We are month a way from the 2019 minor league baseball season and just a week away from the start of spring training games for the Baby Bombers. We already took a look at our predictions for the major league team in 2019 now let us make our predictions for the Yankees minor league system.
Fastest Riser: Clarke Schmidt
First up is the prospect that we see could be the fastest riser in the system and that is right-hander Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt was the Yankees first round draft pick in 2017 but did not make his professional debut until the second half of the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery.
Schmidt appeared in eight games in 2018, striking out 30 batters in 23 1/3 innings of work and earning an ERA of 3.09. While he was shutdown in August with an injury unrelated to his arm, he is expected to be healthy for the 2019 season and could rise fast through the ranks.
Schmidt was a polished college arm when drafted, even with the Tommy John surgery and he put that on display in his first few professional games. He is likely to start the season in Tampa but could quickly be promoted to Trenton if he shows the stuff that he did in 2018 and is healthy.
Breakout Prospect: Yoendrys Gomez
Next up is our breakout prospect prediction and that is right-handed pitcher Yoendrys Gomez. Gomez was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent in 2016 and made his professional debut in 2017.
At the time of his signing he was only touching 92 miles per hour occasionally with his fastball. Fast forward to 2018 and e was sitting at 93 miles per hour and occasionally touched as high as 97 miles per hour. He also puts good spin on his breaking ball and has a hard changeup with depth.
We have Gomez pegged as starting the 2019 season with the Staten Island Yankees, but he could easily be pushed to Charleston similar to Deivi Garcia.
Comeback Player: Chris Gittens
A left hip injury landed first baseman Chris Gittens on the disabled list not once but twice in 2018. It limited him to just 57 total games, including 53 games with the Trenton Thunder and four rehab games with the Staten Island Yankees.
How bad was it for Gittens in 2018? He hit just .193/.294/.330 combined. That is after he hit .266/.372/.472 the season prior for the Tampa Tarpons.
Gittens is now healthy and is expected to return to Trenton to open the 2019 season.
Surprise MLB Contributor: Kyle Holder
The Yankees are known to have a pitching prospect come out of nowhere and surprise with a strong performance in the big leagues. With that in mind we wanted to take a different route with selecting the prospect we think will be the surprise major leaguer.
Ever since he was drafted the book on Holder was that he had major league-quality defense with a below-average bat. Over his four-year minor league career, he has proven that the bat is not as big of a weakness as many initially thought while maintaining high-quality defense.
With Didi being out until at least July the Yankees are relying a lot on Troy Tulowitzki being healthy. Holder also adds some versatility, being able to play third base, second base, and shortstop if needed.
Biggest Prospect Jump: Canaan Smith
What do we mean by prospect jump? We mean the prospect that jumps up in prospect rankings. Currently we Canaan Smith ranked as the 54th best prospect in the Yankees organization. That is after a down year for the 19-year-old where he hit just .191/.281/.316 in 45 games with the Staten Island Yankees.
Smith has been working hard on his conditioning and getting into better shape for his third professional season. He had noticeably slimmed down from the start of minor league spring training in 2018 to the end of the regular season.
A fresh start in a new year with better conditioning combined with his highlight touted eye at the plate could see him have a big year and prove that he has what it takes to be a top prospect for the years to come.