Even after a flurry of trades, the New York Yankees farm system is still considered one of the deepest in all of Major League Baseball.
Over the course of a calendar year, there has been a lot of turnover in the New York Yankees farm system.
At this time in 2016, Gary Sanchez just began his full-time job as the team’s starting catcher. Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin were obliterating Triple-A pitching. Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and Tyler Wade were cutting their teeth in the minors, Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier were acquired days prior and Rob Refsnyder was considered a youngster that could still make an impact in pinstripes.
But when it comes to prospect pools, a lot can change in a year.
Sanchez and Judge make up the heart of the Yankees lineup while Frazier and Wade have received regular playing time at the big league level in recent weeks. Torres is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery and Austin has seen more days on the disabled list than on the field.
Either way, they’ve remained in the organization. Others, however, haven’t been as fortunate, as their futures no longer lie in the Bronx.
In mid-July, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman shipped 2016 first round pick Blake Rutherford, along with Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard, to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for veterans Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Todd Frazier. The moves didn’t stop there, as the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray in a trade deadline transaction for Mateo, Fowler and Kaprielian.
The two maneuvers were seen as significant blows to the highly-regarded farm system, as MLBPipeline considered Rutherford (3), Mateo (5), Kaprielian (6) and Fowler (9) top-10 prospects in the organization.
But the pool of young talent is far from top heavy. Not only do names like Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield and Miguel Andujar remain, but there are a number of prospects in the lower levels of the minors that will become household names in due time.
With old faces gone, it’s time to meet the next crop of Baby Bombers that have the chance to take New York by storm.
MLB Pipeline Rank: 4
Team: Tampa Yankees (A+)
If there’s one player on this list that fans know, it’s Florial. The 19-year-old was the center of recent trade talk, as the front office was unwilling to part with him during discussions with the Oakland Athletics about Gray. And that decision was for good reason, as some believe he’s the top position player in the entire system.
Florial has put together an impressive campaign this season, as he’s sporting a triple slash of .296/.373/.483 with 11 home runs, 43 RBI, 22 doubles and 18 stolen bases in 92 games between Low-A and High-A ball. Although he doesn’t have much experience, the Haitian-born outfielder has displayed all five tools in his brief playing career, with some talent evaluators noting that he has 30/30 (home runs and steals) potential.
For the Yankees, the decision to keep Florial over Fowler was an easy one. With the organization hoping Judge and Frazier are locked into corner outfield spots, the belief was Fowler was the center fielder of the future. But once he went down with an open rupture of his patella tendon, it’s uncertain if he’ll ever return to form. It may be a few years down the line, but an outfield touting Judge, Florial and Frazier — if all reach their potential — can be one of the best in the game.
Scout’s take: “Florial is a legitimate five-tool player with superstar potential. The Yankees need patience with him — and if they are, they’ll reap the rewards in a major way.”
MLB Pipeline Rank: 9
Team: Tampa Yankees (A)
When Albert Abreu was acquired by the Yankees over the winter, he was lost in the shuffle. He was one of the two pieces the Houston Astros sent in return for Brian McCann, but a combination of excitement over relatively new names like Torres and Frazier and even more excitement that Sanchez was chosen to be the everyday backstop led to Abreu flying under the radar.
MLBPipeline didn’t overlook the move, as he was ranked as the tenth best prospect in the system heading into this season. That decision was immediately justified as Abreu sported a batting average against of .180 while compiling 22 strikeouts in 14 innings with the Charleston RiverDogs. Unfortunately, the right-hander cooled off in a major way once he was promoted to Tampa. (Six starts, 23 innings, 5.09 ERA, 1.48 WHIP.)
Many have pointed to Abreu’s inconsistencies as his downfall, with some believing he’s destined for the bullpen. But the 21-year-old hurler has an impressive four-pitch mix, has had his fastball reach 100 MPH and has a repeat delivery, all of which are good signs. The Yankees also plan to keep him as a starter, which further deepens their list of future pitchers.
Scout’s take: “If he gains command and control in his breaking pitches, Abreu has the potential to be a frontline starter. Because he’s still in the low levels of the minors, said potential can be reached.”
MLB Pipeline Rank: 10
Team: Trenton Thunder (AA)
When the Yankees drafted Rutherford in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, a majority of analysts applauded the move. The same can be said for second-round pick in Solak, as he was considered one of the best collegiate talents in the country before an injury to his right hand hampered the rest of his season. It’s safe to say he’s fully recovered, as Solak has climbed up the Yankees’ prospect depth chart ever since.
