2016 Preseason Top 30 Prospects

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The SI Yanks won their division in 2015. (Robert Pimpsner)
The Staten Island Yankees won their division in 2015. (Robert Pimpsner)

For the first time in a very long time, the Yankees relied heavily on their farm system last season. Every time a need arose, the team opted for an internal solution and rarely went outside the organization. Eighteen different players made their big league debut with the Yankees last summer. Eighteen! Some were top prospects and some were organizational fodder. All came from within.

Thanks to all those debuts and the emphasis on the farm system, four of last year’s Top 30 Prospects graduated to the big leagues in 2015: Luis Severino (No. 2), Greg Bird (No. 5), John Ryan Murphy (No. 9), and Chasen Shreve (No. 26). Six other players on last year’s list are no longer in the organization due to trades (Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, Jose Ramirez, Ramon Flores), waivers (Danny Burawa), and the Rule 5 Draft (Jake Cave). Lots and lots of turnover.

I find this very hard to believe, but this is my tenth Preseason Top 30 Prospects List here are RAB. Time flies, man. We’ve come a long way since the days of Humberto Sanchez and Marcos Vechionacci, haven’t we? All of my previous Top 30 Lists are right here. As a reminder: I am no expert. I’m a guy who reads a lot (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, MiLB.com, etc.) and has opinions. That’s all. Disagree and mock me as you please.

As for prospect eligibility, I stick with the MLB rookie limits (50 innings or 130 at-bats) with no attention paid to service time. That stuff is too difficult to track. Ranking prospects is all about balancing upside with probability, stats with scouting reports. There is no perfect mix. Everyone weighs things differently, often from player to player. This is baseball. If you’re batting 1.000 when evaluating players, you aren’t taking enough swings.

I changed the format of this year’s Top 30 Prospects List just a bit to liven things up. Hopefully it works out well. All head shots come from MLB.com or MiLB.com, unless noted otherwise. This year’s Preseason Top 30 Prospects List begins after the jump. Enjoy.

Austin DeCarrNo. 30: AUSTIN DeCARR, rhsp

DOB: March 14th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 218 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2014 third round, 91st overall ($1M bonus)
2015 Stats: Did not play (injured)
Projected 2016 Level: Extended Spring Training and Short Season

Scouting Report: DeCarr missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery. By all accounts his rehab has gone well and he will return to the mound early in 2016. When healthy, DeCarr had a fastball that bumped 96 mph and a hammer curveball that was a true out-pitch. He also made good strides with his changeup and overall command. DeCarr is said to be a tireless worker and very coachable, which can only help as he rehabs from elbow reconstruction.

What’s Next? As with anyone coming off a major injury, the goal for DeCarr in 2016 is staying healthy, shaking off the rust, and picking up where he left off before getting hurt. He made nice progress during his limited time in pro ball in 2014. DeCarr has the potential to become one of the top pitching prospects in the organization in short order if he bounces back from the elbow injury well. (Photo via Perfect Game)

Leonardo Molina 2No. 29: LEONARDO MOLINA, of

DOB: July 31st, 1997 (age 18)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 180 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed August 2013 out of the Dominican Republic ($1.4M bonus)
2015 Stats: .247/.290/.364 (96 wRC+), 5.6 BB%, 20.8 K% (178 PA at Rk)
Projected 2016 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season

Scouting Report: Despite repeating the level, Molina was one of the youngest players in the Rookie Gulf Coast League in 2015. His all-around tools package far outweighs his performance to date. Molina knows the strike zone and consistently takes good at-bats, though his batting practice power is far more impressive than his game power at the moment. Molina’s grown quite a bit since signing and he’s lost some athleticism, though he still has center field skills. He may end up in a corner long-term. As unlikely as it may be, Molina has the kind of talent that if it ever comes together, he could become an elite prospect overnight.

What’s Next? Molina would be in the middle of his senior year of high school right now had he been born in the United States. He’s a long-term project and the Yankees will be (and already have been) very patient with him. As with anyone this young, the goal for Molina this summer is continuing to turn his natural ability into playable baseball skills. That’s a very difficult thing to do! If it happens, the reward will be tremendous. (Photo via DPL Baseball)

Slade HeathcottNo. 28: SLADE HEATHCOTT, of

DOB: September 28th, 1990 (age 25)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2009 first round, 29th overall ($2.2M bonus)
2015 Stats: .277/.319/.326 (99 wRC+), 6.5 BB%, 21.3 K%, (310 PA at Rk/AAA/MLB)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: The tools have never been in question. Heathcott is a ballhawk in center with big time range and a strong arm, and at the plate he combines a slashing stroke with the ability hit mistakes out of the ballpark. He’s also a very good runner and a borderline crazy person on the field; Slade plays with the dial turned to eleven at all times. The question is health. Heathcott played a total of 196 games from 2013-15 and 335 games from 2011-15. He’s had multiple shoulder and knee surgeries, and last year a bad quad strain strain cost him close to two months. Health is a skill and Slade does not have it.

