9) Kevin Thompson: Like Christian, Thompson's speed has been a true asset for him in stealing base hits. He's just a .277 hitter over his minor league career, but there's a trend that shows Thompson is adept at making adjustments. His seemingly low career average is hurt by his first taste of a new league. Thompson hit a combined .227 when he started a new level, but .315 when he's repeated those same levels over the last three seasons. Don't let his .249 average with the Clippers fool you. Past history suggests he'll bounce back in a big way.
8) Eduardo Nunez: Nunez is one of three switch-hitters to make this list. While he's a better left-handed hitter - most likely a product of facing more right-handed pitchers - Nunez is still very good from the right side of the plate. The fact that's he is so good against both sets of pitchers is why most scouts are very high on Nunez. He only ranks this low because he actually favors the left side.
7) Austin Jackson: Scouts and the Yankees are interested to see what Jackson can do, now that's he focused entirely on baseball. Drawing comparisons to Torii Hunter prior to be drafted by the Yankees, Jackson has already proven to be a quick study. He hit a robust .354 in his final 20 games of his professional debut after beginning his career hitting just .242 in his first 20 games. His sweet right-handed swing could rise very quickly in the rankings.
6) Ben Jones: Often overlooked because of his advanced age (he'll turn 25 in 2006) and lack of prodigious power for a first baseman, not many have a better swing from the right side of the plate. Jones is not afraid to go the other way on outside pitches and he's an extremely dangerous gap hitter. He has begun his career hitting .286 in his first two seasons and while there doesn't seem to be too much projection in his power game, a lot of scouts believe he can still hit for a higher average.
|DON'T FORGET ABOUT PHILLIPS Andy Phillips has hit .313 in his last two minor league seasons. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4) Marcos Vechionacci: "Nacci" hit a disappointing .252 in his first taste of the long-season leagues. But imagine how bad his average would have been if not for his .327 average while batting right-handed. Able to generate more power from the left side, Vechionacci is simply a lot more disciplined while batting right-handed. It seems unlikely that the Yankees will ever want him to abandon switch-hitting, but don't be misled, he's a dangerous right-handed hitter.
3) Melky Cabrera: Just like Vechionacci, the switch-hitting Cabrera is much more dangerous from the right side of the plate. Cabrera hit just .249 while batting left-handed but .322 while batting right-handed. Two of his nine hits with the AAA-Columbus Clippers were home runs and he's much better going the other way from the right side of the plate. Like Nacci, Cabrera isn't about to give up switch hitting. But there aren't many other batters the Yankees would like in the batter's box to face southpaws.
2) Jose Tabata: With the kind of selectivity and discipline the 17-year old Tabata has shown at the plate at such a young age, he projects to be an elite hitter in due time. He simply doesn't go out of the zone to swing at bad pitches and he projects to be the top hitter for average. Tabata is very good at going the other way with outside pitches but he still has room for improvement, which has the Yankees very excited about his potential. He also possesses above average speed which should allow him to leg out some hits.
1) C.J. Henry: Henry doesn't have the command of the strike zone of Jose Tabata...yet! His professional debut season didn't go as well as planned, but he's still the most dangerous right-handed hitter in the Yankees' farm system because of his plus power and speed combination. He has the speed to leg out many hits and he's strong enough to muscle pitches that beat him. While the stats from his rookie season may not show it, Henry has a very mature approach at the plate and a a plan for every at-bat.