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Sanchez either is the last member of the Yankees' wave of catching prospects, or the beginning of their next wave. Jesus Montero got a taste of the Bronx before being spun to the Mariners for Michael Pineda. Austin Romine has struggled through back problems and concussions, and his progress has stalled. Homegrown products Francisco Cervelli and J.R. Murphy also saw time behind the plate in New York in 2013, but the Yankees have yet to develop a replacement for Jorge Posada, whose final year as the club's regular catcher was 2010. Sanchez signed in 2009 for a $3 million bonus, large even by Yankees standards, and sported a career .286/.350/.496 batting line with 43 home runs entering 2013, but questions about his conditioning and maturity lingered. His attitude was problematic enough to earn an internal suspension while at low Class A Charleston in 2011. By all accounts, those problems dissipated by 2013, which ended with Sanchez beneath a raucous dogpile while he and his teammates with Double-A Trenton celebrated an Eastern League championship. Sanchez's bat still rates as the best in the system by a long shot, thanks to effortless, well above-average raw power and an above-average hit tool. Scouts see his floor as being a .260-.270 hitter with at least 20 home runs annually, which would be all-star-caliber production for a catcher. Sanchez can shoot line drives to all fields and has sock to the opposite field as well. His defense has gotten better and he's quieter behind the plate. He still needs to work on blocking balls, specifically when it comes to pitches in the dirt to his right or left, when he tends to try to use his hands to pick the ball rather than blocking with his getting his body in front of it. He led the Florida State League with 11 passed balls during his time at high Class A Tampa. Sanchez's arm has been rated as high as an 80 by some scouts, and he led the FSL by throwing out 46 percent of basestealers. He spent the season in better shape and had a better attitude than in the past, and scouts noticed. Sanchez took charge behind the plate and was handling staffs with much more authority than in years past. The Yankees threw a roadblock into Sanchez's path by signing free agent Brian McCann for five years and $80 million. While McCann could mix in time at DH and first base--where Mark Teixeira is signed through 2016--it's difficult to imagine a full-time spot for Sanchez in New York in the near future. For now, he's ticketed for a return trip to Double-A for 2014, and he gives the Yankees a key trade chip at a premium position.
Littered with run-ins with alcohol, guns and family drama, Heathcott's past is well documented. He's not shy about the mistakes he's made, though, and has worked diligently to become a better man as he's grown up. More directly relevant is his extensive injury history. He's had surgeries on both shoulders, missed time in spring 2013 with patellar tendinitis, and sat out the last 40 games, including Double-A Trenton's postseason run, with the same issue. After the season, he had surgery on his right knee to repair the damage. With a max-effort playing style Heathcott at his best is a speedy slash-hitter who uses the whole field. He does have significant issues with plate discipline, especially when it comes to the recognition of breaking balls. He'd heated up (hitting .306 in July) before the knee problems cropped up in August. He's a plus defender in center field whose arm remains above-average, even after the operations. He's a better-than-average runner but needs to learn to better pick his spots when going for steals. The Yankees' signing of Jacoby Ellsbury means that Heathcott may have to move to right field to be a regular in New York. He'll have to stay healthy first. He could force way to Triple-A to begin 2014.
