Overview of Middle Infield Prospects
Joaquin Arias Has The Highest Ceiling
Joaquin Arias Has The Highest Ceiling

Posted Mar 18, 2004


With the Alfonso Soriano trade in the record books, there is an opening at second base on the Yankees. Chances are, however, that help from within the farm system is a long way off. At this point, much of the greater talent remains at the lower levels, such as Joaquin Arias, but there are also some better players slightly higher in the organization. (Free Preview Of Premium Content)

Out of all the middle infielders in the organization, shortstop Joaquin Arias is ranked the highest. Arias has often been compared to Jose Reyes of the Mets but with more power and production potential. Another product of the Dominican Summer League is fellow shortstop Ferdin Tejada who, while undoubtedly much closer to the big leagues, may not possess all the tools that Arias does. There are several others as well that are talented enough to be considered future major league players.

Players are listed with their positions and statistics from 2003 along with what their age will be by the end of the 2004 season.

Columbus Clippers - Many players at this level of the organization are going to have a very tough go of it if they ever want to make the big leagues. While there are no true stand-out prospects waiting to step in on the Columbus ball club, the point is that with Derek Jeter manning half of the middle infield, the chances of one of these players at AAA making the leap to the major leagues is miniscule. The Clippers are not overloaded with talent at these positions by any means but there are still many candidates vying for starting jobs in 2004.

Player (Position)

Age

Stats (AVG - HR - RBI)

Comments

Erick Almonte (SS)

26

.244 - 4 - 26

At this point in his minor league career, Erick Almonte has just about worn off his tag as a prospect in the Yankee organization. While he held his own last season filling in for the injured Derek Jeter, the 26 year old still hasn’t developed the way the organization would have hoped. Power hasn’t become a part of his game and his defense is still shoddy at best. Almonte may have a much better shot playing in a different organization, but figures to have one more chance this season with the Yankees when he will get a chance in spring training to win the third base job to start the season.

Bobby Smith (2B/SS)

30

.282 - 8 - 69

While Bobby Smith is nothing more than a journeyman that has spent the majority of his career bouncing around multiple organizations, he put a very fine season together in 2003. The former Devil Ray was solid in the field and provided some good pop in the lineup. However, there is no future for Smith with the Yankees.

Andy Phillips (SS/3B)

27

.209 - 2 - 5

Andy Phillips took an enormous downturn in 2003 from his 2002 campaign. This was mostly due to injuries and he was limited to only 17 games. On the other hand, the Yankee organization does believe that he can bounce back in 2004 and return to his 2002 form in which he hit an impressive 28 home runs. Has a lot of talent and should not be taken likely as a prospect. If he returns healthy in 2004, he should return to form.

Teuris Olivares (SS)

25

.231 - 6 - 33

Olivares became a very steady shortstop for Trenton in 2003 and was a key part of the team. Despite a low average, he showed decent power and run production capabilities. Solid on defense and would probably have to compete for the starting job in Columbus with Erick Almonte. However, the Dominican Republic native is likely to be reduced to a reserve role with the Columbus Clippers in 2004.

J.T. Stotts (SS/2B)

24

.284 - 2 - 37

When JT Stotts was acquired by the Yankees in the winter after the 2003 season in exchange for Chris Hammond from the Oakland A‘s, they felt that they got a steal on a potentially very consistent and solid ball player. He is viewed as an Adam Kennedy type player that will never be a power hitter but will be slick fielding and a decent offensive middle infielder that could compile a decent major league career.

Trenton Thunder - There seems to be a lot of talent heading for Trenton in 2004 and some of it will consist of young middle infielders. Players touted as some of the best in the system will be on the roster such as Ferdin Tejada and Robinson Cano will likely be mainstays at their respective shortstop and second base positions. 

Player (Position)

Age

Stats (AVG - HR - RBI)

Comments

Ferdin Tejada (SS)

22

.295 - 0 - 20

Ferdin Tejada has started to flourish in the  system over the past couple of years and has become one of the top prospects in the organization. The Dominican Republic native is known as possibly the best fielding shortstop in the system and has shown major progress in his offensive skills. A switch hitter that is stronger from the right side and can utilize his speed while spraying the ball to all fields. A well-refined player that has big league potential.

Robinson Cano (2B)

21

.276 - 5 - 50

Last season, Cano solidified himself as a top 10 prospect in the organization and will easily win the starting  job in 2004 with Trenton. An excellent hitter that hits for a steady average with moderate power numbers. Cano has decent speed but has very little plate discipline. Needs a lot of work on the defensive end of the spectrum.

Deivi Mendez (SS)

21

.228 - 0 - 8

A very young player that must show that he can hit. He moved up and down between Columbus and Trenton, but spent the majority of the season with Tampa. He showed little to no offensive promise at this point but remains a fairly solid player in the field. Still has much to be improved upon in his offense.

Andy Cannizaro (SS/2B)

25

.276 - 1 - 39

Not likely to become a star by any means but it seems that he could have a good future as a utility infielder for almost any major league team someday. He is respectable as a hitter and has a steady glove in the field.

Jared Koutnik (SS)

24

.270 - 4 - 29

Yet another player that is probably going to have to make a position change as a result of a shortstop-heavy minor league system. Was a steady player all season long for Tampa. Had no standout statistics and is a very little known prospect, but could be a good player with the proper development.

Tampa Yankees - One of the best raw talents in the entire Yankee farm system will be moving in to play with Tampa for 2004: Joaquin Arias. The Dominican native is a bundle of talent and is expected to have his best season yet in 2004. Also, it seems clear-cut right now that Gabe Lopez has the 2B job in Tampa all but locked up for 2004 as a result of his fine season last year at Battle Creek.

