Four Yankees crack Baseball America’s Top 20 Florida State League prospects list



After placing three prospects on the Low-A South Atlantic League list last week, the Yankees had four prospects on Baseball America’s top 20 High-A Florida State League prospects today. OF Tyler Austin ranked eighth while C Gary Sanchez was right behind him at number nine. OF Slade Heathcott and LHP Nik Turley were further down at 17th and 18th, respectively. Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez topped the list and was followed by former Yankees first rounder RHP Gerrit Cole, now with the Pirates. The list is free for all.

Austin and Sanchez ranked fourth and fifth in the Sally League list last week, respectively, and the subscriber-only scouting reports were nearly identical. “Austin’s most notable asset may be his ability to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat,” wrote the publication while adding that Sanchez has “learned that he could (hit) balls over the fence without swinging from his heels.” OF Mason Williams only got 86 plate appearances with High-A Tampa before injuring his shoulder, so he didn’t have enough playing time to qualify for the list. RHP Mark Montgomery had enough innings to qualify but just didn’t make the cut.

The 21-year-old Heathcott garnered some high praise for his exciting tools, including “above-average power and plus-plus speed.” The major concern is his durability, as he’s already had two left shoulder surgeries since being drafted in 2009 and plays with the kind of reckless abandon that could make it difficult for him to stay on the field consistently. Playing all-out is great, but Slade probably needs to scale it back a bit. An opposing manager said Heathcott was his “favorite player in the league … He can flat-out play the game. He has great energy, he plays defense, he runs and he has power. He did it all against us. It’s just a matter of staying on the field.”

(Mark LoMoglio)

Turley, 23, drew comparisons to Andy Pettitte for his big frame and delivery. The 6-for-6, 230 lbs. southpaw “works his 89-92 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, setting up a big-breaking curveball that can freeze hitters.” Baseball America notes that his changeup is erratic, but he uses his size to throw downhill and generate ground balls (49% this season). The Pettitte comparisons are lofty and will create unrealistic expectations, so I feel obligated to tell you that when Andy was Turley’s age, he was already in the big leagues and in the team’s rotation for good.

The next list relevant to the Yankees is the Double-A Eastern League, which will be released tomorrow. The only Yankees farmhands who are candidates for that list are RHP Brett Marshall, OF Zoilo Almonte, and IF David Adams, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were shut out of the top 20 entirely. Good but not great prospects rarely crack a Double-A top 20. The Yankees didn’t place anyone on the Short Season NY-Penn League or Rookie Gulf Coast League lists.

Categories : Minors


  1. RetroRob says:

    Comparisons always create unrealistic expectations. Jesus Montero was supposed to be Miguel Cabrera or Frank Thomas.

  2. All Praise Be To Mo says:

    Excited about a full healthy year from Slade. If him and Williams keep it up, do either have the bat/arm for RF or LF in YS3?

    • RetroRob says:

      I both are considered plus defenders, hence they play CF. Slade has the stronger throwing arm. My guess is if they both were to make the Yankees they’d keep Williams in CF and move Heathcott to one of the corner positions.

    • Bo Knows says:

      Absolutely the best case scenario is that Slade, Tyler and Mason work out and Ny has its OF set for the next decade and some change. OF course things rarely workc out like that, but this is relatively new territory, when is the last time the yankees top prospects were mostly position players?

      • All Praise Be To Mo says:

        That would be awesome, Slade/Mason/Tyler in the OF, nice and cheap and homegrown. Plus gives them the chance to trade Gardner in a couple years before he gets too expensive for an upgrade elsewhere.

  3. Robinson Tilapia says:

    The caveat to the Turley/Pettitte comparison made me chuckle. Thanks, Axisa (actually checked to make sure Mike wrote that.)

  4. Robinson Tilapia says:

    The caveat to the Turley/Pettitte comparison made me chuckle. Thanks, Axisa (actually checked to make sure Mike wrote that.)

  5. Naved says:

    Mark Montgomery?

