Each year, USA Today creates a list of minor leaguers/rookies that all baseball fans should know and watch for in 2010. This is not a top prospect list, but is a list of the 100 players most likely to reach the majors for more than a cup of coffee, and make some sort of impact. Last year’s list included Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, and David Robertson, with Gardner and Robertson scoring regular roles on the 2009 Yankees. This year’s list includes 2 former Yankees (Jackson and Jose Tabata), and 4 current Yankees:
52. Mark Melancon, RHP, Yankees: Next in line to continue the run of success the Yankees had last season with young pitchers setting up in front of closer Mariano Rivera, Melancon, 24, should fill one of the openings. He’s a hard thrower with a sharp-breaking curve. Groomed as a reliever since turning pro in 2006, he has bounced back well from missing 2007 after Tommy John elbow surgery.
56. Zach McAllister, RHP, Yankees: He’s a sinkerballer who induces plenty of ground balls and can pitch himself into the mix as a 22-year-old this spring. Major league bullpen work is a possibility, but McAllister would be among the first to be considered if there’s a need for a major league starter. His chances would improve if the Yankees decide to keep Phil Hughes in the bullpen.
58. Jamie Hoffmann, OF, Yankees: Hoffman, 25, is a strong defender who can play all three outfield positions, has plenty of speed and is a consistent contact hitter. That’s why the Yankees believe he someday will be an everyday player. In the meantime, Hoffman must be good enough to make the roster because he was a Rule 5 draft selection from the Dodgers and must be offered back to Los Angeles before he can be sent to the minors.
66. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees: His power is his biggest asset, but the fact that he’s a catcher and there’s no other obvious successor to Jorge Posada could have Montero, just 20, in the major leagues this season. Barring an emergency, his initial stay won’t be long because he has had only a half-season at Class AA and needs to continue developing his defensive game.
I am assuming that Ramiro Pena and Frankie Cervelli do not qualify, as both have an excellent chance to play roles on the 2010 club. I would be surprised if any of the four listed above make the club out of spring training, which would likely mean that Hoffmann will be returned to the Dodgers. Furthermore, I do not think it is likely that we see Zach McCallister at all this season, as he is at best 9th on the starting pitching depth chart and still has room for improvement at the AAA level. Montero seems to be a longshot as well, but a major injury to Jorge Posada or a late season loss of Nick Johnson could press him into MLB duty. It is unlikely, but possible, as the Yankees will certainly be tempted to use Montero for his bat should those players go down. Finally, I think Melancon has the best chance of the four to stick with the Yankees for much of the season, as he could nab the last bullpen spot out of camp and has the talent to hold onto a spot once he is given the chance.
What do you think of this list? Are there other minor leaguers that you think can have an impact on the 2010 Yankees? How about Romulo Sanchez? Ivan Nova? Kevin Russo?
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