2013 Preseason Not Top 30 Prospects

Yankees invited Hideki Matsui to Spring Training...
Mason Williams close to 100% following shoulder surgery
Brad Halsey would have been a Not Top 30 prospect once upon a time. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)

Prospect season is in full swing now that pitchers and catchers are due to report next week, so it’s time for my annual look at the Yankees’ top 30 prospects. Before we do that though, we have to look at some players who are on the outside looking in. New York has a fairly deep system, especially when it comes to power arms, so there are always a few players I want to highlight even though I don’t consider them one of the organization’s 30 best prospective big leaguers.

Just one of last year’s Not Top 30 Prospects jumped into the Top 30 this year, but three others were among the very last cuts and could have easily snuck in. The fifth player missed the entire season due to injury and wasn’t a serious consideration for the list. As a reminder, these are not prospects 31-35. They’re five prospects who I believe have a chance to jump into next year’s Top 30 with a healthy and strong season in 2013. That’s all. The players are listed alphabetically — ages are as of April 1st — so don’t bother to read anything into the order.


RHSP Gabe Encinas, 21
Given a $300k signing bonus as the team’s sixth round pick in 2010, Encinas put together a generally underwhelming campaign — 4.97 ERA (5.31 FIP) with 14.8 K% and 12.0 BB% in 70.2 innings — with Short Season Staten Island last year. Despite that, he’s a guy worth following because his raw stuff has improved considerably since his days of hugging 90 mph with his fastball back in high schooler. Encinas, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 lbs., now lives in the 93-95 mph range with that fastball, which bores in on righties. He even hit 98 a few times last summer. His curveball and changeup lag though, as does his overall command. Encinas is still learning to harness is newfound power stuff and will need quite some time to climb the ladder, likely spending a year at each level. He is ticketed for the Low-A Charleston starting rotation when the season begins.

(Photo vis EmbajadoresAztecas.org)

RHSP Gio Gallegos, 21
Depending on who you ask, Gallegos was coming off either Tommy John surgery or knee surgery when the Yankees signed him for $100k in 2011. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 175 lbs., the Mexican-born Gallegos was healthy enough to post a 1.67 ERA (2.50 FIP) with 22 strikeouts and just two walks in 27 innings for the club’s Rookie Level Gulf Coast League affiliate last year. He’s primarily a two-pitch pitcher who throws easy low-90s gas with a hard, low-80s curveball that can be a true put-away pitch at times. A nascent changeup rounds out his repertoire. Gallegos has good command and excellent control, though he might be the type of guy who throws too many strikes and gets hit more than his stuff says he should. There’s a good chance the Yankees will have him join Encinas in the Low-A Charleston rotation this year.


RHSP Brady Lail, 19
The Yankees only signed three players to above-slot bonuses last season, and one of those three was Lail. New York paid him $225k as their 18th round pick, then watched him allow two runs with ten strikeouts and two walks in 12.2 innings for the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League team after signing. Lail is big and projectable at a listed 6-foot-2 and 175 lbs., and the Yankees are hopeful he will add some velocity to his mid-to-high-80s fastball as he fills out. His big-breaking curveball is already an above-average swing-and-miss pitch, and his changeup is advanced for a high schooler. All of his pitches play up because of a deceptive delivery. If Lail adds a few ticks to his fastball, he could rocket up prospect lists as a kid with three average or better pitches. The Yankees figure to hold him back in Extended Spring Training before sending him to Short Season Staten Island in 2013.

(Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)
(Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

RHSP Zach Nuding, 23
Nuding signed for $265k as the team’s 30th round pick in 2010. He missed time with a sore shoulder in 2012, but otherwise pitched to a 3.89 ERA (3.20 FIP) with 18.0 K% and 7.1 BB% in 85.2 innings for High-A Tampa last year before a stint in the Arizona Fall League. Nuding is an intimidating presence on the mound at a listed 6-foot-4 and 250 lbs., and his fastball cashes the check his frame writes by sitting in the 93-96 range with a few 98s. He throws downhill well and hitters have a hard time hitting the pitch in the air. A low-80s slider and low-80s changeup are his two secondary offerings, and both lag behind his fastball. His delivery is a little violent but he’s not wild. The Yankees have had Nuding start throughout his career just to accumulate innings, but it’ll soon be time to take off the reigns and let him cut it loose in the bullpen. A ticket to Double-A Trenton is in the cards for this season. Don’t be surprised if he’s in the big league bullpen mix at this time next year if they shift him to relief at some point this summer.

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

2B/OF Rob Refnsyder, 22
Refsnyder was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player after leading Arizona to the national championship last summer, then he signed for a little more than $205k as the Yankees fifth round pick. He hit just .247/.324/.370 (95 RC+) with four homers and eleven steals in his 182-plate appearances cameo with Low-A Charleston at the end of the season. Refsnyder, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 lbs., has a level right-handed swing that is gearing for contact and capable of slashing line drives all over the field. He isn’t expected to hit for much power and has just decent speed, but his instincts and aggressiveness make him a stolen base threat. There was talk of the Yankees shifting Refsnyder back to second base — he played the position in high school but moved to the outfield in college — but he played right field exclusively for the River Dogs late in the season even though Angelo Gumbs had been on the DL at that point. To get into my Top 30, Refsnyder will have to shift to the infield because he just doesn’t hit enough or defend well enough to hold down an outfield corner. He’s expected to join High-A Tampa along with Gumbs this summer, so a move back to second seems unlikely at the moment.

