Yankees Top Prospects 2015 Pre-Season

Scroll to the bottom for a complete list of Mike Axisa’s Top 30 Yankees Prospects, dating back to 2007.

For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn't prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)
For the first time in RAB history, Dellin isn’t prospect-eligible. Bittersweet. (Presswire)

One year after implementing some procedural changes to their player development system, the Yankees took the next step and made some personnel changes last fall. Long-time VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman retired — his contract was up and I get the sense he wasn’t going to be brought back anyway — and was replaced by Gary Denbo, who’s worn many organizational hats over the years. Pat Roessler, the team’s director of player development for more than a decade, was also let go, as where several other staff members.

[Check out our archive of top Yankees prospects, which goes back to 2007.]

The changes were made following a season in which the Yankees actually got some help from within. The kind of help that didn’t come at all in 2013. Shane Greene and especially Dellin Betances had an impact on the mound, and others like Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez, and Bryan Mitchell got a chance to make their MLB debuts. It still wasn’t enough though. The Yankees didn’t have anyone to step in when Mark Teixeira or Carlos Beltran got hurt, and beyond Greene there was no real rotation help to be had.

Overall, the farm system did improve last year. Several prospects hit on something close to their realistic best case scenario and zoomed towards the top of the organizational prospect list. The Yankees also spent more than $30M in international free agency between bonuses and penalties last summer, essentially making a mockery of a broken system while hoarding most of the top available talent. Those prospects are all teenagers though. It’ll be a while before they have any sort of big league impact for New York.

This is, unbelievably, my ninth Top 30 Prospects List at RAB. The other eight can be found right here. This next part is very important: I am not a scout nor am I an expert. I’m a guy with opinions. And they’re wrong. Like, all the time. I read a lot — an embarrassing amount, really — and I have my own preferences for what makes a good prospect. I read everything. Baseball America, Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, MiLB.com, random interviews with local papers, you name it. There’s plenty of information out there and I try to soak it all in. What qualifies me to put together a list like this? Nothing, I’m just a guy with a blog. Start one of your own and you can put together a top 30. Or a top 100, if that’s your thing. This is meant to be for fun, not any sort of definitive ranking.

I use the rookie limits (50 innings or 130 at-bats) to determine prospect eligibility because that’s what everyone else uses. I don’t pay attention to service time because that stuff is too complicated. Also, I don’t rank any recent international signings because those guys haven’t even played a professional game yet. Just a personal, long-standing policy. I’d rather be a year late than a year early on players like that. Rest assured, next year’s Top 30 will inevitably feature a bunch of guys from last summer’s international spending spree. Four players from last year’s list graduated to MLB and eight are no longer in the organization. That seems like a lot.

Alright, so let’s cut the small talk and get to the rankings. I changed the format slightly this year just to shake things up a bit. Hopefully you like it. All the relevant stats and bio information is listed before the write-up. All headshots from MLB.com or MiLB.com, unless noted otherwise. This year’s Top 30 list starts after the jump. Enjoy.

Slade HeathcottNo. 30: SLADE HEATHCOTT, of

DOB: September 28th, 1990 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2009 first round, 29th overall ($2.2M bonus)
2014 Stats: .182/.250/.242 (38 wRC+), 2 2B, 8.3 BB%, 36.1 K%, 36 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and maybe Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Tools. Heathcott has a full shed, with speed to spare and big time athleticism. He does his best work in center field, where he’s an above-average defender with an arm that still rates as above-average despite multiple shoulder surgeries. Slade is an aggressive hitter with the ability to go the other way and more power than he gets credit for. The Yankees have long viewed Heathcott as a potential “Brett Gardner with power” player and that sums up his skillset well. Also, he’s a maniac on the field. If anything he plays too hard and needs to tone it down a notch.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Gosh, hasn’t he already? I ranked Heathcott in the Top 30 against my better judgement even though he’s had major injury problems throughout his career, including multiple shoulder and knee surgeries that have limited him to 309 games in parts of six pro seasons. He played only nine games last year because of two knee surgeries, one last offseason and another in June. Heathcott has lost a ton of development time these last five years and hasn’t been able to refine his tools into baseball skills. That’s hard to overcome.

Mason Williams2No. 29: MASON WILLIAMS, of

DOB: August 21st, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 180 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2010 fourth round, 145th overall ($1.45M bonus)
2014 Stats: .223/.290/.304 (66 wRC+), 14 2B, 21 SB, 8.3 BB%, 12.1 K%, 563 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and maybe Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Williams has elite athleticism and high-end tools, starting with the strong arm and above-average speed that allow him to be a ballhawk in center. His defense is top of the line. Williams has batting practice power but has preferred a slap hitting approach in games, mostly because he makes contact so easily. He knows the strike zone well and actually walks more than most guys who can put the ball in play seemingly at will. The natural gifts are as good as it gets.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: The effort and attitude don’t match the tools. Williams has had to be benched several times for lack of effort in his career and he’s been insubordinate at times as well. About the only complaint you could have about his tools is the difference between batting practice power and game power, but that hardly matters. Williams hasn’t put in enough work to be a big league player and has gotten this far on pure athleticism. He’s tumbling down the rankings and it’s not because he lacks ability. This is a clear case of makeup sabotaging talent.

