On the Gulf: Armed and Dangerous

Of all the Yankee farm teams, the Gulf Coast League affiliate seems to really stand out this season. Their roster is loaded with talent from the past two drafts and some of the biggest stars to emerge from the Dominican Summer League. They seem to have everything from top notch pitching to an explosive young offense and their place in the standings has shown just exactly how good these guys are. Now, let's take closer look at this talented Gulf Coast Yankee group.

It is only nine games into the Gulf Coast League short season but already, the New York Yankees affiliate has shown that they can really play. So, is it their pitching? Is it their offense? No, it is just about all of the above. This team has about every kind of talent you can think of. Their offense is scoring runs left and right so far this season as their pitching continues to mow down the opposition. Who can we credit all of this too? Let's take a look at the whole squad of the GCL Yankees.


What a better place to credit the Gulf Coast Yankees success than to their leadoff man, Tim Battle. Battle is having an amazing comebacks season after struggling terribly in his first season last year. It seems to have no effect on him this season though as he has smacked 12 hits already this season which is good for second on the ballclub to Marcos Vechionacci. He has set the table nicely with his lofty .333 batting average to go along with his team leading, 4 stolen bases. Out of all the players on this team, he is the most obvious choice to leadoff with his speed. But, with the power he has hitting behind him, he won't always have to try and do too much.


Tim Battle is one thing to this lineup but Marcos Vechionacci is just another. There has been no member of the team that has contributed to the lineup more than this young third baseman. Vechionacci has shown that he has it all, from defensive ability, to speed, to hitting for contact and power. So far this season, Vechionacci has a team best, 14 hits. It doesn't stop there either. He also leads the team in RBI (6), doubles (3) and second in runs scored with 6. Marcos has proved to be the type of player that scouts were awed by last season when they saw him play in the Dominican Summer League. He is a true five tool player. It is not difficult to say that Vechionacci is top prospect material once he gets a bigger body of work behind him. Either way you look at it, he has been everything and more for the Gulf Coast Yankees.


Now that we took a look at the speed and the table setters at the top of this potent Gulf Coast Yankee lineup, how about looking at some of the power hitters. How about Raul Dominguez? Most have probably never heard of Raul but it is about you get used to hearing his name because with his talent you should be hearing a lot of him. Last season, Dominguez played in the Dominican Summer League and took it by storm. He proved to be on the elite players in the league and eventually received the Player of the Year award. This year has been not let down either. Dominguez, a first baseman by trade has taken a stranglehold on the position with his offense and defense. So far this season, he is batting a lofty .356 with a home run and three RBI as well. While Dominguez is a very potent threat in the middle of the lineup, he is not the only one that the Gulf Coast Yankees can throw at their opposition. This year, as a 1st round draft pick (37th Overall), the New York Yankees selected a young man that came into a pre-draft showcase at Yankee Stadium and proceeded to blast home runs into the third deck in right field as only and 18 year old. They were so impressed with his tremendous raw hitting ability, that they took him in the first round and assigned him to the Gulf Coast League. His name? Jon Poterson. This Chandler High School graduate was widely considered as one of the best power hitting draft prospects this year. Poterson is a catcher by trade but it appears that the Yankees have plans for him to be a full time outfielder rather than being behind the plate. Why risk such a potent bat anyway? The young power hitter got off to a very slow start this year in his first few games but has turned it around as of late. Poterson has already hit his first home run of the season, which is promising and he is also second on the team in RBI with four. So, Poterson is putting up the good production numbers so far. One thing that will help him come along is that in such a strong lineup of excellent hitters such as Nate Phillips, Jose Perez and others, Poterson does not have to put the pressure on himself to be the guy.


As for the pitching on this young team, well, there is no shortage of that either. Everyone who follows the Yankees knows of all the high profile guys such as Phil Hughes, Jeff Marquez, Christian Garcia and Jason Stephens but how about we first look at some of the less know but very talented hurlers. How about Erik Abreu? He is yet another Dominican Summer League star from the 2003 season that is now here to play for the Gulf Coast Yankees. Abreu has only pitched three innings so far this year but he is one to really keep an eye on. He throws a hard fastball with good movement. Dane De La Rosa. So far this season, De La Rosa has a 1.13 ERA in eight innings pitched. Now, we all know about Phil Hughes but let's talk about him anyway. Hughes was outstanding in his shot debut. He went 2 innings gave up two hits and no walks while striking out three. The control is as advertised going by the statistic of no walks. Even though Hughes has done well, the efforts of Jeff Marquez have been that much better. Marquez has tossed 9 1/3 innings and has struck out an incredible 13 batters while walking three. He also has a minuscule ERA of 0.96.


With a great offense and such a talented staff of pitchers, can we now see what a stacked roster of players that the Gulf Coast Yankees have. Almost every player on this team has at least a slight chance of becoming an elite type of prospect. There is truly almost no exaggeration in making that statement. Out of any of the Yankee Farm Teams, it will be important to monitor this one very closely.

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