Tool Time: Top Ten Defensive Outfielders

Who are the outfield prospects who have the defensive abilities to play in the big leagues right now? PinstripesPlus.com analyzes the top defensive outfielders in the Yankees' farm system, ranking the top ten.

Honorable Mention

Seth Fortenberry: A centerfielder in college, Fortenberry split time in left field and right field for Staten Island last season. He is one of the fastest players in the organization and his quick first step profiles him better in center. But possessing a strong arm, he could play either corner spot. His versatility in the outfield allows him to project as a reserve outfielder someday.

Colin Curtis: Like Fortenberry, Curtis can play all three outfield positions well. While he doesn't have the plus tools to project as top-flight outfielder, few have his solid game and defensive polish. His range and arm are solid enough to man all three positions but the Yankees seem intent on leaving him in center where he profiles as a Mark Kotsay type.

Rudy Guillen: Guillen's overall defensive game ranks up there with some of the better defenders in the organization but his fading prospect status has him on the outside looking in. He has one of the top outfield arms and his range is solid enough to even man centerfield as well.

Matt Carson: Like Guillen, Carson's defensive game should be ranked higher but his waning value as a prospect has others ranked ahead of him now. He has an even better arm than Guillen and he too can play all three outfield positions. His plus defensive game leaves the door open for him to eventually grab a fifth outfielder's spot someday but even that is becoming less likely as he continues to struggle at the plate.

Alvaro Ramirez: Boasting time-trial speeds even better than that of Tim Battle, Ramirez has incredible range in the outfield. But at just 5-foot-9 and physically comparing to former Yankee Luis Polonia, his arm doesn't compare favorably to others on this list. He could become a very good centerfielder with his speed and range but his arm profiles him better in left field.

Top Ten Defensive Outfielders

10) Jahdiel Santamaria: Santamaria gets lost in the incredible depth of Dominican Summer League and 'July 2nd' signs getting ready to make their U.S. debuts. A very toolsy outfielder however, he has the look of a very good defensive outfielder. The soon-to-be 20-year old has the size, speed, and arm strength to be a force in the outfield. He has the range to play centerfield and the arm to play right. Watch out for Santamaria this coming season.

9) Austin Jackson: Statistically, Jackson had a fine defensive performance in his first full-season last year. And while most scouts agree he will be a very good defensive player down the road, Jackson, by his own admission, needs to work on his jumps, routes, and positioning himself better in the field. He has natural instincts but lacks the polish to rank higher right now.

8) Justin Christian: The fact that Christian cracks the Top Ten after just moving to the outfield last year is a credit to his natural ability and his tremendous work ethic. It was impossible to tell that he was a middle infielder nearly his entire life prior to the 2006 season. His plus speed gives him the range to play centerfield and his arm is solid enough for both center and left in a full-time role and good enough to man right field in an emergency.

7) Kevin Thompson: Like Christian, Thompson has a ton of speed and range. He can play all three outfield positions and with an arm that's a shade better, he is more of an option in right field than Christian. He is very aggressive in the outfield and will dive for anything hit near him. His versatility, range, and arm are reasons why he could be the Yankees' best in-house option for a fifth outfielder.

6) Jose Tabata: As the legend of Jose Tabata continues to grow, the one aspect of his game that has become a bit overrated throughout cyberspace is his defensive abilities. Yes his speed and arm are both solid. He has the speed to man centerfield in emergency situations and the arm to spell in right field should the need arise. But while he projects to be more of an average big league right fielder, he profiles better as a plus defender as a regular in left field, akin to Melky Cabrera.

5) Brett Gardner: Gardner's incredible first step and world-class speed projects him as a natural big league centerfielder. His speed allows him to play a shallow centerfield and rob many dinkers over the heads of the middle infielders. Gardner's scrappy play and willingness to dive for balls conjures up images of a Lenny Dykstra type defensively who will have one of the dirtiest uniforms by the end of each game.

4) Carlos Urena: Signed just last summer and without even playing an official minor league game yet, Urena is already one of the best defensive outfielders in the organization. He's got the size, range, and speed to be a great defensive centerfielder and an incredibly strong arm to play right field. The Yankees see him as more of a centerfielder and he has the talent to rank atop this list very soon.

3) Melky Mesa: Mesa is the complete package defensively. His arm is not only one of the strongest in the farm system but one of the strongest in all of minor league baseball, rivaled only by that of Calzado. He is a lot faster than people realize and has the wheels to cover a lot of terrain. He has Gold Glove potential at any outfield position.

2) Josue Calzado: Calzado is the best defensive right fielder the Yankees have had in quite some time. As good as Melky Mesa's arm is, Calzado's is both stronger and his throws are more accurate, and his arm is on par with that of Vladmir Guerrero of the Angels. He has the speed to man centerfield but projects better as an elite right fielder.

