Yankees land three on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

One day after posting his farm system rankings, Keith Law released his list of the top 100 prospects in baseball today (1-50, 51-100, subs. req’d). Twins OF Byron Buxton tops the list and is the clear number one prospect in the game right now. No doubt about it. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts and Athletics SS Addison Russell follow him to round out the top three. The Yankees landed three players on the list: C Gary Sanchez (#68), OF Tyler Austin (#85), and OF Mason Williams (#87). RHP Masahiro Tanaka was not eligible due to his time in Japan even though he’s technically a rookie/prospect.

In the write-up, Law says Sanchez “has huge upside as a hitter, with plus-plus raw power and very hard contact.” His defense behind the plate, while improved, continues to need work. “Even a grade-45 defender [on the 20-80 scouting scale] back there with Sanchez’s potential offensive upside will be an MVP candidate, and if he continues to work at receiving and on his plate discipline he’ll be ready to take over and make a real impact for the Yankees by 2016,” added Law. The comparisons to Jesus Montero are inevitable, but Montero showed more potential with the bat and was far worse defensively.

Austin’s appearance on the list is somewhat surprising given his underwhelming and injury hampered season, but Law says he believes in the bat enough to keep him on the list. “When healthy, Austin has a very sound swing that is geared both toward contact and power and is short to contact with good extension. He rotates his hips well to generate power, all with enough patience to keep his OBP in the .350 range,” he wrote. “He’ll be only about average in right field — making the necessary plays but not much more — so he needs to hit and hit for power to be a regular.”

Williams. (Presswire)

Williams. (Presswire)

Law has always been high on Williams, but his stock took a hit last summer because he showed up to camp out of shape and didn’t play with much energy throughout the season. The tools are still there though. “He is a potential Gold Glove defender in center, a future 70 on the 20-80 scale with good reads off the bat and bursting speed to chase down balls in the gaps … His ultimate outcome should be a high-average, doubles-power guy who might hit 15 homers in his best season, but even .290-plus with 50-60 walks and 10 homers with great defense is an above-average regular,” said Law. I guess that means Williams will be a $153M player down the road.

Here are the MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus lists, for reference. Sanchez is the Yankees’ only consensus top 100 prospect right now thanks to all the injuries and underperformance last year, and I suspect three top 100 guys is the most we’ll see this spring. I do think there’s a lot of potential for farm system improvement in 2014, which would require some of the injured players (Austin, Manny Banuelos, Ty Hensley) to stay healthy and last year’s top draft picks (Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Ian Clarkin, Gosuke Katoh) to live up to the hype. Every team has some interesting guys who can take steps forward, but the Yankees seem to have more than most.

Categories : Minors
  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

    Ha ha ha another ellsbury joke.

    • The Lime

      I laughed. I also loved the flattering picture of Mason Williams.

    • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

      “I guess that means Williams will be a $153M player down the road.” Yes, that made me laugh out loud. For five seconds. And then I got sad …

  • Govin

    I have to agree with the very last sentence. There are a good amount of prospects I’ll be watching this year to see if they can take that step forward.

  • TWTR

    “Even a grade-45 defender [on the 20-80 scouting scale] back there with Sanchez’s potential offensive upside will be an MVP candidate, and if he continues to work at receiving and on his plate discipline he’ll be ready to take over and make a real impact for the Yankees by 2016,”

    That’s why McCann’s presence doesn’t make him expendable, instead it makes him the perfect compliment and eventual replacement.

    Murphy, Romine, and/or Cervelli can be placeholders until then.

    • Govin

      I don’t really understand the people who think having McCann somehow hurts Sanchez’s chances of making it to the Major Leagues.

      • RetroRob

        The timing could actually work out quite well. A full year in AA in 2014, move up to AAA in 2015, and if all goes well, he can apprentice undere McCann in 2016, catching some, DHing some, and then the following year he takes over with McCann DHing and playing first as Teixeira will be gone.

        It actually works to the Yankees advantage as long as Sanchez keeps progressing.

        • TheEvilUmpire

          That’s pretty much how they worked in Posada behind Girardi in the 90′s.

        • ALZ

          Right, and still has him taking over at 24 yo.

      • Delbert Grady

        Totally with you guys. It’s such small minded thinking saying “oh we have McCann so Sanchez is blocked”. Blocked from what? He’s not ready for the majors. When he is, let’s see where McCann is in his performance. They could platoon. McCann can DH. He can play some 1b. There’s a ton of options.

        One of the things I hate about the Yankees is this belief that roster spots are set in stone and because someone is signed long term you can’t consider alternatives whether they be on the farm or the market.

        Once upon a time the Yankees after trading for Tino went out and traded for Cecil Fielder. They both co-existed. We had depth that helped us win a title all over the team.

