With the 2012 season fast approaching, here are three prospects I'm particularly interested in following this upcoming season.
Ben Gamel, OF- His brother Mat is finally getting his chance to play everyday in Milwaukee, and the two do share a few similar qualities. Both Gamel brothers show a knack for hitting, which is their main calling card. Ben has displayed solid swing mechanics thus far, and it should only be a matter of time before he adds more power. While the two home runs he hit last season are uninspiring, take note of the 19 doubles in just 190 at-bats for Staten Island. Some of those doubles are going to begin clearing the wall with time, especially as he begins refining his pitch selection abilities. Defensively, the Gamel boys aren't the greatest, but Ben earns the nod over his brother in this department. His defense in right field is passable, which is a significant step up from brother Mat, who's the equivalent of a lawn ornament in the field. There is some real potential here, and considerable room for growth.
Nik Turley, LHP- A broken hand cut his '11 campaign short, but what he showed at Charleston was certainly no joke (82.1 IP, 2.51 ERA, 82/21 K/BB). The key to Turley's success was a step forward with his command, as he dramatically cut his walk rate down from his first year in the minors (4.23 at Low-A in '10, 2.30 at Single-A in '11). He has a workhorse frame (6-6, 230 lbs) that should stand up to a heavy workload, and may allow him to add a few more ticks on his low-90s fastball. A strong 2012 season could catapult him into the organization's Top 10 prospect discussions.
Jake Cave, OF- He'll be making his professional debut this year after being drafted in the sixth round of last year's draft. Cave offers solid power potential and already possesses the ability to spray line drives all over the field. He's a bit of an unknown, but one with considerable upside. The club will give him a look in center field, although it's more likely that he ends up in a corner outfield spot down the line considering the organizational depth already in front of him at the position. You never know though, he could explode on the scene and push past everyone, which is something Yankee fans would surely be happy to see.
On an unrelated note, I just released my All-Rookie Team for the upcoming fantasy baseball season over at Yahoo! Sports. While no current Yankees made the list, one former one did: Jesus Montero. Here is what I had to say about him:
UTL- Jesus Montero, Mariners: He’ll qualify at catcher pretty early in the year, but for now, has no position in the Yahoo! game. Montero showed solid skills during his September call-up (.328/4/12), and will be a key cog in the Mariners lineup this year. He should hit for a solid average immediately, and the possibility is there for him to hit 20 or more homers this year, even in spacious Safeco Field. To me, he’s the fantasy bat that will return the most value during the 2012 season.
I hate to open up fresh wounds, but as Yankee fans, I figured this community would be the most informed when it comes to judging my assessment of his value for the upcoming season. The floor is yours on this topic, folks.
All this said, who are some of the prospects you're most interested in watching this upcoming year, Pinstripe Alley readers?