The New York Yankees have one of the best farm systems in baseball. We have been examining the organization from top to bottom, focusing on each player’s primary position. As we continue this series, today we will focus on the left fielders.
Brett Gardner is the longest tenured Yankee, drafted in the third round of the 2005 June amateur draft; he made his MLB debut in June of 2008. He has been consistently at the top of the Yankees order since. Signed for two more years, Gardner has become a mentor to many of the younger players. Along with CC Sabathia, Gardner is one of only two remaining players from the 2009 World Series championship. Mentioned in several trade rumors, it is entirely possible that Gardner finishes his current contract on a different team. The last two seasons he has been an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, respectively.
Jake Cave is the 31st ranked Yankees prospect, per Pinstriped Prospects. The problem for the 24-year old is he is the ninth-ranked outfielder, including three of which have been acquired in the past year. He has spent the last two seasons split between Trenton and Scranton, sandwiched between spending spring training last year with the Cincinnati Reds as a Rule 5 pick. He likely would be slated to start the season at Scranton, but a recent knee injury will sideline him for the beginning of the year.
Clint Frazier is a consensus top 50 prospect in the sport, as well as the Yankees’ number two. Selected in the first round (5th overall) by the Cleveland Indians in the 2013 June amateur draft, Frazier struggled after being promoted to AAA shortly before the trade that sent him to New York in a package for Andrew Miller.
His strikeout rate was high. However, he was only 21, playing against players 5.5 years older than him. Frazier will start the season patrolling left field for Scranton. He is Rule 5 eligible after the season, so it is possible he gets promoted to New York before the summer is over.
Mark Payton has the rare distinction of being drafted three times. After not signing with the Minnesota Twins or Cleveland Indians, he signed with the Yankees in 2014. Now 25, he has progressed from Charleston to Tampa to Trenton. He is currently blocked at the higher level, so the career .282 hitter will likely return to Trenton.
Trey Amburgey ranks as the Yankees’ 25th prospect. A hamstring injury last year limited his explosiveness that he displayed in 2015. If he can return to Tampa healthy, look for the 22-year old to have a big season.
Zack Zehner is a 24-year old that spent last year in Tampa. This will be a big season in determining if he continues to climb the organizational ladder.
Leonardo Molina signed as a 16-year old international free agent in 2013. Now 19, Molina comes in at number 46 on Pinstriped Prospects’ top 50 Yankees Prospects. He made it all the way to Charleston last year, 3.4 years younger than the average player. His numbers were not great, but the tools are there. This year, he should return to Charleston and will look to see the results on the field. After the season, he is Rule 5 eligible, and some prospects that the team will have to protect could cause Molina being left exposed.
Kendall Coleman started last season in Charleston with the RiverDogs, but after hitting just .202 in the South Atlantic League, he was demoted to Staten Island in June. With the Baby Bombers, he struggled hitting just .194.