2014 Post-Draft Top 30 Prospects

"What do you mean I'm not a prospect anymore?" "You're a big leaguer now." (Elsa/Getty)
“What do you mean I’m not a prospect anymore?” “You’re a big leaguer now.” (Elsa/Getty)

The draft signing deadline was last Friday, and the Yankees were able to sign everyone they were expected to sign. There were no surprises, good or bad. Because they didn’t have a first round pick (or a supplemental round pick), this wasn’t the most exciting draft for the Yankees, who went heavy on college pitching and took a reliever with their top selection.

The Yankees did, however, add an amazing amount of talent to the farm system through international free agency earlier this month. My unofficial tally puts the spending spree at approximately $28.5M total between bonuses and penalties, though I’m sure there have been several deals that were not reported. Most of those players signed 2015 contracts and are not technically Yankees yet, so they are not included in this snapshot of the farm system. I usually wait until international signees show up in the U.S. to rank them anyway.

Two players — righties Dellin Betances and Chase Whitley — have graduated to the big leagues since the pre-draft list was posted late-May. I’ve been doing these for eight years and this is the very first RAB prospect list without Betances. I’m kinda sad. Another prospect, righty Rafael DePaula, was traded away just this week. Those three departures plus the draft and some stateside debuts have led to a healthy amount of turnover since the last list in May.

I feel like it’s clear who the top two prospects are (in whatever order), clear who the next seven prospects are (again, whatever order), and then a total mess after that with no obvious order. As always, this list is my personal opinion and based on how I value things like tools and probability and performance and all that. You’re welcome to disagree with the rankings. I’m sure you will. Rankings don’t mean anything anyway. They’re just fun to look at it. Anyway, the ages listed are as of today, and the levels listed are the player’s current level. The fun starts after the jump.
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2014 Pre-Draft Top 30 Prospects

Nuno no longer qualifies as a prospect. (Getty)
Nuno no longer qualifies as a prospect. (Getty)

With the amateur draft less than one week away — international free agency is a month away and the Yankees will reportedly spend some serious money — it’s time to check in on the current state of the farm system. The top 30 prospects, specifically. The system overall has bounced back well from that nightmare last year, when almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. All three 2013 first round picks hit the disabled list before playing their first pro games, for example.

Anyway, because the minor league season is only two months old, there isn’t a ton of difference between this list and my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List. Players may move a spot or two, but that’s nothing really. There aren’t many big climbers or fallers, though I will say there is more movement in this year’s pre-draft list than there has been other years for a few reasons, including injuries. As always, this list is my personal preference and you are very welcome to disagree. The cool thing about prospects is that there is no right way to rank them, so no one’s wrong. It’s a balance between potential and probability, and people value those things differently.

The only player to graduate to the big leagues from the preseason list is LHP Vidal Nuno. The rookie limits are 50 innings or 130 at-bats, so if you’re above that, I don’t consider you a prospect. That’s a convenient enough cutoff point. Several other players dropped off the preseason list for different reasons, including OF Zoilo Almonte (numbers crunch), RHP Jose Campos (another elbow injury), and LHP Nik Turley (arm problems). The ages listed are as of today, and the levels listed are the player’s current level. Away we go:
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2014 Preseason Top 30 Prospects

Romine is no longer prospect eligible. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Romine is no longer prospect eligible. (AP)

By the Yankees’ own admission, last season was a terrible year for the farm system. Many top prospects either got hurt or underperformed (some did both), so much so that the Yankees’ drafting and development strategy and personnel were re-evaluated. No one was fired, but several new instructors were added to the staff, including former big league managers Trey Hillman and Mike Quade. Procedural changes were made as well.

As a result of that down year, the Yankees have a lean system with almost no immediate help on the way. No impact players, anyway. Having three first round picks in last summer’s draft helped keep them from the bottom of the various organizational rankings, plus the team is said to be planning a huge international spending spree this summer, so there figures to be a lot of talent added to the system during this 12-13 month span. They need it, that’s for sure.

