Top 10 Players of the year - No. 7
No. 7 - Marcos Vechionacci - IF
Why he's here: When I started this beat back in 2008, Vechionacci was one of the bigger names I was looking forward to watching play. His bat came with great reviews, and his arm was named by Baseball America as the best in the system.
Unfortunately, nagging injuries and plain ineffectiveness derailed his prospect status. Although he had the team's second-most home runs (10) in 2009, he hit a putrid .213/.278/.610. He was a minor league free agent at the end of the year, and elected to return to the Yankees' system, and ultimately Trenton.
Things changed this year, and those changes paid major dividends for himself and the Thunder. He started 2010 as a utility man, stuck behind third baseman Brandon Laird and first baseman Kevin Smith on the depth chart.
When Smith flamed out, however, Vechionacci became the starter at first. And although he didn't always look pretty over there, he more than got the job done. Oh, and he was able to hit a little bit.
Vechionacci raised his average 70 points, up to .283, and bumped his other two slash numbers to .350 and .771. He also homered 11 times and drove home 55 runs. Not quite enough to bump him back to prospect status, but enough to get him job in 2011, even if it's not with the Yankees.
Biggest moment of the season: One could argue that Smith getting released was the season's biggest moment for Vechionacci, but we'll go with a good game instead.
On July 9 in Bowie, Vechionacci went 3-for-4 with a longball and three RBIs in a 4-3 Thunder loss. It was the start of a small bad stretch for the team entering the All-Star break, but Vechionacci was bright spot.
Outlook for 2011: Once again Vechionacci is a free agent, and is tearing the cover off the ball for Navegantes de Magellanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Yankees re-sign him and make him the first baseman in Triple-A Scranton.