What’s Next? Last season was big for Heathcott. He played only nine games in 2014 due to knee surgery, and last summer he showed the same explosive tools as before the injury. And made his MLB debut. But again, he got hurt. The goal this year and every year going forward for Slade is stay on the field. If he does that, he’ll provide value on both side of the ball and be a ton of fun to watch. Unfortunately, it’s gotten to the point where there is no reason to believe he’ll stay healthy for an extended period of time.

Nick RumbelowNo. 27: NICK RUMBELOW, rhrp

DOB: September 6th, 1991 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 190 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2013 seventh round, 224th overall ($100,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 4.48 ERA (2.98 FIP), 25.0 K%, 6.3 BB% (64.1 IP at AAA/MLB)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Rumbelow shot up the minor league ladder and reached the big leagues in his second full pro season. He’s a rare three-pitch reliever, using a 92-95 mph fastball to set up his hard low-80s curveball and surprisingly good mid-80s changeup. Since being drafted the changeup has passed the curveball to become Rumbelow’s go-to offspeed pitch. He’ll double up on it and throw it to righties too.

What’s Next? Aside from gaining experience and stuff like that, Rumbelow’s more or less a finished product. Surely his goal for 2016 is establishing himself as a reliable big league option and earning his way off the bullpen shuttle.

Luis CessaNo. 26: LUIS CESSA, rhsp

DOB: April 25th, 1992 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Trade with Tigers on December 9th, 2015 (Justin Wilson deal)
2015 Stats: 4.52 ERA (3.08 FIP), 19.6 K%, 5.9 BB% (139.1 IP at AA/AAA)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Cessa is a former shortstop and his athleticism is evident on the mound in his simple, repeatable delivery. His fastball sits in the low-90s and will touch 95 mph, and on his best days both his slider and changeup will grade out as above-average pitches. Cessa throws strikes and his command is improving with each year he spends on the mound. Unlike most position player-to-pitcher conversions, Cessa has the repertoire to start.

What’s Next? Cessa did take a pounding in Triple-A last year (6.97 ERA) even though his underlying performance was fine (3.57 FIP, 20.1 K%, 6.6 BB%), but still, you want to see a guy do well at the highest level. Cessa is on the 40-man roster and he figures to get a long look for a bullpen job in Spring Training. Either way, Opening Day roster or not, he is a candidate to ride the shuttle this summer. Gaining consistency with both his slidepiece and changeup is the primary goal for 2016.

MiLB: MAY 03 Flying Tigers at YankeesNo. 25: ABI AVELINO, 2b/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)
2015 Stats: .260/.314/.334 (97 wRC+), 54 SB, 6.9 BB%, 14.7 K% (536 PA at A-/A+)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and Double-A

Scouting Report: Avelino’s whole is greater than the sum of the parts because of his high-end baseball instincts. His best tools are on defense; he’s got good range and soft hands and a rocket arm. On offense, Avelino is a contact guy with a short swing who slaps the ball all over the field. He doesn’t have much power but makes up for it on the bases; Avelino has only average speed but he’s a very smart and aggressive base-stealer.

What’s Next? Patience is the biggest deficiency in Avelino’s game. He’s an aggressive hitter who puts the ball in play easily, and he needs to learn the difference between hittable pitches and pitcher’s pitches. Unless he unexpectedly grows into power, Avelino is going to play the small ball game at the plate, and swinging at everything is usually not part of that equation. He’s such a smart player that learning the zone may not be such a tall order.

MiLB: AUG 07 - Clearwater Threshers at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 24: CHANCE ADAMS, rhrp

DOB: August 10th, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 205 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2015 fifth round, 153rd overall ($330,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 1.78 ERA (1.75 FIP), 31.7 K%, 6.3 BB% (35.1 IP at SS/A-/A+)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and Double-A, maybe Triple-A and even MLB

Scouting Report: The Yankees have a recent history of getting draft picks to add velocity in pro ball — I guess their throwing programs are really good? — and Adams saw his heater jump from 90-92 mph with Dallas Baptist last spring to 93-96 mph with a few 99s in pro ball. The Yankees had Adams scrap his fringy cutter and start throwing a slider, which he picked up quickly. He’s also working on a changeup. Adams throws plenty of strikes but he doesn’t throw downhill, so chances are he’ll be fly ball prone going forward.

