Top 50 Yankees Prospects

Duncan Is Obviously #1

Here are the Top 50 Yankees' prospects. PinstripesPlus.com gives a little insight on each selection in our rankings but will follow up more in depth with individual scouting reports on each player, starting in descending order.

1. Eric Duncan - Number two last year has pushed his way to the top of this year's list. Now, if you were to look at Duncan's full season statistics, some may think they don't belong to a top prospect. However, if you look closer at the numbers, he is still right on track. His power numbers were excellent and he racked up extra base hits all year long. When this lefty power hitter was promoted to Tampa after mid season, he showed fantastic plate discipline and cut back on his strikeouts. While his batting average was not spectacular because he struggled badly at the outset of his High A stint, he picked up his offensive attack and became one of the most feared hitters in the Florida State League. Also, after being accused of being a below average defender at third base, Duncan stepped it up this season and played exceptional at the hot corner. His numbers didn't sparkle but his stock has remained the same. In all likelihood, Duncan will be the opening day third baseman for the Trenton Thunder in 2005. Duncan has all the makings of a blue collar major league player.

2. Melky Cabrera - Here is a guy that has made the most significant leap on this list, Melky Cabrera. When the Yankees signed him for big money in the Dominican Republic, they knew what they'd be getting a couple years down the road, Well, Melky Cabrera, after a solid 2003 campaign, has become a star prospect in 2004. Melky started in Battle Creek and tore it up with a .333 batting average. Then, he earned a mid season promotion to Tampa where he didn't miss a beat. But, we saw something new. He crushed 8 home runs with Tampa after hitting none with Battle Creek. That was the only tool Melky lacked and now he has it. He could rise quickly and there doesn't appear to be any glaring weaknesses in him. Melky could be patrolling the Yankee outfield in only a couple more seasons.

3. Steven White - Is it finally happening? Do the Yankees finally have a hard throwing, college groomed pitching prospect? It sure looks like they have it in the person of Steven White. The Yankees drafted him in the 4th round of the 2003 draft and didn't sign until this season for personal reasons. However, when he arrived on the scene in Battle Creek, he showed he was for real. He was quickly promoted after an outstanding stint there and did just the same and more in Tampa. And, for reasons unknown to anyone, White suddenly had a jump in velocity. Now throwing consistently in the mid 90's, White has suddenly become an outstanding prospect. After a superb first season, expect White to atop the Trenton pitching staff in 2005.

4. Robinson Cano - The big question is, will Robinson Cano have a chance in the Bronx next year? The Yankees love all of his tools even though he struggled in the middle of his first AAA stint this season. He is considered to be an above average defender with a good, line drive stroke. He could be competing for a spot, or even a starting role for the Yankees next year at second base at the age of 22 years old. However, it may be better off to let the the left hand hitting second baseman master AAA before making the biggest leap of all.

5. Marcos Vechionacci - It is difficult to begin to talk about what kind of player Marcos Vechionacci is. At the age of barely 18 years old, Vechionacci displayed some characteristics that players many years older than him, never can master. His plate discipline, lack of strikeouts and controlled style of play are unmatched by any player his age. More so than any player in the Yankee system, "Nacci" has the tag of special player all over him. His performance combined between Staten Island and the Gulf Coast League were flat out, spectacular. The sky appears to be the limit for Vechionacci as he does not have one below average tool. The organization has said he will be the opening day shortstop for Charleston in 2005.

6. Phil Hughes - Phil Hughes was the Yankees 1st round draft selection in the 2004 amateur draft. The Yankees see Hughes as having the polish of a top college pitcher besides his overall, fantastic stuff. Even though he pitched only five innings in the Gulf Coast League, the 18 year old Hughes is still going to start his 2005 season in full season, Low A Charleston. Hughes fought off a bout of tendonitis and also suffered a broken toe in 2004. However, it is only so long that you can hold back a terrific talent. We can expect to see big things from this talented young righthander in 2005.

