Normally, the first half of the short-season minor leagues is pretty boring. A lot of top prospects didn’t sign until mid-August. Rookie ball teams are mostly staffed with high school draftees from the previous year and young Latin American prospects. Short-season A ball team are mostly composed of mid-level college picks, and sometimes a few young prospects who the Yankees held back from full-season ball. For most incoming amateurs, short-season ball represents the first weeding out that they will experience.
But this year, things are a little bit different. Because of the new CBA draft rules, prospects this year must sign by the middle of July, not August. Early returns indicate that many of the top Yankee prospects from the 2012 draft are either already signed or about to be. They may not immediately start playing in games for the GCL Yankees, but the Yankees likely won’t wait long. The two seasons begin today.
The 2012 Staten Island Yankees should be a pretty stacked team. The top prospect of the group will probably be Ravel Santana, and toolsy outfielder. Santana hit .296/.361/.568 for the GCL Yankees before suffering a horrific ankle injury sliding into 2nd base. Joining Santana:
- A stacked pitching staff of RHP Taylor Morton, LHP Daniel Camerana, LHP Evan Rutckyj, RHP Gabriel Encinas, and converted shortstop RHP Adam Smith, among others.
- A loaded, and young, infield that includes SS Claudio Custodio, 3B Matt Duran and the underrated Fu-Lin Kuo, plus Isais Tejada behind the plate.
- Lots of early Yankee draft signings, including the $10,000 signing bonus quartert of college seniors, and hopefully 2nd round pick, catcher Peter O’Brien pretty soon. O’Brien probably isn’t going to head to Tampa, as long as J.R. Murphy and (soon) Gary Sanchez hold down the fort there. I suppose he could go to Charleston as well.
Down in the Gulf Coast League, the Yankees will have yet exciting team. 2nd rhttp://www.yankeeanalysts.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=42163&action=editound pick Austin Aune (Looks like he’ll be playing short for now, although he was listed OF at the draft) has already signed, and 1st round pick RHP Ty Hensley will likely follow soon. They’ll immediately join:
- 2011 draft bonus babies Jordan Cote, Greg Bird, and Jake Cave. The Yankees bought all three out of college, and will be looking for a strong debut from the trio. In a less loaded year, they might have gone to Staten Island.
- Top IFA prospect Miguel Andujar, The Yankees signed him for $700,000 last season. He plays third base, and his presence likely pushed Matt Duran to Staten Island. He’s a solid all-around hitter who should stick at the position. He just turned 17 in March. The Yankees have only pushed the very best IFAs this quickly to the GCL.
- The highly talented, and super raw and untested, duo of Justin James and Rookie Davis. Both have roots to professional sports, and both are multisport athletes whom the Yankees bought out of college. Add in fireballer Hayden Sharp, and the Yankees could see a top prospect emerge from no-where on this team.
Jake Cave is currently listed as a pitcher, but I’m going to assume that is an oversight. He is however listed on the 60-day DL, which I’m going to assume is not an oversight. We may not see him right away. The team will also start adding more high school players from the draft as they come in, including Hensley and Aune, but also Nathan Mikolas when he signs.
There’s no denying that the Yankee farm system’s strengths are in the lower levels. I’m probably not the only person mostly bored by the Tampa, Trenton, and Scranton rosters on a day-to-day basis. With rookie ball starting tomorrow, we’ll all have exciting new players to pay attention to. Get ready for two short season draft/IFA classes for the price of one.
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