stuff-wise he was simply sensational; a 97 mph fastball, a knee-buckling knuckle curveball, and a changeup that flashed plus potential, all coming from a 6-foot-11 frame. However, his greatest strength, his size, was also his biggest disadvantage -- mechanically he would have long stretches of not being able to throw the ball near the plate. Throw in some shaky confidence and a 40-man roster designation upon being drafted that dictated him being moved too quickly through the minor leagues, Brackman was a high-ceiling prospect who needed development time and was short on getting the required amount. He retired back in 2013.
4. OF, Ravel Santana: Since this is a ranking of the top untapped talents for the Yankees, Santana, who was released by the Houston Astros in 2014 after being the first pick in that year's minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, is clearly one of the best in that regard. Once possessing plus power, plus speed, plus defense, and plus-plus arm strength, this Dominican native had two devastating injuries [a broken ankle and a broken arm] quickly derail what could have arguably been a top overall prospect in the game someday, he had that kind of natural talent. He never cracked the long-season leagues and hasn't played professionally in over two years; it's just a tragic tale of wasted talent.
3. LHP, Manny Banuelos: This is one of the few stories yet to be completed. Signed out of Mexico back in 2008 this southpaw leapt on to the scene immediately as a 17-year old armed with three above average to plus pitches, stellar command, and some of the best pitch-ability around. His prospect status soared even more the ensuing two seasons as his above average fastball began to range to a plus level velocity-wise, sitting more in the 92-95 mph range, but in hindsight that was really the beginning of the end of what had made him so special. His once top-shelf command became very shaky and then later succumbed to Tommy John surgery which kept him off the mound for nearly two years. Running out of options with the Yankees, he was traded in January of 2015 to the Atlanta Braves as part of a package for Chasen Shreve and he responded well, posting a 2.23 in 16 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2015. He was released by the Braves in August of this season, however, after another injury-riddled 2016 campaign and was subsequently signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim a few days later. At 25 years old, he still has time to turn things around.
2. OF, Slade Heathcott: He and Ravel Santana were neck and neck for their special physical attributes. Heathcott [in the photo above], a former first round pick back in 2009, graded out as plus in nearly every category except power where that still ranked above average. Like Santana though, injuries were a killer in his development and he simply could not stay on the field for any considerable length of time to hone his special talents. In fact, in eight seasons spent in the Yankee farm system he never accumulated for than 400 at-bats in a season and actually only accrued more than 300 ABs just once. He got hurt yet again earlier this season was later released at the end of May. He has since signed with the Chicago White Sox and the recently turned 26-year old still has time to turn his career around but he's need health more anything at this point.
1. RHP, Christian Garcia: There arguably hasn't been a more talented pitcher and a better arm in the Yankee farm system over the past fifteen years, and that is including guys who have gone on to have big league careers. Armed with three plus pitches, command, and one of the more fluid, effortless, and ideal mechanics, Garcia was a true 'ace' in the making. However, perhaps a bit too immature in his approach in his younger days gave way to a rash of serious injuries later on, including two separate Tommy John surgeries, and he and all Yankee fans are now cursed with the question of 'what could have been' with this superb talent.