There is a saying in sports: “Prospects will always break your heart.” Despite this, one cannot help but look to the future and try to project what type of impact the young guns in the minor leagues can have one day in the big leagues.
As the Yankees are enduring a .500 season, it is only natural to look at the prospects they have. With the trade deadline approaching fast, some of these prospects could be on the block, but the Yankees would have to be blown away to deal any of these studs.
In order to be considered a prospect, the player cannot have accrued over 45 days of Major League service time, which eliminates Rob Refsnyder, Greg Bird, and Luis Severino from the list.
Without further ado, here is a look at the Yankees’ Top 10 Prospects.
This has been a banner year for Yankee prospects, and there are too many good ones that aren’t on this list. As such, I’d like to recognize 3 starting pitchers and 2 position players that just missed the list.
Starters Luis Cessa, Dietrich Enns, and Jordan Montgomery all narrowly missed the list, as did third baseman Miguel Andujar and center fielder Mason Williams.
Cessa was acquired along with Chad Green for Justin Wilson this past offseason, and has impressed in the minors and in the majors alike this year. Enns has simply dominated the minors this year, posting a combined ERA of 1.73 in AA and AAA. Montgomery has made a name for himself with his penchant for strikeouts at AA Trenton.
For the position players, Andujar has collectively raked in both high-A and AA ball, and Williams is working his way back from a major shoulder injury.
10. Bryan Mitchell (RHP, Highest Level: MLB)
Mitchell cracks this list despite a foot injury knocking him out of action for most of the 2016 season. The 6’3″, 210-lb. righty was expected to take on a prominent role in the Yankee bullpen this year but that never materialized due to injury.
Mitchell has some of the best pure stuff in the Yankee system. He can hit 98 with his fastball, has a nasty curveball, and a developing cutter and changeup. A starter throughout his minor league career, Mitchell may be better suited as a reliever at the big league level.
The Yankees will expect big things next year out of Mitchell.
9. Ben Gamel (OF, MLB)
Gamel has continued his rise through the Yankee minor league system with a brief cup of coffee with the big club in May. Gamel has shown remarkable improvement over the last two-and-a-half seasons, raising his average to near .300. He has plus speed and arm strength, and can play any outfield position.
Gamel doesn’t look like anything super flashy at first, but he profiles as a prototypical leadoff center fielder with pop one day.
8. Dustin Fowler (CF, AA)
Fowler is a player quite similar to Gamel; he too profiles as a leadoff center fielder with speed and pop. I have gotten a chance to see Fowler a number of times at AA Trenton this year, and I have been very impressed with the youngster.
Fowler has plus bat speed and consistently makes contact. He always seems to be sparking something at the top of the lineup and is a fine defender in center field. Fowler has hit .298 and .275 over the last two years, but only has a .301 OBP this season. Some more plate discipline could turn Fowler into a starting MLB outfielder.
7. Tyler Wade (SS/2B, AA)
For some reason, Tyler Wade consistently gets overlooked in the Yankee minor league system, but once you watch Wade play, he is hard to forget. The speedy middle infielder is a flashy defender, a .274 hitter, and gets on base at a whopping .374 clip. He doesn’t have home run power, but he is a slashing line-to-line hitter.
Wade is more major-league-ready than fellow shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo, but he does have a lower ceiling. A promotion to AAA is probably in the cards for Wade sooner rather than later, something that he deserves immensely.
6. Chad Green (RHP, MLB)
The other player acquired for Justin Wilson along with Luis Cessa, Green is currently in the New York Yankees’ rotation. While he may not stay for long, Green certainly deserves a shot. He has overwhelmed at AAA, striking out over a batter per inning while accumulating a WHIP of 0.98, an ERA of 1.54, and a minuscule .207 BAA.
Green has a power fastball that can reach 97 mph, a grounder-inducing sinker that sits around 93 mph, an 85 mph slider with sweeping movement and a developing cutter that could end up becoming his finest pitch.
Green has a major league makeup and is ready for his first extended shot in the bigs.
5. Ian Clarkin (LHP, A+)
A former first-round pick, southpaw Ian Clarkin has yet to make it out of high-A ball but has developed quite the reputation as a plus starter. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but both his curveball and changeup are strikeout pitches and his control has improved over time.
Clarkin missed all of the 2o15 season with shoulder and elbow issues, but he is healthy and ready to go now. A promotion to AA Trenton could be forthcoming later this summer.
4. James Kaprielian (RHP, A+)
The Yankees’ first-round selection last year, Kaprielian has an impressive makeup. The 6’4″, 200-lb. righty has four pitches, and he feels confident in all of them. His fastball can reach 95 mph, and his curve, slider, and changeup are reliable out pitches.
Unfortunately, Kaprielian’s rise has been marred by injury. He is currently on the DL with an elbow injury and has only made 3 starts (he had a 1.50 ERA and over a strikeout per inning before going on the DL). If Kaprielian can stay healthy, he has a bright future ahead of him.
3. Gary Sanchez (C, MLB)
It seems like Sanchez has been around forever, but he is still only 23 years old and has finally seen some limited MLB time. By now we all know what to expect with Sanchez: a .250 average, 20+ homers, a good arm, and questionable catching skills. However, Sanchez has improved his catching immensely this year and raised his average to .281.
Sanchez will represent the World team in the MLB Futures Game next week, a sign that he is among the top catching prospects in all the land. He is being groomed to take over the backup role next year and the starter’s job by 2018.
2. Aaron Judge (RF, AAA)
The hulking Judge has had an up-and-down AAA career, but he has most recently been up. Currently leading the International League in home runs with 16 dingers, he will participate in the AAA Home Run Derby.
With Judge, what you see is what you get: the 6’7″, 275-lb. outfielder is a future cleanup batter that will routinely strike out, but will also routinely hit homers. He has a surprising .361 OBP despite his high strikeout totals, has stolen 5 bags, and can take over games. The Yankees are hoping to have Judge patrolling right field full-time next season.
1. Jorge Mateo (SS, A+)
Mateo has the crown as the Yankees’ top prospect, and with good reason. He has a lively bat, has shown improving pop, is a plus fielder, and of course has 80-grade speed. Mateo has stolen over 100 bags over the last two seasons and is nearing a promotion to AA Trenton.
It remains to be seen if Mateo can continue this massive success in the higher levels of the minor leagues, but I’d wager on yes. Mateo has an impressive makeup and looks to be the next great Yankee infielder.