Tool Time: Top Ten Power Hitting Prospects

Montero has freakish power potential

The Yankees have collected an impressive group of potential power hitters in the farm system. Not only do they have quite a few high-end power hitters, but they also have a deep crop of developing sluggers. PinstripesPlus.com analyzes the top power prospects in the Yankees' system, ranking potentially the top ten power hitters.

Honorable Mention

Abraham Almonte: At just 5-foot-9, the switch-hitter physically doesn't have the look of a good power hitter but his plus bat speed and great balance at the plate gives him very good power potential. He already has eleven home runs in his first 112 games and his power is only going to get better.

Zoilo Almonte: This Almonte, also a switch-hitter, looks the part of a developing slugger. The 18-year old hits the ball as hard as anyone already and his line-drive swing is starting to get a bit more loft, a good sign for his future power. He has also just now started taking his physical conditioning program a little more seriously and that will also help him tap his plus power potential.

Tim Battle: Hitting the ball with a lot of authority has never been Battle's problem since being selected in the third round of the 2003 MLB Draft. Hitting the ball consistently, however, has. He has plus power potential and can put on great displays in the cages, but he'll need to make more contact to be the type of power hitter he can become.

Josue Calzado: The 22-year old, despite not putting up very impressive home run totals as of yet, has one of the more powerful strokes in the farm system and he's arguably the best fastball hitter around. He puts on impressive displays in batting practice and he actually has shown an improved ability to crush breaking ball offerings inside the strike zone. He'll be one to keep an eye on.

Matt Carson: Like Battle, Carson's very good power gets overlooked by many simply because he doesn't make enough consistent contact at the plate to get optimal use of his power potential. He finished tied for third in the farm system [with Miranda] in home runs last season, but could have hit more had it not been for his .248 average.

CANO-LIKE?: Cuello reminds many scouts of Robinson Cano, but perhaps with a bit more power potential. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
Colin Curtis: Watch Curtis take batting practice and you'll start to wonder how he only hit eight home runs in 2007. He has one of the more powerful swings around but his center-to-opposite field approach zaps him of some of his power as his power is predominantly to the pull-side. He is just now learning how to work the counts in his favor to get more pitches inside to drive.

Prilys Cuello: Like his GCL teammate Abe Almonte, the power numbers Cuello has posted so early in his career are quite extraordinary. He has mashed 13 home runs in his first 385 at-bats and he has just barely scratched the surface of his power potential. The switch-hitter has power to all fields, especially batting left-handed.

Seth Fortenberry: Finishing second in the farm system last season with 18 home runs, a very strong argument could be made that he deserves to be in the Top Ten right now. But with the majority of his power to the pull-side, and struggling to take pitches the other way, whether or not he can prove to pitchers he can handle the outside pitches at the upper levels will directly affect his power potential as he moves up. Pitchers with better command at the higher minor league levels will give him a steady diet of outside pitches until he can show he can be just as deadly out there.

POWER SLEEPER: Physically he doesn't look like much but Mojica's power is very surprising. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
Mitch Hilligoss: It might be surprising to see a player with just six home runs in his first 787 at-bats among such company, but Hilligoss has a lot more power than most realize. He is just now learning his power zones and to hit for more power with wooden bats. He also hasn't made hitting for power a priority just yet, focusing more on getting base hits than driving pitches. Hilligoss is one of the best hitters in the organization and most scouts are convinced his power will come.

Jose Mojica: Mojica's diminutive size [5-foot-11, 160 pounds] allows him to sneak up people with his surprising power. He has good natural strength, polished loft, and incredibly quick hands and wrists. That combination allows him to be a good power hitter already and, just now beginning his career, his power should only get better as he hits the weight room. He is a power-hitting sleeper.

Eduardo Nunez: Like Hilligoss, Nunez's inclusion may be a bit surprising, especially after hitting just two home runs in 2007. And also like Hilligoss, he has a lot more power than folks realize. Possessing the potential to hit 20-30 home runs someday, the fact that Nunez gave up switch-hitting last season should not only help him become a better hitter overall, but the natural right-handed hitter has much more power from that side.

Raymond Nunez: Signed too late to see any significant at-bats with the Yankees even in the Instructional League, the right-handed slugger reportedly has more power potential than De Leon and a smidge less than Montero. Anywhere between the two puts him in elite company but we'll hold off judgment for now until we see for ourselves.

Jimmy Paredes: One of the projection signings in July of 2006, the switch-hitter has one of the highest upsides in the farm system. He spent his first professional season vastly improving his body and strength, and his power potential to all fields has the chance to be truly special once he learns some better plate displine.

Wady Rufino: The soon-to-be 23-year old, who hasn't even gotten out of the rookie levels yet, gets overlooked in what has rapidly become an incredibly deep collection of power hitters. His power is huge, however, smashing 32 doubles and 17 home runs in his first 490 professional at-bats. The organization as a whole is still very high on his potential but he'll need to start proving it at the higher minor league levels to stay in such company.

