New York Yankees 2020 Top-25 Prospects
Ah, the Evil Empire. One of the most storied franchises in the history of sports. And yes, it made me throw up a little in my mouth to say that as a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, but it’s the truth. Although, I’d be ashamed of myself if I didn’t bring up the fact that this was the first decade since Dinosaurs roamed the Earth that the Yankees didn’t make it to a single World Series, last winning/appearing in the Fall Classic in 2009 when they beat the Philadelphia Phillies. But I digress. We’re not here to talk about ancient history. We gathered here today to discuss the top-25 New York Yankees prospects for dynasty.
This one was a doozy and jam-packed full of talent. So much in fact, that I couldn’t leave without adding blurbs on the next 10 prospects that I couldn’t make room for in this top-25. You’ll also notice a heavy dose of international prospects too. That’s where the Yankees really have excelled over the last few years, including in 2019 when they dished out over $5 million to lock up the studly outfield prospect that will kick us off in the #1 overall spot.
Overall System Grade: B+
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – International League
Double-A: Trenton – Eastern League
Advanced Single-A: Tampa – Florida State League
Low Single-A: Charleston – South Atlantic League
Short Single-A: Staten Island – New York-Penn League
Rookie: Pulaski – Appalachian League, Gulf Coast League (2), Dominican Summer League (1)
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
If you aren’t playing your dynasty leagues on Fantrax, you’re missing out on the deepest player pool and most customization around. Just starting out in a dynasty league? Then check out Eric Cross’ Top-250 prospects, Top-300 Dynasty League Rankings, & 2019 FYPD/J2 Rankings.
Top-25 New York Yankees Prospects – 2020
1. Jasson Dominguez, OF
Someone asked me the other day, “Just how good is Jasson Dominguez?” My response was simple… “Really damn good.” So good, in fact, that he already ranks #1 overall in a very talented and deep Yankees farm system. Rumor has it that the SS in Jasson stands for “superstar.” The kid hasn’t even made his professional debut yet for crying out loud, but damn, are the tools mouth-watering. See, now I’ve said damn twice in his opening paragraph. Well, now technically three times.
When you watch Dominguez at the plate and in the field, he doesn’t look like a 16-year-old. He’s not necessarily a big guy, listed at 5’10/190, but Dominguez is an exceptional athlete and gets the most out of his frame, both in terms of power and speed. Both his speed and raw power should have you salivating. Dominguez exhibits easy plus raw power from both sides of the plate with lightning-quick bat speed and quick wrists. His plus raw power and natural loft in his swing should allow his power to translate into games fairly quickly and frequently. Add in his plus speed and you have a 30/30 threat in the making. Here’s a little sneak peek of his impressive power.
Jasson Dominguez has the look of a big time prospect.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) October 10, 2019
But wait, there’s more! Dominguez isn’t one of those big power/speed prospects with a questionable hit tool. He’s shown an advanced feel for hitting from both sides of the plate with the ability to use the entire field. Dominguez uses a moderate hand coil, rear leg load, and leg kick to time pitches, all of which sync well before exploding through the zone. The mechanics are fairly clean and his swing is direct to the ball with exceptional bat speed and strong hip rotation. It’s easy to see a high batting average accompanying that tantalizing power/speed blend. And to throw the cherry on top of this prospect sundae, Dominguez has the makings of a plus defender with a strong arm. I know, what a showoff right?
Obviously Dominguez is lightyears away from debuting in the Bronx, but this is a generational type of talent and one that could advance quickly, ala Wander Franco. And when Franco has graduated to the Majors, there’s a strong chance that the discussion for the next top prospect in baseball includes Dominguez.
2. Clark Schmidt, RHP
While most of the arms around him on this list are high ceiling/low floor types, Clarke Schmidt finds himself somewhere in the middle with perhaps the best combination of ceiling and floor in the Yankees farm system. As a first-round pick in 2017 out of South Carolina, Schmidt missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and just reached the Double-A level late in 2019. He also had two separate stints on the IL in 2019 for minor ailments. So really, the 2019 season was the first extended look we got of Schmidt as a professional and the early returns are very promising.
