Mario Holmann: A product of the Yankees Dominican Summer League team, Holmann is not only arguably the best defensive second baseman in the Yankees' system, Holmann has the potential to be a huge force atop the Yankees' lineup someday. A switch-hitter, Holmann makes excellent contact, is patient at the plate, and is blessed with tremendous speed. Forget his 2004 numbers for now. Holmann has plus tools across the board in every category except power.
While Holmann has impressed scouts and teammates alike with his ability, GCL Yankees' teammate Christian Garica perhaps said it best in an interview with PinstripesPlus.com: "He's a human highlight film defensively. Holmann's a spunky player with incredible speed. He's got the chance to be a great hitter too. I'd say he's a Jose Vidro hitter with Tony Womack speed with tremendous potential. When he gets to the Majors, he'll be on Sportscenter every night!"
Closest to the Majors
Robinson Cano: Cano is an excellent offensive second baseman that has made huge strides defensively over the last two seasons. More focused in the field, Cano's bat is the reason he'll make it to the Majors. Cano is not your prototypical middle infielder however. Despite a very athletic build and good speed, Cano does not steal bases (just 11 SBs in 408 career minor league games) and is more of a run producing bat in the lineup. He is both steady at the plate and in the field. Cano will be the first one called up to the Bronx should the need for a second baseman arise.
Rafael Rodriguez: R-Rod could be a sleeper at both second and third base, as it is yet unknown where he'll be playing the majority of his games in 2005. Wherever he plays, he is going to need to work on his defensive game to remain a solid prospect. Like Cano, Rodriguez's game is on the offensive side where he is one of the better contact hitters in the Yankees' system. Rodriguez has much more power potential than he's shown and he could be quite the run producer down the road. He is one to watch over the next year or two.
Ryan Haag: It remains to be seen how Haag figures in the Yankees' plans at the second base position. Haag saw action at second base in 16 games for the Staten Island Yankees last season, finding it hard to break in the lineup consistently with the hot start of Justin Christian. Haag is a throwback player that goes all out on every play. He's the kind of player that believes if his uniform isn't dirty at the end of the game, it wasn't a good one. Haag has natural baseball instincts, plays good defense, is very selective at the plate, and does all the little things to help teams win. If given a legitimate shot, Haag could surprise a lot of people.
Need to Make Their Move
Gabe Lopez: Let's get this out of the way...Gabe Lopez is as solid as they come defensively. In fact, he's so advanced defensively, some scouts believe he could play in the Major Leagues right now! He has a future at the Major League level as a solid defensive replacement and part-time player, much in the same manner as Luis Sojo. He has a good eye at the plate and does a lot of little things well. That said, Lopez is 25-years old and has not seen any game action at the AA level yet. 2005 will be a pivotal season for Lopez to make his mark.
The Jury is Still Out
Enrique Cruz: Blessed with some of the best baseball genes, Cruz has had a hard time duplicating the same success he had in his final year at Rice University when he hit .352 with 10 home runs in 2003. With just a little over a year of professional baseball under his belt, Cruz deserves a little more seasoning before he is written off as a legitimate prospect. In 124 minor league games, Cruz has hit .240 with 9 home runs and 18 stolen bases...not exactly dreadful numbers. Overlooking Cruz would be a mistake at this point.
Justin Christian: A free-agent signing out of the Frontier League, Christian was one of the more pleasant surprises among the Yankees' minor league teams in 2004, hitting .274 with a team-high 7 home runs and 14 stolen bases while playing a very good defensive second base. As fantastic as his season was, Christian was playing with guys a few years younger than him. Turning 25 years old in April, Christian will need to be challenged at the higher levels in a hurry to see what he can do. He'll need to prove his 2004 numbers were not a fluke.