The Yankees All-Prospect Team

Preparing for the upcoming 2009 minor league season, we offer up which Yankees' prospects have the highest ceiling at each position to put together the "Yankees Prospect All-Star Team" for the Yankees farm system.

Here's a list of the highest ceiling prospect at each position. These are the players that are not necessarily closest to the Major Leagues, but rather the ones that have the highest ceiling right now and potentially could be the biggest impact players for the Yankees at the Major League level someday.

Catcher - Austin Romine

With an offensive ceiling lying somewhere in between Mike Piazza and Jason Varitek, thanks in large part for his ability to drive the ball with power and backspin to the opposite field with regularity, and with a defensive ceiling of Francisco Cervelli, Romine can do it all on both sides of the ball.

First Base - Brandon Laird

The right-handed slugger has drawn comparisons to Kansas City Royals first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler for his ability to hit for both average and power, and due to his lack of defensive versatility long-term at the big league level. And just like the Royals did with Butler, the Yankees will find a home for Laird's bat if he comes close to tapping his offensive potential.

Second Base - Jose Pirela

With the likes of Corban Joseph [who has a Chase Utley type of ceiling] and Damon Sublett [who has a similar type of ceiling], this position was the most hotly contested among the infielders. However, we're going with Pirela ceiling-wise because he has at least as much power as the other two [if not more] and his speed is clearly better. He needs to start proving his ceiling more on the field this coming year, but his potential is quite vast.

Shortstop - Eduardo Nunez

Take positions out of the equation and Nunez still has one of the best ceilings in the organization, but throw in the fact he has unrivaled physical defensive skills as well, there's really no contest here. Nunez has Gold Glove abilities in the field and 20-20 [20 home runs, 20 stolen bases] potential at the plate.

Third Base - Bradley Suttle

Though Jimmy Paredes has a Nunez-like ceiling at the hot corner, Suttle offers a similar ceiling in the power department and a more reliable offensive approach. The switch-hitter has arguably the best combination of plate discipline and power among the infield prospects for the Yankees, having drawn comparisons to a young Eric Chavez early in his career.

Outfielders - Abraham Almonte, Eduardo Sosa, and Carlos Urena

When the subject of ceilings comes up, it's hard not to get excited about the potential of this trio. The switch-hitting Almonte has some of the best power-speed combination in the organization and he has drawn comparisons to the likes of Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins - he has that kind of ceiling.

The left-handed hitting Sosa was compared to current Yankee outfielder Johnny Damon when he initially signed, but with better overall speed and a much better arm, his ceiling is that of a Johnny Damon/Brett Gardner hybrid as a player who possesses the best qualities of each player...although Sosa's arm is better than both.

Almonte and Sosa have the high ceilings and both are decent bets to reach their potential someday, but neither have the ceiling of Urena. Urena has plus power potential to all fields and he can carry his team for long stretches with his run production. However, his mental makeup pales in comparison to the aforementioned Almonte and Sosa, and that makes his ability to reach his ceiling a bit riskier.

Designated Hitter - Jesus Montero

Since no team brings up their better minor league prospects as a designated hitter, and since we can only have one at each position, Montero slides in here. He can handle the defensive responsibilities at catcher and he certainly would be an offensive stud at the position, but if he and Romine both make it to the big leagues with the Yankees someday it stands to reason that saving Montero's bat as the team's designated hitter would be the wise move. He's got a Mike Piazza-Manny Ramirez type of ceiling, his bat is that special.

Starting Pitchers - Christian Garcia, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Arodys Vizcaino, and Manny Banuelos

Where the ceilings discussions not only get more exciting but more hotly contested is at the depth of starting pitchers in the organization. Armed with three plus big league pitches [including a curveball-changeup combination that is arguably the best], the smoothest mechanics in the organization, stamina, command, and athleticism, Garcia's ceiling is among the best there is.

The twin towers of Betances [6-foot-9] and Brackman [6-foot-11] give the Yankees a dynamic duo. Both can hit the upper-90's with their fastball, both have knockout knuckle-curveballs as big-time strikeout weapons, both have the feel for advanced changeups, and both have frontline starting stuff.

The 18-year old Vizcaino could wind up having a better ceiling when it's all said and done. He bumped his velocity up to the 91-94 MPH range last year and his electric arm and projectable body leads many to believe that he will throw harder as he physically matures. He also has made incredible improvements to his now plus curveball and he could make similar leaps with his changeup.

With a host of others that could round out the high-ceiling rotation, we gave the edge to Banuelos here because he has the complete package already. He has three plus pitches, plus command, smooth mechanics, poise, and a high degree of pitch-ability. The only thing he lacks is experience and there's also hope he could bump his fastball velocity up to the elite level for lefties by the time he peaks. Think Scott Kazmir for his ceiling.

Relief Pitchers - Mark Melancon and Mike Dunn

The good news for Yankees fans is that the highest ceiling relievers also happen to be the relief pitching prospects closest to the big leagues, making an already strong bullpen that much deeper. Dunn, a converted outfielder, has a great fastball-slider combination from the left side that could be perfectly suited for the back-end of the bullpen in Mike Stanton-like fashion as a setup man.

