It’s Minor League Opening Day!

milbOpening-Day

While the Yankees’ big league club is already a couple games into the season, their full-season minor league counterparts get started today. In a year where the Yankees are already struggling with age and injuries and some of their most promising prospects are starting to get close to the Bronx, it should be a good year to keep an eye on New York’s farm system. If you need a break from the big league games, here are the minors games on tap for MiLB Opening Day, along with some minor league predictions from the crew here and some links in case you missed some of our Spring Training minors coverage.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders v. Pawtucket Red Sox (7:05pm):
After a year on the road, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate kicks off 2013 in grand style. Not only will they finally get to play a game at home, but it will be their first game as the newly christened RailRiders and in the newly renovated PNC Field. Vidal Nuno will get the start for Scranton, who will have a tough job in front of them as they take on last year’s International League Champs, the Pawtucket Red Sox. If you missed our Scranton/Wilkes-Barre preview check it out here.

Trenton Thunder v. Portland Sea Dogs (6:00pm):
The Thunder will be the first Yankees’ affiliate to take the field in 2013, as they kick off their 20th season. Much like Scranton, they will face off against their Boston counterpart, the Portland Sea Dogs. Nik Turley will get the ball for Trenton, who may be the team to watch this season. Their starting outfield featuring Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores and Tyler Austin should have a lot of Eastern League competitors worried. If you missed our Trenton Thunder preview check it out here.

Tampa Yankees v. Lakeland Flying Tigers (7:00pm):
The Yankees, who are the only affiliate to not kick off 2013 with a game against a Red Sox team, boast a couple of players who have graced the first position in various Yankees Top Prospects lists this off-season. Mason Williams will start the year roaming the Tampa outfield, while Gary Sanchez will be behind the plate. With Angelo Gumbs at second and pitchers like Bryan Mitchell and Nick Goody, Tampa should start the year strong. If you missed our Tampa Yankees preview check it out here.

Charleston RiverDogs v. Greenville Drive (7:05pm):
The RiverDogs saw a lot of great prospects work their way through the Sally League last season, yet they ended the season with a disappointing record and short of a playoff spot. This year’s roster may not have quite as many recognizable names (yet), but there is plenty of potential in this crowd. Cito Culver and Dante Bichette, Jr. will garner a lot of attention, but keep your eyes on players like Peter O’Brien, Robert Refsnyder, Gregory Bird, Rafael De Paula and Jose Campos. If you missed our Charleston RiverDogs preview check it out here.

Predictions:
It was so much fun making predictions for the Majors this year, we decided to test our prophetic skills on the Yankees’ prospects. Feel free to give us some of your own predictions in the comments.

MontgomeryTamar Chalker:
Minor league hitter of the year: Ramon Flores
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Zoilo Almonte
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Dante Bichette
Most likely to be traded: Adam Warren
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery

E.J. Fagan:
Minor league hitter of the year: Gary Sanchez
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Angelo Gumbs
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Dante Bichette
Most likely to be traded: Brett Marshall
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Austin Romine

Stacey Gotsulias:
Minor league hitter of the year: Gary Sanchez
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Slade Heathcott
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Dante Bichette
Most likely to be traded: Brett Marshall
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery

Slade Heathcott - Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)
Matt Imbrogno:
Minor League Hitter of the Year: Tyler Austin–continues to pair contact and power in thrilling way.
Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Slade Heathcott–more injuries
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: J.R. Murphy
Most likely to be traded: Austin Romine
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Cesar Cabral (does that count?)

Domenic Lanza:
Minor league hitter of the year: Slade Heathcott
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Rafael De Paula
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Austin Romine
Most likely to be traded: Brett Marshall
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery
Domenic also predicts that he “will have nocturnal emissions dreaming about Angelo Gumbs’ bat speed.” I think we will have to take his word on this one.

MustelierWilliam Tasker:
Minor league hitter of the year:
Ronnier Musterlier – too bad he isn’t doing it for the Yankees like he should be.
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Ramirez
Prospect who disappoints the most: Gary Sanchez
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: Austin Romine
Most likely to be traded: J.R. Murphy or Austin Romine
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Thomas Neal

Brad Vietrogoski:
Minor league hitter of the year: Gary Sanchez
Minor league pitcher of the year: Jose Campos
Prospect who disappoints the most: Rafael DePaula
Prospect who salvages his prospect status: J.R. Murphy
Most likely to be traded: David Adams
Biggest 2013 MLB Impact: Mark Montgomery

Finally, to get you truly ready for the first day of Minor League baseball, here are a few more posts you may have missed:
Are We Systemically Overrrating Yankee Pitching Prospects, Underrating Yankee Hitting Prospects?
The Right and Wrong Ways to Think About Prospect Hugging
IIATMS Top 30 Prospects 2013