2014 Preseason Not Top 30 Prospects

Estrada. (AP)

Estrada. (AP via Baseball America)

Pitchers and catchers are due to report on Friday, so between now and then we’re going to look at the best prospects in the Yankees’ system heading into the new season. My annual Preseason Top 30 Prospects List will be posted tomorrow morning, but first we’re going to look at some players on the outside looking in. These are the guys with a chance to jump into the Top 30 next year.

Only one of last year’s Not Top 30 Prospects made the actual Top 30 this year, but another was among the final cuts. As a reminder, these five prospects should not be considered prospects 31-35. The are simply five prospects who I believe have a chance to make next year’s Top 30 with a healthy and strong 2014 season. That’s all.

RHSP Domingo Acevedo, 19
Signed to unknown bonus during the 2012-13 international signing period, Acevedo pitched to a 2.63 ERA (2.05 FIP) with 43 strikeouts (24.2%) and eleven walks (6.2%) in 41 innings down in the Dominican Summer League last year, and he’s poised to come stateside in 2014. He is a massive kid, listed at 6-foot-7 and 242 lbs. despite not turning 20 years old until this June. His fastball cashes the check that big frame writes, sitting in the mid-90s and running as high as 99 on occasion. Acevedo’s top secondary pitch is a changeup, which at this point is just okay and still a work in progress. His breaking ball needs work as well. Yes, he’s very raw and he has a lot of development ahead of him, but Acevedo has a huge ceiling and could soon rank among the system’s best arms.

(Robert Pimpsner)

Davis. (Robert Pimpsner)

RHSP Rookie Davis, 20
Davis, the team’s 14th round pick in the 2011 draft, dominated with Short Season Staten Island last year, posting a 2.36 ERA (2.72 FIP) with 39 strikeouts (20.6%) and 13 walks (6.9%) in 42 innings. That performance earned him a late-season promotion to Low-A Charleston, where he threw ten scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and zero walks in two spot starts. Davis is another big guy, listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 lbs., and these days his fastball sits 91-93 mph after sitting 89-90 in high school. His big breaking curveball has developed into a reliable secondary pitch and his changeup has made some progress as well. With that big frame and the makings of a three-pitch mix, Davis has all the look of a mid-rotation workhorse. He’ll likely rejoin the River Dogs to start the season.

RHSP David Palladino, 20
As big as Acevedo is, he’s no Palladino. The Bergen Country raised right-hander is listed at 6-foot-9 and 235 lbs., but unlike other pitchers that size, he does a good job of repeating his delivery. Palladino’s fastball is an easy 90-93 mph, occasionally touching 96-97. A mid-70s curveball is his top secondary offering but also throws both a slider and a changeup. His mechanics can fall apart from time to time, but Palladino has a good fastball and three distinct offspeed pitches. There’s little doubt he can remain a starter long-term thanks to his strong frame and deep repertoire, and if either his slider or changeup develops into a reliable third pitch, he could shoot up the minor league ladder in a hurry. Palladino pitched to a 4.67 ERA (3.85 FIP) with Short Season Staten Island after being drafted in fifth round last year and is likely to join Davis in the Low-A Charleston rotation when the 2014 season opens in a few weeks.

SS Thairo Estrada, 17
The Yankees signed Estrada for only $49k back in 2012 and they aggressively pushed him to the U.S. last year, but he more than held his own in the Rookie Gulf Coast League: .278/.350/.432 (~130 wRC+) with eleven doubles, five triples, two homers, and seven steals in 50 games. Thairo is right-handed hitter with a real quick swing and the ability to consistently get the fat part of the bat on the ball. He’s a speedy runner and a slick fielder who showed the Yankees he could play both second base and shortstop during his GCL stint last summer. There are questions about how much power Estrada will have in the future because his swing is so level and he’s on the small side (listed at 5-foot-11 and 155 lbs.), but he also has plenty of development left ahead of him. Thairo could return to the GCL for another year not only because he’s so young, but because both 2B Gosuke Katoh and SS Abi Avelino (and SS Tyler Wade) are likely heading to Short Season Staten Island.

