Baby Bomber Spotlight: Five to Watch at Class-A Advanced Tampa
As the roster stands early on in 2013, those two aforementioned prospects, center fielder Mason Williams and catcher Gary Sanchez, are the most notable names down in Tampa, but there are several other players who, in the infancy of their careers, have already produced enough to put them on the radar as potential future stars.
Williams and Sanchez aside, we’ve chosen to spotlight five current T-Yanks here that may have varying roles at times due to performance or system depth, but could still put themselves on the map (or move further along on it) with solid seasons at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
OF Ben Gamel
Several top prospects – including Austin, Williams, and Sanchez – plied their trade in Charleston at some point in 2012, but it was Gamel who was chosen as the RiverDogs’ MVP In the final 2012 edition of Minor League Monthly.
Last season was the first full one for the soon-to-be 21-year-old Floridian, who was drafted out of Jacksonville’s Bishop Kenney HS in the 10th round in 2010 and spent his first two seasons with the GCL and Staten Island Yankees, and he made it count; Gamel played 110 games for Charleston, hitting .306 with two home runs, 61 RBI, 19 stolen bases, and 56 runs scored.
With the Yankees loaded in the outfield, Gamel will likely spend the entire season at Tampa, with a playoff run call-up to Trenton (similar to that of Austin last year) a possibility; however, he has a Major League pedigree (oft-injured brother Mat has played 106 games for the Brewers over the last five years), is solid defensively, and has gotten off to a hot start for the T-Yanks (hitting .372 with six RBI and seven doubles through his first 11 games), so don’t be surprised if his name shows up on the prospect radar a little more frequently as the season goes on.
RHPs Corey Black and Nick Goody
Black and Goody were both drafted in 2012 out of college, have both already advanced up three levels, and both earned spots in Major League Camp in 2013 – traits that could have him on the fast track through the system and earn them a tandem nod in our series of players to watch.
Last season, Black made 12 starts between the GCL, Staten Island, and Charleston, going 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA, and was 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA through his first two starts for Tampa, where he figures to spend the majority of the year simply because of the depth of the starting pitching in the system.
Goody, meanwhile, was actually twice selected by the Yankees, choosing to return to LSU after being taken in 2011. He was sidetracked this spring by a sprained ankle suffered in a car accident and is on the seven-day DL as of April 11 (which means he is eligible to be activated soon after press time), but the righty with the hard fastball was impressive last season, posting a 1.12 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 32 innings between Staten Island, Charleston, and Tampa. He will be a big part of Tampa’s bullpen once active, and could continue to quickly rise through the system.
SS Carmen Angelini
After missing all but nine games of 2012 with a broken wrist, Angelini is back in Tampa in 2013 looking to get his career back on track – and with Tampa having four infielders (including another top prospect, second baseman Angelo Gumbs) on the disabled list as of press time, he definitely has a chance to shine in the short term.
Angelini hit .252 in his nine games last year and was at .276 through his first 8 in 2013, and while some may think he is an “organizational shortstop” or is “keeping the seat warm” so to speak for top prospect Cito Culver (who opened the season at Charleston for the second straight year), Angelini has good speed and great range, and needs to take advantage of that chance to impress.
1B/DH Saxon Butler
Butler is included here as a fifth to watch simply because of timing; he started the season in Charleston and was projected to spend most of the year there, but was promoted to Tampa on Monday when Matt Snyder was placed on the disabled list and replaces Snyder on this list as a result.
The duration of his stay in Tampa depends somewhat on production and somewhat on Snyder’s return, but that said, Butler is less than a year into his pro career – he was the Yankees’ 33rd round pick in 2012 out of Samford University – and has already impressed enough to have advanced up three levels in the system.
Butler posted a .296-10-36 line in 36 games in Staten Island last year, and followed that with a .235-3-9 line in 25 games in Charleston after getting promoted in August. He hit .286 with a homer and six RBI in nine games for the RiverDogs this season before his call to Tampa, and with his lefty power bat, he could continue to progress through the system quickly if he continues to hit well.
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