For the past few weeks, I have presented my mid-season list of the Yankees top prospects. Before we move into the top ten, here are the prospects covered so far (#11-30):
|Rank||Name||Age||Position||Highest level 2013|
|11||Tyler Austin||21||RF||Trenton (AA)|
|13||Nik Turley||23||LHP||Scranton (AAA)|
|15||Mark Montgomery||22||RHP||Scranton (AAA)|
|16||Dietrich Enns||22||LHP||Tampa (A+)|
|17||Peter O'Brien||22||C/3B||Tampa (A+)|
|18||Brett Marshall||23||RHP||New York (MLB)|
|20||Angelo Gumbs||20||2B||Tampa (A+)|
|21||Cito Culver||20||SS||Charleston (A)|
|22||Luis Torrens||17||C||GCL (Rookie)|
|23||Austin Aune||19||RF||GCL (Rookie)|
|24||Jose Pirela||23||2B||Trenton (AA)|
|25||Jake Cave||20||CF||Charleston (A)|
|26||Rob Refsnyder||22||2B||Tampa (A+)|
|27||Rookie Davis||20||RHP||Staten Island (Low-A)|
|28||Jordan Cote||20||RHP||GCL (Rookie)|
|29||Ben Gamel||21||LF||Tampa (A+)|
|30||Evan Rutckyj||21||LHP||Charleston (A)|
A quick note - given how terrible Austin Aune has looked so far, albeit in a limited sample size, I would probably drop him off the list, and replace him with Gosuke Katoh. Thairo Estrada is interesting me as well, and recent international signee Leonardo Molina would be in the top thirty as well - I seriously love that kid's swing, and he projects to be an above-average defender in center field as well.
On to prospects #6-10:
|Rank||Name||Age||Position||Highest level 2013|
|6||Jose Vicente Campos||20||RHP||Charleston (A)|
|7||Eric Jagielo||21||3B||Staten Island (Low-A)|
|8||Slade Heathcott||22||CF||Trenton (AA)|
|10||Jose Ramirez||23||RHP||Scranton (AAA)|
10. Jose Ramirez was an unheralded international free agent who signed with the Yankees in 2007. In his minor league career, he has a 3.72 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 22.3 K%, 8.8 BB%, and a 2.54 K/BB. He has always had velocity, regularly pumping his fastball into the mitt in the mid-90s. His changeup quickly became a plus pitch, with deceptive arm action and good dropping action. He has continued to improve on his breaking ball each year, now possessing a slider with decent action and the potential to be an average major-league pitch. The quality of his breaking ball, along with command of his pitches, will likely determine if he can be a starter at the big-league level, or if he will have to move to the bullpen.
He is in his age-23 season, and was recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton, after dominating Double-A Trenton, putting up a 2.76 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 30.3 K%, and 3.33 K/BB. His FIP was a bit high, at 4.26, due to a high strand-rate and a low BABIP. In Scranton, he has not been as successful, with a drop in strikeouts (8.0 K/9, 20.4 K%) and a dramatic increase in walks (15.3 BB%, 1.33 K/BB). However, this is his first year above High-A Tampa, due to nagging injury issues earlier in his career. Given that, and the small Triple-A sample size, I am still optimistic about Ramirez's future. At the very least, he should be an above-average late-inning reliever, with the potential to be a closer in that role. Given the fact that he is the highest-rated starting pitching prospect to reach Scranton for the Yankees, he should get a few opportunities next year. I would expect him to debut in a role similar to that filled by David Phelps in 2012 and Adam Warren this year, as a long man and spot starter. He has more upside than either Phelps or Warren, and that should excite Yankees fans.
9. Aaron Judge was one of the Yankees' three first round draft picks in this summer's amateur draft. He was the last of the three to sign, and the only one to sign over-slot, getting $1.8 million to forego his senior season at Fresno State. That was the sixth-highest signing bonus ever for a Yankees draft pick. He is a monster of a man, 6'7 and over 250 pounds, but with the ability to stay in the OF. He was actually a center fielder in college and reminds me of Kyle Blanks, as a large and surprisingly athletic outfielder, with an above-average eye and power, but hopefully he will stay healthier than Blanks has.
For such a big guy, it took until his junior season to really start tapping into his power. He finished the 2013 college season with a .373/.461/.663 line, 11 HR and 47 K to 31 BB. He also has surprising speed, going 11 for 13 in stolen bases in 2013, and 35 for 40 in his college career. He showed better plate discipline his junior year, and the Yankees will hope that he can show that type of patience in pro ball because if he does struggle with strikeouts, it will hurt his chances to be successful long-term. He has yet to play a pro-game, hopefully he will get some games in this season, and that will allow to see if he struggles with contact in his first taste of pro ball.