1) Tim Battle: Battle's combination of speed and arm strength is truly special. He grades out a shade better than Calzado because Battle is a better big league option in centerfield with his tremendous speed. He cut down on his mental lapses last season and began to show the polish in his defensive game that scouts had been waiting to see. The fact he can be a plus defensive player in all three outfield spots will afford him some time for his bat to come around.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nHonorable Mention
\r\n
\r\nSeth Fortenberry: A centerfielder in college, Fortenberry split time in left field and right field for Staten Island last season. He is one of the fastest players in the organization and his quick first step profiles him better in center. But possessing a strong arm, he could play either corner spot. His versatility in the outfield allows him to project as a reserve outfielder someday.
\r\n
\r\nColin Curtis: Like Fortenberry, Curtis can play all three outfield positions well. While he doesn't have the plus tools to project as top-flight outfielder, few have his solid game and defensive polish. His range and arm are solid enough to man all three positions but the Yankees seem intent on leaving him in center where he profiles as a Mark Kotsay type.
\r\n
\r\nRudy Guillen: Guillen's overall defensive game ranks up there with some of the better defenders in the organization but his fading prospect status has him on the outside looking in. He has one of the top outfield arms and his range is solid enough to even man centerfield as well.
\r\n
\r\nMatt Carson: Like Guillen, Carson's defensive game should be ranked higher but his waning value as a prospect has others ranked ahead of him now. He has an even better arm than Guillen and he too can play all three outfield positions. His plus defensive game leaves the door open for him to eventually grab a fifth outfielder's spot someday but even that is becoming less likely as he continues to struggle at the plate.
\r\n
\r\nAlvaro Ramirez: Boasting time-trial speeds even better than that of Tim Battle, Ramirez has incredible range in the outfield. But at just 5-foot-9 and physically comparing to former Yankee Luis Polonia, his arm doesn't compare favorably to others on this list. He could become a very good centerfielder with his speed and range but his arm profiles him better in left field.
\r\n
\r\nTop Ten Defensive Outfielders
\r\n
\r\n10) Jahdiel Santamaria: Santamaria gets lost in the incredible depth of Dominican Summer League and 'July 2nd' signs getting ready to make their U.S. debuts. A very toolsy outfielder however, he has the look of a very good defensive outfielder. The soon-to-be 20-year old has the size, speed, and arm strength to be a force in the outfield. He has the range to play centerfield and the arm to play right. Watch out for Santamaria this coming season.
\r\n
\r\n9) Austin Jackson: Statistically, Jackson had a fine defensive performance in his first full-season last year. And while most scouts agree he will be a very good defensive player down the road, Jackson, by his own admission, needs to work on his jumps, routes, and positioning himself better in the field. He has natural instincts but lacks the polish to rank higher right now.
\r\n
\r\n8) Justin Christian: The fact that Christian cracks the Top Ten after just moving to the outfield last year is a credit to his natural ability and his tremendous work ethic. It was impossible to tell that he was a middle infielder nearly his entire life prior to the 2006 season. His plus speed gives him the range to play centerfield and his arm is solid enough for both center and left in a full-time role and good enough to man right field in an emergency.
\r\n
\r\n7) Kevin Thompson: Like Christian, Thompson has a ton of speed and range. He can play all three outfield positions and with an arm that's a shade better, he is more of an option in right field than Christian. He is very aggressive in the outfield and will dive for anything hit near him. His versatility, range, and arm are reasons why he could be the Yankees' best in-house option for a fifth outfielder.
\r\n
\r\n6) Jose Tabata: As the legend of Jose Tabata continues to grow, the one aspect of his game that has become a bit overrated throughout cyberspace is his defensive abilities. Yes his speed and arm are both solid. He has the speed to man centerfield in emergency situations and the arm to spell in right field should the need arise. But while he projects to be more of an average big league right fielder, he profiles better as a plus defender as a regular in left field, akin to Melky Cabrera.
\r\n
\r\n5) Brett Gardner: Gardner's incredible first step and world-class speed projects him as a natural big league centerfielder. His speed allows him to play a shallow centerfield and rob many dinkers over the heads of the middle infielders. Gardner's scrappy play and willingness to dive for balls conjures up images of a Lenny Dykstra type defensively who will have one of the dirtiest uniforms by the end of each game.
\r\n
\r\n4) Carlos Urena: Signed just last summer and without even playing an official minor league game yet, Urena is already one of the best defensive outfielders in the organization. He's got the size, range, and speed to be a great defensive centerfielder and an incredibly strong arm to play right field. The Yankees see him as more of a centerfielder and he has the talent to rank atop this list very soon.
\r\n
\r\n3) Melky Mesa: Mesa is the complete package defensively. His arm is not only one of the strongest in the farm system but one of the strongest in all of minor league baseball, rivaled only by that of Calzado. He is a lot faster than people realize and has the wheels to cover a lot of terrain. He has Gold Glove potential at any outfield position.
\r\n
\r\n2) Josue Calzado: Calzado is the best defensive right fielder the Yankees have had in quite some time. As good as Melky Mesa's arm is, Calzado's is both stronger and his throws are more accurate, and his arm is on par with that of Vladmir Guerrero of the Angels. He has the speed to man centerfield but projects better as an elite right fielder.
\r\n
\r\n1) Tim Battle: Battle's combination of speed and arm strength is truly special. He grades out a shade better than Calzado because Battle is a better big league option in centerfield with his tremendous speed. He cut down on his mental lapses last season and began to show the polish in his defensive game that scouts had been waiting to see. The fact he can be a plus defensive player in all three outfield spots will afford him some time for his bat to come around.
\r\n
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