Top Five Breakout Candidates

Abraham Almonte just needs to show he's healthy

Year in and year out every farm system has their fair share of prospects who seemingly put it all together and have a breakout season to move them up further in their organizational rankings. Five prospects in particular seemed poised to have that kind of season for the Yankees in 2011.

OF, Abraham Almonte: The toolsy centerfielder seemed poised for a breakout season in 2010 after finishing his 2009 campaign by hitting .368 over his final 33 games and carrying over that hot finish into a great Spring Training last season. He lasted just 15 games into the Florida State League season last year, however, succumbing to season-ending labrum surgery on his right shoulder.

Ask anyone surrounding his development and they'll all testify how he much he has matured mentally. Some even consider him an instrumental mentor to his younger Latin American counterparts and nearly everyone is convinced he has turned the corner. A return to health in 2011 could produce some eye-popping numbers from the switch-hitter.

RHP, Shane Greene: A 2-8 record with a combined 4.59 ERA over two A-ball levels doesn't exactly inspire confidence when talking about potential breakout candidates, but the overall numbers don't exactly tell the whole story. He posted a 3.89 over his final seven starts with Staten Island, all while fixing his mechanics, and he had one really rough outing in Charleston [7 earned runs in 2 innings] where he was sick and on medication.

All that aside, however, his mechanics and stuff are beginning to come together at the right time. He doesn't have nearly the same issues with his delivery, his changeup has become a plus pitch, and he's beginning to pitch with better control. All of that spells breakout potential in 2011.

C, Kyle Higashioka: Critics quickly dismiss 'Higgy' because of the .225 batting average at the low-A level last season, overlooking the fact that he hit a solid .290 after the All Star break when most catchers at that level are usually breaking down.

Ask anyone who either coached him, played with him, or even broadcasted his games in 2010, they'll all say the same thing too about his bad first-half numbers -- the guy was just unlucky hitting balls hard right at defenders. His second-half numbers suggested a return to normalcy and that should continue into a potential breakout 2011 season.

3B, Fu-Lin Kuo: As in the case with Higashioka and Greene, Kuo's numbers in 2010 belie his actual talent. There's nothing wrong with a .243 average and four home runs at the rookie level in your professional debut season, but they definitely disguise just how dominant he was for the better part of four months leading up to the Gulf Coast League season.

Playing the season as a 19-year old from Taiwan, he had many adjustments to make that weren't necessarily baseball related; language, culture, food, weather, etc. He should now know what to expect the second time around and he could have a Ramon Flores-like bounceback season in 2011.

C, J.R. Murphy: Like Kuo, there's nothing to sneeze at when it comes to Murphy's debut season numbers [.255, 7 home runs], especially considering he was learning the catcher's position for essentially the first time and doing so after skipping the short-season leagues entirely.

The fact is he hit for a higher average and smacked six of his seven home runs in the second-half of the season and then showed off his power potential during Instructs by barely being edged out by Kelvin De Leon in the home run derby. With a year under his belt and with his makeup, he screams 'breakout' potential.

Others On The Breakout Watch

2B Claudio Custodio, LHP Evan DeLuca, RHP Bryan Mitchell, OF Eduardo Sosa, and LHP Nik Turley.

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