— Kyler Peterson (@KPeterson813) April 13, 2019
Schmidt is as solid across the board as you’ll find on the mound in this system. His delivery is clean from a 3/4 arm slot without much effort and with good extension toward home plate and the arsenal consists of three pitches that all grade as above-average or plus. Schmidt will sit in the low to mid-90’s consistently with strong arm-side life on his fastball and mix in a low-80’s breaking ball and mid to upper-80’s changeup. Depending on where you look, you might see his breaking ball listed as a curve or a slider. To me, the shape looks more like a slider, but whatever you want to call it, there’s sharp two-plane break and it is a plus pitch overall. His changeup also flashes plus with fade and is a great third offering to neutralize left-handers.
With that three-pitch mix and above-average command, Schmidt has the makings of a future #2 or #3 starter that should be up with the Yankees by mid-2021 or so. Out of all the dynamic arms in this farm system, he’s the one I’m the most confident in reaching his ceiling.
3. Estevan Florial, OF
Remember how I said that Jasson Dominguez wasn’t one of those power/speed guys with a questionable hit tool? Yeah, I was low-key calling out Estevan Florial there. There’s plus raw power here and borderline double-plus speed, but his below-average contact skills and plate discipline have limited his in-game power and Florial is still very raw as a base stealer, as evident by his 62.5% success rate over the last two seasons in the low minors. And when I mention the plate discipline, I’m talking about his swing and miss tendencies. Florial can work walks and has been in the 10% range more often than not, but his free-swinging ways have been a detriment to both his batting average and power during his minor league career.
As it stands now, I still believe Florial can develop into a starting Major League outfielder, especially when you factor in his above-average defense and throwing arm as well. His left-handed power would look mighty fine with the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium, too. We could be looking at another Curtis Granderson type player, best-case scenario.
4. Luis Gil, RHP
If you’re going off pure upside, Luis Gil has the highest for any pitcher in this system. He also, unfortunately, has one of the lower floors and the widest range of potential outcomes of any arm on this list. Here’s why. Gil’s fastball and curveball combination are filthy and a lethal 1-2 punch. He’ll operate in the mid to upper-90’s, hitting triple-digits at times, with his fastball with some arm-side life from a 3/4 arm slot. The delivery itself is fairly effortless and what is referred to as easy cheese by some. Offsetting the fastball is a plus hammer curveball with good shape and depth to it. Easily a plus bender to add to an elite fastball.
RHP Luis Gil pitched to a 13.3 SO/9 rate in 2018 with @PulaskiYanks. He's doing more of the same in 2019 with @ChasRiverDogs, striking out 9 in his start on Friday (5.0 IP // 1 H // 2 BB // 0 R // 9 K). pic.twitter.com/AhkBJXskOO
— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) April 22, 2019
That’s where the positives end though. Outside of those two dynamic offerings, Gil’s changeup is a major work in progress and his command/mechanics tend to be inconsistent. The same can be said for Luis Medina further down this list, but Gil isn’t nearly on that level of concern in the command/control department. But still, there’s plenty of things to work on and iron out here if Gil wants to reach his ceiling as a high strikeout #2 starter. And if the command and changeup don’t come along as hoped, the fastball/curveball combination could make him an elite late-inning reliever with closer upside.
I also reached out to Chris Blessing of BaseballHQ that got a live look at Gil earlier in the 2019 season. He offered this on Gil from his scouting report:
“Gil profiles to be an MLB pitcher, especially with his FB being so far ahead of others at the same age/level. The plus extension in his delivery plays up his stuff. However, the development of his secondary pitches, especially his CU, will determine MLB role. If you buy into the athleticism in his delivery, he’s an SP3 type arm, developing a workable CU to go with his FB and CB. If you worry about the alignment within his delivery, he’s a late-inning RP.”
To see the full article on Gil, click here.
