5 New York Yankees Prospects Who Have a Shot at Making It to the Bronx

Colton Kokrda@kokrdaCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2012

5 New York Yankees Prospects Who Have a Shot at Making It to the Bronx

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    This time of year, there are many questions that can be asked for the upcoming season.

    Which team will win it all this year? Which team will surprise everyone? Which team will disappoint? Who will win the MVP/Cy Young/Rookie of the Year awards?

    On a team-level focus, you may ask which player will shine, or perhaps which player will regress from last year. You may also find yourself asking what prospects in the system have a chance of playing in the big leagues during the season.

    Here are five prospects of the New York Yankees that have a chance of making it to the Bronx in 2012.

No. 5: Austine Romine

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    With the trade this offseason that sent Jesus Montero over to the Seattle Mariners, Austine Romine ranks in as the catching prospect for the Yankees that is closest to MLB-ready.

    Ranked as the seventh best prospect for the Yankees this season by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, his biggest strength is his defense behind the plate. According to Mayo, Romine has shown good agility and hands behind the dish to complement a strong arm.

    Many have questioned his ability to hit at a level to warrant a starting position, which is why he will likely serve as a backup catcher during his time in New York. He is set to compete with Francisco Cervelli for the job this season.

No. 4: Adam Warren

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    Adam Warren comes in at No. 10 on Mayo's list for top Yankees prospects this season.

    While Warren is currently a starting pitcher, many project him to eventually end up in the bullpen. He does not have a very high ceiling, projecting to a No. 4 starter at best.

    As he is already 24 years old, a transition over to the bullpen may be in the cards for Warren. This will allow him to focus on just two pitches, rather than worry about mastering three or four.

    If Warren makes it to the big leagues this season, it will likely be to bolster the relief corps.

No. 3: David Phelps

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    Another pitcher that may break his way into the Bronx this season is David Phelps. Coming in at No. 11 on the prospect list from MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Phelps is likely to project as a back end of the rotation starter.

    He's 25 years old and may also transition into the bullpen if he gets called up by the Yankees this season. However, he will likely remain down at Triple-A until someone in the starting rotation goes down with an injury.

No. 2: Dellin Betances

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    One half of the "Killer B's," Dellin Betances ranks in as the second best prospect in the Yankees' system.

    His stock took a little bit of a hit last season, as he now projects to be a bullpen arm in the future. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has dealt with some injuries in the past, and a move to the bullpen may enable the Yankees to harness the most out of Betances for his career.

    He currently has a solid three-pitch mix that features a fastball, power curve and a changeup. The fastball and power curve are ranked as "plus" pitches, with a changeup that is average but has shown flashes of brilliance.

    Look for Betances to potentially become a solid addition to the bullpen if a spot opens up midseason.

No. 1: Manny Banuelos

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    The Yankees' top prospect and the No. 13 prospect in the MLB this season is Manny Banuelos.

    This lefty is turning only 21 this March, so he still has plenty of youth on his side. He currently possesses three strong pitches: fastball, curveball and changeup. The fastball and curve are recognized as plus pitches, with the changeup falling in the above-average to plus-pitch range.

    The main thing that is hindering Banuelos is his control. Scouts believe this will improve once he is able to harness his plus pitches.

    He currently projects to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter at the major league level.

    Banuelos likely will stay at Triple-A this season until September, where he may receive a call-up to gain some experience in the majors.