Top 50 Yankees Prospects

Here are the Top 50 Yankees' prospects. gives a little insight on each selection in our rankings but will follow up more in depth with individual scouting reports on each player throughout this offseason, starting in descending order.

1. Phil Hughes - If ever there was a slam dunk for the top spot on this list, Phil Hughes is it. Hughes, with a tremendous first full season in the Yankee organization, took a stranglehold on the Yankees' "number one" prospect tag. The big right-hander truly has it all; he has a power fastball, pinpoint control, an ideal pitcher's body, a fantastic makeup, and a maturity level normally reserved for seasoned veterans. The Yankees have firmly resisted the idea of trading him and view him as future as of the staff.

And, as if Hughes, who went 7-1 with a miniscule 1.97 ERA with Charleston in 2005, wasn't dominating enough, he will be re-incorporating his slider and integrating a two-seam fastball in 2006. The million dollar question is, will he begin his season in High A Tampa, where he made four starts in 2005, or will he make the jump to AA Trenton? Wherever he goes, there's no reason not to expect Hughes to continue to establish himself as one of the elite prospects in all of baseball.

2. Eric Duncan - Yes, Eric Duncan was displaced as the Yankees number one prospect and he didn't have the season that everyone expected from him in 2005. But, even with all that in mind, Duncan still remains an elite offensive prospect. After batting .235 in AA Trenton, there was suddenly some doubt, but he has turned it around in a big way in the early going of the Arizona Fall League. To date, he's among the league leaders in home runs, batting average, RBI, extra base hits, and slugging percentage.

Duncan, in his Arizona Fall League stint, has also began his much anticipated switch to first base. He has already spent some time across the diamond, and the Yankees have to like what they see as far as his offensive and defensive development. At the age of 20, the lefty slugger still has a decent shot at breaking camp with AAA Columbus if he continues to rake in Arizona. But, don't be shocked to see him back in Trenton to start the season.

3. Melky Cabrera - First and foremost, don't let the inauspicious Yankee debut fool you because Melky Cabrera is obviously much more capable than he showed in his time in New York. The fact is that he was rushed to the big leagues at a faster pace than he should have. And, from his early big league results, the lack of readiness showed. However, that isn't too say that the toolsy Dominican outfielder isn't still a big time prospect. At the age of 21, Cabrera still has plenty to offer and will continue to get better. The Yankees seem to see him as a center fielder, but he may actually be better suited as an above average left fielder. With his strong arm and 25 home-run type of power, he may be an ideal outfield solution for the Yankees in the near future. But, the best scenario for him would be to get more seasoning in Columbus in 2006.

4. Tyler Clippard - Tyler Clippard simply gets the job done and has put up sparkling numbers every year in the Yankee organization. But, this year, with Tampa, was definitely his eye opening year. Averaging over 10 strikeouts per nine innings while showing excellent control, the 20-year old Clippard dominated the Florida State League. The lanky righty also compiled a 10-9 record to go along with a stellar 3.18 ERA in 147.1 innings of work. Although some doubt his pure stuff, there's nothing not to like about the projectability of his already low 90's fastball and 6' 4", 175 pound frame. With an outstanding feel for the game and aggressive approach, "T-Clip" should continue to move quickly through the system. His biggest test of his career will come in 2006, when he will test his stuff in AA Trenton.

5. Jose Tabata - Five-tool player. That is the single most effective way to describe Jose Tabata. To describe him, you could literally go on all day. But, to keep things brief, Tabata is likely the most athletic, and high upside player, in the Yankee farm system. With plus tools across the board, Tabata was one of the most talked about first year players in baseball, as he compiled outstanding statistics in the Gulf Coast League despite not turning 17 years old until this August. But, this came as no surprise. The righty swinging Tabata signed a $500,000 signing bonus out of Venezuelan and the Yankees had the confidence to send him straight to the United States.

Tabata certainly didn't disappoint in his first professional season. The speedy outfielder batted .314 with 3 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 28 attempts. Not to mention, he showcased an advanced feel for the game, ability in the outfield, and a cannon for a throwing arm. In all likelihood, Jose will play as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League with Charleston in 2006.

