2005 Charleston RiverDogs Preview

The Charleston RiverDogs look like perhaps the most loaded Yankee farm team of all. They have it all. They have the pitching, they have the speed, the defense and the fire power as well. Now, let's take a look at a preview of the 2005 low A Yankee affiliate.

Starting Pitching

Phil Hughes - These top four guys are the reason that this Charleston team is going to wreak havoc on their opponents. With these four, it is like having 4 aces. But, with Phil Hughes right in the thick of things, the staff looks even scarier. There is a good chance he could start opening day but that is still up in the air as of now. No matter what happens, you can expect Hughes to set a good example with excellent control throughout the season. With his maturity, raw skills and pitchability, he is more than up to the task of full season ball and could be one of the elite pitchers in the league. And, Hughes also was able to characterize it best when speaking about the pitching staff. "With the arms we have on our starting staff, I don't see why we should lose a game."

Brett Smith - Well, there are three very young starters that anchor this pitching staff, but having a seasoned college pitcher like Brett Smith only makes things look even better. He did not pitch at all in 2004 due to his late signing, but the organization shows a world of confidence in him by throwing him into full season ball immediately. His spring training hasn't been incredible by any means, but that shouldn't be a cause for concern with a pitcher of Smith's caliber.

Christian Garcia - Like Hughes, the Yankees are excited about the possibilities that this high ceiling, high school draftee brings to the table. And, also like Hughes, this will be Garcia's first taste of full season ball. He will be the second of two starting pitchers that are under 20 years of age on opening day. If he can maintain his control and keep his walk totals down, Christian Garcia is as good a pitcher as you will find in the South Atlantic League.

Jeff Marquez - This righthander was one of the pitchers that was on the bubble between Charleston and Tampa. But, considering his is still only 20 years old, the Yankees took the conservative route with Marquez. But, armed with a two seamer, a nasty changeup and a newly refined breaking ball, expect nothing less than All-Star numbers from the California native.

Shaun Parker - Under normal circumstances, this spot would be manned by Ace #5, Jesse Hoover. But, Hoover will be on the shelf for a while with a stress fracture in his back. So, his spot will be filled, perhaps by Shaun Parker. But, that is not definite. Not that it matters at this level, but Parker may be the best choice in that he adds a left handed dimension to the rotation. But, the fifth spot could just as easily go to someone like TJ Beam or Josh Smith.


TJ Beam - We'll take his word for it for now, at least. Since the end of last season, the speculation has been that Beam would end up in the bullpen. Now, with that fifth spot in the rotation opened up for a while, that may change and he could end up as a starter again. But, assuming he does stay in the bullpen, he could be a key setup man for Mike Martinez with his blazing fastball and good slider.

Mike Martinez - He may be a little old for the league, but Mike Martinez is the apparent closer for this RiverDog team. And, there should be no doubt that he will do a fine job for them this season. He is not the typical flame throwing closer but he will get the job done. Not to mention, being more of a seasoned, veteran type of pitcher, he should bring a good presence to close out games for a young pitching staff.

Josh Smith - Here is one of the returning players from the 2004 Battle Creek Yankees team. It is a little surprising to see him back after the outstanding second half he had last season. But, he will likely serve as the swingman between starting and the bullpen.


Tim Battle - The exciting center field prospect may be finally coming to his own here in 2005. Battle is having an outstanding spring training and this could be the year that he puts all his tools together. That could result in a superstar center fielder playing in Charleston this year. He also may end up being the leadoff hitter at the rate he is hitting right now. His speed brings a whole new dimension to this team, along with Justin Christian, Estee Harris and Ryan Haag.

Marcos Vechionacci - One of the most exciting Yankee prospects of all, there will be a lot of eyes on Marcos Vechionacci in 2005. If he can succeed in full season ball, he will be able to leap into elite prospect status in a hurry. With his mature approach at the plate, the 18 year old should be able to adjust to the more advanced full season pitching very quickly.

Jon Poterson - It just goes to show you how much confidence the Yankees have in this 2004 1st round draft pick. Although he struggled to maintain a high average in the Gulf Coast League last year, the Yankees believe that this switch hitting slugger is more than ready for full season ball. He is one of the two apparent middle of the order hitters on this and don't put it past him to be among the league leaders in home runs in 2005.

Ben Jones - Like Poterson, Ben Jones will be one of the main power hitting suppliers for this lineup. In fact, he could be the cleanup hitter in the opening day lineup. He may not hit for an exceptionally high batting average but he will be a big time run producer nonetheless.

Justin Christian - Here is another player who will bring many different dimensions to this ball club. He brings speed, power and defense was either second base or third base. With him in the lineup, the RiverDogs will be able to do a lot more things with hit and runs, base stealing and flexing their lineup's muscle as well.

Estee Harris - In all likelihood, this is going to be the starting left fielder for the Charleston RiverDogs in 2005. Like Tim Battle, this is going to be the ideal year for Harris to put together all of the tools he possesses. Last year, he stumbled in his first try in full season ball, but perhaps he will be more ready this time around. Only time will tell, but he certainly adds even more speed and excitement to the Charleston outfield.

Irwil Rojas - What Rojas brings is not a flashy player but a very good one nonetheless. He may not put up monstrous numbers but he will hit for a solid batting average and he will make contact. Not to mention, he'll continue to do an excellent job behind the plate. All this at such a young age is a lot to ask, but it is something Rojas can certainly do.

Ryan Haag - This versatile infielder could fit into the bench category but it seems more likely that he has earned himself a starting job with a solid spring training. He is another guy who can play second base or third base, so his flexibility will help his playing time.


Grant Plumley - This natural shortstop played most of his spring training with the Tampa Yankees squad but he was recently sent down to the Charleston squad. There is a chance he will get a starting job but that is one more decision that will have to be made. He brings a slick glove to the infield with him. So, if he doesn't start, he'll be an excellent spare part as he is able to third base, shortstop and second base.

Yosvani Almario-Cabrera - He dominated younger competition in the Gulf Coast League in 2004, and now he has a chance to show he can do it against more advanced pitching. He will likely serve Manager Mosiello as a super utility man. So, even though he may not start on opening day, he should be able to get a large amount of playing if he continues to hit the ball well.

Edwar Gonzalez - Tools, he certainly has them, but he has never quite been able to put them altogether in a season of play. He is a very capable right fielder with a strong throwing arm and good range. Not to mention, he brings power from the right hand side of the plate. So, he could be a very acceptable replacement for any of the regular outfielders.

PJ Pilittere - There is still a good chance that he could split time with Irwil Rojas behind the plate but it should be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles it. Pilittere is the much older and more experienced player but Rojas may be the better prospect. So, we'll just have to wait and see how the playing time is budgeted between the two. But, there is a strong chance Rojas will be the opening day backstop.

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