What’s Next? Reports indicate the Yankees are going to move Adams into the rotation this coming season, similar to what they did last year with 2014 sixth rounder Jonathan Holder, another college bullpener. It’s worth trying, though Adams has bat missing stuff out of the bullpen and could be an impact reliever in short order. The goal this season will be working on that changeup so he can remain in the rotation long-term. The fastball and slider are already good enough.

Thairo EstradaNo. 23: THAIRO ESTRADA, 2b/ss

DOB: February 22nd, 1996 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-10, 155 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2012 out of Venezuela ($49,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: .267/.338/.360 (108 wRC+), 8.2 BB%, 10.8 K% (279 PA in SS)
Projected 2016 Level: Low-A

Scouting Report: Estrada is a bit heavier than his listed weight — he’s filled out and is probably closer to 180 lbs. these days — and he’s nimble in the field, with very good hands and a strong arm. He has the actions for short but may wind up at second base long-term because his first step isn’t great (and because the Yankees have a ton of shortstop prospects). At the plate, Thairo has close to an all-arms swing and needs to do a better job using his lower half to drive the ball. Otherwise he makes good contact and controls the strike zone well. For a teenager, he more than held his own against older pitchers in the NY-Penn League in 2015.

What’s Next? It’s time for Estrada to give full season ball a try. The Yankees have been working with him to improve his hitting mechanics and that will continue to be the focus going forward. If they can get him to unlock the power hiding in his lower half, Thairo could really take off as a prospect. He’s a true middle infielder with good offensive potential. Estrada’s very easy to overlook in a shortstop loaded system, but his all-around game is solid.

Brady LailNo. 22: BRADY LAIL, rhsp

DOB: August 9th, 1993 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 205 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 18th round, 577th overall ($225,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 2.91 ERA (3.51 FIP), 7.0 BB%, 13.8 K% (148.1 IP at A+/AA/AAA)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Lail is a big time scouting and player development success for the Yankees. They drafted him when he was an extremely raw high schooler with a mid-80s fastball out of a Utah, and developed him into a four-pitch pitcher with a low-90s heater that touches 94 mph on occasion. Lail primarily works off his sinker, and he also throws a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup. He’s drawn big time praise for his pitching smarts and willingness to go after hitters.

What’s Next? Triple-A hitters were none too kind to Lail last season (4.62 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 17 walks in 37 innings) and there’s legitimate concern that he lacks the kind of out-pitch needed to survive at the upper levels. His sinker is good and both the curveball and changeup have their moments, but neither is consistent enough to be a true put-away offering. Lail may get the call to help the Yankees at some point in 2015, but unless the curve or change improve, he’s unlikely to have much impact. The goal this summer is to improve the curve and/or change.

MiLB: JUN 08 Hammerheads at Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 21: JORDAN MONTGOMERY, lhsp

DOB: December 27th, 1992 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-4, 225 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2014 fourth rounder, 122th overall ($424,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 2.95 ERA (2.61 FIP), 6.6 BB%, 24.1 K% (134.1 IP at A-/A+)
Projected 2016 Level: Double-A and Triple-A

Scouting Report: As expected, Montgomery carved up Single-A hitters last season after spending three years in an SEC rotation with South Carolina. He’s added a bit of velocity in pro ball and now regularly throws three fastballs in the 90-92 mph range: four-seamer, sinker, and cutter. One moves down, one moves side-to-side, and one stays straight. Montgomery’s best pitch is a dead fish changeup he’ll throw at any time. He also throws a curveball and locates everything well.

What’s Next? The Double-A level will be Montgomery’s first real test in pro ball. He has good stuff (not great stuff) and also a very good feel for pitching. The ceiling is not sky high here. Montgomery’s a back-end starter all the way, but he’s a high-probability back-end starter, and he could prove to be a very useful swingman a la David Phelps and Adam Warren.

Ben GamelNo. 20: BEN GAMEL, of

DOB: May 17th, 1992 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 185 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2010 tenth round, 325th overall ($500,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: .300/.358/.472 (138 wRC+), 10 HR, 8.3 BB%, 19.6 K% (551 PA at AAA)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Gamel finally made the jump from sleeper to legitimate prospect last season, which earned him a spot on the 40-man roster in November. He makes loud contact from the left side and finds the gaps consistently — his 14 triples in 2015 had more to do with his balls to the wall style of play than pure speed — but doesn’t project to go over the fence a whole bunch. Gamel is a solid defender who is at his best in a corner but can hold down center. Although he lacks a carrying tool, Gamel does enough of everything to profile as at least a platoon bat.

What’s Next? The Yankees waited a long time for Gamel to take a step forward in his development — he hit .261/.308/.340 (80 wRC+) in a full season at Double-A as recently as 2014 — and he did it last year. Now he has to show that version of himself is here to stay. The Yankees have a lot of upper level outfielders — a lot of lefty hitting upper level outfielders who are better center field defenders at that — so Gamel’s going to have to continue hitting to stand out.