5. Deivi Garcia, RHP
Surprised to see Deivi Garcia this low? Honestly, I am too. Originally I had Garcia 4th, but as I looked at more of my video and notes, I had to drop him down a couple of spots. I attended a Garcia start earlier in the season and left the park feeling underwhelmed. The low to mid-90s fastball and curveball were plus pitches, but Garcia lost a tick off his heater as he got deeper into his start. Not overly surprising with his smaller 5’9/165 frame. That 165 might be generous too.
The most impressive pitch I saw from Garcia was his high-spin curveball with plenty of depth in the upper-70’s.
Pretty nasty, isn’t it? Outside of those two pitches, Garcia will also mix in an improving changeup with some fade that projects to at least be an average third offering for him. The arsenal itself is impressive, but these comps to Pedro Martinez and Luis Severino are a tad lofty in my opinion. While Garcia has shown above-average command in his professional career, he’s far away from Pedro’s command and his walk rate jumped from 2.4 in 2018 to 4.4 in 2019. However, with clean mechanics and an easy, low-effort delivery, I’m not concerned about that walk rate moving forward. Garcia has the upside of a dynamic #2 starter, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about how long he can remain at that level.
6. Kevin Alcantara, OF
Back to the international upside players. Kevin Alcantara is a player I’ve been enamored with ever since the Yankees signed him in 2018. The guy just oozes tools and raw upside. To start, he’s a physical specimen at 6’6/190 with an athletic and projectable frame. He already displays plus raw power with natural loft to his swing, and with some additional bulk, could be a 70-grade raw power type. Currently a plus runner, Alcantara will likely lose a step as he fills out his slender frame, but should still be at least an average runner with 15-20 SB upside down the road.
16-year-old OF Kevin Alcantara signed with the Yankees in 2018 out of the Dominican Republic. He's currently ranked as the No.12 international prospect in baseball. pic.twitter.com/d39cFgu5Yv
— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) February 1, 2019
What will determine if Alcantara can reach his lofty power/speed ceiling is how he develops as a hitter. As of now, the contact skills are raw and he could stand to be a little more patient at the plate. Strikeouts aren’t the issue as he’s been able to keep those in check, but waiting for a pitch to drive will be key for Alcantara. Mechanically, there’s plus bat speed once he gets going but his swing can get long due to a deeper hand load. Shortening up his swing path will be beneficial in Alcantara making more consistent contact and driving pitches with regularity. As with any youngster his age, pitch recognition needs refinement, but there’s plenty of time to work on that.
Alcantara has some of the most impressive raw tools in this system and has the upside to develop into a top-50 overall prospect before too long. Getting all the Alcantara stock you can now in dynasty leagues is highly recommended. He could be on the cusp of really taking off as a prospect.
7. Alexander Vargas, SS
Tired of international players yet? I sure hope not as there are plenty more to come. The Yankees snagged Vargas out of Cuba in 2018 for a cool $2.5 million, their biggest commitment of the period. Vargas was considered one of the top shortstops in that year’s crop, along with the likes of Noelvi Marte, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Orelvis Martinez. It’s easy to see why the Yankees were so enamored with him as Vargas projects to have four above-average to plus tools down the road.
The only tool not included there is his power. Although, Vargas is no slouch in that department and could grow into a 50-grade raw as he matures and adds bulk to a very slight frame. If he can do so without sacrificing his contact-oriented approach, Vargas can become a standout offensive middle infielder. He’s displayed a good feel for hitting from both sides with a solid plate approach and plus bat speed. He uses a bigger leg kick to time pitches and keeps his hands inside the ball well throughout his swing, really whipping the head of the bat through the zone. He could stand to shorten his swing a tad and clean up some moving parts, but there are no major mechanical concerns here.
With his hit tool and approach, I can see Vargas developing into a .280 type of hitter with a strong OBP and enough power to hit double-digit home runs annually. Hold on, I’m not done yet. Vargas is also a plus runner that already shows good instincts on the bases. Add 30 steals or so to the .280/10-15 offensive numbers I mentioned above and you have a well-rounded offensive shortstop with the defensive skills and arm to remain at the position longterm.