6. Christian Garcia - Armed with some of the best raw stuff of any Yankee pitching prospect, Garcia's ceiling is about as high as any pitcher in the farm system as well. Despite an inconsistent showing in 2005 with Charleston, Garcia showed exactly why he is so highly regarded in several different stretches. On the season, the Miami native went 5-6 with a solid 3.91 ERA. Not to mention, he also struck out 103 and allowed only 102 hits. With a mid-90's fastball, a solid changeup and a devastating curveball, the only thing holding the tall righty back is his control. If he can improve upon his 53 walks in 106 innings of work, he could be as good as anyone. Barring an unforeseen circumstances, the hard throwing 20-year old should be pitching with the Tampa Yankees next spring.

7. C.J. Henry - One thing people shouldn't get too caught up in his 2005 showing in the Gulf Coast League. What should be focused on his Henry's upside. In that department, he stacks up as well as any player in the 2005 draft. And, that's exactly why the Yankees selected the athletic shortstop with the 17th overall pick in this year's draft. However, the 19-year old did have his share of struggles in his first professional season. In fact, he batted only .249 with 3 home runs. However, he did steal 17 bases in 21 attempts and played solid defense at shortstop. The less than stellar first season isn't a true cause for alarm though. Henry still projects as a superstar caliber player with big time power potential. And, despite his first year showing, it wouldn't be shocking to see him playing shortstop in Charleston to open the 2006 season.

8. Marcos Vechionacci - The common practice would likely be to harp on the negatives of Marcos Vechionacci's 2005 season. However, lets not forget that he is still only 19 years old and did continue to show the tools that make him on of the Yankees' elite prospects. Perhaps everyone simply expected a little too much, too soon. "Nacci" struggled in several offensive categories including home runs (2) and batting average (.252). But, the important thing is that he did show several stretches in which he closely resembled the player the organization believes he can be. Vechionacci still has a lot of physical maturing to do and his offensive game will grow with him. All the tools are there and he has the ability to be a first class hitting prospect at third base. He may repeat Charleston, but don't be shocked to see him pushed to Tampa.

9. Eduardo Nunez - If you want to talk about an electrifying ballplayer, switch-hitting shortstop Eduardo Nunez has to top the list. The athletic shortstop came out of nowhere in 2005 with Staten Island and dazzled the New York Penn League with his flashy play on the field and with his thunderous bat. Nunez, a wiry framed Dominican native, batted an impressive .313 with 3 home runs, and 46 RBI. But, isn't the statistics that make Eduardo the prospect he is. Scouts rave about his tools and he could project as a big time offensive shortstop with tremendous athletic and defensive capabilities. Although some of his defensive flashiness led to higher error totals, there is a possibility that we could see the toolsy shortstop in Tampa to start the 2006 season. He will be one to watch very closely as the new season approaches.

10. Matt DeSalvo - Year after year, Matt DeSalvo continues to prove his doubters wrong. For those who said his stuff wouldn't translate to AA success, that couldn't have been further from the truth. DeSalvo makes him self more and more of an excellent pitching prospect with each outstanding season, and he established himself as Trenton's staff ace in 2005. To go along with his 9-5 record and stellar 3.02 ERA, DeSalvo also struck out 151 and walked 67 in 149 innings of work. At the age of 25, there was no room for error for the fiery righthander and that will remain the case in 2006. He is more than likely a lock for the Columbus Clippers 2006 rotation.

11. Jeff Marquez - The fact that Marquez came up short on the top 10 list is simply a testament to the rebirth of the Yankee farm system. Make no mistake, Jeff Marquez is a more than legitimate starting pitching prospect. Armed with a heavy, sinking low to mid-90's fastball, an outstanding changeup and a good breaking ball, Marquez can be as tough as they come and projects as a strong number two big league starter. After a rough beginning with Charleston in 2005, Jeff bounced back strong and established himself as the ace of the RiverDogs' pitching staff. Despite a 9-13 record, the Sacramento native compiled a 3.42 ERA in 139.2 innings of work. Jeff is right on track with where the Yankees want him and he is nothing short of lock for Tampa next spring.

