These are some minor leaguers that I'm interested in tracking. They can range anywhere from recent signees to international free agents to sudden risers. The only condition is that they can't be rated in the top twenty prospects according to MLB.com or have been drafted in the first three rounds of the most recent draft. Check out who I think could quickly become prospects in the AL East.
Baltimore Orioles - Mike Yastrzemski, OF
The Orioles breakout of the season at A Delmarva, Yastrzemski is enjoying his time in the spotlight. Bloodlines will always be the storyline with such an incredible career to live up to, but Yastrzemski has looked promising on his own. Drafted in 2013 in the 14th round, he quietly spent the season under the radar at Low-A Aberdeen until his promotion to start off the year. He has already hit for the cycle and looks refined in many areas of the game. While his tools don't stand out from the rest, Yaz has seemingly improved his play by looking past poor performances. He has accredited this season to his ability to look beyond a bad night and his desire to simply make an impact. The way his season suggests, Yastrzemski may be a future regular.
Others to watch for: Pat Connaughton (SS), Steven Brault (A)
Boston Red Sox - Sean Coyle, 2B
The Red Sox's 2010 3rd round draft pick, Coyle has begun to make waves in the prospect world. While there may not be any open positions for him when he arrives in Boston, Coyle will find a way to the surface. Batting .336 with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases, he has surpassed most of AA Portland's talent at only age 22. He is already earning comparisons to fellow teammate Mookie Betts, albeit Coyle's plate discipline is nowhere near as good. As the season progressed, Coyle even began working on a possible transition to third base because of the enormous middle infield logjam in Boston. He is not a burner, but he does possess advanced base-running knowledge, stealing 61 bases and being caught 8 times. At times, he is aggressive and at other points, he oft too injured, but when everything comes together, Coyle produces.
Others to watch: Carlos Asuaje (A), Karsten Whitson (SS), Jantzen Witte (A+), Joe Gunkel (A+)
New York Yankees - Ty Hensley
The former first round pick has lost valuable time on his path to the major leagues. Hensley missed all of 2013 with a problematic hip surgery and recovery. Now back to pitching, Hensley is hoping to regain some lost luster. Currently the owner of a 2.57 ERA over four games, Hensley is obviously being eased back into the game. Luckily, his arms weren't affected by his injuries although it would be wise to monitor his delivery motions. Rehabbing in the GCL should be the first stepping stone and Hensley should be set free in 2015 starting at A Charleston. Coming out of high school, his changeup is dismissible and raw, but his fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range at his best. Hensley also employs a solid curveball.
Others to watch: Jake Cave, Thairo Estrada, Mike Ford
Tampa Bay Rays - Chris Pike
Drafted in the 9th round only last month, Pike is making the most of the small time left this season. The former Oklahoma City starter only gained attention after throwing a perfect game and subsequent no-hitter in college. Now in the Rays system at Short-Season Hudson Valley, Pike has been granted a starting role and hasn't done too much to impress. Over five games, he has compiled a 3.22 FIP with lackluster peripheral command and control numbers. However, Pike may not have reached his full potential yet. In college, Pike relied on pinpoint precision with his pitches to catch batters off-guard and only needs to translate that skill to the minors to be able to succeed. His average fastball and curveball play up because of his command while his changeup is somewhat raw. He will never be an ace, but he does have the credentials that come with a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Others to watch: Patrick Leonard (A+), Taylor Motter (AA), Johnny Field (A)
Toronto Blue Jays - Dwight Smith Jr.
Nobody really noticed Smith's great year in 2013. Only now is the prospect world catching up to Smith's similar 2014 line at A+ Dunedin. Drafted in the late first round in 2011, Smith never received much fanfare because his first playing time results in 2012 were not what was expected. He has solid speed, stealing 25 bases last year and growing gap power. His swing is mostly geared for line drives though and has led to his .287 average in 2014. Smith's defense has been on the rise as well, not committing a single error in center field all season. The combination of plate discipline, speed, defense, and swing mechanics will advance him to the major leagues
Others to watch: Andy Burns (AA), Roemon Fields (SS)
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