Yankees Coaches Buoyed By Trio Of Spring Hopefuls

TAMPA—While big league coaches spend only a limited amount of time with prospects in spring training, they still have a keen eye for talent.

As for Yankees coaches Rob Thomson (third base), Dave Eiland (pitching) and Kevin Long (batting), they liked what they saw from a trio of hopefuls in camp.

Thompson watched 23-year-old outfielder Melky Mesa play against the big league club in the final exhibition game of the spring, when the Yankees faced a group of minor leaguers dubbed "future stars."

"He has a 70 arm and bat speed," Thompson said. "He covered a lot of ground, and he looks like a talented player. He was with us a little bit and showed a good arm. He almost threw out Ryan Howard at second base on a ball in the right-center field gap. That kind of arm stands out in today's game."

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2003, Mesa batted .225/.309/.423 with 20 home runs and 18 stolen bases for low Class A Charleston in 2009. But he also struck out 168 times in 497 at-bats.

Righthander Romulo Sanchez can hit 97 mph on the radar gun, but like Mesa, the 26-year-old struggles to command the strike zone.

"He has a great power arm," Eiland said. "If he gains command, we have something."

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Sanchez struck out 64 batters in 65 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, but he also walked 34.

Colin Curtis, a fourth-round pick in 2006 from Arizona State, has spent parts of the past three seasons with Double-A Trenton, batting just .254/.324/.362 with 14 home runs in 250 games. But the 25-year-old outfielder impressed Long this spring.

"He made drastic improvement in his swing," he said. "It's more compact, shorter and there is explosiveness to it. He figured out a few things, (and) he looked good. I expect C.C. to have a good year and if things go right, I expect him to be able to help."


• Eiland offered his assessment of 22-year-old righthander Zach McAllister: "He has plus command with his two- and four-seam fastball. He needs to sharpen his slider up. When he can command his slider and repeat it, you will have a guy who will compete at the back end of the rotation."

• The Yankees singled out 32-year-old minor league veteran Jon Weber as the best rookie in camp for hitting .452/.452/.581 in 31 at-bats. He has spent time in seven organizations (and two independent leagues) without receiving a big league callup.