DotF: Torres returns in Trenton’s loss

A few quick notes to pass along:

  • Welcome back, SS Gleyber Torres. Torres, the Yankees’ top prospect, was activated off the Double-A Trenton disabled list today. He missed nine days with mild right rotator cuff tendinitis. Torres hit .237/.341/.342 (100 wRC+) in ten games before the injury.
  • IF Donovan Solano was placed on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list with a calf injury yesterday and it’s not minor. Solano has a second degree strain and will miss “a while,” manager Al Pedrique told Shane Hennigan. With Solano hurt and Pete Kozma in DFA limbo, the Yankees lost some infield depth this week.
  • RHP Erik Swanson has been activated off the disabled list and assigned to High-A Tampa. Not sure what was wrong with him, but it couldn’t have been too bad if he’s back already. Swanson was part of the Carlos Beltran trade. RHP Colten Brewer was sent to Extended Spring Training to clear a roster spot, which kinda surprises me. The minor league Rule 5 Draft pick has been dealing out of the bullpen so far this year.
  • Ben Badler (subs. req’d) has some notes from a recent Double-A Trenton game. It’s behind the paywall, so I can’t give away too much. Most notable info: 3B Miguel Andujar could play some first base later this year, and Torres will DH this weekend before he starts throwing again Monday.

Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Indianapolis)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-5, 1 R, 1 K
  • DH Dustin Fowler: 2-2, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 CS — second triple of the season after leading the minors with 15 last year
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 K — 11-for-34 (.324) during his nine-game hitting streak
  • 3B Ruben Tejada: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — hitting .383/.466/.638 with nine walks and four strikeouts
  • LHP Daniel Camarena: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 5/5 GB/FB — 60 of 86 pitches were strikes (70%) … 18/2 K/BB in 22.1 innings so far
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 19 of 29 pitches were strikes (66%) … 16/5 K/BB in ten innings
  • RHP Ernesto Frieri: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — eleven of 17 pitches were strikes (65%)

[Read more…]

DotF: Adams puts up zeroes, Gilliam has huge day at the plate

SS Gleyber Torres (shoulder) is inching closer to return. At least that’s what he said on Twitter. Torres was placed on the seven-day disabled list last Wednesday and he’s not expected to miss much time, so I suppose that means we could see him back as soon as the day after tomorrow. That’d be neat.

Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off-day.

Double-A Trenton (2-1 win over New Hampshire)

  • CF Rashad Crawford & DH Billy McKinney: both 0-4 — McKinney struck out once, Crawford thrice
  • SS Thairo Estrada: 1-3, 1 BB — six strikeouts and eight walks in 13 games … he’s been on base 25 times in those 13 games
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-3, 1 BB — Ben Badler says he did some light work at first base before the game, though I wouldn’t read too much into that … players work out at other positions all the time
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 1-3, 1 SB
  • RHP Chance Adams: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 53 of 95 pitches were strikes (56%) … down to a 0.82 ERA on the season … ten walks in 22 innings so far, which isn’t great … he didn’t walk his tenth batter until his 30th inning last year

[Read more…]

Saturday Links: Top 50 Prospects, Cabrera, Forbes, Uniforms

Gleyber. (Presswire)
Gleyber. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Pirates will resume their three-game series with the middle game later this afternoon. Until then, here are a few bits of news and notes to check out.

Three Yankees on Law’s updated top 50 prospects list

I missed this last week, but Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted an updated list of the top 50 prospects in baseball. This isn’t a re-ranking. It’s more of an update to Law’s preseason top 100 to reflect prospects who have either graduated to MLB or will soon. Here are the Yankees in the updated top 50 list:

2. SS Gleyber Torres (No. 4 preseason)
16. OF Blake Rutherford (No. 22 preseason)
20. OF Clint Frazier (No. 27 preseason)

Torres is behind only Mets SS Amed Rosario. He was also behind Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi and Braves SS Dansby Swanson on the preseason list, but those two have since graduated to the big leagues, which is why Gleyber has moved up two spots.

