The Yankees have been paring minor-leaguers from their system. Gone are such once-prospects as Angelo Gumbs, Eric Jagielo and others.
The system is as solid and has as much depth as any given time in the last decade, which puts several on the spot. The upcoming 2016 season may end up with them solidifying their status or facing trade or release.
All mentioned here have talent, and all are in the upper minors, but they are among those who need to show well in 2016:
1B-OF Tyler Austin – A great guy who always plays hard, Austin, who is still just 24, is battling at positions which include prospects such as Greg Bird at first base and Aaron Judge in the outfield. And the power has never really returned since that wrist injury a few years ago.
RHP Jaron Long – After putting together an impressive 12-5, 2.18 mark in 2014, including 7-2, 2.35 at Double-A Trenton, Long, the son of former Yankees and now Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, dropped to 8-13, 4.25 in 2015 and was demoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre back to Trenton. A pitcher who has to hit his spots, he is on the spot in 2016.
IF Rob Refsnyder – With the Yankees acquisition of Starlin Castro from the Cubs, the Yankees may have moved beyond Refsnyder as a regular second baseman. He will likely return to Scranton to start 2016, and his defense has to become more consistent to be a factor.
OF Mark Payton – We love 5-foot-7 guys who hustle and use their speed, as Payton does. Yet, 60 strikeouts in 264 at-bats at Trenton for a player who needs to make contact does not bode well. Another factor is Dustin Fowler on his heels at Trenton in 2016. The outfield in the Yankees system is really crowded.
IF Tyler Wade – Certainly 26 games and a .204 average do not a career make, but Wade, who will play the 2016 at 21, starting in Trenton, needs to show improvement both at-bat and in the field. We really like Wade’s determination, but the numbers have to be better on both sides. The feeling is, once Jorge Mateo arrives in New Jersey, likely around mid-season, Wade will move to second base.
OF Taylor Dugas – Did well by hitting .317 in 21 games at Scranton in 2015 after .207 in 61 games at Trenton. Had a brief Yankees call-up. Like Payton, must do enough to stay near the head of the class.
RHP Mark Montgomery – Starting to flash the form in 2015 that made him a top bullpen prospect in 2012. Needs to stay on the same road to possibly help the Yankees in long relief in 2016. Has fought back from injury well.
OF Cesar Puello – Looked like a star in the Mets system in 2013. Turns out the “juice: nay have helped him. He will play the 2016 at 24, and, given another chance by the Yankees. could either show power or totally flame out. Another interesting entry in the system’s crowded outfield situation.
RHP Eric Ruth – Along with Brady Lail, had an excellent 10-6, 3,38 season among Class-A Advanced Tampa, Trenton and Scranton. Able to keep hitters off-balance and throw strikes. Limits hits against him by changing speeds. A strong start would enhance his status quickly.
IF Dante Bichette – Former first-round pick is still around because of that status. Now realizes just how much work the game takes. This season is a crucial one for him, and that bat needs to be more consistent.