As the Derek Jeter retirement tour has finally come to the end of the line I couldn’t help but think of the future for Yankee SS. Now the Jeter is done playing SS it’s hard to not think about what the Yankees are going to be doing next year and the next few years at shortstop. While there isn’t an internal replacement ready right now, you can make the case that the SS position is as deep as it has ever been for the Yankees when you look all the way thru the minors.
I’m going to be taking looking at the depth cart that Baseball America puts out from 2007-2014.
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Looking at that collection of players you can tell that the Yankees haven’t had any good SS prospects until this last year. 2014 there really is only two with Estrada being more of a utility man with Avelino being the only true SS. The crop of SS from this year that has emerged has given the Yankees something that they haven’t had since Jeter was coming up in the system, a chance to have a homegrown SS.
I think Avelino will again take the top spot and he should. Avelino doens’t have the flashes tools but his instincts are great and will help his average tools player a step up. This year wasn’t great because of the injuries and when he got back to Charleston he struggled. While struggling can be bad for prospects it isn’t that bad when they are young and young for the level. A return to Charleston for Avelino will happen and will be good for him as he will play there at 20 which is perfectly fine age.
After Avelino it gets interesting as there are a bunch of guys who could make the top 30 Yankee prospects. Next on my list would be Tyler Wade. Wade played the whole season as a 19 year old which according to baseball reference was two and a half years younger then the average player in Low A. He only had a 100 wRC plus from fangraphs stat which takes into account a bunch of factors. But the reason that Wade would take the number two spot is he did this in full season compared to everyone else on the list with the exception of Avelino. He also was better in the second half as he hit a triple slash line of .269/.344/.339 compared to the second half which was .275/.359/.359.
Following Wade is when we start to get into lower complex league guys. First on that list is going to be Jorge Mateo. The reason that Mateo is higher than the next two guys is because he has one tool that plays and it’s speed. Baseball America has listed his speed as an 80 which is the highest grade a scout gives on a tool. While speed is the easiest tool to have an 80 on it’s still great to have. His speed plays up as he steals bases very well plus having plus speed as SS makes it easier to get to balls. Mateo was injured with a hand injury that kept him out for a good amount of time but on the season he hit .276/.354/.397 with six extra base hits in 65 at bats. He also stole eleven bases and was only caught once. Because Mateo missed time it will be interesting which league he goes. His September instructs will be very important for him.
Angel Aguilar was another gulf coast league SS but for team two instead of one. His season was great as a hit .311/.373/.536 which was good for a wRC+ of 159. Aguilar’s line is great because of seven home runs which was tied for second in the league. Power always helps other tools and will get you promoted also. Aguilar is a sleeper in the system and in some years would be a top 30 prospect.
Yancarlos Baez was a big international signing from a few years ago and was promoted in season to the GCL from the Dominican Summer League. He wasn’t great when he got to the GCL but it was good for the 18 year old to get some time stateside as he should be manning one of the SS positions for the GCL Yankees next season. Baez is a player in the mode of Mateo as he has very good speed and projects to stay at the position which are two plus for any SS to have.
As the Jeter farewell tour ended and the Yankees now have to deal with him not manning the position, the system has never been as full of potential SS prospects as it is now. While none of these guys right now are top 100 prospects in baseball you could make the case that a step forward from one of them, especially Wade of Avelino could potential do that. A top 100 prospect in the game is always important to have in any system but having multiple guys who could potentially play SS in the majors is more important for the system. The near future is a concern but overall the future couldn’t be brighter for potential SS replacements for Jeter. Just a few years away is all.