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An Optimistic Look at the 2016 Yankees Top-10 List

As a whole the Yankees 2014 minor league season, was pretty successful, and most believe there system greatly improved. But there’s still room for improvement. Hopefully 2015 brings the Yankees great success, and the systems gets even stronger. This piece will give optimistic outlook on the 2015 Yankees minor league season, and predict next year’s top-10 would look like if everything went perfectly.

The purpose of this is to show the best case scenario for the system. I’ll try to be semi-realistic—I’m not just going to say Cito Culver will develop into an offensive threat—but in general it’s pretty obvious that most predictions in such an article are bound to fail. This is obviously a very optimistic look at the system, as prospects are not this predictable, consider this piece the Yankees brightest timeline.

  1. Aaron Judge
    This is probably most realistic of my rankings, as Judge is already regarded as one of the Yankees top-2 prospects. Assuming he stays healthy and his OBP, and power stays consistent he should be able to solidify his position as the Yankees top prospect. Overall I could see him being ranked in the 20 range next season—Law already has him there, considering he has power, patience, there’s no reason he should be ranked any lower.
  2. Gary Sanchez
    Here’s where the exercise truly begins. Sanchez has been trending downwards for a couple years now, but he still has plenty of time to turn things around. For the most part his bat has been fine, but his attitude and his defense need to improve. A perfect season for the Yankees farm system requires a bounce-back season from Sanchez, because his bat was considered elite, and catching prospect are very important. He’ll have plenty of time to work with Tony Pena at spring training, and perhaps a high-work ethic type player like Alex Rodriguez could help fix Sanchez’ attitude. If everything goes right Sanchez can reclaim a spot on-top of baseball’s top 50 list.
  3. Greg Bird
    Considering this list strives to create an optimal Yankee system it’s probably surprising to see Bird rank so high. After all first-base prospects aren’t that exciting. Bird for example had to dominate the minors for years before he got any prospect love. With that said the reason I picked him at this slot over a guy like Luis Severino is because I think offensive prospects are more important in today’s game. This is especially true of Bird, who has shown on-base and power skills. Law already thinks he’s a backend top-100 prospect and if he repeats his AA and AZFL performance from last year, he should have a chance to be ranked even higher.
  4. Luis Severino
    Severino is by far the Yankees pitching prospect, and he has really good stuff and control. With that said I think it’s best for the Yankee system to have him ranked 4th. This is mainly because the optimal Yankee farm system shouldn’t have a guy with so many doubters as their second best prospect. It’s different from doubting Sanchez, because Sanchez can change. Severino has doubters due to his size, and his delivery. And he can’t really grow, and I’m not sure I would want to interfere with his delivery. But overall he will still be a top-100 guy on most lists, and should end the season in AAA. At that point perhaps we will have a clearer picture of his future role.
  5. Jorge Mateo
    Good up the middle-depth is very important for a strong farm system, and the Yankees do have a lot of depth at the position. But they’re still waiting that one player emerge as the top prospect at the shortstop position. Out of all their SS prospects Mateo is the best candidate to actually breakout. Mateo is probably the team’s most exciting prospect. His combination of plus speed, and above-average power, should help make him one of the shortstops in the minors. He’s only going to start in A-ball, and probably will stay there all year, so I would think he’d only be ranked at the end of a top-100 list. But the general point is that if everything goes right he should be making a lot of lists, and will be a very valuable trade chip.
  6. Ian Clarkin
    Unless the Yankees draft a lefty, I can’t imagine a scenario where Clarkin isn’t the Yankees best left-handed starting prospect. And I believe if all goes right he could be a borderline top-100 guy, and a top-10 lefty. He would need to consistently throw harder. He occasionally reaches 95 MPH, but his MPH is usually lower than that. He would also need to continue to improve his changeup. Those aren’t easy tasks, but really aren’t that unrealistic. He should begin the season in A+, and if he continues on his path of development might see some time in AA.
  7. Luis Torrens
    The Yankees thought highly enough of Torrens that they pushed him to A-ball despite being just 18 years old. However he was sidetracked by a shoulder injury, and would spend most of the year in the NYPL. For him to be ranked this high he’d have to return to A-ball, and show that he could play with prospects much older and advanced than he is. Torrens might be the best all-around catching prospects the Yankees have had in years. Unlike Sanchez and Jesus Montero the Yankees don’t need to worry about Torren’s attitude or defense. This will help him avoid some of the bumps in development that either player faced.
  8. Eric Jagielo
    I don’t know if he’ll ever have the contact ability to be a top-100 guy, but a perfect year for him would be to prove he is a third baseman. If he does that he should have a future in the majors, even if he isn’t a top prospect. He has enough power to be a starter in today’s game, and that should be good enough for the Yankees and their fans. He should begin the year in AA, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish it in AAA. The team has been more aggressive with him than they have been with Judge so they obviously think he’s advanced enough to be a quick mover.
  9. Ty Hensley
    Hensley isn’t just my pick to be the team’s breakout prospect, but he’s also the guy I find myself rooting for the most. He has gone through a lot since being drafted by the Yankees, and it would be nice to see finally have the time to put it together. He is a hard throwing right, with a plus curve, and a changeup that’s still a work in progress. In truth Hensley has a lot of work to do, but I feel that he has the work ethic and the drive to jump of these rankings. Next year he should begin the year in Charleston, and hopefully he makes up for lost time and gets himself a decent amount of time in A+. None of my picks have really been that unrealistic so far, but Hensley becoming a top-10 guy might be a bit of a reach considering: his level, his age, and his injury history.
  10. Jake Cave
    There a lot of possible options for this spot, but I feel that Cave is the best combination of being a realistic choice, and a choice that would be good for the Yankees system. I feel that having major league ready talent is important for a system so having a player who will be in AA/AAA and be major league ready starter in 2016 as the tenth best prospect looks pretty good. The reason I picked Cave over other players like: Mason Williams Slade Heathcott, and Dante Bichette Jr. is that he is either a better or more realistic choice than any of them. Cave might be one of more under-the-radar Yankee prospects.

    He isn’t really a flashy prospect nor does he have big upside, but he does seem to have the ability to be a major league starting outfielder. He’s already in AA, so there’s a small possibility that he makes it to the majors next year. That’s doubtful though, because he isn’t on the forty-man roster, and other outfield prospects are ahead of him on the depth chart. I feel that if everything goes right for everyone Flores, Austin and even Heathcott have a shot at the majors next year, giving Cave a chance to take up his one spot in a crowded AAA outfield.

2015 graduates- the following players were not including into my thought process because I feel they will already be major leaguers:

  • Jacob Lindgren
  • Robert Refsnyder
  • Ramon Flores
  • Tyler Austin
  • John Ryan Murphy
  • Bryan Mitchell

Other Players that I considered for this list

  • Miguel Andujar
  • Brady Lail
  • Tyler Wade
  • Abiatal Avelino
  • Domingo Acevedo

Final Thoughts:

Obviously this is a bit of a guessing game, but after finishing the entire list, I don’t really feel that the ten guys on the list are unlikely to be there next year. Rather the unrealistic part is how high I feel some of these guys can rank on top-100 lists next year. I feel that Judge, Bird, Mateo, Severino have a very good shot to be top-100 guys. I think the list demonstrates just how much help the Yankees have on it’s way, as not only are there a lot of graduates, but most of the players on this list will be in AAA, by the end of the year.

It should also be noted that the top-10 next year will probably include a draft-pick or two, and hopefully Yoan Moncada.

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