2005 Farm Outlook: Minor League Season Preview

It's finally here. Opening Day is upon us for the Minor League fans among us. Taking the field on Thursday will be Columbus, Trenton, Tampa, and Charleston. They'll all be looking to get off to a strong starts but there will be certain players to watch out for along the way. Find out who they are now.

Columbus Clippers

Projected Team MVP: Kevin Reese. It is about time he gets the recognition he deserves. If Reese can put up anywhere near the numbers he put up last season, he will undoubtedly be the most valuable hitter in the lineup. With his speed, clutch hitting and gap power, expect Reese to put up more big numbers here in 2005.

Projected Team Cy Young: Chien-Ming Wang. Well, who knows if he'll be riding the shuttle back and forth between New York and Columbus this year. But, if he is with Columbus, look for him to repeat his dominating performance in AAA late last season. We are finally seeing the explosive talent that the Yankees gave $1.9 million, and he will likely continue to show it in 2005. Look for him to rack up some strikeouts along the way with his ever improving arm strength and durability. He is returning to elite prospect status in a hurry.

Breakout Player: Mitch Jones. After bashing 39 home runs for AA Trenton in 2004, Mitch Jones opened up a lot of eyes, even the ones that put him out of the prospect picture for being too old. But, after a great showing in the Arizona Fall League this off season, Jones not only found a new position, first base, and perhaps how to hit for a higher average as well. He may still be a hit or miss in 2005, but expect him to put his fair share of home runs on the board as well.

Trenton Thunder

Projected Team MVP: Eric Duncan. In all honesty, who else could you even consider before #1 prospect, Eric Duncan. The Yankee organization was thrilled, to say the least, to be able to hold onto Eric Duncan this off season and they are ready to start grooming him for the big leagues in AA this season. To put it as simply as possible, it would be much more of a surprise to see him not have a great season. Look for a huge year out of the sweet swinging lefty in 2005.

Projected Team Cy Young: Jeff Karstens. With all the talk focused on Steven White anchoring the Trenton Thunder pitching staff, Jeff Karstens seems to get lost in the shuffle. Remember, Jeff Karstens is still only 22 years old at AA ball. It shouldn't be quite such a rarity, but in the Yankee farm system that is just the way. The lanky righthander has good stuff and very solid command so, he could surprise a lot of people with a fantastic 2005 campaign.

Breakout Player: Shelley Duncan. If we haven't heard enough about how much power potential Shelley Duncan has, we are going to examine it again. Here is a guy who blasted 19 home runs in one of the most pitcher friendly leagues there is and he is heading into a far more hitter friendly Waterfront Park in Trenton. Expect him to be putting 25 HR+ this year, although him hitting for a high batting average still seem fairly improbable.

Tampa Yankees

Projected Team MVP: Erold Andrus. Perhaps he will be splitting time between the outfield and first base, but either way, the bat of Erold Andrus is here to stay. The stronger and more mature he gets, the more power he projects to have. He already proved he could hit for average in 2004 in Low A Battle Creek. Not to mention, he can put the bat on the ball with the best of them. He may not put up enormous statistics in a pitcher friendly Florida State League, but expect Andrus to be the most consistent offensive force for the Tampa Yankees this season.

Projected Team Cy Young: Jason Jones. Like is the case with Charleston squad as well, there are plenty of choices for the best performer on the pitching staff. But, if you are looking for a sure bet, Jason Jones is the right man for the job. There are pitchers with higher ceilings on the staff, such as Eric Abreu, Tyler Clippard, and Abel Gomez, but this tall righthander seems like the best bet to lead the team in innings pitched, compile the lowest walk total and perhaps even have the lowest ERA. He is the type of guys that always has his team in the game. Expect this 2004 4th round pick to anchor toe Tampa staff throughout 2005.

Breakout Player: Matt Carson - He had a chance to begin his season in Tampa last season, but in fairness to him, Carson never had a full time job in the outfield from the start. So, he was sent down to Low A Battle Creek. There, he proceeded to have a monster season. And, after an outstanding spring training which included a barrage of bombs by the right fielder, he will most definitely be in the opening day Tampa outfield on April 7th. Carson still has big time tools that he has to live up to and don't be surprised if he leads the club in home runs in 2005 as well.

