New York Yankees Top 20 Prospects for 2016
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Age 23, hit .274/.330/.485 with 18 homers, 29 walks, 78 strikeouts in 365 at-bats in Double-A/Triple-A, threw out 37% of stealers with significant reductions in passed ball and error rates as receiving improved. Can stay behind the plate, getting to his power more often, and seems to have matured emotionally after previous problems.
2) Jorge Mateo, SS, Grade B+: Age 20, hit .278/.345/.392 between Low-A and High-A with strong run late (.321/.374/.452 for Tampa), stole 82 bases, 43/98 BB/K in 449 at-bats. Top-shelf speed and uses it well, may or may not develop more power, tools fit at shortstop but needs more polish as you’d expect given his age. You can make a good case to rank him ahead of Sanchez and I may ultimately do so when the Top 150 prospects list comes out in March.
3) Aaron Judge, OF, Grade B+/B: Age 23 (24 in April), hit .284/.350/.516 with 12 homers in 250 at-bats in Double-A then .224/.308/.373 with eight homers in 228 at-bats in Triple-A. Huge 6-7 wingspan and the power to match, has some pure hitting skills though Triple-A pitchers were able to contain him more often than not, an under-rated fielder. Impact power but still uncertain what his batting average and OBP will look like.
4) James Kaprielian, RHP, Grade B+/B: Age 21 (22 in March), first round pick out of UCLA, ace of the staff there, good curve, good slider, good change-up, throws strikes, main question revolves around fastball which was 88-92 in college but hit 93-96 in the New York-Penn League. Very polished; an Aaron Nola-like rapid rise is possible under the right conditions.
5) Domingo Acevedo, RHP, Grade B: Age 21, posted 1.69 ERA with 53/15 K/BB in 48 innings in New York-Penn League, huge guy (6-6, 240) with huge fastball (95-100 MPH, peaking at 102-103 according to some reports), good change-up, breaking ball is inconsistent. Questions about command and long-term role, could be dominant ace-type if breaking ball comes along, perhaps a closer if it doesn’t.
6) Rob Refsnyder, 2B, Grade B-/B: Age 24, hit .271/.359/.401 in Triple-A then .302/.348/.512 in 43 major league at-bats. Not toolsy but knows how to play, solid hitter with surprising pop and decent strike zone judgment, main problem is finding a place in the lineup given mediocre glove at second base. Has college experience in the outfield, could be versatile roster asset with nice bat.
7) Wilkerman Garcia, SS, Grade B-: Age 17, hit .281/.396/.347 with 25 walks, 19 strikeouts in 121 at-bats in Gulf Coast League, signed for $1,350,000 in 2014 as part of huge Yankees international class, definitely the most advanced of the lot at this point as several of the others (notably Dermis Garcia, Juan De Leon) have been disappointing or mediocre so far. Wilkerman shows excellent strike zone judgment, runs well, may develop some power, has tools for shortstop but needs experience. Could plausibly be at the top of this list within 12 months.
8) Dustin Fowler, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 21, hit .307/.340/.419 in High-A then .289/.328/.370 in Double-A, stole 30 bases. Good athlete with nice swing from left side, speed, good reviews for his defense, main question is power projection. Some risk of tweenerdom and more likely a role player, albeit a good one, than a regular in my view.
9) Kyle Holder, SS, Grade B-/C+: Age 21, first round pick in 2015 from University of San Diego, hit disappointing .213/.273/.253 in New York-Penn League. Fine athlete and major league-ready with the glove, could be Gold Glove eventually if he hits enough to play regularly, which is a serious question. Makes contact but lack of power was a big problem in NY-P.
10) Ian Clarkin, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 20, missed season with sore elbow but pitched in Arizona Fall League and looked rusty. When healthy, throws strikes with lively fastball, curve, change combination and looks like a number three starter, maybe more. Big question is durability.
11) Jacob Lindgren, LHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 22, hard-thrower was in the majors within a year of being drafted out of Mississippi State, closer potential but went down in June with bone spurs. Command, durability key concerns.
