The 2015 season was the organization's first year as a member of the rookie ball-advance Appalachian League. Created as a means to split the more advanced rookie-ball players from the GCL Yankees, make a buffer before A-ball, and make enough room for the influx of international talent signed in 2014, the Pulaski Yankees ended up having an impressive year. They led the league with a 45-23 record, only to be eliminated from the postseason too soon for their talent level. Pulaski ended up being an offensive juggernaut with a few of their pitchers having great seasons as well in order to set up one of the more dominate teams in the entire Yankees system.
The rotation was mainly comprised of 2015 draft pick Drew Finley, 2013 pick Nestor Cortes, and a few international signings. Finley, the 19-year-old right-hander drafted out of the third round this year, showed some promise with a 11.5 K/9, despite struggling with a 5.3 BB/9 in 12 starts. Cortes had a real breakout season with a 2.26 ERA and good peripherals of a 9.3 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 63.2 innings. He's been described as more of a finesse lefty with very good control, but he doesn't turn 21 until December, so he could add velocity as he matures and will hopefully get a chance in A-ball next year. The other starters included Melvin Morla, who struggled mightily this season and Adonis rosa, who made his American debut with a 3.93 ERA and 2.35 FIP.
The bullpen included 2015 high school draftees Brody Koerner and David Sosebee, who pitched to solid sub-3.00 ERAs in their first time as professionals. College reliever Cody Carroll pitched to 1.75 ERA and Garrett Mundell didn't allow a run in 13 appearances before moving up to Low-A Charleston. Alex Robinett, an intriguing pitcher who plans to enlist in the military this year, got his start with Pulaski before the organization pushed him up to Staten Island and then to Charleston. After two seasons in Staten Island, 2013 draft pick Jonathan Palladino was held back in rookie ball as he converted to the bullpen full-time and made a few appearances for Pulaski before struggling in Charleston. 2014 draft pick Corey Holmes missed almost the entire season due to injury, while non-drafted free agents Cody Hamlin and Andrew Schwaab both impressed with minuscule ERAs, but were a little old for the level.
The Pulaski offense was led by 2015 draft pick first baseman Kane Sweeney, outfielder Frank Frias, and third baseman Allen Valerio. Sweeney might not be much of a prospect as a 29th-round first baseman, but he does offer some nice power as he OPS'd .999 over 191 plate appearances. Frias has been an intriguing name for the last two years now, and after OPSing .924 in 152 plate appearances this year, should get a shot in A-ball as a 22-year-old next season. Valerio is already 22 and has been in the system for four years now, but he played well enough in 2015 to move up to Charleston, where he should get more playing time in 2016.
Another key member of the team's offense was top international shortstop prospect Hoy Jun Park, who was a consistent offensive contributor all season long in his first year in America. So far, he's been praised for his instincts and movements in the field as well his ability to make contact with the ball. Park showed some power potential by hitting five home runs and he contributed on the base paths with 12 stolen bases, showing that he has the potential to be a threat on every side of the ball. He might be the team's second-best shortstop prospect behind Jorge Mateo and could start the 2016 season in Charleston.
Other key contributors included 19-year-old outfielder Carlos Vidal, who hit .303/.389/.492 in his first season in America, as well as pervious draftees Nathan Mikolas and Kendall Coleman, who seem to finally be figuring out how to hit at the professional level. After an extremely disappointing 2014 campaign, second baseman Gosuke Katoh may have revitalized some of his value with a .287/.426/.416 batting line in Pulaski before moving up to Charleston again. We'll see where he goes from here, but hopefully he can figure out what to do with the bat this time around.
These players aren't going to be contributing to the major league level any time soon, so the best way to look at these performances is to consider who might be the next can't-miss, or even simply too-intriguing-to-ignore, prospect in the Yankees system. New names pop up every year and others struggle or get hurt and drop off the field. Young players like this are very volatile, but hopefully someone like Nestor Cortes or Hoy Jun Park or Drew Finley or Carlos Vidal will stick around next year and maybe even beyond. You never know who these guys might turn into.