Top 38 Prospects: New York Yankees

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the New York Yankees. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here.

Yankees Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Estevan Florial 21.2 A+ CF 2020 50
2 Jonathan Loaisiga 24.2 MLB RHP 2018 45+
3 Deivi Garcia 19.7 AA RHP 2021 45+
4 Antonio Cabello 18.3 R CF 2023 45+
5 Roansy Contreras 19.2 A RHP 2022 45
6 Albert Abreu 23.3 AA RHP 2019 45
7 Everson Pereira 17.8 R CF 2023 45
8 Anthony Seigler 19.6 R C 2022 45
9 Luis Gil 20.7 A- RHP 2021 45
10 Clarke Schmidt 22.9 A- RHP 2020 45
11 Luis Medina 19.7 R RHP 2022 45
12 Kevin Alcantara 16.6 None CF 2024 40+
13 Trevor Stephan 23.2 AA RHP 2019 40+
14 Osiel Rodriguez 17.2 None RHP 2022 40+
15 Nick Nelson 23.2 AA RHP 2020 40
16 Raimfer Salinas 18.1 R CF 2023 40
17 Anthony Garcia 18.4 R RF 2023 40
18 Alexander Vargas 17.3 None SS 2024 40
19 Josh Breaux 21.3 A- C 2021 40
20 Ryder Green 18.7 R RF 2023 40
21 Josh Stowers 21.9 A- CF 2021 40
22 Oswaldo Cabrera 19.9 A 2B 2021 40
23 Antonio Gomez 17.2 None C 2024 40
24 Ezequiel Duran 19.7 R 2B 2022 40
25 Matt Sauer 20.0 A- RHP 2021 40
26 Thairo Estrada 22.9 AAA SS 2019 40
27 Garrett Whitlock 22.6 AA RHP 2020 40
28 Pablo Olivares 21.0 A+ CF 2021 40
29 Michael King 23.7 AAA RHP 2019 40
30 Yoendrys Gomez 19.3 R RHP 2022 40
31 Juan Then 19.0 R RHP 2022 40
32 Frank German 21.4 A- RHP 2021 40
33 Freicer Perez 22.9 A+ RHP 2021 40
34 Oswald Peraza 18.6 R SS 2022 35+
35 Roberto Chirinos 18.4 R SS 2022 35+
36 Ronny Rojas 17.4 R 2B 2022 35+
37 Angel Rojas 18.2 R SS 2023 35+
38 Dermis Garcia 21.1 A 1B 2021 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Haiti (NYY)
Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 30/55 60/60 45/50 80/80

Even those casually exposed to public facing prospect analysis become familiar with a few key concepts and player archetypes, and an early lesson often addresses the volatility of players like Florial, who have several elite tools that will lead to star-level performance if they hit enough, but who also carry significant risk that they will strike out too much to matter at all. Of course, the reason each individual player has strikeout issues can vary. Some hitters have feckless, over-aggressive approaches, while others can’t recognize breaking balls or have a problem with lever length and get tied up inside. Florial’s issues — his strikeout rate has fallen between 27% and 32% each of the last three years — appear to stem from his bat path and limited bat control. Stiff wrists cause his bat head to drag into the zone, which can cause him to be tardy on fastballs at the letters and, more frequently, flail at soft stuff dipping down and away from him. Yoan Moncada has similar issues that have yet to be remedied.

Florial does enough other stuff that, even if the strike outs remain an issue, he could still be a valuable big leaguer. He crushes anything down and in, has sufficient plate coverage to hit fastballs middle away, and has enough power to do damage to the opposite field. He also has good ball/strike recognition so, again like Moncada, there should be power, walks, and up-the-middle defense. We think Florial is likely to be an exciting but flawed everyday player, though it’s not audacious to think his relative youth (he was a 20-year-old at Hi-A in 2018) and inexperience (he also missed a year of reps due to a suspension for bad paperwork) leave more room for growth than we anticipate.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Nicaragua (NYY)
Age 24.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/65 50/55 50/55 93-97 / 98

If evaluating purely on stuff, Loaisiga belongs in the overall Top 100 pretty easily. He holds 94-97 for six innings, his upper-80s slider with vertical break is reminiscent of early-career Brad Lidge, and he has somehow found changeup feel and command despite few career in-game reps. But while Loaisiga has mid-rotation, big league stuff, his career has been beset by constant, often severe, injury. Since entering pro ball in 2013, Loaisiga has only thrown about 200 career innings due to repeated injury and rehab, and his 68 innings pitched for the DSL Giants during his first pro campaign remain his single-season high. He missed all of 2014 with injury, then was released, and out of pro baseball for all of 2015. The Yankees unearthed him during the 2016 23U World Championships in Venezuela and after a frantic late-night call from scout Ricardo Finol, signed Loaisiga immediately. Just two innings into his first 2016 start, Loaisiga’s velocity dropped into the mid-80s and he left the mound pointing at his elbow. He rehabbed quickly enough that he was able to make 11 short starts with Staten Island the following year.

Because Loaisiga signed in 2012, he would have been Rule 5 eligible in the winter of 2017. The Yankees added him to the 40-man even though he had never completed a healthy start in full-season ball. In 2018, Loaisiga ascended quickly and showed flashes of brilliance against big league hitters, but he also made two more trips to the disabled list, including a late-season stint due to shoulder inflammation. Shoulder issues have sidelined Loaisiga pretty frequently during his career, and while he may have some years where he peaks in the 3-4 WAR range, we also think he’ll have some years where he barely pitches, or that he may just move to the bullpen.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 163 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 60/65 40/50 45/50 91-95 / 96

At this time last year, Garcia was a 40 FV and an interesting prospect to monitor. He was a slightly-built, shorter righty with a knockout fastball/curveball combination, who was moved very quickly as Garcia saw 2017 action in the DSL, GCL, and Appy league levels at age 18. We were eager to see if he could continue to perform like that in full-season ball as a 19-year-old and boy, did he. Garcia had an xFIP under 3.00 at each of his three stops last year: eight Low-A starts, five in Hi-A (one of which is the linked video), and one in Double-A. Garcia’s changeup and command both ended up playing better than we expected, with his changeup regularly flashing average to above — confirming he has starter’s stuff — and his command sufficient to deal with A-ball hitters. The concerns about his durability tied to his stature are still there. He’s 5-foot-10 and anywhere from 163 to 175 pounds. He threw 74.0 innings last year and even scouts who love Garcia concede he may not be a 170 to 200-inning type of arm. Instead, he may be in the Rich Hill or Lance McCullers Jr. mold, where you’ll get 125 – 135 innings and hopefully have him healthy enough to fill whatever role fits the staff best in the playoffs. Hill and McCullers are 55 or 60 FV types, so that’s likely Garcia’s upside if things break right.

