Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NY Prospects Breaking Out?

Reading into statistics, particularly minor league ones, this early in the season is rarely a good idea. That said, I'm going to do a little of it anyway; while checking out what kind of starts some prospects got off to I noticed three interesting players. A couple Yankee farmhands and one member of the Mets that I wanted to keep an eye on this year have come out of the gate on fire. It could just be a blip on the radar, or it might be a preview of things to come.

First let's talk about Wilmer Flores, the 18-year-old Met farmhand that spent all of last year desperately trying to keep his head above water in low-A. Flores returned to Savannah and is making the most of his second chance in the league. Through 18 games he is hitting a stellar .338/.378/.532 with five walks and nine strikeouts over 77 at-bats. Contact was not Flores' problem last season as he put the ball in play plenty, but he rarely drove the ball and almost never walked. After totaling 25 extra-base-hits in nearly 500 at-bats last season he is already up to 11 this year. Flores is a big kid and if he has truly learned to hit the ball with authority the sky is the limit. Flores may have the highest ceiling of any Met prospect and he is starting to turn projection into production.

Eduardo Nunez, a 22-year-old Yankees shortstop in AAA put himself back on the prospect radar with a strong 2009. However, his "impressive" stats were in reality an empty batting average; his plate discipline remained raw and he was not showing much power, a combo that does not work, particularly because Nunez' speed is only slightly above average. This year his average is again well into the .300s (.385) but he also has six doubles and a home run over 65 at-bats. Perhaps the most encouraging thing for Nunez is the eight walks he has already drawn, (versus only 4 strikeouts) after only totaling 22 all of last season. He's also 7/8 on stolen base attempts too for what it is worth. Nunez also has all the tools to be an above average defensive shortstop and if his early success is for real, the Yankees may not have to look very far for Derek Jeter's eventual replacement.

I recently ranked David Adams among the Yankees top 10 prospects even though he was a nondescript 3rd round pick in 2008. Throughout his college and minor league career Adams always showed an advanced feel for the strike-zone and he started driving the ball out of the park in the second half of last season. Pushed ahead to AA this year he has not slowed down, hitting .344/.420/.557. The slash stats are pretty but Adams is striking out too much and will have to work on finding a balance between swinging for power and contact. Defensively Adams is a lot like Robinson Cano, enough range but not exceptional, and with a very strong arm for the position. He does not have a clear route to the majors but continued development could turn him into a valuable trading chip.

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