Melancon - armed with three plus pitches, command, efficiency, and arguably the best mental makeup in the organization - could wind up being the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. While Rivera's cutter has been his bread and butter over the years, Melancon's special sinker has the chance to be nearly as effective.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nHere's a list of the highest ceiling prospect at each position. These are the players that are not necessarily closest to the Major Leagues, but rather the ones that have the highest ceiling right now and potentially could be the biggest impact players for the Yankees at the Major League level someday.
\r\n
\r\nCatcher - Austin Romine
\r\n
\r\nWith an offensive ceiling lying somewhere in between Mike Piazza and Jason Varitek, thanks in large part for his ability to drive the ball with power and backspin to the opposite field with regularity, and with a defensive ceiling of Francisco Cervelli, Romine can do it all on both sides of the ball.
\r\n
\r\nFirst Base - Brandon Laird
\r\n
\r\nThe right-handed slugger has drawn comparisons to Kansas City Royals first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler for his ability to hit for both average and power, and due to his lack of defensive versatility long-term at the big league level. And just like the Royals did with Butler, the Yankees will find a home for Laird's bat if he comes close to tapping his offensive potential.
\r\n
\r\nSecond Base - Jose Pirela
\r\n
\r\nWith the likes of Corban Joseph [who has a Chase Utley type of ceiling] and Damon Sublett [who has a similar type of ceiling], this position was the most hotly contested among the infielders. However, we're going with Pirela ceiling-wise because he has at least as much power as the other two [if not more] and his speed is clearly better. He needs to start proving his ceiling more on the field this coming year, but his potential is quite vast.
\r\n
\r\nShortstop - Eduardo Nunez
\r\n
\r\nTake positions out of the equation and Nunez still has one of the best ceilings in the organization, but throw in the fact he has unrivaled physical defensive skills as well, there's really no contest here. Nunez has Gold Glove abilities in the field and 20-20 [20 home runs, 20 stolen bases] potential at the plate.
\r\n
\r\nThird Base - Bradley Suttle
\r\n
\r\nThough Jimmy Paredes has a Nunez-like ceiling at the hot corner, Suttle offers a similar ceiling in the power department and a more reliable offensive approach. The switch-hitter has arguably the best combination of plate discipline and power among the infield prospects for the Yankees, having drawn comparisons to a young Eric Chavez early in his career.
\r\n
\r\nOutfielders - Abraham Almonte, Eduardo Sosa, and Carlos Urena
\r\n
\r\nWhen the subject of ceilings comes up, it's hard not to get excited about the potential of this trio. The switch-hitting Almonte has some of the best power-speed combination in the organization and he has drawn comparisons to the likes of Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins - he has that kind of ceiling.
\r\n
\r\nThe left-handed hitting Sosa was compared to current Yankee outfielder Johnny Damon when he initially signed, but with better overall speed and a much better arm, his ceiling is that of a Johnny Damon/Brett Gardner hybrid as a player who possesses the best qualities of each player...although Sosa's arm is better than both.
\r\n
\r\nAlmonte and Sosa have the high ceilings and both are decent bets to reach their potential someday, but neither have the ceiling of Urena. Urena has plus power potential to all fields and he can carry his team for long stretches with his run production. However, his mental makeup pales in comparison to the aforementioned Almonte and Sosa, and that makes his ability to reach his ceiling a bit riskier.
\r\n
\r\nDesignated Hitter - Jesus Montero
\r\n
\r\nSince no team brings up their better minor league prospects as a designated hitter, and since we can only have one at each position, Montero slides in here. He can handle the defensive responsibilities at catcher and he certainly would be an offensive stud at the position, but if he and Romine both make it to the big leagues with the Yankees someday it stands to reason that saving Montero's bat as the team's designated hitter would be the wise move. He's got a Mike Piazza-Manny Ramirez type of ceiling, his bat is that special.
\r\n
\r\nStarting Pitchers - Christian Garcia, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Arodys Vizcaino, and Manny Banuelos
\r\n
\r\nWhere the ceilings discussions not only get more exciting but more hotly contested is at the depth of starting pitchers in the organization. Armed with three plus big league pitches [including a curveball-changeup combination that is arguably the best], the smoothest mechanics in the organization, stamina, command, and athleticism, Garcia's ceiling is among the best there is.
\r\n
\r\nThe twin towers of Betances [6-foot-9] and Brackman [6-foot-11] give the Yankees a dynamic duo. Both can hit the upper-90's with their fastball, both have knockout knuckle-curveballs as big-time strikeout weapons, both have the feel for advanced changeups, and both have frontline starting stuff.
\r\n
\r\nThe 18-year old Vizcaino could wind up having a better ceiling when it's all said and done. He bumped his velocity up to the 91-94 MPH range last year and his electric arm and projectable body leads many to believe that he will throw harder as he physically matures. He also has made incredible improvements to his now plus curveball and he could make similar leaps with his changeup.
\r\n
\r\nWith a host of others that could round out the high-ceiling rotation, we gave the edge to Banuelos here because he has the complete package already. He has three plus pitches, plus command, smooth mechanics, poise, and a high degree of pitch-ability. The only thing he lacks is experience and there's also hope he could bump his fastball velocity up to the elite level for lefties by the time he peaks. Think Scott Kazmir for his ceiling.
\r\n
\r\nRelief Pitchers - Mark Melancon and Mike Dunn
\r\n
\r\nThe good news for Yankees fans is that the highest ceiling relievers also happen to be the relief pitching prospects closest to the big leagues, making an already strong bullpen that much deeper. Dunn, a converted outfielder, has a great fastball-slider combination from the left side that could be perfectly suited for the back-end of the bullpen in Mike Stanton-like fashion as a setup man.
\r\n
\r\nMelancon - armed with three plus pitches, command, efficiency, and arguably the best mental makeup in the organization - could wind up being the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. While Rivera's cutter has been his bread and butter over the years, Melancon's special sinker has the chance to be nearly as effective.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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