Domingo AcevedoNo. 19: DOMINGO ACEVEDO, rhsp

DOB: March 6th, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-7, 190 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed November 2012 out of the Dominican Republic ($7,500 bonus)
2015 Stats: 1.86 ERA (3.08 FIP), 7.3 BB%, 25.0 K% (67.2 IP at SS/A-/AzFL)
Projected 2016 Level: Low-A and High-A

Scouting Report: Acevedo is the hardest thrower in the system, regularly running his fastball into the upper-90s and topping out at 100+ multiple times last year, even as a starter. His best offspeed pitch is a fading changeup he tends to overthrow because he fights his mechanics on the regular. The Yankees have Acevedo working on a slider and it’s currently well-below-average. As with many pitchers this size — Acevedo appears heavier than his listed 190 lbs., but not in a bad way — Acevedo struggles to keep his delivery in check, so he’s prone to bouts of wildness. He missed some time last year with a blister issue.

What’s Next? More than anything, Acevedo needs to find a reliable breaking ball to have a chance to stick in the rotation long-term. Right now he’s a big tall arm strength guy without much in the way of secondary stuff. That’s okay! It just means he has a lot to work on, including refining and controlling his delivery. Based on the history of similarly tall pitchers, that could be a career-long struggle.

Kyle HolderNo. 18: KYLE HOLDER, ss

DOB: May 25th, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 185 lbs., left/right
Acquired: ’15 supp 1st rd, 30th overall ($1.8M bonus) (David Robertson comp pick)
2015 Stats: .213/.273/.253 (57 wRC+), 6 SB, 6.8 BB%, 13.6 K% (250 PA at SS)
Projected 2016 Level: Low-A and maybe High-A

Scouting Report: Holder was widely billed as the best defensive player in the 2015 draft regardless of position, and the best defensive college shortstop in several years. He’s big league ready defensively right now, with excellent athleticism — he was originally going to split time between baseball and basketball in college before deciding to focus on baseball full-time — range for days and baby soft hands. His arm is plenty strong for the position too. The question is whether Holder will hit long-term. He can make contact consistently but has no power and gets into trouble when he tries to pull the ball over the fence.

What’s Next: Holder has an elite carrying tool in his shortstop defense. He has to work on his offensive approach more than anything. He’s never going to be a significant threat at the plate, so he has to focus on the small ball game and work on slapping the ball to all fields. Holder can get the bat on the ball, that’s not a problem, but he has a power hitter’s approach and that’s just not going to work for him. His offensive game will be singles and walks. The sooner he focuses on those things, the better.

Jeff DeganoNo. 17: JEFF DEGANO, lhsp

DOB: October 30, 1992 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-4, 215 lbs., right/left
Acquired: 2015 second round, 57th overall ($650,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 3.80 ERA (3.72 FIP), 21.8 K%, 10.0 BB% (28.2 IP at Rk/SS)
Projected 2016 Level: Low-A and High-A

Scouting Report: Tommy John surgery sidelined Degano for most of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season. He had a full, healthy season in 2015 and showed livelier stuff as he got further away from elbow reconstruction. Degano has a 92-94 mph fastball and a upper-70s/low-80s breaking ball with variable break; he can sweep it like a slider or bend it like a curve. His changeup is very much a work in progress, mostly because he didn’t need it in college and didn’t have a chance to work on it while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Degano has okay control and needs to improve his command.

What’s Next? Although he’s older than the typical college draftee, Degano is relatively inexperienced because he missed close to two full seasons with elbow surgery. The goal for 2016 is stay healthy, first and foremost, and work on the changeup and location. Degano has quality stuff and he’ll always be able to fall back on being a power lefty reliever, but there’s still a chance he can start long-term. The development of his changeup and command will determine whether he’s a starter or reliever.

Hoy Jun ParkNo. 16: HOY JUN PARK, ss

DOB: April 7th, 1996 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., left/right
Acquired: Signed July 2014 out of South Korea ($1.16M bonus)
2015 Stats: .239/.351/.383 (109 wRC+), 5 HR, 13.0 BB%, 19.1 K% (262 PA at Rk)
Projected 2016 Level: Extended Spring Training and Short Season

Scouting Report: Park was part of that big 2014-15 international signing class and is one of the most advanced players from that group because he’s a bit older after signing out of high school. He’s a true shortstop capable of highlight reel plays thanks to good range and a strong arm, though he often gets himself into trouble when he tries to be flashy. Park has a good approach and can square up both fastballs and breaking balls consistently. He doesn’t have much power, mostly because he’s rail thin and needs to bulk up a bit.