The son of former Patriots wide receiver Derwin Williams, Mason's grandfather Walt "No Neck" Williams finished his 10-year big league career with the Yankees. Coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder that ended his 2012 season early, Williams entered the 2013 season as the system's No. 1 prospect but had a rough season from the start, with a DUI arrest in April. When he was on the field, Williams didn't show the same tools he had in 2012, particularly at the plate, where he rarely made hard contact and adopted an Ichiro-style slapping approach. Scouts thought Williams had gained weight--most evident in his inability to catch up to quality fastballs--and lost speed. He didn't turn in good times to first base, either, because of less effort. Williams' well-above-average defense didn't suffer as much. Evaluators uniformly praise his range, instincts and routes. Williams got a scenery change in August when he was moved to Double-A Trenton, where he struggled at the plate. Williams ought to start the 2014 season back in Trenton if Slade Heathcott graduates to Triple-A. Much like Heathcott, Williams' future in pinstripes is muddled by the team's acquisition of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Signed for $1.25 million in 2009, Murphy played both catcher and third base early in his career and has become a durable option behind the plate. He caught a minor league-leading 105 games in 2013 while having his best offensive season, and he made his major league debut in September. He was behind the plate at Yankee Stadium for Mariano Rivera's final major league pitch. Murphy doesn't have a plus tool, but he has sharpened his skills in the minors. After years of hard work, he improved his footwork and his release and gunned down 37 percent of basestealers at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has become a much better, quieter receiver, though he can get a little stabby behind the plate at times. His line-drive bat produces consistent solid contact to the gaps with fringe-average power. He'll compete with Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine for the right to be Brian McCann's backup in New York in 2014, but McCann ahead and Gary Sanchez coming up behind put the squeeze on Murphy's chances to be a regular in New York.
Jagielo started for three seasons at Notre Dame, slamming 13 homers as a sophomore and 13 more in the Cape Cod League before ranking sixth in the nation in on-base percentage (.500) as a junior. A late-season strained quad muscle meant that as soon as the Yankees signed him for $1.875 million with the first of three first-round selections, he went on the disabled list. He debuted on June 27 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before heading north to short-season Staten Island. Jagielo is a polished hitter with above-average vision that allows him to turn on fastballs and stay back on breaking pitches. He has the ability to make hard contact to all fields, as well as above-average power that projects to 20-25 homers a year. Most of the questions about Jagielo center on defense. He's a below-average runner with fair agility and footwork, but most scouts think he has the hands, actions and arm strength for third base. He figures to start 2014 at low Class A Charleston but could battle with Dante Bichette Jr. for a spot at high Class A Tampa. As a polished college bat, he should move past Bichette sooner rather than later.
Judge's physicality earned him football scholarship offers out of high school in 2010, when he was also a 31st-round pick of the Athletics, as well as comparisons to NBA star Blake Griffin. Instead he headed to Fresno State for baseball, where he hit just six home runs in his first two seasons before bopping 12 and slugging .655 as a junior. The Yankees took him 32nd overall and signed him for $1.8 million, though a torn quad muscle in his right leg delayed his pro debut. If his 6-foot-7 frame didn't make it obvious, Judge is a physical beast and has earned comparisions to Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He shows impressive batting-practice power thanks to his strength and leverage, though some scouts are worried about how well it will translate into games. At his height, it's hard for his swing path to be short, and he's not expected to be more than a .260 hitter. He has slightly above-average speed and a strong arm, and while he can play center field, he profiles better on a corner. The Yankees had not spent a first-round pick on a college hitter since 2001 (John-Ford Griffin) before taking Eric Jagielo and Judge in 2013. A healthy Judge ought to join Jagielo at low Class A Charleston to open the season, and while Jagielo is more polished, Judge offers more upside.
Clarkin helped USA Baseball's 18U national team win gold at the 2012 IBAF World Championship in South Korea, spinning six strong innings in the final to beat Canada. His strong spring pushed him into first-round consideration, and the Yankees took him with the third of their three first-rounders. He made waves for saying he "couldn't stand" the Yankees while growing up, but a $1,650,100 bonus offer made that moot. He's the first prep lefty the Yankees have drafted in the first round since taking Brien Taylor No. 1 overall in 1991. At his best, Clarkin shows three average to above-average pitches. His fastball sits 90-92 mph and touches 94. He flashes a plus curveball with sharp bite and downer action, and he located it well to both sides of the plate as an amateur. He spent time sharpening an inconsistent changeup in the instructional league, but the pitch has shown fading action, and he sells it with good arm speed. He's shown willingness to pitch inside. Clarkin missed time after twisting his right ankle slipping on a baseball in Tampa but returned in late August to pitch in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. An assignment to low Class A Charleston in 2014 isn't out of the question for Clarkin, but a more likely path is extended spring training and a trip to short-season Staten Island.
