NEW YORK—The most productive hitters on a prospect-stocked low Class A Charleston club weren't necessarily the most sought-after players when they were amateurs.
The Yankees doled out $4.45 million in 2009 to sign Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy out of the draft and Kelvin De Leon out of the Dominican Republic.
Yet the RiverDogs' early leaders in home runs and OPS were 23-year-old first baseman Kyle Roller and 19-year-old Venezuelan left fielder Ramon Flores.
An eighth-round pick last year from East Carolina, Roller impressed Yankees scouts with his power—though he spent most of his time at DH for the Pirates. Through 105 at-bat this season he batted .314/.387/.581 with six homers and 20 RBIs.
"Power was what our guys liked about him going into the draft," farm director Mark Newman said of the 6-foot-1, 235-pound lefty hitter.
"He is a big, strong kid with tremendous bat speed," Charleston manager Aaron Ledesma said. "It's a short swing with a lot of barrel going to the zone. I have seen him mis-hit balls and they still leave the park."
Sharing an outfield with Heathcott in center and De Leon in right, the lefty-swinging Flores batted .283/.411/.457 with six homers through 138 at-bats. He also paced Charleston batters with 28 walks.
Signed at age 16 in 2008 for $775,000, Flores' power arrived ahead of schedule in his development. He's still listed at his signing height and weight of 5-foot-10, 150 pounds.
"This kid can flat-out hit," Ledesma said. "He sees the ball very well out of the pitcher's hand. He has good balance, a short swing and he is a very advanced hitter for his age. I have seen him take a fastball away and hit it over the left-center field wall. It's fun to watch.
"I knew he could hit in spring training, but the power has been a nice surprise. As he gets older he is going to get stronger."
According to Newman, Flores' pitch recognition is his secret. "He has very good plate discipline, which is rare for such a young player," he said.
• Cuban righthander Aamaury Sanit made his major league debut on May 12 against the Royals, tossing 4 2/3 innings of relief in a blowout loss. He served a 50-game suspension last season and did not receive an invitation to big league spring training this year.
• Righthander Hector Noesi made his big league debut six days after Sanit, tossing four scoreless innings of relief against the Orioles to earn his first win.