Severino, Bird, Judge, and Sanchez rank among Baseball America’s top 20 International League prospects

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)
(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

Baseball America wrapped up their look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league with the Triple-A International League today. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. Indians SS Francisco Lindor sits in the top spot. The Yankees have four players on the list: RHP Luis Severino (No. 2), 1B Greg Bird (No. 6), OF Aaron Judge (No. 10), and C Gary Sanchez (No. 18).

“While opposing managers lauded Severino’s stuff—a 92-97 mph fastball that typically sits at 95 and is complemented by a solid low-80s changeup and solid-average slider—many were equally impressed with his command, composure and athleticism on the mound,” said the write-up. The 21-year-old Severino had a 1.91 ERA (2.50 FIP) in eleven starts and 62.1 innings with Triple-A Scranton before being called up to the big leagues.

Bird, 22, hit .301/.353/.500 (146 wRC+) with six homers in 34 games with the RailRiders before being called up. “He combines a disciplined approach at the plate with a balanced swing and quick hands to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark,” said the scouring report. “Bird made significant strides at first base this season: His footwork around the bag is serviceable and he has improved at picking balls in the dirt.”

Judge, 23, put up a .224/.308/.373 (98 wRC+) line with eight homers and a 28.5% strikeout rate in 61 games for Scranton this summer. “(Judge) struggled for stretches against experienced pitchers who found holes in his swing with breaking and offspeed pitches,” said the write-up. “He did show the ability to make adjustments and punish mistakes. Judge uses a gap-to-gap approach with bat speed and natural strength to drive the ball.”

As for Sanchez, the scouting report says he was “more mature off the field” and “in noticeably better shape this season.” The write-up also noted his “improved plate discipline” allowed him to better tap into his power in games. “He has double-plus arm strength behind the plate, and though he worked hard at improving his receiving, it remains the biggest hurdle for him to clear at catcher.” Sanchez, 22, hit .295/.349/.500 (145 wRC+) with six homers in 35 games for the RailRiders.

I was a bit surprised 2B Rob Refsnyder didn’t make the top 20, especially since Baseball America’s prospect rankings tend to be performance driven. Then again, I guess that could be why Refsnyder didn’t make the International League list. He had a good (123 wRC+) but not truly great year with the RailRiders. Others like RHP Bryan Mitchell, OF Slade Heathcott, and OF Ben Gamel are fine prospects, but not top 20 in the league caliber prospects.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League, Short Season NY-Penn League, Low-A South Atlantic League, High-A Florida State League, Double-A Eastern League

Judge, Bird among top Baseball America’s top 20 Eastern League prospects

Judge and Bird in the Arizona Fall League. (Presswire)
Judge and Bird in the Arizona Fall League. (Presswire)

Baseball America’s look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued earlier today with the Double-A Eastern League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito claims the top spot and is followed by Phillies SS J.P. Crawford and Mets OF Michael Conforto.

The Yankees have two players on the stacked — seriously, Giolito and Crawford are the two best prospects in the minors right now — Eastern League list: OF Aaron Judge ranks 15th while 1B Greg Bird ranks 16th. RHP Luis Severino only threw 38 innings with Double-A Trenton and did not qualify for the list. Josh Norris did not take any Yankees questions in the subscriber-only chat, so there’s no other information there.

“Having such a big body means Judge has a big area for pitchers to attack, with a greater probability of finding holes to exploit. The book on Judge this year read: work him hard inside before finishing him off with soft stuff away,” said the write-up. “Even so, Judge’s power is undeniable, and he has the potential to make an impact in the near future … Nearly all who watch him say he’s more athletic than they’d estimate simply by looking at his body, and all praise his throwing arm as plus.”

Judge, 23, hit .284/.350/.516 (147 wRC+) with 12 homers, an 8.6% walk rate, and a 25.0% strikeout rate in 63 games with the Thunder before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton. The relatively low ranking seems like an overreaction to Judge’s strikeout issues in Triple-A more than anything, especially since the guy ranked one spot ahead of him (Phillies C Andrew Knapp) is older and had a similar strikeout rate (22.4%) while slugging .356. (Oops, read the wrong stat line.) Whatevs.

As for the 22-year-old Bird, the scouting report says he has “shown an approach at the plate advanced beyond his years, as well as enough power to stick as an everyday player at a corner position.” He also received credit for showing “smoother actions around the bag at first base” this summer, although his defense is still not considered a plus. We’ve seen it firsthand the last few weeks.