LHSP Omar Luis, 21
Luis was New York’s last big international signing before the new spending restrictions were put into place, agreeing to a $4M bonus that was reduced to $2.5M after something popped up in his pre-signing physical. His pro debut with the Rookie GCL Yanks was uneven — 5.68 ERA (~3.10 FIP) with 43 strikeouts (26.2%) and 29 walks (17.7%) in 31.2 innings — but somewhat expected after he spent eight months waiting for his visa. There was quite a bit of rust to shake off. When at his best, the 6-foot-0, 210 lb. southpaw sits anywhere from 90-95 mph with his fastball while showing two swing-and-miss pitches in his changeup and curveball. Some herky jerky-ness in his delivery affects his command. Luis will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter due to a contract snafu, but he hasn’t exactly made a strong first impression between the poor showing in the GCL and a recent DUI arrest. Still, as a three-pitch lefty who received a sizable bonus, the Yankees will have their eyes on Luis this summer and strongly consider him for a 40-man roster spot after the season. I expect him to start the year with a full season team, possibly High-A Tampa.

Categories : Minors


  1. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    Who wins Rookie of the Year every year? That’s right. Rookie Davis, my favorite-named Yankee prospect now that Graham Stoneburner is doomed to a life of MiLB servitude.

    Nice little list. Can’t say I’ve even heard of Acevedo before this.

  2. JOhn C says:

    I mentioned Acevedo on another thread a couple of weeks ago and BA’s Ben Badler raved about him on twitter as well, He could be this year’s Luis Severino, a kid who came out of nowhere and put himself on the prospect map.

    • I'm One says:

      I knew the Yankees liked big pitchers, but with Acevedo and Palladino (not to mention CC & Pineda) they’ve nrealy got a basketball team. Those guys are huge.

      Also seems that, if they can be developed properly (insert Yankee pitching development joke here), the team could have some good starting arms coming up by the time CC’s contract is done and Nova, Pineda and Tanaka need a bit of assistance.

  3. MB923 says:

    Another bullpen arm off the market. Not that any Yankee fan would really have wanted him, but Jose Valverde signs with the Mets (minor league contract)

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      That goose is pretty cooked. I’d be surprised if the Mets got much out of him.

    • JOhn C says:

      Can’t imagine many Met fans wanted him either.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        They seem to enjoy trying to squeeze the last bit of juice out of completely dry lemons lately. Matsusaka’s only shown the faintest of hope there.

        It’s not a terrible strategy as long as they’re not really counting on these guys to do something actually important….which they sort of are.

        • I'm a looser and a trader baby so why don't you kill me? says:

          Sounds like a familiar strategy ;)

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            At least the Yankees can point to some upside with the vets they bring in. It seems like the criteria for the Mets appears to be name value and name value alone.

  4. Preston says:

    How have I never heard of Acevedo, 6’7″ throwing 99!

  5. Reggie C. says:

    Man…hoping Omar Luis can put together the talent and the execution on the field and show better judgment OFF the field. Lots of these kids (big bonus signees or not) usually perform pretty well in the GCL. That Omar Luis didnt stand out at all was a let-down. Hope the young man still has the fire to make it to the Show.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      He’s an interesting one for sure.

      Whether it’s due to his relative age or his contract situation, he’s going to have to rise quick if he’s going to make it with this organization. Time will tell.

      • Preston says:

        We carried Brackman on the 40 man for years. By the time Luis is worthy of being taken in the rule 5 draft I don’t think the team will have any problem protecting him. And if he doesn’t make it to the bigs before his options run it’s because he’s not that good anyways.

    • John C says:

      He got off to a rough start cause he was rusty after a logn layoff, but he turned it around his last 5 starts there. Hoping he can build off that strong finish this year.