8. Maikol Escotto, 2B/3B/SS
Nobody can sit here and tell me that the name Maikol Escotto doesn’t sound like a fancy wine. One of those $500 bottles. Is that expensive for wine? I’m not sure, I don’t drink wine. Anyways. The name Maikol Escotto landing in the Yankees top-10 might surprise some as he wasn’t really on the prospect map six months ago. But after we discuss his tools, you’ll see why he’s this high. The Yankees signed Escotto out of the Dominican Republic for $350K in the 2018 signing period and gave him his first taste of professional ball this summer in the Dominican Summer League. In 181 at-bats, Escotto slashed .315/.429/.552/.981 with 23 extra-base hits, eight home runs, 13 steals, and a 14.7% walk rate.
Those are rookie ball numbers in the DSL, so interpret them however you’d like, but the tools here are solid across the board. At 5’11/180, Escotto is quite athletic and a plus runner with decent range in the field. He received time at second, third, and shortstop this season and it’s currently unclear where his defensive home will end up being, but his offensive profile projects to fit in nicely at any of those positions. At the plate, Escotto has shown an advanced approach and good feel for hitting from the right side of the plate. There are some swing and miss kinks to iron out, but that can be worked on as he gets older and comes stateside. There’s also some natural raw power here that Escotto is still tapping into.
He’s far from a finished product, but you have to be excited about the raw tools here. Expect Escotto to soar up prospect rankings in the next 12-24 months.
9. Luis Medina, RHP
“The problem is, Medina can’t command any of them worth a damn. If he can learn to locate his pitches better, the 19-year-old Dominican native will skyrocket up prospect rankings. Remember the upside and cross your fingers that he figures it out. It would be a shame to see this arm go to waste.” – Me, exactly one year ago.
The above statement I made in last year’s Yankees top-25 still rings true to this day. Medina did improve his walk rate dramatically this season but still ended 2019 with a 6.1 BB/9. Much better than his atrocious 11.5 mark in 2018, but still a concern and something that is hindering him in a big way. He also uncorked wild pitches against a whopping 6.1% (26) of the 427 batters he faced this season. For reference, Shane Bieber has thrown a wild pitch against 11 of the 1334 batters he’s faced in his Major League career for a tiny 0.1% rate. Okay, that’s not a fair comparison, but it’s just another example of the command and control issues Medina has.
Once again, the arsenal is going to be something I rave about. When he’s actually commanding his pitches, Medina has three offerings that flash plus or better in his mid to upper-90’s heater with life (touches triple-digits regularly), low-80’s hammer curve, and 89-92 mph split-change. This is honestly one of the best three-pitch mixes you’ll find in the minors but that means zilch if you can’t put them where you want to consistently. And it’s not like he has a wacky delivery or major mechanical flaws either. Medina’s delivery is easy without a ton of effort, so the hope still remains there that he can figure things out. The upside here remains that of a frontline starter, but the floor is so low it’s scary.
10. Antonio Cabello, OF
Originally signed as a catcher from Venezuela, the Yankees decided to transfer Antonio Cabello to the outfield not too long after signing him, which I believe was the right move for him and this organization. The Yankees already have a ton of catching prospects in this system and Cabello possesses the type of exciting raw tools, including above-average to plus speed, that are better served out from behind the plate. When you see Cabello, his frame isn’t overly imposing, but there is a ton of strength and athleticism that translates into his tools.
Like with Dominguez, Alcantara, and Florial, the power/speed upside here is what draws you in first. It didn’t take long at all for Cabello to showcase his raw tools with a .308/.427/.522/.949 slash line with 19 extra-base hits, five home runs, and 10 stolen bases in 46 combined games between the DSL and GCL in 2018. His first taste of the Appalachian League this season didn’t quite produce the same results as you can see above, but the raw tools are still very prominent.