OF Aaron Judge ranked 44th preseason but recently graduated to MLB, so he’s no longer a prospect. RHP James Kaprielian went from 28th before the season to out of the top 50 in the update, presumably due to his continued elbow problems. LHP Justus Sheffield was 88th preseason and did not jump into the top 50. So, in the eyes of at least one prospect ranker, the Yankees currently have three of baseball’s 20 best prospects in their farm system. And Judge and Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird and Luis Severino at the MLB level. Hooray.

Cabrera among top DSL prospects

Ben Badler (subs. req’d) recently put together a list of the top 20 prospects who spent time in the Dominican Summer League last year. The players are listed alphabetically. Not ranked. The Yankees had one player in the top 20: SS Oswaldo Cabrera. He tore up the DSL in 26 games last year before the Yankees brought him stateside. Here’s a piece of Badler’s scouting report:

He’s a true all-fields hitter with a sound swing and natural hitter’s actions in the box. When he swings, he doesn’t miss much, with innate feel for the barrel and good plate coverage with a chance to develop into a plus hitter. Cabrera isn’t that big and will probably always have a hit-over-power profile … He should be able to stick at shortstop.

Badler also notes Cabrera, who signed for $100,000 in 2015, made a slight adjustment after signing that has paid big dividends. He backed up a bit in the batter’s box, giving him more time to react and allowing him to use his hands more efficiently. The just turned 18-year-old Cabrera is off a slow start with Low-A Charleston — he’s the youngest player in the South Atlantic League by several months — but he hit .345/.396/.523 (193 wRC+) in 52 rookie balls games last year. A spot in the organizational top 30 prospects list awaits.

MLB unveils 2017 special event uniforms

Earlier this month MLB unveiled their special event uniforms for the 2017 season. These cover Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and the All-Star Game. Rather than wear the special uniforms only on the day of the event, this year players will wear them the entire holiday weekend. Everything will then be auctioned off for charity. Here are the Yankees special event hats and jerseys, via Chris Creamer:

2017-special-event-uniforms

That stars and stripes hat for the Fourth of July is pretty awesome. These special event caps usually don’t do anything for me, but I dig that one. Also, during the All-Star Game this year, each player will wear a patch on their sleeve that includes the number of All-Star Games they’ve been selected to in their careers. That’s pretty cool.

Yankees are still the most valuable franchise in MLB

Surprise surprise, the Yankees remain the most valuable franchise in baseball, according to Forbes. By a lot, too. The Yankees are worth an estimated $3.7 billion. The Dodgers are a distant second at $2.75 billion. Yeah. This is the 20th consecutive year the Yankees have ranked as baseball’s most valuable franchise. They generated an MLB best $526M in revenue in 2016 despite a 10% drop in attendance the last few years.

Amazingly, the average MLB franchise is now worth $1.54 billion, up a whopping 19% from last year. Incredible. The league can thank new television contracts and the rapid growth of the MLB Advanced Media juggernaut for that. The Yankees were worth an estimated $3.4 billion last year. Back in 2010 they were worth a comparatively tiny $1.6 billion. The franchise could very well triple in value before the decade is over. Owning an MLB team is good work if you can get it.

DotF: Gleyber Torres hurts biceps, Clint Frazier goes deep

Here are the notes for the day:

  • SS Gleyber Torres was scratched from tonight’s game with biceps tendinitis, according to Joe Girardi. He’ll likely go for an MRI. Torres first felt some tightness in his shoulder during batting practice today. A little tendinitis is no big deal, so hopefully that’s all it is. He probably got hurt petting Rookie and Derby too much. Understandable.
  • J.J. Cooper put together a list of five prospects who are already making a case for a promotion. RHP Chance Adams is one of them. “Adams’ control could continue to use some refinement, and he only had a half-season in Double-A last year, but the call to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre should come before too long,” said the write-up.
  • The Yankees have signed LHP Nestor Oronel, according to Matt Eddy. The Pirates released him last month. Oronel, 21, had a 5.53 ERA (5.96 FIP) with 18.1% strikeouts and 7.0% walks in 42.1 rookie ball innings last year. The combination of age and handedness leads to me believe the Yankees possibly see him as something more than roster filler.
  • And finally, RHP James Kaprielian had his Tommy John surgery today as scheduled. Everything went well, the Yankees say. The long rehab road begins now.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Louisville)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB — had been in a little 3-for-15 (.200) rut
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — first dinger of the season
  • RF Dustin Fowler: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS — 4-for-8 in his last two games, so he’s starting to come around
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 R, 2 K, 1 HBP
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 2-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-5, 2 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3/6 GB/FB — 54 of 87 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/3 GB/FB — 30 pitches, 20 strikes
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 19 of 29 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — nine of 15 pitches were strikes … he comes down here and dominates

