Prospect ranking season is here. Top 10 lists will be arriving shortly and in preparation for that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The series is back for a second year.
The Graduate: Brett Gardner, OF
Gardner wasn’t a star during his rookie season in New York but he showed that he can – at the very least – be a useful fourth outfielder on a good team. The 26-year-old outfielder hit .270/.345/.379 with a .109 ISO in 248 at-bats. Gardner was a force on the base paths and stole 26 bases in 31 attempts. Overall, he posted a 2.1 WAR on the year and the majority of his value came from his defensive prowess (15.4 UZR/150 in center field).
The Riser: D.J. Mitchell, RHP
A 10th round draft pick out of Clemson University in ’08, Mitchell did not make his pro debut until ’09. The right-hander began the year in low-A ball and posted a 1.85 FIP in six starts. He then moved up to high-A where he allowed 93 hits in 103.1 innings of work. Mitchell showed good control with a walk rate of 3.31 BB/9 and his strikeout rate was solid at 7.23 K/9. He allowed just two home runs all year. His repertoire includes an 88-92 mph fastball, curveball and change-up. Right-handed batters hit just .197 against Mitchell, while left-handers hit .290.
The Tumbler: Dellin Betances, RHP
Betances’ numbers were OK in ’09 (3.76 FIP), but he gets tagged with the “tumbler” status because he was yet again unable to stay healthy for a full season. The right-hander made 24 starts in ’08, but he struggled with injuries in both ’07 and ’09, making just 11 appearances this past year. The time off could certainly be affecting his control and he posted a walk rate of 5.48 BB/9. Throughout all the injury woes, Betances has done a nice job of keeping the ball in the park (0.41 HR/9 in ’09).
The ’10 Sleeper: Brett Marshall, RHP
Drafted in ’08 along with Mitchell, the pair is looking to make New Yorkers forget about Gerrit Cole. Marshall, 19, had a bit of a rough year in 2009 with a 5.56 ERA and 98 hits allowed in 87.1 innings, but his FIP was just 4.45 and he showed OK control (3.81 BB/9) given his age and experience level. His fastball velocity ranges from 89-94 mph and he also has three other pitches that he dabbles with: slider, curveball, and change-up. Look for the right-hander to take another step forward in ’10.
Bonus: Austin Romine, C
During the ’08 series, the Yankees catching prospect was highlighted as a potential breakout candidate for ’09, Romine did just that. I won’t go into too much detail because he’s going to show up on the Top 10 list for the organization. Romine has a very good chance of being the Yankees’ starting catcher of the future… if Jorge Posada‘s age ever catches up to him. (And yes, I am assuming Jesus Montero will move to 1B or DH).