Jose Pirela: The fact that Pirela [who is much better defensively at second base than shortstop and who has also failed to hit his first home run in the United States in two seasons] is the highest ceiling shortstop outside of Nunez isn't good news at all for the state of the position in the Yankees farm system.
To be fair though, Pirela has made some significant progress defensively at shortstop over the last year. He has solid range, good hands, and an adequate arm, enough to handle the position, and his offensive potential would be regarded better there as opposed to second base. His ceiling is more of a solid player though and for now that's better than most Yankee shortstop prospects.
Closest to the Majors
Reegie Corona: The middle infielder made it all the way to Triple-A in 2009, although he struggled in his first taste [.200] of International League pitching. He has good plate discipline, good speed, and good contact hitting ability.
And while he is much better served playing second base defensively, the fact is he can man the shortstop position adequately. His offensive limitations - namely his lack of power - lead many to believe his potential future in the organization is that of a utility man, but he is a big league shortstop option for the Yankees in emergency situations.
Eduardo Nunez: Nunez, who entered the 2009 season with a career .251 average over five years, picked an excellent time to have a breakout season. He was always regarded as the highest ceiling shortstop prospect in the organization, and still very much is, but he is also the closest one to the big leagues now that he's headed to Triple-A after hitting .322 with a career-high nine home runs in Trenton last year.
The plate discipline still needs work as does his consistency on defense, but he can be a big-time impact player on both sides of the ball on any given day. And while he needs defensive refinement, he can more than handle the duties at the big league level should the need arise.
Jose Mojica: The Dominican native has a pretty good ceiling too. In a lot of ways he is somewhat reminiscent of Nunez with his contact hitting ability, aggressive offensive approach, and line-drive power. However, the defensive range, speed, and overall athleticism are a couple of steps below Nunez.
|STILL HAS SOME CEILING: Mojica still has some upside to him despite his advanced age. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Need to Make Their Move
Carmen Angelini: Angelini has some five-tool talent overall, giving him a pretty good ceiling. But because of his .218 average and inability to prove much of those five tools in game situations two seasons into his career, he is already starting to find himself at a bit of a crossroads.
He has played extremely well at the minor league complex in Spring Training, Instructs, etc, which is why some still hold out hope for him, but time is starting to dwindle for him to transfer that same success in official minor league at-bats. He needs to do that very soon.
Kelvin Castro: Castro, who just turned 22 years old this offseason, has a little bit of power and speed, and he's pretty smooth defensively. But a .212 career average and major contact issues thus far has him struggling to keep his head above water in the organization.
Walter Ibarra: The 22-year old was one of the bigger ticket signings back in 2005 and he has yet to grab a starting role in the long-season leagues. He does a little bit of everything; he has good speed, good plate discipline, he is a pretty good contact hitter, he switch-hits, and he is excellent defensively.
He doesn't have the one great offensive tool, however, and that has forced him to the bench in his career thus far. Time is running out for him to prove he is more than an organizational player.
Addison Maruszak: Boasting one of the best infield arms around and above average plate discipline, the 23-year old has enough skills to be a bit of a 'sleeper'. However, he missed a golden opportunity to gain some prospect traction coming off of his .317 season in Staten Island two years ago by struggling in Tampa last season, hitting just .148.
He put together a more representative showing after being sent down to Charleston in the second-half, hitting .263, but he has yet to force himself into any long-term positional discussions. He'll need to grab the proverbial bull by the horns if he is given another starting opportunity in 2010 in order to do so.
The Jury is Still Out
Gian Carlos Arias: The good: he just turned 18 years old, he already has plus big league plate discipline, and he has decent power potential. The bad: he hit just .227 in his first professional season last year, he has struggled with his weight already, and nobody is certain he can remain at shortstop. He has work to do.