[Read more…]

Gleyber, Chance and the Trenton Thunder’s home opener

(Steven Tydings/ River Ave. Blues)
(Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

With the minor league season a week old, the Trenton Thunder finally came home Thursday night to open up the Arm & Hammer Park portion of their season.

If you’ve never been to the park, it’s a great experience, especially with a relatively packed crowd like last night. It’s a quintessential minor league experience with multiple mascots, a bat dog (!) and a chance to see future major leaguers up close for really cheap prices. That’s pretty ideal. Arm & Hammer Park is the place to be this spring/summer with how stacked the Yankees’ farm system is right now.

Here are my observations from Thursday’s game.

(Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)
(Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

1. Gleyber mania: All of the Yankees’ top prospects over the last 15 years have come through Trenton at some point. Robinson Cano, Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, etc. They were all with the Double A Yankees at some point. Having been a teenaged autograph hawk back in the day, I remember the reception for each player at this level.

For his first game, the reception for Gleyber Torres may have been the most fanatical. The Thunder were prepared with having their people near the first base line, but fans were lined up a couple rows deep mostly for Torres. I saw more Torres Topps cards than I thought existed. He dealt with it well, signing and going about his business.

Andujar and Torres (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)
Andujar and Torres (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

2. Gleyber a pro at the plate: Even though a 1-for-4 day wasn’t Torres’ best in Double A, he still put together an impressive night. He grounded out softly his first AB and was called out on a questionable third strike his second AB. Portland Sea Dogs lefty Jalen Beeks pounded him with strikes and didn’t face Torres after his command collapsed in the fourth inning.

Torres then got two ABs against the Sea Dogs’ bullpen, the first one being his best. He worked the count to 2-1 with a solid eye and then pounced on the fourth pitch. With Rashad Crawford trying to steal second, the second baseman covered the bag and Torres lined a ball right where he would have been. Just a solid piece of hitting. He grounded into a double play his last AB.

As for in the field, he wasn’t challenged much. He helped turn a DP in the eighth. That was about it for his fielding chances.

3. A tale of two Chance Adams: For four innings, Adams looked like Michael Pineda from Monday. He was getting ahead of hitters, pounding them with his 92-94 mph fastball and putting them away with either his slider or a second helping of fastball. He went to a full count and caught Red Sox’ top prospect Rafael Devers looking in an impressive at-bat.

Devers lined a ball up the middle to end Adams’ no-hit bid in the fifth inning and things came unraveled in the sixth. An infield hit and an error (more on each in a bit) set up the Sea Dogs and Adams simply didn’t look as comfortable in the stretch. He slowed down significantly after moving at a considerable pace in the first few innings. He walked his second batter of the evening, fought back with a strikeout, but then gave up a monster two-run double. He recovered to get another out and his night was done after 5 2/3.

Overall, not a bad outing. He really has some solid strikeout stuff and proved he can put away hitters, flashing his fastball, slider and changeup all night. He’s now 10-1 with a 1.89 ERA over 81 innings in Trenton and he may be ready for a new challenge.

4. Rafael Devers is a problem: With Andrew Benintendi in the majors, Devers is now atop the Red Sox’ prospect lists. He’s considered the top third base prospect in all of baseball by many outlets. He was No. 13 overall in Baseball Prospectus’ preseason list, No. 17 for MLB.com and No. 18 for Baseball America. Just two months older than Torres, he won’t turn 21 until October.

He put together four impressive plate appearances Thursday night. He worked a full count on Adams when Chance was cruising. He picked up the first hit of the game with a liner that nearly took over Adams’ head. With the bases loaded in the sixth, he clobbered an Adams’ pitch to deep centerfield. It would have been a three-run double if the runner from first didn’t slip rounding third.