Danny Burawa 2No. 28: DANNY BURAWA, rhrp

DOB: December 30th, 1988 (age 26)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 210 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2010 12th round, 385th overall ($300,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 4.70 ERA (3.17 FIP), 27.4 K%, 11.3 BB%, 59.5 GB%, 59.1 IP (AA, AAA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: In addition to being a local guy from Long Island, Burawa has silly stuff, sitting in the mid-90s and topping out near 99 with his fastball. The pitch moves back in righties too. He complements the heater with a sharp mid-80s slider that breaks down as much as it does away from righties. Burawa also throws a changeup but doesn’t use it a whole lot as a reliever. He’s missed bats and induced ground balls in bulk his entire career.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Control. Not even command, just control. Throwing strikes consistently has been a challenge for Burawa, partly because his stuff is so lively and partly because his delivery is pretty herky jerky. There’s a chance Burawa will be a tease out of the bullpen, the guy with phenomenal stuff who doesn’t get the best results because he doesn’t always locate well.

Thairo EstradaNo. 27: THAIRO ESTRADA, ss

DOB: February 22nd, 1996 (age 18)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-10, 155 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2012 out of Venezuela ($49,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .273/.327/.364 (104 wRC+), 3 2B, 9 SB, 6.5 BB%, 16.7 K%, 108 PA (Rk, SS)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season Staten Island

Why You’ll Love Him: Not counting the guys signed as international free agents last year, Estrada is the youngest of New York’s suddenly impressive collection of low level shortstop prospects. He’s a true shortstop with better than average range and a strong arm. Like many of the team’s recent signees, Thairo is a really smart and instinctual player. At the plate, Estrada is a slap hitter with good speed and basically zero power. At this point of his career he’s a glove first guy the Yankees are hoping will develop into a passable hitter.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Even as he matures, Estrada isn’t expected to have much power, so his offensive value is tied to the development of his hit tool, and that’s not very easy to develop. There’s a chance his bat won’t allow him to get out of Single-A even though he has a carrying tool in his glove. Thairo has real ability but also a lot of work ahead of him.

Chase Shreve 2No. 26: CHASEN SHREVE, lhrp

DOB: July 12th, 1990 (age 24)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: Trade with the Braves, January 2015
2014 Stats: 2.36 ERA (1.84 FIP), 34.6 K%, 5.1 BB%, 44.6 GB%, 76.1 IP (AA, AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Before last year, Shreve was just a generic minor league bullpener with nondescript stuff and stats. Then he made the decision to stop holding back and simply aired it out every pitch, and the result was across the board improvement. Shreve went from the mid-80s to the low-90s and backs it up with low-80s slider and the occasional low-80s changeup. He’s a pure reliever, basically a fastball-slider guy, and his newfound velocity means there’s at least a chance he can be something more than a lefty specialist.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Shreve might not be more than a lefty specialist. His decision to stop holding back resulted in tangible improvement but I’d like to see him repeat that success before fully buying in. The Yankees obviously believe it’s real, otherwise they wouldn’t have swapped Manny Banuelos for him (and David Carpenter). At worst, Shreve is a soft-tossing lefty matchup guy who probably rides the bus back and forth between Triple-A and MLB for a few years. The new approach leads me to believe there’s more there.

MiLB: AUG 06 - Brevard County Manatees at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 25: BRADY LAIL, rhsp

DOB: August 9th, 1993 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 18th round, 557th overall ($225,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 3.62 ERA (3.20 FIP), 21.0 K%, 4.7 BB%, 47.7 GB%, 134.1 IP (A-, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa and possibly Double-A Trenton

Why You’ll Love Him: Lail is still in Single-A ball but he is a nice player development story for the Yankees, who drafted him out of a Utah high school when he threw in the mid-80s and showed the ability to spin the ball on occasion. Under pro instruction, Lail has developed into a true four-pitch pitcher with outstanding control for a prospect with so relatively little experience. He complements his low-90s sinker with a big-breaking curveball, a solid changeup, and a cutter. Lail was a shot in the dark prospect and he’s developed very nicely.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Although he has four pitches, nothing Lail throws is consistently above-average and he has to paint the corners to be successful. He’s not someone who is going to blow hitters away. It’s a back-end innings eater profile at the moment. Lail has grown as a pitcher quite a bit these last few years and could still improve further. For now, he’s more of a complementary piece than a centerpiece, and that’s pretty damn good considering where he started.