This is my eighth Preseason Top 30 Prospects List and the other seven can be found right here. As a reminder, this is my personal list and I am not an expert. I’m just a dude with a blog and some opinions. I have my own preferences and therefore I’m high on some players and low on others, compared to consensus. You’re welcome to disagree with my rankings. We all value certain things (upside, performance, probability, etc.) differently and that’s why there is no right way to rank prospects.

I use the rookie limits (50 innings or 130 at-bats) to determine prospect eligibility without any regard for service time because that’s easiest. Service time is too much of a hassle to track. Preston Claiborne threw 50.1 innings last season, so he wasn’t eligible. There has been a ton of turnover from last year’s list, with seven players either graduating to the big leagues (Austin Romine, Adam Warren), leaving the organization (Brett Marshall, Corey Black, Melky Mesa, Ravel Santana), or both (David Adams). Another nine players dropped off the list due to injury, poor performance, or the numbers crunch as well. That means 16 players (!) on this year’s Top 30 were not on last year’s. Ridiculous.

As for sources, it’s pretty much everything. Baseball America, Keith Law, and Baseball Prospectus, of course, plus smaller profiles from hometown newspapers and stuff like that. You can learn quite a bit about a pitcher from a random interview since they tend to talk about their repertoires and all that. There’s also video as well. I’m no scout, but it doesn’t take a genius to see if a guy has a long swing or a nasty slider. The list starts after the jump. Enjoy.
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2013 Post-Draft Top 30 Prospects

Jagielo. (Robert Pimpsner)
Jagielo. (Robert Pimpsner)

I don’t know how many times I said last month’s draft was extremely important for the Yankees considering the state of the organization, but it was a lot. Like, once a week since January. A lot. The team took advantage of its extra picks and landed three first round-caliber talents in the draft, which added some much-needed impact talent to the system.

Not a whole lot has changed in the six weeks since my last rankings, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Some of the team’s top prospects continue to have disappointing years while there have only been a handful of breakout players. There’s an awful lot of raw talent in the club’s top ten prospects, but not many guys are putting it to good use right now. Hopefully that turns around in the second half.

Here are my pre-draft and preseason lists, for comparison. No one graduated to the big leagues between the pre-draft list and now, but the draft and a healthy crop of players fresh from the Dominican Republic means there’s actually quite a bit of turnover. Fitting those new guys in is always fun. Ages listed are as of today.

