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