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Yankees Prospect Profile: Mark Payton

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Can this outfield prospect build on his early success as he faces his first full season as a professional in 2015?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Mark Payton was drafted by the Yankees in the 7th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of Texas. The Yankees made Payton their first position player selection, adding him to quite a few college players that fell more on the safe side than those with monster potential. While he may not have a truly elite tool to hang his hat on, what Payton does have is a very solid all around game that should bode well for his future.

2014 Results

The Yankees somewhat aggressively started Payton at Low-A Charleston right out of the gate last season. It isn't terribly surprising that they would want to push him, considering his age, but most players coming out of the draft generally head off to Short Season-A Staten Island instead. Payton rewarded the team's aggressiveness, batting .357/.443/.500 in 22 games before being promoted to High-A Tampa. Proving that his early success wasn't a fluke, Payton kept right on hitting at the next level. He put together a .286/.396/.495 batting line in the Florida State League across 26 games, and hit four home runs and 15 doubles between the two levels. His success right out of the gate was likely only exceeded by the phenomenal job that Jacob Lindgren did by blowing through every level of the minors right up to Double-A in his first half-season.

2015 Outlook

Given his more advanced age, the Yankees could choose to continue aggressively promoting Payton by starting him out at Double-A Trenton to begin the season. What might be more likely is that he goes to High-A Tampa after spending less than 30 games there last season before seeing if he can earn himself another fairly quick promotion at some point during the season. It's likely that Payton doesn't really possess the tools to be any sort of star in the making, but guys with the upside of a fourth outfielder have plenty of value in the big leagues and Payton does quite a few things well, even if nothing truly spectacularly. Putting together another strong season like he had in his debut will go a long way toward possibly changing the book on him, and he's already done a fantastic job at exceeding expectations to this point.