Bird spent his prep days catching future Orioles first-rounder Kevin Gausman, but he was not long for the position. The Yankees bought him out of his Arkansas commitment for $1.1 million in 2011, gave him a brief look at catcher and quickly converted him to first base in 2013. He became the first lefthanded hitter for low Class A Charleston to reach 20 home runs since it became a Yankees affiliate, while also leading the minors with 107 walks. Bird was the Yankees' breakout prospect and has a mature offensive approach. He led the South Atlantic League with a .428 on-base percentage, remembers pitch sequences and learned which pitches he could drive, hitting 13 of his 20 homers in the second half. Bird's hit tool is more advanced than his power, and some scouts and managers noted that his swing has little loft and lacks premium bat speed. Back problems helped prompt his move to first base and limit his athleticism and defensive ability. He has limited range but adequate arm strength. He's a below-average runner. Bird draws comparisons with the Yankees' primary first baseman in 2013, Lyle Overbay. He's slated for high Class A Tampa in 2014.
Severino, who didn't sign until he was 17, received a $225,000 bonus and pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2012. The Yankees put him on the fast track in 2013, promoting him to low Class A Charleston after he shined in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Equipped with a loose arm, Severino has raw stuff that is as good as any Yankees farmhand, and he has shown the ability to throw strikes with three pitches. His fastball sits between 93-95 mph and touches the upper 90s often. He has shown a tendency to fall in love with radar-gun readings and overthrow, and he's better working down in the zone and inducing groundballs. While Severino's slider was his top secondary pitch before he signed, he has developed a solid changeup since signing, and it's presently the better of the two. His slider still flashes plus but remains inconsistent. Severino provided a bright spot in a bleak season for Yankees pitching prospects. His three-pitch mix and strike-throwing ability allow him to profile as a starter. After spending his final four starts with the RiverDogs, he's slated to return there to start 2014.
A UCLA signee and friend of Yankees first-rounder Ian Clarkin growing up in San Diego, Katoh elevated his draft stock with an outstanding performance at the Area Code Games in 2012. He followed that with a strong senior year at Rancho Bernardo High, posting a .451 average and eight homers. The Yankees took him in the second round and quickly inked him for $845,700. Katoh continued to rake in pro ball, tying for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League home run lead (six) while pacing the circuit in triples (five) and ranking second in slugging (.522). Katoh is lean and strong, with plenty of strength in his forearms. He generates his thump despite choking up on the bat, and he has average power potential. He's a slick, graceful defender around the bag at second base, to the point that the Yankees may try him at shortstop in the future despite his below-average arm. He's a plus runner who's learning to translate his speed into steals. Katoh has patience at the plate, leading to both walks and strikeouts, and he was vulnerable to chasing the high fastball. The Yankees' last wave of middle infielders, 2010 draftees Cito Culver and Angelo Gumbs, hasn't progressed, so Katoh will face few obstacles if he produces. He will jump to low Class A Charleston for his full-season debut.
Banuelos already was a top prospect when he tore up big league camp during spring training 2011, looking big league ready. He has struggled since then, however, losing his command in 2011, then having a back problem and later elbow pain that ended his 2012 season in May. He had Tommy John surgery in October 2012 and missed all of 2013. At his best, Banuelos sports a low- to mid-90s fastball that has touched as high as 97 mph. Reports had him at 93-94 in simulated games last fall. He couples the fastball with a plus changeup with tumbling action and a sharp curveball in the mid-70s. He had control issues at the upper levels, which the Yankees had explained by his youth and by the jump in his velocity. He has yet to command the strike zone above Class A, and he broke down the only year that he pitched more than 110 innings, so durability is a real question. Banuelos didn't pitch in winter ball, so he's slated to start the 2014 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a closely monitored workload. Now 23 and three years removed from that scintillating spring showing, he needs to prove he can throw strikes and stay healthy, but he's got time.
