Archive for Prospect Lists

Baseball America published their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball tonight (no subs. req’d), a list that was predictably topped by Twins OF Byron Buxton. He’s been on top of every top prospect list this spring. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts and Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras round out the top three.

The Yankees landed two players on the top 100: RHP Masahiro Tanaka at #4 and C Gary Sanchez at #35. It’s silly that Tanaka is considered a prospect considering all his time in Japan, but Baseball America has always stuck with the Rookie of the Year rules and that makes him eligible for their list. Whatever. Sanchez, the team’s real top prospect, ranks second among catchers, behind only Padres C Austin Hedges. OF Mason Williams, OF Tyler Austin, and OF Slade Heathcott all dropped off last year’s top 100.

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Estrada. (AP)

Estrada. (AP via Baseball America)

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

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

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

(Robert Pimpsner)

Davis. (Robert Pimpsner)

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

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

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

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

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DePaula. (David Schofield/Lakewood Blue Claws)

DePaula. (David Schofield/Lakewood Blue Claws)

These last few years I’ve posted my annual Preseason Top 30 Prospects List the Friday before pitchers and catchers report, which would be this coming Friday. I’m going to be out of town these next few days though, so I’m going to push the Top 30 back to next Thursday, the day before pitchers and catchers are supposed to show up to Tampa. Here are some minor league notes to hold you over until then:

  • Marc Hulet at FanGraphs posted his list of the top ten Yankees prospects today. C Gary Sanchez sits in the top spot (duh) and then the usual suspects fill out the next nine slots. I really feel like you could put those nine guys in almost any order and it would be defensible. There isn’t much separation there.
  • Keith Law (Insider req’d) posted a list of ten players who just missed his top 100 list last week, and C J.R. Murphy is one of the ten. Law says he “looks like a solid-average everyday catcher, probably not more, but not a whole lot less. His game management skills are exceptional, from game-calling to reading hitters to understanding situations.”
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, meanwhile, posted some players who missed their top 100 list this year but could make the jump in the future. RHP Rafael DePaula is one of those guys, and Mayo says he “has the chance to have three average or better pitches and could start moving fast.”
  • Baseball America’s Ben Balder reports that the Yankees spent $2.45M on international players during the 2013 calendar year, seventh lowest in baseball. That’s a function of the spending restrictions more than anything. Note that the $2.45M spans two signing periods (2012-13 and 2013-14), so it doesn’t tell us how close they are to their 2013-14 pool.
  • In another FanGraphs piece, David Laurila interviewed Murphy about his development as a catcher. “I was not very good when I was drafted. I’ve come a long way,” he said. Murphy also talked about learning to call a game and his approach as a hitter.
  • Danny Wild at MLB.com interviewed 3B Eric Jagielo, the first of the Yankees’ three first round picks in last summer’s draft. It’s a pretty generic Q&A, though Jagielo did talk about what he learned from a rehabbing Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in Tampa last year.
  • Here’s a fun Sporcle quiz: name every Yankees prospect to make Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list over the years. I got 72 of 93 and didn’t miss anyone obvious. Not sure I would have gotten the last 21 with unlimited time.
  • And lastly, Triple-A Scranton is holding a fun promotion this summer. Donnie Collins says August 8th will be “What If Night,” when they will play as the Trolley Frogs instead of the RailRiders. Trolley Frogs inexcusably lost a fan vote to Railriders when the team was renamed prior to last season.
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Clarkin and Judge. (AP)

Clarkin and Judge. (AP)

One day after posting his top 100 prospects list and two days after posting his organizational rankings, Keith Law released his top ten prospects lists for each of the 15 AL clubs today (East, Central, West, subs. req’d). The NL will be released tomorrow, if you care. Here are the Yankees’ top 11, according to KLaw:

  1. C Gary Sanchez (68th on the top 100)
  2. OF Tyler Austin (85th)
  3. OF Mason Williams (87th)
  4. C J.R. Murphy
  5. OF Slade Heathcott
  6. OF Aaron Judge
  7. LHP Ian Clarkin
  8. 3B Eric Jagielo
  9. RHP Luis Severino
  10. 1B Greg Bird
  11. RHP Jose Ramirez (Law said he is #11 in the write-up)

Judge is mentioned as a breakout candidate (video link) who could jump not just into the top 100 next year, but into the top 25 with a strong season.

In his write-up, Law says Murphy is “going to be an every-day catcher for somebody” while Bird’s “patience/power game could make him a second-division regular down the road.” Severino might not stick as a starter long-term but his “three-pitch mix might be three pluses out of the pen, and it’s a grade-65 or 70 fastball [on the 20-80 scale] even in the rotation.” Law also quotes a scout who said Heathcott is “legitimately a crazy person,” which is kinda funny. The kid always seems to have his dial set to 11.

