RHP, Daniel Alvarez: There might not be a more polished lower-level pitcher than this Venezuelan native. He pitched to a 6-1 record with a combined 1.60 ERA between the Gulf Coast League and Pulaski Yankees in his first season in the United States this year, and had a solid three to one strikeout to walk ratio. The fastball is merely average velocity-wise at this point though, sitting mostly 88-90 mph, but it has a ton of late life and movement, some of the best in the farm system. Throw in one of the best curveballs too and a developing changeup, there's some significant upside to this still 20-year old. Don't be surprised if he begins throwing harder in the next year or two as there's still some projection in his 6-foot-3 frame.
RHP, Sean Carley: Minor league relievers in an extremely deep farm system often times get unfairly overlooked and that's especially the case at the lower levels. In the particular case of this former 14th round pick, the fact that he repeated the low-A level, not because of performance or stuff issues but more because of extreme organizational depth and minor nagging injuries, has Carley very underrated at this point. He sits comfortably in the 92-95 mph range, shows two solid big league average secondary pitches and one with significant upside [the slider], he's a strike-thrower, and he's coming off of a sub-2.00 ERA over two A-ball levels in 2015. He gets buried in the depth but there is no denying he has big league upside.
RHP, Cody Carroll: One of the unsung heroes from the Charleston team [in fact, the whole pitching staff was extremely underrated], this former 22nd round pick out of Southern Mississippi University had a solid season, pitching to 3.15 ERA and striking out a batter per inning pitched. On paper he looks more reliever than starter after making 20 relief appearances in 2016, but the fact is most of those bullpen appearances were essentially scheduled starts that merely came later in games. He got stretched out and showed he was able to hold his velocity, sitting mostly 94-96 mph and topping out at 98 mph. He has an okay changeup and the breaking ball is at least big league average, but it's the fact that the ball flies out of his hand with relative ease that makes him extremely intriguing. A bit more development with the secondary stuff and he could be a big-time 'sleeper' down the road.
RHP, Luis Cedeno: A couple of years ago this Venezuelan native was where Daniel Alvarez is right now, a high pitch-ability guy with merely average big league velocity but had two good secondary pitches, he threw strikes, and he put batters away. His fastball velocity kept creeping up, once sitting 88-90 before going to 91-93 mph a year ago. It took a big-time leap in 2016 too, jumping up to the 94-96 mph range for a good portion of the season and even topping out at 98 mph. He still has to put on more weight and he tired in the final month of the season, sitting more 92-93 mph, but he's proven he can bring the heat when needed. If he can maintain that kind of velocity going forward, with his above average secondary pitches and bulldog mentality, he could be a real find.
RHP, Simon De La Rosa: The emergence of all of these power arms is slowly beginning to bury other pitchers like De La Rosa on the depth chart and it's making him [and others] more and more underrated. Throw in the fact that De La Rosa had trouble making the long-season league adjustment in his first trial [6.10 ERA for Charleston in 2016] numbers-wise this year, he might never be this underrated again. Few can boast his kind of plus big league fastball-breaking ball combination. Forget for a moment that the fastball sits 91-96, it's the elite movement it gets that few can match. He gave South Atlantic League batters way too much credit before righting the proverbial ship in Staten Island [3.38]. He should bounce back in 2017 and beyond.
RHP, Hobie Harris: Last year's 31st round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh isn't considered a Top 50 Yankee prospect at this point yet but absolutely would have been in years and even decades prior, thanks in large part to a fastball that tops out at 97 mph now. He went from sitting 91-93 mph in his debut season last year to sitting 93-95 mph in Charleston this year and he has both a quality curveball and splitter in his arsenal too. He won't grab prospect headlines as a minor league reliever but the big league potential is both tangible and tantalizing if the plus velocity continues moving forward.
RHP, Travis Hissong: Undrafted minor league free agents immediately begin their careers under the radar and this former Wright State product is no different. He had put up solid numbers in his first two professional seasons too but the majority of his success came in the short-season leagues and that further buried him on the depth chart. However, he pitched well once again in 2016 and the Yankees kept moving him up, and he kept pitching well, posting a combined 1.88 ERA over three minor league levels and striking out 84 batters in 72 innings, and ascending all the way to Double-A. He's not a fire-baller but he's no soft-tosser either, sitting mostly 92-94 mph coming out of the bullpen and showing two big league average secondary pitches that he can throw for strikes too. He still gets lost in the power arms race that has become the Yankee farm system lately but there's no denying the stuff is big league quality and he has results to match.
