Monday, February 3, 2014

In 2014 the Yankees will have to deal with a very risky infield. Not only due they have no set third baseman, but Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts are both injury concerns. This is why Mark Teixeira is so important to the team. If he is also injured than the Yankees would probably need to make a trade, as the systems major league ready first base depth is nothing special.

Major League Ready Depth:

The Yankees best prospect in AA or above is easily Kyle Roller. Roller is a 25 year old fringe prospect, who has shown some the ability to take walks and hit for power. However his highest level of advancement is AA, and it's unclear how much the Yankees value him as a prospect.

The Yankees didn't invite him to spring training so it's unclear if they think he can ever be a major league contributor. However he did hit .253/.347/.427/.774 this season with 17 home runs and 24 doubles at AA, so maybe there is some some potential there.

Depth Below AA:

Arguably the Yankees three best first-base prospects are all in A+. As neither Greg Bird, Matt Snyder or Reymond Nunez have experience past that level. This will create quite the logjam, so it's possible that Snyder or Nunez begin the year at AA.

Bird is the superior prospect from this trio of players, and is regarded as one of the best first-base prospect  in baseball. Bird destroyed his competition in A-Ball, and was one of the leagues most productive hitters.

Bird put up the following numbers last year, .288/.428/.511, 36 doubles, 20 home runs, 107 walks. Bird was essentially in the top ten in every statistical area, despite playing in one of the worst hitting parks in the minors.

Bird is known for his ability to get on base, but some question his power. However, to this point he has shown plenty of power. In my opinion his only major concern should be his defensive game. At the moment he may be a below-average to average defender. However it is important to remember that 2013 was his first year at the position and that he is still improving in that regard.

He will obviously get to play first everyday in 2014, and if he continues to improves and perfects his offensive game he could become the best first-base prospect in baseball.

Because Bird deserves the most playing time, either Nunez or Snyder will have to move out of High-A quickly. Out of the two players Snyder has the better chance of doing this. Snyder is a much more polished bat than Nunez. Because of this the Yankees pushed Snyder to High-A at the start of last season, and put Nunez one level lower despite being the same age.

Snyder is known for his good bat and being a patient hitter while Nunez is more of a power bat. Neither player has really reached their potential. Snyder missed the entire 2013 season with a series of injuries. And Nunez has never  hit more than 15 homeruns in a season. Considering they are both 23, this season may be their last chance to reach their potential as prospects.

Similarly 2014 may be a make or break year for Austin "Bubba" Jones, and Renzo Martini, both had decent seasons last year but would need to produce more in 2014 to be considered big prospects. 

Jones hit  284/.348/.393/.741. in his first taste of the NYPL. This was a big improvement from what he did in GCL two seasons ago and it shows that he is growing as a player. He would need to continue to show improvement in his power numbers, but at the moment he has a chance to break-out at age 21. Jones will begin the year at A-Ball and probably won't need to battle anyone for reps at first.

Martini also had a decent season hitting  .267/.332/.387/.719, in the GCL. He will probably begin the year in the NYPL, but he may be pushed past rookie ball because he will be 21.


First-base isn't the easiest position find sleepers at, because players don't move to the position until they have to. With the said we can guess that the next two players will be first-baseman and are serious sleepers. Matt Duran and Drew Bridges, haven't seen much game time but they were both considered good picks with interesting upside.

Duran was a fourth round draft pick in 2011. At the time of the draft Baseball America reported that he had raw plus power, but had no other plus tools. BA also stated that he was likely to be moved to first as he had a weak arm. Duran should begin the 2014 in the NYPL, where he may have to split time with Martini, and Bridges. If he reaches power potential he should be able to stick at the position.

Bridges may not begin his career as first-baseman but like Duran, Baseball America feels he will have to play there eventually. Bridges has earned early comparisons to Brett Wallace, which is both good and bad--considering how his career turned out. Bridges will start the year in the GCL or the NYPL.


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