Garcia is a very good athlete, which is what allows him to repeat his delivery, throw so many strikes, and have at least average command despite a delivery that has crossfire, recoil, and effort at release. We’re hesitant to knock Garcia’s delivery simply because it’s unusual, or due to his size, because his performance at this age has also been remarkable. He has a rising fastball with which he operates up in the zone, and he knows exactly how to use his high spin curveball, which has been over 3000 rpm at times. A well-located fastball up, a high-spin curveball down, and a changeup down to keep hitters honest is a good combo, and Garcia knows how to use them in sequence to set up hitters. There’s some question about his approach being too simplistic to work at the big league level, but again, we would bet on Garcia figuring out how to make it work. He’ll open 2019 in Double-A and could be good enough to crack the Bombers bullpen late in the season.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.3 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 55/55 30/50 65/60 45/50 55/55

Cabello was in the Others of Note section on this list last year, third amongst the 2017 July 2nd signees, none of whom had played a pro game at the time. But Cabello had the strongest 2018 of the group, and he arguably already had the loudest tools. He was one of the best performing amateur hitters from Venezuela in his signing class (just ahead of Everson Pereira, who’s further down this list), and he was also a plus runner who could’ve been converted to catcher given his quickness, arm strength, and squatty, powerful frame. But the Yankees didn’t want to slow down his bat by asking him to learn to catch. Some scouts who had a one or two game look at this summer didn’t love Cabello’s non-projectable frame, and they rounded down if he didn’t hit in those short looks. But those who saw him for more than a few games saw the advanced bat amateur scouts saw.

One enthusiastic scout described Cabello’s running as plus, though he’s not the typically graceful, long striding plus runner. That scout he said had a “grinding gait, full effort, kicking up grass as he runs like the rooster tail of a speed boat.” In addition to potential plus hit and run tools, there’s above-average arm strength and raw power, and now the start of a strong statistical performance record. And if things go askew at the plate, the notion that Cabello could catch is interesting. One Yankee source described him as an 80 makeup guy, often a prerequisite to consider sending a player behind the plate. He’s a well-rounded offensive player who looks like an up-the-middle defensive fit of some kind. He may be a top 100 prospect by mid season.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/50 35/45 92-96 / 97

Many of the teenage prospects on this list received big bonuses or were flagged after a season in the DSL as a prospect to watch; it’s unsurprising when those types move up this list. Contreras wasn’t one of those. He didn’t appear on last year’s list, which had 65 players in total — he wasn’t even in the Others of Note section. Contreras sat 90-92 mph with a curveball that flashed above average, but was still in the early stages of knowing how to use those weapons while pitching in the DSL and GCL in 2017. We first heard his name when he was wowing pro scouts who saw him in Staten Island last summer. The first scout we spoke with said Contreras had a Luis Severino starter kit, flashing two plus pitches and a starter’s delivery, though the changeup and command were understandably a bit behind. Those things progressed throughout the summer and he got a taste of Low-A at the end of the year. Yankees officials love Contreras’ makeup and competitive fire, and think he’s got a chance to be the 200-inning starter who comes out of this system, as the other pitchers on the list have one or more of the typical concerns (durability, command, arm surgery, less experience, or a standout pitch that fits best in relief). Contreras could grab a spot in next year’s Top 100 with a full healthy season of performance like his breakout 2018 campaign.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/60 55/60 55/60 40/45 95-99 / 101

A February appendectomy began Abreu’s roller coaster of a 2018, a fitting campaign for one of the more frustrating pitching prospects in baseball. Abreu, who was acquired from Houston as part of the Brian McCann deal, will regularly touch 101 with his fastball and has plus secondary stuff across the board. Career-long issues with strike-throwing, coupled with two consecutive years of multiple DL stints, continue to funnel Abreu toward a bullpen role despite the depth of his repertoire. The appendicitis set back Abreu’s spring preparation and he was DL’d for most of April while he caught up. He felt elbow discomfort at the end of June (he had elbow and shoulder issues in 2017, too), missed a month, made some nightmarish rehab starts in the GCL, then bounced back and had his usual stuff late in the year. While we believe it’s increasingly likely that Abreu eventually winds up in relief, he has the stuff to work in a multi-inning, Josh Hader-like role in that scenario, and could become one of the top 20 or 30 relievers in the game. He may see his first big league action in 2019 but we don’t expect he’ll be up for good until 2020.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 17.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/45 55/55 45/55 55/55

Pereira was probably the least exciting of the top three prospects from the Yankees 2017 July 2nd haul, behind Raimfer Salinas and Antonio Cabello. Pereira falls into the bucket of heady, up-the-middle Venezuelan players with solid tools to go along with excellent in-game amateur performance. He is an above-average runner with an above-average arm and plus center field instincts, which makes him an above-average defender there. He’ll likely grow into average raw power, but below-average game power due to a more gap-to-gap approach. Pereira has advanced feel to hit and held his own despite a higher strike out rate than expected in Pulaski as a 17-year-old, underlining the Yankees’ confidence in his ability to make adjustments. The reasonable upside is a 2-3 WAR, solid regular in center field, which may not excite Yankees fans but would be an amazing return on his $1.5 million bonus.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Cartersville HS (GA) (NYY)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / S FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/50 50/45 50/55 65/65

Entering summer showcase season, Seigler was known as something of an oddity: a switch-hitting, switch-throwing catcher who was also an ambidextrous reliever when needed. As the summer wore on, Seigler grew on scouts, was chosen as the backup catcher for Team USA, and quickly took the starting job from eventual Marlins second rounder Will Banfield. Seigler was able to do this (and eventually become a first round pick) due to his innate present feel for contact at the plate and receiving behind it. In addition to solid contact skills, Seigler also started to lift the ball in games closer to the draft and get to all of his fringy raw power. This polish helped to make teams less worried about his advanced age relative to his prep peers, and some scouts thought he was among the top 5-10 players in the entire draft.

Seigler had a solid pro debut that was in line with the expectations of any of the pro scouts we talked to who watched the Yankees’ GCL club. He’s an average runner and an above-average athlete for the position, projecting as an above-average defender with a 65-grade arm. Some clubs don’t like the recent track record of prep catchers and considered taking Seigler and then moving him to third base, but his feel for catching is too advanced to throw away. There are some similarities to another prep catcher from the prior draft: M.J. Melendez of the Royals. Melendez is a little twitchier while Seigler is a little more advanced in terms of skills. Seigler’s mother is Navajo and he would be the first Native American big leaguer to debut since Joba Chamberlain and the second ever from the Navajo Nation, joining Jacoby Ellsbury.

