The Yankees opened their 2014 season on yesterday. Just two days after that, the Minor League season starts. Early in the Minor league baseball season is a great time to keep an eye on players that did not make the big league club as well as young guys trying to make a name for themselves. I’ve done a quick rundown of who is playing where and a little bit about what to expect from each of the Yankees’ minor league affiliates.
Starting the season in Scranton will be OF Zoilo Almonte, RHP Danny Burawa, OF Ramon Flores, IF Corban Joseph, C J.R. Murphy, and C Austin Romine, among others. The starting rotation, will reportedly be RHP Alfredo Aceves, RHP Bruce Billings, RHP Brian Gordon, RHP Shane Greene, and RHP Chris Leroux in no particular order. Chase Whitley should also be in the conversation for a rotation spot.
It will be interesting to see how the RailRiders will use Murphy and Romine behind the plate. Will they platoon? There is also a possiblilty Murphy could play some third base. That might be his quickest shot to the big leagues, if he can become a solid guy at the hot corner. Almonte may be the closest guy to the Bronx, given the age of Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki, as well as the injury concerns over Jacoby Ellsbury. One last point. Scranton does not have a left-handed starter in the rotation. Something to keep an eye on.
RHP Bryan Mitchell, 2B Rob Refsnyder, C Gary Sanchez, and OF Mason Williams will start the season in Trenton. Williams and Sanchez are two of the Yankees top prospects so that is a biggest headline for Double-A. Sanchez needs to become a more disciplined hitter if he’s going to be the offensive force many think he will. Williams had a really good spring, but needs to show more consistency and maturity if he is looking for a promotion this year. With these two dominating the headlines coming out of Trenton this season, there may not be a heck of a lot to talk about.
The Tampa squad might be the most interesting of all the Yankees’ affiliates. LHP Manny Banuelos, OF Jake Cave, SS Cito Culver, RHP Rafael DePaula, 2B Angelo Gumbs, 3B Eric Jagielo, C Peter O’Brien, and 3BDante Bichette Jr. will all start in High-A. Everyone knows about Banuelos’ battle to regain his form after having Tommy John surgery. He’s a player to keep a eye on because if he is successful early, he should advance quickly. Culver is a guy that improved a lot in the second half last year and really needs to continue to get better if he’s going to shed the “bust” label that has been placed on him. Even with Bichette in the fold, Jagielo will get most of the playing time at third. O’Brien is player to watch. He has a lot of raw power and despite being listed as a catcher, he can also play first or third.
3B Miguel Andujar, SS Abi Avelino, RHP Rookie Davis, OF Aaron Judge, RHP Brady Lail, RHP Luis Severino, C Luis Torrens, SS Tyler Wade, RHP Jordan Cote and 2B Gosuke Katoh will all be part of the Charleston roster. With Avelino, Wade and Katoh, it will be interesting to see how the middle infield duties get split. Severino, is a wonderful player to keep an eye on. Just 19-years-old, he was touching 97 mph on his fastball. Of course the Dominican Republic product has a lot of work to do, but with a heater like that, he’s certainly worth paying attention to.