Yankees invited Hideki Matsui to Spring Training...
Mason Williams close to 100% following shoulder surgery
  • Mike myers

    Ummmmmmm prospects.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Superb write-up, Mike. This is where RAB has always shined the most, and that’s helping me gain such a deeper understanding of the organization. Guys like Nuding and Lail pop up on DOTF often, but those names become blurs quickly after draft day. Now I know WHY I should care about these guys individually.

    You never know who’s going to be an important contributor one day.

    • Jim Is Bored

      All of this.

      Definitely appreciate all the work you do, Mike. These pieces are always a great read.

      • jjyank

        Agreed with both of you. This kind of stuff is exactly why I got into RAB as my primary source of all things Yankees. Before I read RAB, I’d know maaaaaybe 5 of our top prospects, if that. And even then, it was pretty casual knowledge. Knowing what exactly your farm system has just makes the game and rooting for the franchise even more enjoyable.

  • John C

    I still wish They could have reeled in Vincent Jackson as well. They also passed on redrafting Jeremy Rathjen last year, even though he lasted til 12th round before the Dodgers finally took him.

  • lightSABR

    No way – Lail went to my high school. How awesome is that?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Very cool. Did you just figure that out from the post, or did you know him?

      My claim to fame is graduating HS with Mike Lowell, who somehow looks about 15 years older than I do. Either that or I should never attempt to grow a goatee.

      • jjyank

        Nobody fun came out of my high school. The closest I got was my ex-girlfriend’s brother went to high school with, and knew personally, Rick Porcello.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I guess it’s not difficult down in Miami for this stuff to happen. When I was in HS, A-Rod was in the papers as a big time guy in private school, you’d hear about Alex Fernandez transferring from UM to community college, and he’s be in the pros soon enough, etc.

          My senior year ex-girlfiend lived next door to the Griese’s and had a crush on Brian the entire time. Brian’s actual girlfriend was in my physics class. Lots of shit like that.

          Of course, Lowell probably couldn’t pick me out of a lineup at this point, so this is just meaningless bragging, I guess.

          • jjyank

            Oh, I almost forgot. Same ex-girlfriend, one of her friends was dating Jesus Montero when he was in AAA.

        • Pat D

          I went to high school with someone who competed in the Olympics. That’s as good as it gets for me.

          I’d like to take this opportunity to once again say that I hate my fucking high school, and that, yes, it deserves to die and I hope it burns in hell!

        • Mister D

          My friend has a B-Ref page for a couple weeks in indy ball. That count?

        • Jim Is Bored

          My high school’s claim to fame is Aaron Maybin. Noted NFL draft bust.


        • vin

          This guy was in my Algebra 2 class:

          He was in my PE class (man among boys):

          And a guy who hit 26 HRs last year for Cincy (didn’t know him though):

          But best of all was our local beauty queen, former Miss Teen Nevada:

          • Pat D

            I really enjoyed her role in Not Another Tee Movie.

            • Pat D

              Sigh. Not Another Teen Movie.

            • vin

              Didn’t see it, but I did see some clips of her in Cabin Fever. Worth the price of admission (or Netflix).

          • LightSABR

            Nice. You definitely have me beat, except in one way: Lail’s a Yankee. :)

        • DC

          Same with my high school…we were all nobodies. lol

          However, I was fraternity brothers with Kenny Chesney in college.

      • LightSABR

        I’m a lot older than he is. I just recognized the uniform and went and looked him up. It’s funny–we always had a successful baseball team, but I don’t think anybody really paid attention to it. Utah’s more of a pro basketball / college football kind of place.

      • Herby

        best I can do is trying to talk a future NFL quarterback out of playing college ball and taking his baseball deals. I still think he would’ve been a much better baseball player. Angels wanted him as a pitcher, Dodgers as an outfielder.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      My sister dated Skip Jutze (had some ML playing time in the early ’70s) and Ron Klimkowski also graduated from my HS.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Oh, and not baseball related, but my daughter played with or against what will likely be at least 50% of the next USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team.

    • jsbrendog

      yeah, it’s fun. i lived next door to andrew bailey freshman yr of college. there was tons of drinking haha. we weren’t friends really but we knew each other and also had a lot of mutual friends. kinda cool.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Probably way late to this, but I once did trash talk Charlie Ward at a wedding.

      • JAG

        My friend lived in the same dorm as Tim Tebow. He came over once and helped her feed her pet reptiles. She said he was a tiny bit creepy.

  • Wayne

    I like young pitchers who can throw changeups at 20 years of age. Brady Lail is keeper. Reminds me physically of Blake beavan in Seattle.

  • Havok9120

    Thanks very much for this Mike. Good piece.


