2015 Preseason Top 30 Prospects

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For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn't prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)
For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn’t prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)

One year after implementing some procedural changes to their player development system, the Yankees took the next step and made some personnel changes last fall. Long-time VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman retired — his contract was up and I get the sense he wasn’t going to be brought back anyway — and was replaced by Gary Denbo, who’s worn many organizational hats over the years. Pat Roessler, the team’s director of player development for more than a decade, was also let go, as where several other staff members.

The changes were made following a season in which the Yankees actually got some help from within. The kind of help that didn’t come at all in 2013. Shane Greene and especially Dellin Betances had an impact on the mound, and others like Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez, and Bryan Mitchell got a chance to make their MLB debuts. It still wasn’t enough though. The Yankees didn’t have anyone to step in when Mark Teixeira or Carlos Beltran got hurt, and beyond Greene there was no real rotation help to be had.

Overall, the farm system did improve last year. Several prospects hit on something close to their realistic best case scenario and zoomed towards the top of the organizational prospect list. The Yankees also spent more than $30M in international free agency between bonuses and penalties last summer, essentially making a mockery of a broken system while hoarding most of the top available talent. Those prospects are all teenagers though. It’ll be a while before they have any sort of big league impact for New York.

This is, unbelievably, my ninth Top 30 Prospects List at RAB. The other eight can be found right here. This next part is very important: I am not a scout nor am I an expert. I’m a guy with opinions. And they’re wrong. Like, all the time. I read a lot — an embarrassing amount, really — and I have my own preferences for what makes a good prospect. I read everything. Baseball America, Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, MiLB.com, random interviews with local papers, you name it. There’s plenty of information out there and I try to soak it all in. What qualifies me to put together a list like this? Nothing, I’m just a guy with a blog. Start one of your own and you can put together a top 30. Or a top 100, if that’s your thing. This is meant to be for fun, not any sort of definitive ranking.

I use the rookie limits (50 innings or 130 at-bats) to determine prospect eligibility because that’s what everyone else uses. I don’t pay attention to service time because that stuff is too complicated. Also, I don’t rank any recent international signings because those guys haven’t even played a professional game yet. Just a personal, long-standing policy. I’d rather be a year late than a year early on players like that. Rest assured, next year’s Top 30 will inevitably feature a bunch of guys from last summer’s international spending spree. Four players from last year’s list graduated to MLB and eight are no longer in the organization. That seems like a lot.

Alright, so let’s cut the small talk and get to the rankings. I changed the format slightly this year just to shake things up a bit. Hopefully you like it. All the relevant stats and bio information is listed before the write-up. All headshots from MLB.com or MiLB.com, unless noted otherwise. This year’s Top 30 list starts after the jump. Enjoy.

Slade HeathcottNo. 30: SLADE HEATHCOTT, of

DOB: September 28th, 1990 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2009 first round, 29th overall ($2.2M bonus)
2014 Stats: .182/.250/.242 (38 wRC+), 2 2B, 8.3 BB%, 36.1 K%, 36 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and maybe Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Tools. Heathcott has a full shed, with speed to spare and big time athleticism. He does his best work in center field, where he’s an above-average defender with an arm that still rates as above-average despite multiple shoulder surgeries. Slade is an aggressive hitter with the ability to go the other way and more power than he gets credit for. The Yankees have long viewed Heathcott as a potential “Brett Gardner with power” player and that sums up his skillset well. Also, he’s a maniac on the field. If anything he plays too hard and needs to tone it down a notch.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Gosh, hasn’t he already? I ranked Heathcott in the Top 30 against my better judgement even though he’s had major injury problems throughout his career, including multiple shoulder and knee surgeries that have limited him to 309 games in parts of six pro seasons. He played only nine games last year because of two knee surgeries, one last offseason and another in June. Heathcott has lost a ton of development time these last five years and hasn’t been able to refine his tools into baseball skills. That’s hard to overcome.

Mason Williams2No. 29: MASON WILLIAMS, of

DOB: August 21st, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 180 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2010 fourth round, 145th overall ($1.45M bonus)
2014 Stats: .223/.290/.304 (66 wRC+), 14 2B, 21 SB, 8.3 BB%, 12.1 K%, 563 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and maybe Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Williams has elite athleticism and high-end tools, starting with the strong arm and above-average speed that allow him to be a ballhawk in center. His defense is top of the line. Williams has batting practice power but has preferred a slap hitting approach in games, mostly because he makes contact so easily. He knows the strike zone well and actually walks more than most guys who can put the ball in play seemingly at will. The natural gifts are as good as it gets.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: The effort and attitude don’t match the tools. Williams has had to be benched several times for lack of effort in his career and he’s been insubordinate at times as well. About the only complaint you could have about his tools is the difference between batting practice power and game power, but that hardly matters. Williams hasn’t put in enough work to be a big league player and has gotten this far on pure athleticism. He’s tumbling down the rankings and it’s not because he lacks ability. This is a clear case of makeup sabotaging talent.

Danny Burawa 2No. 28: DANNY BURAWA, rhrp

DOB: December 30th, 1988 (age 26)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 210 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2010 12th round, 385th overall ($300,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 4.70 ERA (3.17 FIP), 27.4 K%, 11.3 BB%, 59.5 GB%, 59.1 IP (AA, AAA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: In addition to being a local guy from Long Island, Burawa has silly stuff, sitting in the mid-90s and topping out near 99 with his fastball. The pitch moves back in righties too. He complements the heater with a sharp mid-80s slider that breaks down as much as it does away from righties. Burawa also throws a changeup but doesn’t use it a whole lot as a reliever. He’s missed bats and induced ground balls in bulk his entire career.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Control. Not even command, just control. Throwing strikes consistently has been a challenge for Burawa, partly because his stuff is so lively and partly because his delivery is pretty herky jerky. There’s a chance Burawa will be a tease out of the bullpen, the guy with phenomenal stuff who doesn’t get the best results because he doesn’t always locate well.

Thairo EstradaNo. 27: THAIRO ESTRADA, ss

DOB: February 22nd, 1996 (age 18)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-10, 155 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2012 out of Venezuela ($49,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .273/.327/.364 (104 wRC+), 3 2B, 9 SB, 6.5 BB%, 16.7 K%, 108 PA (Rk, SS)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season Staten Island

Why You’ll Love Him: Not counting the guys signed as international free agents last year, Estrada is the youngest of New York’s suddenly impressive collection of low level shortstop prospects. He’s a true shortstop with better than average range and a strong arm. Like many of the team’s recent signees, Thairo is a really smart and instinctual player. At the plate, Estrada is a slap hitter with good speed and basically zero power. At this point of his career he’s a glove first guy the Yankees are hoping will develop into a passable hitter.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Even as he matures, Estrada isn’t expected to have much power, so his offensive value is tied to the development of his hit tool, and that’s not very easy to develop. There’s a chance his bat won’t allow him to get out of Single-A even though he has a carrying tool in his glove. Thairo has real ability but also a lot of work ahead of him.

Chase Shreve 2No. 26: CHASEN SHREVE, lhrp

DOB: July 12th, 1990 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: Trade with the Braves, January 2015
2014 Stats: 2.36 ERA (1.84 FIP), 34.6 K%, 5.1 BB%, 44.6 GB%, 76.1 IP (AA, AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Before last year, Shreve was just a generic minor league bullpener with nondescript stuff and stats. Then he made the decision to stop holding back and simply aired it out every pitch, and the result was across the board improvement. Shreve went from the mid-80s to the low-90s and backs it up with low-80s slider and the occasional low-80s changeup. He’s a pure reliever, basically a fastball-slider guy, and his newfound velocity means there’s at least a chance he can be something more than a lefty specialist.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Shreve might not be more than a lefty specialist. His decision to stop holding back resulted in tangible improvement but I’d like to see him repeat that success before fully buying in. The Yankees obviously believe it’s real, otherwise they wouldn’t have swapped Manny Banuelos for him (and David Carpenter). At worst, Shreve is a soft-tossing lefty matchup guy who probably rides the bus back and forth between Triple-A and MLB for a few years. The new approach leads me to believe there’s more there.

MiLB: AUG 06 - Brevard County Manatees at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 25: BRADY LAIL, rhsp

DOB: August 9th, 1993 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 18th round, 557th overall ($225,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 3.62 ERA (3.20 FIP), 21.0 K%, 4.7 BB%, 47.7 GB%, 134.1 IP (A-, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa and possibly Double-A Trenton

Why You’ll Love Him: Lail is still in Single-A ball but he is a nice player development story for the Yankees, who drafted him out of a Utah high school when he threw in the mid-80s and showed the ability to spin the ball on occasion. Under pro instruction, Lail has developed into a true four-pitch pitcher with outstanding control for a prospect with so relatively little experience. He complements his low-90s sinker with a big-breaking curveball, a solid changeup, and a cutter. Lail was a shot in the dark prospect and he’s developed very nicely.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Although he has four pitches, nothing Lail throws is consistently above-average and he has to paint the corners to be successful. He’s not someone who is going to blow hitters away. It’s a back-end innings eater profile at the moment. Lail has grown as a pitcher quite a bit these last few years and could still improve further. For now, he’s more of a complementary piece than a centerpiece, and that’s pretty damn good considering where he started.