In addition to his easy plus raw power and above-average to plus speed, Cabello has demonstrated a solid feel or hitting from the right side with insane bat speed. He uses a bigger stride towards the pitcher and can get out in front too early at times, but those mechanics can be ironed out over time. When Cabello makes contact, it’s usually loud contact. There’s plenty of natural loft in his swing and his strong hips and lower half are incorporated well in his swing. If the hit tool can come along as anticipated, the upside is an offensively gifted outfielder that can hit for average, power, and steal 20-plus bases as well.
11. Oswald Peraza, SS
The Yankees signed Venezuelan shortstop, Oswald Peraza for $175K back in 2016 and promoted him to the full-season Single-A South Atlantic League during the 2019 season. Peraza has yet to wow at any one level, but he also has yet to look overmatched either. The skillset Peraza has is one that will likely lead to more real-life success than fantasy fame, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook him.
The reason for that is well below-average power presently. Peraza has a quick right-handed swing, but the combination of 40-grade raw power and lack of loft make it unlikely that he ever exceeds the 10-12 homer range. However, with plus speed, sound plate approach, and at least an average hit tool, Peraza can provide enough offensively to make an impact in fantasy. I even think there’s a chance he develops into a 55-grade hit, 40-grade power type at peak with .275/10/25 upside. If he can add strength and drive the ball in the air more, maybe there could even be some 15 homer seasons at peak.
12. Canaan Smith, OF
Canaan Smith is the outlier in this Yankees top-25. The spotless Dalmation puppy, if you will. Or for the baseball equivalent, the pinstripeless Yankee prospects. There I go making up words again. What I mean by all that is that Smith’s tools aren’t loud and raw like most players above him. Rather, Smith’s tools fall in the 50 to 55-grade range across the board with no major weaknesses.
— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) May 13, 2019
From the left side, Smith’s swing is smooth and compact with plenty of bat speed. He uses more of a gap to gap approach, spraying line drives without a ton of loft to his swing, but Smith has a knack for finding the barrel and making hard contact. And there’s enough raw power to be a 15 homer type in a neutral park and maybe up in the low-20’s at peak in Yankee Stadium.
13. Anthony Volpe, SS
Meet the Canaan Smith of the infield. There’s a reason I grouped these two together. Volpe has a very comparable set of tools to Smith with average to above-average grades across the board with the exception of power. And even the power has room to grow a little. Volpe generates quick bat speed from the right side with some natural loft. If he could just incorporate his hips and lower half into his swing a bit more, I believe there’s more power in that bat to tap into. Not more than 20-homers at peak, though.
With that being said, power is not why Yankees fans are going to like this guy. Or even why you’re going to want him on your dynasty team. Volpe has displayed above-average contact skills, however, he’s very pull happy presently. Learning to use the entire field will be key in Volpe hitting for the .275-plus average that he’s capable of. There’s also above-average speed here that has served him well both on the base paths and in the field. Volpe is currently a shortstop with the skills and arm to stick and would profile just fine at second or third base as well.
14. Ezequiel Duran, 2B
Three years into Ezequiel Duran’s career has given us a good idea of what type of hitter he is and what type of upside he possesses down the road. After a rough 2018 season, Duran bounced back in the NYPL, posting a .496 SLG and .246 ISO while raising his estimated fly ball distance 15 feet to 297.4 feet. He also took a nice step forward with his plate discipline, raising his walk rate from 3.8% to 9.0%. While there are still some pitch recognition and swing and miss concerns, Duran showing more patience at the plate is encouraging. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and focus on making more contact, we could see him settle into the .250-.260 range longterm, but I don’t currently see the upside for more than that.
Meanwhile, the power/speed blend Duran has displayed is enticing. In 134 games as a pro across three seasons, Duran has recorded 55 extra-base hits, 20 home runs, and 22 steals in 27 attempts. Duran isn’t a 30/30 threat in the making by any means, but with above-average power and speed, some 20/20 type of seasons are well within reach annually. While the floor isn’t overly high here, the power/speed potential makes Duran a nice target in dynasty leagues, especially if the contact skills improve.