Devers added another single in the eighth for good measure. The lefty with some strong power looked ready to go at the plate and showed it with his performance. His swings were strong. He struggled to field a ball to begin the Thunder’s five-run fourth (it went as a hit), but he’s a prospect known for his bat first.

Justus Sheffield signing (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)
Justus Sheffield signing (Steven Tydings/River Ave. Blues)

5. Best of the rest: Billy McKinney had a line drive triple to the right field gap and a walk. The triple was perhaps the most impressive hit for a Yankees’ prospect during the game. Princeton product Mike Ford had a deep double to right and catcher Jorge Saez had a homer that cleared the high left field wall in left.

Miguel Andujar had an infield single but struggled with the rest of the game. His error in the sixth led to Portland’s three-run inning that included two unearned runs. As Mike pointed out in DotF, that’s three errors in seven games so far. Yikes.

Portland shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin led off that sixth inning with an infield single. He was easily exploited at the plate most of the night, but his blazing speed gave him the single. For a lot of players, it would have been a routine ground out to second. He beat it out with what has to be at least 65/70-grade speed.

Poll Results: The Gleyber Torres Watch

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The results are in and this year’s Prospect Watch player will be shortstop Gleyber Torres. I apologize in advance to all of you who believe in the Prospect Watch Curse. This was a two-horse race and Torres edged out outfielder Blake Rutherford by a relatively small margin. In fact, when I checked the poll results yesterday morning, Rutherford was in the lead.

Here are the final vote totals for the eight Prospect Watch candidates:

  1. SS Gleyber Torres — 2,048
  2. OF Blake Rutherford — 1,642
  3. OF Clint Frazier — 709
  4. SS Jorge Mateo — 353
  5. RHP James Kaprielian — 273
  6. 3B Miguel Andujar — 233
  7. LHP Justus Sheffield — 91
  8. RHP Chance Adams — 84

The 5,433 total votes is a new Prospect Watch record. Last year we had 5,158 votes and the year before it was 3,020. Pretty cool. Thank you to everyone for voting and reading and sticking around.

Torres, 20, came over in the Aroldis Chapman trade last year and he is currently on the very short list of the best prospects in baseball. He hit .448/.469/.931 with six doubles and two homers in 32 plate appearances this spring, and he’ll start the season with Double-A Trenton. The plan is two three games at short, two games at third, and one game at second per week. Sounds good to me.

Despite his age, I don’t think it’s out of the question Torres reaches the big leagues later this year. Several things need to happen, but it is doable. Other high-end shortstop prospects like Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa climbed from Double-A to MLB in their age 20 season in recent years. It would be pretty darn cool if Torres did the same.

So what does winning the Prospect Watch mean? It means we’ll keep track of Gleyber’s progress day by day in our sidebar, right where the Opening Day countdown is now. Because he’s a position player, the Prospect Watch will be updated daily. That’s more fun that waiting five days with a starting pitcher, ain’t it?

The minor league regular season begins next Thursday, April 6th. I’ll get the Prospect Watch up in the sidebar that day.

Poll: The 2017 RAB Prospect Watch

From left to right: Jorge Mateo, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar. (Presswire)
From left to right: Mateo, Torres, Andujar. (Presswire)

One of our longest running features — I hesitate to call it a feature, but whatever — here at RAB is our annual Prospect Watch. We pick a prospect and track his progress throughout the season in the sidebar. Simple, right? Also kinda silly, but hey, people seem to like it, so it continues. Think of it as the player’s FanGraphs page in the sidebar.

Once upon a time I would make an executive decision and pick the Prospect Watch player myself, then a few years ago I decided to open it up to you folks, the readers, and that works well. This is a good year for a poll too. The Yankees are loaded with prospects. I had a hard time limiting myself to only eight Prospect Watch candidates for this year’s poll. I could have easily listed several more.

I don’t believe the Prospect Watch Curse is a thing so, once again, this year’s poll features top prospects. Shall we get to the candidates? We shall. They’re listed alphabetically and the number next to their name is where they ranked in my top 30 prospects list.