7. Tyler Clippard - Besides our number three on this list, there probably wasn't a more consistent performer than Tyler Clippard in 2004 on the mound. Clippard became the obvious ace of the Battle Creek Yankees staff as he showed pinpoint control and the ability to rack up strikeouts as well. His walk totals are exceptionally low and he has excellent stuff to go along with it. Expect a 20 year old Clippard to be atop the Tampa Yankee pitching staff in 2005 as one of the youngest pitchers in the league.

8. Dioner Navarro - Navarro didn't have a top prospect-like season but because of his natural skills and reputation, he gets some leeway for at least one season. The switch hitting catcher is still only 20 years of age at the AAA level and has shown at each level that he is a good came caller. He had some early season struggles with passed balls in 2004 but it does not seem to be much of a concern. Navarro still hasn't shown any big time power but is a good gap hitter. In all likelihood, he will spend another season in AAA in 2005. Some of his lack of production has reportedly stemmed from the fear of being traded but also because he came into spring training slightly out of shape. His demotion on this list can still be easily reversed because of his young age.

9. Christian Garcia - If you talk to most scouts that follow the Yankee farm system, they will tell you that Christian Garcia has the best raw stuff of any pitcher the Yankees have. Garcia, was the Yankees third round selection and he sparkled in the Gulf Coast League, posting a sub three ERA and averaging over 11 strikeouts per nine innings. The only knock against Garcia is his control. He average over 4 walks per nine innings as well. However, Garcia only converted to pitching this season, after catching throughout the rest of his high school career. Once the Yankees can touch up his mechanics, Garcia could become an elite pitching prospect in a hurry. He has flat out, nasty stuff. Expect to see him in Charleston in 2005.

10. Jesse Hoover - Hoover put on an electrifying pitching show in Staten Island this year, and was one of the main reasons people came to the ballpark. Hoover, a 5th round round draft pick in 2004, blew the NY-Penn league away this year with his 96 MPH fastball. He started the season in the bullpen but was quickly moved into the rotation where he was simply dominant. Hoover also showed a good curveball and his control improved throughout the season. The development of a changeup will be the difference maker for him between being a dominating reliever or an outstanding starter. Either way, it remains to be seen whether he will begin the 2005 season in Charleston or Tampa. It will also be the season that proves him to be a true starting pitcher or not.

11. Chien-Ming Wang - Just as it appeared that Chien-Ming Wang was beginning to fade out of the prospect picture and into mediocrity, he struck back with a fantastic 2004 season. He began the season in Trenton and pitched to an ERA of just a touch over 4. However, he was promoted to AAA Columbus late in the season and caught fire. The right handed Wang threw dominating performances down the stretch for the Clippers and may have stirred some hopes of making the big club out of spring training in 2005. The only thing that is distressing about him is his injury history with his recent hamstring injury. The lanky righty will also need to learn to combat left handed hitters better. But, he still has excellent raw stuff with very good control.

12. Eric Abreu - Abreu is a guy that is one season away from becoming the gem of the New York Yankee organization. Abreu started in the Gulf Coast League and this season and by season's ended, he vaulted himself all the way to high A Tampa. He spent most of his season with Staten Island, bypassed Battle creek and then dominated the Florida State League. Abreu has a blazing fastball that can touch the mid 90's to go along with a nasty curveball and a solid changeup. At 21 years old, he has superb command of all three pitches. The righthander has big time type of potential and he could be a future ace. He was one of the prize Yankee Dominican Summer League products that has really paid off. Could be the system jewel by mid 2005. His smooth, fluent motion has drawn comparisons to Mariano Rivera.

13. Rudy Guillen - Rudy had a down season in 2004 but there is still a lot of potential that is yet to be tapped in him. He suffered a severe upper ankle injury and even when he returned to action, it appeared he was afraid to let it all hang out again, in the field and at the plate. That also pushed him out of center field, lowering his prospect value. Guillen still has five tool potential but needs to show that he cares more when he is on the field. The Yankees will still likely promote him to AA Trenton in 2005. It is far too early to give up on such a big time talent yet.