9. Luis Gil, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (MIN)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/60 45/50 40/50 40/50 93-97 / 100

The effortless grace with which Gil generates upper-90s velocity is absurd. Even more absurd is that the Yankees were able to pilfer a perfectly-built teenager with this kind of arm strength from Minnesota in exchange for a recently DFA’d Jake Cave. Perhaps it’s because, despite the comical ease of his delivery, Gil is extremely wild. Scouts often project heavily on the command of athletic pitchers, as well as pitchers with with good deliveries; those traits often go hand in hand. But the aesthetic pleasure one derives from Gil’s velvety mechanics is subverted by release inconsistency, a dichotomy also displayed by frustrating Dodgers prospect Yadier Alvarez throughout his young career. It also might simply be unreasonable to expect an inexperienced 20-year-old with this kind of velocity to have any idea where it’s going. Gil missed all of 2016 due to a shoulder surgery and has thrown just over 100 career innings. His secondary stuff is not as visually explosive as his fastball, but there’s plus-plus pure spin here, and Gil is in an org adept at altering deliveries to help enable their guys’ secondary stuff. Many players ranked below Gil in this system have a much better chance of reaching the majors than he does, but very few have the ceiling he has if his issues are resolved.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from South Carolina (NYY)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/55 50/55 45/55 40/50 91-94 / 96

In 2017, Schmidt turned a corner in his draft spring for South Carolina and looked likely to land in the middle of the first round, flashing four above average pitches and starter command for a No. 3 to 4 starter profile. His elbow blew out before the draft, and he had Tommy John surgery a month before the Yankees eventually took him in the middle of the first round, though for nearly $1.5 million below slot. Schmidt came back in 2018 from his surgery and essentially picked right up where he left off, hitting 96 mph and showing the same stuff as before, though it understandably was not quite as consistent. Schmidt was almost sent to the Arizona Fall league to rack up innings but instead will make his full season debut in 2019, likely starting in Hi-A and probably getting some time at Double-A, with a chance for a big league debut in 2020 if all goes to plan.

11. Luis Medina, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 55/65 45/55 30/40 95-97 / 101

Medina was up to 96 mph as an 15-year-old amateur, eventually going unsigned on July 2nd due in part to 20 command. Then he hit 100 mph as an amateur with improved feel, which is when the Yankee scooped him up for $300,000. He was the highest variance player on last year’s version of this list and is once again. The pure stuff hasn’t change and it’s top of the line: a 95-97 mph heater that has hit 101 mph, a power curveball that’s anywhere from 60 to 70 depending on the day, and a changeup that flashes 55 or 60 at its best. His command is now a 30 that we project to be a 40. But he’s still a teenager, so there’s a chance that things click for him and he finds 45 command and 50 control, which would be the minimum to stick as a starter with this kind of stuff. Medina’s issues aren’t physical — his delivery is fine and his arm stroke is clean. Instead, the problem appears to be mostly mental. He’ll throw well in the bullpen only to have things will snowball for him in game situations. One source described his issues as stemming from a need for greater mental maturity and to not be so hard on himself, which are exactly the kinds of traits that come with general social maturity. That said, this sort of stuff rarely comes with starter command, so Medina is probably either a high-wire act reliever with bonkers stuff or a starter with the stuff ratcheted down a bit, similar to what Touki Toussaint has done the last couple seasons.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 16.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 50/60 20/55 60/55 45/55 55/55

We ranked Alcantara fourth among the 2018 international amateurs because he has some of the group’s more advanced in-game feel to hit, he has a really good chance of not only staying in center field but might also be great there, and he has the best physical projection in the entire class. The more recently a source has seen Alcantara, the nuttier the reports get. Now that he has access to pro-quality athletic facilities, he’s already put on some good weight and has been hitting for more power during batting practice in the Dominican Republic. At one point he hit several BP homers, not just over the outfield fence, but over the fence that encloses the complex itself.

Built like Lewis Brinson and Cody Bellinger were at the same age, Alcantara has better feel for contact than either of them did as teens. Hitters this size often struggle with strikeouts due to lever length, and while Alcantara hasn’t faced much pro quality velocity to stress test this aspect of his offense, there are no early indications that strikeouts are going to be an issue for him. It may take physical maturation and little else to enable a breakout, and the comps industry personnel are placing on Alcantara (Devon White, Dexter Fowler, and Alex Rios to name a few) are very strong. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle his 2019 assignment, as it sounds like his skillset is ready for the GCL but it may behoove the team to leave him in the less-scouted DSL as a way of hiding him from clubs who don’t scout pro ball there.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Arkansas (NYY)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/45 40/50 91-95 / 96

Stephan’s cross-bodied delivery compares closely to that of Brewers righty Freddy Peralta, as both get way down the mound (Stephan gets nearly 7 feet of extension on his fastballs) and have lower arm slots that make right-handed hitters very uncomfortable. He makes heavy use of a hard slider that at times looks like a cutter. It has enough movement to miss bats if Stephan leaves it in the zone and he’s been able to back foot it to lefties. Changeup development is paramount, and a fair number of scouts think Stephan ends up in the bullpen both because his change is quite a bit behind the typical 23-year-old’s and because he throws exclusively from the stretch. While that’s a possibility, the way Stephan’s delivery enables his stuff to play up could make him viable in a multi-inning role. He reached Double-A in 2018 and has a chance to debut in 2019.

14. Osiel Rodriguez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (NYY)
Age 17.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/55 50/60 45/55 35/50 91-95 / 97

For a 16-year-old, high bonus pitcher, Rodriguez was a rarity in a number of ways. Since he defected from Cuba, he had a pretty long track record of high-level international competition. He pitched as a 14-year-old for the 15-and-under Cuban team, and posted a 69 IP, 32 H, 2 XBH, 20 BB, 102 K line. Then, at 15 years old, he pitched for the 18-and-under team and posted a 21 IP, 16 H, 4 BB, 25 K line. He also struck out five of the six batters he faced in the MLB showcase in February, which is the linked video. On top of that, Rodriguez flashes four above average to plus pitches, has hit 97 mph, and has starter-caliber feel to pitch. He’s also 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, and has some room to add muscle. If you’re looking for things to nitpick, there’s some effort to his delivery that should be ironed out, and he does vary his arm slot, though it’s by choice. The Yankees will try to limit him to two breaking balls and one slot, but recognize that Rodriguez could be one of those rare pitchers like El Duque who can be effective throwing the kitchen sink from a half dozen different arm slots. Going back to what’s rare about Rodriguez, he seems to have it all, except for maybe an ideal present delivery and, obviously, stateside pro performance. This is about as high as we can rank a teenage pitching prospect who has only been seen a handful of times and hasn’t really faced many hitters who can handle his stuff, but there’s lots of room to grow on this 40+ FV if this trajectory continues.

