When you cover a team or organization regularly, you cannot help but pick out your favorite players. All those days in the Tampa sun watching minor league spring training, going to the ballpark during the season, watching video and talking to the coaches and scouts means you get to know a lot about different players.
I have many guys that I list among my favorites. These might not be the highest ranked prospects, but they are players I enjoy watching play. This isn’t in any particular order or even the full list, just a sampling of some of the prospects that are fun to watch. This isn’t about stats or anything.
I am kicking off this list with a name a lot of Yankees fans might not know of. Infielder David Metzgar was an undrafted free agent that the Yankees signed to fill in where they need. He does that job well I might add. In 90 games throughout the last two seasons, he has played for just about every team the Yankees have below Double-A, playing second base, third base, shortstop, and even outfield.
Essentially, he is a younger version of Billy Fleming who has become a decent prospect in his own right. At the very least, Metzgar and Fleming for that matter, are solid organizational players that play multiple positions and can play against any level. There is something to be said to have high-quality organizational players who can fill in.
I had my first chance to watch Metzgar in March during minor league spring training. He would regularly move around playing for whichever team needs him, which isn’t uncommon in spring training. One thing that stuck out to me aside from his versatility was his at-bats. He went up to the plate with a plan, he had a good eye and made good contact. So, I was not surprised to see him start the season in Single-A Charleston.
The 2014 international free agent class was a big one for the Yankees. They made heavy investments in a lot of players, and few have started to really develop. Many of the smaller signings have shown more than, the bigger names that year. Even so, a few of them have still gone under the radar of Yankees fans.
Pablo Olivares is one of the ones that seem to not get as much fanfare as others from the class. The young outfielder is fun to watch. He is not one who has one incredible standout tool but does a lot of things exceptionally well.
He reminded me a lot of Ben Gamel when he was coming up through the system. We used to say a lot of similar things about Gamel as I just did about Olivares and we can see how that worked out for Gamel. Sometimes it is the overall solid player that develops into the MLB regular and not the young toolsy player. Though we all like the raw toolsy player.
Diego Castillo is another player from that 2014 international free agent class that does not get a lot of fanfare. Though he signed for $750,000 that year, he still got overshadowed by the Yankees signing Wilkerman Garcia and Dermis Garcia. Both of who were much bigger names and ranked among the top prospects in the class.
Castillo, on the other hand, has continued to perform since turning pro. Not only that, he has been playing at a higher level than a lot of the other infielders in his class, except for Danienger Perez who has bounced around the system filling in where needed.
Why do I like him so much that I included him on this list? He has shown to be a competent player on both sides of the game, batting and fielding. He understands he isn’t a power hitter and gets results. His arm is good and has good agility making him a threat on the bases.
This is a name that fans do not know about. Jhony Brito has only 62 2/3 innings under his belt. All but 7 2/3 of them come from his debut season in 2016. I had the chance to watch him during a short stint with the Staten Island Yankees in 2017.
Brito is not a guy that will blow you away with his fastball; he is mostly a 92-93 miles per hour guy. When I first saw him pitch, he was 19 years old, facing players that were 20-21-22 years old. Though his time might have been brief with Staten Island, it was enough for me to come away impressed. Put him in the same vein as guys like Adonis Rosa and Harold Cortijo.
The first game I saw Brito pitched he limited batters to just five hits over 5 1/3 innings and did not allow an earned run. It was almost a month until I saw him pitch again, this time for another 1 1/3, and then his final game was a start that would see him throw eight pitches to get out of just one inning of work and lead Staten Island to a no-hitter. He has not pitched in a regular season game since then, sitting out all of 2018 due to undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He came back during the annual fall instructional league and will return to regular season game action in 2019.
If I had done this list last year, there would be some similar names on the list and a few that have become fan favorites like Jonathan Loaisiga and guys that have since been traded like Abiatal Avelino.
Then there are guys like Adonis Rosa who I have bombarded our staff with reasons why he is an underrated pitcher in the organization. Don’t believe me? Just ask them. But overall, there are a lot of solid players in the Yankees system, like I wrote about in the State of the Farm System post, they have one of the deepest minor league systems around so a lot of prospects will get overshadowed.