1. OF, Jose Tabata - The career .305 hitter should spend the majority of the 2008 season in Double-A Trenton as a 19-year old. He and the Yankees are hoping that the removal of his hamate bone at the end of the season will allow him to remain on the field a bit more. If that happens, with some more development, his power could start to take off.
2. C, Jesus Montero - Nobody made bigger strides both offensively and defensively in 2007 than Montero. He hit a solid .280 with three home runs while playing on a sprained ankle for a good portion of his rookie season and then flashed even more power in the Gulf Coast League playoffs. Whether he remains behind the plate or not, and he has the ability to do so, his plus-plus power potential is the best in the farm system and that keeps him near the top in all rankings.
3. RHP, Dellin Betances - There's no question about his stuff. He already has three plus pitches and a power arm to boot. He's still learning how to throw all three pitches consistently from the same slot and repeating his mechanics but, blessed with a tremendous work ethic, few question his ability to master that aspect of his game and start tapping his ace potential. He will pitch the 2008 season as a 20-year old however.
4. RHP, Jairo Heredia - While Betances offers the promise of crazy swing-and-miss stuff if he reaches his ceiling, Heredia's smoothness and superior command of three big league pitches offers a safer bet to tap his potential, which is quite vast as well. He just turned 18 and already there are hardly any noticeable weaknesses in his game. Many scouts believe the only thing he needs is experience - quite the statement for a player so young.
5. C, Austin Romine - Not since the signing of Tabata have the Yankees had a position prospect begin his professional career with the overall package of Romine. Possessing great makeup and plus physical tools, he has the look of a star prospect in the making. And like Tabata, his uncanny ability to drive the ball to the opposite field gives him the look of a high-average hitter. Combine that with his plus power potential and there's a lot to like.
6. SS, Carmen Angelini - Like his draft counterpart Austin Romine, what separates Angelini from most youngsters beginning their professional careers is his excellent makeup. He is extremely confident, quite coachable, and his solid tools across the board make him a very safe bet to reach his potential. Add in the fact he is already one of the best defensive shortstops in the system, he has the look of a quick mover.
7. OF, Abraham Almonte - A below average second baseman at the start of the 2007 season, Almonte has already shown signs of becoming a plus defensive centerfielder in a short period of time. The switch-hitter reminds some scouts of a Jose Reyes type with his combination of power and speed. His patient approach at the plate might give him a leg up on reaching his potential quicker however and his plate discipline continues to improve with each passing year.
8. 2B, Prilys Cuello - There are higher-ceiling prospects ranked below him on this list but Cuello's consistent swing makes him one of the safer bets to reach the big leagues. Most scouts believe he could become a switch-hitting version of Robinson Cano as a plus hitter with great gap power and developing home run power. He still strikes out too much and his defensive game at second base is lacking right now, but the bat is very enticing.
9. CF, Carlos Urena - On pure upside alone, Urena could rank higher on this list. He has amazing power to all fields for a slender-framed slugger and he is already one of the best defensive outfielders in the farm system. He still has a lot of growing up to do at the plate as he often times swings for the fences. If he can learn to take pitches the other way with more regularity and improve his selectivity, he has the talent to rapidly move up the rankings.
10. SS/2B Jose Pirela - Like Cuello, Pirela's batting potential is both immense and a safe projection at the same time. He has very quick hands at the plate and he drives the ball with regularity. Some scouts are already predicting 30+ home runs seasons for him down the road and he has the great speed on the bases to make him a dual threat. He hasn't looked very good defensively at shortstop however and many believe he'll have to find a home at second base or in the outfield.
11. OF, Kelvin De Leon - De Leon's power alone makes him a very, very intriguing prospect. The 16-year old is extremely strong already and has looked the part of an elite masher through two Instructional League camps. He still has work to do using the entire field more and it appears that plus fastballs will get by him at the current time, but he has the great makeup and work ethic to make adjustments. Don't be surprised if he makes a huge splash in next year's Top 50.
12. SS, Jose Mojica - Internally the Yankees are extremely high on the 18-year old. He is very polished for a young player yet to make his professional debut, both offensively and defensively. He has the look of a high-average hitter with good power. His major weaknesses right now are his smaller stature and less than impressive wheels on the bases, but his game is solid enough to be a quick mover.
13. RHP, Arodys Vizcaino - Some insiders believe Vizcaino could be even better than Heredia long-term, thanks in large part to his power arm and ease of motion. He does throw a hair harder than Heredia right now and his deceptive delivery allows his fastball to appear even quicker. He does however need work on improving his secondary pitches and his command isn't up to par with Heredia just yet. If he can improve in those areas, he could become a big-time prospect.