14. Abel Gomez - Gomez has now taken over the title of the best left handed pitching prospect in the Yankee farm system. The hard throwing lefty had an excellent season in Battle Creek this year, serving as a one-two punch with Tyler Clippard. He showed excellent strikeout potential, striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings pitched. Perhaps the only strike against him is his sometimes shoddy control. Abel had over 4.5 walks per nine innings and will need to improve upon that. However, he is yet to turn 20 years old. The Yankees will likely give him a well earned spot in the Tampa rotation in 2005.

15. Jon Poterson - Poterson was a supplemental first round selection in the draft this year and his pure power potential is enough to show his great potential. He can pound the ball from both sides of the plate. He played in the Gulf Coast League this year and put on a power display by blasting 7 home runs during the season. Overall, Poterson's batting average, was a huge disappointment but by the end of the season, he got red hot with the bat. The organization wants to keep him at catcher but decided not to put him behind the plate until next season. But, his ticket to the pros is his bat. The switch hitter has huge power upside. His work ethic is unmatched.

16. Jason Jones - Jones has sleeper prospect written all over him. Here is a player that was not even considered to a be a draft prospect by some but ended up being a 4th round selection by the Yankees in 2004. After a pedestrian college career, Jones came into Staten Island and was immediately their most consistent pitcher. Then, he moved on to Battle Creek late in the season where he has just as good. Jones has 4 solid pitches with control that is out of this world. All signs point to him starting the 2005 season right in the middle of the Tampa Yankees rotation. The big righty could be a very fast mover in this system as a result of his incredible control and consistency.

17. Jeff Marquez - The third member of "The Big Three" behind Hoover and Jason Jones, Marquez may actually have the highest upside of the three. The Yankees selected the right hander as a supplemental pick in the first round of the 2004 draft. The Yankees started the 20 year old in the Gulf Coast League where he was too dominant to keep there. He produced the same results in Staten Island but seemed to tire a bit in his last couple starts of the season, something not abnormal among college pitchers. Marquez has a good moving fastball, a nice curveball and a changeup. The confident righty is close to adding a four seem fastball which according to him will make him "unhittable." In all probability, he will join an already impressive looking staff in Charleston in 2005.

18. Erold Andrus - Will his move to 1B from the outfield hurt his status? It remains to be seen but the organization seems to very high on Andrus's power and run producing potential. But, also, it appears that as he has gotten stronger and more mature, the 20 year old Andrus has lot some speed in the outfield. He had a good offensive season in Battle Creek in 2004 and showed the potential to be a very good offensive player. The Yankees will slowly easy Andrus into his new first base position in 2005. It could be a big coming out party for Andrus so he is one to watch very closely.

19. Bronson Sardinha - Here is a guy that took a hit in his prospect status for two reasons. The first being that he just can't seem to find a position. He has made errors galore wherever he has played. And, second, he just seems to hit a wall when he gets to AA. After hitting .315 in the FSL, Sardinha dipped to .267 in Trenton. He did hit 6 home runs in AA, so maybe his power is finally starting to come around. But, it looks like the 21 year old will have to start the season in AA Trenton in 2005.

20. Matt DeSalvo - If not for his back injury in the later months of the season, Matt DeSalvo may have crowned himself a top three pitching prospect in the system. DeSalvo dominated the Florida State League and it appeared he was pitching like a man among boys. So, he was sent to AA Trenton where he was slowed by back problems that would eventually knock him out for the season. He is now 24 years old and the Yankees will look to start him in Trenton in 2005 with a possible promotion to Columbus late in the season.