40 FV Prospects

15. Nick Nelson, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Gulf Coast JC (FL) (NYY)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
60/65 50/55 45/55 45/50 40/45 94-97 / 98

Nelson was probably a little underrated as a fourth round pick in 2016 out of a Florida panhandle junior college. He didn’t start focusing exclusively on pitching until JUCO, and was up to 95 mph with an above average curveball, so he was seen more as an upside relief type, but it’s gone better than most clubs expected in pro ball. Nelson sits 94-97 and hits 98 mph even as a starter, and mixes in the same above-average curveball, but has also added a 55-flashing splitter, and, starting in instructs, added a 88-91 mph cutter that flashed average. The overall command is still a bit below average, mostly due to below average command of his off-speed stuff. Nelson can sometimes get cute and pitch backwards rather than focusing on developing fastball command and throwing his best pitch more often. There’s still a shot that he can turn into a traditional starting pitcher, but it looks more likely that he’ll be some kind of multi-inning middle relief or setup guy. After a solid 2018 that ended with a taste of Double-A, Nelson should begin 2019 there and may be in line for a big league look at the end of the year if the team needs some bullpen help in the Bronx.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/55 20/50 60/55 45/55 60/60

For some international scouts, Salinas was ahead of Cabello and Pereira, and was the top prospect in their 2017 signing class; he got the biggest bonus of the group at $1.85 million. Nothing has fundamentally changed since then, as Salinas’ 2018 season was ruined by a broken ring finger and knee bursitis that limited him to 11 games. You can see why scouts were so excited when you run down the tools: a plus runner with a plus arm and a chance for plus defense in center field, along with above average raw power potential and a shot at a 50 or better hit tool. Salinas likely heads back to extended spring training and the complex leagues to get bulk at-bats to catch up on reps, but there’s upside to shoot up this list with a healthy 2019.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 18.4 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 70/80 30/60 50/40 40/45 55/55

Garcia signed for $500,000, which puts him behind the top tier of signees in the 2017 class for the Yankees. But his tools are arguably just as exciting, though riskier. He’s 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6 depending on whom you ask and is only listed at 205 pounds, but is north of that and will get bigger. If he doesn’t have 80 raw power now, he will in the next few years, and he’s actually an average runner underway, though his first step isn’t great and he’ll lose a step or two with maturity. Garcia has the arm to profile in right field, but down the road, he’ll likely be an average glove there at best. There’s obvious leverage to his swing and he hit 10 homers in 44 games in the GCL as a 17-year-old, so it’s not like he’s sushi raw at tapping into his best tool. Dermis Garcia had similar tools at this stage, so that’s one way this can go. Another would be former Tigers prospect Steven Moya, who played last year in Japan. There are also two massive corner outfielders with 80 raw power currently in the big leagues for the Yankees, so you know what Garcia looks like if everything goes perfectly, but a 42% strikeout rate in Rookie ball isn’t the best starting place from which to get there.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Cuba (NYY)
Age 17.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 35/45 20/40 60/55 45/55 50/55

All the teams we’ve spoken with about Vargas over the last year or so had multi-million dollar evaluations of him based on how he looked in workouts. He ran a 6.4 60-yard dash, had infield actions and a plus arm, and had a surprising ability to hit despite his stature, at the time weighing just 143 pounds. He was twitchy, projectable, looked fantastic at shortstop, and was old enough to sign immediately. We believe Vargas was originally slated to wait until 2019 to sign a pro contract (sources have indicated to us that it was to be with Cincinnati) but the Yankees had enough pool space to convince him to change his mind and sign a year earlier for about the same money. He’s a potential everyday shortstop, though we may not see him at a U.S. affiliate until 2020 due to his size.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from McLennan JC (TX) (NYY)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 60/65 30/50 30/30 40/45 65/65

Nick Swisher’s eyes lit up when he was told that the last name of the player he was set to announce as the Yankees’ second round pick is pronounced “bro,” a word Swish uses as linguistic filler the way most of us use ‘um’ or ‘like’ more than we want to. While some teams preferred him on the mound (Breaux would touch 98 and his sawed off arm action and the cadence of his delivery are reminiscent of Jason Motte, himself a converted catcher) or were inclined to develop Breaux as a two-way prospect, the Yankees selected him to catch. Two-way duty in college means Breaux is currently raw as a receiver and a hitter, but he has a rare opportunity to become an impact bat behind the plate if he can start recognizing pro breaking stuff. If not, the mound is a terrific fallback option.

20. Ryder Green, RF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Karns HS (TN) (NYY)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 65/70 35/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

It was widely believed that the Yankees would use their 2018 second or third round pick on an over slot high schooler with a strong college commitment, perhaps someone a bit under the radar, like Adam Hackenberg or Max Marusak. It turned out to be Green, who was signed away from a Vanderbilt commitment for just shy of $1 million. Green ended up transferring to new high schools after his family had issues with the coaching staff in his original district — issues that ultimately led to a dropped lawsuit and then a countersuit for defamation. But he was an early Vanderbilt commit, scouts knew who he was, and it didn’t affect the way he was scouted. He really broke out at the 2017 Area Code games, when he took one of the most impressive BPs there and had among the best outfield arms. He hit several balls hard during the week but was clearly raw from a bat-to-ball standpoint, and many scouts thought he’d end up going to college because apprehension over his hit tool would prevent teams from paying him enough to go pro. Green didn’t face a lot of good pitching while he was in high school and his breaking ball recognition is immature. He may be a multi-year rookie ball guy, and he’s a high-risk, high-variance prospect whose body and skillset have been compared to Steven Souza’s.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Louisville (SEA)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/50 25/45 55/55 45/50 45/45

Stowers performed and steadily improved throughout his sophomore and junior years at Louisville. Most scouts who saw him early in his draft spring thought he was a 55 runner who fit best in left field but didn’t think he’d have the power to profile there. Thus, they considered Stowers to be a bit of a tweener or the wrong side of a left field platoon, which is roughly where we had him pre-draft. Scouts who stayed on him (and knew they were the high scouts, so generally kept it to themselves) saw a 60 runner who could be average in center field, where a 50 or 55 bat with 45 power would be above average offense for the position. Enough people think that the second scenario is likely that we’ve notched him up to a strong 40 FV, and if Stowers performs like the believers think he can for all of 2019, he may be a 45 FV at the end of the year. He started hitting more down the stretch when he used a flatter planed swing, so it appears lifting the ball isn’t the swing that best suits him. That may limit his offensive upside a bit, but may also help him reach the big leagues faster.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 145 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/55 40/45 20/40 50/50 45/50 50/50

