The Yankees farm system has been thrust into the limelight in 2011.
This spring has been an opportunity for some of their up-and-coming stars to showcase their talents in front of their major league counterparts.
While Yankee fans would love to see them crack the Opening Day roster, some time marinating in the minors would only benefit their development. Rushing a player to the next level can sometimes set them back physically or even mentally.
Predicting when a player will reach the majors is no easy task. Even today's general managers struggle to give a timetable on when a player will take the next step.
With big names like Montero, Brackman and Banuelos in the Yankees farm system, some of these studs might be closer to reaching the next level than you think.
At 6'11", when Brackman takes the mound, it looks like he is right on top of the hitter.
He has had his struggles in the minors at times, going 10-11 with a 3.90 ERA across two levels last season, but has shown some real promise during his stint this spring.
Before injuring his groin, Brackman was turning heads.
He was just recently cleared to make his spring debut.
Even though he was anxious to get out there, he impressed Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He had command of his fastball and showcased a good curveball.
When spring training rolled around, Brackman was the Killer B who seemed to have the greatest chance of possibly breaking the Yankee Opening Day roster.
He has the ability, but skipping AAA completely would be detrimental to his development.
Ruling out Brackman making any type of debut with the major league squad would be foolish. Girardi has already expressed interest in the possibility of bringing in the young right-hander up for a stint in the bullpen in 2011.
Brackman will make his major league debut this season with the Yankees.
Austin Romine is one of the big names the Yankees have in their catching arsenal.
He seems to play second fiddle to Jesus Montero, but what separates Romine is his defensive ability.
Montero has always had the bat, but Romine has had the glove.
Romine spent last season at AA, but played well enough to be invited to camp this season—and with the injury to Francisco Cervelli, he is that much closer to making the leap to the big leagues.
A jump from AA to the majors is not unheard of. In fact, manager Joe Girardi did it himself. But with Montero ahead of him, Romine will have to wait to hear his name called in the Bronx.
With names like Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have the luxury of possibly dealing one of their up-and-coming catchers.
Having a deep catching farm system is a point of leverage for Brian Cashman.
Out of those names, I could see Romine being shipped in a deal for a back-end starter if the Yankee's rotation falters. If that is the case, Romine could easily move up the ranks on a different ball club. He is a fantastic player, but can get lost in the shuffle of Yankee catchers.
Montero is ready to finally live up to his hype.
With Posada out of the catching picture and Russell Martin only being signed for one year, it seems like the spot behind the dish is only being warmed for Montero this season.
Let's be honest. As much as I love the heart that Gazoo (Cervelli) plays with, he doesn't have the sheer talent that Montero exudes.
I have never seen a player go as hard as Cervelli or show as much emotion as he does. He truly loves the game and his Yankee teammates.
The sad part is, he isn't cut out to be an everyday catcher at the big-league level.
Montero is ready to be that type of player. He turned it on last season after the Cliff Lee trade extravaganza ended and showed the Yankee brass that he can be the cornerstone of the new crop of Yankee studs.
He has shown some real promise in spring training and not just with the bat.
He has grown as a catcher and is ready to stake his claim on the backup role this season.
No player has created as much buzz this spring as Banuelos.
The soon-to-be twenty-year-old has shown he is the next big thing to take the rubber for the Yankees.
This Mexican sensation has yet to give up a run this spring and has showcased his mid-90s fastball as well as a lights-out changeup that some big leaguers do not even possess.
Let's not over look the fact that he is working on a curveball that falls off the table.
After catching him in a game this spring, Martin compared Banuelos to Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Being compared to Kershaw speaks wonders about the potential Banuelos has shown already.
In one full season of high-A ball, Banuelos might be 0-3 in 10 starts, but his ERA is 2.18 with a 1.15 WHIP.
The ceiling for this young lefty is sky-high and the Yankees know this.
He won't make the jump to the big leagues this season, but after a full season at AA, he will have matured more which is a scary thought for opposing teams.
Banuelos is the real deal and will be the future ace of the Yankee staff.
Gary Sanchez is the youngest—and possibly the most talented—of the Yankee catchers that the Yankee farm system has to offer.
At 18 years old, the ceiling for this Dominican product is sky-high.
Sanchez put on a clinic in rookie-ball in 2010, hitting .353 in just 31 games.
He made the transition to low-A ball and his abilities behind the plate were what really had scouts talking. In 12 games, he threw out 54 percent of would-be runners trying to steal on him.
That type of production has been lacking for the Yankees lately.
Sanchez posses a quick bat and defensive agility that has scouts salivating at the thought of what he could become over the next few years.
With the same raw power that Montero posses and comparable defensive ability to Romine, Sanchez is the complete package.
He won't hear his name called in the Bronx for quite some time, but he has the potential to be something really special.
A home-grown prospect, the Bronx-native Betances is showing some real promise this spring.
As the last of the Killer B's, Betances should not be overlooked.
Over the last five seasons in the minors, he has produced an impressive stat line. Betances has gone 20-14 with a 3.39 ERA and averaged 10.9 K's per nine innings.
Betances breezed threw his spring debut this year, striking out the likes of Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez.
In his second outing, he ran into some trouble, but showed maturity in getting out of a bases-loaded jam with minimal damage.
Betances will spend 2011 in the minors, like the rest of the Yankee's prospects outside of Ivan Nova. But with more of the success he had in 2010—Betances went 8-1 with a 2.11 ERA at high-A ball—he will be able to make the Yankees roster in no time.
Dellin has had injury issues previously, which could make him trade bait if the Yankees don't think he can stay injury-free, but I think keeping him and seeing what he can become is a risk worth taking.