The rosters for the Yankees’ full-season affiliates have been posted, courtesy of The Trentonian’s Josh Norris, and for the most part, the assignments are what we would have expected. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances will headline what should be a deep Scranton rotation. Brett Marshall, David Adams, and the brothers Almonte (not actually related) are some of the guys to watch in Trenton. JR Murphy and Ramon Flores are probably the most intriguing guys to follow on Tampa, along with reliever Mark Montgomery. As discussed previously, Charleston should be stacked, with a rotation that includes Jose Camposand Bryan Mitchell, and a lineup featuring Gary Sanchez, Dante Bichette, Mason Williams, and a number of other exciting prospects.
In this post, I wanted to take a look at some of the guys who might be able to move up quickly from their current assignments. These are not necessarily my picks for the top prospects in the organization, but rather, the ones whose assignment and situation could allow them to see promotions to higher levels of the minors if they perform well.
Gary Sanchez is the first person that comes to mind, which makes sense given his assignment to Charleston, where he played in 2011. In some ways this seems like a bit of a punishment for Sanchez, who did enough in 2011 offensively to show that he can handle Sally League pitching. However, between the maturity issues and defensive struggles that Sanchez had last season and the presence of JR Murphy in Tampa, the Yankees may want to start Sanchez in Charleston to d work on his defense full-time and perhaps deflate his ego somewhat. Despite his early struggles, Sanchez went on a tear at the end of the season prior to his injury, and looked like he was beginning to put his earlier problems behind him.
For these reason, Sanchez is in good shape to get off to a strong start to 2012, and will likely try to push his way to Tampa as quickly as possible. Murphy could cause a bit of a logjam, but between the DH slot and Murphy’s ability to play 3rd base, the Yankees will likely be able to find enough AB’s for both of them. Reports on Sanchez, both performance and attitude, have been very positive this spring, and I am predicting he will have a huge season. If all goes according to plan Sanchez will be in Tampa by June or July, and could even be knocking at the door to Trenton. A lot of this depends not only on his offensive production, but also, his improvements behind the dish.
Sanchez’s Charleston teammate Mason Williams could be another candidate to move quickly. While he is not repeating a level like Sanchez, he dominated a similar level of competition in Staten Island, and has gotten rave reports on his athleticism and polish during Spring Training. Williams, already 20, is on the older side for players who came out of his draft class (about a year older than Gumbs and Culver), so the Yankees could be a little more aggressive with promoting him.
There is also no serious competitor for playing time in centerfield on Tampa’s roster, sinceEduardo Sosa hasn’t done much to show that he is a top prospect in a while. Williams may have a longer adjustment period than Sanchez, but if he continues to live up to the hype, it may be hard to keep him down. Part of the decision-making process could be influenced by Slade Heathcott‘s health, as Tampa could be his eventual destination when he returns from his shoulder surgery.
Relievers are often a good bet to move quickly, since there are fewer concerns about adversely affecting their development. Mark Montgomery, currently in Tampa, seems to be the best bet to make a David Robertson-esque ascent through the minors this year. He struck out nearly two batters per inning during his time in Staten Island and Charleston last year, while pitching to a 1.91 ERA. Montgomery’s control needs a little work (walked about 4 batters per 9), but his combination of a low-mid 90′s fastball and a plus (at least) slider will likely be more than most Florida State League hitters can handle. He could see promotions to Trenton and even Scranton if he continues to dominate like he did in 2011.
The Yankees tend to be pretty conservative with their promotions, so it is very possible we won’t see anybody move that quickly this year. The players mentioned are my top candidates, but some other names that spring to mind include Dante Bichette (Charleston) due to his polish,Tyler Austin (Charleston) because he is a little older, Phil Wetherell (Charleston) because he is a reliever who was dominant in Staten Island last year, and Branden Pinder (Tampa) for similar reasons. There will certainly be plenty of exciting prospects to watch this year (especially in Charleston), and it will be fun to follow their progress.