Leonardo Molina 2No. 24: LEONARDO MOLINA, of

DOB: July 31st, 1997 (age 17)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 180 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed August 2013 out of the Dominican Republic ($1.4M bonus)
2014 Stats: .194/.267/.260 (58 wRC+), 10 2B, 6 SB, 8.8 BB%, 23.5 K%, 217 PA (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Rookie Pulaski

Why You’ll Love Him: Ignore the stat line. He was basically a high school sophomore in pro ball last summer. Molina’s two best tools are his above-average speed and throwing arm, but he has power potential and consistently put together quality at-bats last year. He’s a center fielder now but may wind up in a corner down the road, likely right field thanks to his arm. Molina is a very, very long-term project with the upside of being an impact two-way player with speed and power.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Well geez, we’re talking about a 17-year-old kid here. Molina is all potential, not “now skills,” and he has a ton of development ahead of him. He’s a big kid already and could grow even more, which would sap his speed and make him a bat first corner outfielder. Simply put, Molina is a high risk, high reward prospect, and at this stage of his career he is all the way on the risk side of the spectrum. (Photo: DPL Baseball)

Jose RamirezNo. 23: JOSE RAMIREZ, rhrp

DOB: January 21st, 1990 (age 25)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed October 2007 out of the Dominican Republic (unknown bonus)
2014 Stats: 3.22 ERA (4.78 FIP), 23.9 K%, 15.6 BB%, 36.5 GB%, 22.1 IP (AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Ramirez has knockout stuff and goes to the mound with three out pitches on his best days. His fastball is electric in the mid-to-high-90s with run in on righties, and at this point his go-to secondary pitch is a hard mid-80s changeup. He also throws a mid-80s slider that is inconsistent but can be really good. Ramirez’s control is better than last summer’s walk rate indicates, but he’s a stuff first guy, plain and simple.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: He’s never healthy. Ramirez threw just 22.1 innings as a reliever last year and 294.2 innings as a starter from 2011-13. He just can’t get through a full season in one piece, and that’s why the Yankees moved him to relief last season. (Even that didn’t work.) Ramirez has had everything from shoulder to elbow to lat to oblique issues and it feels like it’s only a matter of time until he blows out completely. Hopefully he’s able to contribute at the MLB level before then because his stuff is dynamite and he has impact reliever potential.

Ramon FloresNo. 22: RAMON FLORES, of

DOB: March 26th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-10, 150 lbs., left/left
Acquired: Signed July 2008 out of Venezuela ($775,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .254/.343/.472 (124 wRC+), 20 2B, 9 HR, 11.8 BB%, 17.3 K%, 289 PA (Rk, AAA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and maybe MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Armed with some of the best strike zone knowledge in the system, Flores projects to be a strong on-base player with promising power potential. (He hit five homers in his first 52 Triple-A games last year after hitting six homers in 136 Double-A games in 2013.) He’s consistently performed at the minor league level and is a passable defensive outfielder who can also fill-in at first base. Flores, who missed a big chunk of last season with an ankle injury, is more about probability than pure upside. Also, it’s hysterical he’s still officially listed at 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds. Flores is closer to 6-foot-0 and 190 lbs. and has been for two or three years now.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: I’ve been a big fan Flores through the years — I ranked him as the team’s fifth best prospect in 2013 and people thought I was nuts — and I do think some level of prospect fatigue is setting in. We’re still waiting for the power breakout — perhaps he was in the middle of it last year before the ankle injury — and if it doesn’t come, Flores will just be an okay fielding corner outfielder without much power. That’s a usable player at the MLB level but not what teams look for in a regular.

Angel AguilarNo. 21: ANGEL AGUILAR, ss

DOB: June 13th, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 170 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed January 2012 out of Venezuela ($60,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .311/.373/.536 (159 wRC+), 11 2B, 7 HR, 8.4 BB%, 16.8 K%, 167 PA (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season Staten Island

Why You’ll Love Him: The Yankees have proven to be adept at finding hidden gems in Latin America and Aguilar is the latest. His huge U.S. debut last summer is backed up by the scouting report: Aguilar is wiry strong with a whippy bat and an occasionally big leg kick, all a la Alfonso Soriano. He tends to wrap his bat behind his head before swinging and that causes him to be late on fastballs, but that’s fixable. At shortstop, Aguilar had good range and a strong arm with a knack for sound positioning.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Eh, he’s a teenage middle infielder in rookie ball. So much can go wrong in the coming years. Aguilar needs to clean up his hitting mechanics to handle higher quality stuff in addition to the usual: improve his plate discipline, improve the consistency of his fielding, and learn how to pick his spots on the bases. And please, I only said Aguilar’s hitting mechanics are reminiscent of Soriano’s. That doesn’t mean he’ll play 16 years in the big leagues and hit 400 homers. (Photo: AP)

Abi AvelinoNo. 20: ABI AVELINO, ss

DOB: February 14th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 186 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed December 2011 out of the Dominican Republic ($300,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .247/.308/.351 (87 wRC+), 18 2B, 11 SB, 6.7 BB%, 17.5 K%, 251 PA (Rk, A-)
Projected 2015 Level: Low-A Charleston