  • Johnny O

    Thanks Mike. Really looking forward to the top 30

  • Mister D

    Refsnyder seems like the type of guy I’d really like watching right up until people starting saying his .270/.340/.410 line is better than Cano ever was because he does it with more heart and grit or something.

    • LK

      Finally, a guy who RUNS to first instead of just trots around all 4 bases like a lazy asshole.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The “Y” in his last name is just full of grit.

      • dan


  • trr

    Love this stuff!

  • http://musicaldaddy.blogspot.com Chuck M.

    Nice read, Mike. Thanks! Out here in Pirates land, it’s great to know who will be playing here in PNC Park in another couple of years…

    • jjyank

      Hah, I chuckled.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Give this man a prize.

      • Pat D

        We’ll start with the gold cigar. Or he can trade that for Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Every time I look at Rob Refsnyder, I’m reminded of the Steiner Brothers, since Rick Steiner’s actual given name is Rob Reksteiner, or something of that sort.

    I wonder if Refsnyder does a mean huracarana.

    • Pat D

      Rechsteiner. Gee, I can’t imagine why they shortened it.

      Refsnyder looks nothing like the Steiners, so I’d imagine his hurricanrana abilities are limited.

      • Barry’s Gift Basket

        HAHA i had no idea that people from the States knew about the “Huracarrana” (invented by “El Huracan Ramirez” btw).

        I didn’t know that stuff like that was being done in the WWE (is that what it’s called that wrestle of yours?)

        • jsbrendog

          wcw had a hugely popular cruiserweight division during their peak that popularized a bunch of this stuff (not to mention rey shit-sterio) and had guys like ultimo dragon, la parka, psychosis, etc.

          • Barry’s Gift Basket

            That makes sense, and didn’t know about that.

            Not a fan of wrestling (mexican or american) now, but i definetly followed it when i was like 5-6, there is photographic evidence, and i remember that parka guy, he was supposed to be a personification of death or something like that. Cool.

    • Jim Is Bored

      I keep thinking it’s a typo.

  • vin

    Nudging started the one AZ Fall League game I saw this year. Picture this…

    Beautiful day game in October. Sun is shining, people are abandoning great seats to get in the shade. There’s a slight breeze. In a stadium that holds 5,000, there’s maybe 200 people in the stadium (including Rod Carew). Just a perfect setting for baseball. And on the mound for Scottsdale is a huge power pitcher (Nuding) whose wasting everyone’s time by constantly nibbling. Needless to say his performance was the biggest let down. Slade and Romine were the two best players that day (over Yelich and Hak Ju Lee). Montgomery was awesome. But man did Nuding have a rough day. He looked like a former power pitcher learning to adjust to diminished stuff and velocity. Not sure if the organization wanted him to work on his secondary pitches, or if he was worn down.

  • Pat D

    Ah, Brad Halsey. Every time I see him/hear his name, this is all that comes to mind.


    • Dalek Jeter (formerly: Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle AKA True Yankee(TM))

      Is it bad that I still remember him fondly because of that one game he pitched decently against Pedro and the Sox? I’m 90% sure it was the same game as Jeter flying into the stands.

      • Pat D

        Yes, he pitched that game.


        I always remember him getting shelled by the Mets the week before, which I always thought was part of a 3-game Mets sweep of the Yankees. However, I just looked that up and found that the sweep to which I refer was immediately after the July 1 game.

    • Herby

      I’m sorry you have to be left with Cheesy mustache Paul in your memories…my condolences.

      • Pat D

        I have no idea why the person who made that video used that picture since it wasn’t from that time frame.

  • Charlie

    Mike – when are you planning to publish your top 30 list??

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Tomorrow. It’s all written, just need to add some photos and proofread.

      • Charlie

        That’s great! Thanks as always for the great work!!

      • Pat D

        Proofreading is for suckers. Oh, and people who have journalistic integrity, I suppose.

      • jesse

        Awesome. Can’t wait.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        First typo: You had #1 incorrectly spelled “Rookie Davis.”

  • JobaWockeeZ

    IIRC, Mike had Nunez on the not 30 list 2 years ago and got crap for it while every other publisher had him top 15ish.

    And Mike was the only one right. So really you need is him and Sickels.

    • Ted Nelson

      Nunez has appeared in 180 more MLB games than most guys in the top 30 probably will, so I have to disagree with that sentiment.

  • Andrew J.

    Pitcher Rudy May came to some of our stickball games on the Lower East Side in the early 1970s and took a few hacks with the bat as well.

  • FLYER7

    My daughter went to HS with Mike Olt…and had the same math class in college as Marshon Brooks

  • Herby

    I also went to school with Rik Smits of the Pacers…was in a few classes with him, was always funny seeing him walk around campus with his GF, she only came up to his hip, considering he was 7’3″

  • Tags

    As always this is why I go to RAB for Mikes great insight into the up and coming prospect. Having had a partial season package with the Trenton Thunder for 6 years I might be the most excited about this season with some of the pitching and the possible outfield of Austin, Heathcott and Flores.

  • toad

    Nice article, but could you please, please, learn the difference between “reign,” and “rein.”

    “Take off the reigns” is immensely irritating and, for me anyway, detracts significantly from the content of the post.