Bird put up a .258/.358/.445 (133 wRC+) line with six homers in 49 Double-A games before being promoted to Triple-A. He struck out in 14.2% of his plate appearances and walked 11.3% of the time. 3B Eric Jagielo and C Gary Sanchez both qualified for the top 20 — at least based on their playing time compared to Bird’s — but simply fell short of the list. OF Jake Cave and RHP Brady Lail were long shots for the top 20.

The next and final list of interest to Yankees fans it the Triple-A International League. That will be released later this week. Judge and Severino are right on the playing time bubble and might not qualify for the list. Bird and Sanchez will almost certainly fall short of qualifying. 2B Rob Refsnyder had plenty of playing time with the RailRiders and could be the only Yankees farmhand on the top 20. OF Ben Gamel and RHP Bryan Mitchell are long shot candidates.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League, Short Season NY-Penn League, Low-A South Atlantic League, High-A Florida State League

Jorge Mateo near top of Baseball America’s top 20 South Atlantic League prospects


Baseball America’s look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the Low-A South Atlantic League. The list is free but the scouting reports are not, as always. Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada predictably claims the top prospect and is followed by SS Jorge Mateo. He ranks second and is the only Yankees farmhand on the list.

“Mateo has tools to rival the league’s No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada,” said the write-up. “Mateo is just as fast, just as prolific at stealing bases, has similar power potential and a better arm. Plus, he is a potentially above-average defender at shortstop … Mateo is a well-rounded prospect who could end up making an impact both offensively and defensively.”

Mateo, 20, hit .278/.345/.392 (114 wRC+) with two homers, a 19.6% strikeout rate, and an 8.6% walk rate overall this season, including .268/.338/.378 (106 wRC+) in 96 games with Low-A Charleston before being promoted to High-A Tampa. Mateo led the minors with 82 steals this season — no one else had more than 71 and only one other player had more than 65 — and was only caught 17 times for an 83% success rate.

The most common comp for Mateo is Jose Reyes because they’re speedy shortstops, but that’s optimistic. Mateo is a righty hitter, not a switch-hitter, and Reyes had a 102 wRC+ in the big leagues when he was Mateo’s age. That’s not a fair comparison. That said, with RHP Luis Severino having graduated to MLB and OF Aaron Judge struggling in Triple-A, you could argue Mateo is the Yankees’ top prospect right now.

The next list relevant to Yankees fans is the Double-A Eastern League, and boy, the Yankees should be well-represented. Severino, Judge, 1B Greg Bird, C Gary Sanchez, and 3B Eric Jagielo are the big names with OF Jake Cave and RHP Brady Lail other possibilities. Severino and Judge may rank one-two in some order. That’d be neat. That list is due out next week.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League, Short Season NY-Penn League, High-A Florida State League

Kaprielian, Degano among Baseball America’s standout top 20 non-qualifiers

(John Corneau Photos)
Grandmaster Kap. (John Corneau Photos)

Baseball America is still in the middle of their series looking at the top 20 prospects in each minor league. Inevitability, playing time criteria has left a lot of prospects on the outside looking in. They have to draw the qualifying line somewhere, and some talented players simply fall short of the top 20 list due to playing time. Recent draftees fall short more than anyone.

Earlier today, J.J. Cooper posted a look at the top prospects who failed to qualify for one of their league top 20 lists. It’s not a ranking, just a list of 13 players who stood out to scouts in limited playing time. Among the 13 are two of the Yankees top 2015 draft picks: rapper/RHP James Kaprielian (first round) and LHP Jeff Degano (second round). Neither made a top 20 list because they only threw a handful of innings after turning pro.

Kaprielian, 21, threw 23.2 innings with the Rookie GCL Yanks and Short Season Staten Island — 11.1 innings in the regular season and another 12.1 innings in the postseason — and finished with a 2.28 ERA (2.23 FIP). He struck out 24, walked six, and had a 56.5% ground ball rate. Cooper’s write-up is free, you don’t need a subscription, so here’s part of the blurb on Kaprielian:

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander commands a four-seamer at 92-93 mph and touched 95 for Staten Island. Kaprielian’s plus 12-to-6 curveball was his go-to pitch with UCLA, but he mainly threw it early in counts with Staten Island, focusing instead on his changeup and slider. Both pitches generated swings and misses. His circle-change had firm, split-like downward action at 82-83 mph with good finish at the bottom of the strike zone, while the slider showed hard, late break … With his deep arsenal, above-average command and maturity, the righthander could be a quick mover in the Yankees system.