Why You’ll Love Him: Avelino is a “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” guy. His best tool is his throwing arm at shortstop, which is easily above-average, and he’s solid in the field, solid on the bases, and solid at the plate with an all-fields approach. Avelino has little power but he covers the plate well and, to use an old school idiom, he hits it where it’s pitched. He has a strong all-around game despite the lack of power and everything plays up because he’s a heady and very instinctual player.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: There’s no carrying tool. Avelino can do a little of everything but he doesn’t do one thing exceptionally well, and when you don’t have that one big tool, you can be easy to overlook. Avelino’s short and stocky and he’ll have to work hard to maintain his mobility at shortstop going forward. This is the kind of profile you need to see everyday to appreciate, which is not the kind of thing that lends itself to a glamorous spot in the prospect rankings.

Jake CaveNo. 19: JAKE CAVE, of

DOB: December 4th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 180 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2011 sixth round, 209th overall ($800,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .294/.351/.414 (118 wRC+), 28 2B, 7 HR, 7.5 BB%, 20.2 K%, 613 PA (A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton

Why You’ll Love Him: A broken kneecap forced Cave to miss the entire 2012 season but he’s done nothing but hit and show why the Yankees gave him a big over-slot bonus since returning. Cave has average tools across the board though his power shows more in batting practice than in games at the moment. He has a quick bat and learned to let pitches travel deeper in the zone before attacking last year. Cave is a capable defensive outfielder with an adequate arm who can handle all three outfield spots. He’s an animal on the field, playing all out, all the time. Borderline Heathcottian.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Although it hasn’t really shown up in the overall numbers, Cave can have trouble with left-handed pitchers and breaking balls in general. There is some swing-and-miss in his game. It’s possible he’ll have to move to a corner outfield spot long-term — left more likely than right due to his arm — which means you’ll end up with a platoon left fielder without much power. That’s not exactly a hot commodity.

Ty HensleyNo. 18: TY HENSLEY, rhsp

DOB: July 30th, 1993 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-4, 220 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 first round, 30th overall ($1.2M bonus)
2014 Stats: 2.93 ERA (3.38 FIP), 30.3 K%, 8.3 BB%, 43.9 GB%, 30.2 IP (Rk, SS)
Projected 2015 Level: Low-A Charleston

Why You’ll Love Him: It’s hard not to root for Hensley. He’s faced a lot of adversity since signing — the Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder after drafting him and reduced his bonus, he missed the entire 2013 season following surgery on both hips and a hernia, and then he was viciously attacked during the holidays a few weeks ago. When he did make it back to the mound last summer, Hensley showed the same stuff as before the hip surgeries, meaning a mid-90s heater and a knockout downer curveball. He’s also got a workable changeup. Hensley has big stuff, a workhorse build, and a relentlessly positive attitude. He even learned to speak Spanish in high school so he could better communicate with teammates. Ty’s easy to root for.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Hensley has lost a ton of development time since being New York’s first round pick in 2012. That’s just the fact of the matter. The injuries have limited him to 42.2 pro innings in parts of three seasons from age 18-21, which are pretty crucial development years. Hensley had stuff to work on the day of the draft like every other high school pitcher — his changeup, repeating his delivery, and refining his command, most notably — and he hasn’t been able do that. He’s behind the development curve and that lowers his chances of success. (Photo: AP)

Tyler WadeNo. 17: TYLER WADE, ss

DOB: November 23rd, 1994 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 180 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2013 fourth round, 134th overall ($371,300 bonus)
2014 Stats: .272/.350/.349 (100 wRC+), 24 2B, 22 SB, 9.9 BB%, 20.5 K% (A-)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa

Why You’ll Love Him: Well, Wade is a classic scrappy middle infielder and people seem to love those guys. He’s a pure slash hitter at the plate, spraying the ball all around and showing a good approach that allows him to draw walks and post solid on-base numbers. Wade is also a true shortstop with good first step quickness and sure hands. He’s a good athlete and figures to remain at the position long-term, though his arm is basically the bare minimum for the position.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Wade has zero power. Almost literally zero power too. He’s hit one homer in 179 pro games after hitting one homer his final three years of high school. Unless he adds some muscle these next few years, quality upper level fastballs will knock the bat right out of his hands. There’s no real carrying tool here either — Wade is a solid defender and a solid hitter right now, but he doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well.