Charleston RiverDogs

Projected Team MVP: Marcos Vechionacci. Out of all the Yankee prospects, there may be none for intriguing than 18 year old star shortstop, Marcos Vechionacci. Although any 18 year old prospect with only one pro season under his belt is never a sure thing, "Nacci" isn't your typical teenage player. With the maturity of a player well beyond his years, we can be much more confident that he'll be able to make a smooth adjustment to a higher level of play. With a full season of games, his numbers could be monstrous by season's end.

Projected Cy Young: Mike Martinez. Since it is nearly impossible to pick a team Cy Young winner from a star-studded starting rotation, we will turn to the unsung heroes from the bullpen. With a young yet talented pitching staff, the closer for this team, Mike Martinez, will be as valuable as anyone. And, going by his track record, he should make for the perfect calm influence to close out ballgames. With strong starting pitching, he'll get a ton of save opportunities. Don't get surprised if he ends the season with a vast majority of those opportunities converted.

Breakout Player: Estee Harris, Tim Battle. These two guys have too much talent to keep up their merely average play over the past two seasons. It is time for them to take off. Both played solid baseball during spring training and are more determined than ever to show what they can do. They'll be playing in a hitter friendly park in Charleston this season, so that should help them both offensively and defensively. It is no guarantee but both of them are primed for huge seasons.


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nColumbus Clippers
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Kevin Reese. It is about time he gets the recognition he deserves. If Reese can put up anywhere near the numbers he put up last season, he will undoubtedly be the most valuable hitter in the lineup. With his speed, clutch hitting and gap power, expect Reese to put up more big numbers here in 2005.
\r\n
\r\n

Projected Team Cy Young: Chien-Ming Wang. Well, who knows if he'll be riding the shuttle back and forth between New York and Columbus this year. But, if he is with Columbus, look for him to repeat his dominating performance in AAA late last season. We are finally seeing the explosive talent that the Yankees gave $1.9 million, and he will likely continue to show it in 2005. Look for him to rack up some strikeouts along the way with his ever improving arm strength and durability. He is returning to elite prospect status in a hurry.
\r\n
\r\nBreakout Player: Mitch Jones. After bashing 39 home runs for AA Trenton in 2004, Mitch Jones opened up a lot of eyes, even the ones that put him out of the prospect picture for being too old. But, after a great showing in the Arizona Fall League this off season, Jones not only found a new position, first base, and perhaps how to hit for a higher average as well. He may still be a hit or miss in 2005, but expect him to put his fair share of home runs on the board as well.
\r\n
\r\nTrenton Thunder
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Eric Duncan. In all honesty, who else could you even consider before #1 prospect, Eric Duncan. The Yankee organization was thrilled, to say the least, to be able to hold onto Eric Duncan this off season and they are ready to start grooming him for the big leagues in AA this season. To put it as simply as possible, it would be much more of a surprise to see him not have a great season. Look for a huge year out of the sweet swinging lefty in 2005.
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team Cy Young: Jeff Karstens. With all the talk focused on Steven White anchoring the Trenton Thunder pitching staff, Jeff Karstens seems to get lost in the shuffle. Remember, Jeff Karstens is still only 22 years old at AA ball. It shouldn't be quite such a rarity, but in the Yankee farm system that is just the way. The lanky righthander has good stuff and very solid command so, he could surprise a lot of people with a fantastic 2005 campaign.
\r\n
\r\nBreakout Player: Shelley Duncan. If we haven't heard enough about how much power potential Shelley Duncan has, we are going to examine it again. Here is a guy who blasted 19 home runs in one of the most pitcher friendly leagues there is and he is heading into a far more hitter friendly Waterfront Park in Trenton. Expect him to be putting 25 HR+ this year, although him hitting for a high batting average still seem fairly improbable.
\r\n
\r\nTampa Yankees
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Erold Andrus. Perhaps he will be splitting time between the outfield and first base, but either way, the bat of Erold Andrus is here to stay. The stronger and more mature he gets, the more power he projects to have. He already proved he could hit for average in 2004 in Low A Battle Creek. Not to mention, he can put the bat on the ball with the best of them. He may not put up enormous statistics in a pitcher friendly Florida State League, but expect Andrus to be the most consistent offensive force for the Tampa Yankees this season.
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team Cy Young: Jason Jones. Like is the case with Charleston squad as well, there are plenty of choices for the best performer on the pitching staff. But, if you are looking for a sure bet, Jason Jones is the right man for the job. There are pitchers with higher ceilings on the staff, such as Eric Abreu, Tyler Clippard, and Abel Gomez, but this tall righthander seems like the best bet to lead the team in innings pitched, compile the lowest walk total and perhaps even have the lowest ERA. He is the type of guys that always has his team in the game. Expect this 2004 4th round pick to anchor toe Tampa staff throughout 2005.
\r\n
\r\n