Though preceded by less hype, Avelino stood out to evaluators as one of the two best shortstops in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013, along with Phillies first-rounder J.P. Crawford. Signed by the Yankees for $300,000 the day after Christmas in 2011, Avelino stood out with his bat, basestealing and glove in his first season in the U.S. He has a body that has drawn comparisons with Brewers shortstop Jean Segura--short, stocky and strong--and showed the ability to hit to all fields. He gets to every ball on the infield, has an arm that already grades as plus and possesses impressive baseball instincts for an 18-year-old. While he's not a burner, Avelino's baserunning aptitude helped him lead the GCL with 26 steals despite being promoted to short-season Staten Island in mid-August. He also led all Yankees farmhands. The late-season promotion hinted that Avelino is at the front of the line for the organization's young shortstops, and that he could begin 2014 back under the lights at Staten Island or, if the Yankees choose to be aggressive, low Class A Charleston.
Ramirez jumped into the Yankees' Top 30 after pitching in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009 but has progressed slowly from there, spending three seasons in Class A. The quality of his fastball and changeup rivals anyone in the system. A rail-thin righty, he brings an explosive fastball in the mid- to upper 90s and backs it up with a tumbling changeup that often gets mistaken for a splitter. The change easily rates as a 60 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale. Ramirez's slider has its moments, but due to a long arm stroke during takeaway, his command and his breaking ball remain inconsistent, and most scouts project him as a reliever. He also remains slight of build and injury prone. He missed most of April after starting the year on Double-A Trenton's disabled list with tendinitis, then had his season end in July with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre due to an oblique strain. He also showed a tendency to let mistakes snowball, and his body language worsened when a break didn't go his way or a play wasn't made behind him. Now 24, Ramirez never has thrown more than 115 innings in a season. Headed back to Triple-A, he could be one injury away from being moved to the bullpen, where his fastball/changeup combination should play well.
Neither the Yankees nor the Mariners have gotten much out of the four-player trade prior to the 2012 season that brought righthanders Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the Yankees for top prospect Jesus Montero and righty Hector Noesi. Not one player in the deal has lived up to expectations. For his part, Campos missed the final five months of 2012 with a small fracture in his pitching elbow, but he showed promising results in 2013 at low Class A Charleston despite being on an extremely short leash. At his best, Campos' fastball, which showcases average sink and tail, sat between 91-93 mph and touched as high as 95. He backs it up with a curveball that comes and goes and occasionally acts like a slider. His third pitch is an inconsistent but deceptive 82-84 mph changeup. He repeats his clean delivery and has an excellent pitcher's body at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, so he should be able to handle a heavier workload in 2014. The jury is out on whether he's a starter or a reliever in the future. The Yankees thought enough of Campos to protect him on the 40-man roster rather than risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft and hope to get a longer look at him in 2014 at high Class A Tampa.
After identity snafus led to a one-year suspension and a 16-month layoff before Major League Baseball approved his $500,000 deal with the Yankees, De Paula spent his first year laying waste to much younger hitters in the Dominican Summer Leagues, building anticipation for his U.S. debut in 2013. He started in the low Class A South Atlantic League and treated hitters there much the same. The problem was, he relied on a fastball that could regularly reach into the mid- to upper 90s with hard, late sink. That all changed once De Paula got high Class A Tampa, where hitters promptly taught him that he'd need to rely more on his slider and changeup, which are both works in progress. De Paula's delivery gets out of sync easily, making it hard for him to throw either secondary offering for strikes. Moreover, evaluators thought he seemed hesitant to go to those pitches when necessary, instead choosing to throw his fastball as hard as he could in the hopes of blowing it past hitters as he'd done previously. His fastball is good enough that if even one of his offspeed pitches can touch average, he could be a quality reliever down the road. De Paula will require significant improvement to project as a starter in the long term, and he'll begin 2014 back at Tampa.
