2014 New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects

By
Updated: January 30, 2014
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Update: The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual finally hit ebook shelves. Check it out!!!

After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days -  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Masahiro Tanaka, Position: RHP, Age: 25

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

Japan

212.0

1.27

N/A

7.8

1.4

22.3%

3.9%

0.3

N/A

Profile: Arguably the most expensive prospect in baseball history, Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees, and that doesn’t include the $20 million posting fee either. The long time ace of the Rakuten Golden Eagles went a staggering 24-0 during his final season, posting a tidy Bob Gibson-esque 1.27 ERA to go along with a miniscule walk rate, 1.4, and some pretty strong strikeout numbers (7.8 K/9).

Analysis: An extreme control pitcher with the an above-average ability to miss bats, Tanaka, who’s average just 1.9 BB/9 during his seven-year career, has continually posted better-than-average strikeout numbers in the Japanese League where strikeouts are more difficult to come across. For example, over the past three seasons Tanaka averaged 8.73 K/9. The league average during that span was just 6.5 K/9.

Stateside, the 6-foot-2 right-hander should peak as an ace-type arm, capable of chewing plenty of innings to go along with a walk rate near 2.5 and a strikeout rate hovering around 8.0.

Ceiling: 6.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 

2. Gregory Bird, Position: 1B, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A

573

170

.288

.428

.511

18.7%

23.0%

.223

36

3

20

1/2

Profile: Just how good was Bird’s 2013 season in the Sally? Since 2006 only five performances have topped his 170 wRC+ mark – and each time the player was two years his senior. Bird, a tremendous find in the fifth round in 2011, signed for an overslot bonus just a touch over $1M. Seems like a pretty good move by the Yankees right now, no?

Bird, a 6-foot-3 lefty-swinging first baseman, mashed last season, hitting 36 doubles, three triples, and 20 homeruns while posting one of the best walk rates, 18.7%, in the entire minors.

Analysis: Bird has a decent chance to be the best homegrown Yankees player since Robinson Cano, something that I’m only slightly hesitant to say. Elite eye at the plate, decent contact skills, above-average or better power potential, and no discernible platoon splits yet. Oh, yeah, he owns a career line drive rate of 26.1%. The kid’s a player.

Ceiling: 5.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

3. Gary Sanchez, Position: C, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

399

108

.254

.313

.420

7.0%

17.8%

.166

21

0

13

3/4

AA

110

113

.250

.364

.380

11.8%

14.5%

.130

6

0

2

0/0

Profile: If you haven’t already been convinced, Sanchez is just further proof that batting average is a less meaningful stat than, say, it was thought to be a decade or two ago. Despite hitting .253 in 2012, the 6-foot-2 backstop topped the league average offensive production by 9%, thanks to some strong secondary skills (patience and power).

Analysis: Like pretty much every other meaningful Yankees prospect, Sanchez really failed to take a step forward after a strong showing in 2012, though he did set a career high in nabbing would-be base stealers (44%). Sanchez’s peak should reside somewhere close to Russell Martin’s early seasons in Los Angeles minus about 15 points in OBP and the stolen bases, something along the lines of .280/.350/.440.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

4. Tyler Austin, Position: RF, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

366

103

.257

.344

.373

11.2%

21.6%

.116

17

1

6

4/4

Profile: Put up a Gregory Bird-like line in low Class A two years ago (.320/.405/.598) and continued his dominance in a 36-game stint in the Florida State League as well (.321/.385/.478). Last season, however, was a bit of a lost one for the former 2010 13th round pick who missed a sizeable amount of games due to a wrist injury, though he did make it back for a handful of contests before the season ended.

Analysis: Still a big believer in Austin. The numbers at any stop prior to 2013 are just too good to be wiped away by one injury-marred season. Power, patience, and a strong hit tool. Hell, if I’m another deal I try to swing in and buy-low right now.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

5. Manny Banuelos, Position: LHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: “Tommy John!,” as Banuelos thrusts his clenched fist skyward. The little-lefty-that-could missed most of 2012 and all of last season as he recovered from TOMMY JOHN!