Cabrera spent much of 2017 in Charleston despite his lack of physicality because he was procedurally advanced for his age, especially on defense. He is athletic, fundamentally sound, and has perhaps the quickest defensive hands in the entire org. At the very least, Cabrera projects as an outstanding multi-positional defender, but he also might just be plus at shortstop at maturity and need to play there every day. He also has advanced bat-to-ball skills and even though he has been physically overmatched for about 200 Low-A games over two seasons, he has somehow managed to maintain a strikeout rate in the low teens. Cabrera has a little, 5-foot-10 frame and it’s not clear whether he’ll grow into the kind of physicality that would make him a viable offensive player. If he does, the feel for contact is already in place and he could break out. Though likely a switch-hitting utility man, Cabrera has a sneaky chance to be an everyday shortstop.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 17.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 20/45 30/20 40/50 80/80

Gomez stood out as a 15-year-old because of his one, truely freakish ability: he has a stone-cold 80 arm (clocked in the mid-80’s with a radar gun) and a quick release that allow him to regularly post pop times below 1.80 in games, which is generally a 70-grade time. Gomez is a mature-bodied prospect and a 30 runner presently, someone who appears “unathletic” on the surface. We often talk about football and baseball athleticism as being two different things, and Gomez is not football athletic, but definitely is baseball athletic. Instead of timed speed or visible strength, he displays quick-twich movement, first step quickness, and overall explosion through strength in the forearms, wrists, and hands. Gomez is an ideal case study in the differences, as he’s got soft hands and is mobile behind the plate, and has solid average raw power with similarly graded bat control. The Yankees may have a 5 defensive catcher with a 5 bat, 5 raw power, and an 8 arm here. That would be quite a find for $600,000, especially given the current wasteland that is big league catching.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/55 20/50 50/45 40/50 45/45

Duran was a sleeper pick to click on this list last year but things did not go well. We liked Duran’s tools and 2017 DSL performance, as well as his loud minor league spring training, complete with gaudy in-game exit velocities as high as 112 mph. His 2018 started well with that March showing, but his stateside regular season debut was a disaster, with 4% walks, 28% strikeouts, and a 48 wRC+ in 53 games at Rookie-Advanced Pulaski. The tool grades are essentially the same except for the defense at second base, as the quickly thickening Duran is not a strong athletic fit for the infield. Some of the issues Duran had in 2018 were similar to the issues a teenage Drew Waters had at the same level for the Braves in 2017, before a breakout to top 100 prospect status in 2018. After a full year of success at the plate, Duran tried to do too much, chasing pitches more than he had in the past, getting into bad counts, then facing the best pitching he’s seen and not being able to get out of the slump. His mechanics didn’t break down and he’s still a teenager with plenty of time to adjust, but now poor plate discipline is something to watch going forward, to see if those bad habits can change or end up limiting his offensive upside.

25. Matt Sauer, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Righetti HS (CA) (NYY)
Age 20.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/55 40/50 35/45 92-95 / 96

Sauer’s velocity was way down last year, often resting 91-93 and sometimes ranging to 89-93, after he had gone long stretches of high school starts where he’d sit 93-95. His violent head whack and arm action caused considerable consternation among amateur scouts who worried about his long term arm health, but the org attributes Sauer’s 2018 velo decline to the rigors of pro ball, something it believes Sauer will be better prepared to deal with in 2019. The most electric version of Sauer has a high-leverage fastball/curveball combination, a two-pitch duo that could close games. If Sauer’s changeup and command improve, he has mid-rotation upside. He made strike-throwing strides in 2018, but the changeup is still below-average. He should be ticketed for full-season ball and see a substantial innings increase, but the key variable to watch when camp breaks is his velocity.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 22.9 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 45/45 30/40 60/55 45/50 55/55

Estrada was a 45 FV on last year’s ranking, evaluated as an MLB-ready utility infielder or low-end regular at shortstop. During the offseason he was shot in the hip during a robbery in Venezuela and required surgery. The initial surgery was botched and Estrada needed a second operation during the summer, which ended his regular season. When he returned to action in the Arizona Fall League, he had clearly lost a step overall, but it was most obvious when watching Estrada play defense. There’s a chance this was just rust and that Estrada will go back to doing the things that placed him in the Yankees’ offseason infield conversation before he was shot; average range and plus actions at short, a plus arm, some speed, and feel for contact. He’ll bounce back into the 45 FV tier if those things return in the spring, but he looked like a fringe bench piece last fall.

Drafted: 18th Round, 2017 from UAB (NYY)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 45/50 50/55 90-93 / 95

When you watch Whitlock (video link above) the first things you should notice are his large stature and slightly awkward arm action and release. He has better feel than you’d guess for repeating his delivery, throwing his sinker down in the zone, and manipulating his slider, so you can see why he had good numbers across three levels in 2018 as a starter. There aren’t a ton of starters who look like this or pitch like this in the big leagues. Pitchers whose best skill is locating a good slider (like Cardinals recent first rounder Griffin Roberts, who drew Luke Gregerson comps from scouts) are often put in relief, though secondary-pitch heavy usage is now more common with guys in a rotation. The ceiling here seems like a No. 4 starter if you squint; a realistic outcome is more like a 7th inning reliever who can go multiple innings and get by with fringy velocity.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/45 20/40 60/60 50/55 55/55

He’s not especially toolsy or projectable, but Olivares is so polished in all facets (especially his reads in center field) that it was he who the Yankees called up when early-season injury dominos necessitated that the they push a low-level outfielder to Hi-A. When Olivares was sent back to developmentally appropriate Low-A Charleston, he excelled. Tough to beat with only velocity because of how short his swing is, Olivares hit .322 for Charleston and would have won the Sally League batting title had he taken enough at-bats to qualify, but his hand was struck by a pitch in early July, ending his season. The general consensus is that Olivares may ultimately have limited value due to a lack of power, and end up either as a fourth outfielder or a regular on par with what Albert Almora or Manuel Margot have been to this point, and we agree that range of outcomes is most likely. But Olivares entered 2018 with a more open, upright stance that seemed to benefit his timing and enabled him to pull the ball more, so perhaps last year’s power output isn’t a complete mirage and there are some right-tail paths to everyday production.

