Carmen Angelini: The Yankees' tenth round pick last season has just one official minor league at-bat to his credit and he already has one of the higher ceilings in the organization, thanks in large part to his maturity and confidence. Blessed with good speed, a strong arm, and innate baseball intellect, he is already one of the better defensive shortstops.
Offensively he shows a very patient approach, above average contact hitting ability, and surprising situational hitting. His good speed also makes him a force on the bases and, while he lacks the plus power potential to be a no-doubter in this category, most scouts believe he will hit for enough power to project as an everyday starting shortstop at the big league level someday.
Jose Mojica: As excited as the Yankees are to watch Angelini develop over the coming years, some team officials believe Mojica - the Yankees' top International signing last season who has yet to have an official minor league at-bat - may be better in the long-run. Like Angelini, who lacks true power, Mojica's below average speed gives him big question mark in his offensive game. He does have a very good center-to-right approach and he does have surprising power for a player his size [5-foot-11, 165 pounds].
Defensively, Mojica makes up for his sub-standard speed in the middle infield with great positioning and good footwork. He is very adept at reading balls coming off of the bat and he also has a very strong and accurate arm. Also like Angelini, despite no professional experience, he brings a lot of polish in the field and he could move quickly as a result.
Closest to the Majors
Reegie Corona: The former second baseman made the move to shortstop in 2007. While the high error totals he accrued last season might alarm some outsiders, the plus range and strong arm he showcased leave few insiders with any doubts he could handle the position at the big league level.
Offensively he is a very solid hitter, one who employs a patient approach at the plate and uses his above average speed on the base paths. His power is lacking enough to not project safely as a big league regular just yet, but he has come a long way in a short time in that department. Playing at the Double-A level a year ago, and with Derek Jeter not in jeopardy of losing his position anytime soon, he could break in as a utility player within the next year or two.
Ramiro Pena: Defensively the 22-year old is ready for the big leagues right now. His plus-plus range, solid arm, and incredibly accurate throws would put him among the big league's elite defensive shortstops right now. He has no weaknesses in that facet of his game.
At the plate however he has struggled to put up a career .253 average with very little power. Advancing all the way to Double-A in his first professional season and struggling to stay healthy has worked against him in developing his offensive game. The numbers haven't been pretty, and he'll never be confused with a plus offensive player, but he has a bit more potential than many realize.
Eduardo Nunez: One of the more dynamic defensive and offensive players in the farm system, and easily possessing the most power potential of any shortstop prospect in the organization, Nunez could easily fit in the 'highest ceiling' category if not for the fact he has been written off by many critics.
|IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE: Writing off Nunez too quickly could be a huge mistake. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Need to Make Their Move
Walter Ibarra: One of the more intriguing International signings back in 2005, Ibarra has struggled with nagging injuries in his first two professional seasons. When healthy he has shown to be a superb defensive shortstop and a pesky switch-hitter at the plate.
Two straight years in the Gulf Coast League, however, he now has the likes of Angelini and Mojica looking to steal his playing time. He just turned 20 years old in November and it is way too early to write him off, but he'll need to get back on the field in a big way to fight his way back into the mix.
The Jury is Still Out
Kelvin Castro: The numbers for the 2007 GCL Yankees shortstop and third baseman don't exactly jump off the page, but he is a bit 'toolsier' than most realize. He has an intriguing combination of power and speed offensively, and he has shown the ability to be an exciting defensive player. He certainly has the look of a strong 'sleeper' candidate but how the Yankees fit him into the Angelini-Mojica mix at the lower levels will have to play out first.
Jose Toussen: One of the key International signings in 2006, it was a somewhat rough adjustment to professional baseball for Toussen last season as he hit just .235 with 72 strikeouts and 33 errors in just 62 games for DSL Yankees2. Physically weak when he signed, he has worked hard to get bigger and stronger. It remains to be seen how it will improve his game but the tools are there to be a very good prospect down the road.
Ryan Wehrle: The former University of Nebraska shortstop also has some impressive physical tools - possessing power, speed, and a very good eye at the plate. He looks the part of a possible sleeper but he had a hard time securing playing time in Staten Island last season and it remains to be seen how he fits into the Yankees plans going forward.