Free agency and offseason trades can potentially alter current plans, but there are a handful of prospects who could find themselves in the majors in 2012.
They all made their major league debuts in 2011, but most of them saw limited action. Next year could be different.
Jesus Montero has been the Yankees' most heralded prospect since Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, and he proved he's ready for The Show this September and October.
After hitting .282 with 18 homers and 67 RBI at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Montero responded to his Sept. 1 call-up by hitting .328 and reaching base at a .406 clip while hitting four homers and driving in 12 runs.
As awkward as his swing might seem, it's perfect for Yankee Stadium. Montero displayed his power to the opposite field, which happens to offer a short porch.
Montero's power and hitting ability are evident, but his defense has been questionable. Although he didn't seem terrible in the three games he played as backstop in September, the Yankees won't want Montero to be their everyday catcher. In fact, he'll seldom find himself behind the plate in 2012.
Instead, he'll probably DH against lefties, at least, while occasionally spelling the Yankee catchers.
He's ready, and there's no way we won't see Montero in pinstripes in 2012.
For as long as we've heard about Jesus Montero, we've heard about Austin Romine. We've heard that if you combine the two catchers, you'd have a beast of a player.
That's because Montero's defense is subpar while Romine's is exceptional.
However, Romine isn't nearly as developed at the plate, evidenced by his .158 average in 19 September at-bats in the majors.
Nonetheless, Romine hit .286 in 85 games with AA Trenton. It's not the big leagues, but it proves we shouldn't totally disregard his offensive ability.
Romine is very smooth behind the plate. He was clearly comfortable in his debut—even after a hectic day of traveling—and gunned out two of six potential base-stealers in nine September games.
Even if Romine doesn't start 2012 in the pros, catching injuries are inevitable so the Yankees will undoubtedly need to call him up.
In all likelihood, Dellin Betances will start 2012 at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre, but he will definitely be called up during the season.
The tall right-hander still has control issues to weed out—he walked 70 batters in 126.1 minor league innings—but opposing hitters did struggle to hit him when Betances found the plate. Between his time in AA and AAA, Betances fanned 142 batters and posted a .217 BAA.
He walked six batters in 2.2 innings with the Yankees in September but has a lot of potential.
Expect Betances to be called up if a starter gets hurt.
At 26, George Kontos is near the border of prospect and career minor leaguer.
Nonetheless, he had a great season in relief at Scranton-Wilkes Barre, posting a 2.62 ERA and .221 BAA while striking out 91 hitters in 89.1 innings.
The Yankees called up Kontos, and the right-hander fared well in seven appearances out of the bullpen. Five of his seven appearances were scoreless, and he only surrendered two runs in six innings while posting a 1.17 WHIP.
Kontos could be a valuable addition to the Yankee bullpen in 2012.
Kevin Whelan had a rough debut with the Yankees in June, walking four and allowing one run in 0.2 innings, but he was outstanding as Scranton-Wilkes Barre's closer.
Whelan saved 23 games, posting a 2.75 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .202 BAA. The righty also struck out 54 batters in 52.1 innings.
The Yankees will routinely need to rotate arms into their bullpen, and Whelan is a prime candidate to be included.