The system's biggest jump on the mound in 2013 came from Greene, who's trying to become the first big leaguer out of Florida's Daytona Beach JC (now Daytona State JC). He had Tommy John surgery as a freshman at Division II West Florida in 2008 and transferred to the junior college, where the Yankees scouted him, drafted him and signed him for $100,000 in 2009. Greene had his first real pro success in 2013, a year after being sent back to extended spring training. He has made mechanical adjustments that got him more on-line to the plate, and mental adjustments to pitch more to the middle of the plate and let his stuff take over. Those changes made a world of difference and helped Greene lower his walk rate from 5.1 per nine innings in 2012 to 1.7 across two levels in 2013. He features a three-pitch mix that includes a 90-94 mph fastball with good angle from his crossfire delivery, a plus slider that ranges between 82-88 and a developing changeup. He's a quick worker with some inherent deception in his delivery that makes it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball. Added to the 40-man roster following the 2013 season, Greene projects as a reliever in the eyes of many scouts due to his fastball/slider combo. He could contend for such a role in New York in 2014, or move up a level as a starter at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees looked for big things from Double-A Trenton's outfield of Austin, Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott, but injuries again frustrated Heathcott, while Flores and Austin had modest seasons. Austin slugged .373 with just 23 extra-base hits in 366 plate appearances, with the caveat being that he missed a month and a half with a wrist injury that he may have been playing with long before he told anyone. Austin looked rejuvenated down the stretch, hitting .304 in the Eastern League playoffs to help the Thunder win their third league title. He played just four games in the Arizona Fall League, however, before the wrist started barking again and he had to be shut down. He received a cortisone shot, and the wrist will bear watching, especially as it pertains to his future power potential. When healthy, Austin has showcased a quick, compact swing with power potential, though it was negated by his early struggles with breaking pitches, especially sliders from righties. Austin was to play first base in the AFL and may get more time there in 2014, though the Yankees say they still view him as a profile corner outfielder. He's slated to return to Trenton in 2014.
Andujar worked with the same Dominican trainer, Basilio Vizcaino (known as "Cachaza"), who delivered Gary Sanchez to the Yankees. Andujar signed in July 2011 for $750,000, the largest in the Yankees' international class that year, and he jumped straight to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and struggled to adjust in 2012. The Yankees kept Andujar in the same league in 2013, and he broke out. As far as tools, Andujar has it all but speed. He can hit for average and has plus raw power thanks to his bat speed and sound swing. Defensively, he fits the third-base profile with above-average range and a good arm, though his inexperience led to 11 errors in just 26 games. His manager in the GCL, Mario Garza, said that if Andujar concentrated on base hits and sacrificed power, he could hit .400. And while that might be hyperbolic, it highlights Andujar's chops at the plate. He needs to be a little more selective to realize his future and is just a fringe-average runner, but he has the ingredients to zoom up this list. Andujar likely will begin 2014 in extended spring training with a June assignment to short-season Staten Island.
Torrens trained with Carlos Rios, the Yankees' former international scouting director, and played for Rios' team in Panama's winter league when he was just 15. He signed for $1.3 million in 2012, and even though he's fairly new to catching, he might be the best defender in the current line of Yankees catching prospects. He used an incredibly quick release to throw out an eye-popping 45 percent of basestealers in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013. The finer points of the position--blocking, game-calling, receiving--are in development, but the signs are good for the 17-year-old. Despite his inexperience, Torrens held his own when catching high-velocity arms like Luis Severino, Omar Luis and Rony Bautista in the GCL. His bat produces both power and average and projects to be similar to that of fellow Yankees prospect J.R. Murphy down the line, possibly with more home run power. Torrens tired toward the end of the 2013 season, and he probably will start 2014 in extended spring training with a chance to move up to short-season Staten Island in June.
Scouts have liked Flores' offensive game for years while waiting for more production, a trend that continued in 2013. They saw much the same Flores at Double-A Trenton, a tweener who can play center field but fits better on a corner, with one of the lowest slugging percentages (.363) among Eastern Leaguers who played primarily corner outfield. Flores, one of just six players who played the entire season in the EL at 21 or younger, remains comfortable working deep counts and ranked sixth in the league in walks (77). The lefthanded hitter's line-drive power was to his pull side only. He spent a good part of the winter at the Yankees' Tampa complex working to put on weight and add strength. If his power doesn't develop, Flores will be no more than a fourth outfielder. A member of the 40-man roster, he could head to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2014, but a return to Trenton isn't out of the picture, either.