For what it’s worth, Michael Lananna heard Kaprielian’s changeup has progressed nicely in his short time as a pro. Kaprielian’s scouting report is damn impressive. Four pitches, command, and poise? It’s easy to understand why he was the fifth pitcher selected in the 2015 draft. The only reason the Yankees didn’t turn him loose this summer was his workload at UCLA — he threw 106.2 innings for the Bruins before the draft.

Degano, meanwhile, had a 3.80 ERA (3.72 FIP) with 24 strikeouts, eleven walks, and a 50.0% ground ball rate in 23.2 innings for the GCL Yanks and Staten Island. That’s regular season and postseason. The 22-year-old southpaw actually piggybacked with Kaprielian for a while at Staten Island to keep their workloads down after heavy springs in college. (Degano threw 99 innings for Indiana State.) Here’s part of the Degano blurb:

Degano did show excellent command of his 90-94 mph fastball inside to righthanded hitters, and his plus 78-82 mph breaking ball neutralized lefties. The development of Degano’s fringy changeup, however, will be crucial if he’s going to make it as a starter. It showed flashes of being an effective pitch, but Degano threw the change sparingly with Indiana State and still needs to gain a consistent feel for it.

Degano turns 23 later this month and is older than your typical college pitcher, but his development was delayed by Tommy John surgery. He made only three starts in 2013 before blowing out his elbow and then didn’t pitch at all in 2014 either. This spring was the only opportunity for scouts to get a look at Degano before he was draft-eligible, and he was working his way back from elbow reconstruction. The Yankees liked him enough to take him in the second round.

The Yankees have a very position player heavy farm system, especially now that Luis Severino has graduated to the big leagues, so Kaprielian and Degano help replenish the pitching pipeline a bit. The Yankees didn’t draft them for need, things just worked out that way. Kaprielian could help very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the big leagues next August or September a la 2007 Ian Kennedy.

Tyler Wade cracks Baseball America’s top 20 Florida State League prospects

Wade. ( screen grab)
Wade. ( screen grab)

Baseball America continued to roll out their individual league top 20 prospect lists today with the High-A Florida State League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes sits in the top spot while Mets OF Michael Conforto and Pirates OF Austin Meadows round out the top three.

SS Tyler Wade is the only Yankees farmhand to crack the top 20, and he ranks 18th. “He’s a grinder, particularly against righthanders, who can work counts, draw walks, move runners and make contact, with enough gap pop to earn pitchers’ respect,” said the write-up. “Wade’s arm strength and range are sufficient for shortstop, but he’s a better fit at second base, where with more experience he should be an above-average defender.”

Wade, 20, was the Yankees’ fourth round pick in the 2013 draft. He hit .280/.349/.353 (117 wRC+) with two homers, 31 steals, a 15.6% strikeout rate, and a 9.3% walk rate in 98 games and 418 plate appearances for High-A Tampa this year before being bumped up to Double-A Trenton, where he struggled (37 wRC+). “He has a high floor as a lefthanded-hitting utility infielder and a solid shot at a ceiling as a regular,” said the scouting report.

The write-up notes SS Jorge Mateo would have ranked third on the list had he spent enough time with the Tampa Yankees to qualify. Also, in the subscriber-only chat, John Manuel said 3B Miguel Andujar “clearly didn’t stick out” and the “consensus was that he doesn’t control the strike zone well enough for his bat to play, and he’s erratic defensively.” Manuel also said RHP Rookie Davis was in the No. 21-25 range with OF Dustin Fowler not too far behind.

Apparently Baseball America is going out of order with their league top 20s, so the next list of interest to Yankees fans will be the Low-A South Atlantic League. That’s due out Friday. Mateo will be eligible for that list — he was with Low-A Charleston almost all season — and should rank near the top. It’s unlikely any other RiverDogs will make the top 20 though.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League, Short Season NY-Penn League

Acevedo, Jackson, Holder among Baseball America’s top 20 NY-Penn League prospects

(Staten Island Advance)
Acevedo. (Staten Island Advance)

Baseball America’s look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the Short Season NY-Penn League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi owns the top spot and is following by Nationals OF Victor Robles.

The Yankees have three players on the list: RHP Domingo Acevedo (No. 3), OF Jhalan Jackson (No. 10), and SS Kyle Holder (No. 18). Acevedo was slated to open the season with Low-A Charleston before a blister forced him back to Extended Spring Training for several weeks, leading to his assignment to the Staten Island Yankees. Jackson (seventh round) and Holder (supplemental first) were 2015 draft picks.

“Acevedo hit 103 mph at least once this summer and routinely worked his fastball at or around triple digits. He sits 95-96 mph early in starts but reaches back for 98-100 when he needs it,” said the write-up, which also noted Acevedo’s penchant for overthrowing. He also has a “plus changeup at 85-88 mph” and a below-average slider he can throw for strikes. The write-up likens the 6-foot-7 Acevedo to a young Dellin Betances.