29. Michael King, RHP
Drafted: 12th Round, 2016 from Boston College (MIA)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/45 45/50 50/55 45/50 90-94 / 95

Considering how much of the current Marlins regime came over from New York, one would think the two orgs would not only target similar types of talent but also have similar developmental vision for that talent. This does not appear to have been the case with King, who was a prospect afterthought when he was part of a seemingly innocuous trade between the Marlins and Yankees just after the 2017 season. King had been a Marlins 12th round pick out of Boston College a year and a half prior to the deal and, like clockwork, had only struck out about six batters per nine innings every year in college, as well as in his first two pro seasons. The Marlins altered King’s position on the rubber and made other mechanical tweaks to alter the movement profile of his pitches. After the Yankees acquired him, they let him return to what he was doing in college and he vastly exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in 2018. He led the Yankees system in strikeouts and innings while traversing three levels, reaching Triple-A.

The lynchpin of King’s success is his command of a dancing two-seam fastball that runs back onto his glove-side corner of the plate. Left-handed hitters think it’s coming at their hip, righties give up on it because they think it’s off the plate, and King gets a lot of looking strikeouts with it. There are questions about the quality of his secondary stuff. He has a quality changeup, but his breaking ball is mediocre. He seems to have added a cutter late in the year, and that pitch’s movement may better complement that of his fastball. Most teams have King evaluated as a stable backend starter; some think he should be in the 45 FV tier of this list. A purported nerd and exhaustive pre-start preparer, King is a high-probability big leaguer who we believe has limited ceiling, though if he develops 7 or 8 command, all bets are off.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 40/50 50/55 35/45 91-94 / 96

When ‘pitchability’ is one of the first words a scout uses to describe a teenager, we don’t generally expect that teenager to also throw in the mid-90s. But such is the case with Gomez, who has a remarkable early-career ability to manipulate the shape of a fastball that touches 96. He can cut it, sink it, use variations in sequence together, and has feel for dumping in first-pitch curveballs for strikes. Gomez is still a lanky teenager who has problems repeating his delivery, so while he has obvious on-mound creativity, he doesn’t always execute, and his ability to locate needs to develop. Aside from the fastball, Gomez’s stuff is, or projects to be, close to average, and his likely long-term fit is at the back of a rotation. As soon as his command starts to improve, he’ll be capable of carving up the lower levels by mixing in all these pitches, and if it happens in 2019, he could end the year with Low-A Charleston.

31. Juan Then, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (SEA)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 50/55 35/50 92-94 / 95

The Yankees acquired Then from Seattle for 40-man bubble reliever Nick Rumbelowafter Then had just wrapped his first pro season in the DSL. He was, and remains, advanced for his age, but with just middling stuff and physical projection. He’s much more likely to end up toward the back of a rotation than in the middle of one, but the Yankees have had success developing velocity and Then’s fastball is already a little harder now than it was when he was with Seattle, so it’s possible there’ll be more heat here than we anticipate. For now, we have Then projected as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

32. Frank German, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from North Florida (NYY)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 40/50 40/50 40/50 92-95 / 97

German was a solid middle-round college pitching prospect going into the 2018 draft, with most clubs treating him as a 6th-8th round talent who could possibly be a target for the 11th-12th rounds and a $125,000 bonus, as cheap senior signs fill-in the latter stages of the top 10 rounds. Then German (Dominican-born and whose name is pronounced like the European country) had one of the latest pre-draft velo spikes possible, suddenly hitting 95 mph during the Atlantic Sun conference tournament in his final college game just two weeks before the draft. Velo is a dime a dozen these days, but German had the athleticism and arm action of a starter and had put on about 15 pounds in the previous 12 months, so some thought this could be coming. Clubs who had scouts at that start shot him up the board, and the Yankees jumped to the front of the line to take him in the fourth round. The velo spike held in pro ball: German sat 92-95 and hit 97 mph in fall instructional league and put on about 10 additional pounds after signing. The upside is a bit limited, as his slider and changeup still just flash average at best, but the Yankees are changing German’s slurvy college breaking ball into more of a true slider and pushing him to throw his changeup more, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the future pitch grades move north as he continues to mature as a pitcher.

33. Freicer Perez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 45/50 50/55 35/45 93-96 / 97

The gargantuan Perez was still throwing hard during the spring of 2018, but his stuff appeared to be depressed once the regular season began and he was much more wild than he had been the year before. He was shut down with shoulder inflammation after just six starts, then rehabbed in Tampa throughout June before it was determined he’d need surgery to clean up bone spurs in that shoulder, which ended Perez’s season. When healthy, he sits in the mid-90s and has a bevy of average secondary pitches that could be 55s at peak, and he has pleasantly surprising command for his size. Perez has No. 4 or 5 starter upside, maybe a little more than that if you think his size helps the stuff play as plus, assuming it and the strikes comes back.

35+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 176 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Peraza is currently the lowest rated prospect of a quartet of Yankees that a couple of scouts grouped together as similar types: Oswaldo Cabrera, Thairo Estrada, Pablo Olivares, and Peraza. All are smaller, contact-oriented hitters with good feel for the game and up the middle defensive profiles. We’ve seen enough of this kind of prospect beat expectations and turn into steady 2-3 win players for scouts and analysts to know not dismiss them as quickly as they normally would. The hit rate is such that one of them will likely have more of a big league career than any five-game scouting look would suggest, since their abilities are often more subtle. Peraza may have the most defensive value of the group as a no-doubt shortstop, but he’s also the youngest, with the shortest track record and underwhelming performance, and a limited tools-based upside due to mostly average-ish grades. He’s seen some recent strength and power gains, although it may take longer to see those show up in his stat line.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (NYY)
Age 18.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Chirinos signed for $900,000 and made his pro debut last year, mostly playing in the GCL as a 17-year-old. The underlying numbers were just okay and the top line numbers were worse, in part due to bad luck, but the tools are still loud. In 2018, Chirinos played mostly shortstop, with a few games at second base, but behind the scenes, the Yankees have worked him out at every position on the field and think there’s a real chance he could move behind the plate and profile as an everday guy back there. He has an easy plus arm and what some club officials call 80 makeup to go with 50-grade raw power and speed. Most amateur scouts didn’t have questions on Chirinos’ bat, so they expect that to come around to 50 or better in time. There’s a chance, given this makeup and tools profile, that Chirinos could work his way into the new archetype of a multi-positional catcher utilityman (think Austin Barnes, Will Smith, Kyle Farmer, Connor Wong, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Morgan, or Garrett Stubbs) who has become fashionable as progressive clubs look to have more flexibility in lineup decision-making.