RHP, Brian Keller: Anytime somebody puts up the numbers that Keller did in his debut season this year [0.88 ERA, 51 strikeouts in 41 innings with just seven walks] over three minor league levels it forces folks to sit up and take notice. More so than the numbers, however, it's the big league quality stuff across the board that makes him very intriguing. He sat 90-93 mph this year and that's after already logging 107 innings this year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Throw in three quality secondary pitches and he not only has a starter's repertoire but there's also a chance he comes back throwing harder in his second season next year after some much needed rest this offseason. This isn't a typical senior sign; there's some upside here.
RHP, Jose Mesa Jr.: Like many of the other names in this group, Mesa has seen his velocity increase during his time in the Yankee organization. Once more of a 90-92 mph guy when he first got drafted in 2012, the son of former big league closer Jose Mesa began sitting more in the 95-98 mph range in 2016 and showed some great secondary pitches, including a slider, curveball, and changeup. In fact, the quality of all of his pitches are that of a big league starting pitcher but like his father has more of a reliever's mentality. He was pitching well this year too until a late-season elbow injury reared its ugly head. It remains to be seen how severe the injury will wind up being but if he can show the same stuff that he had in 2016 going forward then the Yankees have a real find on their hands.
RHP, Daniel Ramos: The numbers in what essentially was this Dominican native's debut season this year after missing the previous two years with a shoulder injury he pitched in just one game two years ago] were not pretty, posting a 5.40 ERA and surrendering a .395 batting average in seven Gulf Coast League games. And the stuff wasn't eye-popping either, sitting low-90s at times with what once was a burgeoning mid-90s fastball and even seeing it dip down to the 80s at times. However, the erratic stuff and numbers were to be expected considering his long layoff. The fact is though he can still spin a baseball with the best of them, he has shown an electric arm at times, and he answered the proverbial bell in 2016. It remains to be seen if he can still be the top-shelf pitcher many team insiders believed him to be [and still has the chance to be] but he's worth keeping an eye on going forward.
RHP, Eduardo Rivera: This Dominican fire-baller quietly had another superb year, posting a combined 1.34 ERA over three minor league levels with 47 strikeouts in 33.2 innings and advancing all the way to high-A ball. He has come a long way from his debut season in terms of throwing more strikes [he walked 42 batters in 34 innings in 2011] and he still has some work to do in that regard [he did walk eight in seven Tampa innings this year], but he's learned that with a fastball that tops out at 100 mph and a wicked curveball that he doesn't need to have pinpoint command to be successful. He has the stuff to pitch out of trouble, the workman-like mentality to keep improving his craft, and the upside of a potential big league setup man or closer.
RHP, Adonis Rosa: This Dominican native continues to get it done on the mound, posting a combined 2.19 ERA between short-season Staten Island and low-A Charleston this year with nearly a strikeout per inning pitched. Very much Cedeno-like, the fastball has also kept creeping up too. More of an 89-91 mph guy a year ago in Pulaski, he began sitting 92-93 mph this year and with his top-notch athleticism, impeccable delivery, and projectable frame [6-foot-1, 160 pounds], the soon to be 22-year old is still growing. The changeup is already an above average pitch, the curveball keeps getting better, and he throws a ton of strikes. He has a ton of 'sleeper' potential that's worth monitoring.
RHP, Daris Vargas: Vargas [in the photo above] is yet another extremely underrated arm the Yankees have down on the farm that just had a good year in Charleston [pitching coach Justin Pope deserves a lot of credit for the entire staff]. He went 10-8 with a 2.95 ERA and allowed just 106 hits in a team-high 131.1 innings. At 24 years old he's a bit older than most of the names here but, a former position player, he might actually have the freshest arm of them too. He's proven to be quite durable and he proved he could hold his velocity deep into games and into the season too. He sat mostly 94-98 mph and both the slider and changeup flashed big league average potential at times. The consistency isn't quite there yet with the secondary arsenal but just like his strike-throwing they continually get better each year. He's yet another high upside arm for the Yankees.