15. Everson Pereira, OF
You can chalk up 2019 as a lost season for Everson Pereira. The 18-year-old Venezuelan outfielder only played in 18 games in the short-season NYPL and didn’t do much of anything. Pereira recorded just a .473 OPS with a 35.1% strikeout rate in those 18 games. With such little time and no success at the level, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees bump the then 19-year-old Pereira up to full-season ball when the 2020 minor league season gets underway.
Despite the 2019 struggles, there’s a lot to like here when it comes to Pereira’s tools. Despite what you see above in his stats, there’s plus contact skills here with a quick and direct swing through the zone. One thing I have noticed though is that Pereira tends to get out on his front foot which all but zaps his power potential. If he can learn to stay back and drive the ball, he could develop into a 15-homer type to pair with a solid batting average and 25-30 steals thanks to his plus speed.
Defensively, Pereira has played center field as a pro and has the speed, range, and arm to remain there long-term. It will all be about how well his bat comes along.
16. Anthony Seigler, C
This is likely the lowest you’ll see Anthony Seigler on any Yankees prospects list. It’s not that I don’t like Seigler as a prospect, because I certainly do. But he profiles as a better real-life catcher than fantasy catcher in my eyes. Defensively, Seigler has the ability to be one of the best defensive catchers in the game down the road. His defensive prowess and strong throwing arm should allow Gary Sanchez to move over to DH once Seigler is up. At the plate, Seigler has an above-average hit tool and sound swing mechanics, but there’s minimal power upside here. Overall, he could develop into a .280/10 type and be a poor man’s Yadier Molina. That’s great for real life, but don’t expect robust offensive numbers for fantasy.
17. Yoendrys Gomez, RHP
Just when you thought the Yankees had enough pitching talent, Yoendrys Gomez emerges as another high-upside option. It’s like they’re just appearing out of the cornfields in the outfield or something. Now, it’s not like Gomez was a complete unknown before 2019, but you didn’t him on many top-25 or top-30 Yankees prospect list, including yours truly.
Gomez features three potential above-average or better pitches from a 3/4 arm slot. He’ll sit in the low to mid-90’s with his fastball that has some natural sink and run on it due to the extension he gets on his delivery. Offsetting the heater is an upper-70’s curveball with tight spin and an improving changeup that flashes above-average with fade. He’s still very raw as a pitcher, but if he can work on repeating and finetuning his delivery, there’s mid-rotation upside. With added consistency, expect the strikeouts to tick up as well.
18. Roansy Contreras, RHP
Oh, what do you know? Another intriguing international arm. That makes five so far and 12 international prospects total. Roansy Contreras was part of a quieter 2016 international class for the Yankees, but is another projectable right-hander in a system stuffed full of them. New York aggressively promoted Contreras to the Single-A Sally when he was 18 and the results have been very impressive in his year and a half at the level. Combined, Contreras has a 3.34 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 2.6 BB/9 in 31 Sally starts, albeit, with a lower strikeout rate. All this while being very young for the level both seasons.
With his arsenal and command, don’t expect that strikeout rate to remain in the 7.5 range for long. Contreras’ arsenal runs three pitches deep with two pitches flashing plus potential. Those being his low to mid-90’s fastball with arm-side life and 75-78 mph curveball with plenty of depth. His changeup lags behind some but is at least an average third offering that flashes above-average with fade at times. If he can continue to demonstrate solid command and control while missing more bats, Contreras will turn into a nice #4 type of starter with the ceiling of a #3.
19. Anthony Garcia, OF
I told you there were plenty more international players to come in these rankings. Spoiler alert, the next three are also. Power is the name of the game with Anthony Garcia and can rival basically anyone on this list in that aspect of his game. As a switch-hitter, Garcia has displayed plus to double-plus raw power from both sides of the plate with plenty of natural loft in his swing from an uppercut swing path.
The problem is, the rest of Garcia’s offensive game is incredibly rough around the edges. He’s a below-average runner and defender in the outfield for starters and hasn’t shown the skills needed to hit for a respectable batting average yet. Garcia struggles with offspeed pitches and his longer swing can hinder him against higher velocity as well. If he can figure things out at the plate enough to fully unleash his raw power, Garcia will be a fun prospect to watch. For now, he’s simply one to monitor in deeper dynasty leagues.
