As great as this season was for the Yankees farm system, there were still a few unfortunate breaks along the way. Even the best stories are going to have some bad arcs every now and again, so here's a look at some of the worst the Baby Bombers had to offer in 2014.
Mason Williams is still terrible
Mason Williams has been really bad for a few years now, but we may have finally reached an all-time low. In 2014, the 23-year-old had his worst offensive season to date. Scouts and evaluators alike had nothing good to say about the former top prospect's abilities on the field or even his body language, often citing his lack of effort, indifference, and constant look of defeat. Toward the end of the season Jake Cave started taking over center field because not even Mason's glove could save him from being passed over. We're at a point where the Yankees can no longer sit around and wait for him to fix everything himself. Talk to him, sit him down, demote him, trade him – do something, because he's closer to falling out of the game than he is to turning things around. I'm not even mad anymore, I'm morbidly curious to see how bad it can get. I'm not actively rooting for him to fail, but I'm not going to look away from the mess that has yet to be made.
Ramon Flores falls down
Ramon Flores was off to a great start to the season. In his first year at Triple-A, the 22-year-old hit .261/.352/.447 through June 1. With the struggles of Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki, along with the injury to Carlos Beltran that prevented him from playing the field, it was easy to see how a strong season from Flores could eventually land him a major league job, even if only as a backup. Unfortunately his year was cut short when he suffered a devastating ankle injury. While the team announced he would only miss a month, Flores didn't return to Scranton until the end of August, which left him little time to recover for a September call up. To make matters worse, he didn't hit very well when he made it back, but hopefully he can take his early-season surge and translate it into a successful spring next year.
The great Gary Sanchez benching incident of 2014
It's no secret that Gary Sanchez has been depreciating in value since his 2011 peak. It's not that he's necessarily struggled, it's just that he has yet to take the next step that so many have been waiting for him to take. His defense is still questionable, his offense is solid, if not spectacular, but he hasn't exactly had the standout season that top prospects need to get the hype train going. In fact, not only did he put together another unspectacular year, but he also ran into some disciplinary problems with the organization when they benched him for an entire week because of some unknown issue. The worst part of the benching was that it seemed to have no impact on his performance at the plate whatsoever, so all we can hope for is that it helped him in some other way. Maybe. While his overall game is not necessarily a problem right now, it's going to get a lot more attention next year if he makes it up to Triple-A and he still can't regain any of his lost value.
Surprise, Gosuke Katoh is bad!
After finding a surprising amount of success in 2013, despite scouts mostly panning the second-round pick, it seems that everything caught up with Katoh in 2014. Not only did he not put up good overall numbers, but there was also a large amount of debate over whether or not he was overmatched at Low-A. Perhaps the silver lining was that he still took more than his fair share of free passes, but he still struck out at an alarming rate. The main area of concern is strength and conditioning. As a stick figure, Katoh lacks the arm strength to catch up to the higher velocity in A-ball and, while his baseball instincts are still intact, he's not really able to do much with them because he lacks the physical ability to, not only drive the ball, but also even catch up to it. Many evaluators said he would need to strengthen his wrists in pro ball and that seems to be very, very accurate. The ship hasn't sailed on him yet, but he has to improve himself physically if he's ever going to show off his talent.
The Yankees' terrible use of the 40-man roster
The injuries to Slade Heathcott and Jose Campos were painful by themselves as each had been struggling to stay on the field for several years now, but the Yankees really compounded the issue by placing them both on the 40-man roster at the beginning of the season. Sure, both were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, but it was highly unlikely that either player would be taken since Campos hadn't gotten out of A-ball yet and Heathcott has yet to stay healthy for an entire season. Putting one of them on the roster might make sense, but both sounded like a logjam waiting to happen. Of course, within a matter of months, Campos finally needed Tommy John surgery and Slade re-injured his knee and neither could be added to the 60-day DL. Both were disappointing stories that were made worse when the Yankees decided to willingly put them in the way. Now they've finally had to place Slade on the 60 and his MLB service time has begun, though at this point it probably doesn't matter much anyway.
Others: Rafael De Paula isn't very good, Jorge Mateo and Thairo Estrada disappear for two months, Luis Torrens gets demoted, Eric Jagielo's injury fun.
What was the worst storyline of 2014?