Leonardo Molina 2No. 24: LEONARDO MOLINA, of

DOB: July 31st, 1997 (age 17)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 180 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed August 2013 out of the Dominican Republic ($1.4M bonus)
2014 Stats: .194/.267/.260 (58 wRC+), 10 2B, 6 SB, 8.8 BB%, 23.5 K%, 217 PA (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Rookie Pulaski

Why You’ll Love Him: Ignore the stat line. He was basically a high school sophomore in pro ball last summer. Molina’s two best tools are his above-average speed and throwing arm, but he has power potential and consistently put together quality at-bats last year. He’s a center fielder now but may wind up in a corner down the road, likely right field thanks to his arm. Molina is a very, very long-term project with the upside of being an impact two-way player with speed and power.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Well geez, we’re talking about a 17-year-old kid here. Molina is all potential, not “now skills,” and he has a ton of development ahead of him. He’s a big kid already and could grow even more, which would sap his speed and make him a bat first corner outfielder. Simply put, Molina is a high risk, high reward prospect, and at this stage of his career he is all the way on the risk side of the spectrum. (Photo: DPL Baseball)

Jose RamirezNo. 23: JOSE RAMIREZ, rhrp

DOB: January 21st, 1990 (age 25)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed October 2007 out of the Dominican Republic (unknown bonus)
2014 Stats: 3.22 ERA (4.78 FIP), 23.9 K%, 15.6 BB%, 36.5 GB%, 22.1 IP (AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Ramirez has knockout stuff and goes to the mound with three out pitches on his best days. His fastball is electric in the mid-to-high-90s with run in on righties, and at this point his go-to secondary pitch is a hard mid-80s changeup. He also throws a mid-80s slider that is inconsistent but can be really good. Ramirez’s control is better than last summer’s walk rate indicates, but he’s a stuff first guy, plain and simple.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: He’s never healthy. Ramirez threw just 22.1 innings as a reliever last year and 294.2 innings as a starter from 2011-13. He just can’t get through a full season in one piece, and that’s why the Yankees moved him to relief last season. (Even that didn’t work.) Ramirez has had everything from shoulder to elbow to lat to oblique issues and it feels like it’s only a matter of time until he blows out completely. Hopefully he’s able to contribute at the MLB level before then because his stuff is dynamite and he has impact reliever potential.

Ramon FloresNo. 22: RAMON FLORES, of

DOB: March 26th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-10, 150 lbs., left/left
Acquired: Signed July 2008 out of Venezuela ($775,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .254/.343/.472 (124 wRC+), 20 2B, 9 HR, 11.8 BB%, 17.3 K%, 289 PA (Rk, AAA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and maybe MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Armed with some of the best strike zone knowledge in the system, Flores projects to be a strong on-base player with promising power potential. (He hit five homers in his first 52 Triple-A games last year after hitting six homers in 136 Double-A games in 2013.) He’s consistently performed at the minor league level and is a passable defensive outfielder who can also fill-in at first base. Flores, who missed a big chunk of last season with an ankle injury, is more about probability than pure upside. Also, it’s hysterical he’s still officially listed at 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds. Flores is closer to 6-foot-0 and 190 lbs. and has been for two or three years now.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: I’ve been a big fan Flores through the years — I ranked him as the team’s fifth best prospect in 2013 and people thought I was nuts — and I do think some level of prospect fatigue is setting in. We’re still waiting for the power breakout — perhaps he was in the middle of it last year before the ankle injury — and if it doesn’t come, Flores will just be an okay fielding corner outfielder without much power. That’s a usable player at the MLB level but not what teams look for in a regular.

Angel AguilarNo. 21: ANGEL AGUILAR, ss

DOB: June 13th, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 170 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed January 2012 out of Venezuela ($60,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .311/.373/.536 (159 wRC+), 11 2B, 7 HR, 8.4 BB%, 16.8 K%, 167 PA (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season Staten Island

Why You’ll Love Him: The Yankees have proven to be adept at finding hidden gems in Latin America and Aguilar is the latest. His huge U.S. debut last summer is backed up by the scouting report: Aguilar is wiry strong with a whippy bat and an occasionally big leg kick, all a la Alfonso Soriano. He tends to wrap his bat behind his head before swinging and that causes him to be late on fastballs, but that’s fixable. At shortstop, Aguilar had good range and a strong arm with a knack for sound positioning.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Eh, he’s a teenage middle infielder in rookie ball. So much can go wrong in the coming years. Aguilar needs to clean up his hitting mechanics to handle higher quality stuff in addition to the usual: improve his plate discipline, improve the consistency of his fielding, and learn how to pick his spots on the bases. And please, I only said Aguilar’s hitting mechanics are reminiscent of Soriano’s. That doesn’t mean he’ll play 16 years in the big leagues and hit 400 homers. (Photo: AP)

Abi AvelinoNo. 20: ABI AVELINO, ss

DOB: February 14th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 186 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed December 2011 out of the Dominican Republic ($300,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .247/.308/.351 (87 wRC+), 18 2B, 11 SB, 6.7 BB%, 17.5 K%, 251 PA (Rk, A-)
Projected 2015 Level: Low-A Charleston

Why You’ll Love Him: Avelino is a “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” guy. His best tool is his throwing arm at shortstop, which is easily above-average, and he’s solid in the field, solid on the bases, and solid at the plate with an all-fields approach. Avelino has little power but he covers the plate well and, to use an old school idiom, he hits it where it’s pitched. He has a strong all-around game despite the lack of power and everything plays up because he’s a heady and very instinctual player.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: There’s no carrying tool. Avelino can do a little of everything but he doesn’t do one thing exceptionally well, and when you don’t have that one big tool, you can be easy to overlook. Avelino’s short and stocky and he’ll have to work hard to maintain his mobility at shortstop going forward. This is the kind of profile you need to see everyday to appreciate, which is not the kind of thing that lends itself to a glamorous spot in the prospect rankings.

Jake CaveNo. 19: JAKE CAVE, of

DOB: December 4th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 180 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2011 sixth round, 209th overall ($800,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .294/.351/.414 (118 wRC+), 28 2B, 7 HR, 7.5 BB%, 20.2 K%, 613 PA (A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton

Why You’ll Love Him: A broken kneecap forced Cave to miss the entire 2012 season but he’s done nothing but hit and show why the Yankees gave him a big over-slot bonus since returning. Cave has average tools across the board though his power shows more in batting practice than in games at the moment. He has a quick bat and learned to let pitches travel deeper in the zone before attacking last year. Cave is a capable defensive outfielder with an adequate arm who can handle all three outfield spots. He’s an animal on the field, playing all out, all the time. Borderline Heathcottian.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Although it hasn’t really shown up in the overall numbers, Cave can have trouble with left-handed pitchers and breaking balls in general. There is some swing-and-miss in his game. It’s possible he’ll have to move to a corner outfield spot long-term — left more likely than right due to his arm — which means you’ll end up with a platoon left fielder without much power. That’s not exactly a hot commodity.

Ty HensleyNo. 18: TY HENSLEY, rhsp

DOB: July 30th, 1993 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-4, 220 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 first round, 30th overall ($1.2M bonus)
2014 Stats: 2.93 ERA (3.38 FIP), 30.3 K%, 8.3 BB%, 43.9 GB%, 30.2 IP (Rk, SS)
Projected 2015 Level: Low-A Charleston

Why You’ll Love Him: It’s hard not to root for Hensley. He’s faced a lot of adversity since signing — the Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder after drafting him and reduced his bonus, he missed the entire 2013 season following surgery on both hips and a hernia, and then he was viciously attacked during the holidays a few weeks ago. When he did make it back to the mound last summer, Hensley showed the same stuff as before the hip surgeries, meaning a mid-90s heater and a knockout downer curveball. He’s also got a workable changeup. Hensley has big stuff, a workhorse build, and a relentlessly positive attitude. He even learned to speak Spanish in high school so he could better communicate with teammates. Ty’s easy to root for.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Hensley has lost a ton of development time since being New York’s first round pick in 2012. That’s just the fact of the matter. The injuries have limited him to 42.2 pro innings in parts of three seasons from age 18-21, which are pretty crucial development years. Hensley had stuff to work on the day of the draft like every other high school pitcher — his changeup, repeating his delivery, and refining his command, most notably — and he hasn’t been able do that. He’s behind the development curve and that lowers his chances of success. (Photo: AP)

Tyler WadeNo. 17: TYLER WADE, ss

DOB: November 23rd, 1994 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 180 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2013 fourth round, 134th overall ($371,300 bonus)
2014 Stats: .272/.350/.349 (100 wRC+), 24 2B, 22 SB, 9.9 BB%, 20.5 K% (A-)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa

Why You’ll Love Him: Well, Wade is a classic scrappy middle infielder and people seem to love those guys. He’s a pure slash hitter at the plate, spraying the ball all around and showing a good approach that allows him to draw walks and post solid on-base numbers. Wade is also a true shortstop with good first step quickness and sure hands. He’s a good athlete and figures to remain at the position long-term, though his arm is basically the bare minimum for the position.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Wade has zero power. Almost literally zero power too. He’s hit one homer in 179 pro games after hitting one homer his final three years of high school. Unless he adds some muscle these next few years, quality upper level fastballs will knock the bat right out of his hands. There’s no real carrying tool here either — Wade is a solid defender and a solid hitter right now, but he doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well.

Austin DeCarrNo. 16: AUSTIN DeCARR, rhsp

DOB: March 14th, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 218 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2014 third round, 91st overall ($1M bonus)
2014 Stats: 4.63 ERA (3.68 FIP), 23.3 K%, 6.8 BB%, 47.0 GB%, 23.1 IP (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season Staten Island

Why You’ll Love Him: DeCarr’s a bit of a late bloomer — he went undrafted out of high school in 2013 and the Yankees selected him after a postgraduate year at a Connecticut prep school — who now sits in the low-90s with his fastball and will touch 96 on occasion. His curveball is a knee-buckler and a true out pitch. He’ll also throw a promising changeup, giving him a third weapon. His command is solid as well. DeCarr gets top of the line marks for his work ethic and coachability. If he fails as a prospect, it won’t be for a lack of effort.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Aside from the need to improve his changeup, there’s not much to not like about DeCarr’s physical ability. He lacks experience after growing up a cold weather state and he has already had some elbow issues — bone spur removed as a high school junior — which is always a concern no matter how routine the procedure may be. DeCarr has a lot of physical gifts and he’s a very hard worker, but he has a lot to learn and a lot of development ahead of him. (Photo: Perfect Game)

Bryan MitchellNo. 15: BRYAN MITCHELL, rhsp

DOB: April 19, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 205 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2009 16th round, 495th overall ($800,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 4.18 ERA (4.14 FIP), 20.4 K%, 9.7 BB%, 54.2 GB% (AA, AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Stuff. Mitchell has some of the best raw stuff in the organization, with a heavy 92-94 mph four-seamer that topped out at 97 during his brief MLB cameo in 2014. His curveball is a put-way pitch and a hammer when it’s on. The Yankees had Mitchell try a cutter — they make everyone try a cutter — and he’s taken to it well, giving him a reliable third offering. Mitchell has no doubt big league starter stuff.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Command. Mitchell has worked long and hard to improve his command and it’s coming along, just slowly. He’s managed to cut his walk rate from 13.6% in Low-A to 9.0% in Triple-A as he’s climbed the ladder, but there’s a difference between strikes and quality strikes. Mitchell is still learning how to throw quality strikes. His changeup is okay at best right now — he’s break off a real nasty one from time to time, which all pitchers seem to do — and that’s made him reliant on the cutter against lefties. Mitchell’s command might never be good enough to start long-term and that could result in a future in the bullpen.