  1. C Gary Sanchez, 20, Hi-A: A promotion may not come this year, but Sanchez stays in the top spot because his defense is improving and he’s hitting a healthy .270/.332/.467 with 13 homers in a pitcher’s league.
  2. RHSP Rafael DePaula, 22, Hi-A: The team’s lone Futures Game representative was bumped up to High-A Tampa since the pre-draft list. DePaula has a 108/39 K/BB in 79 innings this year.
  3. OF Slade Heathcott, 22, AA: Heathcott’s power has yet to show up, but he’s stayed healthy this year and has torn the cover off the ball in July. He’s at .256/.322/.370 on the season.
  4. OF Tyler Austin, 21, AA: Austin’s performance has actually been trending downward in recent weeks and his power has been almost non-existent. This is a benefit of the doubt ranking.
  5. 3B Eric Jagielo, 21, SS: The team’s first first round pick offers a very polished bat at a hard-to-fill position to the system. Jagielo’s super-early performance has been encouraging (.311/.415/.467 in 13 games).
  6. LHSP Ian Clarkin, 18, no level: The team’s third first round pick has yet to make his pro debut and is currently sidelined with a minor ankle sprain. Clarkin adds a high-end left-handed pitching prospect to the organization.
  7. OF Mason Williams, 21, Hi-A: Williams has had a very disappointing year and not only because he isn’t hitting (.266/.341/.369). There have been problems with his … let’s call it … energy level.
  8. RHSP Jose Ramirez, 23, AAA: The Yankees aggressively pushed Ramirez — whose raw stuff rivals DePaula’s — to Triple-A and he’s held his own. He’s got a 73/33 K/BB in 65.2 innings.
  9. C J.R. Murphy, 22, AAA: The system’s biggest breakout non-pitcher prospect was promoted since the pre-draft list and continues to hit (.282/.361/.440) while improving behind the plate.
  10. OF Aaron Judge, 21, no level: The team’s second first round pick is the wildcard. Judge is physically huge and a good athlete with great power, but he’s very risky. He just signed and has yet to make his pro debut.
  11. OF Ramon Flores, 21, AA: I was high on Flores coming into the year but he hasn’t exactly rewarded my faith by hitting .239/.333/.325. Questions about his long-term power potential persist.
  12. LHSP Manny Banuelos, 22, no level: Banuelos is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not pitch this year. Easy to forget he’s still so young because he’s been around forever.
  13. RHSP Jose Campos, 20, Lo-A: His stuff and command are not back to their pre-elbow injury levels, but he has been improving as the season progress. Campos has a 55/12 K/BB in 60 innings.
  14. 2B Angelo Gumbs, 20, Lo-A: Gumbs missed a month with a finger injury and was demoted since the pre-draft list. He’s hit just .229/.283/.355 with eleven steals on the season.
  15. RHSP Ty Hensley, 19, no level: Like Banuelos, Hensley is out for the rest of the season. He had hip surgery in the spring and is due to return in Spring Training.
  16. LHSP Nik Turley, 23, AA: Double-A Trenton is proving to be a challenge for Turley, who has finessed his way to 94/45 K/BB in 89 innings.
  17. RHRP Mark Montgomery, 22, AAA: Walks (40/20 K/BB in 33.1 innings) were an issue for Montgomery before had two shoulder-related DL stints.
  18. RHSP Corey Black, 21, Hi-A: The undersized Black has maintained his big fastball and lively stuff while starting every fifth day. He’s got a 84/39 K/BB in 75.2 innings.
  19. RHSP Bryan Mitchell, 22, Hi-A: Mitchell’s performance never seems to change (85/42 K/BB in 97 innings) but he’s a prospect list mainstay because of a nasty fastball/curveball combination.
  20. 1B Greg Bird, 20, Lo-A: Bird almost certainly would have been a top ten prospect in the system had he remained at catcher. At first, he’s just an interesting guy. He’s hitting .277/.400/.477.
  21. C Austin Romine, 24, MLB: Romine, who has played sparingly, is failing his extended MLB opportunity rather miserably (.158/.179/.211). His defense remains strong.
  22. RHRP Adam Warren, 25, MLB: Unlike Romine, Warren has made the most of his big league opportunity and carved out a niche as a reliable long reliever (35/12 K/BB in 43.2 innings).
  23. SS Abi Avelino, 18, Rk: A torn quad delayed the start of his season, but Avelino is here because he’s a very good defender whose hitting ability has developed much better and quicker than expected.
  24. C Luis Torrens, 17, Rk: A recently converted infielder, Torrens has shown some offensive skills (.271/.358/.407) early in his pro debut while working out the kinks defensively.
  25. LHSP Vidal Nuno, 25, AAA: Nuno suffered a groin injury two days after the pre-draft list was posted and remains sidelined. He’s shown signs of being able to help at the big league level.
  26. OF Zoilo Almonte, 24, MLB: He’s cooled off since the hot start to his big league career (.267/.312/.349), but Almonte puts up quality at-bats and contributes on defense as well.
  27. RHSP Luis Severino, 19, Rk: Thanks to an excellent fastball and improving slider, Severino has become one of the system’s top sleepers. He’s got a 22/5 K/BB in 16.1 innings so far.
  28. 2B Gosuke Katoh, 18, Rk: This year’s second rounder has hit well in very limited time (.340/.466/.681 in 14 games), but he’s here because of his all-around skills.
  29. RHSP Brett Marshall, 23, AAA: It was been close to a nightmare year for Marshall, though he has settled down of late after getting clobbered earlier this year. He’s got a mediocre 77/54 K/BB in 88.2 innings.
  30. IF David Adams, 26, AAA: Adams won’t be the last guy to struggle in his first shot at the show (.190/.260/.276). He’s since been sent back to Triple-A so he could play everyday.