12. Steven White - It is difficult to fault Steven White for a less than stellar 2005 season with Trenton, considering his extended stint on the disabled list. In fact, by the end of the season and during the first half of his Arizona Fall League season, White looks like the pitcher the Yankees believe he can be. If the 6' 5" right-hander continues to impress in Arizona, as he has thus far, it would not come as a surprise to see the 24 year old pitching in Columbus to begin the 2006 season.

13. Tim Battle - 2005 was the season that the Yankees have long awaited from Tim Battle. It was the season that he flashed all five tools that they knew he had. Battle is still a work in progress, but the organization has to be thrilled with his development. The 20-year old center fielder had a strong offensive campaign, batting .259 with 16 home runs, 33 doubles, 11 triples and 60 RBI, not to mention he swiped 40 bases as well. But, one thing that sticks out are Battle's 195 strikeouts in 525 at bats. He'll need to improve his approach at the plate, but more than anything else he needs to cut back on this number. But, as an all around player, there is a lot to look forward to in the outfielder's future. He should be roaming centerfield for the Tampa Yankees next season.

14. Austin Jackson - When the Yankees drafted and signed Austin Jackson, they knew that they snagged one of the most athletic and toolsy players in the country. But, they also expected some early struggles for the high school, two-sport star. Well, those struggles certainly didn't show up in his offensive statistics, and "A.J." proved to be a very fast learner with the GCL Yankees. The 18-year old Texas native batted .304 in his first professional season, swiping 11 bases along the way. With his plus speed and defensive ability in the outfield, he has drawn comparisons to a young and up and coming, Rondell White. Progressing more quickly than anticipated, Jackson has earned himself a spot in the Charleston outfield next spring.

15. Brett Gardner - There might not be a player in the Yankee farm system with more fascinating and exciting tools than Brett Gardner. The Yankees' third round pick in the 2005 draft opened his career with an outstanding showcase of his tools and instant success as well with Staten Island. In fact, the lefty-hitting outfielder was named their team MVP. The 22-year old center fielder batted .284 with a surprising 5 home runs, and a not so surprising 19 stolen bases. It isn't surprising because Gardner is already one of the fastest men in all of Minor League baseball, and he really knows how to use it. With outstanding bunting ability and range in the outfield, Brett looks like a legitimate, starting center fielder of the future. Once he gets his feet wet in full season ball, he should be off to the races in more ways than one. At this point, it is still in question where he will begin the 2006 season.

16. J. Brent Cox - The Yankees, with their second round pick in the 2005 draft, picked up one of the most polished college relievers in the nation. In fact, "J.B." Cox also undoubtedly was the best big game tested relief pitcher in the draft as well, as he led his team to victory in the College World Series. Cox, a right-hander from Texas, had a strong professional debut in High A Tampa, where he went 1-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 27.2 innings of work. With his advanced feel for pitching, great stuff, and polish, "J.B." figures to rise quickly through the ranks. And, in all likelihood, expect the 21-year old to pitch in AA Trenton in 2006.

17. Jonathan Poterson - To say Jon Poterson had a roller coast 2005 season is an understatement. After beginning the season miserably with Charleston, the slugging switch-hitter was sent back to Extended Spring Training. And, after a fresh start in Staten Island, Jon was the Baby Bombers best hitter for three-quarters on the season. However, he went into a free fall down the stretch. And, after a season of building some gaudy statistics, they were spoiled in a month's time. For the season, the 19-year old right fielder hit .247 with 6 home runs and 52 RBI. But, these are far from levels of producing that Poterson was reaching earlier in the season. The Yankees are very high on his power potential, but 2006 will be a crucial season in his young career. Look for him in Charleston to start the 2006 season.

18. Mario Holmann - If nothing else, Mario Holmann has everything a Major League would look for out of a big league second baseman. First of all, he is likely one of the best defensive infielders in all of the minor leagues with his acrobatic play at second base. And, second of all, he has a knack for playing small ball and stealing bases. At this point, his power leaves something to be desired, but the Yankees still prefer that he keeps the ball on the ground to utilize his great speed. The 21-year old Nicaraguan native hit .271 and stole 40 bases in only 78 games with Charleston. So, why does he rank this high? With his intangibles, defensive skills, and speed, he is a very sure bet to be at least a decent Major League player. Expect him to be the opening day second baseman for Tampa in 2006.