Mitchell may be the system's biggest tease, with tremendous stuff paired with mediocre results. His 5.12 ERA was one of the worst in the high Class A Florida State League among qualifiers, and he led the league with 23 wild pitches. He still earned a late-season promotion to Double-A Trenton, where he thrived in three starts before walking 11 in 10 playoff innings. Mitchell invites questions about his mental toughness and wrinkles that need to be ironed out in his delivery, namely finding a more consistent release point. Like Rafael De Paula, he has a tendency to respond to adversity by trying to throw his fastball--which sits between 91-94 mph and has touched 97 in the past--through the catcher's mitt. Unlike De Paula, however, Mitchell has good enough offspeed stuff that he shouldn't have to. His curveball can be a true wipeout pitch with power, as he'll touch 85 mph with it, and his overall package has drawn comparisons with A.J. Burnett's. His changeup is still in its developmental stages. Added to the 40-man roster following the 2013 season, he's far from ready to help in New York, and he's headed back to Trenton to open 2014.
Despite having only one pro at-bat after missing the entire 2012 season recovering from a right knee injury, Cave wasn't fazed by an assignment to low Class A Charleston, holding his own in a tough hitter's park. He opened the 2013 season in extended spring training but hit his way onto the RiverDogs roster, then tied for third in the South Atlantic League in doubles and grinded his way through a full season, a good sign considering his youth and injury history. As everyday center fielder for Charleston, Cave provided professional at-bats and showed a solid lefthanded swing with a good feel for the barrel. His dirtbag approach and instincts to stay in center field further endear him to scouts. A former high school pitcher who reached 94 mph from the left side, he has the raw arm strength for right field and runs well. Cave still is growing and adding strength, so some of those doubles could become homers a few years down the line. He's an intense player who also earns solid marks for his makeup. After last season's success, Cave will head to high Class A Tampa in 2014. He looks like at least a fourth outfielder, and more if his bat continues to develop.
O'Brien was two of the organization's better developments in an otherwise down year on the farm in 2013. A senior sign out of Miami, O'Brien led the system in home runs (22) and RBIs (96) and ranked second to Robert Refsnyder in batting (.291). He generates the most usable power of anyone in the organization except for Gary Sanchez and hit a 455-foot homer that ranked as the longest in the Arizona Fall League. Despite the high average, scouts grade O'Brien as a modest hitter thanks to a long, one-plane swing and lack of fluidity. He's strong enough to hit for power if he shortens up, and he has shown signs of making adjustments. Defense is a bigger question, and he grades out as a below-average defender either behind the plate or on the infield corners. He hadn't played third base since high school until 2013 and lacks mobility and agility. His plus arm does give him value as a catcher, but he's a limited receiver and struggles blocking balls in the dirt. His well below-average speed may preclude a move to the outfield. O'Brien will move to Double-A Trenton in 2014 and could wind up as a Jim Leyritz type who catches and sees time at the corners at the big league level.
The Yankees hadn't drafted and signed a prep righthander in the first round since Phil Hughes in 2004 when they took Hensley in 2012. He originally agreed to terms for $1.6 million but had his bonus reduced to $1.2 million after a physical revealed shoulder abnormalities. His injury news worsened in 2013 when abdominal pain that sidelined him in spring training turned out to be tied to a hip impingement that required surgery. The procedure cost Hensley the entire season, which means he'll have just 12 pro innings under his belt when the 2014 season gets under way. At his best, he couples a 92-95 mph fastball with a 12-to-6 curveball reminiscent of the one Phillies righty Ethan Martin employs. Hensley hasn't gotten many pro innings to work on his nascent changeup. His health will be closely monitored, and the Yankees are eager to see what their first-rounder can do if he's ever healthy. They hope to find out in 2014 at low Class A Charleston.