What’s Next? The Yankees have a ton of lower level shortstops and sorting out playing time going forward might be a bit of a challenge. Park is not yet ready for full season ball, so he’ll start the 2016 season in Extended Spring Training, where he’ll work on his all-around game. He could wind up playing some second base in one of the short season leagues late in the season just because there are only so many shortstop jobs to go around. Either way, Park has shortstop ability. He’s just light on experience.

Miguel AndujarNo. 15: MIGUEL ANDUJAR, 3b

DOB: March 2th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2011 out of the Dominican Republic ($750,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: .243/.288/.363 (98 wRC+), 8 HR, 5.6 BB%, 17.3 K% (520 PA at A+)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and maybe Double-A

Scouting Report: It’s kinda hard to believe Andujar is still only 20. He still has loud tools, highlighted by his power and arm, both of which are well-above-average. The power has yet to show up in games because he’s a hacker, however. Andujar does make contact pretty easily, so all the free swinging doesn’t lead to strikeouts, just bad contact. He’s a solid defender at third with good range. The only thing he lacks is plate discipline. Andujar’s tools and stat line do not match up at all.

What’s Next? Andujar has a history of starting slow before heating up in the second half — he did that last year, though the split wasn’t as extreme as it has been in the past — and at some point he has to put together a productive and complete season from start to finish. He’s got a lot of tools, but right now Andujar is more potential than present baseball ability. Time is on his side because he is still so young. Eventually we need to see some progress though.

Mason WilliamsNo. 14: MASON WILLIAMS, of

DOB: August 21, 1991 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 185 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2010 fourth round, 145th overall ($1.45M bonus)
2015 Stats: .315/.381/.414 (133 wRC+), 10.9 BB%, 10.1 K% (257 PA in AA/AAA/MLB)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Williams remains an absolute tool shed. He is arguably the best defensive outfielder in the organization thanks to outstanding range and instincts, as well as a strong arm. At the plate, Williams is a contact guy with surprising power, particularly to his pull side, and his speed makes him a triples threat every time a ball finds the gap. He also knows the strike zone and has a plan at the plate. In the past Williams has had maturity and work ethic issues — the team suspended him for insubordination multiple times over the years — but those went away last year. He really seemed to grow up and begin to take his career seriously. Williams’ 2015 season ended in mid-June when he suffered a shoulder injury diving back into first base on a pickoff.

What’s Next? By all accounts Williams is on track with his shoulder surgery rehab and will be ready to go in Spring Training. This year he has to show last season was no fluke, that the proverbial light bulb really did really turn on and he is now willing to put in the work it takes to be an MLB caliber player. The Yankees have a ton of upper level outfielders at the moment and Williams will have to work hard to stand out from the pack. He certainly has the tools to do so.

Tyler WadeNo. 13: TYLER WADE, ss

DOB: November 23rd, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 180 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2013 fourth round, 134th overall ($371,300 bonus)
2015 Stats: .259/.321/.328 (96 wRC+), 8.0 BB%, 16.4 K% (585 PA at A+/AA/AzFL)
Projected 2016 Level: Double-A and maybe Triple-A

Scouting Report: With quick feet and soft hands, Wade is a true middle infielder, and his ability to add arm strength in the coming years will determine whether he can remain at shortstop at the next level. Wade is a pure contact hitter with negligible power. His lefty stroke is quick and compact, allowing him to spray balls to the opposite field. Wade is a very good runner and a threat to steal 20+ bags on an annual basis.

What’s Next? Double-A pitchers knocked the bat out Wade’s hands during his late-season promotion last year, so he’ll return to that level in 2016 and work to handle advanced pitching. After reaching Double-A at age 20, Wade is going to be roughly four years younger than the average Eastern League player this summer. The Yankees have a ton of shortstops at Single-A and below, so Wade’s going to have to develop his game rather quickly to avoiding being passed by.

Drew FinleyNo. 12: DREW FINLEY, rhsp

DOB: July 10th, 1996 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 200 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2015 third round, 96th overall ($950,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 3.94 ERA (6.58 FIP), 27.2 K%, 12.6 BB% (32 IP at Rk)
Projected 2016 Level: Extended Spring Training and Low-A

Scouting Report: Finley is advanced by high school draftee standards, which is no surprise since he’s the son of a longtime scout and front office executive. An 88-92 mph fastball sets up his hard curveball and fading changeup. Finley locates all three pitches well and has a boringly simple delivery. The belief is he’ll add velocity once he gets under a professional throwing program and matures physically. For what it’s worth, Trackman data (i.e. PitchFX) at the 2014 Area Code Games reportedly measured Finley’s fastball and curveball spin rates among the best in the 2015 draft class. His fastball extension also scored highly.