MiLB: July 27 - Fort Myers Miracle at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 14: JACOB LINDGREN, lhrp

DOB: March 12th, 1993 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 180 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2014 second round, 55th overall ($1.0187M bonus)
2014 Stats: 2.16 ERA (1.26 FIP), 46.2 K%, 12.5 BB%, 81.0 GB%, 25 IP (Rk, A-, A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Lindgren was MLB ready the day he was drafted last June. He’s a pure reliever with a low-to-mid-90 fastball and a filthy mid-80s slider that bites down and in on righties. It’s allergic to bats and dominates hitters on both sides of the plate, so Lindgren is no lefty specialist. That’s pretty much all there is to it. He’s a future late-innings guy and the future is basically now.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Because his stuff is so lively and his delivery isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, Lindgren can be prone to walks and falling behind in the count. He has only been a full-time reliever for a year now, so perhaps that will improve with time, but guys go to the bullpen because of spotty command, and Lindgren has spotty command. He’ll dominate on his best days, but his worst days will make you want to pull your hair out.

Rob RefsnyderNo. 13: ROB REFSNYDER, 2b

DOB: March 26th, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 205 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 fifth round, 187th overall ($205,900 bonus)
2014 Stats: .318/.387/.497 (146 wRC+), 38 2B, 14 HR, 9.5 BB%, 18.2 K%, 577 PA (AA, AAA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Refsnyder is a pure hitter. He has a clean, level swing from the right side and he knows the strike zone well, so he gets the most out of his line drive approach. Most of Refsnyder’s power is into the gaps but he can go over the fence every so often. He’s put up big numbers everywhere he’s been and that’s what you want to see from a bat first prospect.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: The numbers are fantastic, but Refnsyder is basically a one tool prospect. That one tool (hit tool) is good and if you’re going to be a one tool guy, that’s the tool you want to have, but there’s no safety net here. Refsnyder has been at second base for two years now after moving in from the outfield and he’s a below-average defender who is going to have to work real hard to become even average there. Refsnyder’s good! But he’s also the most over-hyped prospect in the system right now. If he doesn’t hit big, he’s a below-average regular.

Eric JagieloNo. 12: ERIC JAGIELO, 3b

DOB: May 17th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 195 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2013 first round, 26th overall ($1.8394M bonus)
2014 Stats: .256/.351/.461 (132 wRC+), 14 2B, 18 HR, 10.6 BB%, 24.4 K%, 385 PA, (Rk, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and possibly Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: With patience and big left-handed power — especially to the pull side — Jagielo is tailor made for Yankee Stadium. He knows the strike zone, works the count, and drives anything in his wheelhouse with serious authority. Jagielo’s 18 homers last summer were the third most in the system even though he missed a month and a half with an oblique strain. Simply put, he’s a brute masher from the left side.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Jagielo is definitely a flawed prospect. He struggles to pick up breaking balls from same-side pitchers and he’ll always have some swing-and-miss in his game. Jagielo also isn’t very good at the hot corner. Not a total disaster, but bad enough that moving across the diamond to first base or into left field is a real possibility at some point. Without improvement in the field or against southpaws, Jagielo will be a left-handed platoon bat with no real position or defensive value.

Domingo GermanNo. 11: DOMINGO GERMAN, rhsp

DOB: August 4th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Trade with the Marlins, December 2014
2014 Stats: 2.48 ERA (3.26 FIP), 22.4 K%, 5.0 BB%, 51.0 GB%, 123.1 IP (A-)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa and possibly Double-A Trenton

Why You’ll Love Him: German has one high-end pitch in his mid-90s sinker and two workable complementary pitches in his low-80s changeup and slider. He’s a very athletic kid with a compact delivery and that allows him to fill the strike zone with his sinker, hence the tiny walk rate last summer. German held his velocity deep into starts and late into the season, even as his workload climbed into uncharted territory. Simply put, German has a live arm with more room to grow. Classic upside play.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: A bit of a late bloomer, German didn’t pitch in a full season league until last year, his fifth pro season. He’s already on the 40-man roster — the Marlins added him in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft — which means the clock is ticking. German has yet to pitch above Low Class-A and he only has three more seasons before he has to stick in MLB for good. Hopefully that’s enough time to improve his changeup and slider, but, if not, he’ll get stuck in a relief role long-term.

Tyler AustinNo. 10: TYLER AUSTIN, of/1b

DOB: September 26th, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 220 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2010 13th round, 415th overall ($130,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .275/.336/.419 (110 wRC+), 20 2B, 9 HR, 8.2 BB%, 18.3 K%, 437 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and possibly MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: When he’s been healthy, Austin has never not hit. For average and for power, with some walks thrown in to boot. Austin has a ton of natural strength and made some mechanical adjustments last summer that allow him to get the bat into the hitting zone quicker, which really boosted his power output in the second half. He’s played just about everywhere — Austin was drafted as a catcher, played some third base, and has now settled in as a corner outfielder and part-time first baseman — and offers a little bit of versatility.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Unfortunately, Austin hasn’t been all that healthy the last two years. He suffered a bone bruise in his wrist in April 2013 and played through it for much of a summer, which hurt his numbers and created some bad habits. The wrist issue flared up again in the Arizona Fall League in 2013 and again in Spring Training last year. It wasn’t until the middle of last summer that Austin was finally healthy. In addition to the lingering wrist issue, Austin is a bat first prospect who isn’t much of a help defensively. He’s about average in right, so the vast majority of his value is tied up in his wrist-hampered bat.

John Ryan MurphyNo. 9: JOHN RYAN MURPHY, c

DOB: May 13th, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 195 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2009 second round, 76th overall ($1.25M bonus)
2014 Stats: .258/.299/.388 (88 wRC+), 13 2B, 7 HR, 6.0 BB%, 22.8 K%, 17 PA (AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: There really isn’t anything about Murphy’s game that will make fans fall in love with him. He’s a very good defensive catcher with very good pitch-framing skills and a strong arm that has allowed him to throw out one-third of attempted base-stealers the last two years. His defense alone is going to make him a long-time big leaguer, even if it’s as nothing more than a backup. Murphy has some pull power and a good plan at the plate, so he isn’t expected to be a zero offensively.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Despite being a high-probability big leaguer, Murphy is going to be a pretty boring player because so much of his value is tied up in his defense. No one turns on baseball game to watch a catcher frame pitches or block balls in the dirt. Unless he grows into more power and becomes a better hitter than expected — or comes up with a bunch of well-timed hits, the kind people always seem to remember — Murphy will be easy to overlook because he’s not flashy.

Jorge MateoNo. 8: JORGE MATEO, ss

DOB: June 23rd, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 188 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed January 2012 out of Dominican Republic ($250,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .276/.354/.397 (119 wRC+), 5 2B, 11 SB, 10.8 BB%, 26.2 K%, 65 PA (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Rookie Pulaski

Why You’ll Love Him: Mateo can do it all — he has top of the line speed, above-average defensive tools in his mobility and arm, and surprising batting practice power. He can impact the game in the field, at the plate, and on the bases, making him a potentially lethal leadoff hitter and up-the-middle defender. Keith Law recently reported other teams have asked the Yankees for Mateo in trades, so, despite being so far away from MLB, he is highly regarded in the industry.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Mateo still has a very long way to go to get from here to there, here being rookie ball and there being an impact MLB shortstop. A wrist injury limited him to only 15 games this summer and he’s played only 93 games in three pro seasons, so at some point he has to get on the field and stay on the field. Mateo needs those reps to develop his skills, develop a plan at the plate, and learn how to take his power from batting practice into games. (Photo: Bryan Green)

Miguel AndujarNo. 7: MIGUEL ANDUJAR, 3b

DOB: March 2nd, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2011 out of Dominican Republic ($750,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .267/.318/.397 (99 wRC+), 25 2B, 10 HR, 6.6 BB%, 15.7 K%, 527 PA (A-)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa

Why You’ll Love Him: Thanks to good athleticism and a well-stocked tool shed, Andujar is one of the best two-way prospects in the organization, someone who projects to add value at the plate and in the field. He’s an aggressive contact hitter with power potential and a cannon for an arm, more than enough for the hot corner. Andujar struggled initially in both rookie ball and Low-A before adjusting and finishing strong, which is a good sign for a young player. He’s making those adjustments, even if it takes a little while.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Andujar is a really aggressive hitter in the sense that he jumps all over the first thing he can handle in the zone, and there’s a chance that will grow into chasing sliders off the plate with regularity, which would take a big bite out of his offensive ability. He also needs to work on his hands and footwork at third base, and if they doesn’t improve, Andujar will probably end up in right field. We are talking about a teenager, remember. Lots can go wrong.

Luis TorrensNo. 6: LUIS TORRENS, c

DOB: May 2nd, 1996 (age 18)
Height, Weight,Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2012 out of Venezuela ($1.3M bonus)
2014 Stats: .256/.331/.383 (111 wRC+), 14 2B, 3 HR, 7.9 BB%, 19.7 K%, 254 PA (Rk, SS, A-)
Projected 2015 Level: Low-A Charleston

Why You’ll Love Him: Despite his age (younger than Mateo!), Torrens is one the smartest players in the system with huge baseball aptitude. The Yankees converted him from infielder to catcher full-time immediately after signing him and he’s taken to the position extremely well, so much so that his defense is his now his calling card. Torrens has a strong arm and is a quality receiver even with so little experience. He can hit too, though he doesn’t have a whole lot of power. Torrens stands out offensively because of his sound approach and ability to recognize spin.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Again, we are talking about an 18-year-old prospect. An 18-year-old catcher prospect at that. Torrens has a ton of development ahead of him and anytime you have a prospect this young there will be plenty of chances for things to go wrong. He could end up a defense first backstop who doesn’t contribute much at the plate if he doesn’t get stronger and prevent upper level pitchers from knocking the bat out of his hands with quality fastballs.