21. Estee Harris - The all around potential of Estee Harris is more than enough to keep him on this list. And, until he completely implodes, he is going to stay here. This season, the Yankees were so high on him, they put him all the way in Battle Creek. He struggled mightily and was sent back to Staten Island. He had a poor showing of sorts there as well. However, he showed flashes of total brilliance and it is hard to think that he can't eventually put it all together. He is blazing fast on the base paths and has a thunderous stroke that can produce big power. Harris is an exciting player that comes up big in big spots. Look for him to break out next year. Then, he could shoot up this list once again.

22. Jason Stephens - There is a good reason the Yankees lured Jason Stephens away from his college commitment in 2003 with a monstrous signing bonus. After a so-so 2003 season, the Yankees sent the 20 year old Stephens back to the Gulf Coast League for another entire season. This time, he was dominating. The tall righthander had a fantastic season and it looks like he is starting to harness his great stuff. As he matures, his fastball is getting better and better. His secondary stuff has been there all along. Watch out for Stephens in 2005. He could become a top prospect in a hurry.

23. Tim Battle - Battle still has all the tools but he has mastered only four of them. The only problem with his game is making contact. He has shown that he is a tremendous center fielder with blazing speed and a great arm. Also, when he does hit the ball, it explodes of his bat. But his strikeouts and plate discipline are the only problem. However, you can expect that out of a guy that just turned 19 years old. But, this season was a far cry from the former 3rd round pick's 2003 season in which he was suffering from cancer. Battle held his own in Staten Island this after starting off hot in the Gulf Coast League. Expect Battle to be the opening day center fielder for Charleston in 2005.

24. Hector Made - Hector Made did start to swing the bat well as the organization had expected him to in Battle Creek in 2004. He hit .289 for the season with 5 home runs. However, as he matures, Made has an uppercut swing the Yankees have helped him tone down down, he projects to have a pretty good power stroke. For him, it is all about staying within himself and playing under control. If he can do that, he could be a solid major league shortstop. Look for Made as the opening day shortstop for the Tampa Yankees in 2004. It should be interesting to see how his improving bat reacts to a pitching dominated league.

25. Jeff Karstens - This right handed pitcher had a breakout season of sorts in 2004. He quickly established himself as one of the top pitchers on the Tampa Yankees staff and his consistency was outstanding. Karstens was an innings eater as well for Tampa, logging 138.2 innings pitched. The intriguing thing about Jeff, though, is his outstanding control. He walked only 30 batters all year while averaging over 7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. At the age of 22, Jeff Karstens is on track to spend next season in Trenton and then next season in Columbus. He is on the ideal track for a solid middle of the rotation starting pitcher. Look for Karstens to be a nice Major League starter in a couple years at the age of 24.

26. Mike Martinez - He comes from a College World Series winner, Cal State-Fullerton so do you think he has had an early dose of pressure? You bet. It looks like the Yankees see Martinez as possibly their finest, pedigree relief pitching prospect. Even though he isn't quite Huston Street, Martinez has a chance to rocket through the system and help the big club in a hurry. This 2004, 8th round selection put up a great numbers in Staten Island this year and earned two more promotions before season's end (Battle Creek, then Tampa) but he pitched negligible amounts of innings in both stops. The organization has expressed that they are planning to tap Martinez as Tampa's closer in 2005. He is 23 years old so the Yankees will not hesitate to promote him at will.

27. Mario Holmann - Considering that he was keeping up with Marcos Vechionacci up until this season, Holmann may be one of the most intriguing prospects on this list. He was slowed by the a thumb injury this season, which hampered him for most of the year, we can expect bigger things out of him in 2005. Mario will likely be playing as Vechionacci's double play partner at second base in Charleston next season. He is an outstanding defender with a good, line drive bat. The Nicaraguan native could be in for a breakout season in 2005.

28. Sean Henn - Here is guy that went from the very top of the list to coming close to not making it at all this time around. Henn was very highly touted even after arm surgery but he has just not come through at all. His once high 90's fastball is not only around 91 MPH. Also, his changeup and curveball are almost non existent. If he has any future at all, it may have to be in the bullpen as a lefty reliever. The clock is ticking for Henn, and he will have to have a turnaround season in 2005 to remain a prospect.