19. Francisco Castillo - Here is perhaps the biggest sleeper on this entire list. Why? Francisco Castillo would rank much higher on this list if not for his young age and lack of experience, and with a strong 2006 campaign, he could soar near the top of this list. Castillo, a Dominican born right-hander, is armed with a 95 MPH and excellent command. And, in the organization's mind, his ceiling is as a frontline starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. The 19-year old fire-baller was as good as anyone in the Gulf Coast League this past season, going 3-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 41 innings of work. The sky is the limit for this talented youngster, and we should see him with the RiverDogs in 2006.

20. Alan Horne - There isn't much to say about a pitching prospect who has yet to throw a professional inning. But, the one thing that is clear is that Horne made a strong impression on the Yankees during their fall mini-camp. The tall right-hander is expected to move rapidly through the farm system so expect him to start in Tampa in 2006.

21. Sean Henn - Before going down with a tired arm late in the season and besides his terrible Major League outings, Henn turned in a solid season in AAA Columbus. With the Clippers, the 24 year old southpaw went 5-5 with a stellar 3.23 ERA in 86.1 innings of work. Although Henn made a poor first impression, he's likely to get several more chances with the big club next season.

22. Rolando Japa - This right-hander, who pitched for the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2005, has about as high a ceiling as you will find in the Yankee farm system. He had some ups and downs, but the 20-year old has a mountain of potential. With a mid-90's fastball and a great changeup, Japa pitched to the tune of a 3.50 ERA in 36 innings of work. The Yankee minor league coaching staff is very high on Rolando and he may get a chance to start in Charleston in 2006, but word behind the scenes is that he could move up the minor league ladder rather quickly.

23. Ramiro Pena - 2005 was Ramiro Pena's first professional season; however, he spent his first season all the way up in AA Trenton. Obviously, this was a quite a testament to how the Yankees feel about the 20-year old, Mexican born shortstop. Pena, who held his own at the plate in Trenton, despite being slightly overmatched, played sparkling defense throughout the season. Even if he hits just enough, Pena is an outstanding prospect because of what he does defensively. Expect him back in Trenton to start the 2006 campaign.

24. Angel Fermin - Here is another guy who could soar up this list with a strong 2006 campaign. Fermin, a big, power hitting first baseman, was one of the leading hitters for the championship winning Gulf Coast Yankees. The righty slugger hit .305 with 5 home runs and 32 RBI. To go along with his tremendous power potential, he also plays an excellent first base. He'll most likely be in the mix for the starting first base job with Charleston next spring.

25. Jeff Karstens - After a hot start to the 2005 season, it looked as if Jeff Karstens was taking on the role of one of the Yankees' finest pitching prospects. However, as the season wore on, he settled back into mediocrity, giving up far too many hits. In fact, the 23-year old righty surrendered 192 hits in 169 innings of work. The organization still believes in his stuff, and he'll have a chance to turn in a strong 2006 campaign with Columbus come next spring.

26. Eric Hacker - Eric Hacker went quite a long way in re-establishing himself as a legitimate pitching prospect in 2005. While pitching for the Charleston RiverDogs, Hacker was pitching lights out baseball before going down with a fatigued shoulder. But, the 22-year old still managed to go 5-2 with a miniscule 1.60 ERA. The shoulder is not a concern at this point, and his shutting down was mainly precautionary. Expect to see him in Tampa to start the season.

27. Garrett Patterson: This hard throwing lefty has quickly established himself as one of the Yankees' most intriguing pitching prospects. Although he struggled with control in his first professional season in Staten Island, Patterson showed tremendous potential. With the ability to blow a fastball by a hitter and change speeds, he could be a fast move. However, at his age, he may not have any other choice. The bottom line is that he's a lefty that throws very hard. In all likelihood, he'll move up the ladder quickly and get a lot of opportunities. His likely 2006 destination is Charleston, but don't rule out Tampa either.

28. Erold Andrus - Following an outstanding 2004 campaign in Battle Creek, a season that catapulted him up to the top prospect ranks, Andrus struggled mightily in the pitching friendly Florida State League in 2005. The 21-year old will need to build on his .241 batting average in 2006 in order to keep his prospect label. The Yankees still like his tool set but he'll need to show a lot more in what will likely be a second go around with the Tampa Yankees.