Greg BirdNo. 5: GREG BIRD, 1b

DOB: November 9th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 215 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2011 fifth round, 179th overall ($1.1M bonus)
2014 Stats: .271/.376/.472 (139 wRC+), 30 2B, 14 HR, 14.3 BB%, 22.0 K%, 441 PA (A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and possibly Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Bird can really hit. He’s got a sweet swing from the left side with some power potential, and it all plays up because he’s an extremely smart hitter who knows the strike zone and sticks to his plan at the plate. Bird has popped up on some top 100 lists these last few weeks and that surprised me — non-elite first base prospects usually don’t get much prospect love. That said, it shows how well regarded he is in the industry.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: For starters, Bird has no defensive value, which isn’t a huge issue at first base but it’s not negligible either. He was a catcher in high school and had to move out from behind the plate due to back issues — back issues that continue to bother him on and off — and he is still learning the ins and outs at the first base. There’s a non-zero chance he’ll be a long-term DH. Bird also doesn’t project to have huge power and might only be a .250-ish hitter when it’s all said and done, albeit one with a solid OBP because he draws so many walks.

MiLB: AUG 06 - Brevard County Manatees at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 4: IAN CLARKIN, lhsp

DOB: February 14th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2013 supplemental first round, 33rd overall ($1.6501M bonus)
2014 Stats: 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP), 24.7 K%, 7.6 BB%, 43.8 GB%, 75 IP (A-, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa

Why You’ll Love Him: Thanks to his ability to fill the strike zone with four pitches, Clarkin is a no-doubt starter long-term. He’ll sit 90-92 with his fastball and touch 94 while also throwing a solid changeup and a snapdragon curveball that misses bats. The Yankees also helped him add a cutter last summer and he took to it quickly. Everything plays up too because Clarkin has some deception in his delivery. As someone with a swing-and-miss breaking ball and three other pitches to keep hitters off balance, I think Clarkin is exactly the type of pitching prospect who can exceed expectations in baseball’s current low offense environment.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Even with the quality curveball, Clarkin doesn’t have big stuff and might only settle in as a mid-rotation innings guy. There’s some top of the rotation potential there but you really have to squint your eyes and buy into the whole “no one can hit anymore so everyone has a chance to be an ace” line of thinking. Clarkin is a boringly good pitching prospect without any major “he really needs to work on this” flaws.

Gary SanchezNo. 3: GARY SANCHEZ, c

DOB: December 2nd, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 235 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2008 out of Dominican Republic ($3M bonus)
2014 Stats: .270/.338/.406 (108 wRC+), 19 2B, 13 HR, 9.0 BB%, 19.1 K%, 477 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Sanchez has the potential to be a true impact hitter, someone who hits for average and power while drawing a good number of walks. He’s cut his strikeout rate as he’s climbed the ladder — 25.0 K% in Low-A, 19.2 K% in High-A, 18.2 K% in Double-A — and he puts on huge power displays in batting practice. Sanchez also has a rocket arm — his arm is his best tool — and he’s thrown out 85 of 203 (42%) attempted base-stealers the last two years. That said, he’s a bat first prospect, clearly.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: For all the talk about his offensive potential, Sanchez has not yet had that huge breakout season in the minors. He’s been good every step of the way but not dominant. Sanchez’s defense is also very much a work in progress. His arm is great and he has improved in recent years, but his receiving and footwork behind the plate are lagging big time. I definitely think there is some Sanchez Fatigue setting in because it feels like he’s been around forever. Without that breakout offensive year or major step forward behind plate, he’ll continue to tease as a prospect.

Luis SeverinoNo. 2: LUIS SEVERINO, rhsp

DOB: February 20th, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 195 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed December 2011 out of Dominican Republic ($225,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 2.46 ERA (2.40 FIP), 27.8 K%, 5.9 BB%, 53.0 GB%, 113.1 IP (A-, A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton, Triple-A Scranton, possibly MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Thanks to a high-octane fastball that sits mid-90s and touches 98-99, Severino tore up three levels of minor league baseball during his age 20 season last year and has already put himself on the big league map. His top secondary pitch is a changeup that dives down and away from lefties, and he’s able to throw both his heater and change to both sides of the plate. Severino has an electric arm with a big fastball and a bat-missing offspeed pitch.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Severino is an undersized right-hander with a less than ideal delivery. Specifically, there’s some belief he doesn’t use his lower half enough, and that doesn’t bode well for his future as a starter. Severino also lacks a reliable breaking ball — his slider has improved during his relatively short pro career but it still has a way to go before being a quality third offering. If he can’t further develop his slider or tighten up his delivery, Severino will be a reliever all the way.

MiLB: June 23 - Daytona Cubs at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 1: AARON JUDGE, of

DOB: April 26th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight Bats/Throws: 6-foot-7, 230 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2013 supplemental first round, 32nd overall ($1.8M bonus)
2014 Stats: .308/.419/.486 (158 wRC+), 24 2B, 17 HR, 15.8 BB%, 23.3 K%, 563 PA (A-, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Judge has the raw power potential expected from someone of his size but he’s also a much more polished hitter than even the Yankees realized when they drafted him. He has a compact swing geared for hard contact to all fields and he’s quick to make adjustments. Judge doesn’t chase out of the zone and he recognizes pitches well. All of that comes with 30+ homer ability.

In the field, Judge is a quick runner — quicker than you’d expect given his size — with a strong and accurate arm, so he fits the right field profile perfectly. He’s a very good athlete with a strong work ethic and projects to be a two-way threat who does most of his damage at the plate. Judge seemed like a potential Dave Kingman type at Fresno State, meaning lots of homers and strikeouts, but he’s really not that type of player at this point.

When He’ll Break Your Heart: Because he’s not Giancarlo Stanton? That comp has been floating around since the day Judge was drafted — mostly because they are both physically huge right-handed hitting outfielders — and it is totally unfair. Stanton was a third year big leaguer with a 140 OPS+ and 93 career homers when he was Judge’s age. Aaron Judge is not Giancarlo Stanton and that’s okay.

Anyway, Judge’s biggest flaw as a prospect is that he has not yet learned how to fully tap into his raw power at the plate. He focuses more on hard contact and that’s great, but he’ll be even more dangerous when he figures out when he can really cut it loose and take advantage of his brute strength. There’s also always going to be a chance Judge will turn into a high strikeout hitter simply because his arms are so long and will leave him susceptible to pitches on the inner half. Otherwise he’s a pretty complete prospect.

* * *

The Yankees traded away a few prospects over the last year or so, most notably LHP Manny Banuelos. He would have ranked 11th for me, between Austin and German. C/1B/OF Peter O’Brien would have been a bit lower, ranking 16th between Mitchell and DeCarr. RHP Rafael DePaula probably would not have made the top 30, and even if he did, he would have been either 29th or 30th. His prospect shine has dimmed considerably over the last year or two, enough that he went unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft in December. LHP Vidal Nuno and OF Zoilo Almonte both graduated to MLB before being traded away and released, respectively. That covers just about everyone.

Mailbag: Heyward, Upton, Commissioner, Jeter, Moncada
RAB Live Chat
  • Jack

    Did you consider Mike Ford on the list? Seems that his production, by and large, is somehow shortchanged, maybe because he was undrafted, but in terms of production alone you would think he would show up on some of these lists.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Not really. 1B without much power.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Not really. 1B without much power.

  • Havok9120

    I obviously haven’t read it or even looked at the names yet, but I want to thank you again for putting all of this together. It must be a tremendous amount of work, but the result is always fun to read (and hopefully fun to write).

    • dickylarue

      Agreed. Great job Mike.

    • dickylarue

      Agreed. Great job Mike.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Called Estrada making the jump from “not top 30” to “top 30” yesterday, when Mike teased that one guy from last year had made the jump. *pats self on back*

    That said, by my count, there’s what, like 5 Shortstops in the low minors on the top 30? That’s pretty sweet, but is there going to be problems finding playing time for all of them?

  • Dalek Jeter

    Called Estrada making the jump from “not top 30” to “top 30” yesterday, when Mike teased that one guy from last year had made the jump. *pats self on back*

    That said, by my count, there’s what, like 5 Shortstops in the low minors on the top 30? That’s pretty sweet, but is there going to be problems finding playing time for all of them?

    • Jim Is Bored

      Shouldn’t be because we have so many lower level organizations.

      • AllPraiseBeToMo

        Just shows how dumb/short-sighted the Mets are getting rid of Pulaski to save some money.

  • cashmoney

    Surprised about Austin’s relative high ranking. But yeah, I am a big fan of tyler.

  • cashmoney

    Surprised about Austin’s relative high ranking. But yeah, I am a big fan of tyler.

  • dickylarue

    Where’s Moncada?

    • The Original Drew

      I would assume if the Yankees signed Moncada that he would be #1

      • Dalek Jeter

        I would assume so as well, especially if according to Baseball America’s list he’d be the number 10 prospect and the Yankees’ highest prospect was Severino at 38.

      • Dalek Jeter

        I would assume so as well, especially if according to Baseball America’s list he’d be the number 10 prospect and the Yankees’ highest prospect was Severino at 38.

      • dickylarue

        I like it better when you guys put him atop our prospect rankings without a contract.

        But yes, if Moncada signs here Slade Heathcott’s getting bumped to 31. Which leads me to my next point – Remember when Heathcott, Austin and Mason Williams were all going to be roaming our OF as sure things? That’s why if I can turn prospects into major league players in trades I’ll do it every time.

        • The Original Drew

          Most prospects break your heart, that is just the nature of the beast. Montero and Hughes keep me up at night constantly. Though I suppose it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

          • Dalek Jeter

            I really hope they don’t actually keep you up at night.

            • The Original Drew

              Depends on how much Scotch I drink and pizza I eat along if we get a Montero highlight video on the open thread.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Yep.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Yep.