36. Ronny Rojas, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 17.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+

So young was Rojas compared to his July 2 peer group that he had to wait until he had turned 16 a few months after the signing period began to finalize a $1 million agreement with the Yankees. He spent his entire first pro season as a 16-year-old in the DSL and posted a shockingly high strikeout rate (40%) considering how enthused international scouts were about his bat. It’s fair to consider the extreme whiff rate a red flag if you really want to, but we caution against putting too much stock into DSL stats, and expect volatile performance from a switch-hitter this young. Purely considering physical tools, Rojas is notable. He has plus bat speed from both sides of the plate and surprising power for his age. He also has athletic defensive footwork and actions, but his boxy, semi-mature frame likely projects to second or third base. He’s a switch-hitting infielder with power whose future is dependent on developing feel for contact.

37. Angel Rojas, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Rojas was one of the players the Braves signed in the months before their international scandal; he became a free agent before playing a game for the club. After keeping his voided $300,000 deal with the Braves, Rojas was scooped up by the Yankees months later for $350,000. When he signed with Atlanta, Rojas was under-the-radar and weighed about 130 pounds with some quick-twitch ability, plus speed, and the hands for shortstop, a prospect who the Braves thought would grow with physical maturity. Move about 18 months into the future, and Rojas is a plus-plus runner with a plus-plus arm who is up to about 160 pounds and has achieved in-game exit velos as high as 108 mph. It’s still a flatter-planed, contact-oriented swing, and Rojas often plays out of control as he’s still learning how to harness his newly-improved tools, but the DSL performance was solid and this is too much like a Jose Reyes starter kit to ignore.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 21.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+

Garcia was one of the top talents in his July 2 class and got the biggest bonus ($3.2 million) the Yankees handed out in their pool-busting effort. Garcia was seen then as a mature-framed corner type with massive raw power, but there were questions about his contact and athleticism for defense. Those are still the issues to worry about here. Reports are that Garcia has slimmed and will continue playing third base in 2019, where his plus arm has a chance to play, unlike at first base, which is his most likely destination long-term. There was some chatter of developing Garcia on the mound, either exclusively or as a two-way player, but nothing came of it. In his age-19 and 20 seasons at Low-A, he hit 23 homers in 488 plate appearances, so he can already get to his grade-70 or 80 raw power in games (one source mentioned a 117 mph exit velo), but he also struck out over 30% of the time during that stretch. This is starting to feel like a Quad-A power hitter who only gets a big league cup of coffee or has a short-lived platoon/bench role, but he’s also still just 21, so we’ll give the raw tools and pedigree the benefit of the doubt for one more year.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Tools Goofs
Juan De Leon, RF
Alexander Palma, RF
Isiah Gilliam, LF
Miguel Marte, SS
Stanley Rosario, LF
Isaiah Pasteur, CF

De Leon got $2 million in the 2014 July 2nd class and still has the loud tools — 70 bat speed, 60 raw, 55 speed, 60 arm — that had scouts so excited, but his conditioning and quality of play have fluctuated. Palma, 23, signed for $800,000 in the 2012 July 2nd class and was having a breakout year at Hi-A until he broke both his fibula and tibia. Much of his 2017 season was lost to injury, as well. He’s a 55 runner with above-average hit and raw power, and the power was starting to play in games. Gilliam has 65-grade raw power from both sides of the plate but is limited defensively and instinctually. Marte signed for $200,000 in 2017 and was arguably the best Yankees prospect in the DSL. He’s a legit shortstop with a plus arm, plus speed, instincts, and some contact skill. Rosario is a poor man’s version of Anthony Garcia; he takes a healthy hack but there’s not a whole lot else yet. Pasteur was a 13th rounder in 2018 out of George Washington (he transferred from Indiana) and he’ll turn 23 next season so he’ll need to perform, but he’s an 80 runner and freak athlete with a weird swing and a chance to play the infield.

Potential Reserves/Platoon Types
Hoy Jun Park, SS
Diego Castillo, SS
Ben Ruta, LF
Jason Lopez, C
Saul Torres, C

Park, recently passed over in the Rule 5 Draft, originally signed out of Korea for $1,000,000. He’s a bit passive at the plate and doesn’t have much game power, but he’s a plus runner with some contact skills and can play at least an average shortstop. He turns 23 in April. Castillo is a gritty, plus makeup shortstop with great instincts and middling raw tools. Ruta is a grinder reserve outfield type who one scout compared to Sam Fuld. Lopez is a prototypical potential backup catcher who converted from the infield, and it looks like he’s going stick back there, but probably not have much offensive impact. Torres has a 70-grade arm and is a 50 or 55 defender with 50 raw power, but has a lot of trouble making hard contact.

Power Arms with Likely Bullpen Futures
Glenn Otto, RHP
Domingo Acevedo, RHP
Chance Adams, RHP
Raynel Espinal, RHP
Alexander Vizcaino, RHP

Otto was a reliever at Rice (winces) who the Yankees wanted to develop a changeup and try to start, but he missed nearly the whole season with a blood clot issues in his shoulder. He’s up to 96 mph and flashes a 70 curveball in short stints, so relief wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but it sounds like they’ll give starting one more try. Acevedo has solid middle relief stuff and command but can’t stay healthy. He’s up to 98 mph and could be a two-pitch reliever (the changeup is the best secondary). Adams was drafted as a power reliever and was asked to start, and his stuff held up for a while, but then it slowly backed up last year. It may now make sense to put him in the bullpen and see if it bounces back. Espinal was passed over in the Rule 5 Draft but he’s got a funky three-quarters delivery, a good slider, and his velo was up last year, as was his K%. Sources we spoke with have varied opinions of Vizcaino’s secondary stuff, which could just be evidence of inconsistency. His fastball is into the upper-90s, sitting 93-97, and he’s shown an above-average slider.

Starter Types at the Lower Levels
Miguel Yajure, RHP
Denny Larrondo, RHP
Jhonatan Munoz, RHP
Rony Garcia, RHP
Nolan Martinez, RHP
Dalton Lehnen, LHP
Harold Cortijo, RHP

Yajure (pronounced yah-HOOR-ray) has command of above-average offspeed, which gives him a chance to be a backend starter. Larrondo is a 16-year-old Cuban who signed for $550,000 last summer. He sits 89-92 mph with touch and feel, is athletic, and can spin it. Munoz is a 5-foot-11 bulldog reliever with solid average stuff. He came right at hitters and had success in 50-pitch outings during extended and short-season ball last year. Garcia is another potential backend starter who’s up to 95 mph with a solid average curveball. Martinez was an overslot third rounder in 2016 but has had trouble adding weight and staying healthy, so his above average stuff has backed up. Lehnen is a finesse lefty who may benefit from a new weapon, perhaps a cutter, a pitch this system has more of than is usual. Cortijo is 5-foot-9 and has a fringy slider but he’s up to 95 mph and gets good extension, and he has an above average changeup.

