Those who have followed the Yankees farm system in the recent seasons know of the good talent they have in the minors. While there are a number of “household name” shortstops like Peraza, Volpe and Sweeney, most of that talent resides in the outfield.
Let’s take a look at the different levels of the system and the talent the Yankees possess that they will have to manage in the coming weeks as we lead into the 2022 season.
Closing out the 2021 season, Tampa had an incredible seven outfielders on their roster. Juan De Leon is the only free agent amongst them (see more below about this), and given his offensive performance I wouldn’t expect to see him get re-signed… despite the power he has shown on occasion.
Aldenis Sanchez had far and away the best year amongst the outfielders that ended the year in Tampa, posting a .368 batting average, a .459 on-base percentage, a .526 slugging percentage and .986 OPS. It is also notable Sanchez was out injured for the last month of the season, with his last game played going against St. Lucie on August 19th.
Sanchez is incredibly speedy and had 13 stolen bases in 23 games with Tampa. Sanchez has a good arm and should have no issues in getting promoted promptly to High-A Hudson Valley or AA Somerset. Of note, Sanchez was the Yankees’ PTBNL return in the trade for Mike Ford to the Rays earlier in the 2021 season.
Madison Santos had a much better season with the FCL Yankees when compared to Tampa, putting up an insane 1.350 OPS in 15 games with FCL, compared to a .678 OPS in 22 games with Tampa. That being said, when averaged together, his stats solidly put him in the number two rank in offensive performance among the seven outfielders.
Like Sanchez, Santos’ speed is one of his greatest assets, with 18 stolen bases between the two levels. Santos can run efficient routes in the outfield, and only committed 2 errors in 273 innings between LF, CF and RF (those errors were only in LF).
Kyle Battle was promoted late in the season to Tampa, but put up really decent numbers in that short time. The 2021 UDFA out of ODU played the majority of his debut season with the FCL Yankees, only spending the last few weeks in Low-A Tampa. In 62 at-bats, Battle batted .290, with a .432 on-base percentage, a .500 slugging percentage, and a .932 OPS. He put up similar numbers in the Tampa’s three playoff games.
Ryder Green was middle of the pack offensively speaking, largely attributed a high strikeout rate (39% of at-bats; 67 Ks in 170 ABs). Green got into a groove in the last series of the 2021 season before being hit on his nose by a pitch, resulting in him missing the playoffs.
Green was able to show off his plus power a handful of times, with one home run flying over the batter’s eye at Steinbrenner Field and out of the park, landing in the swamp adjacent to Dale Mabry Highway. Green also has a plus arm, a result of being a pitcher at Karns High School in Knoxville, TN, which he showed off on occasion to catch a runner trying to go for extra bases from right field, where he typically resided.
Jasson Dominguez is likely one of the only names most Yankees fans recognize on this list. He didn’t shake up the baseball world with the stats he put up in 2021, but also was not bad for a first year of pro baseball, all things considered. Dominguez had the most ABs of the seven outfielders in Tampa with 206 ABs total between FCL & Tampa. However, he did play most of his season with Tampa after a late start with FCL at the end of June. Dominguez was promoted after only seven games in Rookie-level FCL. In 206 at-bats between the two levels, Dominguez batted .252, with a .353 on-base percentage, a .379 slugging percentage, and a .731 OPS.
Dominguez had a rather high strikeout rate, getting rung up in 35% of his at-bats (73 Ks in 206 ABs). Given his professional career is still in its infancy, that’s nothing I would worry about. Dominguez showed less speed and agility than how he was originally scouted, but that may be attributed to an excess of muscle. He occasionally ran inefficient routes, which, in combination with a slower than expected speed, would lead to a “can of corn” out becoming a bloop single falling in the gap.
Juan De Leon is still listed as active according to his MiLB stats page, despite Baseball America showing him as a free agent, so we’ll mention him to err on the side of caution in case he does play in 2022. De Leon had a pretty miserable .185 batting average, the lowest among the outfielders in this list, but when he made contact, it was hit hard. De Leon hit the most home runs (9) out of the seven outfielders, but also had the highest strikeout rate of 43% (73 Ks in 168 ABs). Otherwise, De Leon is an average fielder that made the occasional error and has average speed.
Evan Alexander lands at the bottom of this list, despite some limited success in AA Somerset in May 2021. Alexander had the third highest strikeout rate, behind De Leon and Green, striking out 38% of the time (58 Ks in 154 ABs). Despite the high number of strikeouts, Alexander drew the most amount of walks out of the outfielders at 30 BB.
Alexander didn’t show a ton of power in 2021, only hitting 4 home runs, but like many of the other outfielders, he was rather speedy. Like De Leon, Alexander is an average fielder that typically played LF.
High-A Hudson Valley
Everson Pereira is easily the standout performer of the five outfielders in Hudson Valley, and is indeed the only outfielder at this low of a level that is on the 40-man roster.
Pereira flew through the bottom levels of the system in a very short period of time in 2021, starting his season at the end of June in the Florida Complex League and was quickly promoted to Tampa after only 3 games, and up to Hudson Valley in a matter of weeks.