RHP Chance Adams (No. 11)

The Case For Adams: Few pitchers in all of minor league baseball had a better statistical season in 2016 than the 22-year-old Adams, who threw 127.1 innings with a 2.33 ERA (2.96 FIP) and 29.1% strikeouts between Double-A and Triple-A. He showed he can handle the rigors of starting after being drafted as a reliever in 2015, most notably holding his mid-90s velocity deep into starts. Adams also improved his curveball and changeup. He’ll begin 2017 in Triple-A, which means he’s knocking on the door of the big leagues.

The Case Against Adams: As we learned last year, pitchers have a tendency to get hurt, which means the Prospect Watch could potentially go dormant for weeks at a time. Also, Adams has spent only one year as a starter, and it’s possible his body won’t be too happy about going through a big workload for the second straight season. He also isn’t shy about walking hitters (7.9% in 2016) and that has a tendency to ugly up stat lines. And there’s the possibility the Yankees will call Adams up to work in relief at some point, and given Joe Girardi‘s tendency to ease young relievers into things, the Prospect Watch could morph into a Mop Up Reliever Watch.

3B Miguel Andujar (No. 8)

The Case For Andujar: Very quietly, the just turned 22-year-old Andujar broke out with a career year in 2016, setting a new career high with 12 home runs. He also struck out only 12.9% of the time against the best pitching he’s ever faced. Andujar has made some nice progress with his pitch recognition, so he’s doing a better job attacking hittable pitches and letting the less hittable ones go by. Making easy contact can be a curse. Last year felt like the start of something big for Andujar.

The Case Against Andujar: Andujar’s career season last year featured only a .271/.331/.403 (108 wRC+) batting line in nearly 700 total plate appearances between High-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton, and the Arizona Fall League. That’s good, but it’s not “hey let’s get this guy in the sidebar so I can see his stats everyday” good. Keep in mind a big chunk of Andujar’s prospect stock is tied up in his defense as well, specifically his cannon arm at third. That won’t show up in the Prospect Watch.

OF Clint Frazier (No. 2)

The Case For Frazier: Frazier, 22, ranked no lower than 39th on the four major top 100 prospect lists released this spring (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, MLB.com), so he has considerable upside. Even last season, before he hit some bumps in the road in Triple-A, he hit .276/.356/.469 (129 wRC+) with 13 home runs in 89 Double-A games despite being more than three years younger than the average Eastern League player. Frazier has the tools to hit for both average and power, and he’ll steal a few bases too.

The Case Against Frazier: Unfortunately, those Triple-A struggles did happen, and we can’t ignore them. He hit .229/.285/.359 (83 wRC+) with a 27.9% strikeout rate in 38 Triple-A games with the Indians and Yankees, and Frazier is going to return to that level to start the season. That doesn’t mean he’ll definitely struggle again. Frazier wasn’t the first player to have a hard time in his first trip through Triple-A and he won’t be the last. It’s just something we have to be aware of. Frazier struggled really for the first time in his life late last season.

RHP James Kaprielian (No. 5)

The Case For Kaprielian: With a healthy elbow, the just turned 23-year-old Kaprielian is poised to carve up hitters in the low minors this season. PitchFX data from the Arizona Fall League last year had his fastball averaging 95.7 mph and topping out at 99.1 mph. Add in three quality secondary pitches (slider, curveball, changeup) and good enough command, plus a ton of competitiveness, and you’ve got a recipe for a top pitching prospect. The four scouting publications ranked Kaprielian as the 58th best prospect in baseball, on average.

The Case Against Kaprielian: As you know, Kaprielian was our Prospect Watch player last season, and he hurt his elbow and missed most of the regular season. Three starts with High-A Tampa and that was it. The Prospect Watch went unused from late April through the start of the AzFL season in October. That was so incredibly lame. Kaprielian is said to be healthy right now, but the best predictor of future injury is still past injury, and Grandmaster Kap is coming back from a fairly significant arm issue.

Kaprielian. (Presswire)
Kaprielian. (Presswire)

SS/CF Jorge Mateo (No. 7)

The Case For Mateo: I’m not sure any prospect in the farm system is better at filling up every column in the box score than Mateo. Doubles, triples, homers, steals, the whole nine. Mateo, 21, remains an excellent athlete with a true 80 tool (speed) and developing power — he set a career high with eight home runs last season after hitting one outside-the-park homer in 2015. The ongoing transition to center field means nothing for Prospect Watch purposes, though there is reason to believe Mateo will be playing with a big chip on his shoulder.

