: Marcos VechionacciPosition
: 6'2", 170 lbsBats
: August 7, 1986Hometown
: Valencia, VenezuelaSigned
: August 22, 2002 out of Venezuela. Received a $250,000 bonus.Background
: Even though Vechionacci (nicknamed Vech) is heading into his fourth year with the organization, he's still only 19 years old. He spent 2003 in the Dominican Summer League, eventually moving to the States to begin the 2004 season. He's climbed the ladder steadily, progressing from the Rookie level GCL Yanks to short season Staten Island in 2004, and even made a 1 game cameo in High Class-A Tampa. He spent 2005 with Low-A Charleston, where he started off poorly but improved as the year wore on. He finished his first venture into full season ball with a .252-.314-.348-.662 line, and may have tired towards the end of the year.Strengths
: Simply put, Vechionacci can pick it. After signing as a shortstop, he's bounced around from short to second and then back to short, but he's finally settled in at third base. He's clearly the organization's top infield defender, thanks to his Gold Glove caliber tools that included swift reactions, soft hands and a strong, accurate arm. He has advanced discipline at the plate for his age, and uses his smooth swing to spray hits to all fields. He has only average speed, but has shown a willingness to steal the occasional base (21 career SB).Weaknesses
: Vechionacci's bat doesn't fit the profile of a typical third baseman. He needs to strengthen up to add some loft and generate more over-the-fence power, but he does have decent power to the gaps now. His greatest need at the plate is learning to stay back on breaking balls, though he has improved in the area since he came to the States. His confidence suffered somewhat following last season, a situation that must be addressed in order for Vechionacci to fulfill his potential.Comparison
: Vechionacci's pro debut in the U.S. was outstanding, especially when you consider he was the youngest player on the field day after day. Looking at the U.S. debut of other middle infield talents the Yankees have signed off the international market in recent years makes Vechionacci's debut even more impressive:
|Alfonso Soriano*||Rookie, AA, AAA||21||.281||.336||.474||.810||2.32|
|Robinson Cano||Rookie, Short Season||18||.230||.328||.361||.688||1.04|
|Vechionacci||Rookie, Short Season, High-A||17||.318||.390||.454||.844||1.39|* Soriano had 129 games (over 2 seasons) worth of playing time in Japan prior to coming to the U.S.
Of the three, you can easily argue Vechionacci had the best pro debut when you consider each player's age when they broke into pro ball. I don't intend to say that Vechionacci is the second coming of Alfonso Soriano, I'm just trying to but his performance in perspective.Outlook
: I will shamelessly admit Vechionacci is my favorite Yankees non-pitching prospect. He's still very young, has very good tools across the board and plays like a man 5 years his elder
. He's still has a ways to go as far as growing physically, so it's reasonable to expect him to add some power, although his speed may suffer. Given his relatively disappointing season at Charleston, he'll hop of the fast track and most likely return there to begin 2006 in hopes of sparking his bat and improving his confidence. He also has the best third baseman on the planet blocking him at the ML level, which buys him more development time. Vechionacci could develop into a Joe Randa type - outstanding defender with a decent bat - in time, but at the least he should be a serviceable utility infielder in the big leagues. If he continnues to improve his game, he could also become a prime piece of trade bait as he gets older.