Sizing Up The Second Base Prospects

Sublett has a very high ceiling

PinstripesPlus.com analyzes the Yankees' second base prospects. Which second base prospect has the highest upside? Which are the ones ready to make a Major League impact soon? Who needs to make their mark quickly?

Not known for their great depth at second base in the farm system, the Yankees have put together an intriguing crop of high-ceiling prospects and solid utility players.

Highest Ceiling

Prilys Cuello: Signed as an offensive-minded second baseman back in 2005 out of the Dominican Republic, the switch-hitter has put up some impressive numbers. He has already collected 25 doubles and 13 home runs in his first 385 career at-bats, and he has proven be very patient at the plate.

As good as he has been offensively however, his defensive game has been a work in progress. A bit too tentative in the field, he has had problems going to his right and he routinely makes bad approaches on routine ground balls. While some scouts envision a position change in his future, possibly to the outfield, the Yankees are going to give his special bat a chance to stick at second.

Jose Pirela: Signed out of Venezuela as a shortstop in 2006, like Cuello, Pirela's offensive potential is enormous. Hitting over .300 for a good portion of his debut season with DSL Yankees1, he nearly walked as much as he struck out before a cold-spell at the end of the year saw him finish with a .273 average. Possessing very good power potential, where he gets an edge on Cuello is in the speed game.

Defensively it has been a struggle for him at shortstop, committing 29 errors in his first 65 games and the Yankees moved him to second base by the end of the season. It appears to be his defensive home for now but an eventual move to the outfield is not out of the question. The Yankees would love to keep his power-speed combo in the middle infield and second base is his best shot.

Damon Sublett: Like Pirela, Sublett's intriguing combination of power and speed make him a plus offensive player at second base. He hit .326 with 19 doubles and eight home runs for the Staten Island Yankees in his professional debut season last year. He is also a perfectionist who never settles on the field, having the tenacity and work ethic to keep striving for more.

Defensively he shows good range, soft hands, and a strong enough arm to play an array of positions if needed. He has the most refined defensive game of three players in this grouping and he has the look of a quick mover in the organization.

Closest to the Majors

Reegie Corona: He moved to shortstop last season after playing his first three seasons at second base. Unlikely to supplant Derek Jeter anytime soon, Corona's worth to the organization is as a utility player in the middle infield. He has above average range at second base and good hands. In fact, he is a better defensive second baseman than he is a shortstop right now.

Offensively his power is slowly developing as his body has gotten stronger over the years. He is extremely patient at the plate and has shown a willingness to draw walks. The switch-hitter also has above average speed and can do quite a few things at the plate.

The "Sleepers"

Justin Snyder: The University of San Diego product had a phenomenal professional debut season with the Staten Island Yankees last year, hitting .335 with 20 doubles, five home runs, and ten stolen bases. Despite standing just 5-foot-9, most scouts believe the power he showed in Staten Island was no fluke. Drawing a team-high 58 walks as well, and striking out eight less times, his patience at the plate is a huge plus.

He's a plus defensive player at second base but also plays a multitude of positions, including centerfield, shortstop, and third base. While a case could be made to put him in the high-ceiling category, his versatility might keep him away from a full-time position at the minor league level and that should allow him to fly under the radar.

UTILITY MAN: Malec could surprise people as a potential utility player. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
Christopher Malec: A few years ago Malec would have drawn serious Top 50 consideration but has fallen victim to the ever-growing depth of talent in the Yankees farm system. The switch-hitter had a phenomenal season last year, hitting a combined .316 with 28 doubles and nine home runs between Charleston and Tampa. He has also drawn nearly 30 more walks than he has struck out in his professional career.

He has played first base and third base at the professional level but came up as a second baseman. Like Corona, he doesn't have the tools to secure an everyday role with the Yankees someday, but the cancer survivor has incredible makeup. He doesn't back down and he is a true sleeper as a utility prospect.

Need to Make Their Move

Chris Kunda: A slick-fielding shortstop, Kunda has been seeing some time at second base as well since signing with the Yankees over a year ago. His great range and overall defensive prowess are more than enough to advance him, but he'll need to improve on his career .210 average to fend off the second base prospects coming up right behind him.

The Jury is Still Out

Kevin Russo: The 2007 Florida State League All-Star had a tremendous year, hitting .281 with 22 doubles and 19 stolen bases for the Tampa Yankees. He has shown some decent offensive production since signing with New York in 2006 but his average defensive showing might not be enough to fight off the other high-ceiling middle infield prospects for too long. He'll need to have another solid year to stay in the mix.

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