ANALYST NOTE: Grade C+ prospects in the 12-20 slots can be ordered in many different ways with good logic. Consider this more of a tiered approach in comparison to the top 11 rather than an exact ordering.
12) Tyler Wade, INF, Grade C+: Age 21, hit .280/.349/.353 with 31 steals in 368 at-bats in High-A but just .204/.224/.265 in 113 at-bats in Double-A, strike zone got away from him at higher levels (two walks, 24 strikeouts). One of many interesting infielders but lacks the ultimate ceiling of Mateo or Garcia, doesn’t have Holder’s glove or Refsnyder’s bat. Best attribute is speed.
13) Abiatal Avelino, INF, Grade C+: Age 20, hit .252/.309/.321 with 38 steals in High-A, best attribute is defense, solid at shortstop and excellent at second base, steals more on instinct than pure speed. Like Wade, he is very interesting but doesn’t have the broad skill base of Mateo or Garcia.
14) Mason Williams, OF, Grade C+: Age 24, just as everyone was giving up on him he turned career around with .318/.397/.398 run through high minors, promoted to majors, played eight games (.286/.318/.571) then hurt his shoulder. Skills looked much better until the injury. Attitude questions have been his biggest problem, not tools. Impossible to predict, your guess is as good as anyone else’s. My guess is that he’s a fourth outfielder.
15) Ben Gamel, OF, Grade C+: Age 23, breakout season in Triple-A with .300/.358/.472 line, 28 doubles, 14 triples, 10 homers, 13 steals, 46 walks, 108 strikeouts in 500 at-bats. Has never hit like this before although scouts have respected his swing since high school and he has bloodlines as Matt Gamel’s younger brother. Does not have Williams’ athletic gifts but could have similar value as fourth outfielder.
16) Drew Finley, RHP, Grade C+: Age 19, third round pick in 2015 from San Diego high school, posted 3.94 ERA with 41/19 K/BB in 32 innings in Appy League. Advanced curveball and change-up for his age, fastball average at his point but may pick up, good reputation for makeup, pitchability.
17) Hoy Jun Park, SS, Grade C+: Age 19, hit .239/.351/.383 with 12 steals, 34 walks, 50 strikeouts in 222 at-bats in Appy League. $1,000,000 signing out of Korea, another guy with shortstop tools and fairly polished for his age, lacks strength with the bat but showed a decent eye, has potential to improve as a hitter.
18) Cale Coshow, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, easy to miss as season was split between three levels but posted combined 2.45 ERA with 97/28 K/BB in 114 innings, 85 hits, finished well in Double-A. 94-97 fastball, some reports at 99-100, plus slider as well, command took a step forward. Change-up needs more work, huge guy at 6-5, 260. Intriguing sleeper prospect.
19) Miguel Andujar, 3B, Grade C+: Age 20, hit .243/.288/.363 in High-A, which was league-average production for power-starved Florida State League. Season was virtually identical to Low-A campaign in 2014, including cold start, hot finish, and erratic defense. Hard to give up on very strong arm at third base but needs a lot of polish.
20) Luis Torrens, C, Grade C+: Age 19, missed season with labrum tear, tough injury for a catcher. Before injury showed above-average tools as both hitter and defender but we need to see how his recovery looks in the spring.
OTHER GRADE C+: Chance Adams, RHP; Jeff Degano, LHP; Jordan Montgomery, LHP; Nick Rumbelow, RHP
OTHERS OF NOTE: Trey Amburgey, OF; Luis Cessa, RHP; Domingo German, RHP; Isiah Gilliam, OF-1B; Nick Goody, RHP; Chad Green, RHP; Slade Heathcott, OF; Jhalan Jackson, OF; Brady Lail, RHP; James Pazos, LHP; Carlos Vidal, OF
I will be around in the comments section Monday and will answer questions about particular players plus anyone not listed (like the expensive Latin American guys who haven’t done much yet).