        Yes, if Sanchez can net you our next starting SS, 2b or 3b you consider it. But to act like he has no future on the Yankees because McCann is here just shows how limited your thinking is. I’d love for Sanchez to progress and come up and learn from a vet like McCann before taking the job in his mid-20′s for good.

  • RetroRob

    Credit to Law for keeping Austin on his list. If an evaluator believed in him in 2012, and it’s known that Austin was injured in 2013, it’s hardly a leap of faith to still have him on the 2014 list, if but lower. That actually shows more consistency than some evaluators who bounce the players around without much reason beyond the most recent triple slash.

    • Now Batting

      I understand the logic but do not agree with it in Austin’s case. A stubborn wrist injury strikes me as a good reason to take Austin off the board. It’s not like he was a top 5 prospect to begin with. Ignoring age-related decline wouldn’t you project 2014 Teixeira to be worse due to last year’s wrist injury?

      • Ed

        You’re right on Tex, but Austin’s injury was far less severe. Wrist surgery can take a long time to recover from. I don’t think Austin’s injury was bad enough for them to even talk about surgery. With Tex, they talked about surgery being a possibility right when he was initially injured.

    • Kevin

      I see your point, but at the same time it is a “Top 100″ list, meaning that even if a player stays stable he could still be passed by other players who moved forward. I mean, obvious bullshit numbers, but let’s say you guessed the discounted-for-uncertainty value of Austin at 15WAR, and assumed that he underperformed due to injuries so you kept that estimate, it could still be the case that other prospects taking a step forward could pass 15WAR as the #100 cut off.

      • RetroRob

        Yes, any player can drop off the “Top 100″ even without an injury.

        Yet Law had Tyler Austin at #52 last year, bumping him down to #85 this year. That’s a pretty big hit, so he did penalize him, yet my point is that many of the people who put these lists together would take the easy way out and remove Austin entirely, yet if they believed in his hit skill it shouldn’t be an automatic removal. When Law put his top 100 together he clearly still believed in Austin enough to include him, and considering he was almost in his top 50 last year that makes a lot of sense. Yet I don’t know if others would have done the same.

    • ALZ

      Even then it wasn’t like he was awful.
      .257/.344/.373 is uninspiring, but still if that is the worst he does then he should still have hope.

  • Kevin

    “He’ll be only about average in right field — making the necessary plays but not much more — so he needs to hit and hit for power to be a regular.”

    Why does everyone always need to hit for power? Law could have just left it at “hit”. Hypothetically, if he turned into a .310 hitter with 10-12 HRs and double digit steals, is that not good enough? People are a little overly obsessed with power these days imo.

    • Kevin

      Hmm I’ll have to change my ID to KevinK apparently, didn’t realize there already was one.

    • Angelo

      I think Law was speaking more to Austin’s abilities and what he’s capable of. Plus, RF is often considered to be a position where you want power. Similar to 1B.

      Austin isn’t going to steal many bases, so there’s not much of a point in considering that.

      • KevinK

        Well last year he didn’t steal that many, but in 2012 he stole 23 and in 2011 he stole 18. So there is definitely a little spead there. He’s certainly not a Michael Bourn though so I know what you mean.

        • Angelo

          Even when he was stealing bases, he was considered to be an average runner. He might have some good instincts on the base paths, but that can only get you so far. Better catchers and pitchers will lead to less steals overall.

    • ALZ

      Because an average defensive RFer with a .350 obp and 10 hr and 10 sb really isn’t that good, unless it is paired with 40 doubles too. It should be enough to find him a job, but not really worth putting him on a top 100 prospect list for that.

      RF is a offensive spot.

  • Graig not Craig

    It would be an interesting study to look at previous Top 100 lists to determine which players made an impact in the majors. But ain’t nobody got time for dat.

  • Tim

    You really think that 12 hrs/year in RF is going to cut it on the NY Yankees? Really?

    • pinch hitter

      Cut it? Last year it would have been a major upgrade.

  • Tim

    I thought I saw a stat that 70% of the top 100 prospects over the years never make it to the majors.

    • Angelo

      You saw correctly. Can’t remember where though… Fangraphs maybe?

  • HectorLopez

    Keep Heathcott out of the operating room and he will be better than Austin!

    • Angelo

      Heathcott could be better than a lot of prospects, but his health is always an issue.

      • RetroRob

        And the other question we have ask now is has injuries and all surgeries reduced his overall skill level? Even if he’s healthy this year, does he still have the same skill set?

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Couldn’t care less whether zero, one, or ten guys make these lists. I’m much more curious as to where they stand after this season.

    • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

      Hopefully they’re standing on two feet somewhere on planet Earth.

  • Chris in Durham

    I love the snarky Ellsbury reference.

  • Mike

    If you have a chance to grab an impact player like Ellsbury, you do it.