The New York Yankees farm system seemingly feel apart in the mid-2000s. Names like Jesus Montero, Slade Heathcott, Cito Culver, Dante Bichette, Jr. and Tyler Austin simply didn't pan out as hoped.
That all changed with the 2013 draft. Like the core of the late 90s dynasty, this draft class seems to have formed a solid nucleus on the farm awaiting their turn.
The big three of the first round are well known by now. Eric Jagielo, should he stay healthy, is rounding into a monster power hitter. New York can hardly contain themselves awaiting the arrival of Aaron Judge, and although also injured, promising lefty Ian Clarkin provides hope for the future rotation.
Several other names deeper down the draft board, like Tyler Webb and Nick Rumbelow — who made his Bronx debut this season — are proving to be valuable Minor League depth and perhaps worthy of spot help at the big league level just two seasons into their young careers.
Two other 2013 draftees are quietly putting together nice seasons in Tampa, adding to the Yankees haul from one of their more memorable drafts in some time.
Much of the talk in the Yankees system surrounding who will fill the void that Derek Jeter left behind focuses on the hot hitting speedster Jorge Mateo in Charleston. What Wade has done this season in Tampa, however, can not be ignored.
Wade was selected in the fourth round of that 2013 draft and he put together a nice debut season in the GCL. The 20-year old shortstop digressed somewhat last year in Charleston, raising some red flags. He has bounced back this season.
Wade is currently slashing .293/.354/.367 at Tampa through 89 games. He already has doubled his career output in home runs and has surpassed his stolen base total from last year. Despite an improved stolen base percentage of 67%, he could still get better on the base paths so that speed isn't wasted.
Wade is never going to be a power bat, but has gap power that can create a lot of havoc matched with his speed. Wade’s biggest problem thus far in his career has been taking a walk, and this season he is drawing them at an all time low of 8.4 percent. His strike out rate, however, has improved tremendously.
Last season, Wade struck out 118 times in 576 plate appearance (20.5%) while walking a mere 57 times. This season he has cut down the strikeouts, whiffing 59 times in 383 plate appearances (15%). I can live with a 59:32 strikeout to walk ratio much easier than 2014’s 118:57.
Wade had some defensive lapses earlier this season, and has already accumulated more errors this year (25) than 2014 (22). He has all the physical skills, however, possessing quick feet and a strong enough arm to make plays from shortstop as he matures.
Well more than half of those errors (15) came before June, and surprisingly enough his range factor is the best it’s been at shortstop in his young career (4.26). Even Jeter was not one known for his defense in his early days.
Wade isn’t the next Yankees superstar just yet and he won’t be threatening Didi Gregorius’ job in 2016. At a mere 20 years of age he is showing positive progressions that hint at him being a capable Major League infielder.
It’s hard to believe Fowler is the same player he was in Charleston in 2014. The 20-year old centerfielder who was selected in the 18th round was known for his speed and defense. He had a modest offensive season last year, slashing .257/.292/..459 with nine home runs and a mere three stolen bases in five chances.
This year, he has improved in every aspect. The speedy outfielder, who’s arm appears to be strong enough to cover any outfield position, is having an unreal season in the field. Fowler has made one error in 155 total chances between Charleston and Tampa. More impressively he has added eight outfield assists, turning three double plays in the process. His 2.17 range factor is his best yet.
Offensively, Fowler is showing better strike zone recognition and more of that plus speed the Yankees saw when they drafted him. He is slashing .306/.344/.397 across two levels, and has stolen 27 bases in 37 tries (73%).
Like Wade, he has improved his strike out rate this season with a career low 17.7% rate. But with the speed he possesses, he needs to get much closer to a 10% walk ratio than his current 5.2% walk rate to become more effective. On a positive note, since being promoted to Tampa, his walk rate has vastly improved to a better 7.3%.
Fowler does have some pop in his bat. He stands pretty straight in the box, with a little upper cut to his swing. He currently is still searching for his first High-A home run, but I can see modest home run numbers in his future.
Standing at 6 foot and 185 pounds, Fowler has a bit of Brett Gardner in him, and I don’t think many Yankees fans will be upset to hear that. His speed and defensive prowess at multiple positions could one day give him the chance to progress through the Yankees ranks like both Gardner and Melky Cabrera had before him.