  6. Preston says:

    What is BA’s criteria for compiling these lists? Is it about who’s the best big league talent, or who was the most productive at that level? Wilmer Flores seems a little low, he’s 21 and spent half a season at AA hitting .311/.361/.494. I would definitely rather have him than Heathcott or Turley, and I’m a big Heathcott fan.

    • JohnnyC says:

      I think it’s based more on ML potential than present performance. Flores is a Montero-like player in that he’s got the hit tool with corner infielder power but someone who has no defensive upside (he projects as a 1st baseman despite currently playing 3rd base) and has well-below average speed. He was flashing upside as a teenage shortstop but the hype has died down as he’s aged and filled out physically. He’s one dimensional now.

    • RetroRob says:

      Projection and skills rank ahead of performance.

      Go back and look at Miguel Cabrera’s minor league numbers. He wasn’t blowing it away at the lower levels, but scored very high in the BA rankings. The talent was obvious.

      As for Flores, not sure why you bring him up. He played in AA in the Eastern League and has consistently ranked in BA’s top 100 overall rankings. This is a list of top-20 A-ball Sally league prospects.

      It’s nice with Mets fans stop by.

      • JohnnyC says:

        I hear his teammates call him “Fred” as in Fred and Wilmer Flores.

      • Preston says:

        I brought up Flores because he was ranked 19 on the list below Turley and Heathcott. Which seems inexplicable considering this season was somewhat of a breakout for him. I’m in no way a Mets fan. Just wondered how a 21 yo who was promoted to AA and raked is ranked below a guy who has questionable contact skills and has struggled to stay healthy and a 23 yo pitcher who barely cracks ninety and has only logged 5 innings at AA. If it’s strictly based on their stats this year in A+, I get it. If it’s based on their overall prospect ranking I think it’s not accounting for Turley’s age vs. level and Heathcott’s frailty and alarming K rate.

        • JohnnyC says:

          He’s a limited player. Good hit, no position and slow as molasses. That’s like 1 and a half tools. Heathcott has at least 4 solid to plus tools and Turley’s a lefthander with projectable command. What’s to wonder about?

          • Preston says:

            Castellanos and Yelich are limited players too, which didn’t stop them from being 4th and 5th on this list. So are Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin for that matter. But the hit tool is what matters, the rest of them aren’t useful unless you can hit enough to get on the field and show them, see Gordon, Dee. I would be very surprised if Heathcott is ranked ahead of Flores on very many top 100 lists. I’d be even more surprised if Turley made a top 100 list. So that would lead you to wonder if there were different criteria for this list.

            • bill says:

              Who cares about Met Prospect Wilmer Flores what about Ramon flores

              • Preston says:

                I also like Ramon Flores, thought he had a chance to make this list. Doesn’t have the power or speed of Heathcott, but might be the better all around player.

            • Bo Knows says:

              He’s a hacker, this year is the first time he’s walked more than 30 times that and the fact he repeated A+ in three three separate years probably limits the excitement on him. The Yankee Prospects were all hitting well from their debut at these harder levels

        • RetroRob says:

          Okay, thanks for the clarification, and yes that does seem a bit odd. Flores split his time in the two leagues, so his “prospect status” should be viewed fairly high since he moved up to AA and did even better. He has been consistently ranked as a top-100 prospect by BA, so I’d imagine his status would go up overall having moved up to AA and performed well.

          Perhaps Mike has some insight on it.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          This is not a AA ranking. You can’t retroactively look at AA performance to rank him in A+.

          It’s also not a MiLB productivity ranking. If you are a future 1B you better rake to have any MLB future. Not the case for a CF.

  7. Wayne says:

    I like turleys built more than petittes built. He may or may not turn out to be as good as pettite . But remember the player that takes longer to develop sometimes turns out to be the better player. He is tall and has good weight on him, big hands , throws hard enough to me , pretty good delivery plus they say he pitches with a lot of heart too. You never know , he could be in big leagues by next year at twenty four years of age. That is still young.

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