Christopher Malec: The UC-Santa Barbara product had a tremendous professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, hitting .391 from the left side of the plate. He'll need to prove it wasn't a fluke and do it over the course of a long season before he'll be able to crack the top ten.
Evan Tierce: The 23-year old center fielder owns a .291 average in limited time in the Yankees' organization and while he's a very good hitter, he doesn't project to see very many at-bats in a stacked farm system. If he's ever given a true shot at a full-time position, he could surprise a lot of people.
Wilkins De La Rossa: The Dominican native spent three seasons in the Dominican Summer League before hitting .270 with the GCL Yankees in 2005. He's still very raw, but he has a long way to go towards improving his .231 average thus far. With very good patience at the plate, he has the tools to become a good hitter.
Irwil Rojas: Just barely missing the top ten - a sign of just how deep the Yankees' farm system has become - Rojas is one of the better contact hitters. He has drawn 29 more walks than strikeouts in his career and he owns a career .289 batting average. Questions about his power potential, or lack thereof, is the only reason he didn't crack the top ten list.
Top Ten Left-Handed Hitters
10. Cody Ehlers: His career .248 average doesn't exactly support his inclusion in this top ten list, but the fact remains that he simply has one of the more selective eyes at the plate. He has drawn more walks than he has struck out against right-handed pitchers, which is a good sign of things to come. Ehlers also hits left-handed hitters pretty well too. He is a better hitter than his average suggests.
9. Kyle Anson: Like Ehlers, Anson makes the top ten because of his selectivity at the plate. The switch-hitting Anson is much more dangerous from the left side of the plate, drawing more walks than strikeouts. He's also a more powerful hitter as a left-handed batter and with decent speed, he's able to leg out a few more hits over the course of the season. Playing the 2005 season injured, Anson couldn't get into a groove in his professional debut. He projects to hit for a higher average.
8. Bronson Sardinha: Sardinha hasn't been able to show the ability to hit for as high an average at the higher minor league levels as he did in A-ball. He has just a .261 average in 769 at-bats at the AA level, but many believe the soon to be 23-year old could still blossom into a good average hitter. Sardinha had 45 extra-base hits in 2005 and 2006 will be a pivotal year in determining his future with the Yankees.
7. Kyle Larsen: Originally drafted in the 14th round of the 2001 MLB Draft out of high school by the New York Mets, how Larsen went undrafted after both his junior and senior years of college remains one of the big mysteries. He hit over .340 in two different seasons with the University of Washington and began his professional career hitting .308 with the Staten Island Yankees in 2005. He'll need to show he can do that at higher minor league levels, but many Yankee officials believe he can.
6. Kevin Reese: Reese will be 28-years old once the 2006 season begins play, making his age the major factor in his fading value as a prospect. However, he is a .299 hitter over his minor league career and with 130 extra-base hits over the last two minor league seasons, Reese has little to prove. He has an outside shot of making the Yankees as a reserve outfielder in 2006, but a change of scenery may be in order for him to get a legitimate shot at a Major League career.
|MORE AT-BATS: With a 43.2% extra-base hit percentage in 2005, imagine the type of numbers John Urick could produce if he could get 500 at-bats. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
4. Eduardo Nunez: Arguably the top switch-hitter in the Yankees' farm system, Nunez is a better hitter from the left side of the plate. While he's solid from the right side, Nunez has a better eye at the plate and more power while batting left-handed. He is still as raw as they come, and the chances are better than average that he'll initially struggle at the higher minor league levels, but many scouts believe he could develop into a .300 hitter and his success from the left side is a big reason why.
3. Brett Gardner: An advanced hitter with a patient approach at the plate and plus speed, Gardner is already one of the elite left-handed hitters in the Yankees' farm system. He hit a combined .424 in his last two years of college before hitting .284 in his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees in 2005. His incredible ability to bunt for base hits allows him to avoid any sort of prolonged slumps and he's already very adept at going the other way. Gardner projects to be a high average hitter with high on-base percentages.
2. Mario Holmann: Holmann, who owns a .279 batting average in his minor league career thus far, has just scratched the surface of his hitting ability. While his defensive ability is a polished as it gets, Holmann projects to be an elite hitter with more professional coaching. He has collected just 456 professional at-bats and with his plus speed, the sky is the limit for Holmann's bat. Holmann has already drawn 85 walks in limited action and he projects to be a perennial .300 hitter down the road.
1. Eric Duncan: Offensively, Duncan compares very favorably to the Mets' David Wright. Like Wright, Duncan hasn't been able to put up the high batting averages at the lower minor league levels, but he's an extremely patient hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. He has been extraordinarily young for the levels he has played at in his young career. Many scouts believe Duncan, just like David Wright did at the same age, could have a breakout year at 21-years old. He'll be 21 when the 2006 season opens up and while he has been just a .258 hitter so far in his career, he projects to be .300 hitter some day. His plus power potential gives him the edge over all the other left-handed batters in the Yankees' farm system.