2013 Pre-Draft Top 30 Prospects


I say this every year, but the Pre-Draft Top 30 Prospects List is (by far) my least favorite of the three prospect lists I put out every year. There are no new faces in the organization and the minor league season is only two months old. The only reasons to change the rankings are injury, trade/release, and extreme performance (good or bad). That’s it.

Now, that said, it’s pretty obvious this has been a poor year for the farm system so far. Most of the Yankees’ top prospects are either hurt or underperforming, and there haven’t been enough breakouts to compensate. There’s still plenty of talent, but not many guys are putting it to good use right now. Most of the lower level pitchers are being held to strict pitch counts as well, which I suspect comes from new pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. A lot of guys don’t have many innings under their belt yet.

Five players dropped off my Preseason Top 30 List, which is actually a lot more than I expected. They’re all self-explanatory as well: RHRP Dellin Betances (#23), OF Melky Mesa (#26), OF Ravel Santana (#28), SS Cito Culver (#29), and LHSP Daniel Camarena (#30). All five were borderline top 30 guys who barely made the preseason list, and they’ve either gotten/stayed hurt or performed miserably.

The ages and levels listed below are as of today, but the stats do not include last night’s games. On to the latest top 30…

  1. C Gary Sanchez, 20, Hi-A: Sanchez is pretty much the only one of the team’s top position player prospects performing up to snuff this year. He’s hit .272/.338/.476 (130 wRC+) with nine homers in 213 PA, and reports about his work behind the plate continue to be positive.
  2. RHSP Rafael DePaula, 22, Lo-A: At long last, DePaula has reached the United States. His debut has been marvelous (2.48 ERA, 2.00 FIP, 38.8 K% in 54.1 IP) and the stuff has proven to be dynamite.
  3. OF Slade Heathcott, 22, AA: Heathcott has stayed healthy so far — only 30 games away from tying his career-high — and after a rough start, he has picked it up of late even though his season batting line (.246/.300/.377, 83 wRC+ in 201 PA) still stinks.
  4. OF Tyler Austin, 21, AA: After being the best statistical performer in the system last year, Austin got off to a dreadful start before hitting his stride last month. He’s hitting .258/.359/.399 (111 wRC+) in 234 PA.
  5. OF Mason Williams, 21, A+: Has there been a more disappointing prospect this year? Not only is he hitting .231/.326/.317 (88 wRC+) while repeating a level, but reports suggest he’s dogged it and played with little energy. The tools are great and that saves him for now.
  6. RHSP Jose Ramirez, 23, AA: Ramirez started the year on the DL due to fatigue, but he debuted in April and has been electric (2.65 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 30.8 K% in 37.1 IP). Concerns about his durability remain, however.
  7. C J.R. Murphy, 22, AA: No prospect has improved his stock more this year. Murphy’s defense continues to improve and he’s having a career-best year offensively (.275/.362/.431, 119 wRC+ in 186 PA).
  8. OF Ramon Flores, 21, AA: I love him and he is young for the level, but .243/.328/.329 (84 wRC+) in 257 PA is really disappointing.
  9. LHSP Manny Banuelos, 22, no level: Banuelos had Tommy John surgery in October and will miss the entire season. He’s here on reputation, basically.
  10. RHSP Jose Campos, 20, A-: The Yankees have held Campos to a very strict pitch count following last year’s injury, but he hasn’t been quite as electric or effective (4.21 ERA and 3.42 FIP in 36.1 IP) as he has been in the past.
  11. 2B Angelo Gumbs, 20, A+: Gumbs was terrible before missing a month with a finger injury, but he’s been better of late despite a .211/.261/.327 (64 wRC+) overall line 119 PA. He’s still so young.
  12. RHSP Ty Hensley, 19, no level: Last year’s first rounder had hip surgery in early-April and is expected to miss the entire season. Such is life.