Austin DeCarrNo. 16: AUSTIN DeCARR, rhsp

DOB: March 14th, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 218 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2014 third round, 91st overall ($1M bonus)
2014 Stats: 4.63 ERA (3.68 FIP), 23.3 K%, 6.8 BB%, 47.0 GB%, 23.1 IP (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Short Season Staten Island

Why You’ll Love Him: DeCarr’s a bit of a late bloomer — he went undrafted out of high school in 2013 and the Yankees selected him after a postgraduate year at a Connecticut prep school — who now sits in the low-90s with his fastball and will touch 96 on occasion. His curveball is a knee-buckler and a true out pitch. He’ll also throw a promising changeup, giving him a third weapon. His command is solid as well. DeCarr gets top of the line marks for his work ethic and coachability. If he fails as a prospect, it won’t be for a lack of effort.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Aside from the need to improve his changeup, there’s not much to not like about DeCarr’s physical ability. He lacks experience after growing up a cold weather state and he has already had some elbow issues — bone spur removed as a high school junior — which is always a concern no matter how routine the procedure may be. DeCarr has a lot of physical gifts and he’s a very hard worker, but he has a lot to learn and a lot of development ahead of him. (Photo: Perfect Game)

Bryan MitchellNo. 15: BRYAN MITCHELL, rhsp

DOB: April 19, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 205 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2009 16th round, 495th overall ($800,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 4.18 ERA (4.14 FIP), 20.4 K%, 9.7 BB%, 54.2 GB% (AA, AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Stuff. Mitchell has some of the best raw stuff in the organization, with a heavy 92-94 mph four-seamer that topped out at 97 during his brief MLB cameo in 2014. His curveball is a put-way pitch and a hammer when it’s on. The Yankees had Mitchell try a cutter — they make everyone try a cutter — and he’s taken to it well, giving him a reliable third offering. Mitchell has no doubt big league starter stuff.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Command. Mitchell has worked long and hard to improve his command and it’s coming along, just slowly. He’s managed to cut his walk rate from 13.6% in Low-A to 9.0% in Triple-A as he’s climbed the ladder, but there’s a difference between strikes and quality strikes. Mitchell is still learning how to throw quality strikes. His changeup is okay at best right now — he’s break off a real nasty one from time to time, which all pitchers seem to do — and that’s made him reliant on the cutter against lefties. Mitchell’s command might never be good enough to start long-term and that could result in a future in the bullpen.

MiLB: July 27 - Fort Myers Miracle at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 14: JACOB LINDGREN, lhrp

DOB: March 12th, 1993 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 180 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2014 second round, 55th overall ($1.0187M bonus)
2014 Stats: 2.16 ERA (1.26 FIP), 46.2 K%, 12.5 BB%, 81.0 GB%, 25 IP (Rk, A-, A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Lindgren was MLB ready the day he was drafted last June. He’s a pure reliever with a low-to-mid-90 fastball and a filthy mid-80s slider that bites down and in on righties. It’s allergic to bats and dominates hitters on both sides of the plate, so Lindgren is no lefty specialist. That’s pretty much all there is to it. He’s a future late-innings guy and the future is basically now.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Because his stuff is so lively and his delivery isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, Lindgren can be prone to walks and falling behind in the count. He has only been a full-time reliever for a year now, so perhaps that will improve with time, but guys go to the bullpen because of spotty command, and Lindgren has spotty command. He’ll dominate on his best days, but his worst days will make you want to pull your hair out.

Rob RefsnyderNo. 13: ROB REFSNYDER, 2b

DOB: March 26th, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 205 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2012 fifth round, 187th overall ($205,900 bonus)
2014 Stats: .318/.387/.497 (146 wRC+), 38 2B, 14 HR, 9.5 BB%, 18.2 K%, 577 PA (AA, AAA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Refsnyder is a pure hitter. He has a clean, level swing from the right side and he knows the strike zone well, so he gets the most out of his line drive approach. Most of Refsnyder’s power is into the gaps but he can go over the fence every so often. He’s put up big numbers everywhere he’s been and that’s what you want to see from a bat first prospect.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: The numbers are fantastic, but Refnsyder is basically a one tool prospect. That one tool (hit tool) is good and if you’re going to be a one tool guy, that’s the tool you want to have, but there’s no safety net here. Refsnyder has been at second base for two years now after moving in from the outfield and he’s a below-average defender who is going to have to work real hard to become even average there. Refsnyder’s good! But he’s also the most over-hyped prospect in the system right now. If he doesn’t hit big, he’s a below-average regular.

Eric JagieloNo. 12: ERIC JAGIELO, 3b

DOB: May 17th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 195 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2013 first round, 26th overall ($1.8394M bonus)
2014 Stats: .256/.351/.461 (132 wRC+), 14 2B, 18 HR, 10.6 BB%, 24.4 K%, 385 PA, (Rk, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and possibly Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: With patience and big left-handed power — especially to the pull side — Jagielo is tailor made for Yankee Stadium. He knows the strike zone, works the count, and drives anything in his wheelhouse with serious authority. Jagielo’s 18 homers last summer were the third most in the system even though he missed a month and a half with an oblique strain. Simply put, he’s a brute masher from the left side.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Jagielo is definitely a flawed prospect. He struggles to pick up breaking balls from same-side pitchers and he’ll always have some swing-and-miss in his game. Jagielo also isn’t very good at the hot corner. Not a total disaster, but bad enough that moving across the diamond to first base or into left field is a real possibility at some point. Without improvement in the field or against southpaws, Jagielo will be a left-handed platoon bat with no real position or defensive value.

