Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2013-2014 AB4AR Top 30 Prospects: Just Missed The Cut

(Courtesy of MLB.com)

Yesterday I looked back at the baker's dozen from last year's AB4AR Top 30 who will not be a part of the 2013-2014 edition.  Now that we're done living in the past, today we can start to look towards the future with the 5 players who missed the cut for this year's Top 30.  For all the talk about how bad the Yankee farm system is right now, the one thing they do have is depth.  More than 1 of the guys who didn't make my top 30 cut are going to show up on other prospect lists around the Yankosphere and there are a couple who could become top 10-15 guys if they stay on track.  After the jump, the 5 players who just missed making the 2013-2014 AB4AR Top 30.

35) Omar Luis Rodriguez- LHSP, GCL Yankees

I wrote about Rodriguez in greater detail on Saturday, but here's the abridged version.  He's a 21-year-old left-hander with a good 4-pitch mix (high 80s-low 90s fastball, curveball, changeup, slider), a reputation for attacking the strike zone and mixing pitches well, and plus command.  He's gone through some contract and visa issues that delayed his arrival in the US and the delay could have had an effect on his relatively poor first season.  He gave up a lot of runs (25) and walks (29) and was more hittable than you'd expect a pitcher with his skill set to be.  He also struck out 43 batters in 31.2 innings and didn't allow a HR, so the scouting reports aren't wrong.  If he can bounce back in 2014, he shouldn't have a problem making his way onto next year's list.

34) Nick Goody- RHRP, High-A Tampa

Mentioned him yesterday in the long list of guys who dropped from last year's Top 30, and none of them had a bigger bummer of a year than Goody in 2013.  He suffered a sprained ankle late in Spring Training that kept him out for a little while and then just 2 appearances into his season he suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John Surgery.  He's still on the shelf recovering from that injury and is slated to miss most of the 2014 season, but there's a chance we could see him back on a mound late in the year.  If we do, we're talking about a pitcher who struck out 52 and walked only 9 in 32.0 total IP in 2012.  Goody has the goods to be a great relief pitcher and he's still young enough to get back on track after he recovers.

33) Peter O'Brien- C/3B, High-A Tampa

Drafted as a catcher in the 2012 2nd round, O'Brien was a bit of a mixed bag offensively and defensively in 2013.  He started the year in Low-A Charleston, where he dominated pitching to the tune of a .325/.394/.619 tripleslash.  That earned him a promotion to Tampa, where his production wasn't as good (.265/.314/.486 in 280 PA).  O'Brien did hit 22 HR in 119 games, showing off his impressive power tool.  He also boasted K rates above 25% at each level, and a frighteningly high 39.4% in the notoriously hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League.  Not much of a defensive catcher, the Yanks experimented with O'Brien at third base in Tampa and the AZFL but he didn't handle it well.  The plan for 2014 is to continue to work him at both spots, and as a weak defensive player with a high K rate, I need to see O'Brien improve his pitch recognition and patience to fully commit to his high power potential.

32) Dan Camarena- LHSP, Low-A Charleston

Camarena was featured in last year's "Not A Prospect Yet (But Worth Watching)" crop after a BB-less 5-outing 2012 debut in the GCL.  He got bumped to the full-season leagues in 2013, and after a rocky start he finished strong to build some excitement about 2014 being a breakout year for him.  Overall, Camarena pitched to a 4.42/3.61 ERA/FIP split in 112.0 innings (21 starts).  He didn't strike out many (83), but he walked very few (4.1% BB rate) and showed the command and composure as a 20-year-old that first earned him some positive reviews from scouts.  The highlight of Camarena's 2013 was a 7-game stretch from late May to early July in which he allowed just 1 run in 27 IP.  Wouldn't surprise me if he got moved to Tampa this year and spent the whole season there to continue his development.

31) Cito Culver- SS, High-A Tampa

I've talked about Culver in detail a couple times recently, and the story doesn't change here.  He's been a no-hit/all-field prospect since the minute he started playing in the GCL and he didn't show any signs of breaking from that mold until he was bumped to Tampa for 16 games to close out the 2013 season.  The South Atlantic League isn't particularly hitter-friendly, so perhaps Culver's strong showing in Tampa is a sign that he can hit more than he showed in Charleston.  Even if it is, however, Culver's offensive ceiling isn't very high and he'll need to show that his hot streak in Tampa wasn't just a flash in the pan to raise it.  What keeps him in the prospect discussion is his tremendous defensive makeup.  He's got the range at short, he's got the arm, and there isn't anything I've read or heard that suggests he can't handle shortstop at the Major League level.  If he can start to put something together offensively, he can still be a part of the mix for the future at short for the Bombers.

** Coming up tomorrow- Part I of the 2013-2014 AB4AR Top 30: Positions 30-21. **

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