As we all know at this point, the Yankees will be creating a new rookie ball team for the 2015 season. As part of the Appalachian League, the Pulaski Yankees will be considered an advanced rookie team where players too old or too talented for the Gulf Coast League can go and face slightly better competition and have a chance to get out of the Tampa nest. If the organization goes back to one GCL team, they will have a number of guys who will suddenly be thrust into a tougher league.
It will be tough to find room, but shortstops Jorge Mateo and Angel Aguilar both deserve to move up to the next level. Mateo hit .276/.354/.397 with 11 stolen bases as a 19-year-old in only 15 games. He missed a lot of time due to injury, but is considered to be one of the organization's top international prospects with the best overall tools at shortstop. 19-year-old Angel Aguilar also impressed in his first year in America, hitting .311/.373/.536 with seven home runs. It isn't clear yet where Mateo will play, so things could work themselves out.
Second baseman Bryan Cuevas was impressive this year, though he's considered to be a bit older at 20. He hit well with a .356/.405/.564 batting line and "has power, a good eye at the plate and uses the whole field." Ben Badler of Baseball America believes that despite his age, another strong year will make him a legitimate prospect to watch out for. Other older players to keep an eye on are outfielder Frank Frias, who hit .316/.385/.391 at the age of 20, second baseman Junior Valeria, who hit .316/.409/.449 and is now 22, and Allen Valerio, who hit .292/.404/.472 in his age-21 season.
Outfielder Alex Palma is still only 18 and hit .305/.318/.451 this year in the GCL. Badler acknowledged he "shows good bat control and at least average or better raw power with the defensive tools for right field" and nearly made the list for the top 20 players in the Gulf Coast League. As a former top signing, he could be someone to watch in 2015.
The Yankees 2014 third-round pick Austin DeCarr got off to a mediocre start after accumulating a 4.63 ERA in 23.1 innings this year. However, he did show strong peripherals with a 2.7 BB/9 and 9.3 K/9 with a "fastball up to 96, curveball flashes above-average, throws strikes downhill, just needs to bring along the changeup." At the age of 19, the organization could decide to give him a slight promotion before letting him into A-ball.
2013 draft pick Nestor Cortes finished his second year in the GCL and showed great improvement in his second go-around. He amassed a 2.27 ERA with an outstanding 1.4 BB/9 and 10.8 K/9 in 31.2 innings as he heads into his age-20 season. It would make a lot of sense to move him up to Pulaski to start the year before letting him move quickly in the bullpen.
For those who are curious, I imagine Leonardo Molina, who Badler described as basically looking like a 16-year-old kid, will return to the Gulf Coast League next year. Also, shortstop Thairo Estrada could move back up to Staten Island where he started last year before getting injured. When you consider they also need to make room for recent international signings like Dermis Garcia, Wilkerman Garcia, Diego Castillo, and others, it looks like there could be a lot of moving around when everything is all said and done.