Breakout Player: Matt Carson - He had a chance to begin his season in Tampa last season, but in fairness to him, Carson never had a full time job in the outfield from the start. So, he was sent down to Low A Battle Creek. There, he proceeded to have a monster season. And, after an outstanding spring training which included a barrage of bombs by the right fielder, he will most definitely be in the opening day Tampa outfield on April 7th. Carson still has big time tools that he has to live up to and don't be surprised if he leads the club in home runs in 2005 as well.
\r\n
\r\nCharleston RiverDogs
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Marcos Vechionacci. Out of all the Yankee prospects, there may be none for intriguing than 18 year old star shortstop, Marcos Vechionacci. Although any 18 year old prospect with only one pro season under his belt is never a sure thing, \"Nacci\" isn't your typical teenage player. With the maturity of a player well beyond his years, we can be much more confident that he'll be able to make a smooth adjustment to a higher level of play. With a full season of games, his numbers could be monstrous by season's end.
\r\n
\r\nProjected Cy Young: Mike Martinez. Since it is nearly impossible to pick a team Cy Young winner from a star-studded starting rotation, we will turn to the unsung heroes from the bullpen. With a young yet talented pitching staff, the closer for this team, Mike Martinez, will be as valuable as anyone. And, going by his track record, he should make for the perfect calm influence to close out ballgames. With strong starting pitching, he'll get a ton of save opportunities. Don't get surprised if he ends the season with a vast majority of those opportunities converted.
\r\n
\r\nBreakout Player: Estee Harris, Tim Battle. These two guys have too much talent to keep up their merely average play over the past two seasons. It is time for them to take off. Both played solid baseball during spring training and are more determined than ever to show what they can do. They'll be playing in a hitter friendly park in Charleston this season, so that should help them both offensively and defensively. It is no guarantee but both of them are primed for huge seasons.
","mobileBody":" \r\n\r\n\r\nColumbus Clippers
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Kevin Reese. It is about time he gets the recognition he deserves. If Reese can put up anywhere near the numbers he put up last season, he will undoubtedly be the most valuable hitter in the lineup. With his speed, clutch hitting and gap power, expect Reese to put up more big numbers here in 2005.
\r\n
\r\n