  6. Bryan says:

    Honestly I expected Rookie and Palladino to make the top 30. Both of their potential is sky high. Palladino should be able to be a fast mover since he went to college and while still rough around the edges, is further developmentally than many others. Rookie crushed SI last year and I thought with his repetoire deserved at least a bottom third ranking.

  7. Govin says:

    “Only one of last year’s Not Top 30 Prospects made the actual Top 30 this year,”

    I decided to see if I could figure out which guy he was talking about, it was pretty easy.

    • ALZ says:

      Yea, some of them didn’t have terrible years, but one of them was stellar.

    • Preston says:

      I’m really excited about Robert Refsnyder this year at AA. If he can continue to post a high OBP while improving on D then I think he might start sneaking onto some top 100 lists in 2015.

  8. OldYanksFan says:

    SS Thairo Estrada: He’s a speedy runner and a slick fielder…. [but there] are questions about how much power Estrada will have in the future…

    I know chicks dig the long ball, but is it really important for a ‘slick fielding’, potentially decent OBP SS to hit Home Runs?
    If you believe some of the Sabermetric gurus, a number of them believe that OPS should be much more heavily weighted towards OBP (as opped to SLG). I have seen factors of 1.4 and 1.7 applied to OBP to make OPS more reflective of a players real value.

    If this is true, then one dimensional power hitters (can you say Mark Reynolds) are less valuable then the current value of OPS tells us, and guys who hit and walk are more valuable.

    Myself, I’m an OBP guy. The goal of any AB is to NOT make an out.

    • Preston says:

      No, it’s not important. But a guy with no power needs to do better in other areas to compensate, if he doesn’t hit for good average and take a healthy amount of walks he isn’t very valuable. And with a guy with no power who’s only 155 lbs. there is the real fear that he might get the bat knocked out of his hands at upper levels. That said he had 17 extra base hits last season, including 2 homers. It’s not like he’s hitting all grounders, and he’s only 17, so I wouldn’t write him off as a slap hitter just yet.

      • Bo Knows says:

        He’s only 17, its probably safe to assume he’ll be capable of putting on at least 20 lbs. I mean Jeter (not comparing talent just weight)was like 160 when he was drafted.

        • Preston says:

          I agree, but Jeter at 6’2″ was definitely going to fill out his frame. Estrada is smaller at 5’11″. He’s likely not going to get “big” and even 175 lbs. is light for a MLB player.

    • I'm One says:

      If he can build to 10 – 15 HR power with good D and a decent OBP, I’d be willing to accept that from an every day SS. There are so few Derek Jeter’s in the world (and he wasn’t exactly a power hitter, even in his prime).

      • Preston says:

        If he’s an average or better defender and posts a .350 OBP with plus baserunning, I don’t care if he hits any HRs.

      • OldYanksFan says:

        In the 60′s and 70′s, there was a 5’9/160 lb guy who finished his career with a .307 .345 .381 .726 – 105 OPS+ line, averaging TWO HR/yr. As an OFer/1Bman, Matty Alou was only about a 2 WAR player, but as a ‘slicking fielding’ SS, those would be very valuable numbers, especially as a cost controlled player… my guess is a 105 OPS+ for Luis would make him a 3ish WAR guy.

        Asdrubal has a career 107 OPS+, and is a 3 WAR guy.

        So if you get 15 WAR over 6 years from Luis, you end us paying less than $1m/WAR. Considering you pay $6m for FA’s WAR, Luis could potentially be very valuable, even if he never hits a HR.

        We have an OFer who averages 5 HR/yr. However, he has delivered 19.3 bWAR for $7m. To me, that makes Gardner VERY valuable.

        And again, if you look at OPS as: 1.4(OBP) + 1.0(SLG), that makes the ‘slap hitters’ look a lot better.

        Why are guys here so fixated on HRs?
        Are you really Chicks?