    • The Original Drew

      I would assume if the Yankees signed Moncada that he would be #1

  • cashmoney

    Yo mike, you don’t have to answer this, but is this a full time gig for you? I am simply asking because the time it takes to run this blog the way you do.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nope.

      • Dalek Jeter

        Chat today, Mike?

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          2:30. WordPress ate the reminder, it seems.

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          2:30. WordPress ate the reminder, it seems.

      • Dalek Jeter

        Chat today, Mike?

      • cashmoney

        Like havoc said, appreciate your ceaseless updates and posts. Clearly a labor of love then.

      • cashmoney

        Like havoc said, appreciate your ceaseless updates and posts. Clearly a labor of love then.

      • Yankee Trader

        Thanks, for the very labor intensive, excellent read on the top 30. Pirela?

        Do you think Refsnyder might make the 25 man?

        September or earlier, possible call ups, should their star continue to shine?

      • Yankee Trader

        Thanks, for the very labor intensive, excellent read on the top 30. Pirela?

        Do you think Refsnyder might make the 25 man?

        September or earlier, possible call ups, should their star continue to shine?

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nope.

  • cashmoney

    Yo mike, you don’t have to answer this, but is this a full time gig for you? I am simply asking because the time it takes to run this blog the way you do.

  • Dalek Jeter

    I didn’t say it in my first comment, but let me echo Havok in thanking you for putting together this list, Mike. Unlike a Law, or a Baseball Prospectus, I know this is more your leisure domain than your actual job…but one look at this list shows how much work you put into it, and the fact that you put forward such an effort then share it with this bunch of animals (the commenters, me included) is a great service.

    • The Original Drew

      Yes, All the ovations for Mr. Axisa.

    • The Original Drew

      Yes, All the ovations for Mr. Axisa.

    • lightSABR

      Also, I like the new format. Very clean—thorough but well-organized.

  • Dalek Jeter

    I didn’t say it in my first comment, but let me echo Havok in thanking you for putting together this list, Mike. Unlike a Law, or a Baseball Prospectus, I know this is more your leisure domain than your actual job…but one look at this list shows how much work you put into it, and the fact that you put forward such an effort then share it with this bunch of animals (the commenters, me included) is a great service.

  • HoopDreams

    Very informative read Mike! thanks for taking the time

  • SweetSpot

    Just scanned it quickly to start – wow that’s impressive and well though out. Lots of work! Kudos.

  • Vern Sneaker

    Thanks, Mike. So well-done, and a great annual RAB feature. I think I would have rated Lindgren higher, since he seems to be more of a probable big leaguer than some of those you have above him, but little else to pick at here. Hard to believe not one of these SS will make it, what a haul, but of course you never know.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yeah I probably should have had Lindgren a spot or two higher since he’s so MLB ready. Trust me, I change the order a million between when I start the post to when I finally publish it.

      • Vern Sneaker

        I totally can appreciate that. All is forgiven (lol).

      • Vern Sneaker

        I totally can appreciate that. All is forgiven (lol).

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yeah I probably should have had Lindgren a spot or two higher since he’s so MLB ready. Trust me, I change the order a million between when I start the post to when I finally publish it.

  • Vern Sneaker

    Thanks, Mike. So well-done, and a great annual RAB feature. I think I would have rated Lindgren higher, since he seems to be more of a probable big leaguer than some of those you have above him, but little else to pick at here. Hard to believe not one of these SS will make it, what a haul, but of course you never know.

  • pfoj

    Pretty sure Burawa will be the last player to appear on these list who is older than me. Damn.

    • http://www.twitter.com/Ray_Zayas ComeOnYouBronxBombers

      I only have Burawa and Ramirez older than me, we’re getting too old to be prospects.

      • cashmoney

        I be an aging veteran fighting for a milb contract right now, all relative.

      • pfoj

        Hitting the gym tonight. Training starts now.

    • Dalek Jeter

      If Ramirez makes the list next year, he’ll be the last for me, and only by a few months.

  • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

    I am not a fan of the whole “well it’s just my opinion, man” argument. If people are disagreeing with you, there’s a good chance that they are not disagreeing with your opinion so much as your process. The assumptions and model/formula (more of a qualitative formula) that you used to put it together.

    If understanding of the future values of these prospects is actually what we’re after, I think the “well it’s just my opinion, man” attitude is destructive. By explicitly stating the model (mental or otherwise) that you used to arrive at your “opinion” we can actually gain a better understanding of what is right and wrong with the model as time goes on. (Should this or that actually be weighted so highly based on historical evidence?) We can debate whether specific assumptions you’ve made are reasonable. (If you assume that 10% of a certain type of player make it to MLB, for example, that may be factually incorrect and someone else can point that out to you.)

    Basically, an analytical approach can best be perfected through iteration. “My opinion can’t be right or wrong” is a mindset that I think stands in the way of that sort of progress.

    What I am not arguing here is that prospect ranking will ever be an exact science. There is inherent variability that will just exist at least until some future state of the world where genetic modification is extremely advanced or we replace humans with robots on the field. I am arguing that it can be a MORE exact science in a few years than it is today, but only if we take what I would call an analytical approach.

    • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

      It’s the reason that the scientific method mandates repeating an experiment or that academic papers are peer reviewed.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Shit, I forgot that Mike was using the scientific method to write an academic paper.

        • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

          Seriously? Projecting the expected value of an asset does have an accepted “scientific method.” That is what Mike is doing here. Whether he wants to ignore or embrace the prevailing wisdom on the best method for doing so is up to him.

          And that’s really not a reasonable response. I did not say this is an academic paper. I said the same principle applies, in that peer review will lead to the best product. The best understanding of the issue.

          I didn’t really expect a strawman manipulation of what I said from you. You come across as one of the most intelligent commenters on here.

          It amazes me how everyone wants to urge me to “just take Mike’s work for what it is,” yet they contradict their own advice by not just taking my comment for what it is. It’s my take on the best way to do this, based on years and years of training in how to evaluate the expected values of future outcomes. Take it or leave it, but at least try to internalize what I’m saying if you’re going to read and respond.

          • blake

            I mean obviously Mike puts a lot of work and thought to these things and the only thing you can say is basically a long version of “you’re doing it wrong”

            If you feel that way then that’s fine…..but maybe instead of asking him to change his methods maybe you could do the work yourself ….form a list based on the methods you are discussing and then give us a link so we can read it

            • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

              Where did I ask him to change anything?

              I told him my opinion of what he did. That’s all. I have spent a good deal of 4 years in college, 2 years in grad school, and the better part of a decade in the working world learning how to apply expected value to different situations. I thought the information I have learned (almost none of which is my original thought, just a regurgitation of commonly accepted principles anyone with an MBA has learned) might be of use to Mike and others on this blog. So, I invested a bunch of my time sharing it. Chances are many people here have not been exposed to these frameworks. They probably don’t know frameworks for projecting expected values of assets even exist. I thought I’d let them know how this is done in most lines of work (and I would bet how it is done by MLB front offices as well… they’re not hiring former IBankers just for their looks…).

              PLEASE stop telling me what to do and not do. If you’d like to actually discuss the content of what I said, let’s do it.

              (And a lot of people put a lot of effort into a lot of things. That doesn’t mean you can’t tell them what you think of what they have done. It doesn’t mean you have to heap praise on them regardless of what they’ve done.)

              • http://cnn.com/ Magic Rat

                dick

                • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                  Mindblowing…

              • blake

                youre talking in theory though man…..I’m not saying what you’re talking about isn’t worth exploring. I’m just saying that I think you’re getting way out of the bounds of what the post was intended to be…..and if you haven’t actually applied what you know to this specific area then it’s tough to discuss the merits of it much further

                • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                  I don’t think so at all. I think I am talking about the core of what the post was intended to be: the relative expected value of Yankees prospects.

                  What is the use in compiling a list of their expected values if you have no intention of even considering the relationship between the list and their expected values? One of your main arguments seems to be that Mike spent a lot of times on this. If there was a more productive way he could have spent his time, isn’t that something he should know? Isn’t it more disrespectful to say, “hey, great way to spend your time in a suboptimal way!” than to say, “hey, bud, there’s a different way to do this that at least hundreds of thousands of other people know about which may actually be a better way.” If you just walked 5 miles in the freezing rain to my house, would you rather me tell you how much I respect the time you took, of that there’s a bus you can take home for a buck? Not that the two are at all mutually exclusive.

                  Again, I don’t have to be the one applying it. I already gave you an example of Chris Mitchell applying it as he sees fit. And I broke down step by step how one would apply it. I explained that someone like Friedman is a former banker who has been trained in this method. He is considered a great GM, and this just might be part of what he’s using to get there (and it might not be).

                  I am also not saying I am right. I am putting my opinion out there. If you want to peer review it in any way besides saying this isn’t an appropriate forum, please feel free.

              • Scott

                You talk too much. Look you can’t apply your analytical theory to baseball players. Sure we have stats from these players but using your theory won’t help us or Mike, or anyone else rank these guys. This isn’t a business model.
                Baseball, like all sports is an art and a science. The art part of it, is what ruins your idea of using analytics to figure out minor league players’ rankings.

                • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                  That’s a pretty mind blowingly ignorant response. Not understanding something doesn’t mean you should dismiss it out of hand.

                  You definitely can apply this way of thinking to baseball. In fact, basically every single front office in baseball held in high esteem is known for an analytical approach.

                  You have clearly not read my explanation of what I am saying. A model does not have to be purely quantitative. That’s a misunderstanding you apparently have. What a model is, the reason it’s called a model, is a simplified version of reality: a model of reality. It’s a way of thinking about complex things. Mike is already using a model of some kind to evaluate these players. My suggestion is that he formalize it. That does not mean “only use stats.” It means write down all the inputs you used and how you took those inputs to get to your output. Over time patterns will almost definitely emerge in what works and doesn’t work. You can actually test the correlation of your inputs with the results as they happen over time. Perhaps the most predictive variables are actually subjective judgements.

                  It seems you talk too much without having the slightest clue what you are talking about.