29. John Urick - After a disappointing 2003 season in Staten Island, John Urick had a fantastic season as the first baseman for the Battle Creek Yankees in 2004. He is another newcomer to this list as he was probably the most consistent offensive performer for Battle Creek all season. The 22 year old also played a solid first base but may be in for a position battle next year in Tampa with Erold Andrus. It should be interesting to see what they do to get Urick the necessary playing time. He will begin the season as a 23 year old, and maybe, just maybe, they will give him a shot in AA Trenton rather than compete with a younger Andrus in High A.

30. Brandon Harmsen - It was a fantastic overall season for Brandon Harmsen despite a slow start in Battle Creek. The world got to know Harmsen during his amazing 10 game winning streak as a starting pitcher for the BC Yankees. The righthander gives up a lot of hits but his excellent control helped him to compensate for that. After going 10-3 on the season, Harmsen is still going to have to compete for a job in the Tampa starting rotation. His teammates have compared him to Woody Williams. He has the same type of stuff and command, but this upcoming 2005 season will be the key for him in becoming a top pitching prospect in the Yankee organization.

31. Andy Phillips - Here is the player that is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most major league ready in the Yankee Farm System. He now has nothing left to prove after having a monstrous season with AAA Columbus in 2004. Phillips also came up to the big leagues and made an impressions by crushing the first pitch he ever saw in his career over the Green Monster in Fenway Park. But, will the Yankees give him a chance? It remains to be seen. Perhaps they will keep him as a reserve infielder for next season but he also may end up being subject to the Rule 5 draft this off season.

32. Mitch Jones - It is just incredibly difficult to keep ignoring Mitch Jones. He will never hit for a high average, he will strike out a lot but he can really hit the long ball. That is solely the reason why he makes this list. At 26 years old, it is hard to tell if he has a major league future but he does have big league power. The Yankees are sending him to Arizona Fall League and his performance there should give us a better picture. He will likely start next season in AAA Columbus with a possible September call up. If he could have a respectable .250 average or above, his future could have something bright.

33. Ben Jones - The Yankees selected Ben Jones in the 14th round of the 2004 amateur draft. But, more than anyone else, the organization is very intrigued with this later round pick. They like the right hand hitting, first baseman's power potential. There is good reason for this as Jones crushed 6 home runs in only 150 at bats in a league that doesn't usually cater to hitters. Jones was set back when he suffered a late season injury but he still was the most consistent Staten Island Yankee hitter besides Justin Christian. Because he will be 24 next season, the Yankees are going to try and push him fast. Look out for some possible power displays out of Jones.

34. Rafael Rodriguez - No one ever seems to mention Rafael Rodriguez at all in prospect talks but the fact is, he has turned out to be an excellent young player and has put superb numbers from the second and third base positions. The organization likes the soon to be 21 year old's power hitting potential and the fact that he batted .295 in Battle Creek in 2004. He is seen as the probable third baseman for the Tampa Yankees next year. If he continues to quietly produce, he will be a much higher rated prospect next year. Rodriguez has a nice stroke and plays solid defense so he is another sleeper prospect to keep an eye on.

35. Maximo Nelson - Nelson was the key to success for the Gulf Coast Yankees this year as he led the pitching staff to a league championship. Maximo has great raw stuff including a 95 MPH fastball. he has the perfect pitcher's body as he stands at 6' 5", 170 pounds. The 21 year old led the GCL Yankees in innings pitched with and had an impressive 6-3 record on the year. The tall righty also walked less than 2 batters per nine innings and struck nearly 9 per nine innings. With a performance like that, Nelson has likely earned himself a spot in the Charleston rotation in 2005.

