Minor League Musings

Don’t Sleep On These Guys

Did you ever see Shane Greene listed among the top prospects of the New York Yankees? How about Jose Pirela? Chase Whitley? Each of those players came up to the Major Leagues last year and made a favorable impression, but none was ever considered among the Yankees’ most promising farmhands. That’s not to say they are all established big leaguers or will have any more success than they’ve had, but the fact is many people overlooked them as they were coming up. Here are some players currently in the Yankees’ system that people have gone to sleep on, and they could very well debut at the highest level within the next couple of years.

Jose Campos
It’s easy to be down on Campos after all of the time he’s missed due to injury, and there will even be some people who thought he was no longer in the organization after he was removed from the 40-man roster this winter. But he was quickly re-signed to a minor league contract, and the timing might be right for Campos to jump right back into the discussion of starting pitching prospects.

Campos carried a reputation for electricity in his right arm when he came over with Michael Pineda from Seattle. The Yankees only got to see a little bit of that before elbow problems dogged him. He finally had surgery last year and missed all of 2014, which means he should be back on the mound and healthy this season but still looking to regain his command and maybe some of his stuff. Campos certainly has the look of a starting horse, and hopefully the Yankees will get a chance to see some of that promise translate to the mound in 2015. If it does, we will probably see Campos back on the 40-man heading into 2016.

Matt Tracy
Tracy never had the promise of Campos, as the Yankees drafted him as a senior in the 24th round of the 2011 draft. He is left-handed, though, and he throws four pitches for strikes. Tracy is comparable to Chase Whitley in that he could start or pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, and his fastball has enough power to be effective in either role. It may be all of baseball is sleeping on Tracy, as he was Rule 5 eligible this year and went undrafted. But the Yankees like him, and he has to be considered as depth if the injuries pile up at the Major League level in 2015.

Gabe Encinas
Encinas, like Campos, is coming back from elbow surgery. The difference is that Encinas made it back to the mound last year, and he is past the magical 18-month mark post surgery. His stuff came back, and that’s significant considering the fastball-curveball combination that held so much promise for him before he got hurt. If Encinas sees the command of his pitches return, he could have a big first half in the Tampa rotation. The organization would then likely move him to Trenton to finish out the year, and that’s important considering the need for Encinas to earn a 40-man spot shortly. A successful 2015 for Encinas and nobody will be forgetting about him next year.

Taylor Dugas
Dugas is not particularly big, fast, or strong. He’s just a good baseball player. At some point, the things Dugas can do will outweigh the things he can’t. He’ll never be a top prospect, but he will likely play in the big leagues at some point. A career on-base percentage of .417 says a lot about the kind of at-bats Dugas puts together, and he can defend competently at all three outfield positions. Add in a good head and average speed on the bases, and Dugas becomes a very useful bench player. There is a lot to be said about a guy who gets into the lineup and helps a team win, whether he can hit the ball over the fence or not.

Kyle Roller
There are a number of guys who’ve had a little success in the Major Leagues who fit Roller’s profile, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if Roller were given the chance to play at that level for a while. What we know is he’s a very good offensive minor league player. His career numbers are impressive across the board, including his power numbers. We also know Roller doesn’t offer defensive versatility, and perhaps that limits him. He is a first baseman or designated hitter, and the Yankees have a few guys to fill those spots. With Mark Teixeira the starter, Garrett Jones the backup, and Greg Bird the darling of the farm system, Roller’s future with the Yankees is not clear. Perhaps, though, if he continues to hit he will find some team who want to see what he can do in the big leagues.

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