29. Abel Gomez - A season that started so promising for Abel Gomez turned into an absolute nightmare, beginning with a spot start demotion with the Charleston RiverDogs. From that point on, the southpaw showed absolutely no signs of being the high ceiling pitching prospect the Yankees believe him to be. The 20-year old's final statistics were truly brutal, and it should be interesting to see what this may do to his confidence. In fact, Gomez posted a 6.28 ERA with the Gulf Coast League, and this is after a three level demotion. The great stuff is there, but the question will be, will the confidence or the command still be there in 2006? We'll have to wait and see.

30. Brett Smith - To say Brett Smith's 2005 season was a disappointment would be an understatement. Entering his first professional season, the Yankees' 2nd round pick in the 2004 draft had sky high expectations, but things just didn't pan out. The 22-year old posted a 4.02 ERA with Charleston and then a bloated 5.21 ERA with Tampa. However, considering it was still his first professional season, it is far too early to lose faith in Smith as a prospect. Either way, look for him in the Tampa Yankees' rotation to begin the 2006 season. There is still a world of talent there.

31. Jeremy King - When you think about Jeremy King, the first thing that should come to mind is underrated. King, a 23-year old right-hander, has put up consistent numbers year after year in the Yankee organization, and that trend continued in 2005 with the Tampa Yankees. The 6'2" hurler went 5-5 with a 3.61 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 99.2 innings of work. With his solid stuff and good control, there's no reason that King could not develop into a solid big league pitcher. Look for him to break camp with AA Trenton in 2006.

32. John Urick - We may not have seen the best of John Urick in 2005 due to a foot injury that kept him out for an extended period of time and finding his swing again after his return to the lineup. The lefty-swinging first baseman, as a matter of fact, was the Tampa Yankees' most consistent hitter in the early stages of the season. The 23-year old batted only .238 with Tampa in 2005, but with a healthy 2006 season, it wouldn't be strange to expect bigger things from him next season. And, despite his sub-par season, Trenton may still be his destination in 2006.

33. Justin Christian - If you want a consistent performer who can truly do it all for his team, you have your man in Justin Christian. After beginning the season in Charleston, the 25-year old infielder had a monster season with the Tampa Yankees. Between the two stops, Christian swiped 55 bases, clubbed 11 home runs and drove in 47 runs. Not to mention, he batted .306 in 372 at bats with Tampa. He'll be 26 years old next spring, but there's no doubt that Justin Christian has a lot to offer as a player. Expect him to be a key member of the Trenton Thunder next season.

34. Josh Schmidt - It would be difficult to find anyone through the history of professional baseball who had a more dominating season than Staten Island closer, Josh Schmidt. With his 0.27 ERA in 33 innings of work, the side-winding righty was as good as automatic for the Baby Bombers and made a name for himself among Yankee prospects despite his late round selection in the draft. Armed with a truly devastating slider, the 6' 4" Schmidt profiles as a strong Major League setup man of the future. If the Yankees are looking to fast track him, he may close for Tampa in 2006.

35. Jim Conroy - As a 19th round selection in the 2005 draft, it is easy to say that Jim Conroy was one of the most pleasant surprises in the Yankee minor league system this past year. The lanky right-hander, who seemingly put it all together with Staten Island after battling through numerous injuries in college, was nothing short of incredible for Staten Island in their championship run. Going 5-1 with an outstanding 2.04 ERA in 66.1 innings of work, to go along with 67 strikeouts, the soon to be 23-year old was among the league leaders in various pitching categories. The 6' 4" Conroy is armed with a plus changeup and a heavy, low 90's fastball. His path through the Yankee farm system is fairly uncertain considering his age and early success. So, it will be interesting to see whether he ends up with Charleston or Tampa.

36. Rudy Guillen - Despite a less than earth shattering performance in Tampa to begin the 2005 season, Rudy Guillen did make some steps in regaining his prospect status. After a late season promotion to Trenton, the 21-year old outfielder picked up his game somewhat before falling into another late season slump. Overall, Rudy hit 8 home runs between his two stops. That number will have to increase if he wants to remain a legitimate prospect. Remember, this is a player who once drew comparisons to Manny Ramirez. However, he is still young enough to take his game to the next level. Expect to see him in Trenton in 2006.

