Gary Sanchez, c, Yankees: When the Yankees have thrown around big money on international amateur free agents, it tends to be on players who they project to stay at a premium position. Jesus Montero ($1.6 million bonus in 2006), Venezuelan Luis Torrens ($1.3 million in 2012) and Sanchez ($3 million in 2009) all fit that description, though all three catchers came with questions about their ability to stay at the position. Sanchez, 20, has always had thunder in his bat, which he showed on Saturday by homering twice and raising his batting line to .350/.395/.600 in 43 plate appearances. Just as encouraging is that Sanchez, who has had issues with his receiving, has yet to allow a passed ball.
Luis Mateo, rhp, Mets: Nothing about Mateo’s career path has been normal, but now that he’s settled through his contract approval process, he could move quickly. After one start for high Class A St. Lucie, Mateo will get a spot start for Double-A Binghamton. His fastball has been in the low- to mid-90s, his slider is plus and he throws plenty of strikes. He only has one start in a full-season league, but between the stuff and the control, there’s frontline starter potential here.
Danny Hultzen, lhp, Mariners: Hultzen breezed through Double-A Jackson last year, but his ability to find the strike zone disappeared during a second-half promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. Hultzen, 23, walked nearly a batter per inning when he got to the Pacific Coast League, but his return to Tacoma has been full of encouraging signs. Through three starts, Hutlzen has a 2.70 ERA and a 20-4 K-BB mark in 16 2/3 innings, showing the stuff that should make him a mid-rotation starter.
Mark Sappington, rhp, Angels: In a thin farm system, Sappington’s power arm stands out. Not only does Sappington throw in the mid-90s, but his fastball also carries heavy action and comes from a sharp downhill angle that makes it difficult for hitters to lift. The 22-year-old posted a 5.15 ERA in Rookie-level Orem after signing as a fifth-round pick last June, but he’s been sharp in the jump to high Class A Indland Empire, where he’s maintained a 2.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts and eight walks in 16 1/3 innings.
Stetson Allie, 1b, Pirates: It took fewer than two full seasons and fewer than 30 innings for Stetson Allie to go from a $2.25 million second-round pick to a massive bust as a pitching prospect. Despite owning a fastball that could reach the high 90s, Allie had minimal feel for pitching, but his raw power was among the best in the 2010 draft, so hitting was always a fallback option. Now a full-time first baseman, Allie’s power is already showing up in games. The 22-year-old has five home runs in 11 games for low Class A West Virginia, with a .396/.444/.792 slash line to his name. The power still comes at the expense of a some swing-and-miss tendencies, but he’s become a prospect worth following again.