36. Jon Skaggs - Skaggs is a very good story and pitched his first full season in 2004 after he pitched a partial season last year. One must remember that he was a 1st round selection by the Yankees way back in 2001. He didn't pitch at all in 2001 or 2002. However, he came back with an excellent 2004 season. Skaggs led the Tampa Yankee pitching staff with a record of 13-9. The 25 year old righthander also logged 162 innings on the season and posted a 3.87 ERA. Because of his age, the Yankees are going to have to try to rush him along because, according to his coaches, Skaggs has not lost anything following arm surgery.

37. Ben Julianel - Ben Julianel makes the cut for this list just because of his organizational value. He is a left handed, hard throwing reliever with a nasty slider and a superb changeup. Julianel is equally nasty against lefties and righties. He is 24 years old but could be a big part of a Major League bullpen in less than two years. He will likely start his 2005 campaign in AA Trenton but should quickly earn a promotion to AAA Columbus. Ben Julianel could be set for Major League action for the 2006 season.

38. Juan De Leon - Many considered DeLeon to be a nice replacement for the traded Yhency Brazoban. DeLeon was acquired in exchange for the unneeded Mike Lamb during spring training. DeLeon turned out to be a very pleasant surprise considering the value going in the other direction in the trade. The righthander has a live arm and has good stuff. He served as a good setup man in Tampa this year at the age of 23. His numbers were very good as well, posting a 2.93 ERA and struck out 73 batters in 61.1 innings pitched. If he can maintain his command, he could be an excellent relief prospect. Look for him to be a big part of the Trenton Thunder bullpen in 2005.

39. TJ Beam - For the most part, it was a roller coaster of a season for TJ Beam in 2004. He started off in Battle Creek and at the outset, he looked like he could be a dominating starter. However, things turned sour quickly and he was sent down to Staten Island. It was there that he turned himself around, posting a sub three ERA. Beam was able to corral his nasty stuff and everyone knows what a powerful fastball he possesses. However, he is already 24 years old and needs to get moving in a hurry. The Yankees are aware of his talent so they will be pushing him hard in 2005.

40. Shelley Duncan - You just can't ignore Shelley Duncan. The big first baseman did not have a such a great season in 2004 with Tampa but his potential is still very hard to overlook. Shelley has a lot of power he has not tapped into yet even though he did lead the Tampa Yankees with 19 long balls in 2004. Expect him to be the DH and first baseman for the Trenton Thunder in 2005. If he does not start to produce though, it could be his last chance in the organization.

41. Kevin Reese - Quietly, Kevin Reese had probably the best offensive season in the Yankee Farm system besides Andy Phillips. His statistics in Trenton were fantastic after having a down year in 2003. Then, he was promoted to Columbus and was just as good. His left handed stroke came up big this season and may be something that an MLB team would be looking to add in the Rule 5 draft this year. So, Reese may not be around next season. But, if he is, he should be the starting center fielder in AAA Columbus at the age of 26 years old.

42. Kevin Thompson - Will Kevin Thompson be the Yankees new version of Kenny Lofton in 2005? One would be swayed to think so after Thompson was sent to the Arizona Fall league and putting together a fabulous season there and during the regular season as well. Thompson is an excellent center fielder that is a serious base stealing threat. In the past season, he has also gotten the knack for the long ball. There seems to be a good chance that the 25 year old, right handed Thompson could make the big club out of spring training as a reserve outfielder. However, he could also be sent to AAA Columbus to serve Bubba Crosby's role from last season. Either way, suddenly Thompson is a serious option for the Yankees next season. He is just an incredibly solid all around ballplayer.

43. Justin Christian - The Yankees signed Justin Christian out of the Independent Frontier League this season and what a great move it turned out to be. Christian was truly the heart and soul of the Staten Island Yankee offense this year, stealing bases, hitting home runs and hitting for a fairly high average as well. Christian also played all over the diamond including 3b, 2b and outfield which will help his playing time next season. He will be 24 years old before Opening Day in 2004 so the Yankees are going to have to push him and give him playing time. However, it remains to be seen where he will get that playing time. But, one things for sure, after his 2004 campaign, he deserves a shot.