What’s Next? Between the long California high school season and pro ball, Finley threw 118 innings last year, so he’s in position to pitch deep into the summer. He’s just a teenager and he needs to work on basically everything, though Finley is more refined than the typical prep arm. The goal for 2016 is stay healthy, continue to work on the changeup, and learn how to turn a pro lineup over. (The Yankees didn’t let him throw more than three innings in any start last year.)

Jacob LindgrenNo. 11: JACOB LINDGREN, lhrp

DOB: March 12th, 1993 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 205 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2014 second round, 55th overall ($1.02M bonus)
2015 Stats: 2.17 ERA (3.39 FIP), 30.6 K%, 11.6 BB% (29 IP at AAA/MLB)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Lindgren is a pure reliever with a low-90s fastball and a wipeout low-80s slider that generates swings and misses from both lefties and righties. He’s death on left-handed batters but can handle righties as well, so he projects as much more than a lefty specialist. Lindgren turns his back to the hitter during his delivery, which hinders his command and prevents him from throwing strikes consistently. It does add deception and make him harder to hit, however.

What’s Next? Lindgren’s 2015 season ended in June after he had surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training, at which point he’ll compete for one of the three open bullpen spots. Either way, Lindgren will be up at some point next season and look to begin to establish himself at the MLB level. He has the stuff to dominate right away and also enough wildness to earn him multiple shuttle rides.

Luis TorrensNo. 10: LUIS TORRENS, c

DOB: May 2nd, 1996 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2012 out of Venezuela ($1.3M bonus)
2015 Stats: Did not play (injured)
Projected 2016 Level: Low-A

Scouting Report: A former infielder, Torrens moved behind the plate full-time after signing and he took to the position very quickly. He’s a good receiver and he moves well behind the plate, and prior to shoulder surgery he had an above-average arm. Reports indicate he is very advanced defensively despite his relative inexperience. At the plate Torrens has level swing geared for hard contact, though his power is more potential than present at the moment. He projects as batting average guy, not a homer guy. Torrens missed the entire 2015 season following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, but he is said to be “healthy and ready” for Spring Training.

What’s Next? First and foremost, the goal for Torrens in 2016 is stay healthy. Shoulder surgery is very serious regardless of position, but especially so for catchers since so much of their defensive value is tied up in their arms. Torrens lost a crucial year of development in 2015, so he has to stay healthy and make up for lost time this summer. The good news is age is on his side.

MiLB: JUN 27 Mets at Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 9: DUSTIN FOWLER, of

DOB: December 29th, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 185 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2013 18th round, 554th overall ($278,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: .298/.334/.403 (114 wRC+), 5.1 BB%, 17.2 K% (587 PA at A-/A+/AzFL)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and Double-A

Scouting Report: Fowler was the breakout position player prospect in the farm system last year. He split his time between three sports in high school (baseball, football, wrestling) and is now starting to turn his raw athleticism into baseball skills. Fowler has a quick bat from the left side and the general belief is there is more power in his frame than what he’s shown so far. He’s a great runner and his speed serves him well both on the bases and in the outfield, where he tracks down everything from gap to gap. Fowler has a poor arm, which prevents him from having five average or better tools.

What’s Next? Build on last year. Fowler made major strides in his first attempt at a full season league in 2015 and he still has room to grow, especially at the plate. He’s still learning the strike zone and learning how pitchers attack him in certain counts. Fowler has a ton of ability. He does lack experience though, and right now he’s still learning the game and how to be the best player he can be.

Wilkerman GarciaNo. 8: WILKERMAN GARCIA, ss

DOB: April 1st, 1998 (age 17)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 176 lbs., switch/right
Acquired: Signed July 2014 out of Venezuela ($1.35M bonus)
2015 Stats: .299/.414/.362 (140 wRC+), 11 SB, 15.8 BB%, 12.0 K% (158 PA in Rk)
Projected 2016 Level: Extended Spring Training and Short Season

Scouting Report: Part of the Yankees’ international spending spree a few years ago, Garcia is a very good athlete with a complete all-around game. He knows the strike zone very well, recognizes spin, and can square up everything from both sides of the plate. In the field Garcia has first step quickness and a strong arm that is more than enough for shortstop. Wilkerman has tremendous baseball instincts and is much more refined than the typical 17-year-old. The only hole in his game is power. He doesn’t have much over-the-fence pop at all.

