I was reading this article by John Sickels over at Minor League Ball and it got me thinking about the grade “C” of the Yankees who I really like for 2012 and think could have potential breakouts, or in other words some pretty deep sleepers to keep an eye on.
1. Claudio Custodio, SS/2B: .325/.433/.414, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 22:40 BB:K (GCL)
Custodio has tremendous speed as displayed by his swiping of 26 bags in just 39 games. I am not sure if I would classify it as game changing speed, but it is very close. It is kind of strange that he struck out so much because the scouting report says he has a good eye, and he did walk a lot, so I don't know what to make of that just yet. I love his ability to get on base and create runs, the only questions I have are about his defense. He posted solid to slight above-average range factors at both shortstop and second, but was VERY error prone at short because of his arm. Still, even at second base he could be an extremely valuable piece.
2. Jose Rosario, SS: .311/.354/.492, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 7:22 BB:K (GCL/Charleston)
The diminutive shortstop does a little bit of everything and showed some surprising power this year. If you take out his five games in Charleston his stat line looks phenomenal, .331/.372/.529. He doesn't strike out a lot (but doesn't walk a lot either), has shown the ability to swipe bags (13 in 48 games), hit for average, and hit for power (18 extra base hits in 48 games). The stats on his defense are a bit odd, but with his size and the numbers he has posted it looks like he has a good chance at sticking at the shortstop position.
Hasn't received a whole lot of love from anyone, but my eye will be on him very, very closely in 2012.
3. Gabe Encinas, RHP: 3-0, 5.08 ERA, 51.1 IP, 18/46 BB/K (GCL)
Not the prettiest ERA in the world, but Encinas showed that he could do some things well in 2011. He has a nice low-90's fastball, a solid curveball, and a pretty good changeup considering his age. He definitely pitched better than his ERA shows and could post some pretty nice numbers if he spends 2012 in Staten Island.
He seems to be a bit behind the development curve of the other top high school guys the Yankees took in 2010, which could possibly have been because the Yankees wanted to take extra time to help him work on his mechanics that were shoddy coming out of high school. Note: this is complete speculation on my part.
Another catching prospect with some pop is exactly what the Yankees needed. It doesn't sound like he will have close to the power of Jesus Montero or Gary Sanchez, but it should eclipse that of J.R. Murphy. His pitch recognition is also very advanced for someone is the lower levels, which is something I like in my catchers. He has a lot of things working for him offensively.
Tejada's defensive reports say he has good receiving skills and footwork behind the plate with an average arm, but he threw out just 14% of runners so I can't buy that just yet. He did throw out 34% in the DSL in 2010 so hopefully this year can show us which of the two was a better representation of his defensive ability.
5. Bryan Mithcell, RHP: 1-3, 4.09 ERA, 61.2 IP, 31/59 BB/K (Staten Island)
Mitchell has been okay over the last two years, but has been held back because of his command. There is no doubting his stuff and the reports even say his fastball has improved a tick since signing and I just have a gut feeling the overall package will improve in 2012. He is probably the most well known "sleeper" on this list, but he is also the one who has the biggest chance to take a major leap in the prospect world.
P.S. I wanted to include Vidal Nuno because of his WHIP, but I know absolutely nothing else about him (sorry inside joke).