Domingo GermanNo. 11: DOMINGO GERMAN, rhsp

DOB: August 4th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Trade with the Marlins, December 2014
2014 Stats: 2.48 ERA (3.26 FIP), 22.4 K%, 5.0 BB%, 51.0 GB%, 123.1 IP (A-)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa and possibly Double-A Trenton

Why You’ll Love Him: German has one high-end pitch in his mid-90s sinker and two workable complementary pitches in his low-80s changeup and slider. He’s a very athletic kid with a compact delivery and that allows him to fill the strike zone with his sinker, hence the tiny walk rate last summer. German held his velocity deep into starts and late into the season, even as his workload climbed into uncharted territory. Simply put, German has a live arm with more room to grow. Classic upside play.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: A bit of a late bloomer, German didn’t pitch in a full season league until last year, his fifth pro season. He’s already on the 40-man roster — the Marlins added him in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft — which means the clock is ticking. German has yet to pitch above Low Class-A and he only has three more seasons before he has to stick in MLB for good. Hopefully that’s enough time to improve his changeup and slider, but, if not, he’ll get stuck in a relief role long-term.

Tyler AustinNo. 10: TYLER AUSTIN, of/1b

DOB: September 26th, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-1, 220 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2010 13th round, 415th overall ($130,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .275/.336/.419 (110 wRC+), 20 2B, 9 HR, 8.2 BB%, 18.3 K%, 437 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton and possibly MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: When he’s been healthy, Austin has never not hit. For average and for power, with some walks thrown in to boot. Austin has a ton of natural strength and made some mechanical adjustments last summer that allow him to get the bat into the hitting zone quicker, which really boosted his power output in the second half. He’s played just about everywhere — Austin was drafted as a catcher, played some third base, and has now settled in as a corner outfielder and part-time first baseman — and offers a little bit of versatility.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Unfortunately, Austin hasn’t been all that healthy the last two years. He suffered a bone bruise in his wrist in April 2013 and played through it for much of a summer, which hurt his numbers and created some bad habits. The wrist issue flared up again in the Arizona Fall League in 2013 and again in Spring Training last year. It wasn’t until the middle of last summer that Austin was finally healthy. In addition to the lingering wrist issue, Austin is a bat first prospect who isn’t much of a help defensively. He’s about average in right, so the vast majority of his value is tied up in his wrist-hampered bat.

John Ryan MurphyNo. 9: JOHN RYAN MURPHY, c

DOB: May 13th, 1991 (age 23)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 5-foot-11, 195 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2009 second round, 76th overall ($1.25M bonus)
2014 Stats: .258/.299/.388 (88 wRC+), 13 2B, 7 HR, 6.0 BB%, 22.8 K%, 17 PA (AAA, MLB)
Projected 2015 Level: MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: There really isn’t anything about Murphy’s game that will make fans fall in love with him. He’s a very good defensive catcher with very good pitch-framing skills and a strong arm that has allowed him to throw out one-third of attempted base-stealers the last two years. His defense alone is going to make him a long-time big leaguer, even if it’s as nothing more than a backup. Murphy has some pull power and a good plan at the plate, so he isn’t expected to be a zero offensively.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Despite being a high-probability big leaguer, Murphy is going to be a pretty boring player because so much of his value is tied up in his defense. No one turns on baseball game to watch a catcher frame pitches or block balls in the dirt. Unless he grows into more power and becomes a better hitter than expected — or comes up with a bunch of well-timed hits, the kind people always seem to remember — Murphy will be easy to overlook because he’s not flashy.

Jorge MateoNo. 8: JORGE MATEO, ss

DOB: June 23rd, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 188 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed January 2012 out of Dominican Republic ($250,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .276/.354/.397 (119 wRC+), 5 2B, 11 SB, 10.8 BB%, 26.2 K%, 65 PA (Rk)
Projected 2015 Level: Extended Spring Training then Rookie Pulaski

Why You’ll Love Him: Mateo can do it all — he has top of the line speed, above-average defensive tools in his mobility and arm, and surprising batting practice power. He can impact the game in the field, at the plate, and on the bases, making him a potentially lethal leadoff hitter and up-the-middle defender. Keith Law recently reported other teams have asked the Yankees for Mateo in trades, so, despite being so far away from MLB, he is highly regarded in the industry.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Mateo still has a very long way to go to get from here to there, here being rookie ball and there being an impact MLB shortstop. A wrist injury limited him to only 15 games this summer and he’s played only 93 games in three pro seasons, so at some point he has to get on the field and stay on the field. Mateo needs those reps to develop his skills, develop a plan at the plate, and learn how to take his power from batting practice into games. (Photo: Bryan Green)