Projected Team Cy Young: Chien-Ming Wang. Well, who knows if he'll be riding the shuttle back and forth between New York and Columbus this year. But, if he is with Columbus, look for him to repeat his dominating performance in AAA late last season. We are finally seeing the explosive talent that the Yankees gave $1.9 million, and he will likely continue to show it in 2005. Look for him to rack up some strikeouts along the way with his ever improving arm strength and durability. He is returning to elite prospect status in a hurry.
\r\n
\r\nBreakout Player: Mitch Jones. After bashing 39 home runs for AA Trenton in 2004, Mitch Jones opened up a lot of eyes, even the ones that put him out of the prospect picture for being too old. But, after a great showing in the Arizona Fall League this off season, Jones not only found a new position, first base, and perhaps how to hit for a higher average as well. He may still be a hit or miss in 2005, but expect him to put his fair share of home runs on the board as well.
\r\n
\r\nTrenton Thunder
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Eric Duncan. In all honesty, who else could you even consider before #1 prospect, Eric Duncan. The Yankee organization was thrilled, to say the least, to be able to hold onto Eric Duncan this off season and they are ready to start grooming him for the big leagues in AA this season. To put it as simply as possible, it would be much more of a surprise to see him not have a great season. Look for a huge year out of the sweet swinging lefty in 2005.
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team Cy Young: Jeff Karstens. With all the talk focused on Steven White anchoring the Trenton Thunder pitching staff, Jeff Karstens seems to get lost in the shuffle. Remember, Jeff Karstens is still only 22 years old at AA ball. It shouldn't be quite such a rarity, but in the Yankee farm system that is just the way. The lanky righthander has good stuff and very solid command so, he could surprise a lot of people with a fantastic 2005 campaign.
\r\n
\r\nBreakout Player: Shelley Duncan. If we haven't heard enough about how much power potential Shelley Duncan has, we are going to examine it again. Here is a guy who blasted 19 home runs in one of the most pitcher friendly leagues there is and he is heading into a far more hitter friendly Waterfront Park in Trenton. Expect him to be putting 25 HR+ this year, although him hitting for a high batting average still seem fairly improbable.
\r\n
\r\nTampa Yankees
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Erold Andrus. Perhaps he will be splitting time between the outfield and first base, but either way, the bat of Erold Andrus is here to stay. The stronger and more mature he gets, the more power he projects to have. He already proved he could hit for average in 2004 in Low A Battle Creek. Not to mention, he can put the bat on the ball with the best of them. He may not put up enormous statistics in a pitcher friendly Florida State League, but expect Andrus to be the most consistent offensive force for the Tampa Yankees this season.
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team Cy Young: Jason Jones. Like is the case with Charleston squad as well, there are plenty of choices for the best performer on the pitching staff. But, if you are looking for a sure bet, Jason Jones is the right man for the job. There are pitchers with higher ceilings on the staff, such as Eric Abreu, Tyler Clippard, and Abel Gomez, but this tall righthander seems like the best bet to lead the team in innings pitched, compile the lowest walk total and perhaps even have the lowest ERA. He is the type of guys that always has his team in the game. Expect this 2004 4th round pick to anchor toe Tampa staff throughout 2005.
\r\n
\r\n

Breakout Player: Matt Carson - He had a chance to begin his season in Tampa last season, but in fairness to him, Carson never had a full time job in the outfield from the start. So, he was sent down to Low A Battle Creek. There, he proceeded to have a monster season. And, after an outstanding spring training which included a barrage of bombs by the right fielder, he will most definitely be in the opening day Tampa outfield on April 7th. Carson still has big time tools that he has to live up to and don't be surprised if he leads the club in home runs in 2005 as well.
\r\n
\r\nCharleston RiverDogs
\r\n
\r\nProjected Team MVP: Marcos Vechionacci. Out of all the Yankee prospects, there may be none for intriguing than 18 year old star shortstop, Marcos Vechionacci. Although any 18 year old prospect with only one pro season under his belt is never a sure thing, \"Nacci\" isn't your typical teenage player. With the maturity of a player well beyond his years, we can be much more confident that he'll be able to make a smooth adjustment to a higher level of play. With a full season of games, his numbers could be monstrous by season's end.
\r\n
\r\nProjected Cy Young: Mike Martinez. Since it is nearly impossible to pick a team Cy Young winner from a star-studded starting rotation, we will turn to the unsung heroes from the bullpen. With a young yet talented pitching staff, the closer for this team, Mike Martinez, will be as valuable as anyone. And, going by his track record, he should make for the perfect calm influence to close out ballgames. With strong starting pitching, he'll get a ton of save opportunities. Don't get surprised if he ends the season with a vast majority of those opportunities converted.
\r\n
\r\nBreakout Player: Estee Harris, Tim Battle. These two guys have too much talent to keep up their merely average play over the past two seasons. It is time for them to take off. Both played solid baseball during spring training and are more determined than ever to show what they can do. They'll be playing in a hitter friendly park in Charleston this season, so that should help them both offensively and defensively. It is no guarantee but both of them are primed for huge seasons.
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