Corban Joseph: The fourth round pick in last year's draft had a solid professional debut season, hitting .277 and leading the Gulf Coast League Yankees in extra-base hits. He has a sweet stroke from the left side and some scouts have thrown out the Chase Utley comparisons.
His defensive game is a work a progress, but he's got the athletic ability to develop that part of his game. Considering his plate discipline and power potential, the Yankees could have a very good two-way player in Joseph down the road.
Jose Pirela: The Venezuelan native was arguably the most impressive hitter in Extended Spring Training before a nagging groin injury hampered his U.S. debut in the Gulf Coast League. He hit just .234 with zero home runs for the GCL Yankees, helping to disguise his true potential.
He's very adept at taking pitches to the opposite field and many scouts believe his line-drive power will eventually turn into home run power. He also has good speed and athletic ability to be productive in the running game. Scouts have compared him to former top Yankees prospect Jose Tabata offensively. Defensively, while he has played more at shortstop, he projects best as a solid second baseman.
Damon Sublett: Sublett also has an intriguing combination of power and speed offensively, although a pair of torn ligaments in his ankle just two months into the 2008 campaign robbed him of any chance at duplicating his tremendous Staten Island season the year before.
He is one of the more patient hitters in the organization and he has solid power for a middle infielder. He doesn't have the greatest range at second base and he could use better jumps defensively, but he projects to be a solid defender in time.
Closest to the Majors
Christopher Malec: Another year, another solid season for Malec. He hit .291 with 28 doubles and topped a .400 on-base percentage for the second year in row. Possessing great plate discipline, he once again drew more walks than he struck out.
He has been playing more corner infield positions over the past two seasons, but he's a natural second baseman. Malec lacks the physical tools to be considered a top prospect, but he's a big-time gamer who could sneak his way into the big league mix someday.
Kevin Russo: Like Malec, Russo continues to play well as a later-round draft pick and profiles best inside the organization as a utility player. He hit .307 for the Trenton Thunder last year coming off of his Florida State League All-Star season the year before.
He plays a multitude of positions, he can hit in multiple lineup situations, and the departure of Reegie Corona puts him first on the depth chart among utility players in the organization. He'll most likely be in Triple-A next season after a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League and it might not be long before he gets his cup of coffee in the bigs.
David Adams: Adams had a solid professional debut season with the Staten Island Yankees last year, hitting just .257 but leading the team with 19 doubles. He shows good patience at the plate, surprising speed in the field, and he has some power potential too.
He has undergone multiple changes to his swing in college and then so far in the professional ranks, and a lot of scouts believe there's some hidden potential once he gains some confidence and consistency to his swing. In a lot of ways he's a right-handed hitting version of Sublett.
|UTILITY MAN: Snyder still has some value as a utility man too. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
He has good gap power, some speed, and very good plate discipline. And while his error totals last year weren't great, he is actually a solid defensive player at second base and he can hold his own at third base and centerfield. He gives the Yankees a ton of options offensively and defensively.
Need to Make Their Move
Luis Nunez: A slick-fielding shortstop by trade, Nunez benefited from Sublett's injury in Tampa last season and saw a lot of action at second base. He has great range and soft hands defensively, but while he hit .280 and stole 16 bases last season, he'll need to improve his lack of power to fend off the talented players coming up behind him.
The Jury is Still Out
Matt Cusick: Acquired from the Houston Astros, he was having a solid year in the South Atlantic League last season [hitting .285 with nine home runs and eight stolen bases] before coming over to the Yankees. However, injuries limited him to just 23 at-bats in Tampa and it remains to be seen how he'll fit into the Yankees plans considering the depth they have at second base.