While the top prospects are getting all of the buzz there are plenty of other players in the Yankees farm system you should keep an eye on. Here are five prospects you don’t know yet but should.
Dietrich Enns- Left-handed Pitcher
Dietrich Enns has built a nice track record already. He’s struck out 171 batters in 150 career innings while giving up only 109 hits. He’s also left-handed and shown the ability to pitch in any role, though he may best serve as a reliever. The only problem to consider with Enns is that he is on his way back from Tommy John surgery, and he will turn 24 this year without having reached Double A. If given the proper time to recover, there are high hopes Enns will return to his past level of performance, and, considering all of his positive attributes, he can hop back on the fast track to the big leagues.
Caleb Frare- Left-handed Pitcher
We haven’t had a chance to know Caleb Frare, since he’s essentially lost the past two seasons to injury. A lot of people like Ian Clarkin, and they should, but this guy was Ian Clarkin before Ian Clarkin was Ian Clarkin. He’s a left-handed starter with a chance for above-average stuff and competitiveness. It’s the makeup of Caleb Frare that makes him a good bet to not only jump back into the mix of pitching prospects but also become a legitimate guy to follow. What Brady Lail is for the right-handed starters, Frare could be on the left side, and that’s a guy who came in a bit under the radar but is very much a candidate to be a future Major Leaguer. Here’s hoping he’s healthy and able to get in a full workload in 2015.
Chaz Hebert- Left-handed Pitcher
There will be quite a competition for rotation spots come Spring Training, but one guy who may have put himself in position for one with the way he pitched in the second half of last season is Chaz Hebert. Drafted in 2011, it has taken Hebert a while to get to where he is, finding himself in Extended Spring in the last three seasons, but it will be an upset if he doesn’t break with a full season club in 2015, and there is a strong possibility he becomes a starter for Tampa. The left-hander has the arsenal to be successful and has added strength to his frame to improve his durability. His fastball sits in the low 90’s, and that’s plenty. With a curve, change, cutter, and confidence, Hebert could put a solid season together this year and make himself a viable prospect.
Alvaro Noriega- Catcher
There is a lot of skill in Noriega, but it is still in its nascent stages. He can catch and throw, and he has potential to hit that doesn’t show up in his numbers. But he will play this season at only 20 years old, and developing as a hitter is perhaps more challenging when you are a catcher, especially one who is not a native speaker of English trying to work with a diverse and ever-changing set of pitchers. Francisco Cervelli put together a good offensive season at age 20 in Staten Island, and Noriega will likely have an opportunity to do the same thing. A Cervelli-like prospect would be of great value to an organization, and the Yankees hope Noriega will continue to develop defensively while adding production with the bat in 2015 and beyond.
Junior Valera- Second Baseman
Valera is 22 and has not played in a full season league yet, so it’s not like he is on the fast track. But some guys just take a little longer to develop physically, and that may be Valera. While he may not yet be a plus defender at second base, his offensive game is becoming attractive. Valera looks like a guy who can hit at the top of a lineup, where he provides top-end speed, the ability to get on base, and a little pop to boot. His last two seasons, one in the Dominican and one in the Gulf Coast League, have almost been identical, and that’s a good thing. Back to back years with batting averages over .300, on base percentages over .400, and an OPS of around .860 make this a guy to watch. Let’s see what happens if he gets challenged with a trip to Charleston at some point in 2015.