    • Dalek Jeter

      If you were commenting on an article Nate Silver wrote, about the rankings of potential politicians or whatever, and he opened with that it’s “just his opinion,” I’d have a much easier time agreeing with you. In this context though, Mike is just a baseball writer putting together a list for fun for the blog he runs in his spare time. I’m not expecting absolute scientific accuracy.

      • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

        Come on, man. I specifically said I am not expecting absolute scientific accuracy.

        Really, I am not expecting anything at all. Mike is free to write whatever he wants on his blog. I didn’t say he isn’t.

        What I said is that I think looking at this as “just an opinion” is destructive (maybe counter productive is better phrasing). And I think it’s somewhat inaccurate, too. What this really is, in fact, is a projection of expected future value. There is an accepted mathematical framework for doing so. You multiply the probability of future states by the value of that state if it comes to be. There are also various mathematical ways to try to figure out those probabilities and values, as well as how various other variables relate to them.

        Now, eventually you’re going to need to make assumptions. Those are basically what we’re calling opinions, though hopefully informed opinions. They are the inputs, in a sense, not the outputs.

        The framework I am describing allows us to understand more precisely where we disagree. Instead of, “well I think Sachez is 3!” “No I think Sanchez is 7!” “He has lots of upside!” “No he can’t catch!” “Well, maybe he will learn!” We can pinpoint where we actually disagree.

        And what I was saying before is that we can audit the model and make it more accurate over time.

        I am not saying Mike or anyone else has to do anything. I am saying I think this is the best way to think about it. How much of it you can actually do given the resources you have will vary. At least understanding the “science” behind what you’re actually doing is an advantage, I think, though. It’s not an opinion. It’s a projection of expected value.

        • blake

          Do you have a link to your scientific and peer reviewed Yankee prospect rankings?

          • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

            That’s such a red herring.

            I am expressing my understanding of the best way to do this based on many years of academic and professional training in projecting the future value of assets.

            That I have not chosen to be an MLB prospect analyst either for a living or as a hobby does not have much of anything to do with my opinion.

            What I am saying is really simple. You just don’t like me because I challenge you, so you are ignoring what I am saying and trying to find ways to challenge me. You’re not actually challenging what I’m saying, though. Not the content of what I said.

            You don’t have to make this a super formal process to inject the principles I am talking about into it. You can use some qualitative inputs, like scouting 20-80 grades, for example. You don’t need a published journal for peer review, just to state your methodology and use the comments section.

            Look at what Chris Mitchell is doing with KATOH, for example. It’s an analytical process that he can get feedback on from other people and from the data as time passes. That’s all I’m saying. This is not just a random opinion that no one can say is right or wrong. This is a complex set of assumptions that people can do some testing on if you bother to explicitly state them.

            • blake

              No….I don’t dislike you at all Ted….I just think you should do the work yourself and let us read it if you don’t like the methods of this list.

              • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                Do you do the work for every person whose methods you don’t totally agree with?

                You are not even bothering to understand what I am saying, which is extremely typical for you. Try asking me some questions about what I am trying to say instead of just jumping to conclusions right away.

                I am not saying to take a player’s box score stats or any other stats and make a purely quantitative model.

                What I am actually saying is that what Mike has already done, knowingly or not, is engage in a process of putting (calculating) an expected value for each of these players. That expected value he came up with is already, mathematically, the value of each possible outcome multiplied by Mike’s expectations of the probability of that outcome. That is what was going on behind the scenes of what Mike was doing.

                I am saying that by formalizing and explicitly stating that process, he can learn more than by keeping it in his head or on his personal computer.

                So, he has already made some assumptions about how important numerous variables are for each of these players. And he’s likely weighted some of these variables more highly than others because it’s essentially impossible to consider hundreds of variables unless you do have an actual model in a spreadsheet.

                What formalizing the model, with both quantitative and qualitative variables involved, would allow him to do is see more precisely what trends emerge over time. He might already look back and think to himself “you know, I think I have been weighting upside too much/not enough on previous lists…” This would give him a more precise way to test such a hypothesis.

                Again, this doesn’t have to be some scary mathematical model. It’s just a formalization of the process so that you and others can evaluate it over time.

                Worst case, we find out that there really is no value at all in projecting prospects and they are completely random. I doubt that’s entirely true, but even finding that out has value.

    • blake

      Your opinion will be noted

  • Pkyankfan69

    If Refsnyder was average defensively at 2B where would he rank? (That is assuming he wouldn’t have lost his prospect status last year if that were the case.)

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Much higher, probably fifth or sixth.

  • blake

    Very interesting rankings and I actually like this list better than most I’ve seen.

    I think Sanchez’s ranking in particular is much more in line with where he should be than many of the other lists

    I think I would have had Shreve and Refs a little higher…..but overall very good rankings and excellent work as always on this

    • The Original Drew

      I think with Refsnyder is that he is getting so over-hyped that he is actually going back around to being under-rated by the rankings, if that makes sense. I think Mike is trying to help us all manage expectations of him, or I could be completely over analyzing this. Either way I think Refsnyder is about where he should be.

      • blake

        I think the hype is crazy as well but hes probably their closest position player to the majors and he can hit as an infielder…..I think I would have had him in the 8 or 9 range probably

        • Mayan Brickann

          Ever increasing gap between high minors and MLB is the wild card. While there’s no formula for it, if Refs was named the NYY 2B today, I’d expect something a lot closer to the .270/.335/.395 than I would the .318/.387/.497 he authored in AA/AAA.

          • Mayan Brickann

            Question would then be whether that’s enough hitting to offset sub-standard defense.

            • selftitled85

              I think so. Remember, we no longer are running Jeter out at SS. Didi is a much better defender. Headley is very good at 3b and Tex can still flash the leather at 1b. I think a line of 270/335/395 would be excellent.

          • HoopDreams

            If Ref puts up that slash line sign me the hell up

          • chris hines

            If he hit .270/.335/.395 I’d jump for joy but I would in no way expect that out of him if he was named starter. I’d expect the power to be lower than that and wouldn’t be surprised to see the average fall below that as well into the .250-.260 range.

        • Mandy Stankiewicz

          “position” used lightly? ;)
          Great read Mike.

      • selftitled85

        The issue for me with Ref is not the hype…it his closeness to the MLB.

        Yes he will likely not be as awesome as we all hope. His bat will likely not play up anywhere near the level it has in the Minors. That’s what happens in the Majors. That said, he has never failed to hit in the minors and is battering down the door to the big league club. That to me screams top 5-8 prospect for me.

        • Jim Is Bored

          I think it comes down to whether you value a high ceiling or a high floor. I vacillate between the two all the time.

          • selftitled85

            I’ll take the high floor almost any day. Most prospects don’t live up to expectations. But if they are at worst MLB caliber, sign me up. Especially for a 5th round pick.

            • Jim Is Bored

              I think I lean this way too. But hell, dreaming about those low A guys becoming the next core of the roster is fun!

              • selftitled85

                Yep. It’s also why I would not be surprised to see Cashman stealthily trade away someone like Mateo. Yeah his skillset is envious and top 100 prospect worthy (give or take another year). But as Mike mentioned there is still so much time between now and when he could produce in the Majors. If a team offers up a decent prospect that is close to MLB ready? A starting pitcher or something. Would you turn it down? I would definitely be tempted to accept it. Mateo has a HUGE ceiling. But the chances of him reaching it are not all that great.

                • The Great Gonzo

                  Doubtful, but a team might offer up a middle rotation guy and take Mateo as piece 1A of a trade package.

                  Like, Mateo and Clarkin for a Shelby Miller type? Would you do that?

                  • selftitled85

                    And quite frankly, if the Yankees are in win now mode, do you think Cashman would not pull the trigger on that? He would have to be crazy not to.

                    • Havok9120

                      Except we’re not a win-now team.

                      Which is a moot point, since Mateo is nowhere near the point where that trade becomes realistic.

                  • chris hines

                    No team is giving up a young middle of the rotation starter at the major league level for two A ballers.

                    • The Great Gonzo

                      Granted, but no one is giving up a AAA starter ready to make the jump for one A Baller either. I’d say you’d have a better shot at the former, no?

            • chris hines

              The problem with the “high floor” scenario is it somewhat dismisses the potential for being a total bust, which isn’t the case most of the time. Refsnyder has a glaring weakness in the field, that’s not exactly indicative of a guy who’s a shoe in to at least be a major league player. He’s not going to hit well enough to be a DH or start in RF, which means if he hits but can’t play defense he’s pretty much at best a bench player in the NL.

            • Havok9120

              But a guy like Ref’s isn’t “at worst” MLB caliber. His defense means his bat would need to be very, very good at the MLB level, and as recently-promoted prospects have shown the MiLB numbers don’t really give us all that great an idea about that.

          • chris hines

            What’s the argument for Refsnyder having a high floor? If he ends up busting out at second base defensively he’s pretty much nothing at the major league level because no one is going to start him in RF.

        • chris hines

          When you can’t field your position that’s a problem, when that position is up the middle and the only other position you can play your bat won’t hold up at it’s a huge problem.

      • The Great Gonzo

        I WOULDA PUT THE REFSNYDERZ AT A NEGATIVE ONEZ BECAUZE HES BETTER THAN NUMBER ONE AND TEH STEVEN DREW WHOZE BLOCKING HIM FROM BEGIN TEH NEW ROBBIE CANO UNTIL MONCADA REPLACES HIM IN JULY!

        Nailed it

        • The Original Drew

          For some reason I can’t not read this in an old jewish woman’s voice.

          • selftitled85

            I put it in Adam Sandlers voice. But this is similar to an old Jewish woman so…

      • chris hines

        I don’t see him being under ranked anywhere. He’s a no defense, no power, no speed, second baseman who’s going to have to hit for an extremely high average to produce any real value.

        • blake

          So he’s like every other 2B in baseball…..all I’m saying is that if he can just be a big league starter then there is value in that

          • chris hines

            No most second basemen in baseball can actually play the position. As of last year he wasn’t a major league capable player in the field at 2B, that is sort of a huge blockade in the “just be a starter” argument. There is a very real chance that he ends up being nothing more than a bench player you can occasionally stick at 2B or carry in RF.

