The baseball season is almost upon us, which means it is time for BronxPinstripes.com to release its first edition of prospect rankings for the 2013 season. Our final rankings from last year, completed in August just days after the trade deadline, featured the same one-two punch at the top, but things have been greatly shaken up from the third spot on down. To qualify for this list, a player must simply still maintain their Rookie of the Year status for 2013. Full write-ups on all thirty of these future Bronx Bombers can be found here.
Please, feel free to comment. A lot of work has put into this list and everyone would like to hear what you think. So tell us, who do you disagree with? Who would you put on the list that is not on here?
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Top Five Minor Leaguers to make an impact in the Bronx in 2013
- David Adams, IF – At 25 years old, Adams’ time to make it to the major-leagues is running out. Some (myself included) advocated for Adams to get a chance to fill in for the injured Alex Rodriguez as part of a platoon to start the season. Instead, the Yankees signed frequently injured Kevin Youkilis. With Youkilis’ injury history, coupled with Adams’ ability to hit everything and play adequate defense at both second and third base, it is likely he will get a chance to break in at some point during the 2013 season.
- Austin Romine, C – How long do you think fans will tolerate the Francisco Cervelli/Chris Stewart catching combination? Romine’s bat may not be ready for the show, but fans will likely demand he be given a chance over a pair of light-hitting veterans sooner rather than later. At least this way, Romine could have a chance to prove he belongs past the 2013 season.
- Matt Diaz, OF – Okay, maybe I’m cheating with this one a bit. Diaz was signed to a minor-league contract by the Yankees and given an invitation to Spring Training. As a right-handed hitting outfielder, the veteran Diaz could break camp with the team if he impresses more than newly acquired Russ Canzler and homegrown outfielder Melky Mesa.
- Chase Whitley, RP – The 23-year-old is considered “ready now” by many major league scouts, and will likely see time in the Yankees bullpen this season. If injuries strike or Whitley looks phenomenal in Spring Training, there is a chance Whitley could break camp with the big league squad.
- Ronnier Mustelier, 3B/OF – At 28 years old, Mustelier is too old to be considered a prospect. However, he has been successful at the plate at every level he has played at so far, and many believed last year that he would eventually make the major leagues. Mustelier is tiny, standing just 5-foot-7, but can provide versatility off the bench for the Yankees at some point in 2013. Reports state that Mustelier is an above-average defensive third baseman and an average outfielder.
Top Five Breakout Candidates
- Gregory Bird, C/1B – Bird owns a legitimate bat and seems likely to begin the season in full season ball, which could lead to a big-time power display in the SALLY league. If his bat indeed comes alive, Bird could spring into the top ten of our next set of rankings.
- Rob Segedin, 3B/OF – Segedin missed the cut on our list this year after struggling down the stretch in Trenton. However, Segedin’s career path reminds me a bit of current Yankee OF Brett Gardner’s. No, he won’t steal many bases, but Segedin and Gardner both encountered struggles at the plate at the onset of each minor league stop before finding their swing. With his Trenton cameo from last season out of the way, I’m looking for Segedin to have a breakout season in the Eastern League, which will land him in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a short period towards season’s end.
- Rafael DePaula, RHP – Okay, I’m cheating again. DePaula is a legitimate prospect with ace potential. However, he has never pitched in the United States, and appears likely to finally make his US debut, pitching in either Charleston or Tampa. Wherever he pitches, it will be an eye opener as he will begin what may be a quick ascension through the minor league system.
- Jake Cave, OF – Cave has a ton of potential and a lot of time to make up after missing all of 2012 with a broken kneecap. A former sixth rounder in 2011, Cave has phenomenal arm strength and good range in the field. At the plate, Cave has demonstrated an ability to hit to all fields, very good plate discipline, and above-average speed. He could burst onto the scene this season if he is fully recovered from the knee injury.
- Gabe Encinas, RHP – Encinas struggled in 2012, with his ERA coming in a tick below 5.00 in the NY/Penn League. However, statistics aren’t everything, and these don’t recognize the surge in velocity that Encinas experienced. With a fastball now sitting around 93-94 and a good power curveball, Encinas could be poised to break out this year and put himself back on the map as a legitimate prospect.
Follow Dan on Twitter at @danpfeiffer74.