With Opening Day quickly approaching, most prospects have already been sent down to minor league camp. While I will still be doing my weekly update on some of the prospects still in camp, I also wanted to talk about some of the prospects that have already left camp. A lot of these prospect I will be mentioning have reportedly also done well in the minor league camps. I highly recommend following Donnie Collins on twitter to read some good info on the performances of high-level Yankee minor leaguers.
The first prospect I want to talk about is Dellin Betances. Betances has easily been the most impressive prospect at spring training this season. He has shown great composure this spring and at the very least, that he has improved his control. In my opinion, his ability to get out of a tough bases loaded jam Sunday clinched his spot on the team. Betances showed that he is much more than a fastball pitcher, as he only used his breaking ball to strike out Jose Bautista. His breaking ball is clearly an out-pitch, and considering he has great fastball he, should become a very good reliever. Betances does have an option remaining, but it is clear that he needs to begin the 2014 season in the majors.
To a lesser extent, the same could be said about Cesar Cabral. Cabral was a bit shaky in his last outing, but still has looked good this spring. With that said, I do not know if the Yankees want a second LOOGY, and the team might be concerned that his walk rate will be high. Cabral has walked 6.8 batters per 9 innings this spring. Though to be fair, he has never been that wild in the minors, and he wouldn't have to face more than one batter per appearance. With that said, the Yankees should strongly consider starting him in AAA to see if the control problems persist.
If Cabral can improve his walk rate to his pre-injury numbers he should be a fine member for the bullpen. Though it remains to be seen if he can return to form. As of now I feel he has a very good chance to make the pen eventually. If Cabral doesn't get the second lefty slot, it might go to Vidal Nuno. Joe Girardi said he plans to take the best players available into next season pen, and Nuno has clearly show he is one of the Yankees best pitching prospects. Nuno has dominated this spring, and should be a very valuable reliever. If Joe wants to add him the pen, the Yankees would have four relievers that could go multiple innings, which would be very valuable.
Nuno is a finesse pitcher so he will never get much prospect love, but after a while people have to admit he deserves some credit. All he has done over the past few seasons is dominate, He has a lot of different pitches so he may be able to see a lineup once or twice before they figure him out. This fact may allow him to do well in majors without a dominating pitch. A few years ago the Yankees gave up on a young lefty named Jose Quintana, and they shouldn't make the same mistake twice.
That does it for the prospects I believe can make the team but I also want to talk about a few more that have impressed me. Two of the bigger names that have performed well are Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell. Both these pitchers have really impressed me this spring. Greene is still playing with the big league roster and has shown a good 2-seam fastball and some nice secondary pitches. Mitchell who has been sent down, has shown a great curve and an electric fastball. Both these guys have handled their competition and showed that some of the control problems they have had in the past have been fixed. I probably shouldn't lump these two together, as Mitchell is the better prospect but I feel their paths to the majors has been rather similar to this point.
Last season, Greene was named the Yankees pitching prospect of the year, and I feel that is now Mitchell's award to lose; maybe I'm being overly optimistic but I really feel that this is the year he finally breaks out. Last year Greene broke out, and this year is Mitchell's turn. If all goes well with Mitchell, this season he will join Greene as a member of the AAA rotation by the end of the year and give the team two nice options for 2015.
I also want to talk about Ramon Flores, who has showed decent power this spring. Flores had a SLG% of .407 in 27 at-bats. His numbers in a small sample size are encouraging but I wouldn't get too excited about them until he plays this season. More importantly than his stats is that he seems to have gained muscle. His biggest question-mark was his power so it's nice to see that he seems to be working on it. It's important to remember that power is the last tool to develop and that Flores is still so young.
Considering that Flores got to play this spring and Slade Heathcott did not play, it would seem like Flores should be the outfielder that the Yankees send to AAA. This would once again make him younger than the average age of the level that he plays in. But if his power improved it shouldn't matter. He has always shown that he is an advanced hitter for his age, and he might have the best eye in the Yankees system. If his power numbers improve he might have a ceiling than some of the Yankees other outfield prospects.
Another prospect that has caught my eye is Mason Williams. Williams didn't have the greatest numbers but he actually seems like he is trying. He hustling down the line, and making really nice defensive plays. This shouldn't be noteworthy but it is because he reportedly had attitude issues last season. He also looks to be in good shape, and has had some decent swings. His defense and speed are enough to get him into the majors, but I still believe that he will hit his way onto some roster someday.
Lastly, I want to talk about Collins' report from minor league camp Sunday; which stated that Manny Banuelos was sitting 93-95 in his last start. I know he looked rusty this spring, but fans should not give up on him. He has too much talent to be considered a bust at such a young age. He should make his way up to AAA at some point this season, and it would really give the team a nice AAA rotation. This is a guy who scouts once thought of as a top 50 prospect, so the mere fact that he's back is reason to celebrate. It will be interesting to watch his command and control as he begins his comeback, but anytime a lefty can throw three above-average to plus pitches he is worth talking about.