The focus of Yankees prospects enthusiasts will soon be focused on the big-league camp, where the best of the best are set to play alongside the 25-man roster for a few weeks. Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, Tyler Wade and others will be in attendance. However, if we take a trip down to the lowest levels of the system, we find many intriguing players. The following five will be making their full-season debuts after playing at Staten Island or Pulaski in 2015. Their seasons will be important for the future of the franchise whether they wind up as trade chips or future members of the Yankees.
The UCLA ace and first round pick is a well-known figure to Yankees fans at this point. He’s already earned an invitation to big league camp and is likely to start the season with either Charleston or Tampa. He’s a remarkably advanced pitcher who should rise at least as high as Double-A Trenton if all goes according to plan. However, Brian Cashman is on the record saying that Kaprielian could even surface in the Bronx at some point this year, which would be surprising, though college starters such as Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola have recently found themselves pitching in the majors just a year after being drafted, so it’s not as if there isn’t precedent.
Estrada is a 20-year-old middle infielder who’s hit fairly well to this point in his career, sans notable power output. He should drive the ball more as he ages and fills out. Estrada gets lost in the river of infield prospects that runs up and down the system, and while he’s no Jorge Mateo or Wilkerman Garcia, there’s talent here. He may end up a utility man, but Estrada is one to watch.
Degano lost a substantial amount of time to surgery in college. However he was impressive enough when he returned that the Yankees popped him in the second round. Degano often piggybacked with Kaprielian at Staten Island last year, and while he won’t move as quickly as his fellow draftee, his trip to Charleston will be very important. The lefty posted impressive strikeout numbers in his first run at pro ball but he’ll need to do a better job at limiting walks. Taking the mound without a full college season’s worth of mileage on his arm.
This is kind of cheating as Acevedo logged 1.2 innings at Charleston, but he’ll start the season there. He’s a huge flame-throwing righty but lacks command and consistency. The Yankees are still running him out as a starter, but he may yet be destined for the bullpen. If he can wrangle his long limbs and gain control of his slider, Acevedo could move very quickly by operating in small bursts or firing napalm at batters.
Taken in the 13th round of the 2015 draft, Amburgey shocked by mashing to a .346/.399/.523 line in 58 games between the Gulf Coast League and Staten Island. This could be a total aberration that results in Amburgey crashing back down to Earth in glorious fashion once Charleston and the Sally League gets their hands on him. The Yankees have shown to be rather adept at drafting in the middle rounds in recent years. They could have unearthed a gem, or this could be the wonders of small sample sizes having their fun with our hearts. We’ll fund out before long.
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