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MLB Opening Day 2016: Yankees prospects to know

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We all know who the top prospects in the Yankees organization are, and if you've been following us here, you've seen several prospect lists. This time it's important to consider which minor league players you should know for the 2016 season. Many of these players might be up with the team at some point, so it's helpful to learn about them in advance.

Johnny Barbato, RHP: Despite his lack of experience at the major league level, he has a really good chance of making the team out of spring training. The organization has plenty of left-handed options, but reliable right-handed middle relief is something the Yankees are probably looking for. He has control issues, but his strikeout numbers could make him an important piece of the puzzle.

Luis Cessa, RHP: New to the organization in 2016, Cessa has impressed the Yankees in spring training this year. He struggled at the Triple-A level last year with the Mets and Tigers, but a new team and a new year gives him a fresh start. If he impresses in Scranton he will be one of their best options as a spot starter this year.

Ben Gamel, OF: He made a meteoric rise in Triple-A last season to beat out Jake Cave for a 40-man roster spot. Despite being a good candidate for a backup outfielder job, Gamel is lower on the depth chart than Mason Williams or Slade Heathcott. Luckily for him, Mason will be out of action for a few months following last season's shoulder surgery and Slade is always getting hurt.

Nick Goody, RHP: He never got a fair shake last year, getting lost in the up and down of the Scranton shuttle. Goody hasn't been very impressive in spring training, but he will get another shot in the majors this year.

Chad Green, RHP: He looked pretty bad in spring training, but he was acquired to provide rotation depth, and that is what he will do. He should get plenty of time in Triple-A and is a potential spot starter at some point this year.

Kyle Haynes, RHP: The Yankees acquired the reliever when they traded Chris Stewart to the Pirates a few years back. He was converted into a starting pitcher, but is probably a better reliever in the long run. He will spend most of the year in Triple-A, but could be on the Scranton express if they need him to make an emergency appearance before they send him packing.

Slade Heathcott, OF: This year, Slade will be spending most of his time in Triple-A, but he could be the first outfielder called up in case of an injury. He's very injury prone, but he can offer some quick value with his defense and base running before he gets hurt again. If he's still healthy, we should see him a lot later in the season.

Aaron Judge, OF: There is some speculation that Judge is a Rookie of the Year candidate, but there doesn't seem to be a good chance for him to spend much time in the majors without a major injury. Carlos Beltran improved in 2015 and has nowhere else to play, and Aaron Hicks is perfectly capable of filling in if someone gets hurt. Something to also consider is that Judge is still adjusting to a new leg kick in his batting stance and really needs to learn how to lay off an offspeed pitch before he can be an everyday solution in the majors. He will need to be added to the 40-man roster at some point before next winter's Rule 5 Draft, so we should see him in September at least. I could see a competition between him and Hicks to see who will be the 2017 right fielder after Beltran leaves.

Brady Lail, RHP: He seemed like an interesting under the radar rotation option, but his strikeout rate bottomed out in 2015 as the Yankees pushed him through three different levels. At this point, Lail might be a better option for the bullpen, but he could also end up offering value as a starter and reliever in an Adam Warren-type role. That's probably his ceiling at this point.

Jacob Lindgren, LHP: Much is expected from Lindgren, but his major league career hasn't gotten off to the greatest of starts. After struggling in his debut, he required elbow surgery and still didn't seem to be 100% this spring. Chasen Shreve will be the primary left-handed specialist to open up the season, but if Lindgren gets back to normal, I could see them bringing him up to move Shreve into more of a setup role. Remember, they traded Justin Wilson primarily to give Lindgren an opportunity to take on his role, so they'll give him a shot if they feel he can handle the workload.

Mark Montgomery, RHP: You know who he is, but the Yankees have abandoned him in the minors in recent years. He will be a member of the Scranton bullpen and could finally get a shot in the majors if the team decides to move players up and down again.

James Pazos, LHP: He was just cut from big league camp, but he likely remains the first alternative to Jacob Lindgren in case the Yankees decide they need another left-handed reliever. He was one of the only young pitchers to perform well in his debut last year, so the organization is probably keeping an eye on him and we should see him at some point in the year.

Rob Refsnyder, 2B/3B: He has a good chance of breaking camp with the team if he can handle third base, but how long will he really stay with them? He's adjusted to third much better than expected, though that still consists of getting hit in the face two days in a row and making a couple sub-par throws to first. If he makes the team, he's not likely to get much playing time and would probably only be an emergency third baseman. I could see him make the Opening Day roster, but ride the bench for several weeks before being sent back down for an extra reliever. There's no doubt Refsnyder will be up with the team throughout the season, but who really knows how important he will be.

Nick Rumbelow, RHP: Expected to be a valuable late-inning reliever, so far Rumbelow has not impressed in his time with the major league team. His 2015 debut was forgettable and he pitched his way out of a bullpen spot in spring training. At this point, the 24-year-old will have to wait his turn before he gets another chance in the majors. Who knows how long that could take.

Gary Sanchez, C: He didn't hit this spring, but that's not a huge concern right now. It actually made things easier. The right decision was made by making Austin Romine the backup catcher because it's one of the least important jobs on a major league team–especially in the early goings of the season when the starting catcher is healthy. The Yankees can let Sanchez continue to work behind the plate at Triple-A through June, while also manipulating his service time to keep him an extra year. That extra year they save now could be an extra year of a better Gary Sanchez when he's the starting catcher. It won't be long before we see him up in the big leagues.

Caleb Smith, LHP: There are several other prospects ahead of him in the team's rotation depth chart, but as a left-handed starting pitcher, Smith has a good chance to make an impact with the major league team. He will need time in Triple-A, but I could see him getting some attention over the long season.

Ronald Torreyes, 2B, 3B, SS: The Yankees just acquired Torreyes for nothing and he could prove to be a useful piece to their major league bench. He can play all over the field and is probably the biggest competition to Rob Refsnyder, who doesn't seem to be handling third base well enough. At the age of 23, think of him as a Brendan Ryan with a lot more upside with the bat.

Tyler Webb, LHP: Yet another left-handed option, Webb missed a lot of time last season with a hand injury. The Yankees will probably ket him re-establish himself in Scranton, since they have so much depth in front of him. Despite his impressive pedigree, scouts have referred to him as a future LOOGY, so he probably won't be banging down the door to the majors. There's a good chance we see him in September if all has gone well for him, though.

Mason Williams, OF: Still on the disabled list from his 2015 shoulder surgery, Mason will have to fight his way back up to the majors. He showed some promise in an extremely limited amount of time, but it's likely that the former prospect now tops out as a fourth outfielder when everything is said and done. His defense and base running skills will make him a valuable commodity when they can find room for him.