The Yankees don’t have much depth at first base but that is beginning to change. First base is also one of those positions where players end up if they can’t field anywhere else. You often won’t see good players at first base in an organization until they have failed at other positions. There aren’t too many like that in the Yankees system, but Peter O’Brien and Rob Segedin to stick out as possibilities. Either way the Yankees have to do a better job of getting some power hitting first basemen to infuse this system with some future talent. There is some hidden talent at the position, however, and there are some guys I will be keeping an eye out for this year as they could surprise some people with their performance. One caveat here, only one of these players made the end of the season top 50, so don’t pound me too hard on these rankings. The pickings are in fact slim here.
1. Gregory Bird – 1B, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, LHB, 21 years old – Going into the 2013 season many were down on Bird because of his switch to first base. There are a select few who are still down on him after his monster season in Charleston. He hit .288/.428/.511/.938 with 20 home runs, 36 doubles, and three triples in 2013. He Did strike out 132 times in just 130 games, which is concerning to say the least. On the other hand he also had the most walks this system has seen since Nick Johnson, and has already shown more power than Nick. The bottom line is Bird has big tools. Some scouts feel his swing is a bit long and he will have to hit his way to the majors, but he’s got the potential to be a big time player for the Yankees. Highest level: Low-A. Will start 2014 at: High-A. Estimated arrival: 2016. Ceiling: 30-35 HR, .290+ average, .425 OBP. Floor: Juan Miranda (who? Exactly). Likelihood of reaching ceiling: low-intermediate.
2. Matt Snyder – 1B, 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, LHB, 23 years old – This season couldn’t have gone much worse for Snyder but that’s because he was injured the whole time. He has been a healthy player his whole career, but this year had a series of injuries which derailed his season. His stats are not even worth mentioning because they are a small sample size. The bottom line is this kid has the potential to hit for both average and power. He’s a patient hitter and he’s calm, cool, and collected. After starting his career in Staten Island an astounding 0/30 something, he rebounded to have a solid season. He also never let his approach get away from him despite his struggles. He was hitting line drives and the 0/30 was a fluke. He was smart enough to realize that. Anyway, he’s got a good amount of talent and if he stays healthy he’ll have a shot to be a big-time power hitter in this system. Highest level: High-A. Will start 2014 at: High-A. Estimated arrival: 2015 (if all goes right). Ceiling: 25+ home runs, .275+ average. Floor: injury bust. Likelihood of hitting ceiling: Low.
3. Austin “Bubba” Jones – 1B, 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, LHB, 21 – Bubba Jones had a bit of a breakout season this year as a 20 year old in short season Staten Island. It wasn’t superstar material, but he showed some real improvement from 2012 and looked like he had come a long way as a player. His line for the season was a respectable .284/.348/.393/.741. He struck out too much, 66 times in 60 innings. He also hit 17 doubles and two home runs. He increased hi slugging percentage from last season by about 100 points against better competition. There’s a chance he figured something out and will continue to sprout from here. He’ll have to develop more power as time goes on though to be taken seriously. Highest level: Short season ball. Will start 2014 at: Low-A. Ceiling: 20+ HR and a .275+ average. Floor: bust. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: low-intermediate.
4. Reymond Nunez – 1B, 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, RHB, 23 years old – Reymond Nunez (very) quietly had a solid season in 2013. He hit .256/.312/.439/.751 with 15 home runs and 21 doubles. He beat his career high in stateside home runs by 10. He finally seemed to figure it out against Low-A pitching. Reymond still has a long way to go, but he has serious power which shows up only in batting practice right now. If he can continue to grow and show more power in games he could put himself on the prospect map. For now he is a member of the not top 50. Highest level: High-A. Will start 2014 at: High-A. Estimated arrival: 2016. Ceiling: 30+ home runs, .250/.314 BA/OBP. Floor: bust. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: Long shot.
5. Renzo Martini – 1B, 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, RHB, 21 years old – Fans will always root for him because he passes the name test. Easily one of the best names in the system. Yankees scouts were excited for him to come stateside this year and he performed decently in his debut. He his .267/.332/.387/.719 in the GCL with three homers and 14 doubles. It could have gone better but he made it to the states and showed some potential. He’s another long shot but he could come up and surprise people starting as soon as next year. Highest level: GCL. Will start next season at: Staten Island. Estimated arrival: 2018. Ceiling: 20+ home runs, .250 average. Floor: bust. Likelihood of reaching ceiling: long shot.
6. Kyle Roller – 1B, 6-foot-1, 250-pounds, LHB, 25 – I had to add a sixth man to this list because Kyle Roller deserves to be on it. He may be better than the two guys ahead of him too. He’s older, so his prospect status is dwindling with each year, but he’s got solid power and patience at the plate. He hit .253/.347/.427/.774 this season with 17 home runs and 24 doubles at Double-A. He’s a big, stocky player but has the potential to hit over 20 home runs in the majors, and could be a contributor eventually. Highest level: Double-A. Will start 2014 at – Double or Triple-A. Estimated arrival: 2015. Ceiling: 20+ homers, .255 average. Floor: bust. Likelihood of hitting ceiling: intermediate-low.