37. Jason Jones - Coming off a fabulous first professional season in 2004, the Yankees former 4th round pick struggled mightily in a pitching friendly Florida State League in 2005. With that in mind, his stock dropped a dramatically along with his ranking on this list. Jones, known as more of a finesse and control pitcher, needs to be perfect to pitch well, and he simply wasn't with Tampa this season. The 23-year old righty put up a disappointing 5.68 ERA to go along with a matching 5-13 record. Jones, who is working on adding a little more power pitching to his game, will need a strong 2006 campaign to maintain his prospect status. But, don't be surprised to see him in Trenton to begin the campaign despite his disappointing year.

38. Cory Stuart - After not pitching since the 2003 season, there were obviously many doubts swirling around Cory Stuart entering the 2005 season. But, the Canadian native quickly established himself as a solid relief pitching prospect. The former 5th round pick rejuvenated his career with Staten Island this season pitching out of the bullpen. In fact, the side-arming slider specialist went 3-1 with a staggering 0.83 ERA in 32.2 innings of work. But, the only thing working against Cory is his age. He will turn 24 in Spring Training, so he will need to move quickly. The Yankees do not doubt his ability so expect him to pitch in Tampa to start the 2006 season.

39. Jason Stephens - The rise through the farm system has not been quite as rapid as some may have expected. But, the former 6th round pick has not fallen out of favor one bit. In fact, the Yankees are still as high on his potential as anyone's. The Staten Island coaching staff worked tirelessly with Jason in 2005, and towards the end of the season, the Yankees began to see a sample of what they expect to see more of out of Stephens in the future. The 21-year old righty ended the season strong and his overall numbers reflected that. His final season statistics read 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 67 innings of work. But, most importantly, his stuff is beginning to look like what the Yankees projected and he'll likely be part of a very competitive 2006 Charleston RiverDogs' pitching staff.

40. Bronson Sardinha - Year after year, we wonder when Bronson Sardinha will have a breakout season offensively or find a full time position. It is another year into his professional career and he is still yet to accomplish either of these two things. The 22-year old has bounced around from position to position, but played outfield for Trenton in 2005. With a strong stretch run, he managed to bring his statistics up to .258 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI. He still has plus offensive tools, but we still are waiting for him to put it all together. He'll likely be a starting outfielder for Columbus next Spring.

41. Lance Pendleton - The Yankees 4th round pick in the 2005 draft had little time to showcase what he was all about after running into injury problems early in the season. However, in the time he did spend on the mound with Staten Island, he showed he was more than worth the high selection. Lance, a 22-year old right-hander out of Rice University, compiled a strong 2.33 ERA in his first 27 professional innings. Pendleton has a reputation for a plus curveball and a plus fastball, and at his age, he'll likely be pushed through the system rather quickly. Expect him to pitch in Charleston to start the season.

42. Domingo Cabrera - This Dominican born left-hander, with an outstanding first professional season, became one of the Yankees' most intriguing and talented pitching prospects. Cabrera, a converted outfielder from years past, turned in a fabulous season with the Gulf Coast Yankees, going 4-1 with a dazzling 2.30 ERA in 31.1 innings of work. Not to mention, he struck out 37 and walked only 9. The 19-year old southpaw showcased above average stuff and could become one of the Yankees' elite pitching prospects in a hurry with strong showing in 2006. Where will he be? In all likelihood, we'll see him with Charleston, but with his wiry frame, they may keep him in Extended Spring Training to start the season.

43. Shelley Duncan - Although Shelley Duncan is one of the oldest players to appear on this list, he still deserves a mention for his offensive production with Trenton in 2005. Shelley, who won the Eastern League Home Derby this year as well, brings monstrous power and leadership ability to any team he plays on. And, while there are question marks, it is doubtful that Duncan wouldn't hit for power as a Major Leaguer. But, with his hideous strikeout totals and low batting average, will he ever get that chance? The 6'5", righty-swinging first baseman did club 34 home runs during the regular season, but also hit only .240 with 140 strikeouts. If he can keep his strikeouts in check, he may have a big league career. Look for him to start with Columbus in 2006.

