This year, Staten Island will have another strong crew as they try to repeat their 2011 success. Former Yankee farmhand, Justin Pope, makes his managerial debut, after working as a coach for Staten Island in 2010 and Trenton in 2011. The Yankees’ roster is full of draft picks from earlier this month, primarily those with college experience. The pitching staff holds the most unknowns, as recently drafted pitchers Derek Varnadore, Taylor Garrison, Nick Goody and Tim Flight are all going to get their professional careers started in Staten Island. They have a handful of hurlers with some professional experience, but only time will tell what Staten Island’s pitching will look like. Evan Rutckyj, who made six starts for Charleston this season, has been sent down to Staten Island, as has Evan DeLuca, who has made three starts for Tampa this year.
Staten Island will have more experience when it comes to their position players, as Matt Duran, Claudio Custodio, Isaias Tejeda and Ravel Santana are expected to provide some excitement for Staten Island fans. Add in newly drafted players Matt Snyder, Taylor Dugas and Danny Oh, and the Yankees could potential give NYPL pitchers a lot to worry about. They also will add Exicardo Cayones, and outfielder the Yankees received in the A.J. Burnett trade.
Who to Watch:
Ravel Santana (OF): Santana demolished the DSL in 2010 and was doing the same in the Gulf Coast League before a nasty ankle injury ended his season. One of Brien’s favorite prospects to watch, Santana appears to be on the mend and is slated to get back to work with Staten Island this season. Pope told Josh Norris that there are no restrictions on the five-tool outfielder, though he appears to be inclined to DH and/or rest Santana every so often. Santana hit .296/.361/.568 in 41 games with the GCL Yankees last year. He knocked nine homers, three triples and eleven doubles and swiped ten bags.
Matt Duran (1B): The New Rochelle, NY native will be playing close to home in 2012 after a strong professional start in the Gulf Coast League last season. He hit .301/.365/.506 with six doubles, a triple, three homers and seventeen RBIs. He’s still very young, just barely 19, but boasts an impressive bat and reportedly look very good in extended spring training.
Isaias Tejeda (C): Tejeda crushed the GCL last season, going .331/.404/.568 with eleven doubles, three triples, six homers and 27 RBIs. He will play catcher and some first base.
Claudio Custodio (2B): Custodio hit .325/.433/.414 for the GCL Yankees, showing off his speed with nine doubles and 26 stolen bases (he was only caught twice).