New York Yankees Top 20 Prospects for 2018
(this list was updated December 18, 2017, February 26, 2018, and March 13, 2018)
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. All of these grades are subject to change as the winter progresses.
The final grades will be finished sometime in February when all 30 teams are complete.
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. 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) Gleyber Torres, INF, Grade A/A-: Age 20, hit combined .287/.383/.480 with 30 walks, 47 strikeouts in 202 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; was on verge of major league promotion when he blew out his non-throwing elbow and had Tommy John surgery; while there may be some rust to work off in the spring, this is unlikely to have any long-term impact on his career; good feel for the zone, projects to hit for both average and power; weakest tool is speed; defensive tools could fit at any of the infield positions; same grade as last year; ETA 2018.
2) Estevan Florial, OF, Grade B+: Age 20, signed out of Haiti in 2015; was a raw athlete a year ago but made excellent progress with his baseball skills in ’17, hitting combined .298/.372/.479 with 13 homers, 23 steals, 50 walks, 148 strikeouts in 420 at-bats in Low-A and High-A; reputation grew as the summer progressed and this is not a product of Yankee media hype, he’s legit; has the tools to match the numbers with 60 power, 60 speed, 60 arm; swing might need some polish at higher levels to improve contact but he made a lot of progress very quickly, having hit just .225 in rookie ball in ’16; I may ultimately rank him ahead of Adams; ETA 2020 (UPDATED 3/13/18, moving him from number three to number two to match Top 175 prospects list)
3) Chance Adams, RHP, Grade B+: Age 23, went 15-5, 2.45 in 150 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with 135/58 K/BB, just 104 hits allowed; fastball anywhere from 91 to 97 depending on when you see him; heater either has very good movement or is rather straight, depending on which report you believe; all reports agree on his nasty slider and strong makeup, also made progress with his change-up, enough to project him as a starter; his curve may be a bit under-rated; ceiling not quite as high as some of the guys below him but he’s ready for a trial now. ETA 2018.
4) Justus Sheffield, LHP, Grade B+: Age 21, first round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2014, traded to Yankees in Andrew Miller deal; limited to 98 innings by strained oblique but performed reasonably, posting 3.12 ERA with 88/34 K/BB between Double-A and rookie ball rehab work; 93-96 with peaks at 97-98, highly impressive for a lefty; command of slider and change-up can be erratic but when everything is working he shows three plus pitches; I’d like to see a lower walk rate but overall his stock is holding. ETA late 2018.
5) Miguel Andujar, 3B, Grade B+/B: Age 22, signed by Yankees in 2011 from Dominican Republic; stock has gone up and down over the years, back up again following .315/.353/.498 campaign in Double-A and Triple-A, 29 walks, 71 strikeouts in 480 at-bats; went 4-for-7 in the majors with two doubles; when his swing is working he hits for both power and average but his mechanics come unglued at times and his approach is aggressive; more consistent with his swing in ’17 and tapped into his power more often; I am increasingly confident in his hitting but his glove at third base remains erratic, cannon arm with average range but reliability remains substandard; arm would look good in right field but he’s been exclusively a third baseman to this point. ETA 2018.
6) Albert Abreu, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 22, signed by Astros in 2013 from Dominican Republic, traded to Yankees in 2016 Brian McCann deal; limited to 53 innings in 2017 by elbow problems, posting 3.38 ERA with 61/18 K/BB between A-ball and rookie ball rehab; can hit 100+; breaking stuff and change-up inconsistent but project well, should have three plus pitches; main issues remain durability and command. ETA late 2019.