44. Kyle Anson - Kyle Anson may have been robbed of a true opportunity to show what kind of player he is during his first season with Staten Island. A knee injury landed him on the disabled list for an extended period of time. But, when he was in the lineup after the injury, he proved to be a very intriguing prospect. The 22-year old switch hitter batted .252 with seven stolen bases. But, his most impressive stat is his 27 walks compared to only 26 strikeouts. Anson is a down and dirty, old fashioned ballplayer who could force his way through the Yankee farm system. One way to help him do that is a potential move behind the plate. The Yankee minor league coaching staff experimented with the switch in this year's mini-camp. Whether he will catch in 2006 remains to be seen. However, expect to see him in Charleston as either a catcher or a third baseman.

45. Luis Nunez - Luis Nunez might be one of the more surprising names on this list. However, he more than deserves the acknowledgement. Nunez, despite not getting the playing time in his first professional season in the Gulf Coast League, is highly regarded by the organization and his teammates. In fact, it has been said that he has the chance to be an elite defensive infielder. In 126 at bats, the 18-year old Nunez hit only .230, but most within the organization feel there are greater things ahead of him offensively, and they already know what he is capable of doing with the glove. But, he may begin the 2006 season in Extended Spring Training for more seasoning.

46. Zach Kroenke - About as polished a college pitcher as you will find after the first two rounds of the draft, Zach Kroenke could find himself moving very briskly through the Yankee minor league ladder. Why? Well, he has many things on his side that the Yankees historically like. For one, he's a southpaw. And, second of all, he is a college groomed, pressure trained pitcher. As the Nebraska ace in the 2005 College World Series, Kroenke has been there, done that. And, after the Yankees picked him in the 5th round of the 2005 draft, Zach didn't disappoint. The 21-year old lefty compiled an impressive 2.54 ERA in 39 innings of work with Staten Island before going down with a hand injury. But, it is quite clear the the 6'3" hurler has a future as a middle of the rotation starter. Look for Zach to fly through the system, similar to Brad Halsey's fast rise. But, Kroenke will most likely spend time in Charleston in 2006.

47. Omir Santos - There's nothing too flashy about Omir "Pito" Santos, except that he is most likely one the Yankees more legitimate catching prospect at this point. And, if injuries do not interfere with his development, he might make a very fine future backup catcher. The 24-year old backstop put together yet another solid year with Trenton in 2005, showcasing offensive and defensive ability. "Pito" hit .252 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. Santos does not have the look of a high upside type of prospect, but he does look like a future big leaguer. Expect to see him in Columbus coming out of Spring Training.

48. Kyle Larsen - Perhaps the surprise of the year, Kyle Larsen had to truly earn his way onto this top prospect list. The Yankees signed Larsen as an undrafted free agent, despite a strong college career. But, nonetheless, the big first baseman didn't exactly have huge expectations. However, he ended up being the Staten Island Yankees most productive and consistent hitter. The 22-year old put up a .308 batting average to go along with 6 home runs and 49 RBI. Proving to have power, clutch hitting ability, and defensive capabilities at first base, we may have a chance to see the Washington native pushed to high-A Tampa, but a stay with Charleston is probably more likely in 2006.

49. Irwil Rojas - Irwil Rojas may have the most solid upside of any Yankee catching prospect at this point. However, he still does not have the look that he is destined for big league stardom. If he continues his slow, steady development, he may have a Major league job waiting for him in a few years. Rojas, who led a young Charleston staff beautifully this past season, also showed promised with the lumber. The 21-year old backstop turned in a solid .281 batting average, along with one home run and 16 doubles. In all likelihood, the Venezuelan born catcher will be in the mix for the catching job in Tampa next spring.

50. Wilkins De La Rossa - About as toolsy as they come, Wilkins De La Rossa made quite an impression in 2005, amongst many highly touted prospects on the Gulf Coast Yankees. De La Rossa can do just about anything on the diamond, including run, throw and really hit. Although he showed little home run power in 2005, he could project to be an impressive Major League hitter. Batting .270 with 7 stolen bases and 30 RBI, while playing a stellar outfield, De La Rossa opened a lot of eyes. In fact, some believe, despite his age of 20 in the Gulf Coast League, he could project as well as any of the talented GCL Yankees' outfielders. Look for him in Charleston in 2006.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories