While excitement continues to build as spring training draws near, top prospect lists have begun to be released by various outlets. Aaron Judge, Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez, among others will dominate the prospect coverage over the coming weeks and rightly so. They’re the high profile players that are reaching the upper levels of the minors and nearing ever closer to contributing in the Bronx. What about the underdog? What about those in the system that aren’t garnering the praise or media attention, yet have a shot to contribute to the Yankees in the future? The fact of the matter is that while growing future aces and dynamic offensive players is important, so are those that can fill the back of the rotation, middle relief or bench roles. Here are four players that are currently on track to providing value to the Yankees in those types of roles in the future.
While Flores isn’t blessed with any tools that scouts salivate over, he does hold fourth outfielder potential, with a solid bat and adequate defense. A nasty ankle injury in June cost Flores most of the 2014 season, limiting him to only 235 at-bats at Triple-A Scranton. Flores spent time playing in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, where he tore up opposing pitching to the tune of a .347 batting average with five home runs and 29 runs batted in. The likely scenario has Flores headed to Triple-A, but he could put himself in position for a quick call-up to the majors when the inevitable injury occurs.
If you’re not a diehard prospect follower, it’s very possible that you may not know very much about Taylor Dugas. Let’s paint the picture of what Dugas is: He’s an on-base machine that has excellent plate discipline and contact skills, with little power and above-average speed. Defensively, he can cover all three outfield positions, increasing the chances that he could reach his ceiling as a fourth outfielder. With the big league outfield situation likely set entering the season, it’s most likely that Dugas heads to Scranton with Flores, awaiting his opportunity to contribute.
Drafted out high school in the 18th round of the 2012 draft, Lail isn’t the type of pitcher that will light up scout’s radar guns with huge upper-90’s velocity. What he does offer though, is a four pitch repertoire that he can locate with impressive accuracy. Brady Lail was good as a starter for both Charleston (Single-A) and Tampa (Advanced-A), pitching to a 3.62 ERA, to go along with a respectable 7.8 K/9, in 134.1 innings pitched. While he’s still young and doesn’t carry the ceiling of a Severino or a Clarkin, he could possibly be a back-end starter in the future.
One thing that the Yankees continue to do well is draft and develop relievers. Goody has the chance to continue the trend, after returning from Tommy John surgery in 2013. Armed with a devastating fastball, he dominated opposing batters, striking out 46 batters in 31.1 innings. With the ceiling of a late-inning reliever, Goody could be a quick mover in the system.
While these four players aren’t going to get any of the press or the hype of any top prospects, their roles are still important in respect to building a team. These options would not only provide additional youth, but would give cost certainty as well.