7) Domingo Acevedo, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 23, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2012; 3.25 ERA with 142/34 K/BB in 133 innings between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A; can hit 100 with higher peaks but more consistently in 95-98 range which is plenty; throws strikes and has a good change-up but breaking stuff still erratic and he’s sometimes hit harder than he should be given his velocity; mixed opinion on if he starts or relieves; I have been viewing him as a starter most of the time but am starting to agree with observers who see his delivery as a better fit in the bullpen. ETA 2018 (UPDATED 3/13/2018 to move him one spot behind Abreu)
8) Freicer Perez, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014; posted 2.84 ERA in 124 innings in Low-A, 117/45 K/BB; doesn’t get as much press as Guzman, Abreu, or Acevedo but is certainly no slouch, with fastball in mid-90s and reported higher peaks; whippy delivery with 6-8 frame, throws strikes most of the time, curveball and change-up need more work but he had enough to perform well in full-season ball; you can make a case to rank him ahead of the better-known arms. ETA late 2019.
9) Thairo Estrada, INF, Grade B: Age 21, signed out of Venezuela in 2012; played most of 2017 at age 20 in Double-A, hitting .301/.353/.392 with six homers, 34 walks, 56 strikeouts in 495 at-bats; draws praise for range and polish at shortstop, has also performed well in limited looks at second and third base but can be more than just a utility infielder; not much raw power but makes contact and has hit for average so far; given his age it is possible that more power may come, at least to the gaps; would get more notice in a system with less depth. ETA late 2018.
10) Dillon Tate, RHP, Grade B-/B: Age 23, first round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2015, traded to Yankees in Carlos Beltran deal; posted 2.81 ERA in 83 innings between High-A and Double-A with 63/24 K/BB, 71 hits; history of nagging injuries and durability concerns but effective when healthy in ’17; mid-90s heat, often higher, both slider and change-up are plus on his best days, giving hope that he can start, but he’s never exceeded 83 innings in pro ball; probably winds up in pen. ETA 2019.
11) Domingo German, RHP, Grade B-:: Age 25, signed by Miami Marlins in 2010 from Dominican Republic; traded to Yankees in 2014; posted 2.88 ERA in 109 innings between Double-A and Triple-A with 119/32 K/BB; posted 3.14 ERA in 14 innings out of Yankees bullpen with 18/9 K/BB; fastball up to 97, good change-up, breaking ball is pretty good, too; performed well as a starter in minors but likely a reliever long-term, could close. ETA 2018.
12) Billy McKinney, OF, Grade B-: Age 23, certainly a well-known prospect at this point having been involved in two major trades; hit .250/.339/.431 in 232 at-bats in Double-A then .306/.336/.541 in 209 at-bats in Triple-A; in a certain sense nothing has changed, still combines average overall tools with hustle and good game feel; in another sense I really don’t know what to make of him at this point; hits extremely well at times but prone to stretches of mediocre performance; at this point I’m not sure who the real McKinney is; will just slap a B- on there and call it good for now. ETA 2018.
13) Luis Medina, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015; posted 5.35 ERA with 39/24 K/BB in 39 innings between Dominican Summer League and Appalachian League; burns radar with 100 MPH fastball, projects above-average with both curveball and change-up but command is weak at this point; advocates see a top-of-the-rotation arm but he needs time, polish; ETA 2022.
14) Matt Sauer, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 18, second round pick in 2017 from high school in Santa Maria, California; had first round buzz so good value in this round; 5.40 ERA with 12/8 K/BB in 12 innings in rookie ball; clocked as high as 96-97 but more commonly around 92-93; solid breaking ball; like most young power pitchers he need work with change-up and command but has a high ceiling; ETA 2022.
15) Trevor Stephan, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, third round pick in 2017 from University of Arkansas, posted 1.39 ERA with 43/6 K/BB in 32 innings in New York-Penn League, only 20 hits allowed; overpowering in debut with 90-96 fastball, slider, strike-throwing ability, gave up zero homers; development of change-up will determine if he starts or relieves; would get much more attention in a thinner system. ETA 2021.
