Eight Teams, Eight Sleepers

Reynaldo Polanco has some ability

The Yankees have eight minor league teams from the Dominican Summer League all the way up to Triple-A. Each teams has its fair share of top prospects, but each team also has some 'sleeper' prospects the pundits choose to overlook so we point out which ones to keep an eye on.

Triple-A Scranton: OF, Ray Kruml: The left-handed batter didn't have the greatest 2010 campaign, hitting just .267 with one home run between two A-ball teams. He responded with a better showing this past season by hitting a combined .278 with a career-high five home runs between Trenton and Scranton, and stole 40 bases. He doesn't walk enough to be considered one of the top prospects but his combination of plus defense and plus speed could allow him to make an impact at the big league level in a reserve capacity someday.

Double-A Trenton: RHP, Chase Whitley: Not a 'sleeper' in the truest sense because he had two above average big league pitches entering the season - a 92-93 mph fastball and a very good changeup - Whitley has become one of the better relief prospects now by adding a very good big league slider into the mix. His numbers in 2011 were quite good, posting a combined 2.47 ERA between Tampa and Trenton. He makes the 'sleeper' list because he is vastly underrated and profiles as a potential solid middle reliever down the road and even some back-end possibilities.

High-A Tampa: 1B, Kyle Roller: Built like an NFL linebacker, Roller had a very solid first full season in 2011, hitting a combined .284 with 16 home runs between low-A Charleston and high-A Tampa. He hasn't produced the type of power numbers yet needed to be considered a legitimate slugging first base prospect in an organization like the Yankees, but there is some more untapped power here. He also has a good idea of the srike zone and could walk more as he gains more experience. He could sneak up on some folks and develop into a Juan Miranda type.

Low-A Charleston: RHP, Manny Barreda: Usually the better pitching prospects at low-A ball and below are starting pitchers, but Barreda, who missed most of the previous three seasons battling his way back from Tommy John surgery, showed better stuff than his numbers in Charleston would indicate. He pitches in the 93-94 mph range with good movement, has always had a quality big league changeup, and has recently developed a big league slider into the mix. Now that he's healthy and armed with better stuff, he could start making a move up the organizational ladder.

Short-Season Staten Island: RHP, Branden Pinder: His numbers in his debut season [1.16 ERA, 38 K's in 31 innings pitched, and a .152 opponents batting average] would not suggest he's a true 'sleeper', but considering he was a 16th round pick out of Santa Ana College, he flies under the radar of the other power relievers drafted ahead of him. The fact is he is a plus, plus strike thrower of a 91-93 mph fastball and has three secondary pitches he can throw for strikes as well. He's not only underrated, he's a legit prospect going forward.

Rookie Level Gulf Coast League: RHP, Reynaldo Polanco: His numbers in his first season in the United States [3-6, 6.86 ERA] belie his true stuff. Standing 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Polanco is quite athletic and is armed with a fastball that now sits 91-93 mph and his frame and arm motion suggests he could throw harder in the coming years. He can also spin a curveball and that could develop into a power curveball in the coming years. He has the look of a possible Ivan Nova type in the early going and his terrible stats this year makes him a big-time 'sleeper'.

Dominican Summer League Yankees2: C, Eduardo de Oleo: Signed in September of 2010, the 18-year old is new to catching and is already turning heads at the Yankee Dominican academy. He hit just .246 with one home run in his debut season this year, putting him squarely under the radar with stat junkies, but team officials liken him to Isaias Tejeda as a potential offensive breakout candidate in the coming years. He not only shows good plate awareness, but he has a very strong arm and his development behind the plate has been pretty rapid in the early going.

Dominican Summer League Yankees1: OF, Mikeson Oliberto: Not a high-dollar sign, he spent his second straight year in the Dominican Summer League this past season and hit an even .300 with three home runs and 17 stolen bases. He just turned 21 years old though but the Yankees like his combination of power and speed, as well he his good defensive play in the outfield. He makes solid contact despite an aggressive approach at the plate and also has a strong arm. He could be a late bloomer worth tracking.

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