“The Yankees have to be excited about Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens, whom they signed for $1.3 million in July 2012,” added Law, picking Torrens as the organization’s sleeper prospect. “A new convert to catching, Torrens took to it extremely well, with plus hands and plus defense overall, with a good swing and feel at the plate, only lacking power but likely hitting for average with good OBP when he develops.”

Sanchez is the clear top prospect in the organization right now. I’m not sure anyone will disagree with that. After him though, there really isn’t much separation between the guys Law has ranked from two through about eight. You can rank those players in almost any order and it would be tough the argue. Either way, the Yankees need better results from their minor league system and that starts with rebound seasons from guys like Austin and Williams. Both will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter, so hopefully that 40-man roster spot serves as a nice carrot this summer.

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Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

One day after posting his farm system rankings, Keith Law released his list of the top 100 prospects in baseball today (1-50, 51-100, subs. req’d). Twins OF Byron Buxton tops the list and is the clear number one prospect in the game right now. No doubt about it. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts and Athletics SS Addison Russell follow him to round out the top three. The Yankees landed three players on the list: C Gary Sanchez (#68), OF Tyler Austin (#85), and OF Mason Williams (#87). RHP Masahiro Tanaka was not eligible due to his time in Japan even though he’s technically a rookie/prospect.

In the write-up, Law says Sanchez “has huge upside as a hitter, with plus-plus raw power and very hard contact.” His defense behind the plate, while improved, continues to need work. “Even a grade-45 defender [on the 20-80 scouting scale] back there with Sanchez’s potential offensive upside will be an MVP candidate, and if he continues to work at receiving and on his plate discipline he’ll be ready to take over and make a real impact for the Yankees by 2016,” added Law. The comparisons to Jesus Montero are inevitable, but Montero showed more potential with the bat and was far worse defensively.

Austin’s appearance on the list is somewhat surprising given his underwhelming and injury hampered season, but Law says he believes in the bat enough to keep him on the list. “When healthy, Austin has a very sound swing that is geared both toward contact and power and is short to contact with good extension. He rotates his hips well to generate power, all with enough patience to keep his OBP in the .350 range,” he wrote. “He’ll be only about average in right field — making the necessary plays but not much more — so he needs to hit and hit for power to be a regular.”

Williams. (Presswire)

Williams. (Presswire)

Law has always been high on Williams, but his stock took a hit last summer because he showed up to camp out of shape and didn’t play with much energy throughout the season. The tools are still there though. “He is a potential Gold Glove defender in center, a future 70 on the 20-80 scale with good reads off the bat and bursting speed to chase down balls in the gaps … His ultimate outcome should be a high-average, doubles-power guy who might hit 15 homers in his best season, but even .290-plus with 50-60 walks and 10 homers with great defense is an above-average regular,” said Law. I guess that means Williams will be a $153M player down the road.

Here are the MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus lists, for reference. Sanchez is the Yankees’ only consensus top 100 prospect right now thanks to all the injuries and underperformance last year, and I suspect three top 100 guys is the most we’ll see this spring. I do think there’s a lot of potential for farm system improvement in 2014, which would require some of the injured players (Austin, Manny Banuelos, Ty Hensley) to stay healthy and last year’s top draft picks (Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Ian Clarkin, Gosuke Katoh) to live up to the hype. Every team has some interesting guys who can take steps forward, but the Yankees seem to have more than most.

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Keith Law posted his annual farm system ranking today (subs. req’d), a list that is predictably topped by the Astros. I guess that’s the reward for running out a $25M payroll and making no effort to be competitive: the best collection of minor league talent in the game. The Twins and Pirates round out the top three while the Tigers, Angels, and Brewers sit at the bottom.

The Yankees rank 20th on the list, which seems right. Middle of the pack-ish but closer to the bottom. “It seemed like everyone who mattered in this system got hurt in 2013, and of those who didn’t had disappointing years,” wrote Law while noting just about all of those injured prospects will open the 2014 season healthy. He also mentions the team’s three first round picks in last summer’s draft helped keep them from ranking even lower. The Yankees don’t have a good minor league system right now and we really didn’t need Law to tell us that.

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Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus published his list of the top 101 prospects in baseball today, a list that doesn’t require a subscription and is free for all. Twins OF Byron Buxton sits in the top spot and is followed by Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts and Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras. Those will be the top three guys on pretty much every list you see this spring.

C Gary Sanchez was the only Yankees farmhand to make the list and he ranked 85th. That’s down from 47th last year. OF Mason Williams, who ranked 51st last year, fell off the list following a disappointing season. This is probably the lowest you’ll see Sanchez on a top 100 list this year and that’s fine. Parks doesn’t like him as much as some others and it’s not like he’s some flawless prospect who clearly deserves a better ranking.

Other top 100 lists: MLB.com.

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MLB.com released their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball yesterday, a list that was predictably topped by Twins OF Byron Buxton. He’s the clear number one prospect in the game right now. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts and Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras round out the top ten. Nearly one-quarter (23, to be exact) of the players on the list belong to the Red Sox, Astros, or Cubs. That seems like a lot.