20. Alexander Vizcaino, RHP
In the past, I had been hesitant to rank Vizcaino highly on my Yankees lists. However, now that his arsenal has improved even more, it’s time to give him his due. Vizcaino has continued to add velocity over the last couple of years and now sits consistently in the mid-90s and can ratchet it up into the 98-100 range with life when needed. While his curveball has improved recently, Vizcaino’s changeup is easily his best secondary, grading as a plus offering with plenty of fade and tumble action. His FB/CH combination alone could be deadly coming out of the bullpen, but with the development of his curveball, Vizcaino now has a better chance of reaching his ceiling as an SP3/4.
21. Raimfer Salinas, OF
Raimfer Salinas was a tough player to rank for me. He was one of the top players signed during the 2018 international period, but hasn’t really shown off the tools that made him a top target so far in his minor league career. Granted, he’s just 53 games in. Patience Eric! The biggest reason why Salinas was so highly-regarded was his plus contact skills. From the right side, Salinas’ swing is quick, smooth, and compact with plenty of bat speed. He’s shown a good feel for the barrel and can really turn on pitches as you can see below. He even got a tad out in front of this one with his front leg.
Once he gets his feet wet stateside, I really expect Salinas to take off and begin hitting for average. There’s also some sneaky-good raw power lurking in that bat as well. With some development, I could see 15-20 homers annually with enough raw speed to match. Salinas will likely never be a hitter that stands out in any one area, but the raw tools could translate into an across the board contributor with no real weakness.
22. Michael King, RHP
Originally drafted by the Marlins back in 2016, Michael King has steadily been improving his prospect stock each and every season in his four-year minor league career. In 387.0 career innings, King has recorded a tidy 2.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with a stellar 1.6 BB/9. Strikeouts never have and never will be a profound part of his game, but with King’s combination of stuff, command, and control, he screams #4 starter to me and one that should eat innings.
King challenges hitters with a low to mid-90’s two-seam fastball with heavy sink that generates a ton of ground balls. It took until the Double-A level in 2018 for King’s groundball rate to drop below 50% at any level. He’ll mix in an above-average slider that flashes plus at times and a serviceable changeup. King is more of a pitch to contact and let hitters pound the ball into the ground type than someone that is going to record high strikeout numbers. He did tick up to 8.6 K/9 in 2019, but I wouldn’t expect anything higher than that.
The Yankees gave King a cup of coffee (more like a shot) in September, pitching two innings of relief on September 27th. It’s hard to say if King makes the Opening Day roster or is back in Triple-A to start the season. As the Yankees will almost certainly be looking for veteran rotation help, the latter is more likely than the former. We could also see King used as a multi-inning reliever.
23. Josh Smith, SS
In a list full of fun to pronounce names, Josh Smith is about as dull of a name as you could possibly think of. But don’t let the boring name fool you, Smith is a gamer with sound tools across the board. Although, there are no plus tools here. Smith is more of a safer floor option as he can do a little of everything without hurting you in any one area. Smith possesses an above-average hit tool with a patient approach. He can use the whole field to his advantage, and while he does have some over the fence pop, his swing is mostly linear and more of a gap power type.
The swing itself is not one I’m enamored with but it seems to work for Smith. The best way I can describe it is “unevenly twisty.” Sometimes weird words/phrases work the best in scouting/player evaluation. Smith’s front leg, hips, and hands rarely sync up, all firing at different times. This is minor though and probably more of a pet peeve of mine than anything else. I like flowing unison damn it!
Defensively, he’s not great at short, but makes the necessary plays and has a stronger throwing arm. His speed and athleticism should allow him to play multiple infield positions and quicken his arrival to the Bronx. If he can land a starting gig, there’s .280/10/20 ceiling here, but a role as a swiss army knife could make him very valuable for the Evil Empire.
