Ranking the 5 Most Underrated Prospects in the New York Yankees' Farm System
As I highlighted in my ranking of the New York Yankees’ top 10 prospects, the organization has numerous young, projectable players on the rise, but very few capable of contributing in the major leagues during the 2013 season.
At the same time, because a majority of their top talent is housed at lower levels in the minor leagues, they also boast a fine collection of under-the-radar prospects. Some of these players have yet to receive appropriate recognition due to their age and/or injury history, while others simply lack sufficient experience.
Here’s a look at the five most underrated prospects in the New York Yankees farm system.
5. Ramon Flores, OF
Scouting Report: Has been lauded for his hit tool even before the Yankees signed him in 2008; left-handed hitter employs smooth and effortless swing; balanced weight transfer helps him keep bat head in the zone for exceptional amount of time; sacrifices power for a line-to-line approach; plate discipline has always been impressive and continues to improve.
Stolen bases more a product of instincts and on-base skills; speed limits him to a corner outfield position but he lacks the arm strength for right field; has received increased looks at first base, which only hurts his stock.
2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A
4. Rafael DePaula, RHP
Scouting Report: 6’2” right-hander boasts a big arm which he used to dominate opposing hitters in the 2012 Dominican Summer League; strong, physical frame; repeats delivery well; fastball shows easy velocity and sits in the mid-90s; will scrape 97-98 mph early in starts.
Throws a hard curveball that flashes the potential to be an above-average offering; lack of experience is evident in his lack of command and feel for secondary pitches; changeup has been rarely used and therefore is undeveloped; average potential; pounds the strike zone on a downhill plane; has a chance to move quickly.
2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A
3. Nik Turley, LHP
Scouting Report: Turley is behind the developmental curve as a 23-year-old, partially due to a broken hand suffered in 2011; still, he’s come along way since 2008 as a former 50th-round draft pick; tall, physical left-hander at 6’6”, 230 pounds; uses height to pound lower half of the strike zone; ability to miss bats and induce weak contact.
Fastball sits in the low-90s and he’ll occasionally reach back for a few more ticks; curveball showcases average to above-average potential; features a solid-average third pitch in a curveball; walk rates don’t properly reflect his feel for the strike zone; more experience and refinement could have him in the major leagues by the 2014 season; still has a chance to reach to his ceiling of a Nos. 4 or 5 starter.
2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A
2. Mark Montgomery, RHP
Scouting Report: Not very tall (5’11”), but has stocky frame with strong lower half; throws partially across body which creates deception; success as closer in minor leagues gives him late-inning potential; highly effective against both right- and left-handed hitters.
Fastball far from overpowering at 91-93 mph with some late movement to the arm side; plus-plus slider that ranks among the best in the minor leagues; big-league-ready pitch with devastating, wipeout break; thrown in 83-86 mph range with excellent tilt; draws endless whiffs; hitters know it’s coming and still come up empty.
2013 Opening Day Level: MLB
1. Slade Heathcott, OF
Scouting Report: Hard-nosed, high-energy, does everything 100 percent; plus defensive center fielder with 70-grade wheels and great range; arm strength has waned since a pair of shoulder surgeries; improvement as a base stealer was good to see after time off.
Leadoff-hitter type who can fly down the line; constant extra-base threat at the plate; tendency to rip open front side and not use hands; lack of fluidity in swing may be result of lack of experience; needs to start making more consistent contact in 2013.
2013 Opening Day Level: High-A