16) Nolan Martinez, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 19, third round pick in 2016 from high school in California; has barely pitched due to shoulder problems but was on the mound by late July, just 14 innings in 2017 but with only one run allowed, eight hits and 14/3 K/BB; low-90s fastball with potential plus curve, throws strikes; obviously we need more data but someone to watch and easy to miss on a cursory exam of the system. ETA 2022.
17) Juan De Paula, RHP, Grade C+: Age 20, signed by Seattle Mariners out of Dominican Republic in 2014, traded to Yankees for Ben Gamel; posted 2.90 ERA in 62 innings in NY-P with 53/25 K/BB, 42 hits, zero homers; fastball 90-94 with a chance for more due to projectable build, change-up is very advanced for his age and flashes a good curve, seems like a good candidate to step forward in 2018. ETA 2021.
18) Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, originally in San Francisco Giants system Nicaraguan right-hander signed with Yankees as a free agent in 2016; posted 1.38 ERA in 33 innings between rookie ball and New York-Penn League with 33/3 K/BB, earning spot on 40-man roster; throws strikes with fastball up to 96 and a plus curveball; need to see at higher levels but an intriguing arm. ETA 2020.
19) Dermis Garcia, 3B, Grade C+: Age 20, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 for $3,000,000; hit .270/.397/.565 in 115 at-bats in the Appalachian League and .227/.312/.518 in 110 at-bats in Low-A, combined for 17 homers, 38 walks, 81 strikeouts; excellent bat speed with 60-grade raw power at least; pitch recognition has improved but still has some way to go; third base arm stands out but glove otherwise rough; high-ceiling bat with high risk as well; ETA 2022.
20) Giovanny Gallegos, RHP, Grade C+: Age 26, from Mexico, 2.08 ERA in 43 Triple-A innings, 69/11 K/BB, just 28 hits; pitched 20 major league innings with 4.87 ERA but sharp 22/5 K/BB, FIP much better at 3.68; low-to-mid-90s fastball and a quality breaking ball combined with sharp control should make him a competent middle man and he’s ready now; ETA 2018.
OTHER GRADE C+ Tyler Austin, 1B-OF-DL; Oswaldo Cabrera, INF: Cody Carroll, RHP; Jake Cave, OF; Phillip Diehl, LHP; Raynel Espinal, RHP; J.P. Feyereisen, RHP; Deivi Garcia, RHP; Rony Garcia, RHP; Isiah Gilliam, OF; Ben Heller, RHP; Kyle Holder, INF;
Gosuke Katoh, 2B: Brian Keller, RHP; Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP; Glenn Otto, RHP; Hoy Jun Park, INF; Everson Pereira, OF; James Reeves, LHP; Adonis Rosa, RHP; Donny Sands, C; Clarke Schmidt, RHP; Canaan Smith, OF; Stephen Tarpley, LHP; Tyler Wade, INF
OTHERS OF NOTE: Abiatal Avelino, 2B; Gustavo Campero, C; Will Carter, RHP; Diego Castillo, INF; Roansy Contreras, RHP; Harold Cortijo, RHP; Cale Coshow, RHP; Frederick Cuevas, OF; Chris Gittens, 1B; Nick Green, RHP; Jeff Hendrix, OF; Kyle Higashioka, C; Dalton Higgins, RHP; Jhalan Jackson, OF;Dalton Lehnen, LHP; Tim Lynch, 1B
Garrett Mundell, RHP; Pablo Olivares, OF; Jio Orozco, RHP; Alexander Palma, OF; Oswald Peraza, SS; Luis Rijo, RHP; Josh Rogers, LHP; Jordan Scott, OF; Steven Sensley, OF Juan Then, RHP; Alexander Vargas, RHP; Carlos Vidal, OF; Garrett Whitlock, RHP
The Yankees have insane depth and a large number of the “Other C+” guys would rank on Top 20 lists in other systems. There is so much depth here it is rather overwhelming.
Some of these grades may actually be too conservative.
I will be traveling this weekend but will pop in when I can to answer questions about any of these players. Thank you for your patience!