In his first full professional season, the 22-year-old second baseman is living up to the hype that surrounded him during his time at Louisville. Solak was a standout for the Tampa Yankees, as he hit for a .301 average with an OPS of .856 in 100 games. Over that same span, he has 10 home runs, 44 RBI, 17 doubles, 53 walks and 12 stolen bases, proving he can do a little bit of everything with a bat in his hands.
Once Mateo was traded, the Yankees promoted Solak to Double-A, where he only has one game under his belt. His mature bat alone will see him progress through the system at a fast pace. And even though he won’t win a Gold Glove at second base, he’s proved to be a reliable defender. There may be a glutton of middle infielders in the system but Solak is one that can stick.
Scout’s take: “For older Yankees fans, he reminds me of Pat Kelly. He was advanced during his days in college, which leads me to believe he’ll get through the system quickly.”
MLBPipeline Rank: 12
Team: Charleston RiverDogs (Low-A)
Up until this point, Perez has been a player that’s been overlooked within the Yankees system. When the organization spent almost $20 million on international talents back in 2014, the hurler was signed for chump change. But in his third professional season, Perez has developed into one of the best arms in the system, as 2017 has turned into his personal coming out party.
Suiting up for the RiverDogs for the first time hasn’t fazed the righty. Despite pitching against the best competition in his young career, Perez is also putting up his best numbers. In 19 starts, he’s allowed just 80 hits and 37 walks in 97.2 innings pitched, all the while striking out 91 batters. Those numbers have translated to a 2.95 ERA and .223 BAA, both career-lows.
Because of his size (6’8″) and power arm, Perez has drawn comparisons to Dellin Betances. The difference, however, is that the 21-year-old has an excellent delivery and a feel for each one of his pitches, something Betances didn’t possess at the same stage of his career. He’s also been considered as someone who pitches with little fear and isn’t afraid to challenge the opposition.
Scout’s take: “His upside is scary. I can see him teaming with [Luis] Severino atop the Yankees rotation. I place him right above Sheffield as the best pitcher in their system.”
MLBPipeline Rank: 14
Schmidt is one of the more interesting prospects featured. While his pedigree is strong — he was the Yankees first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft — he’s also in the midst of recovering from Tommy John surgery, a procedure he received in early May. Before his injury, Schmidt was considered one of the top pitchers that was going to be taken off the board.
After going 9-5 with a 3.40 ERA in 2016, the right-hander looked better than ever the following season. Before the unfortunate injury, Schmidt allowed just 41 hits in 60.1 innings pitched, had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 70:18 and opposing hitters were batting just .194 over his nine starts.
Damon Oppenheimer — the organization’s VP of Amateur Scouting — told the New York Daily News, “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus. He has command, he has makeup.” He added that his rehab was going well and, “he should be back pitching at full strength in approximately 12 months.”
Scouts take: “It was a risky move for the Yankees, but when he’s on, he’s dominant. They’ll do their best to make Schmidt a starter but he has the necessary tools to impress out of the bullpen.”
MLBPipeline Rank: 19
Team: Trenton Thunder (AA)
It was only a couple of players ago where the stockpile of middle infielders that the Yankees have in their system was mentioned. Let’s add one more to that list. Estrada often goes overlooked because he’s far from the flashiest player on the field — but that doesn’t change the fact that he has all the tools to develop into one of the better players to graduate to pinstripes.
Estrada has taken his talents to Trenton in his fourth season in the organization, and he’s been one of the Thunder’s most productive players throughout the season. He doesn’t flash much power but the second baseman/shortstop is hitting .299 with an on-base percentage of .355, accompanied by 17 doubles, two triples and 33 RBI. Estrada also has a mature eye at the plate, as evidenced by a minuscule 43 strikeouts in 394 at-bats.
It’s going to be hard for Estrada to make an impact with names like Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Torres and Solak, amongst others, positioned ahead of him. But that doesn’t change the fact that the 21-year-old is a plus defender with a plus arm and can hit to all gaps of the field. On top of that, Estrada is known as a pro’s pro and someone who’s work ethic is off the charts.
Scout’s take: “He’s not flashy but he can hit to all fields, is a plus runner and plus defender. More importantly, he plays hard and is a consummate team guy with intangibles.”