            • blake

              I mean if he can improve enough defensively to play there

              • chris hines

                I have serious doubts about it, enough that I don’t think people should just take for granted that he’ll eventually be good enough to make it work. I also think he’s not going to walk a lot and strikeout a bit more than people think, which will hold his average back.

                • blake

                  We shall see…..

                  • chris hines

                    Hey I hope he proves me wrong, I don’t root for any Yankee to fail I just think the hype train got past this kid’s actual ability and never stopped.

                    • blake

                      Oh I agree…..that’s why I call him the Legend of Rob Refsynder …..

                • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                  You have serious doubt based on what? Serious question.

                  • chris hines

                    Watching him play and reading scouting reports? There really isn’t much more I can go off of. You don’t have to agree with me I’m not forcing you to share my opinion.

                    • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                      My question is what you saw, specifically, when watching and reading that led to your conclusion.

                      Instead of getting defensive, maybe try exaining what you’re talking about when someone politely asks you for an explanation…

                    • chris hines

                      I have explained it multiple times but you refuse to address it. He has very poor footwork, yes that can be improved upon but he’s also been working on it for two years and I don’t see it becoming good enough for him to ever be better than just OK in that area. His feet get caught up underneath him and he can’t position himself well because of it. He’s not unathletic but he’s not a super athlete which limits his range and his arm isn’t very strong. Now you don’t have to have a strong arm to play 2B but it helps when you have the other flaws he has in his defensive game.

            • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

              How many guys in the minors are finished products?

              • chris hines

                Well if we could only judge and project finished products we’d be talking about that prospect Derek Jeter right about now and that isn’t very helpful.

                I get it you think Refsnyder is going to get better on defense, under your varying screen names you’ve never actually given any reasoning for that other than “he’s a work in progress” however. How about you? What do you see specifically that makes think he’s going to provide actual value in the field at second base?

                • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                  So, basically you have nothing and it’s just a random guess? Ok, but it would be nice if you presented it as such rather than fact.

                  I have seen him play several times and read a bunch of scouting reports. What you said runs counter to those scouting reports actually said.

                  • chris hines

                    So basically you don’t actually have an opinion to back up you just like challenging others to do something you can’t?

                    I’ve seen him play as well as well and read a bunch of reports myself, most of which will point out his poor foot work in the very start of touching on his defense. He also isn’t super athletic, which limits his range, and his arm isn’t very strong. I have yet to read one scouting report that says he projects to be above average in the field, most suggest his best bet is to improve enough to be average but most think he’ll be below average. Again I would ask you to post the information that says he’s going to actually be an asset in the field at second base, you know instead of just being condescending and obnoxious for no reason.

                    • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                      How did you get from that to “no D?”

                • selftitled85

                  I have no dog in this fight and I for one tend to think offense is far more important than defense at 2b, but why can’t you both be right? Right now Ref is not a very good 2b. You know who also wasn’t a very good 2b when he made the show? Robinson Cano. http://www.minorleagueball.com/2005/4/15/111641/506

                  TL:DR version: His bat needs to carry him because his defense is pretty meh. Some scouts see him moving to 1b or at least 3b.

                  No one has any idea how Ref will turn out. He has gotten better at 2b in comparison to where he was. But his bat will have to be his calling card. Right now he has hit at every level and hit very well. That said in this offensively starved environment, if Ref is even just an average hitter, it will not take much defense for him to become better than most 2b in the league.

        • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

          That’s false. A caricature of the scouting reports.

          His defense is a work in progress, but I’m not sure I have heard a single person who has watched him say that he has no D or projects to have no D.

          Two qualifying 2B in all of MLB had an ISO above .150 last season. Eight had ISOs below .120, four of whom out up league average or better offensive seasons. (Ref had ISOs of .206 and .157 in AA and AAA, for what it’s worth.)

          Not many guys on this whole list will ever amount to anything. You don’t have to be a lock to be a star to make the top 10.

          You can agree or disagree with the ranking, but those are questionable reasons to agree.

          • chris hines

            I’ve read scouts say they don’t think he’ll ultimately stick at 2B and when I watch him I feel like he has poor enough foot work that he won’t fix it enough to ever be better than below average. The question then becomes how much will he hit to offset that and how far below average he’ll be in the field.

            I’m not saying he’s destined to bust I’m saying there is a none zero percent chance that he ends up as a bench player you can occasionally play at 2B or carry in RF, which would make him more valuable for an NL team.

            I’d love to read the scouting report that says he’s a work in progress on defense but projects to be anything other than bad because I haven’t read a single report suggesting he’ll ever be an asset in the field at 2B. If you have one that says otherwise I would appreciate you posting it so I can read it over and gather more information from the source.

            • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

              Every single prospect has a non-zero percent chance that the areas they are working on improving in will not work out at much tougher levels… So that might be a fun little Mike Axisaism, but it’s meaningless. It is what we both agree on in saying that prospects are works in progress. Non-zero is everything between zero and a hundred. There’s a non-zero percent chance tomorrow is the apocalypse. I’m personally not going to lose any sleep over it. Likewise, on the other extreme, there’s a non-zero percent chance that the sun will rise tomorrow.

              I have literally not read a single scouting report that says he doesn’t have the tools to be an acceptable or solid MLB 2B.

              Footwork is a relatively fixable area if you have the physical quickness and the area where you would expect someone converting to 2B to struggle. How have you determined that his “footwork” will not progress? What specifically about his footwork has led you to that conclusion? And his have you weighed that against all the other aspects of defense? (Again, I am legitimately asking to understand what you’re saying.)

              • chris hines

                Then you clearly haven’t read Keith Law’s take on Refsnyder because he projects him as a backup outfielder because of his poor work at 2B. Now I’m sure you’ll come back with a retort running down Law and his take on this or something else to discredit his opinion but you’ve constantly said you haven’t read a single report saying he won’t stick at 2B when there are multiple out there saying just that.

                I think there are aspects of footwork that aren’t fixable at a certain point, he isn’t at that point but two years into the process he’s reaching it. When you constantly get to the same balls with your feet caught up under yourself and in poor position to turn and make a throw, and you already don’t have the strongest arm or the best range to make up for that, it’s going to be a problem. There’s also something to be said for what motions come naturally to you. You can practice something the right way day in and day out but if the incorrect and poor way to do something is just how you feel more comfortable when push comes to shove and you don’t have time to stop and think about planting and pivoting in certain ways you are going to revert back to what comes natural.

                If he just had a weak arm, if he just had poor foot work, if he was just an OK athlete then I could see him making the strides necessary to become average or maybe above average but he has a ton of questions defensively. Again you keep acting like I’m in this little world all by myself on these questions, there are plenty of scouts and scouting reports who say his most likely outcome is as a below average second basemen, doesn’t mean it’s predestined to happen but it’s more than just one loner in the snow yelling it.

                If you want to try and paint me as an uninformed kook who has no idea what he’s talking about that’s perfectly fine, I really don’t care. I do however find it funny that while you constantly challenge everyone else’s opinions, which I have no problem with, you never actually back up any of your own. I’ve asked you multiple times to tell me what it is specifically you see that makes you think he’ll be an asset in the field and you have no response. I’ve asked you multiple times to actually show a report talking about him being a work in progress on defense but on his way to becoming a plus defender, again nothing. You throw a lot of stones but maybe you might want to wipe the windows down on that glass house once in a while.

                • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

                  And you have said you haven’t read a single report to the contrary when there are many out there, free to read in the public domain rather than behind the paywall of a massively inefficient news organization.

                  You are talking in theory. I am asking specifically about Refsnyder.

                  A below average defender is not what you said. You said “no D.” A below average defender at a premium position can have plenty of value. Half the 2B in the league are necessarily below the median.

                  I have not painted you as a look at all. I have said that you are exaggerating. Turning “below average D” into “no D” and “easy line drive power” into “no power” is just exaggerating. I can’t imagine you weren’t going for hyperbole there.

                  Here’s my personal evaluation: I agree he’s overrated by most Yankees fans. I also think he’s probably underrated by Mike, since he’s a guy who has flown though the system hitting at every level with a pretty good shot at sticking at an up the middle position. And he’s knocking on the MLB door. He’s already hit in AAA. I know he has some footwork issues, but that’s what I expect for a guy who hasn’t played IF since HS, I think. I see the natural quickness to make the plays, just not the polish.

                  I am not going to link you a scouting report from my phone. Look at literally any scouting report in the public domain and let me know what it says.

  • Dan A.

    Good job with the list Mike. I get that you think Ref has a lot of hype (and he has defensive issues), but he has a legit bat, and should already be in discussion for a big league spot this year. Given how close and projectable he is, I can’t see him not in the top 10 at this point.

  • Rick

    When did you have to start working on this list, Mike? Can you provide an approximation on the hours it took you to compile? I can’t even imagine. Extremely well done and, of course, thank you.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I stretch it out over the offseason. I put together my first rough list of names before the holidays. Maybe 10 hours total? The capsules themselves don’t actually take very long to write. It’s trying to find the order I like best.

  • Hawkeye86

    A top 100 sounds interesting at first, but is probably filled with “the kid I just found pitching to his 12 year-old brother beside a motel” near the bottom end. ‘Trouble With the Curve’ reference for anybody who hasn’t seen it.

  • blake

    Seems like this list…… at least the upper half favors upside over closeness to the majors ….I don’t have a problem with that but it’s why I might have ranked refs and Shreve a little higher given that they could help this season.

    That said….the fun in prospecting is dreaming on these guys so ranking the players with the most impact potential highest makes sense in that regard

  • http://www.twitter.com/Ray_Zayas ComeOnYouBronxBombers

    Great list, not much I would change except Burawa was born in 88 not 98. Thanks for your great work Mike!

    • Dalek Jeter

      Not if he’s some bastard time paradox baby, like Marty McFly or Daniel Faraday.

    • Jim Is Bored

      It makes me really sad to think that if he’d been born in 88(still younger than me), he wouldn’t be a prospect.

  • blake

    Where was Mason ranked last year? Man him and Heathcott were the future not that long ago……

    • Mayan Brickann

      Mason #6, Heathcott #3 in Mike’s 2014 preseason list

      • blake

        Man….