In the three levels (FCL, Low-A and High-A), Pereira had a .303 batting average, a .398 on-base percentage, a .686 slugging percentage and 1.084 OPS. Pereira also hit home runs in 11% of his at-bats (20 HR in 188 AB), the highest rate in the system, but also had the highest strikeout rate of the 5 outfielders in Hudson Valley, at 32% (61 K in 188 AB).
Elijah Dunham was rewarded for his stellar performance in 2021 by being invited to the Arizona Fall League in October of 2021, and was also a part of the Fall Stars game at the end of the short season out west.
Dunham, a 2020 UDFA out of Indiana, was among the first groups of players to get promoted up to Hudson Valley as a result of a .276/.441/.500/.941 slash in 29 games with Tampa. Dunham instantly impressed with his speed on the bases in the home opener, stealing two bases. Dunham had seven stolen bases in his first seven games of the season.
Dunham also had the second lowest strikeout rate, only striking out in 25% of at-bats (85 K in 339 AB). The lefty bat also hit 13 home runs in that time, good for about 4% of at-bats, which is average. Dunham has a good arm and glove in LF where he spent 2/3 of his time, only committing three errors in 745.2 innings (.955 fielding pct.). Dunham ended the year with a .263 batting average, a .362 on-base percentage, a .463 slugging percentage and .825 OPS.
Jake Sanford split time almost equally between Tampa (52 G) and Hudson Valley (49 G), but put up some better numbers in the more advanced level: four 3B in HV vs one 3B in Tampa, nine HR vs seven HR in Tampa and 93 TB vs 89 TB in Tampa. That all lead to a higher slugging percentage (.497 vs .438 in Tampa) and a higher OPS (.838 vs 808 in Tampa) in High-A Hudson Valley.
Sanford, along with Dunham and DeMarco, who we’ll discuss in a moment, are the most polished defenders amongst the 12 outfielders discussed here, but Sanford’s .934 fielding percentage (five errors in 166 chances) is a little behind that of Dunham. Sanford runs extremely efficient routes, despite not having a ton of speed when compared to someone like Dunham.
Sanford had the second most at-bats in the system among outfielders at 390 in 2021. In those 390 at-bats, Sanford put up 56 runs on 111 hits, including 13 doubles and 5 triples, the most triples of anyone in Low-A or High-A. Sanford also had the most RBI, at 61, and came in second in home runs behind Pereira at 16 home runs. Sanford ended the season with a .285 batting average, .356 on-base percentage, .467 slugging percentage, and a .823 OPS.
Pat DeMarco also split time almost equally between Tampa (48 G) and Hudson Valley (42 G), but put up weaker numbers in the advanced level. DeMarco only walked 3 times in 155 PA, which hurt his on-base percentage considerably, dropping from .388 in Tampa to .245 in Hudson Valley.
DeMarco had a higher number of extra base hits in less at-bats in Hudson Valley (18 XBH in Tampa vs 19 XBH in HV), despite having a lower batting average (.274 in Tampa vs .220 in HV). DeMarco doesn’t show a lot of power, and would rather get a base hit in the gap and use his speed to stretch it for an extra base hit. In total, DeMarco’s season ended with a .248 batting average, a .326 on-base percentage, a .456 slugging percentage and a .782 OPS
DeMarco’s defense averaged a .944 between the three positions in the outfield, but had a .990 fielding percentage in CF where he spent most of his time in 2021 (1 error in 96 chances). As mentioned previously, DeMarco appears to be a more polished outfielder for this level, likely attributed to being a part of the Vanderbilt baseball team.
Pablo Olivares was by far the weakest performer of the group in Hudson Valley, and essentially repeated his performance from 2019 when he was in (then) High-A Tampa, despite getting half as many playing chances as he did in Tampa. Olivares did have a higher slugging percentage (.358 in HV vs .306 in Tampa) and as a result a higher OPS (.700 in HV and .664 in Tampa), but that was the only metric that improved. His overall performance in 2021 was a bit weaker with a .244 batting average compared to a .250 batting average in 2019 with High-A Tampa. Olivares only needed 1 more hit to be about on par with 2019’s performance.
Olivares had a considerably higher strikeout rate in Hudson Valley, 1.3x greater in fact, when compared to his 2019 performance; 42 K in 193 AB in HV vs 66 K in 396 AB in 2019 Tampa. That being said, he had the lowest strikeout rate among the group that ended the year in Hudson Valley at 22%
Not all was bad for Olivares, however. He did have almost double the total bases and doubles in 2021 compared to 2019 as far as a rate goes; 18 XBH and 16 2B in 193 AB in HV vs 18 XBH and 15 2B in 396 AB in Tampa. Olivares was a bit better overall than DeMarco in regards to fielding at a .947 fielding percentage, but like DeMarco, was better when located in CF with a perfect fielding percentage in 154.2 innings and 32 chances. That being said, given the prospects that were behind him in Low-A Tampa as of the end of the 2021 season, it should be expected that he may not have much more of an opportunity to show off any improvements he may have made in the off-season.