The Cast Against Mateo: There’s really no way to sugarcoat it: Mateo had a very disappointing 2016 season. He hit .254/.306/.379 (99 wRC+) with 36 steals in 51 attempts (71% success rate) in 507 plate appearances at High-A Tampa, and he was suspended two weeks for an undisclosed violation of team rules in July. Not great! The last thing we all want, aside from an injury, is to vote a prospect into the Prospect Watch and see him have a year like Mateo did in 2016.

OF Blake Rutherford (No. 4)

The Case For Rutherford: Rutherford, 19, was the Yankees’ first round pick last season, and he authored a .351/.415/.570 (171 wRC+) batting line with three homers and a 10.0% walk rate in 130 rookie ball plate appearances in his pro debut last year. He was a consensus top ten draft talent who slipped to the Yankees mostly for bonus reasons, and this spring the various scouting publications have ranked him as 38th best prospect in baseball, on average. Meet the Next Big Thing.

The Case Against Rutherford: I don’t think this will happen, but it is entirely possible the Yankees will hold Rutherford back in Extended Spring Training to start the season, which would mean the Prospect Watch sits unused for a few weeks, possibly until the short season leagues open in late-June. Again, I don’t think that will happen, but it is a possibility. Also, even if the Yankees do send Rutherford to Low-A Charleston, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the 19-year-old has some ups and down during his first full pro season.

LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 6)

The Case For Sheffield: Sheffield is the team’s best pitching prospect with no sort of injury history. The 20-year-old reached Double-A last season and he threw 134 total innings with a 3.36 ERA (3.61 FIP) in 2016. He also struck out 24.2% of the batters he faced, which is pretty darn good for a kid this age. Sheffield has good velocity despite being on the short side, plus both his slider and changeup are put-away pitches on their best days. It can be easy to forget how good Sheffield is given the depth of this farm system.

The Case Against Sheffield: Again, there’s the whole “pitchers break” thing that has to be considered. Sheffield hasn’t had any injury problems in his career thus far, but then again neither did Kaprielian until last year. Such is life. It’s also worth noting Sheffield walked 10.4% of the batters he faced last season, which is pretty high. The weird thing is he’s a great athlete who repeats his delivery well, so it’s hard to explain why he’s had problems throwing strikes.

SS Gleyber Torres (No. 1)

The Case For Torres: Torres, 20, is the best prospect in the farm system and one of the very best in baseball. Baseball Prospectus was the low site on him, ranking him 15th in their top 101 list, while the other three scouting publications (Baseball America, Keith Law, MLB.com) all had Torres among the top five prospects in the game. Gleyber hit .283/.368/.438 (128 wRC+) with 14 homers and 25 stolen bases last season, plus his walk (11.1%) and strikeout (19.3%) rates were strong for a teenager who spent the entire season in High-A. Torres has star caliber tools and his placement in the various top 100 lists tells you everyone expects big things.

The Case Against Torres: I’m having a tough time coming up with one, to be honest. There’s the obvious “being a 20-year-old in Double-A is hard” caveat, and I suppose we should keep in mind the Yankees figure to move Torres around the infield a bit, and all the position changing could drag down his offense. Hopefully not, but it is possible. Every prospect carries some level of risk. That’s the way it is. Gleyber is so insanely talented that he carries less risk than most.

* * *

I ranked Aaron Judge as the third best prospect in the farm system, but I’m leaving him out of the Prospect Watch poll because he’s expected to spend most of the season in the big leagues. We’re going to see him nearly every day. I originally started the Prospect Watch as a way to keep tabs on the guys in the minors, who we don’t get to see play.

Anyway, with all due respect to guys like Albert Abreu and Dustin Fowler and Dillon Tate, those are the eight players eligible for this year’s Prospect Watch. The poll is open right now and will remain open until 12pm ET this Friday, so you’ve got a little less than 48 hours to vote. I’ll reveal the winner Friday afternoon. Now … go vote!

Who should be the 2017 Prospect Watch?
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