Analysis: He looked like a potential ace in the making two seasons ago and there haven’t been any setbacks reported, so why should that change now? Will his slight 5-foot-10, 155 pound frame hold up? Well, that’s another question.

Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

6. Aaron Judge, Position: CF, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: The club’s second of three first round picks last season, Judge, who stands a massive 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, set career highs in nearly every offensive category during his junior season at Fresno State. He finished his final collegiate season with a .369/.461/.655 line with 15 doubles, four triples, 12 homeruns, and 12 stolen bases.  He did not debut after signing with the Yankees.

Analysis: Pre-draft evaluation: “Judge will always have to contend with an abnormally large strike zone and the subsequent questions surrounding it. But he’s incredibly athletic, has a history of solid plate discipline, and could be another 20/20 candidate down the line. A reasonable comp might be Milwaukee’s Corey Hart, another gangly athletic outfielder with a similar skill set.”

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

7. Mason Williams, Position: CF, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

461

95

.261

.327

.350

8.5%

13.2%

.089

21

3

3

15/24

AA

76

8

.153

.164

.264

1.3%

23.7%

.111

3

1

1

0/0

Profile: Another Yankees’ prospect whose stock took a downturn in 2013. Williams, a fourth round pick in 2010, batted a below sea level-esque .261/.327/.337 in high Class A. And factoring in his cup o’ coffee with Tampa to close out 2012, Williams now owns a .264/.323/.362 line, hardly the type of production that warrants top prospect status. He looked utterly lost during his 17-game stint in Class AA too.

Analysis: The tools are present – solid average speed, power, and plate discipline – but he struggled for a little more than a year now. He did turn it on during his final two full months in high Class A (.319/.360/.434), which is a glimpse of the player he could become. He does, however, lack a true standout tool.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

8. Jose De Paula, Position: RHP, Age: 23

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

64.1

2.94

1.83

13.43

3.22

37.5%

9.0%

0.42

34.3%

A+

43.1

5.82

4.49

9.76

5.82

22.9%

13.7%

1.04

25.4%

Profile: One of the few prospects in the system that showed some developmental progress last season, De Paula, who spent the previous year blowing the Dominican Summer League competition away, transitioned to full season rather well, averaging 11.6 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 across the Sally and Florida State leagues.

Analysis: It took something like 16 months for MLB to approve his deal with the Yankees, which led to the right-hander not making his professional debut until two year ago. De Paula proved that his work in the DSL as a 21-year-old was more than just an older player playing against inferior competition. He’s a bit fly ball-prone, the control is average-ish, but the swing-and-miss ability is promising. Mid-rotation-type guy, maybe peaking as a fringy #2. 

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

9. Jose Campos, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

FIP

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

87.0

3.41

2.83

7.97

1.66

21.6%

4.5%

0.52

N/A

Profile: Acquired in the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda deal, Campos has been bitten by the injury bug a bit. His showing in 2013 was the first time he’s cracked 85 innings in his five-year career. Oh, yeah, he was allowed to top four innings just twice last season.

Analysis: An elbow injury knocked him out for the majority of the 2012, so anything positive he showed last season is a bonus. At this point, one wonders if he’s headed to a bullpen role at somewhere down the line. If his K-rate rebounds to his pre-elbow injury levels (about one per inning), Campos could be a good #2/#3, but that seems like a bit of a longshot now.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

 

10. Gosuke Katoh, Position: 2B, Age: 19

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

RK

215

171

.310

.402

.522

12.6%

20.5%

.212

11

5

6

4/6

Profile: The club grabbed the big lefty-swinging second baseman in the second round last season, and his work in the Gulf, .310/.402/.522, was among the better showings for incoming high schoolers. He topped the league average offense by 71%.

Analysis: Numbers in the Gulf can be incredibly misleading, but Katoh was head and shoulders above the competition. Power and patience with a good hit tool – at least in his short sample size.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Scott

    February 21, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    Why isn’t Bird higher on other’s lists? I don’t see him in the top 100 anywhere.

    • JMWerner

      February 21, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      I think people tend to wait a bit longer to buy in when it comes to players in the lowest levels. But Bird, is my opinion, is the real deal. The production and his age are just too impressive to ignore.

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