24. Ryder Green, OF
You could really just sum up Ryder Green as your prototypical low-avg, high power, strong-armed corner outfielder. He’s shown plus raw power from the right side and can work a walk when needed, but the contact skills are below average and there are some swing and miss tendencies to be worked on. If Green can develop his hit tool to the point where he can hit .240-.250 or so, we could see his 25-plus homers annually to pair with enough speed for 10-15 steals.
25. Osiel Rodriguez, RHP
Although he’s incredibly far away from seeing the Major Leagues, there’s no way I couldn’t include the high-upside Cuban right-hander on this list. On upside alone, he’d be pushing the top-10 here, but the inexperience keeps him down here in the 20’s. The arsenal runs four pitches deep — fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup — and all have shown above-average or better potential. Rodriguez will vary his arm slot some, ranging from low 3/4 to high 3/4 and features some effort in his delivery, but that can be cleaned up. The variance in arm slot adds some nice deception to an already impressive mix of pitches. The sky is the limit here for Rodriguez, but he’s far from being close to a finished product.
Here's the newest Yankees prospect, Osiel Rodriguez, from when I saw him pitch in San Pedro de Macoris in November. He was 15 and threw 96 mph that day. https://t.co/zJaurxTLUc pic.twitter.com/8RPuYXn1aq
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) July 29, 2018
The Best of the Rest
Just because this system is such a delight to write about, here are the next 11 prospects that just missed. Trust me, it pained me to leave some of these names out of the top-25. If only some of them played in the Baltimore or Boston organization. All 10 of these guys would’ve easily made either of those lists.
Albert Abreu, RHP: There’s no denying Abreu has one of the best arsenals in the system when he’s able to command it, but command is something he doesn’t have much of. He’ll sit in the mid-90’s with his fastball that can get up near 100 and mix in a curveball and changeup, both of which flash above-average to plus. Ultimately, Abreu seems bound for the bullpen where he could be a late-inning weapon, which is the main reason why he still even makes this list.
Nick Nelson, RHP: Nasty Nick Nelson, as I like to call him, is another arm that falls into the Albert Abreu mold. His arsenal could make him a mid-rotation starter with high strikeout upside, but the sub-par command and control will likely limit him to a bullpen role.
Antonio Gomez, C: A year from now, I very well might feel silly for leaving Gomez out of my top-25. But then again, he’s a 17-year-old international catcher that is still very raw. The tools are there, however, for Gomez to develop into a starting Major League backstop that can hit for both average and power while playing plus defense behind the plate.
T.J. Sikkema, LHP: Sikkema is a polished collegiate lefty taken 38th overall in the 2019 draft. He’s more of a safer floor arm that projects as a back-end starter.
Josh Breaux, C: Two tools and two tools alone stand out. Breaux has plus power and a strong arm but his defense is average at best behind the plate and his below-average contact skills will likely lead to a lower average. Projects as a backup catcher to me.
Frank German, RHP: Plus fastball, but secondaries and control need work.
Dermis Garcia, 3B: Love the raw power, hate the hit tool and approach. Striking out 5.5 times as many times as you walk simply will not get it done at the Major League level. It’s a shame too. Garcia’s mammoth power sure would be enticing at Yankee Stadium.
Trevor Stephan, RHP: If Stephan could develop his changeup into an average third offering to pair with his fastball and slider, he’d have back-end starter potential. Until that happens, he projects as a bullpen arm without late-inning upside.
Matt Sauer, RHP: The 2017 second-rounder has the upside of a mid-rotation starter, but has been limited to 21 starts since being drafted.
Brandon Lockridge, OF: This is a name you could see sneak into this top-25 by the end of 2020. Lockridge is an elite speedster, but raw at the plate. If he can develop his hit tool and hold his own once he gets to the Florida State League (A+) and Eastern League (AA), he’ll shoot up my rankings. Surely keep an eye on him.
Media Credit: Robert Robinson, NYY Player Dev, Baseball America, Kyler Peterson, Max Wildstein, Josh Norris, Chris Blessing, Ben Badler, Minors Graphs by Prospects Live
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