On-Base Perception

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A look at the Yankees' top 5 prospects

Yankees' prospect Mason Williams practices before the official

Yankees' prospect Mason Williams practices before the official start of spring training. (Feb. 16, 2012) (Credit: AP)

A look at who are considered the Yankees' top prospects in the minor leagues

MANNY BANUELOS, LHP, 21
Signed as a non-drafted free agent 2008
Last year: Double-A Trenton, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
This year: Triple-A

Don't be surprised if the jewel of the Yankees' deep collection of arms reaches the majors at some point this season. "Has a plus curveball, plus change and plus fastball," one scout said. Another evaluator likes the lefty's confidence, saying "I like the idea he thinks he should be there.”

DELLIN BETANCES, RHP, 24
Drafted 2006, eighth round
Last year: Double-A Trenton, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees
This year: Triple-A

The 6-8, 260-pound Betances showed almost no command upon being called up last September and admitted to feeling a case of the nerves. He has shown improvement this spring and his "mechanics look better" one opposing team scout said. Betances could make it back to the Bronx if the Yankees find themselves in need of bullpen or rotation help.

GARY SANCHEZ, C, 19
Signed as a non-drafted free agent, 2009
Last year: Low-A Charleston
This year: High-A Tampa

Struggled behind the plate last year - 26 passed balls in 60 games - but has earned raves from opposing teams’ scouts in his first big league camp this spring. "Some arm," one said, noting a particular Sanchez throw to second. Some consider Sanchez a better prospect at his age than was Jesus Montero, dealt this offseason to the Mariners.

MASON WILLIAMS, CF, 20
Drafted 2010, fourth round
Last year: Staten Island
This year: High-A Tampa

Williams' meteoric rise this offseason on best-prospect lists came from a 2011 in which he played a standout centerfield while leading the New York-Penn League in steals (28) and ranked second in batting (.349). "He might be our best prospect," one talent evaluator said. Some have compared him to Bernie Williams, but one scout said the better comparison is Kenny Lofton because of his speed.

DANTE BICHETTE JR., 3B, 19
Drafted 2011, first round
Last year: GCL Yankees, Staten Island
This year: Low-A Charleston

Is Bichette, the son of the major leaguer of the same name, A-Rod's replacement at third? Far too soon to say but the path is certainly clear as the Yankees simply don't have much ahead of him in the system in the way of third base prospects. Bichette Jr. earned MVP honors in the Gulf Coast League after hitting .342 with a .446 OBP in 52 games.

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