Outfield prospects have not been a strong suit for the Yankees organization since Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera were coming up. Now there is a new batch of prospects knocking on the door and the organizational depth at the position is actually pretty extraordinary. Hopefully, somewhere in there lies a replacement for Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson. Hopefully that replacement arrives soon. There is an expectation both within the organization and with scouts that at least one or two of these outfielders will work out, and the Yankees will save a ton of money.
10. Adonis Garcia – 27 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 5-foot-7, 190-pounds. This Cuban outfielder doesn’t have a standout tool and is short, but he is an advanced hitter. He has shown in limited action that he can hit for power, and appeared to improve when he moved from High-A to Double-A and the competition got better. With four homeruns and an .817 OPS in Trenton, he could be an in house option for right field next season. He batted .288/.325/.492 for Trenton. He’s a bit old for his level, but he just got to the USA so he could be a great find.
9. Ronnier “Musketeer” Mustelier – 28 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 5-foot-9, 210-pounds. Aside from having one of the coolest names in the organization, Ronnier Mustelier can flat out hit. In two years he’s skipped across all six levels, and he’s hit every step along the way. His latest challenge in Triple-A resulted in a .303/.359/.455/.815 quadruple slash. He had 15 homeruns across two levels in just 114 games. How this would translate to the major leagues is the bigger question, especially given his age. He hasn’t found his level yet, and I’m not gonna be the one to bet against him.
8. “Honest Abe” Abraham Almonte- 23 years old. Bats: Both. Throws: Right. 5-foot-11, 185-pounds. Actually has a great swing for such a speedster. Almonte does everything you want a leadoff guy to do. He gets on base, he steals bases, and he can bunt. He bats from both sides of the plate, and still has some power projection if he’s able to stay healthy. He’s certainly had his struggles with average and consistency over the years, but that’s very common in switch hitters. He had a solid season in Double-A last year with a .276/.350/.392/.742 year, and will look to build on that in Scranton this season.
7. “It’s Gam-Time” Ben Gamel- 20 years old. Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. You already know I like him because he is one of my 2013 breakout candidates, but guys who can hit for average AND get on base are worth a lot in my book. If Ben Gamel can develop some power, he’s gonna be a guy. He’s only 20 so he’s got plenty of time to accomplish that. He’s a hard worker with a major league pedigree (his brother), so he knows what he has to do. He also has decent speed. .306/.342/.394/.737 was the quadruple slash, and he had 19 stolen bases. He’ll likely start in High-A this season.
6. Melky Mesa “Melkman 2.0″- 26 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 6-foot-1, 190-pounds. Hit .264/.325/.480/.805 this season in Double-A and Triple-A. Melky struggled a bit in Triple-A but still had an OPS of .794. It’s approaching make or break time for him, but he’s also on the brink of the majors and has outstanding tools. He is a definite 4-tool player with the chance to become a 5-tool guy. He has power, speed, arm strength, and defense. The hit tool is not there yet but it’s coming around. If he can continue to improve his strikeout totals, he could be a major league regular.
5. Zoilo “Zee” Almonte – 23 years old. Bats: Both, Throws: Right. 6-foot-0, 205-pounds. Zoilo Almonte is still young and has some excellent power to all fields. He had a good season in Double-A this year, continuing his consistent upward trajectory through the minors. A .277/.322/.487/.808 hitter last season, he also hit 21 home runs over the course of the season and stole 15 bases. He has the speed to continue stealing bases, and has the ability to be an excellent fielder. Unfortunately his fielding is one aspect of his game that is inconsistent. He has good tools and good natural abilities, but he has had trouble sometimes with routine plays. Defense is one of those things that can improve if you work hard enough at it, especially if you have the tools. If he is able to do that, he could end up being a late bloomer with everyday outfielder potential.
4. “Ray-Flo” Ramon Flores- 21 years old. Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. Recently added to the 40 man roster to protect him from a Rule 5 Draft selection. Everybody’s favorite sleeper, Flores ranked #10 on BBDP’s top 50 prospect list. He often gets lost in the shuffle because the top three outfielders get all of the notoriety, but he’s a legitimate candidate to become the next super prospect. The last element of his game waiting to come through is the power. He already has the swing for it, so it’s just a matter of developing his man strength. Some guys never get it, but there’s a strong belief that Flores will. A solid fielder in addition to his great hit tool, he hit .303/.370/.425/.796 last season in High-A. He’ll start in Double-A, and the sky is his limit.
3. Slade Heathcott- 22 years old, Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 6-foot-1, 190-pounds. After this season Heathcott has been the subject of a lot of buzz. Drawing comparisons to Mike Trout will certainly do that. So will tearing the cover off the ball in the Arizona Fall League, and batting .302/.380/.461/.841 in High-A last season. He also had 5 homeruns and 19 stolen bases in just 265 at bats. An argument could be made that he is actually the Yankees top prospect now that Banuelos is injured and Mason Williams has undergone surgery as well. Personally, I will reserve that honor until he can stay healthy for a full season. His tools are off the charts. He has a great hit tool, power, speed with ability to steal bases, a cannon for an arm (although I’m not sure if the arm strength has fully returned after his surgeries yet), and excellent fielding ability. After 2013 he’s probably the most likely player to supplant Mason Williams as the Yankees #1 prospect. After his performance in the AFL, I can’t envision him starting any lower than Double-A this season, so he could help the team as soon as 2014.
2. “Stone Cold” Tyler Austin- 21 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 6-foot-2, 200-pounds. Tools wise Heathcott is the better prospect, with the exception of the hit tool and the power tool. Performance wise Tyler Austin is the better prospect. As a 20 year old over three levels this season, he hit .322/.400/.559/.960. He hit 17 homeruns and stole 23 bases. The base stealing is unlikely to continue as he moves up to better pitcher moves and better catchers, but the hitting is real. He has serious power and he also has superior patience. He’s not afraid to take a walk. Austin switched to right field this season and that actually improved his stock. His defense at third base was spotty, while his defense in right field is solid. Another young phenom outfielder starting in Trenton.
1. “Mad Mase” Mason Williams: 21 years old. Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 6-foot-0, 195-pounds. Just 150-pounds when he was drafted, Williams has bulked up significantly without losing any speed. He had a major break out season in 2012. He hit .298/.346/.474/.820 last season, and is another 5-tool outfielder for the Yankees. His shoulder injury is a concern, but it is apparently similar to Slade Heathcott’s, and is in his non throwing shoulder. He has a cannon arm, phenomenal hit tool, good patience, developing power, and great speed. He only stole 20 bases and go caught 13 times this year, but with his speed he will be learn to read pitchers better with time. Definitely the most hyped Yankee prospect of the moment, he deserves the hype because he is that good. When he comes back from the injury, he’ll likely start in Tampa and if all goes well he’ll see some time in Double-A before the season is over.
As you can see with this system outfield depth is one of the major strengths. The Yankees have an excellent blend of major league close talent, extremely high upside talent, and long term projects. It will be interesting to see how these guys pan out, but all of them show significant promise and could help the major league team in one way or another soon.