Miguel AndujarNo. 7: MIGUEL ANDUJAR, 3b

DOB: March 2nd, 1995 (age 19)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2011 out of Dominican Republic ($750,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: .267/.318/.397 (99 wRC+), 25 2B, 10 HR, 6.6 BB%, 15.7 K%, 527 PA (A-)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa

Why You’ll Love Him: Thanks to good athleticism and a well-stocked tool shed, Andujar is one of the best two-way prospects in the organization, someone who projects to add value at the plate and in the field. He’s an aggressive contact hitter with power potential and a cannon for an arm, more than enough for the hot corner. Andujar struggled initially in both rookie ball and Low-A before adjusting and finishing strong, which is a good sign for a young player. He’s making those adjustments, even if it takes a little while.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Andujar is a really aggressive hitter in the sense that he jumps all over the first thing he can handle in the zone, and there’s a chance that will grow into chasing sliders off the plate with regularity, which would take a big bite out of his offensive ability. He also needs to work on his hands and footwork at third base, and if they doesn’t improve, Andujar will probably end up in right field. We are talking about a teenager, remember. Lots can go wrong.

Luis TorrensNo. 6: LUIS TORRENS, c

DOB: May 2nd, 1996 (age 18)
Height, Weight,Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 175 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2012 out of Venezuela ($1.3M bonus)
2014 Stats: .256/.331/.383 (111 wRC+), 14 2B, 3 HR, 7.9 BB%, 19.7 K%, 254 PA (Rk, SS, A-)
Projected 2015 Level: Low-A Charleston

Why You’ll Love Him: Despite his age (younger than Mateo!), Torrens is one the smartest players in the system with huge baseball aptitude. The Yankees converted him from infielder to catcher full-time immediately after signing him and he’s taken to the position extremely well, so much so that his defense is his now his calling card. Torrens has a strong arm and is a quality receiver even with so little experience. He can hit too, though he doesn’t have a whole lot of power. Torrens stands out offensively because of his sound approach and ability to recognize spin.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Again, we are talking about an 18-year-old prospect. An 18-year-old catcher prospect at that. Torrens has a ton of development ahead of him and anytime you have a prospect this young there will be plenty of chances for things to go wrong. He could end up a defense first backstop who doesn’t contribute much at the plate if he doesn’t get stronger and prevent upper level pitchers from knocking the bat out of his hands with quality fastballs.

Greg BirdNo. 5: GREG BIRD, 1b

DOB: November 9th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 215 lbs., left/right
Acquired: 2011 fifth round, 179th overall ($1.1M bonus)
2014 Stats: .271/.376/.472 (139 wRC+), 30 2B, 14 HR, 14.3 BB%, 22.0 K%, 441 PA (A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and possibly Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Bird can really hit. He’s got a sweet swing from the left side with some power potential, and it all plays up because he’s an extremely smart hitter who knows the strike zone and sticks to his plan at the plate. Bird has popped up on some top 100 lists these last few weeks and that surprised me — non-elite first base prospects usually don’t get much prospect love. That said, it shows how well regarded he is in the industry.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: For starters, Bird has no defensive value, which isn’t a huge issue at first base but it’s not negligible either. He was a catcher in high school and had to move out from behind the plate due to back issues — back issues that continue to bother him on and off — and he is still learning the ins and outs at the first base. There’s a non-zero chance he’ll be a long-term DH. Bird also doesn’t project to have huge power and might only be a .250-ish hitter when it’s all said and done, albeit one with a solid OBP because he draws so many walks.

MiLB: AUG 06 - Brevard County Manatees at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 4: IAN CLARKIN, lhsp

DOB: February 14th, 1995 (age 20)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., left/left
Acquired: 2013 supplemental first round, 33rd overall ($1.6501M bonus)
2014 Stats: 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP), 24.7 K%, 7.6 BB%, 43.8 GB%, 75 IP (A-, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: High-A Tampa

Why You’ll Love Him: Thanks to his ability to fill the strike zone with four pitches, Clarkin is a no-doubt starter long-term. He’ll sit 90-92 with his fastball and touch 94 while also throwing a solid changeup and a snapdragon curveball that misses bats. The Yankees also helped him add a cutter last summer and he took to it quickly. Everything plays up too because Clarkin has some deception in his delivery. As someone with a swing-and-miss breaking ball and three other pitches to keep hitters off balance, I think Clarkin is exactly the type of pitching prospect who can exceed expectations in baseball’s current low offense environment.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Even with the quality curveball, Clarkin doesn’t have big stuff and might only settle in as a mid-rotation innings guy. There’s some top of the rotation potential there but you really have to squint your eyes and buy into the whole “no one can hit anymore so everyone has a chance to be an ace” line of thinking. Clarkin is a boringly good pitching prospect without any major “he really needs to work on this” flaws.

