Sizing Up The Outfield Prospects - Part Two

A little more power and Ben Gamel could surprise analyzes the Yankees outfield prospects. Which outfield prospects are the "sleepers"? Which are the ones that need to make their move soon? These questions are answered in Part Two of our two-part series on the Yankees outfield prospects.

The "Sleepers"

Chris Breen: This past year's 12th round pick appears to have the potential to be a special hitter in due time, thanks in large part to his great bat speed and raw plus power potential. Defensively, however, it's not clear if Breen can or will make the permanent move to the outfield after being drafted as a catcher. Where he eventually fits positionally is a wait and see proposition for the time being but the power potential alone makes him a 'sleeper' at any position.

Jake Cave: Like Breen, Cave's offensive ceiling is vast enough that he could eventually fit into the 'Highest Ceiling' category down the road. Unlike Breen though, Cave hasn't seen any playing time yet at the professional level [just two plate appearances in two seasons] and there's no question Cave can handle the defensive duties in the outfield. He's a 'sleeper' for sure, at least on the national radar.

Ben Gamel: The 2010 tenth round pick has everything in place to safely already project as a potential big league reserve outfielder; good speed, great defense, and advanced hitting ability. He hasn't shown the requisite power needed in games, however, to be a sure-fire bet as a big league corner guy and that has let him fly under the radar so far. He has displayed that kind of power in batting practice though so if he could transfer some of that into game production then he could be a super 'sleeper'.

Mikeson Oliberto: A low dollar sign as a then soon to be 20-year old back in 2010, this ultra toolsy Dominican outfielder has some extensive long-term potential. He has above average speed, above average power potential, his defense is borderline plus, and despite his advanced age and lack of experience he shows a good feel for hitting overall. Now 22 and still not in the long-season leagues, he is quite the big league longshot but the entire package makes him quite the 'sleeper' too.

LATE START: Oliberto is young in terms of experience. (Photo: Patrick Teale/
Jose Pirela: The former Venezuelan shortstop moved over to second base, his more natural position, and the bat began to really blossom since he no longer had to worry about his defensive miscues. He saw some action in the outfield for the first time in 2012 and the bat was even better in the outfield, hitting .342 with a .964 OPS while playing left field [compared to a .672 OPS while playing second base] for Trenton. His demonstratively better hitting as an outfielder could be an aberration but it's worth tracking.

Rob Refsnyder: In Breen-like fashion, Refsnyder, the Yankees' 5th round pick in 2012, is in the midst of a potential position change. The College Word Series' Most Outstanding Player has played almost exclusively in the outfield throughout his career but is now beginning to transition to second base where the bat would play better. Even if he doesn't stick there though, he has the kind of hitting ability and run producing ways that could, despite a lack of plus power, make him a 'sleeper' in the outfield too.

Need To Make Their Move

Yeicok Calderon: The former 2008 International signing has great power potential. In fact he was among the Gulf Coast League leaders in home runs last season with eight. However, he is about to enter his fifth minor league season and the 21-year old has yet to get out of the rookie league level. Throw in some suspect defense in the outfield, he really needs to pick things up very soon.

Kelvin De Leon: The Dominican native is a basically a right-handed hitting version of Calderon in that he has massive power potential but the overall hitting ability has been inconsistent at best. He too is a below average defensive outfielder despite having some tools and the 22-year old is about to enter his sixth minor league season, and he hit a career low .215 last season. He is running out of time.

THE TIME HAS COME: Leonora has tools but it's time to start producing consistently. (Photo: Patrick Teale/
Adonis Garcia: It's probably not fair to put somebody like Garcia and his one season of professional baseball in the United States in this category but the fact is he will be 28 years old this coming season, which isn't exactly prime prospect years. He has shown some average skills in all areas of the game, enough to be a reserve factor potentially, but he could really use a step up in production if he's to carve out a meaningful role with the Yankees.

Ericson Leonora: The Venezuelan native might be the biggest 'sleeper' in this category because he is still just only 20 years old and will remain so for essentially the entire 2013 season. However, he spent three seasons in the Dominican Summer League [mostly due to injury, partly due to being tried out at second base] and now he is about to enter his fifth minor league season, and still hasn't hit A-ball. He has power, speed, pitch recognition, etc, but he has to start moving quickly soon to be a prospect factor going forward.

Daniel Lopez: Perhaps a potential 'sleeper' too because of his plus speed-plus defense combination, the Dominican native also shows some decent hitting ability for a guy who started playing baseball later in life. Still, the soon to be 21-year old hit just .237 for Staten Island last season and hasn't hit the A-ball level, and he's about to enter his fifth minor league season. He is in need of a breakout season in 2013.

Ronnier Mustelier: The Cuban native has squeezed just about every ounce of his talent into the utmost production, hitting a combined .314 with 45 extra-base hits between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton in 2012. He can play some infield too, although defensively he's better suited for left field. He doesn't have the great home run power needed to be a corner guy for a team like the Yankees nor the great defense either, but the 28-year old sure can hit. He needs to seize his opportunity with the big league club in 2013, a roster in desperate need of right-handed hitting, or he'll quickly become an organizational afterthought.

Rob Segedin: The former third round pick in 2010 picked an odd time to experiment with his swing last year when he got to Double-A and it's a big reason he hit just .188 in 48 games for the Double-A Trenton Thunder. He just turned 24 years old and still has some time on his side, but there's a quartet of high ceiling outfielders coming up right behind him in the form of Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores, all of whom will hit Double-A in 2013. The time is now to get productive once again.

Eduardo Sosa: The Venezuelan native is proof positive that tools alone will not get it done at the professional level. Blessed with plus speed, plus bat speed, great defensive abilities, and solid power for a leadoff type, his shy demeanor and resulting lack of aggressiveness have taken its toll on his production. The soon to be 22-year old will be entering his all-important sixth minor league season in 2013 and needs a breakout year in a big way to turn around his fading prospect status.

The Jury Is Still Out

Taylor Dugas: The all-time University of Alabama hits leader is a phenomenal hitter for average, the kind that could and really should walk more than he strikes out in any given year. A solid defensive outfielder too, the problem is his speed is average at best and his power potential is minimal. He'll have to hit his way up through the minor leagues to carve himself out a potential reserve role and he might be able to do just that.

Nathan Mikolas: The general consensus in the scouting community is that last year's third round pick not only has 'sleeper' written all over him but one of the higher ceilings too. Most firmly believe he's going to hit and hit for power, but with below average speed and just serviceable defense, he's going to have to hit his way up through the ranks and he simply looked overmatched in his debut season last year [.149, one extra-base hit in 31 games]. He just turned 19 years old though in late December so the jury is still out on his long-term potential.

Ravel Santana: When it comes to pure talent and tools, Santana is right up there with the 'Highest Ceiling' guys in the entire organization. All of his tools grade out as average [hit tool] to plus [speed, defense, power] and then to even plus-plus [arm strength]. However, he is still finding his way back from a gruesome ankle injury at the end of the 2011 season, an injury that has taken similar players at least two years to fully recover from, so for now the jury is still out on how he'll respond production-wise in the next year or so.

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