As a preview to my top 50 list here are some of the guys who are on the outside looking in. Each failed to make the list for a different reason. Many of these guys have yet to play in the United States and thus are not eligible for my list yet. They are players who either almost made the list or will likely be in position to make the list by the end of the season. I had to limit it to 10 but there were 36 guys in consideration for this list.
51. Dietrich Enns – LHP, 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, 22 – Enns made the transition from reliever to starter last year. This is not a common task, nor an easy one for a pitcher to make. He has a 90-93 mph fastball, a plus slider, and a changeup that gets ground ball outs. Those are fine ingredients for a backend starter, but he’ll look to make improvements next year to increase his ceiling. At the very least Enns has now shown that he has the potential to be a shutdown reliever. Another year like last year and he’ll be in the top fifty.
52. Jorge Mateo – SS, RHB, 6-foot-0, 188-pounds, 18 – Mateo was lauded for his speed and athleticism when he signed with the Yankees. In the DSL, all he did was give the Yankees even more than they had bargained for. He had seven homers, a whopping 49 SB, and a .287/.378/.450/.828 quad slash in the DSL. There’s a really good chance he will take the league by storm much like Abiatal Avelino did in 2013. Some say his tools are actually better than Avelino’s. I’d be shocked if he’s not somewhere in the top 50 by the end of next season.
53. Domingo Acevedo – RHP, 6-foot-7, 242-pounds, 19 – His fastball is mid 90’s and can hit 99. His secondary stuff is a work in progress but he commands everything well which is so key for a young ball player such as Acevedo. Had a monster year in the DSL, with a 2.63 ERA and 43 K in 41.0 IP. His walk rate was just 2.4. It’s tough to separate fact from fiction with players in the DSL, so it will be interesting to see how his scouting report changes when he hits the GCL. With his physical tools he should be in the end of the season top 50.
54. Leonardo Molina – OF, RHB, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 16 – A five tool athlete who could be the youngest player to come stateside this year. He’s already a polished player and was the biggest signing in the 2013 crop. He got $1.4 million in a year where the Yankees budget was severely limited. This should tell you how highly they think of him. Thought by many to be the best international free agent in the 2013 class, Molina will have much to prove when he makes it to the GCL. With a decent season, he should have no problem cracking the top 50.
55. Caleb Frare – LHP, 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, 20 – Another victim of Tommy John surgery, Frare’s career was looking mighty promising going into the 2013 season before he got hurt. He was sitting 91-93 with the fastball and has good secondary stuff. He should be ready to go by the beginning of this year and if he picks up where he left off before the surgery he will likely find a home in the top 50.
56. David Palladino – RHP, 6-foot-9, 235-pounds, 20 – A behemoth of a man, Palladino is the type of guy who one can’t help but to dream on. He sits mid 90’s with the fastball and has four pitches he can go to. He will start the season in Charleston and will look to improve on his numbers from last season. If he can improve his walk rate and his ERA he could be well on his way to a top 50 spot. One of the keys to the season for him will be making the Charleston rotation from the beginning, which is no easy task considering who he’s up against.
57. Tyler Webb – LHP, 6-foot-6, 225-pounds, 23 – He’s a bit on the older side but he’s shown he can be a dominant reliever at the lower levels already. He could start at High-A this year along with fellow draftees Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo, and will look to continue the success he had from last season. 91-92 mph fastball, excellent deception, and a slider and changeup as well. He could creep into the back end of the top 50 next year with a good performance.
58. Drew Bridges – 3B, LHB, 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, 19 – Bridges is a big boy who plays both 1B and 3B. He’s got a lot of untapped power and will look to bring some of that power out in the games next year. If he can do that while hitting for a decent average, he’ll easily be in the top 50 next season. He’s got good enough tools to make that happen, and at his age he has plenty of time to round into form. While his numbers were awful, the one thing he did show was his patience at the plate last year.
59. Yancarlos Baez – SS, Switch hitter, 6-foot-2, 165-pounds, 18 – Mainly known for the fact that he was one of the big money signings for the Yankees in 2012, Baez could make some serious noise in 2014. He has plus range in the field and is learning to switch hit. He has an excellent hit tool and some good power potential due to his size. He will likely start in the GCL this year and with a big year will find himself in the top 50 for certain.
60. Matt Snyder – 1B, LHB, 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, 23 – Snyder comes into this season as one of the biggest sleepers in the system. A slew of injuries kept him off the field in 2013 and ineffective when he was on the field. That doesn’t change the fact that he has massive power from the left side and is actually an excellent contact hitter to boot. Throw that in with his phenomenal patience and you have a guy who has the potential to be an extremely well rounded hitter. This is the proverbial make or break season for Snyder, but I expect big things from him. With his tools, if he turns in a big season he’ll be a top 50 guy in 2014.
Honorable mention: Omar Luis (missed the list because of his rule 5 draft status), Simon De La Rosa, Chaz Hebert, Manny Barreda, Jeremy Bleich, Francisco Rondon, Chris Breen, Nestor Cortes, Cale Coshow, Dustin Fowler, Adonis Garcia, Jairo Heredia, Ericson Leonora, Stefan Lopez, Dillon McNamara, Reymond Nunez, Alexander Palma, Branden Pinder, Alex Polanco, Kyle Roller, Evan Rutckyj, Rob Segedin, Derek Toadvine, Philip Walby, Chase Whitley, and Manolo Reyes. Thats 30+ guys not in the top 50 who are all worth mentioning and could break the top 50 with a big season. Now that’s what I call depth.