What’s Next? Garcia is still extremely young and a very long way from the big leagues. He is high school junior age and needs to work on basically everything. As refined as he is relative to other 17-year-olds, the Yankees are likely to hold Wilkerman back in Extended Spring Training this year before sending him to Short Season Staten Island. An assignment to Low-A Charleston would be very aggressive but I suppose not completely out of the question. (Photo via Pinstriped Prospects)

Bryan MitchellNo. 7: BRYAN MITCHELL, rhsp

DOB: April 19th, 1991 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 200 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2009 16th round, 495th overall ($800,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: 4.04 ERA (3.63 FIP), 19.6 K%, 11.5 BB% (104.2 IP at AAA/MLB)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Stuff has never been a question for Mitchell. He owns a 92-94 mph four-seamer when he starts — PitchFX clocked him as high as 99.0 mph in relief in 2015 — and backs it up with a hammer curveball that is arguably the best breaking ball in the organization. Mitchell has struggling to develop a changeup over the years, so he uses a low-90s cutter as his primary weapon against lefties. The stuff is great, but Mitchell’s command is poor and his control is just okay. He loses the strike zone from time to time and is known to go into “I’m in a jam and the only solution is throw as hard as possible!” mode.

What’s Next? The Yankees have three open bullpen spots — possibly four depending on Aroldis Chapman’s suspension — and Mitchell pitched well in relief last summer before taking the line drive to the nose. He’ll get a long look in Spring Training, and even if he doesn’t make the team, he figures to be among the first called up when reinforcements are needed. The 2016 season will be Mitchell’s final minor league option year, so this season could be his last chance to show he can hack it as a starter.

Rob RefsnyderNo. 6: ROB REFSNYDER, 2b

DOB: March 26th, 1994 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 205 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 fifth round, 187th overall ($205,900 bonus)
2015 Stats: .274/.357/.412 (124 wRC+), 10.3 BB%, 14.1 K% (569 PA at AAA/MLB)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: Refsnyder is a bat-first prospect with good contact skills and more power than he gets credit for. He knows the strike zone and is happy to be aggressive in hitter’s counts, when the pitcher has to come over the plate. Defense remains an issue, however. Refsnyder is a below-average gloveman with limited range, good enough hands, and an okay arm. To his credit, he’s worked very hard on his defense and has improved in his three seasons at the position, but he’s still a liability in the field.

What’s Next? Gosh, that’s a good question. It’s tough to see Refsnyder having a long-term role with the Yankees following the Starlin Castro trade. For now he’ll return to Triple-A and serve as depth — if either Didi Gregorius or Chase Headley gets hurt, presumably Castro would slide over and Refsnyder would come up to play second — and of course a trade is always possible. The Yankees are thin on the infield at the upper levels, so I don’t get the sense they’re eager to move Refsnyder for anything less than what they consider full value, whatever that may be.

MiLB: AUG 06 - Brevard County Manatees at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 5: IAN CLARKIN, lhsp

DOB: February 14th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: ’13 supp 1st rd, 33rd overall ($1.65M bonus) (Rafael Soriano comp pick)
2015 Stats: 5.84 ERA (5.08 FIP), 14.4 K%, 11.9 BB% (24.2 IP at AzFL)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and maybe Double-A

Scouting Report: When healthy, Clarkin operates with a low-90s four-seam fastball and a little upper-80s cutter he picked up in 2014. His bread and butter is a sharp breaking curveball that misses bats aplenty. Clarkin also throws a promising changeup and he generally locates to both sides of the plate well. Elbow tendinitis caused him to miss the entire 2015 regular season, which is a bummer.

What’s Next? The goal for Clarkin in 2016 is stay healthy, first and foremost. He missed a crucial development year last summer, but the good news is he did not have surgery, and he showed his old stuff in the Arizona Fall League. (Albeit with a lot of rust.) The injury has not necessarily lowered Clarkin’s ceiling, but it has reduced the likelihood of him reaching it. This is a pretty aggressive ranking considering the injury. This is based on his upside as a four-pitch lefty.

James KaprielianNo. 4: JAMES KAPRIELIAN, rhsp

DOB: March 2nd, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-4, 200 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2015 first round, 16th overall ($2.65M bonus)
2015 Stats: 2.28 ERA (2.23 FIP), 25.8 K%, 6.5 BB% (23.2 IP at Rk/SS)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and Double-A, possibly Triple-A and even MLB

Scouting Report: It’s easy to stereotype Kaprielian as a safe, low ceiling college starter after he spent three years at UCLA, but that’s not the case. He experienced an uptick in velocity late in the spring and held it in pro ball, averaging 92-95 mph with his four-seamer and bumping 96. Kaprielian also throws a mid-80s slider with short break — it almost looks like a cutter — and an upper-70s/low-80s curve. He also has a low-80s changeup and his control of the four pitches rates as average or better. It’s an impressive arsenal.

What’s Next? You don’t draft a guy like Kaprielian unless you intend to move him quickly through the farm system, especially after his velocity jumped. High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton feels like the bare minimum for Kaprielian this summer. I think there’s a really good chance he reaches Triple-A Scranton in the second half and potentially even the big leagues late in the season, a la Ian Kennedy years ago. This season is about gaining experience and improving command.

