New York Yankees: 5 Prospects with the Highest Ceilings

Josh HousmanCorrespondent IMay 9, 2013

New York Yankees: 5 Prospects with the Highest Ceilings

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    The New York Yankees are not a team known for developing their own elite talent. Despite the "Core Four" of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte carrying the team for much of the last 15 years, the Yankees have had little success developing their own stars, with Robinson Cano being the only true star player coming up through the organization since the mid-1990s. 

    Phil Hughes, a very highly regarded prospect, has been inconsistent on the mound since his call-up in 2007. Joba Chamberlain, once the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera, has been plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness. Manny Banuelos is out for the season with Tommy John surgery, and Jesus Montero was dealt to Seattle for Michael Pineda, who has yet to throw a pitch for the Yankees. 

    Brian Cashman hopes that his next batch of high ceiling prospects will give the team a much greater return than his last few. Here is a list of the five top Yankee prospects with very high ceilings. 

Gary Sanchez

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    It seems as though Gary Sanchez has been around forever in the Yankee minor league system and seems much older than 20 years old. He has more professional baseball experience than most players his age and the Yankees hope that will accelerate his development moving forward. 

    Sanchez could be the second coming of Jorge Posada for the Yankees, but with a better bat. Sanchez profiles as an average defensive catcher in the big leagues, but his bat has a chance to be truly special. He has hit 17 and 18 home runs in the past two years, his age 18 and 19 seasons, respectively. 

    As Sanchez continues to grow and fill out, he should definitely have 30 home run power from behind the plate as an everyday catcher. He also has a chance to be a good average hitter, profiling somewhere in the .280-.300 range. 

    Sanchez has the chance to be one of the best offensive catchers in the big leagues, a true luxury to have at a premium position where offense is often difficult to come by. 

Mason Williams

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    Bernie Williams gave the Yankees stability in center field for over a decade while providing an above average bat and good defense. He may not be Bernie, but Mason Williams has the chance to be a star in his own right. 

    Scouts feel that Williams's elite speed and great arm and instincts make him a good enough defender to play almost Gold Glove-caliber defense in the big leagues today, at the age of 21. He is developing his approach at the plate as he continues to mature, but with his athleticism, at least average hitting ability and some power should come. 

    If he can find ways to get on base, he will be among the league leaders in steals annually. Williams could prove to be a valuable mainstay at the top of the Yankee lineup for years to come while also stabilizing their outfield defense from center field. 

Ty Hensley

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    With their first-round pick in 2012, the Yankees picked high school righty Ty Hensley, a high upside starting pitcher. Like any high school pitcher, however, he is a long way away from the major leagues. 

    He has an above average fastball curveball combination and will need to develop a changeup, but his body build suggests that he will have the durability to be a major league starter and maintain velocity on all of his pitches deep into games. 

    As long as he improves his command and his secondary pitches progress over the next few seasons, Hensley has the tools to be a major league ace. 

Mark Montgomery

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    One area where the Yankees have had some success in player development is in the bullpen. David Robertson, David Phelps and Joba Chamberlain have been examples of success stories from the Yankee farm system. 

    Mark Montgomery could become their best reliever to come up since Mariano Rivera. Montgomery has an outstanding fastball slider combination and has a 1.88 ERA in Triple-A so far this season, striking out 20 in 14.1 innings. 

    Before long, he could be closing for the Yankees given that 2013 will be Mariano Rivera's last season.

Slade Heathcott

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    A former first-round pick by the Yankees in 2009, Heathcott might have more tools than any other prospect in the Yankee organization. He is very fast, plays great defense in the corner outfield spots, has a cannon for an arm and very good bat speed with the ability to spray the ball all over the field. 

    His quick bat definitely flashes power ability that should improve as he improves his plate discipline and approach. Strikeouts are definitely a problem for Heathcott as this stage in his career, but approach and discipline can be taught, while his natural bat speed and strength cannot. 

    If he can stay healthy, he can definitely impact the Yankee lineup by his age 23 or 24 season, one or two years from now.