8. Slade Heathcott was drafted in the first round in 2009 out of high school in Texas. He was known as a toolsy center field prospect, with some family and personal issues that reflected poorly on his makeup. This did not scare away the Yankees, who saw his potential and drafted him much higher than most expected. He has always hit well, and is known for his defense. However, he has had a hard time staying healthy with two surgeries on his throwing shoulder since entering pro ball. This is the first season he has stayed healthy all year - so far. Should that continue, proving he can stay healthy is a huge step for him.
Heathcott has a career minor league line of .269/.346/.404, good enough for a 112 wRC+, meaning he has been 12% better than league average with his bat. He really shot up prospect rankings after a strong Arizona Fall League showing in 2011, where he posted a .388/.494/.602, 192 wRC+. He built on this in 2012, posting a .302/.380/.461, 134 wRC+ line, mostly with High-A Tampa. Add in his stolen base potential and his above-average defense, and there is a reason why he was a top 100, many times a top-50, prospect this past offseason. So far, in his first taste of Double-A, his bat is not doing as well as it has in the past. He has a .257/.316/.400, 97 wRC+ line so far this year, and his prospect status has taken a hit because of it. Unlike Tyler Austin, however, he does have defensive value to fall back on. He has an .868 OPS in his last ten games, and an .851 OPS in July. If this continues, and he proves he has adjusted to Double-A, he will push back into the top five by the end of the year.
7. Eric Jagielo was the first of the three 2013 first rounders to sign, agreeing to slot as a junior out of Notre Dame. He was considered a highly-polished bat for this year's draft class. He put up a .388/.500/.633 this year in college, with 9 home runs, 35 walks versus 33 strikeouts, and 15 (!) hit by pitches (or 42 per 650 at bats). He did play with Craig Biggio's son Conor, so maybe the old man taught him how to take one for the team. So far, excluding the one game he played in rookie ball, Jagielo has a .262/.386/.345 line in Staten Island, which, given the hitting environment, is a strong 131 wRC+. He is walking at a good clip (11.9 BB%), and not striking out too much (18.8 K%), but the power has been lacking so far, with only one home run, and a .083 ISO. Given the small sample, and this being his first taste of pro ball, I expect that will change between now and the end of the year.
Jagielo's bat could be big-league ready by 2015, but the question he will face is his glove. He is currently at third base, but the scouting community is pretty pessimistic on his chances to stay at the hot corner. He should be given every chance to stay, especially because a third baseman is much more valuable to the team, but his bat may pressure the Yankees to move him to first base or a corner outfield spot. He projects to be an above-average third baseman if everything goes right, and I could see him end up somewhere between Bill Mueller and Corey Koskie offensively, with slightly below average defense that will eventually move him off the hot corner and put more pressure on his bat.
6. Jose Vicente Campos was signed by the Mariners out of Venezuela in 2009 as a 16-year-old for a little over $100,000. The big righty (6'4", 195) came over with Michael Pineda before the 2012 season, with Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi going to the Mariners. He has a mid-90s fastball that generates ground balls, a change-up that flashes plus, and a developing breaking ball. He has had amazing control, especially given his young age. In his minor league career, he has a 3.33 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 23.2 K%, 6.3 BB%, 3.65 K/BB. So far in 2013, as a 20-year-old in Single-A Charleston, Campos has a 3.27 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 22.2 K%, 5.1 BB%, 4.4 K/BB. That is a very, very good performance.
Campos did struggle with nagging injuries last year, and may need surgery in the future, though he has been able to stay healthy, and almost passed his career high in innings pitched, even though he is only averaging four innings per start. The Yankees are being cautious with him, and rightfully so. He is one of the Yankees' highest-potential starting pitcher prospects, right there with Ian Clarkin, Manny Banuelos, and Jose Ramirez, and he is only behind one other Yankees pitching prospect who is in the team's top five. He will probably progress one level per year, and should make Triple-A Scranton by 2016, with a chance to make the big league roster that same year or in 2017. So patience is still a virtue, but Campos could turn into something special for a team that has struggled to develop starting pitchers in recent years.
So there you have it, the mid-season Yankees prospects six through ten. Who is your favorite of this bunch? Who do you think doesn't belong? Answer the poll question, and discuss in the comments below: Who do you think has the best shot of being the Yankees top prospect from these five when the 2014 season ends?