  13. LHSP Nik Turley, 23, AA: Had a very rough start to the year but has settled down of late and been his usually effective self (4.14 ERA and 4.03 FIP in 54.1 IP). He’s still at least a year away from the show.
  14. RHRP Mark Montgomery, 22, AAA: The Yankees were reportedly unhappy with his offseason work and the results have been below his usual standard so far (3.10 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 26.7 K% in 29 IP). He might have been in the bigs by now had he gotten off to a better start.
  15. RHSP Corey Black, 21, A+: His huge arm is likely destined for the bullpen long-term, but Black has been pleasantly surprising as a starter so far this year (4.22 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 26.0 K% in 53.1 IP).
  16. RHSP Bryan Mitchell, 22, A+: The performance (4.50 ERA and 3.53 FIP in 66 IP) never seems to improve, but Mitchell remains on the list because his stuff is arguably the best in the system.
  17. C Austin Romine, 24, MLB: Instead of getting much-needed regular at-bats in the minors, Romine is masquerading as the big league backup and failing (122 wRC+ in Triple-A, -4 wRC+ in MLB).
  18. RHRP Adam Warren, 25, MLB: Warren has found a niche as a long reliever with the big league team (3.77 ERA and 4.11 FIP in 28.2 IP) rather than spending a third straight year in Triple-A.
  19. SS Austin Aune, 19, ExST: Aune and his big left-handed power will likely join Short Season Staten Island when the season starts in a few weeks.
  20. LHSP Vidal Nuno, 25, AAA: He’s bounced between Triple-A and the big leagues all year and been effective in whatever role the team has used him. The ranking is almost entirely probability-based, but I can’t ignore him anymore.
  21. IF David Adams, 26, MLB: From released to re-signed to Triple-A to the Bronx in the matter of a few weeks, Adams has already managed to carve out a big league role despite his recent slump (.242/.266/.387, 73 wRC+ in 64 PA).
  22. 2B Corban Joseph, 24, AAA: CoJo made his big league debut a few weeks ago, but otherwise he remains nothing more than a backup plan in the minors (.239/.329/.383, 94 wRC+ in 213 PA).
  23. RHSP Brett Marshall, 23, AAA: He made his big league debut with a long relief appearance last month, but otherwise Marshall has been just awful this year (7.27 ERA and 6.59 FIP in 43.1 IP). At least there’s nowhere to go but up.
  24. RHRP Nick Goody, 21, A+: Managed three whole innings before blowing out his elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery. We won’t see him again until 2014.
  25. RHSP Gabe Encinas, 21, A-: Encinas was having a breakout year (0.77 ERA and 2.89 FIP in 35 IP) before hurting his elbow and having season-ending surgery. Three pitchers who are out for the year due to injury on the list is probably too many. So it goes.
  26. RHRP Preston Claiborne, 25, MLB: Got the call to the show in place of Montgomery and has quickly become a valuable reliever for Joe Girardi (0.55 ERA and 2.27 FIP in 16.1 IP).
  27. LHSP Matt Tracy, 24, AA: Has alternated awesome starts with awful starts so far, so hopefully he settles  into a groove as the season progresses (5.09 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 53 IP).
  28. RHRP Chase Whitley, 23, AAA: An oblique strain delayed the start of Whitley’s season and he is still trying to find his way (5.06 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 10.2 IP). He might have been up instead of Claiborne had he been healthy.
  29. 3B Dante Bichette Jr.: Following a dreadful start, Bichette had a one-day pow-wow with the hitting coach to clean up some mechanics and the early returns have been positive. His overall season line remains very underwhelming (.229/.294/.328, 76 wRC+ in 221 PA).
  30. OF Zoilo Almonte, 23, AAA: Got off to a fantastic start, but he’s returned to Earth a bit in recent weeks (.282/.366/.432, 118 wRC+ in 238 PA). Still doesn’t do much other than hit the ball out of the park on occasion.