  9. OldYanksFan says:

    In 4 years with the Mets, Nolan Ryan posted a 3.58 ERA (98 ERA+) and a 1.4 WHIP. Not reaching his potential, a disappointed Mets then traded him. He then went on to be a pretty good pitcher (113 ERA+).

    While he was not as great as his legend, he was a solid #2, for what would be these days, pretty cheap for his first 6 years.

    It also took RJ a full five years before he posted higher than a 108 ERA+. After that…. not so bad.

    My point is the Yankees will never have guys like this, as they would have been traded before they hit their stride. Our ‘Win Now’ mantra does not allow us to give time to guys with potential, but who haven’t figured it out yet.

    They probably would have traded Hughes (before his FA) had it not been that he was gonna be our Phranchise.

    • Preston says:

      I don’t think this is true. When in the post King George era have the Yankees given up on a talent of that magnitude. They kept Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain the full six years. Betances and Banuelos are still in the farm. We released Andrew Brackman, but it was after he had a 6.00 ERA and a 1/1 K/BB ratio in AAA at age 25. There wasn’t a lot of upside. They traded Kennedy as part of the package for an All-Star CF, and Kennedy had limited upside. If I was going to criticize the Yankees it would be that they give up on guys with limited upside like Kennedy and Zach Mcallister, and instead hold on to guys with more upside.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        All of this.

      • OldYanksFan says:

        Yeah?…. name a few other home grown players who made it 6 years with the Yankees, who ended up with average/slightly below average numbers. Or 5 years. Or 4 years.

        The Yankees have, up until 2 years ago, gone for high-risk, high reward guys. If we get lucky and get the High Reward, they stick. If not, they are gone pretty fast.

        I am NOT criticizing the Yanks for this.
        It is the very nature of having to ‘Win every year’.
        And I think it was an intelligent philosophy for a team who has had the worst picks, and lost many more picks to sign FAs, for close to two decades.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

          “Yeah?…. name a few other home grown players who made it 6 years with the Yankees, who ended up with average/slightly below average numbers. Or 5 years. Or 4 years.”

          Do you need help moving that goalpost? It seems heavy.

          You were talking development time for pitchers. Why don’t we stick to that, and why don’t you try responding directly to his response to you.

        • Preston says:

          You were talking about Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, teams don’t get prospects with upside like that very often. So it’s hard to mention more.

        • Havok9120 says:

          What prospects, specifically, are you thinking of? You’re the one trying to make a point about the way Yankees develop players and how impatience impacts that. You’ve been given a list of names of guys this was not true for, including some of those “high upside” arms. Who, recently, should they have stayed in longer on that they didn’t?

    • I'm One says:

      Past performace does not guarantee future results.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      A few things:

      1. I actually think Nolan Ryan was that good.
      2. You’re two examples both come with major flaws, the first being citing an example that occurred close to fifty years ago, and the second being a pitcher whose early struggles have been documented early, often, and who actually was traded several times during his developmental phase.
      3. The Yankees allowed Hughes and Joba to reach MLB free agency as Yankees. I don’t know how much more patience one could ask for.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Wow, a 3.58 ERA being below league average? That’s pretty amazing.

    • TWTR says:

      They probably can’t have an increasingly top heavy roster forever. It’s not like Hal isn’t cognizant of the importance of cost-controlled young players. The issue is how long he gives the current decision-makers to turn this thing around.

  10. Baked McBride says:

    I expect Phil Hughes’ slide to continue this year. Don’t care if he is pitching in a big stadium. His stuff is doo-doo and the AL Central doesn;t have any creampuff lineups either. 9-14, 5.35

  11. Sbertonny says:

    Hey Mike – what kind of alphabetical order is that?? I think you need to check your ABCs.

  12. Mike HC says:

    It is kind of sad I’m struggling to even dream on any of these guys, or Yankees prospects in general, due to how bad they have been at developing guys in the recent past.

    On another note, great job on this Mike. You always kill these Yankees minor league pieces. Looking forward to the top 30.

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