Gary SanchezNo. 3: GARY SANCHEZ, c

DOB: December 2nd, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-3, 235 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed July 2008 out of Dominican Republic ($3M bonus)
2014 Stats: .270/.338/.406 (108 wRC+), 19 2B, 13 HR, 9.0 BB%, 19.1 K%, 477 PA (AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Sanchez has the potential to be a true impact hitter, someone who hits for average and power while drawing a good number of walks. He’s cut his strikeout rate as he’s climbed the ladder — 25.0 K% in Low-A, 19.2 K% in High-A, 18.2 K% in Double-A — and he puts on huge power displays in batting practice. Sanchez also has a rocket arm — his arm is his best tool — and he’s thrown out 85 of 203 (42%) attempted base-stealers the last two years. That said, he’s a bat first prospect, clearly.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: For all the talk about his offensive potential, Sanchez has not yet had that huge breakout season in the minors. He’s been good every step of the way but not dominant. Sanchez’s defense is also very much a work in progress. His arm is great and he has improved in recent years, but his receiving and footwork behind the plate are lagging big time. I definitely think there is some Sanchez Fatigue setting in because it feels like he’s been around forever. Without that breakout offensive year or major step forward behind plate, he’ll continue to tease as a prospect.

Luis SeverinoNo. 2: LUIS SEVERINO, rhsp

DOB: February 20th, 1994 (age 21)
Height, Weight, Bats/Throws: 6-foot-0, 195 lbs., right/right
Acquired: Signed December 2011 out of Dominican Republic ($225,000 bonus)
2014 Stats: 2.46 ERA (2.40 FIP), 27.8 K%, 5.9 BB%, 53.0 GB%, 113.1 IP (A-, A+, AA)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton, Triple-A Scranton, possibly MLB

Why You’ll Love Him: Thanks to a high-octane fastball that sits mid-90s and touches 98-99, Severino tore up three levels of minor league baseball during his age 20 season last year and has already put himself on the big league map. His top secondary pitch is a changeup that dives down and away from lefties, and he’s able to throw both his heater and change to both sides of the plate. Severino has an electric arm with a big fastball and a bat-missing offspeed pitch.

Why He’ll Break Your Heart: Severino is an undersized right-hander with a less than ideal delivery. Specifically, there’s some belief he doesn’t use his lower half enough, and that doesn’t bode well for his future as a starter. Severino also lacks a reliable breaking ball — his slider has improved during his relatively short pro career but it still has a way to go before being a quality third offering. If he can’t further develop his slider or tighten up his delivery, Severino will be a reliever all the way.

MiLB: June 23 - Daytona Cubs at Tampa Yankees (LoMoglio)No. 1: AARON JUDGE, of

DOB: April 26th, 1992 (age 22)
Height, Weight Bats/Throws: 6-foot-7, 230 lbs., right/right
Acquired: 2013 supplemental first round, 32nd overall ($1.8M bonus)
2014 Stats: .308/.419/.486 (158 wRC+), 24 2B, 17 HR, 15.8 BB%, 23.3 K%, 563 PA (A-, A+)
Projected 2015 Level: Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton

Why You’ll Love Him: Judge has the raw power potential expected from someone of his size but he’s also a much more polished hitter than even the Yankees realized when they drafted him. He has a compact swing geared for hard contact to all fields and he’s quick to make adjustments. Judge doesn’t chase out of the zone and he recognizes pitches well. All of that comes with 30+ homer ability.

In the field, Judge is a quick runner — quicker than you’d expect given his size — with a strong and accurate arm, so he fits the right field profile perfectly. He’s a very good athlete with a strong work ethic and projects to be a two-way threat who does most of his damage at the plate. Judge seemed like a potential Dave Kingman type at Fresno State, meaning lots of homers and strikeouts, but he’s really not that type of player at this point.

When He’ll Break Your Heart: Because he’s not Giancarlo Stanton? That comp has been floating around since the day Judge was drafted — mostly because they are both physically huge right-handed hitting outfielders — and it is totally unfair. Stanton was a third year big leaguer with a 140 OPS+ and 93 career homers when he was Judge’s age. Aaron Judge is not Giancarlo Stanton and that’s okay.

Anyway, Judge’s biggest flaw as a prospect is that he has not yet learned how to fully tap into his raw power at the plate. He focuses more on hard contact and that’s great, but he’ll be even more dangerous when he figures out when he can really cut it loose and take advantage of his brute strength. There’s also always going to be a chance Judge will turn into a high strikeout hitter simply because his arms are so long and will leave him susceptible to pitches on the inner half. Otherwise he’s a pretty complete prospect.

* * *

The Yankees traded away a few prospects over the last year or so, most notably LHP Manny Banuelos. He would have ranked 11th for me, between Austin and German. C/1B/OF Peter O’Brien would have been a bit lower, ranking 16th between Mitchell and DeCarr. RHP Rafael DePaula probably would not have made the top 30, and even if he did, he would have been either 29th or 30th. His prospect shine has dimmed considerably over the last year or two, enough that he went unpicked in the Rule 5 Draft in December. LHP Vidal Nuno and OF Zoilo Almonte both graduated to MLB before being traded away and released, respectively. That covers just about everyone.

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