        • Mayan Brickann

          As the saying goes, “Prospects will break your heart”.

          • blake

            Except Moncada! He will just break you!

            • Rick

              I can tell you really don’t like Moncada :).

              • blake

                Not like….love

        • Dalek Jeter

          Look at the bright side, some of their sliding back (obviously not ALL but SOME) is because of the leaps and bounds guys like Judge, Bird, Severino, and Clarkin made.

          • Tom_hamsandwich

            Plus they are still young. Also they will always be young enough to be late bloomers.

          • HoopDreams

            I was shocked to see Clarkin is only 20, that put a smile on my face.

            • selftitled85

              Hensley being only 21 surprised the hell out of me.

              • HoopDreams

                Lindgrens a youngin too and hes knocking on the door, excited to see what he can do

            • selftitled85

              Hensley being only 21 surprised the hell out of me.

          • cashmoney

            a good domestic draft and a deep ifa pool to splurge on has really change the outlook of this system. I generally can’t get excited about prospects til AA and show hit tools. But the ifa haul yanks dragged in were impressive.

  • New Guy

    Very interesting list, but you should leave out the “here’s why hell break your heart” portion because ignorance is bliss with prospects haha. My only question is with Shreve. He was a slow pitch lefty who decided to pitch harder and changed himself into a…. Slow pitch lefty. Seems like he destined to be at best a finesse LOOGY. I understand he’s #26 just seems like I’m missing something.

    • Rick

      It’s the performance accompanying the change. In the 15 games he appeared in at the ML level (admitted an extremely SSS) he showed he can get hitters out, with impressive K numbers. All of which came after the change. Even if he’s nothing more than LOOGY – if he can get guys out, that has value.

      • chris hines

        He also did a really good job of holding righties down in AA, in 40.1 IP vs RHB in AA during 2014 he held those batters to a .196 average, 2 HRs, and a .87 WHIP. Obviously you can’t translate those directly to the major leagues but it adds some validity to his small major league sample.

  • Ewing33

    Awesome job as usual, Mike. Count me among those overrating Refsnyder.

    • HoopDreams

      To be fair, hes probably the best hitting prospect we have had in awhile. So some of the excitement might be overblown a tad

      • Jim Is Bored

        Water looks a lot better when you’re in a desert.

      • chris hines

        Best average hitting prospect at least, I worry about how much he’ll ever walk at the major league level, and he doesn’t project to have much power at all.

  • selftitled85

    I remember reading something a year or two back about any hitter who had a wRC+ over 170 making the bigs.And that typically, if you did that, you were almost a shoe-in to become a major league baseball player at some time (barring injury of course). This is all a long way for me to say I think you underestimate Bird. He may play a non-premium position at 1b, but his offensive skills definitely speak of MLB caliber and above average. Someone mentioned his best comp is that of Lyle Overbay. While Overbay was not exciting back in the mid 00’s, in this depressed offensive point in time that skillset would become far more valuable.

    In short, I think Bird is a better bet than Clarkin or Sanchez at this point. He has proven more and should probably be in the top 3.

    • cashmoney

      don’t really care the order as much, but I think bird is their best hitting prospect when I consider his whole package hitting wise.

      • chris hines

        I think Bird and Judge are going to be middling average guys who walk and strikeout a lot, except Judge has WAY more power potential. There’s not much to justify calling Bird a better overall offensive player than Judge to me, unless you have something telling you Bird is going to hit for a much higher average than most believe.

        • cashmoney

          agree. More of iso thing than average base on what they have done. judge has the potential but has not translate fully yet and it’s his first year.

          • chris hines

            Judge’s length, which is very noticeable in his stance, and his leg stride are going to hold him back for hitting for a very high average in my opinion. Maybe they’ll get that out of his mechanics in the next year or so though and we can reevaluate that more.

            • Havok9120

              Yeah, they always leave hitters alone for their first real year in the system, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with a few guys.

  • AllPraiseBeToMo

    Thanks Mike, great work! I know you said you don’t rank international prospects, but given the hype on Moncada and him not being a 16 year old. Where would you rank him? BA and all prospect types are calling him top 10 in baseball, so I’d assume he’d be #1, or would you think #3 behind Judge and Severino since they’ve done it here?

  • selftitled85

    Also of importance, who will be this years minor league player you are tracking? I just hope the player doesn’t have injury issues like Jagielo last year.

    • AllPraiseBeToMo

      He puts it to a vote at the end of spring training.

  • vin

    Haven’t even read past Burawa yet, but I just wanted to say that Axisa’s the best. This is worth a bookmark for easy reference during DotF season. Thanks, Mike. Carry on.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    The “why he’ll break your heart” section can be quite sobering.

    TELL ME THAT SANCHEZ IS MUNSON REBORN AND THAT LUIS SEVERINO IS THE FRANCHISE’S GREATEST PITCHER EVER.

    • chris hines

      I only read the “why he’ll break your heart” section lol.

      • carminep1

        Based on what he said here I would rank the yankee farm as barren with no talent other then this guys favorites. He also copies other scouting reports but throws in some different words to make it look like he knows what he is talking about.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          So where’s your site?

          • carminep1

            I don’t need a site. I probably should but it is a lot of work. I will stick with other sites with updated scouting information. Need anything else please let me know.

        • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

          Why are you trolling? We get it. You disagreed with Mike’s list. Nobody cares. Lots of us enjoy reading the descriptions.

          Did you not read Mike’s intro?

          • carminep1

            I am hardly a troller. You don’t care, let everyone else speak for themselves. You may injoy it I read a lot of others and yes I read his intro. I stated my view end of story.

  • rogue

    Damn, I love this site. We Yankees fans are blessed to have access to a objective and sabermetric fan site.

    Thanks Mike!

  • jjyank

    “a snapdragon curveball”

    I love it.

  • IVoted4Kodos

    Aaron Judge will not break my heart. He wouldn’t do that to me.

    • chris hines

      I think he’s by far the safest bet on here to actually make a meaningful contribution at the major league level. Doesn’t mean he can’t bust but I’d put money on him way before any of the others.

      • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

        I tend to disagree. There’s a pretty big risk that he can’t make enough contact against upper level pitching and his defensive value is pretty limited if he’s not hitting.

        I would argue that the hype on Judge may have gotten out of control. He beat up on A ball pitching in part because he was left behind a level to develop.

        There’s plenty of upside and I think you can justify a high ranking, but I think a lot of people are downplaying the risk because of his performance against a lower level of competition than other players of his experience were facing.

        • chris hines

          I don’t think he’s ever going to hit for a lot of average, I think he’s probably a .240 or .250 guy based on his very high stance and that leg stride which throws him off from time to time and is going to cause him to be a high strikeout guy. But I think the power is real and it will carry him to the major leagues as it develops, and he can play RF which should keep him around. I also believe in his ability to draw walks, so even if he slips down to .230 and he’s striking out a ton you can provide a lot of value in this run environment by being above average in power and walking enough to keep that OBP near .320+.

          I don’t think he’s going to be a superstar though, his strikeout issues are going to hold that back in my eyes. Notice I said make an impact not become a big time star, face of the franchise, or anything of that ilk.

          • Scranton Caddy Shacks 15

            Ref has no power as a 2B, but Judge has power to carry a questionable hit tool in RF?

            • carminep1

              I don’t think this gentleman does much better than I do in scouting these prospects. I am a fan of Refsnyder and his stats indicate he should eventually be average defensively. In 2014 he improved significantly on defense. He is the best pure hitter of all the yankee prospects. He looks like a could be a good one. I think if I agreed with this list of the top 30 prospects the yankee farm would be barren of talent. It was hard even going through this list. Check Baseball America and some others. This is awful.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                But Rob Refsnyder is the best pure hitter they’ve got in the minors. Right.

                • carminep1

                  Yes he is. Every scouting report I have read says so. Is your response an insult or is Right on the end mean something else?

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Late to this dance. Fantastic job yet again.

  • Preston

    I like the agressive ranking for Clarkin. The Red Sox also took a LHP out of HS in the first round. Of course they selected sixth instead of 33rd. And of course, although he debuted in rookie ball with a 6.43 ERA Trey Ball was a top 100 prospect by BA going into 2014 (89th). But Clarkin significantly outpitched him.

    Ball: 4.68 ERA (4.66 FIP) 15.1 K%, 8.7 BB%, 33.9 GB%, 100 IP (A-)

    Clarkin: 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP), 24.7 K%, 7.6 BB%, 43.8 GB%, 75 IP (A-, A+)

    I certainly like the guy we got 27 picks later. Even if prospect evaluators aren’t going to give him the adulation he’d get in some other more often praised systems.

  • Stealth Rebuild

    First off – great job Mike. I look forward to this and the pre-draft top 30 every year.

    I’m kind of surprised Romine didn’t even crack the top-30. I know his luster has worn off, but he should be a competent MLB backup catcher. His and Murphy’s MiLB batting numbers are much more similar than most would expect.

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him win the backup job with the Yankees out of Spring Training (no options definitely has a lot to do with my thinking).

    Also, no Pirela? A guy who, before Drew was re-signed, was in contention for the starting 2B job or at least a bench role doesn’t crack the top-30?

  • Dick M

    Am surprised at the rankings for Flores and Refs. I love guys with strike zone discipline who have produced at AA at a relatively young age. Flores had the physical issues last year but I’m a fan.

  • Joel Skinner

    Where would you rank Rookie Davis?

    • Preston

      Last season Mike had him on a list of 5 guys who could make the top 30 next season. Obviously after posting a 4.93 ERA at Charleston last season he didn’t make that jump. But he’s a big kid with good velocity and his K rate and walk rate weren’t bad. He needs to be less hittable, which is probably about catching less of the plate with his strikes. He also may have been a little unlucky as his FIP last season was only 3.79. He hasn’t turned 22 yet, so there’s still plenty of time for him to figure it out and move up this list.

  • nycsportzfan

    No Katoh is kinda odd. Bad yr,yes, but still a toolsy kid with youth on his side, can get on base, and has some potential future pop as he fills out. Also ref is top 4 for me, but diff strokes for diff folks.

  • nycsportzfan

    Really fun list as usual