14. OF, Zoilo Almonte - Almonte's bat puts him in great company right now. He has a tremendous idea of the strike zone and hits the gaps with regularity. Almonte is also a good switch-hitter and some scouts believe he's got some really good power potential. His defensive abilities are somewhat limited however and he isn't the fastest guy around either. His projection is all predicated on the bat, but the good news is his bat has the chance to be pretty special.
15. RHP, Manny Barreda - There are players with some higher upside ranked lower but not many offer the coachable makeup of Barreda. He entered the farm system as merely a power arm and finished his first professional season with three pretty good pitches and better command. If he can keep up that kind of progress as he climbs the minor league ladder he'll have the chance to become one of the better pitching prospects in the farm system.
16. OF, Taylor Grote - There might not be a more confident player in these rankings. While he doesn't have the plus power of Romine or the great defensive abilities of Angelini, Grote's tools are solid across the board. He is extremely patient at the plate and has a good idea of what he wants to do offensively. The looseness in his swing and quick bat suggests there's some hidden power in his game but he'll need to physically mature to tap his true potential.
17. C, Chase Weems - Like Grote, Weems' biggest weakness right now is his physical conditioning. He lost a lot of weight battling an illness prior to signing so he started his professional career a bit further back than others. His makeup however is off the charts and his defensive abilities behind the plate are pretty special, including his plus arm and very accurate throws. Offensively he has the look a very scrappy hitter who will give a good at-bat every time, but he will need to get physically stronger to tap his potential and move up the rankings.
18. 3B, Jimmy Paredes - Signed as a skinny shortstop with projectable power, Paredes made huge strides getting stronger in his professional debut season this past year. The switch-hitter has a knack for making contact but his plate discipline is still lacking at the current time. He boasts a cannon for an arm at the hot corner and, if he can start laying off some pitches and improve his selectivity, he has the chance to be pretty special. He is a high-risk, high-reward prospect right now.
19. 3B, Elio De La Rosa - Signed this past July, the smooth defensive third baseman is equally as solid at the plate. He has a very good understanding of the strike zone and he has shown a willingness to hit the ball to all fields. The Yankees are excited about his hit-ability but, like most young Latin hitters beginning their careers, has some work to do in getting physically stronger. He has the look of safe bet right now.
20. C, Jorge Liccien - Liccien hasn't played a professional game yet and already the Venezuelan catcher is being mentioned in the same breath as Francisco Cervelli for his defensive prowess behind the plate. That alone deserves a high ranking and the Yankees are intrigued by his bat as well. He is very skinny right now and will need to get physically stronger to handle the rigors of a long season.
21. OF, Eduardo Sosa - The Yankees are excited about Sosa's combination of speed and defense that he can immediately bring to the table. They also believe he's got some power potential in his swing as he gets bigger. His game isn't as advanced as some of the other names on this list however and he'll need to prove it on the field that he deserves to move up.
22. C, Francisco Arcia - Arcia has developed into a solid catching prospect since signing with the Yankees in July of 2006. He has made marked improvements getting stronger, bettering his plate discipline, and showing more athleticism behind the plate. The switch-hitter has a patient approach offensively but he'll need to make his mark against some steep competition at the catcher's position for the Yankees before earning the opportunity to move up the rankings.
23. OF, Henry Pena - Pena's advanced approach at the plate - willing to take pitches, go the other way, shorten his swing, and hit for a high average - has the Yankees confident in his ability to advance. He's just as solid defensively in the outfield but, lacking physical strength right now, doesn't have the power projection yet to compare to some of his fellow farmhands. He'll need to get stronger to do so.
24. RHP, Jose Ramirez - One of the later International signings this past season, Ramirez is solid across the board. He has shown an average big league fastball, a good curveball, and an advanced feel for a changeup. He is very loose on the mound and throws with an ease of motion that a lot of team officials like. He is very skinny however, so while his ability to put on weight could theoretically add some velocity to his fastball, it isn't a given either.
25. RHP, Francisco Gil - Gil hasn't been able to stay healthy long enough to iron out his mechanical and delivery issues and that has hurt his progress. He still has a very good sinking two-seamer as well as a solid curveball and changeup, not to mention he's learning to use his height more and pitch more downhill. There's a lot to like about his raw abilities but he'll need to stay healthy to make the most of his development.
Just Missed: Francisco Rondon and Arielkis Lapaix.