The Yankees had two players make the top 100: C Gary Sanchez (47th) and OF Mason Williams (75th). RHP Masahiro Tanaka is technically a rookie/prospect, but he was ineligible for list given his already lengthy pro career. Ditto White Sox 1B Jose Abreu. Jim Callis said he would have ranked Tanaka somewhere in the 4-7 range had he been eligible. MLB.com’s list is always off the beaten path a bit and that’s not a bad thing; different opinions are good. I’m not sure if we’ll see Williams on another top 100 list this spring though.

The top 100 link includes a scouting report and video for all 100 prospects, as well as a breakdown of the top ten prospects by position. Sanchez ranks fourth among catcher and 1B Greg Bird is seventh among first basemen. There’s also a companion piece looking at the best individual tools among the various prospects.

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As expected, C Gary Sanchez sits atop Baseball Prospectus’ list of the top ten Yankees prospects. The list and half of Sanchez’s write-up is free, but you need a subscription to see everything else. RHP Jose Ramirez somewhat surprisingly shows up as the number two prospect, and I say surprisingly only because he’s had trouble staying healthy and is looking more and more like a reliever long-term.

The rest of the list after Ramirez is followed by the usual suspects, no real surprises there. RHP Luis Severino, C Luis Torrens, and RHP Jose Campos get mentioned as guys on the rise while LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Rafael DePaula, and RHP Bryan Mitchell are mentioned as prospects who may contribute at the MLB level in 2014. I’d like to see DePaula get High Class-A hitters out first before penciling him in for big league time next summer. As for the top ten talents age 25 or youngers, it’s just the top ten prospects with RHP Michael Pineda sandwiched between Sanchez and Ramirez. I think you could make a case Pineda should be ahead of Sanchez even after the shoulder surgery and two lost years.

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Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Baseball America published their list of the top ten Yankees prospects today, and the list is free for all. The scouting reports, however, are not. You’ll need a subscription to read them. The name atop the list won’t be a surprise, but things are pretty wide open after that. They could have gone in any number of directions. Here’s the top ten:

  1. C Gary Sanchez
  2. OF Slade Heathcott
  3. OF Mason Williams
  4. C J.R. Murphy
  5. 3B Eric Jagielo
  6. OF Aaron Judge
  7. LHP Ian Clarkin
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. RHP Luis Severino
  10. 2B Gosuke Katoh

The feature also includes a list of the organization’s top 15 players under the age of 25 and none of the 15 are big leaguers. Can’t say I’m surprised. Those ten guys up there are the top ten and are followed (in order) by LHP Manny Banuelos, SS Abi Avelino, RHP Jose Ramirez, RHP Jose Campos, and RHP Rafael DePaula. I suspect those guys will be prospects 11-15 when the Prospect Handbook comes out in a few weeks. The notable omission is OF Tyler Austin, who had an okay year but dealt with injury problems, specifically a bone bruise in his right wrist. It forced him from the Arizona Fall League after only four games. His stock took a hit this summer.

Heathcott. (Presswire)

Heathcott. (Presswire)

Sanchez, who has “effortless, well-above-average raw power and an above-average hit tool,” is an easy call for the top spot, especially now that his defense has improved. After him? I don’t see how there could be a consensus. I think it’s somewhat interesting that the top three prospects all have some kind of makeup concern — Sanchez was suspended for insubordination in 2011, Heathcott has had drug an alcohol problems, Williams was arrested for DUI earlier this year and has had run-ins with coaches — despite the team’s renewed emphasis on character. In the end, talent always reigns supreme. Can’t teach it.

A few things from the write-ups stand out. Williams “adopted an Ichiro-style slapping approach” this year and didn’t show the same tools as he had last year. Like Austin, he took a step back. The Yankees project Murphy as a “potential future .280 hitter with 10-12 homer power” while Sanchez is regarded as more of a “.260-.270 hitter with at least 20 home runs annually.” Both profiles fit just fine behind the plate. As for Bird, “some scouts and SAL managers questioned his future power” despite his awesome year. The plate discipline and everything else is fine, but low-power first baseman aren’t exactly a hot commodity. Severino is said to have “raw stuff that is as good as any Yankees farmhand” with a fastball that “sits between 93-95 mph and touches the upper 90s often.” His slider was his best secondary pitch when he signed but his changeup has since surpassed it. Neat.

Heathcott and Murphy are the only players in the top ten slated to open next season with Triple-A Scranton, and I suppose there’s a chance Heathcott will be sent back to Double-A Trenton to start the year. That’s unlikely though. The Yankees didn’t have any big league ready help this past season and for the most part, that will be the case again in 2014. Their farm system took a slight step back overall but not as big as it would have been without those three first rounders. The team needed to add some impact talent and it did with that draft. Most of their highest ceiling prospects are in the low minors — the short season leagues — and will need time to develop.

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