The Yankees don't have many surefire impact prospects ready to contribute in 2014, but there are a few fringy players that could make the leap and help the team. I've come up with a list of non-prospects, semi-prospects, and "top" prospects that are most likely to be promoted to the majors this year. Most of them come from Triple-A, since there aren't many prospects in Double-A that you could say will definitely jump two levels in one season.
(I'm projecting that Dellin Betances and Michael Pineda [Bold!] make the team out of spring training.)
- Vidal Nuno: I like Nuno, though I guess I haven't seen enough of him in the majors to guarantee him success. He has a lot of things going for him: Lefty, excellent command, can start or relieve. I think the 2014 team needs all of that, so if he doesn't make it out of spring training, we'll see him at some point down the line.
- Chase Whitley: Yeah, this guy should have been taken in the Rule 5 Draft, and I'm still not completely sure why he wasn't. They have been experimenting with him as a starter, but given the mysteries of the 2014 bullpen, I think they might send him to the majors as this year's Preston Claiborne. I just hope he turns out to be better.
- Zoilo Almonte: It's obviously kind of cheating to put Zoilo in here, but I don't care, it's my list. Despite the many outfielders the Yankees have on their roster, if they somehow manage to trade Ichiro Suzuki then a spot opens up. If they want to carry five outfielders then I think Z is the most likely guy to get the job out of spring training.
- Corban Joseph: Yes, he had shoulder surgery, so this all relies on whether or not CoJo is healthy in 2014. But then there's also second base to consider. He's one of the closest things the Yankees have to a top prospect at the position and he showed up in 2013 for a quick cameo. If Brian Roberts explodes, Corban Joseph could end up on the team. Maybe. It would be really cool to see him get a shot this year.
- J.R. Murphy: After a big season last year, Murphy would be in the position to take on a major league job, if it wasn't for that pesky Francisco Cervelli. The Yankees currently have two catching prospects ticketed for Scranton, so one might be traded, but if someone goes down, Murph will be the first to replace him. Hopefully.
- Austin Romine: The other catching prospect. I think everyone would prefer Murphy over Romine, but if the former gets traded, the latter will be all they have if someone gets hurt. I think the Yankees are better off trying to trade Romine, but a good deal is a good deal, whichever ends up going.
- Manny Banuelos: The lefty is finally returning from injury this year, and while people are saying he could compete for a rotation spot, he's likely ticketed to Triple-A to make sure he's healthy and back to form. He could be ready for a promotion by midseason, and if Pineda/Phelps doesn't work out, Man Ban could break through. In all likelihood, I think he's more likely to get a September call up, if anything.
- Mark Montgomery: The once elite relief prospect was a mess last year after he apparently sat around and did nothing all offseason. Hopefully he's healthy and ready to party because I think he will be a very important piece to the bullpen puzzle this year. He could be the second coming of David Robertson. That guy's good.
- Ramon Flores: The silently productive prospect had another solid year in Double-A and is likely going to move up to Triple-A this year. Like Zoilo, he'll be a fifth outfielder if someone gets injured during the season, but he likely won't produce much if his OBP superpowers don't translate.
- Slade Heathcott: I think Slade is ticketed for a September call up, if (That's the biggest IF of all time) he isn't already hurt by then. While his hitting might not be up to par just yet, his glove and speed will be useful late in games. Whatever happens, out of him, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin, I still think he makes it to the majors first. Book it.
Honorable Mentions: Tyler Austin, Adonis Garcia, Fred Lewis, Ronnier Mustelier, Jose Pirela
Who do you think will make the jump in 2014? Where was I right? Where will I be wrong? I'm never wrong. Just kidding. But seriously.
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