Player (Position)

Age

Stats (AVG - HR - RBI)

Comments

Joaquin Arias (SS)

20

.266 - 3 - 48

Many scouts say that Joaquin Arias is the shortstop with the highest ceiling in the organization. The Dominican Republic native has been nicknamed “spiderman” in recent years because of his outstanding acrobatics and body control in the field. While his defense was nothing special in 2003, he seems to have excellent potential with the bat. Could eventually hit for more power than would be expected for his slim appearance and projects to be a .300 hitter as well. A gem that should be watched closely.

Gabe Lopez (SS)

24

.270 - 5 - 41

Lopez turned out to be a very nice surprise for the BC club in 2003 on the offensive and defensive end. For most of the year, Lopez was the team's leadoff hitter and he was able to excel. He led the team in sacrifices with 11 and acquired a knack for getting hit by pitches (10). Made a typical leadoff hitter out of himself and was no slouch on defense at second base either. Very valuable team player.

Eric Macha (SS/2B)

24

.143 - 0 - 1

Macha only played in two games last season and didn’t have much to show for it. It doesn’t seem that he will be moving up the minor league ladder anytime soon.

Battle Creek Yankees - While the Battle Creek team will be losing a lot of talent due to promotions in 2004, they will receive two highly-coveted infielders in Enrique Cruz and Hector Made. The two of them will likely be the starters at their respective positions and are hoping to continue a drive to the big leagues. To round out the positions will be Andres Nuñez filling in now and then as a reserve infielder. 

Player (Position)

Age

Stats (AVG - HR - RBI)

Comments

Hector Made (SS)

19

.236 - 5 - 18

Despite a low batting average by many standards,  Made was still impressive in many other categories for the GCL. He is known for his patience at the plate and for his low strikeout totals as well. He impressed many people with the fact that he had less strikeouts(19) than he did walks (20).  Made also added 8 stolen bases in his stint with the GC Yankees during 2003. Has the tools to turn himself into a very fine well rounded player in 2004.

Enrique Cruz (2B)

23

.285 - 0 - 14

In a limited sample of Cruz’s showcase of ability he was solid, but the jury is still out on what kind of ballplayer he really is. Until he has played a full season it is extremely difficult to tell what he is really made of.  However, the preliminary results from him were rather encouraging.

Andres Nuñez (SS)

22

.177 - 0 - 6

Last season, Nuñez was limited to a reserve role where he played many different positions on the diamond. This season will probably be more of the same for him as he will spell either Cruz or Made every once and a while.

Staten Island Yankees - This upcoming season, the Staten Island Yankees seem to be overloaded with incoming and returning middle infielders. It seems up in the air at this point exactly who will be the starters but there are many candidates for the positions. The choices will consist of the talented second baseman Rafael Rodriguez, Hector Gonzalez, Adam Shorts, Andre Randolph, and Tyson Hanish.

Player (Repertoire)

Age

Stats (AVG - HR - RBI)

Comments

Rafael Rodriguez (2B)

20

.258 - 4 - 29

This DR native showed some true talent in his first season in the organization. He was the leading run producer for the GC Yankees in 2003 and became one of the steadier players in the lineup. Defensive abilities need a lot of polishing and he must show improvement in that area next season.

Hector Gonzalez (2B/3B)

19

.325 - 0 - 5

There has been talk among the organization that Gonzalez could be headed as high as Trenton for the 2004 season, but it seem much more logical that he will end up in SI. Was one of the few bright spots for a GC team that struggled for offense all season long. He batted an impressive .325 in 2003 but was unable to display the kind of power and production he could have due to limited ABs. Has good OBP potential as he draws walks and keeps strikeout totals low. May be a player that has to move to shortstop if Hanish fails there or if the organization doesn’t obtain one in the 2004 Draft.

Adam Shorts (2B)

24

.208 - 3 - 27

Shorts had a miserable year with the bat in 2003, as much of the SI club did. However, he performed fairly well in the field. Still needs a lot of offensive improvement but will probably be limited to a reserve role this upcoming season. Much too old for his level.

Andre Randolph (2B)

23

.174 - 0 - 1

The son of Yankee bench coach Willie Randolph, Andre had only a small amount of playing time with Staten Island in 2003 and is going back for a second season. Really did not have enough time to show what kind of player he is so it remains to be seen what he has to offer in 2004.

Tyson Hanish (SS)

23

.136 - 0 - 2

Hanish had barely any playing time last season but this year the team will be in need of a shortstop unless one is obtained in the draft. However, until then it seems that Hanish will have a shot to show of his skills next season.

GCL Yankees - Much of this team still remains to be determined upon draft selection and players moving up from the Dominican Summer League. However, there are still some players that are almost guaranteed to be there including returning players from the 2003 season and draft choices from last year as well.

Player (Repertoire)

Age

Stats (AVG - HR - RBI)

Comments

Adam Unger (2B)

19

.083 - 0 - 4

Unger was mainly a reserve infielder in the GCL last season and sometimes was a defensive replacement for Rafael Rodriguez. Defense is the stronger part of his game while his offense leaves a lot to be desired. Needs to make giant leaps in his hitting.

Mario Holman (2B/SS)

18

.280 - 0 - 10

As of right now, not many people even know of this young budding star but he could burst onto the scene with the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2004. Played for the Yankees 1 team last season and played extremely well. Solid on defense and an excellent hitter, We’ll see what he is really about when he plays in the GCL next season.



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