Friday, February 21, 2014

Prior to the 2013 the Yankees decided to acquire a second GCL team. The move allowed the Yankees to bring over more new Latin American players than ever before. Because the Yankees had two rosters, players like Thairo Estrada, Alvaro Noriega, Luis Torrens, Abiatal Avelino and many others had the opportunity to come to the states and get consistent playing time. Estrada for example would of probably had to play in the DSL last year if the Yankees didn't add another GCL team.

Considering the Yankees are expected to make a huge splash in the international market in 2014-2015 they might push even more talent to the GCL this year. This would clear as much room as possible for the 2015 roster crunch. While we don't know exactly who the Yankees are going to send to the GCL next season, there are some obvious candidates.

Below is a list of prospects that may make their stateside debuts in 2014. The list includes any public information on these players. Lastly the list wasn't made in any particular order.

1. Manolo Reyes:

Reyes has had a tough journey so far. He originally signed with the Atlanta Braves in 2008, but was suspended and released due to questions about his paperwork. Because of paperwork issues, and his suspension, he had to wait until 2012 to sign with another team. Fortunately for him, he was able to sign with a team before MLB IFA restrictions were implemented.

The right-hander  signed for 600 thousand.Considering that he is now 24 years old he will have to make a Rafeal De Puala like splash in his debut to be taken seriously. Reyes is known primarily for throwing a very hard fastball that has reached 99 MPH in the past. In addition to his fastball he throws a hard curveball and a powerfull splitter. The stuff seems to be there for him to succeed, but he really lacks command and control.

2. Domingo Acevedo:

Like Reyes, Acevedo's fastball sits in upper 90's and has reached 99 MPH. That's pretty much the only similiarity between the two players. Acevedo has much better control than Reyes and only walked 11 batters in 41 innings. Acevedo's secondary pitches are a changeup and a breaking ball, that both need work. He's an unfinished product, but he's only 19 years old. Acevedo has a very high ceiling. Recently Ben Badler tweeted this about Acevedo  he has a "Mid-90s fastball, feel for a changeup" and is an "enormous human".

3. Simon De La Rosa:

De La Rosa was signed for 50,000 in 2012, a signing that is believed to be a great bargain. Like the previous two players on this list De La Rosa has a mid-90s fastball. But his command isn't perfect, and in general he struggles with command and control. He a BB/9 of 6.55 last season. In addition to his fastball he has a an above average curve. De La Rosa is still just 20, so he won't be that old if he enters the GCL now.

4. Jorge Mateo:

There are a lot of shortstops that appear ready to jump to the states next season, but Mateo has more potential than any of them. Mateo had a WOBA of .405, and a WRC+ of 145 last season, to go with 49 stolen bases, and 7 homeruns. Mateo's weighted stolen base total per a 100 at bats (wSB/100) implies that he is one of the best base-stealers in the minor leagues. Mateo's wSB/100 is 6.5. That is .1 point lower than Billy Hamilton's. Mateo is also thought to be a good defender, with excellent range. Mateo's overall package suggests he may be this years version of Abiatal Avelino.Mateo will be 19 next season and is ticketed to begin the season with one of the two GCL teams.

5. Yancarlos Baez:

Baez was one of the Yankees big international signings in 2012. Baez signed for $650,000, a figure some thought was too high. The Yankees picked him over Wendell Rijo, so they obviously believe in him. Baez is fast switch hitting shortstop, that may have above average offensive potential. Unfortunately Baez missed the entire 2013 season due to injuries and may not be ready to begin the 2014 season in the Gulf Coast League. The Yankees might have to push there anyway, considering they are rumored to have signed several shortstops.

6. Yonauris Rodriguez:

The Yankees signed Rodriguez this past season for $575k. Like Baez, Rodriguez is a shortstop that is known more for his glove than his bat. Rodriguez is a high-energy player who has quick hands, a strong arm and good range on defense. He was actually considered one of the best defensive players at the position in last years IFA pool. However he was not ranked as a top 30 player by Baseball America. Rodriguez is probably going to stick in the DSL this season, but the possibility exists that he impresses the Yankees enough to let him play in the GCL at some point.

7. Angel Aguilar:

Anguilar is the final shortstop on this list, and probably has a better shot to come stateside than the previous two players. That's because he already has a couple years of DSL action under his belt. He had a WOBA of .356 and a WRC+ of 116. Like Mateo, he will be 19 next season and should play on one of the two GCL teams.

8. Alexander Palma:

Palma was the second biggest signing of the Yankees 2012 class. He signed for $800k, and was kept in the DSL for the entire season. Palma is thought to have good bat speed and the ability to be a good hitter. Badler wrote that he was one of the better batters in his class, and while some question his power he should be an all around good offensive player. Defensively he looks like a right fielder who has average speed.

9. Wilmer Romero:

Romero, is a good example of just how far top international players can  fall. He was ranked as the 9th best international free agent, when the Yankees signed him in 2011 but has yet to make his U.S debut. When he first signed Kieth Law had this to say: he's “a potential five-tool center/right fielder.”
Badler also praised him, saying that he “has a projectable, athletic frame with plus speed, a plus arm and plus raw power.” Despite this high praise Romero has spent three seasons in the DSL. Romero will need to show his potential in the GCL next year, or he will be a forgotten prospect. He's still just 20 years old so he has some time on his side.

The previous nine prospects are/were highly thought of players. This is why there was as much public information about their skills or background. However the following group of players are known mainly for their stats, which is why they won't get a detailed writeup. These players are:

10. Christopher Cabrera:

Cabrera was a once highly touted righty starter, that needed Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and needed surgery. Since the surgery he hasn't really been himself, and may never reach his potential.

11. Frank Frias:

Frias put up monster numbers in the DSL last season. Frias posted a WRC+ of 161, and a .432 WOBA. Frias will be 20 years old when the GCL season begins, so it makes sense to start him there. The outfielders ceiling isn't really known, but hopefully those numbers aren't a fluke. It worth noting that DSL numbers carry very little weight.

12.  Allen Valerio:

Valerio just turned 21 years old a month ago, so he will probably be pushed to the GCL next season.  Considering that he plays first and third he'll probably have no trouble finding playing time.  Valerio really improved his 2012 stat line, and may be a later bloomer. Valerio WOBA was .423 and his WRC+ was 156. He also showed a great eye at the plate, by having a walk rate over 16%.

Other possible players are: catcher Brian Reyes, LHP Carlos Diaz, RHP Moises Cedeno, OF  Miguel Mojica, RHP Jordan Ovales, Luis Cedeno, Jhoan Morban, catcher Jesus Aparicio, OF Adam Silva and a few other players.

This may seem like a lot of names, but fans should remember two things: the Yankees brought over 25 international players last season, and not everyone on this list is a star. The first nine players in this article, have the highest profiles and include most of the higher ceiling players.With that said sometimes players can come out of nowhere, so it's a good thing the Yankees have so many low level teams for these guys to play on.


Josh Sabo is  Minor League writer for Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @JoshSabo1.


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