RHP, Manny Barreda: A later-round pick and standing just 5-foot-11, the Yankees 12th round pick last year might be a 'sleeper' all the way up to the big leagues someday. He has the ability to sit anywhere from 90-94 MPH with his fastball, has a good slider and a rapidly developing power changeup. He has tremendous makeup, he is very coachable, and he has shown great moxie on the mound.
LHP, Mike Dunn: Barreda doesn't have exclusive rights to owning moxie - Dunn is also one of the fiercest competitors on the mound. The former position player has a plus fastball for a left-hander and one of the best sliders in the organization. He also have a very serviceable changeup but some scouts envision him shifting to the bullpen at some point. Wherever he lands, his ultra-competitive spirit will serve him very well.
RHP, George Kontos: The former Northwestern product could shift into the highest ceiling category down the road as most Yankees insiders believe he has the stuff and bulldog mentality to possibly make that leap, but he hasn't garnered that much attention outside of the organization yet, giving him true 'sleeper' status. His fastball and slider are truly consistent plus pitches, his curveball can be a plus pitch depending on the day, and he has come a long way with his changeup. He could have a Horne-like breakout season in Double-A this season and then be recognized as one of the better pitching prospects in the game.
RHP, Zach McAllister: Like Kontos, McAllister has some serious upside to him and his stuff can play quite high depending on the day. Possessing plus command of a solid big league fastball already, and with the potential to one day own a plus slider and a plus changeup, he is a lot better than most outsiders realize. His late-season collapse in 2007 notwithstanding, he has the look of being a very consistent pitcher someday.
|UNDERRATED: McCutchen's stuff is seriously overlooked outside of the organization. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
RHP, Ryan Pope: Being drafted out of the NAIA alone would make somebody a 'sleeper', especially one who doesn't throw true gas on the mound. Armed with three quality big league pitches, however, and possessing Ian Kennedy-like command, should allow Pope to fly under the national prospect radar en route to a potential big league career. He won't light up radar guns but he should post great numbers along the way.
LHP, Angel Reyes: A pitcher who could easily fit in the 'jury is still out' category, Reyes' stuff is actually quite special. In fact, depending on the day, he could look like one of the best pitching prospects in the game with his plus fastball-plus curveball combination. His command is wildly inconsistent, however, and that makes him more of a sink-or-swim prospect. If he can improve his consistency and command, he could wind up fitting in the 'highest ceiling' category as well - his talent ranges that much.
Need To Make Their Move
LHP, Phil Coke: The 25-year old has proven himself numbers-wise at the high-A level, posting a combined 3.36 ERA with the Tampa Yankees over the last two seasons. He doesn't have a plus fastball, however, and his changeup is his best weapon. He's a bit of a sleeper in some regard because he can get right-handed batters out but he has also been quickly surrounded by pitchers with better overall stuff. He needs a similar strong performance in Double-A to stay in the long-term mix.
|PART SLEEPER: Duff, buried as a starter, could be a sleeper as a reliever. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
RHP, Eric Hacker: One thing is quite certain, he has nothing to prove at the low-A level after posting a ridiculous 2.18 ERA with the Charleston Riverdogs in his last two stints there. Dealing with an array of injuries in his career, however, has stunted his development somewhat. The soon-to-be 25-year old has struggled at the higher levels and he's going to have to show some success there to fight off the power arms coming up behind him.
RHP, Jason Jones: The former Liberty product is yet another control artist who is quickly getting overwhelmed by the influx of power arms into the Yankees organization. He is a solid pitcher who has had some success at the higher levels but the lack of a power fastball relegates him to mostly a starting role, and unfortunately for him, those spots are quickly being spoken for.
RHP, Brett Smith: The changeup specialist relies on hitting his spots and keeping hitters off-balance. He doesn't throw particularly hard, however, and will only be as good as his command. Among the ERA leaders for a long stretch last season, he has proven he can get advanced hitters out but his disastrous end to the 2007 season is quickly burying him in the Yankees pitching depth. He needs to rebound in a big way.
RHP, Jason Stephens: Like Hacker, Stephens is a great control pitcher who will not beat himself on the mound. At 17-9 with a career 2.68 ERA, the numbers have been equally spectacular as his command. Granted he had Tommy John surgery in 2006, but he is now entering his sixth professional season with the Yankees and he hasn't thrown a pitch above low-A ball. Like the other names in the group, he needs to have some success at the higher levels to stay in the Yankees' long-term plans.
The Jury Is Still Out
RHP, Noel Castillo: Like the other upcoming names in this group, a strong argument could be made to put Castillo in the 'sleeper' category. Signed later than most, stuff-wise, the 24-year old has the look of something special potentially. A bit of a late bloomer, he has a plus fastball, a solid changeup, and a developing curveball. But as good as his stuff is, he still has to prove it beyond the rookie levels and his advanced age doesn't make that a sure bet.
|HEALTH COMES FIRST: Norton needs to prove he's healthy first before he rejoins the Top 50. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
RHP, Tim Norton: No slight on Norton, who has great stuff, like Pedro Martinez with the Mets, he had rotator cuff surgery and he will need to prove he can come back 100 percent healthy before becoming a promising pitching prospect once again. When healthy he has a 92-94 MPH fastball, a knockout splitter, a solid slider and changeup. A potential sleeper, it's all about the health for him right now.
RHP, Adam Olbrychowski: Stuff-wise, the Yankees fifth round pick last season has a plus arm. While he sat mostly in the 90-93 MPH range in Staten Island last season, he reportedly hit 96-97 MPH at times at Pepperdine. He also has a solid changeup but his slider, and more importantly his mechanics and command, are a work in progress right now. He could be 'George Kontos Part Two' if it all comes together for him, he has that kind of natural ability, but the jury is still out on whether or not he can do that.
LHP, Andres Santos: Like Norton, Santos' shoulder surgery has everybody employing a wait-and-see approach to his return. When he's healthy he has a tremendous plus fastball-plus changeup combination that could make him one of the better pitching prospects in the organization, but he'll need to prove he is healthy first before being lumped in the elite group.