44. Edwardo Sierra - After being a top 15 prospect last year, Edwardo Sierra has plummeted downward on this list. If you look at his ERA and total number of saves, you would think he had an excellent season as the closer for the Tampa Yankees. But, if you look closer to notice the number of walks he surrendered, it is almost frightening. As a reliever, he will have to lower his walk totals significantly to ever be successful. The key for him is to trust the fantastic raw stuff he has. He will need to be more aggressive and use his 97 MPH fastball much more. However, he will still likely get the Trenton closer's job at the age of 23 in 2005.

45. Grant Plumley - Plumley is perhaps one of the most interesting cases on this list. After being drafted by the Yankees in the 9th round of the 2004 draft, Plumley was the only Staten Island Yankee to play over 60 games, showing the confidence the organization has showed in him. The shortstop held his own with the bat and impressed his manager, Tommy John, to play little ball. Also, despite committing 18 errors this year, his defensive ability looks far above average. But, it is difficult to tell where he is going to play next year. With Vechionacci and Made set to play shortstop in the two levels above him, where does that leave Grant? Only time will tell, but he is too talented to be left out.

46. Jonathan Tierce - Tierce became known for his down and dirty style of play this year but his overall statistics certainly didn't hurt his case. He batted .361 in the Gulf Coast League with 13 stolen bases in 40 games. However, he doesn't get quite the recognition by being put higher on this list because of the fact that he is 22 years old, much older than the average player in that league. But, this is not to take away from the left handed speedy outfielder's outstanding potential. This 2004 17th round draft pick, will be a tough call for 2005 but he could be an intriguing prospect to watch.

47. Jose Valdez - Of any of the prospects on this list, the stock of Jose Valdez has taken the biggest hit of them all. Last year, Valdez was a top 15 prospect but after a bad season in High A Tampa, there are now some doubts surrounding him. After he showed outstanding pure, raw pitching ability in 2003, he seemed to fizzle out in 2004. According to his coaches, the mid 90's fastball is still there and so is the good splitter. But, this year the righthander just couldn't consistently locate his fastball. Valdez is only 21 years old, but being unable to locate the fastball is not good at this stage. However, the Yankees still like his potential and will probably push him to the starting rotation in Trenton for the 2005 season.

48. Javier Ortiz - Here is a newcomer to the list but a guy that has always shown a lot of potential since he was signed way back in 1997. However, he has never been able to keep up a couple of good seasons in a row of pitching. He pitched decent in Trenton this year with an ERA a touch over 4. But, he also only walked 2.8 batters per nine innings which is very promising. Javier was promoted to Columbus but was lit up like a Christmas tree. He is still only 25 so he will have another chance to prove himself in AAA Columbus once again in 2005. Don't count him out because he still has excellent potential and is young enough to turn himself around.

49. Nathan Phillips - Phillips was a 6th round pick in the draft this year and the thing the Yankees absolutely love about him is his throwing arm. He was drafted as a shortstop but the Yankee don't plan to keep him there. The 18 year old was almost moved to the mound but the Yankees elected to put him behind the plate. The results were good in mini-camp so expect to see a lot of Phillips behind the plate in 2005. Nate has a good stick but he could end up being a very good backstop.

50. Drew Edwards - The big righty did not have a good season at all here in 2004 with Staten Island. He posted an ERA of over 5. However, there is no doubting the stuff and potential that Edwards has. He signed as a draft and follow this year and is nearly 23 years old so the Yankees are probably going to try and push him to the next level in 2005. But, the organization knows how good he can be with that raw stuff. Drew will need to harness his command but if he does, watch out.

Have any questions and/or comments on our Top 50 Yankees' prospects? Send them to pinstripesplus@aol.com and we'll be sure to address them.

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