Jackson claiming a spot in a top ten is surprising, though the scouting report says his “power is a legitimate plus tool.” That’s a good tool to have. “Jackson has profile right-field tools, with a plus arm and at least average speed,” added the write-up. Jackson is also said to have a raw approach at the plate and can get caught guessing at times. That’s a big obstacle to overcome, but you can’t teach this kind of power and athleticism.

As for Holder, the scouting report says “most scouts and evaluators agree that Holder is a plus defender, with some going so far to say that he is the best defensive college shortstop they’ve ever seen.” His defensive tools — body control, movement, hands, instincts, etc. — all draw big time praise. Holder’s offense is the question. “Few project him to be an impact offensive player because of his uphill swing, lack of power and substandard bat speed,” said the write-up.

Acevedo, 21, had a 1.69 ERA (2.85 FIP) with very good strikeout (27.7%) and walk (7.7%) rates in 48 innings with the Staten Island Yanks. The 22-year-old Jackson hit .266/.338/.452 (133 wRC+) with five homers and a 29.8% strikeout rate in 49 games. Holder? The 21-year-old hit .213/.273/.253 (57 wRC+) with a 13.6% strikeout rate in 56 games. Yuck. Both he and Jackson missed time with minor injuries.

In the subscriber-only chat, Michael Lananna says RHP James Kaprielian “would’ve likely ranked in the top 5″ had he thrown enough innings with Staten Island to qualify for the list. “I heard nothing but positive things,” Lananna added. “I think he could be a fast riser. Some have said he could’ve pitched out of the major league bullpen this year, but obviously that’s not going to happen … He’s a polished, promising pitching prospect.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Low-A South Atlantic League. That’ll be out sometime next week. SS Jorge Mateo is a lock — he won’t get the top spot (Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada almost certainly will) but he figures to rank high — and others like OF Dustin Fowler, SS Angel Aguilar, and RHP Jordan Foley have an outside chance to make it too. LHP Jordan Montgomery may fall just short of qualifying for the list because of his quick promotion.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League

Wilkerman Garcia ranked among top 20 Gulf Coast League prospects by Baseball America

Garcia. ( screen grab)
Garcia. ( screen grab)

Baseball America’s breakdown of the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the rookie level Gulf Coast League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox RHP Anderson Espinoza sits in the top spot and is followed by Nationals OF Victor Robles and Astros OF Kyle Tucker.

The Yankees have just one player on the GCL list: SS Wilkerman Garcia, who ranks sixth. Interestingly, Garcia is right smack in the middle of a group that includes 2015 first rounders Phillies SS Cornelius Randolph (tenth overall pick, ranked fifth in GCL), Rays OF Garrett Whitley (13th overall, seventh in GCL), and Tigers RHP Beau Burrows (22nd overall, eight in GCL).

“He’s a switch-hitter with a sound hitting approach from both sides, using all fields and showing good patience and bat-to-ball skills,” said the write-up of Garcia while noting he’s a very instinctive player. “While scouts from other clubs felt Garcia would fit better at second or third base, the Yankees were convicted he could play shortstop. He’s backed up their confidence by showing a plus arm, good hands and footwork along with a knack for slowing the game down.”

The Yankees signed the 17-year-old Garcia for $1.35M last summer as part of their massive international spending spree. That’s late first round money, so I guess it makes sense he’s ranked among a bunch of actual first round picks in the GCL top 20. Anyway, Garcia hit .281/.396/.347 (131 wRC+) with more walks (16.0%) than strikeouts (12.7%) in 37 games for the GCL Yanks this summer.

In the subscriber-only chat, Ben Badler said 3B Dermis Garcia “wasn’t really in the mix” for the top 20 despite receiving the largest bonus ($3.2M) among last year’s international haul. “He does have huge raw power and a big arm, but he’s still fairly crude as expected as a hitter and is going to have to keep his conditioning in check going forward,” said Badler. RHP Gilmael Troya, who signed for $10,000 last year, was considered for the list because his velocity jumped into the low-90s and he has a “chance for an above-average curveball and pretty solid feel for pitching.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Short Season NY-Penn League, which will be posted either tomorrow or early next week. RHP Domingo Acevedo is a lock for the NYPL top 20 and others like IF Thairo Estrada and SS Kyle Holder should receive consideration as well. First rounder RHP James Kaprielian and second rounder LHP Jeff Degano weren’t with the Staten Island Yankees long enough to qualify for the list.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Appalachian League