System Overview

Perhaps no team’s talent cup runneth over quite like the Yankees. Since 2015, they have had 11 players selected from their org in the Rule 5 draft and made countless trades sending away viable major leaguers who couldn’t crack their 40-man roster. As they’ve enacted this 40-man churn, the Yankees have specifically targeted players far away from the big leagues, guys who don’t have to be added to their crowded 40-man for several years.

Because more and more teams have placed value on certainty and player proximity to the majors, the Yankees have been able to flip a bunch of relievers in their mid-20s for young, high-variance players who have sizable upside if things click. Our prospect asset values put big numbers on 50 FV or higher guys, and the Yankees only have one of those, so they won’t rank highly in our farm system rankings. But they definitely have the most of the high ceiling, high-variance sorts, including a few who, as we point out in the scouting reports, could be Top 100 caliber by midseason, giving the Yankees a high likelihood of moving into the top half of systems during 2019, barring trades.

When we spoke with scouts who were excited about talent from the low levels of this system, we asked why their team hadn’t traded for one of those players. The answer? The Yankees won’t discuss them. Their 40-man crunch, big payroll, and talented major league roster have driven the youth movement at the lower levels. This is interesting to contrast with the Rays, who have one of baseball’s smallest payrolls, have stocked their big league team with pre-arbitration talent, and have a farm system clogged with prospects at Double- and Triple-A.

A few other teams have begun to experience a similar 40-man crunch (San Diego and Tampa Bay come to mind) but the Yankees have been employing this methodology for a few years now, and it has had a drastic impact on the shape of their farm system. This, combined with a strong international program and a willingness to acquire additional pool space in recent years, has helped lead to a whopping 58% of the players on this prospect list being teenagers. On average, this is the youngest farm system we’ve written up so far, with players in the 35+ FV or better tiers averaging 20.2 years old, two years younger than in most other systems.

Last year’s Brandon Drury saga is a great example of why that strategy is necessary. Perfectly fine big leaguers are hard for the Yankees to roster right now. They have stars, who will need to be usurped by other players of similar caliber. 25-year-old relievers and utility infielders may be viable big leaguers, but they don’t often suddenly turn into stars. Some of these teenagers might.

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5 years ago

thanks guys for the work. For me this verifies how bias the international draft is. Look at this list most are international signees. And there is history there as well. Penalize the Braves for their shenegigans and yet the biggest culprit and the innovators of under the table dealing are the Yankees. MLB need to make some changes. Fund these academies so it can have a legimate drafts….

CC AFCmember
5 years ago
Reply to  undue

What is the complaint here? The Yankees do a good job signing international prospects, therefore…bad? I see no evidence the Yankees have broken any rules like the Braves under Coppolella. Maybe they should, ya know, be commended for doing a good job at scouting and development? Especially since they never have high draft picks (down with drafts, btw)

5 years ago
Reply to  undue

Not sure why you’re pounding the table for this considering there are a handful of teams that barely, if at all, utilize or even sign guys from the carribean.

5 years ago
Reply to  undue

There’s been a base level of under-the-table dealings in Latin America for years (mostly the fact that players not eligible to sign until 16 are in reality locked up by 14) but I’ve never seen any evidence the Yankees are particularly bad actors in that space.

Consider, instead, their name recognition advantage. The D.R. doesn’t have a home team, all they see are akin to national broadcasts, which means their Yankees exposure is even more disproportionate than what we see here in the U.S. They’re one hour past the East Coast time zone, so Dodgers/Giants games don’t start until 11 p.m. Dominican time. Dominican TV is all East Coast, all the time. Consider also where the largest concentration of Dominican immigrants live in the United States. It’s New York and Miami, and nobody really loves Miami. So Dominicans’ U.S. relatives root for their home teams, and those connections mean something. And of course, the Yankees win, obnoxiously consistently.

Put it all together and the Yankees (and to a lesser degree the Red Sox and Mets since they also get tons of media exposure) have a massive structural advantage that has nothing to do with wealth or underhanded dealing. These kids sign between 14 and 16. Some of them have little choice, going where the money’s greatest or where their buscons tell them to, but what would you expect a kid with any say in the matter to do when faced with roughly equal offers? Tiebreaker goes to the handful of teams that are basically synonymous with baseball on the island.

CC AFCmember
5 years ago
Reply to  slamcactus

That’s just pure speculation based on nothing. The conclusion you’re asking to draw is that the Yankees are able to sign players for less money than other teams, and there’s no evidence that is the case.

5 years ago
Reply to  CC AFC

No it’s not. I specifically said when the money’s roughly the same and referred to the advantage as a tiebreaker. I don’t think players regularly take discounts to play for the Yankees, but I think the Yankees have pretty much the best chance of any team to get any player who they decide to bid competitively for.

And it’s based on more than you think. In a previous life/career, I lived in the DR and worked on the periphery of this world. I’ll acknowledge my experience is nothing more than anecdotal but only a few teams get consistent coverage before the postseason because there’s no such thing as local coverage.

5 years ago
Reply to  slamcactus

Fair point, east coast and especially New York teams have an advantage with DR and maybe even Venezuelan players. Not dissimilar to west coast advantage with Japanese and Mexican players. I realize you didn’t raise the issue but it kind of becomes an inane topic…

5 years ago
Reply to  slamcactus

I actually think the Marlins have a chance to really improve their DSL operations and become the #1 player in the Dominican. Playing so close to home and in a very Latino-friendly environment should give them the edge.

5 years ago
Reply to  undue

what are you even talking about? yankees have been consistently losing out on top guys in every class who had prearranged deals before they even got a foot in the door.

5 years ago
Reply to  awy

Yes, I am aware that the Yankees don’t sign every top player on the international market.

The top of the market is its own animal, especially since bonus pools began. Each team basically needs to pick their 1, maybe 2 top-rated guys and go out and get them. There’s a lot more action in the low to mid six figures though where relationships and cache matter a ton, and I think that’s where the Yankees really thrive.

They’re also just a really well run organization with really talented people top to bottom, including international scouts, so there’s that too.

5 years ago
Reply to  slamcactus

that’s not even the point which is disputing this guy’s assertion that yankees cheat the rules in IFA.