MiLB: AUG 07 - Clearwater Threshers at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 3: JORGE MATEO, ss

DOB: June 23rd, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 188 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed January 2012 out of the Dominican Republic ($250,000 bonus)
2015 Stats: .278/.345/.392 (114 wRC+), 82 SB, 8.6 BB%, 19.6 K%, (500 PA at A-/A+)
Projected 2016 Level: High-A and Double-A

Scouting Report: Mateo is a pure burner. He has top of the line speed that makes every ground ball a potential base hit, and he’s super aggressive and fearless on the bases. Mateo is sneaky strong for his size but isn’t much of a power threat at the plate just yet. He focuses on contact and using his legs. Defensively, Mateo has all the tools necessary to remain at shortstop long-term, including range, good hands, and a strong arm. This kid has an impressive set of tools on both sides of the ball.

What’s Next? There’s a pretty good chance Mateo will be the No. 1 prospect on this list next year, even if the two guys ahead of him retain prospect eligibility. He has exciting all-around tools at a premium position and game-changing speed. The Jose Reyes comps are totally unfair — Reyes was in the big leagues at Mateo’s age, plus he’s a switch-hitter, which is a huge deal — but he does have the potential to be an impact leadoff hitter and gloveman. Mateo will be Rule 5 Draft eligible next offseason, so I suppose it’s not completely out of the question that he comes up as the designated pinch-runner in September.

Gary Sanchez2No. 2: GARY SANCHEZ, c

DOB: December 2nd, 1992 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 230 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2008 out of the Dominican Republic ($3M bonus)
2015 Stats: .276/.336/.503 (137 wRC+), 7.8 BB%, 19.6 K%, (515 PA at AA/AAA/AzFL)
Projected 2016 Level: MLB and maybe possibly Triple-A

Scouting Report: As always, the bat is Sanchez’s calling card. His has tremendous raw power and is capable of launching moonshots to his pull side. Sanchez can get overly aggressive at the plate at times, leading to some ugly swings on breaking pitches, but he generally knows a ball from a strike. Over the years Sanchez has improved behind the plate, though he is still considered a below-average defender who needs to work on his receiving. His arm is truly outstanding though. Sanchez projects to be an offense-first backstop who might be able to work his way into average defender territory.

What’s Next? The trade of John Ryan Murphy clears the big league backup catcher’s job for Sanchez. There are service time benefits to sending him to Triple-A — 35 days in the minors equals another year of team control — which could tempt the Yankees, especially since sending Sanchez down to work on his defense would be totally justifiable. Either way, the Murphy trade probably doesn’t get made if the team has concerns about Sanchez’s long-term viability as a catcher. With Brian McCann getting up there in catcher years, Sanchez is positioned to be the catcher of the future.

Aaron JudgeNo. 1: AARON JUDGE, of

DOB: April 26th, 1992 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-7, 275 lbs., right/right
Acquired: ’13 supp 1st rd, 32nd overall ($1.8M bonus) (comp pick for Nick Swisher)
2015 Stats: .258/.332/.446 (124 wRC+), 20 HR, 9.8 BB%, 26.3 K%, (540 PA at AA/AAA)
Projected 2016 Level: Triple-A and MLB

Scouting Report: The scouting report remains unchanged. Judge is a physical freak with a powerful yet compact swing for his size; he’s a more advanced hitter than even the Yankees realized when they drafted him. He has legitimate 30+ homer potential. On top of that, Judge is a very good athlete, and his arm is very strong. It’s the best outfield arm in the system right now. Long-term Judge projects to be a two-way player with power and solid on-base ability to go with strong defense.

What’s Next? Experienced pitchers exploited Judge’s size in Triple-A late last year and got him to fish for soft stuff on the outer half. He’s been in and out of Tampa to work on his pitch recognition this winter and he’ll return to the RailRiders in 2016 to continue making adjustments. Judge is clearly penciled in as the right fielder of the future. He’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible next offseason, making it likely will will make his MLB debut at some point in 2016, even if he’s only a September call-up who bats a handful of times late in the season.

* * *

The Yankees traded away several prospects over the last eight months or so who would have landed in my Top 30 list somewhere. 3B Eric Jagielo would have been in the back-half of the top ten for sure, perhaps as high as No. 5. RHP Rookie Davis also would have fallen in the 5-10 range, and OF Jake Cave somewhere in the 15-20 range. OF Ramon Flores would have snuck into the 21-30 range for sure. I’m still a fan. RHP Jose Ramirez and RHP Danny Burawa would not have made the Top 30.

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