Damon Sublett: The Wichita State product had a tremendous professional debut season with the Staten Island Yankees last year, especially power-wise. He hit a team-leading eight home runs and he has a lot more projection left in his game. Improving his upper body strength and using more of the field could allow his power to take another dimension, but his power is a little too much to the pull-side right now for it to be a lock at the higher minor league levels.

Bradley Suttle: Suttle's dreadful numbers in the Hawaiian Winter League might make his inclusion in these rankings a bit puzzling. But considering he hit twelve home runs for the University of Texas as a sophomore last season with a pronounced line-drive swing and pretty bad hitting mechanics is actually a positive sign of his future power potential once he gets comfortable with his new swing.

Marcos Vechionacci: The switch-hitter has always had very good power potential but has struggled to shorten his swing to make better use of his power. He is just now learning his power zone and while the power could take off at any point, like Rufino, his time is running short inside the organization to start proving it. This upcoming season with be a pivotal year for 'Nacci'.

Top Ten Power Hitting Prospects

10) Eric Duncan: As mentioned previously with the likes of Matt Carson and Tim Battle, Duncan has shown flashes of real big league power but has struggled to show it consistently. Just a career .250 hitter, his inconsistencies making contact haven't allowed him to tap his true power potential, which is quite vast. If he can learn to become a better overall his natural power to all fields should take over.

9) Jose Pirela: While we have some other Dominican Summer League products in these rankings, few have the type of power to all fields that Pirela has already. His excellent plate discipline, plus bat speed, and center-to-opposite field approach make him a carbon copy of Tabata at similar points in their careers. And just like Tabata, Pirela's power might take a little longer to materialize numbers-wise but should be quite impressive long-term.

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT: Urena has nearly as much power upside as anybody in the organization. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
8) Carlos Urena: Urena could rank much higher on this list based on pure upside alone. With plus power to all fields, the 18-year old has the look of a special slugger already, despite just now learning to use the field more, shortening his swing, and make more consistent contact. Once he makes the basic adjustment to stay back longer and drive pitches where they're thrown, he has the potential to be one of the power headliners.

7) Kelvin De Leon: One of last year's top international signings, De Leon has yet to make his official professional debut and already he is one of the elite power-hitting prospects. Like Urena, the Dominican native has plus power to all fields, especially to the pull-side. Even at just 17-years old he can turn on a big league fastball and, at 6-foot-3 and a rock-solid 195 pounds, has the physique to get even stronger as he matures.

6) Austin Romine: Like De Leon, Romine's plus power potential to all fields at such a young age - despite virtually no professional experience - already makes him one of the better power-hitting prospects. His plate presence and pitch recognition are mature beyond his years and he is also naturally strong. He has the power potential to rank higher on this list if not for the fact he projects to be a full-time catcher.

5) Jose Tabata: Like the other names in the Top Ten, the Venezuelan native has plus power to all fields. He has spent his first three professional seasons honing his hitting skills and he's just now starting to learn his power zone. His propensity to drive balls from center-to-the-opposite field might limit his overall home run ceiling in comparison to some of the other names on this list but he is also one of the safer bets to reach his potential.

BACKING IT UP WITH NUMBERS: Jackson, who has always had great power potential, is starting to prove it with his performance. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
4) Austin Jackson: A resident of our Top Ten Power Hitters ranking a year ago despite hitting just four home runs with the Charleston Riverdogs earlier that season, the former two-sport athlete learned to become a better baseball player last season and it showed in his power numbers. While the jump to 13 home runs was quite exciting, it was his ability to drive the ball to all fields with power that was more significant. Jackson's arrival in the power department should be a permanent one.

3) Brandon Laird: Not only one of the better power hitters in the prospect-laden Gulf Coast League last season, Laird proved to be one of the elite power hitters during this offseason's Instructional League in Tampa. He has plus power potential to all fields and natural loft in his swing. While some can question his defensive abilities, nobody can do the same with his special power-hitting abilities.

2) Juan Miranda: Miranda finished with Matt Carson tied for third in the farm system last season with 16 home runs, this coming off of a two-year hiatus after defecting from Cuba. The left-handed hitter, still getting his timing back last year as the season wore on, became one of the more feared sluggers in the entire Arizona Fall League. Often compared to Carlos Delgado, like the Mets first baseman, Miranda's plus power to all fields has the chance to be very special.

1) Jesus Montero: Montero hit five home runs in a little more than 100 at-bats in his professional debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees last season as a 17-year old. He not only has prodigious power potential to all fields, but it is 'now' power, and that's a scary proposition for opposing pitchers as he learns to become a better overall hitter. He has some of the best bat speed around and he has already learned to shorten his swing. With uncanny loft in his swing at such a young age, the Venezuelan slugger should have some special home run seasons as he works his way up towards the big leagues.

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