Gumbs was having a breakout season in 2012 at low Class A Charleston when a torn ligament in his left elbow cut it short. He didn't need surgery, and the Yankees aggressively assigned him to high Class A Tampa to start the 2013 season. He had three hits in his first two games, then didn't get another hit the rest of April. He missed a month with a bruised middle finger and never got going, forcing a late-June demotion back to Charleston. Gumbs still has plenty of bat speed, with a compact but unorthodox swing that he has made work with his high-level hand-eye coordination. He's sound defensively at second base and has shown the ability to hang in on double-play pivots. An average runner out of the box and a tick better once he gets going, he is capable of stealing 15-20 bases. Robert Refsnyder emerged and is a level higher in the system, but Gumbs is younger and has more tools. He will return to Tampa for 2014.
Betances made six Triple-A starts to open 2013, posting a 6.00 ERA, before shifting to relief full-time. In 42 games out of the pen, he posted a 1.35 ERA and allowed just 33 hits in 60 innings to go with 83 strikeouts. His fastball touched 99 mph out of the pen, and he backed it up with a power curve and a changeup. Mechanical adjustments made with new pitching coordinator Gil Patterson helped him stay in his delivery longer, which in turn improved Betances' command. Being in the bullpen also helped him flush his bad outings more quickly. Control always will be an issue for Betances, who qualifies for a fourth minor league option in 2014, giving the Yankees another long look at his two-pitch mix.
Marshall made his big league debut in 2013, but overall had his worst season since he had Tommy John surgery in 2009. He missed up in the zone too much in 2013, giving up the most home runs (17) of his career while also issuing a career high in walks (4.4 per nine innings). Still, Marshall has the makings of an innings-eater who brings a four-pitch arsenal of fastball, slider, changeup and little-used curveball to the table. His fastball, which sits between 87-92 mph with occasional flickers of 93 and 94, features strong tail. His changeup has similar tail and sink as his fastball, but he didn't command the pitch as well in 2013. Marshall's long arm action always has inhibited command of his breaking ball, but he went more to the slider in 2013, which is fringe-average. He has a tenuous hold on a 40-man roster spot, and should return to Triple-A in 2014.
The Yankees fielded two Rookie-level Gulf Coast League teams in 2013 for the first time, often shifting players back and forth between the two rosters. Estrada was the regular shortstop on GCL Yankees 2, sliding to second base when Abiatal Avelino joined the team for 15 games. Signed in July 2012 for a bonus just shy of $50,000, Estrada impresses with skills and tools. His swing is short and flat with a good feel for the barrel and the ability to go to the opposite field. He's a plus runner with a plus arm who has shown the ability to play at both second base and shortstop. He uses his quick hands and quick feet to make the play on every ball he gets to. The system's lower levels are crowded with middle-infield options, so Estrada could be headed back to the GCL in 2014. He may profile best as a utility infielder in the long term.
Much like Peter O'Brien, Refsnyder is man without a position. He played right field at Arizona, but the Yankees shifted him from outfield to second base in 2013, and he received mixed reviews for his work. Refsnyder has enough athleticism to become an average defender at the position in time, but he needs plenty of repetitions. He's a smart, above-average runner, but not a burner, who led Yankees full-season players in stolen bases (23). He's an extremely patient hitter, as evinced by his 84 walks against 82 strikeouts, who recognizes spin well and knows when and how to go with a pitch. Refsnyder sprays line drives all over the field and has the ability to keep the head of the bat in the zone for a long time. He doesn't get much lift, so he's not going to hit more than 10-12 home runs going forth. Refnsyder's modest power fits the second base profile better than the corner-outfield profile, so taking root at the keystone is crucial. He's headed for Double-A Trenton in 2014.
After being dumped by the Indians and biding his time in the independent Frontier League, the Yankees signed Nuno in June 2011. Two years later, he was pitching in Yankee Stadium. Nuno had the best control in the organization coming into 2013 and threw quality strikes in the majors as well before a left groin strain ended his campaign in June. Nuno returned in the Arizona Fall League and carved up hitters with fringy stuff and plus command. He relies on a sinker/slider combination, with a fastball in the 87-90 mph range. He has a knack for pitching, and can locate his curveball and changeup. Nuno will compete for a starting role but could wind up in the bullpen, or back at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre