The 2013 season was a tough one for the Yankees; not just at the big league level, but down on the farm as well. Aside from a handful of breakout seasons, many of the team's better prospects either got hurt or simply didn't perform to the best of their capabilities. As a result, various mainstream prospect rankers had few Yankees in their respective Top 100 lists, and on the whole, the Yankees' system was ranked middle-of-the-pack at best and near the bottom at worst. The fact of the matter, though, is that the Yankees' minor league system has the talent to make a significant jump in respective farm rankings by the end of the season. For now, here is Pinstripe Alley's Top 30 prospects heading into the 2014 season.
1. Gary Sanchez, C
Age: 21 (Born December 2, 1992)
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 220 lbs.
2013 statistics: High-A: 94 games, 399 PA, .254/.313/.420, 13 HR, 108 wRC+
Double-A: 23 games, 110 PA, .250/.364/.380, 2 HR, 113 wRC+
Andrew - #1: The reigning best prospect in the Yankees' system, Sanchez notched solid but not spectacular numbers between Tampa and Trenton. He still reportedly needs plenty of work on defense, but he has yet to have a sub-100 wRC+ at any level.
Jason - #1: Obviously he's going to be the top prospect, but I feel like it's time for him to put up a great season. I'd like to see more power and more overall dominance. He's young, but it would be nice to see whether or not he's the Yankee prospect we've all been waiting for.
Tanya - #1: He's pretty much the top prospect by default until someone else has a season worthy of challenging him. If he can stick behind the plate his value will keep him toward the top of every list. The bat has carried him so far, but it would be nice to see his defense show real improvement as he nears the majors.
Jesse - #1: The bat shouldn't be a problem for Sanchez, especially power-wise. The defense, on the other hand, mainly in terms of receiving and pitch blocking, has plenty of room for improvement. A full year in Double-A could do a lot of good for this 21-year-old.
2. J.R. Murphy, C
Age: 22 (Born May 13, 1991)
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Double-A: 49 games, 211 PA, .268/.352/.421, 6 HR, 116 wRC+
Triple-A: 59 games, 257 PA, .270/.342/.430, 6 HR, 117 wRC+
Andrew - #2: Overlooked prior to 2013, the 22-year-old catcher put himself back in good graces with a breakout 2013, beginning the year in Trenton and ending it behind the plate for Mariano Rivera's last game. Murphy's defense has improved so much that he's reportedly considered one of the best pitch framers in the minors, and he hit well in 59 games at Triple-A. While it's unlikely that he will ever be an All-Star, he would probably find a spot on most teams' major league rosters.
Jason - #7: After a strong 2013 season, Murphy forced his way into the majors. Right now he's likely one of their best trade chips, but he also offers them a legitimate backup catcher.
Tanya - #3: The Yankees may have given Murphy a chance to be their starting catcher in 2014 if it weren't for the signing of Brian McCann this offseason. Murphy's strong 2013 season earned him his first taste of the majors and a follow up campaign in 2014 could cause the Yankees to find a way to make room for him on their roster someway.
Jesse - #2: Already a good prospect prior to 2013, everything clicked for the 22-year-old Murphy last season; he's continuing to make strides as a defensive catcher, and he showed some pretty nice power with the bat (.157 ISO) as well. Although he won't make the big league team come Opening Day, Murphy may be next in line on the depth chart at catcher if Brian McCann goes down with an injury.
3 (tied). Greg Bird, 1B
Age: 21 (Born November 9, 1992)
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 215 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 130 games, 573 PA, .288/.428/.511, 20 HR, 170 wRC+
Andrew - #5: Now established at first base, Bird destroyed SAL pitching and won a ton of fans in 2013. His hitting will be what brings him higher in the system, so he just has to continue it at higher levels, though Tampa and Trenton's ballparks will challenge him.
Jason - #5: While everyone else seems headed in the wrong direction, Bird was the bright spot of the system in 2013, so I think he deserves high praise for his production. If he comes close to repeating what he did last year, then he should be remarked as one of the system's top prospects.
Tanya - #5: A 100+ walk season coupled with quite a display of power away from the unfriendly confines of his home ballpark put the first baseman on the prospect radar. He'll need to continue hitting at higher levels of the minors in order to overcome the value he lost when he switched from catcher to first base.
Jesse - #3: All Bird did last season was mash; his 170 wRC+ led the Sally League. The catcher-turned-first-baseman is also very patient at the plate; perhaps a little too patient, in fact, given his high strikeout and walk totals. The 21-year-old Bird could, despite last season, get an in-season promotion from High-A, where he'll start in 2014, to Double-A, if he picks up where he left off last season.
3 (tied). Slade Heathcott, CF
Age: 23 (Born September 28, 1990)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Double-A: 103 games, 444 PA, .261/.327/.411, 8 HR, 104 wRC+
Andrew - #3: The tools are still there for excellence from Heathcott, but he badly needs to shake that injury bug. Either way, he'll likely start off 2014 in Triple-A and is their closest outfield prospect with legitimate MLB potential.
Jason - #9: After another season with an injury, I think Heathcott's prospect star has fallen quite a bit. He still shows tremendous talent, but he seemingly has no ability to stay healthy. If he can actually survive the injury bug he will be useful, but if not, he likely won't end up as much more than a September call up.
Tanya - #2: Injuries have been a problem for Heathcott his entire professional career but all the tools are there to be a successful major leaguer if he can reign in his out of control level of play. He should be knocking on the door of the majors by the end of this year, if not sooner, if he can stay on the field.
Jesse - #4: Despite injury concerns, talent-wise, Heathcott has the makings of a potential All-Star center fielder. After getting off to a pretty rough start in 2013, Heathcott finished his final 52 games with a solid .808 OPS before injuring his shoulder. With a loaded outfield expected at Double-A Trenton, Heathcott should get the nod as the Scranton RailRiders' center fielder to begin 2014.
5. Eric Jagielo, 3B
Age: 21 (Born May 17, 1992)
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Short-Season Staten Island: 51 games, 218 PA, .266/.376/.451, 6 HR, 153 wRC+
Andrew - #4: The star of the 2013 draft's value will depend on whether or not he can stay at third, but the early returns on his NCAA-polished bat were strong in Staten Island. Although he needs to cut down on his strikeouts, Jagielo's impressive start inspires hope that he can quickly rise through the system.
Jason - #6: Drafted in 2013, Eric Jagielo is easily the Yankees' best third base prospect right out of the gate. He had a decent debut, but he was also dealing with some lingering injuries after a full season at Notre Dame. Evaluators like his bat and a full year to adjust to pro ball should produce better results.
Tanya - #4: Jagielo's polished bat at third base makes him such an important prospect for the Yankees, who need him to excel enough to move quickly through the system. Getting off to a good start in his first season as a professional is promising, but he'll need to continue that as he plays a whole year for the first time in 2014.
Jesse - #6: The 21-year-old provides power and patience from the left side of the batter's box, something the Yankees have always admired. Jagielo is expected to start at High-A Tampa, and if all goes well, he could be on the fast track to the Bronx as the team's future at third base.
6. Tyler Austin, RF
Age: 22 (Born September 6, 1991)
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 220 lbs.
2013 statistics: Double-A: 83 games, 366 PA, .257/.344/.373, 6 HR, 103 wRC+
Arizona Fall League: 4 games, 16 PA, .333/.438/.500, 0 HR, 153 wRC+
Andrew - #7: He took an understandable step back after a monster 2012, and a wrist injury kept him out of action for a couple months. Nonetheless, Austin had decent numbers during the season for Trenton and played well upon his return for the Eastern League playoffs.
Jason - #2: After his 2012 season, I will give him a pass after the wrist injury he suffered in 2013. If he can start hitting for power, he could be their best chance at developing a real outfield prospect that can contribute as soon as 2015.
Tanya - #6: Austin took a step back in 2013 that cost him a bit of the stock he'd earned after a brilliant season in 2012. His ceiling isn't very high but he could still be a solid player on a big league roster if he can hit like he did two seasons ago.
Jesse - #7: Austin's follow-up from his tremendous 2012 fell a little short, to put it nicely. However, his walk and strikeout rates from 2013 remained about on-par from his 2012 totals, and his on-and-off wrist issue could have played a role into his power outage (.113 ISO) as well. Yankees' VP of Player Operations Mark Newman said the team is "going to maintain some of that (defensive) flexibility with (Austin)." Predominately an outfielder, Austin has some experience at third and first base as well.
7. Mason Williams, CF
Age: 22 (Born August 21, 1991)
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 180 lbs.
2013 statistics: High-A: 100 games, 461 PA, .261/.327/.350, 3 HR, 95 wRC+
Double-A: 17 games, 76 PA, .153/.164/.264, 1 HR, 8 wRC+
Arizona Fall League: 22 games, 94 PA, .267/.330/.337, 0 HR, 84 wRC+
Andrew - #6: Williams took a huge step backward this year from being arguably the Yankees' best prospect, or at least second-best. His power dropped and he couldn't even hit above Florida State League-average. He'll need a big year in 2014 (hopefully in Trenton) to reclaim his top prospect status.
Jason - #3: I've really lost faith in Mason Williams after two disappointing seasons in a row. It's not just about the results for me, though. He was arrested for a DUI, came into camp heavier than usual and scouts said his game suffered because of it. He just hasn't put it together, and I don't think he ever will. He's still up here because not many others in the system have the tools and potential he has.
Tanya - #7: The shine has fallen off Williams a bit after he's failed to prove he can excel at or above High-A. He has tools for days, but that only matters if he can put them to work on the field. Add all of that to concerns about his attitude and you have a prospect in desperate need of a turnaround.
Jesse - #9: Williams' 2013 was a pretty rocky one, to put it mildly. After undergoing surgery to repair an injured shoulder suffered in 2012, Williams got a DUI shortly after the 2013 season began. And, despite a strong few weeks from late-June through late-July, Williams struggled pretty mightily, to the point where he looked completely over-matched in Double-A after a head-scratching promotion. What keeps Williams in my top 10, however, is his near-elite defensive ability in center field, as well as his previous, and pretty recent, track record as a top prospect.
8. Manny Banuelos, SP
Age: 22 (Born March 13, 1991)
Height: 5' 10" Weight: 155 lbs.
2013 statistics: N/A
Andrew - #9: He hasn't pitched since early 2012, but ManBan's talent as a southpaw continues to inspire hope. He's still young; as long as he can recover from Tommy John surgery, he will be on the doorstep to the majors.
Jason - #4: I still think he has the potential to be a solid middle of the rotation starter. He's going to need time to get back into his groove, but he could be up in the majors sometime this season and become a legitimate rotation option in 2015.
Tanya - #8: Banuelos has always been ahead of the curve for prospects his age which proved to be important when Tommy John surgery threw him totally off course. He may need some time to get back into the swing of things after such a long absence, but he'll be nearly major league-ready once he's back to 100%.
Jesse - #5: Banuelos still has the makings of three plus pitches in a fastball, curveball, and changeup. Banuelos will still only be 23 years old in March, but will need to shake off some rust as well as finish off his development before making his long-awaited debut in the Bronx.
9. Ian Clarkin, SP
Age: 19 (Born February 14, 1995)
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 186 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 3 games, 5 IP, 0-2, 10.80 ERA, 9.80 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 7.2 BB/9, 3.8 HR/9
Andrew - #11: An ankle injury limited Clarkin's time in the minors after the draft, but lofty pre-draft praise about the lefty prep star makes him the Yankees' best high school pitching prospect in years.
Jason - #11: Right out of the draft, he offers enough potential to be just outside the top 10 in the system. He didn't pitch much in 2013, but the lefty could be a future top of the rotation starter if all goes according to plan.
Tanya - #10 Left-handed pitchers with all the promise that made Clarkin one of the top prep lefties in the draft last season are easy to get excited about. Three pitches including a beautiful curve earn him a lofty ranking based on potential alone.
Jesse - #12: At just 19 years of age, last year's final first round pick, Ian Clarkin, has a strong fastball-curveball combination that gives him the chance to be a front-line starter. The changeup, currently his third-best offering, needs some work, however. It is expected that Clarkin will start 2014 at Staten Island, but, if he has a good spring training, he could find himself in Low-A to begin the year.
10. Aaron Judge, RF
Age: 21 (Born April 26, 1992)
Height: 6' 7" Weight: 230 lbs.
2013 statistics: N/A
Andrew - #13: An intimidatingly large outfielder with power, Judge is perhaps the most difficult prospect to rank since injuries prevented him from making a single pro appearance in 2013. However, positive reviews of his tenure at Cal State-Fresno suggest that he could be making big steps on prospect lists in 2014.
Jason - #13: The prospect status of Aaron Judge is all hypothetical right now because his power potential has never really shown up in-game. The Yankees took him in the first round with the hope that they can unlock that potential, and based on some evaluators' speculation, he could end up being a surprisingly athletic Adam Dunn.
Tanya - #9: His ranking is more about the promise than the results after he failed to make an appearance at any level last season. The college-tested bat makes it easy to dream a bit.
Jesse - #11: Judge has the propensity to display massive power during batting practice. The slight problem, however, is getting that power to translate during games. If the power does end up showing during games, there is a chance that the Yankees end up having an elite, power-hitting masher at the major league level. Not to mention, this former center fielder should play an above-average right field while having an absolute rocket for a right arm.
11 (tied). Jose Ramirez, SP
Age: 24 (Born January 21, 1990)
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 190 lbs.
2013 statistics: Double-A: 9 games (8 starts), 42.1 IP, 1-3, 2.76 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 10.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9
Triple-A: 8 games, 31.1 IP, 1-3, 4.88 ERA, 5.05 FIP, 8 K/9, 6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9
Andrew - #8: Ramirez had a terrific first half in one league, then struggled upon his promotion. Ramirez has some work to do in Scranton, like fix his shaky control and work on staying healthy, before he's ready for the pros.
Jason - #10: His killer changeup could make him a solid middle of the rotation starter, but he also has to learn a third pitch and find a way to stay healthy if he wants to stay out of the bullpen. I think that's where he ultimately ends up, though.
Tanya - #11: Ramirez may ultimately end up in the bullpen before it is all said and done but he still has a lot of promise. He just needs that promise to translate into success at Triple-A in 2014 to prove he's more than just another reliever.
Jesse - #18: Given his injury history, there have been murmurs that the Yankees could stick the right-hander in the bullpen. However, because the upside as a potential front-end starter is still there, Ramirez could still be given at least one more chance to make it as a starter. If the Yankees do end up sticking him in the bullpen, though, there is potential for Fernando Rodney- type upside, at least in terms of pure stuff, with a power fastball-nasty change combo out of the 'pen.
11 (tied). Luis Severino, SP
Age: 19 (Born February 20, 1994)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 6 games (4 starts), 26.1 IP, 3-1, 1.37 ERA, 1.68 FIP, 11 K/9, 2 BB/9, 0 HR/9
Low-A: 4 games, 17.2 IP, 1-1, 4.08 ERA, 2.24 FIP, 10.7 K/9, 2 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9
Andrew - #10: Although he's only made four starts above Rookie Ball, scouts are impressed by Severino's fastball/changeup combination, and his slider reportedly wasn't too bad either. Severino is a long way off, but his pure starting potential could be greater than anyone else in the system.
Jason - #17: A lot of evaluators are saying Severino is already a top 10 prospect, but I don't buy it. He's obviously talented, but I want to see him play more than just 10 games in a season before he's declared the real deal.
Tanya - #12: Pitching prospects will break your heart so often, especially when you start talking about ones that have barely cleared the hurdle of Rookie Ball like Severino. He's got all the stuff to be really impressive and scouts love him. Will they still love him in a year's time after he gets a real test against better competition?
Jesse - #8: Severino may be the most underrated prospect in the entire system, but that might change with a potential breakout 2014 season. The soon-to-be-20-year-old has a power fastball that can get up to 98 mph. His two secondary offerings, a slider and changeup, are good pitches as well, with the latter starting to become the better off-speed pitch over the former. Still very young, the right-hander is set to pitch in Low-A Charleston's rotation, where he already showed some success last summer.
13. Rafael De Paula, SP
Age: 22 (Born March 24, 1991)
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 212 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 13 games, 64.1 IP, 6-2, 2.94 ERA, 2.03 FIP, 13 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9
High-A: 11 games (10 starts), 49 IP, 1-3, 6.06 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, 0.92 HR/9
Andrew - #12: The Dominican's long-awaited American debut turned out to be just like Jose Ramirez's season, only a few levels lower. The excitement of an amazing first half with Charleston was tempered by a return to earth with Tampa. Regardless, De Paula has an electric repertoire, and more experience against the FSL hitters should help him in 2014. He'll be 23 by Opening Day though, so the clock is already ticking.
Jason - #8: As exciting as Rafael De Paula's first half was, that's how disappointing he was in the second half. He dominated Low-A, but struggled in High-A, so his prospect status will really be decided on which pitcher he's more like. He has the potential to be a top of the rotation pitcher if he can continue to dominate, but if the higher talent has caught up to him, he could ultimately end up in the bullpen.
Tanya - #13: De Paula was a force to be reckoned with in his first taste of pitching in the United States with Charleston last season. He faltered after his promotion to Tampa, but it could have just been a matter of needing to adjust to more patient hitters.
Jesse - #16: For the first two-and-a-half months of the 2013 season, De Paula lived up to the hype after losing two years of development. However, after De Paula got promoted from Low-A to High-A in the middle of June, the right-hander saw his walks go up, his strikeouts go down, and his command regress. He throws very hard and has the makings of a nasty slider, but there are still command issues that will need to be straightened out, as well as being able to last deeper into games.
14. Jose Campos, SP
Age: 21 (Born July 27, 1992)
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 26 games (19 starts), 87 IP, 4-2, 3.41 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 8 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9
Andrew - #16: Even if Michael Pineda never amounts to anything in pinstripes, there's still hope that Campos's future can lead to at least one productive career from that disastrous deal with Seattle. Campos has shown flashes of brilliance at times in the minors, so perhaps a ranking of 16th in the system is a bit low, but it would be ideal to see the Yankees at least let him pitch more than 100 innings in a season. A highlight of his young career has been his pinpoint control, but can he sustain that over a full season?
Jason - #12: Injuries have derailed Jose Campos' career quite a bit. He was hurt in 2012 and the Yankees kept him on an innings limit in 2013, so he hasn't pitched a whole lot since coming over from the Mariners. For me, he needs to prove that he's healthy and ready to take on a higher workload this year or he could fall into the back-end of the top 20.
Tanya - #18: With all the uncertainty that surrounds Michael Pineda's return after labrum surgery, Campos is all that is left to salvage the so far disastrous Pineda-Montero trade. He missed considerable time rehabbing an injury before being put on an innings limit last season, so what he can do with that behind him will determine whether or not future expectations need to be tempered.
Jesse - #14: The Yankees were pretty conservative with Campos last season following an elbow injury that cost him the final four months of the 2012 season. Campos had a solid season overall in 2013, albeit with just one of his 26 outings lasting five or more innings. The training wheels will still be on Campos a bit in 2014, but the team should be a little more liberal with his innings as the right-hander is slated to pitch towards the front-end of High-A Tampa's rotation.
15. Gosuke Katoh, 2B
Age: 19 (Born October 8, 1994)
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 180 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 50 games, 215 PA, .310/.402/.522, 6 HR, 171 wRC+
Andrew - #15: Plenty of other players who dominated Rookie Ball have demonstrated that numbers there can't be taken too seriously, but at the same time, evaluators can't ignore it, either. Katoh's performance stands out because the then-18-year-old wasn't supposed to be a standout hitter. Yet he hit .310/.402/.522 with a 171 wRC+ in 50 games anyway, adding another intriguing aspect to his profile, which already highlighted him as above-average on defense at second base. Like Severino, he has awhile to go before he can be considered an elite prospect, but Katoh scored the best possible scenario for his first professional season.
Jason - #18: The Yankees were highly criticized for drafting him when they did, but his 2013 production was the real surprise. Despite his youth and inexperience, I believe he might be the best second base prospect in the system. It's really between him and Refsnyder, but I'll take Katoh's defense for now.
Tanya - #14: The Yankees' surprise second round pick had a great start to his career as a professional, but Rookie Ball numbers are hard to place a lot of stock in. If he can prove that his success was for real in his first full season, he'll shoot up the prospect rankings.
Jesse - #15: Some questioned the Yankees with the selection of Katoh in the second round of last year's draft, but perhaps the Yankees made the right call. The second baseman actually has all the makings of being a shortstop, except the throwing arm. There are some whispers, though, that the Yankees could have Katoh see some time at short in 2014, so that's something to watch out for this year.
16. Mark Montgomery, RP
Age: 23 (Born August 30, 1990)
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 205 lbs.
2013 statistics: Triple-A: 25 games, 40 IP, 2-3, 3.38 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 11 K/9, 5.6 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9
Andrew - #14: Montie still has a wicked slider, and a rocky 2013 doesn't change that. He was very close to the big league level by the time he began Triple-A last year, so a good start there could very well lead to him playing an important role in the big league bullpen before too long.
Jason - #16: I would have liked to put him in the top 10-15, but after he came into spring training out of shape, he suffered through a very bad season filled with injuries and control issues. He blew through the system in 2011 and 2012, so I hope he can reclaim what he was and help the major league bullpen.
Tanya - #15: 2013 was the first time Montgomery ran into any trouble since he was drafted by the Yankees out of Longwood University. He's a prime candidate for a bullpen spot if he can get back to blowing away the competition, starting in spring training.
Jesse - #19: Set to make his Major League debut sometime last season, Montgomery battled through numerous shoulder problems that sapped him of some velocity. Control was a bit of an issue for Montgomery as well, but the right-hander can still rack up strikeouts with the best of 'em. If his health and control get back on track, he should get a look in what appears to be a thin bullpen in the Bronx.
17. Ty Hensley, SP
Age: 20 (Born July 30, 1993)
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 220 lbs.
2013 statistics: N/A
Andrew - #21: I don't understand Ty Hensley. Although the big Oklahoman carries plenty of promise, multiple natural abnormalities have limited the Yankees' top pick in 2012 to just five professional games. If he wants to reach the Severino/De Paula levels, he needs to at least have one full productive season on his record. Otherwise, he'll become just another in a long line of Yankees first-round busts.
Jason - #14: There have been a ton of odd injuries associated with this former first-round pick. An asymptomatic shoulder abnormality is what allowed him to drop to the Yankees in the first place, but now a second abnormality, this time in his hips, kept him out of the entire 2013 season. He has the body to be a real major league workhorse, but he needs to get on the mound and prove it. I might have to drop him from my top 20 if his first full season is uninspiring.
Tanya - #17: Few things have gone right for Hensley after being selected in the first round by the Yankees two years ago. He needs to actually pitch now, and he hasn't been able to stay on the field to this point.
Jesse - #13: After undergoing hip surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2013 season, Hensley is good to go for 2014. Like Clarkin, Hensley has a strong fastball-curveball combination, this time from the right side, which gives him front-of-the-rotation potential. Also, like Clarkin, the changeup is a work in progress as a third pitch.
18. Abiatal Avelino, SS
Age: 19 (Born February 14, 1995)
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 186 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League Yankees 1: 17 games, 67 PA, .259/.348/.328, 0 HR
Gulf Coast League Yankees 2: 17 games, 81 PA, .400/.481/.586, 0 HR
Staten Island Yankees: 17 games, 76 PA, .243/.303/.271, 0 HR
Andrew: #19: Another of the Katoh/Severino "so far but so promising variety," Avelino might be the shortstop with the most promise in the system at the moment. He just turned 19 and he'll probably start 2014 at Short-Season Staten Island after raking in Rookie Ball the last two years. A 17-game stint there in 2013 was not great, but it will be easier to evaluate him once he spends a year above the Gulf Coast League. Baseball America liked his defensive prowess and strong arm, and Avelino also simply doesn't strike out, fanning just 13 times in 143 PA last year.
Jason: #22: The 18-year-old international signee was expected to be a good defender, but he has also shown a good bat as well. It likely comes down to him and Tyler Wade as to who the best shortstop in the system is. Each has a long way to go, but Avelino has already shown consistent production over two seasons.
Tanya: #21: It's sad that you have to look all the way to the lowest levels of the system to find a bright spot for the future at shortstop, but Avelino is it. He's a long way off but he's a good defender and it's easy to love his lack of strikeouts.
Jesse: #10: Like Severino, Avelino is a pretty underrated prospect in the system, and may no longer be underrated with a potential breakout 2014. He should have no problem whatsoever sticking at shortstop long-term, and he's pretty darn solid with the bat to boot. He walked more than he struck out last season, and on the base paths, he stole a whopping 28-of-34 bases in only 51 games. Although there are an abundant amount of young shortstops at the lower levels of the system, Avelino is the most talented and could, and probably should, start at Low-A, even at only 19 years of age.
19. Peter O'Brien, C/3B
Age: 23 (Born July 15, 1990)
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 215
2013 statistics: Low-A: 53 games, 226 PA, .325/.394/.619, 11 HR, 181 wRC+
High-A: 66 games, 280 PA, .265/.314/.486, 11 HR, 122 wRC+
Arizona Fall League: 16 games, 66 PA, .190/.212/.413, 4 HR, 61 wRC+
Andrew: #18: Dude can rake. Even in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, O'Brien slugged .486 with 11 homers and a 122 wRC+ in 66 games. Unfortunately, that's about all he can do. He just cannot play defense at all. Maybe the supposed catcher can find a home at first base, but if (big if, as Montero proved) his bat does indeed carry him to the majors, DHing will likely be in his near-immediate future.
Jason: #19: I'm higher on O'Brien than most because if he can hit like he did in 2013, he'll be valuable whether he has a position or not. Many believe that he's destined to move out from behind the plate, so I would like them to move him now and see if he can hack it at third or even first base before he starts hitting the upper minors.
Tanya: #20: A catcher who can hit but can't catch. We've heard this story before. O'Brien is unlikely to ever make it behind the plate so he'll only go as far as his bat can take him. If the Yankees could get him to hack it at third base, or basically any other position, his outlook would improve a lot.
Jesse: #22: O'Brien might possess the most power of any prospect in the entire system. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much of a position, as catcher and third base have given the University of Miami product plenty of trouble. Couple in the fact that he strikes out an awful lot, O'Brien could have the makings of a Mark Reynolds type down the road.
20. Ramon Flores, LF
Age: 21 (Born: March 26, 1992)
Height: 5' 10" Weight: 150 lbs.
2013 statistics: 136 games, 620 PA, .260/.353/.363, 6 HR, 104 wRC+
Andrew - #23: Easily the most under-the-radar of Trenton's outfielders last year, the Venezuelan slipped from a 126 wRC+ last year in High-A Tampa to roughly league average marks in Double-A, with little power to boot. Maybe one day, Flores could reach the majors as a fourth outfielder.
Jason - #15: A .360 career OBP has really forced him into the prospect picture. He doesn't have much in terms of power and he's not too good against lefties, but he's still just 21, likely to reach Triple-A in 2014, and will (hopefully) be better than Zoilo Almonte. He could be a major-league regular as long as he has a platoon partner, though most likely he'll serve as a reliable fourth outfielder.
Tanya - #19: Flores has always been the forgotten man in the discussion of the Yankees' big outfield prospects due to not having the tools and high ceiling potential of Williams or Heathcott. Still, Flores has been solid and could find his way to the majors as early as this season, even if he is unlikely to ever be a star.
Jesse - #23: Despite being in the system for five years, Flores will be only 22 by the end of spring training. He provides patience at the plate and solid defensive in left field. Unfortunately, he doesn't provide much power and may not be quite good enough defensively to man center field on a regular basis, thus making him a bit of a "tweener."
21. Rob Refsnyder, 2B
Age: 22 (Born March 26, 1991)
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 205 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 13 games, 62 PA, .370/.452/.481, 0 HR, 173 wRC+
High-A: 117 games, 507 PA, .283/.408/.404, 6 HR, 140 wRC+
Andrew - #22: The 2012 fifth round pick impressed with a .283/.408/.404 triple slash in pitcher-friendly Tampa last year, so he could possibly give the Yankees offense from a premium position somewhere down the line. Obviously the righty is a few years away, and he'll need some serious defensive improvements. Since he appears likely to start in Double-A this year, he might be closer to the majors than you think.
Jason - #24: Going from outfielder to second baseman isn't exactly the easiest thing to do. If he can adapt, I think he becomes the Yankees' best bet at replacing Robinson Cano, if not, he moves back to the outfield, loses some value, but a .400 OBP with 10-20 stolen bases a season is still a prospect. It all comes down to how real his bat is.
Tanya - #16: The offense was there for Refsnyder in 2013 with the High-A Tampa Yankees, but his defense left a lot to be desired. Refsnyder was moved back to his high school position of second base after playing outfield during his college years with Arizona, so hopefully it's a matter of just readjusting.
Jesse - #21: Big fan of Refsnyder. At 22 years of age, Refsnyder led the Florida State League in walk rate (15.4%) and his 140 wRC+ was tied for third-best in the league. Though he has some improving to do defensively at second base, he made only two errors in his final month of the season. If he has another big season, coupled with further improvements at second base, it would not be surprising if we see him in the Bronx come 2015.
22 (tied). Luis Torrens, C
Age: 17 (Born May 2, 1996)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 171 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 48 games, 204 PA, .241/.348/.299, 1 HR
Andrew - #25: The young catcher is still a couple months away from turning 18; he was born just a week and a half before Doc Gooden's '96 no-hitter. He's further away than any prospect on this list and only hit .241/.348/.299 in 48 Rookie Ball games last year, but scouts really like him. Marc Hulet of FanGraphs even included him in his top 15 Yankees prospects. Can the kid's results match his high reviews?
Jason - #21: Out of all the catchers the Yankees have developed in the last few years, Torrens has the potential to be the first real all-around threat. Good with the glove, good with the bat, he might not have the power potential Sanchez has, but he has some real talent that has only just begun to show.
Tanya - #23: Torrens is another prospect that is so far away that it makes it difficult to really know whether the hype is for real or not. He's not even 18 yet! Serviceable catchers that scouts love are good enough to make the top 30 in a system without a lot of star power
Jesse - #17: At only 17 years of age, Torrens posted a very solid .348 OBP, thanks to a strong 13% walk-rate. Because he is still so very young and has a long ways to go before mastering the catching position, I expect the Yankees to take it pretty slow with Torrens, but the upside of a plus catcher with a strong bat is definitely there.
22 (tied). Nik Turley, SP
Age: 24 (Born September 11, 1989)
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Double-A: 27 games (26 starts), 139 IP, 11-8, 3.88 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 8.9 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 0.7 BB/9
Triple-A: 1 game, 6 IP, 0-0, 1.50 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 6 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0 HR/9
Andrew - #20: The near-last pick of the 2008 draft has beaten the odds to get as far as he has already, and a 3.88 ERA with a 4.18 FIP in Double-A is not bad at all. Turley will turn 25 in September and he still walks a ton of people, but since he's on the 40-man roster and has a good shot at cracking the Triple-A rotation at the outset of 2014, there is a glimmer of hope for the tall southpaw. As a lefty who can throw hard with a decent changeup, he'll probably get his fair share of chances, be it in the rotation or the bullpen.
Jason - #20: I like Turley; he strikes batters out, eats plenty of innings, and keeps the ball in the park, but he's likely destined to be another fifth starter/longman in the same vein as Adam Warren and David Phelps. He's 24 and just hitting Triple-A, so time is really running out for any potential upside, but a known quantity has value too.
Tanya - #22: Another lefty that has drawn some favorable comparisons to Andy Pettitte, if only because they throw with the same hand. A spot on the 40-man roster and likely kicking off the 2014 season in Triple-A could have Turley seeing the majors sometime this season.
Jesse - #24: Although he was picked with the third-to-last pick in the 2008 draft, Turley might prove to be an excellent find by New York. His curveball is easily a plus secondary offering and his fastball gained an extra tick of velocoity. However, the left-hander struggled a bit with control in 2013, posting a career-worst walk rate, albeit with a strong strikeout rate.
24. Bryan Mitchell, SP
Age: 22 (Born April 19, 1991)
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 205 lbs.
2013 statistics: High-A: 24 games (23 starts), 126.2 IP, 5.12 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 7.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9
Double-A: 3 games, 18.2 IP, 1.93 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0 HR/9
Andrew - #28: There is something to be said for pitching to solid FIP marks, but Mitchell's last seasons in terms of ERA have been ugly: 4.66 overall. Mitchell can be maddening, and never was that more evident than when he got a cup of coffee in Double-A down the stretch. On August 29th, he was brilliant, striking out 10 and walking none in a seven inning, one-unearned run performance. Just two starts later in the Eastern League playoffs, he walked seven, struck out two, and allowed four runs before leaving with one out in the sixth. I'm not sold on Mitchell until he can meet somewhere in the middle.
Jason - #23: A lot of evaluators are big on Bryan Mitchell, but I don't see it. I know he has good stuff and great potential, but he has yet to show it in his overall numbers. He needs to show results in the worst way.
Tanya - #26: It's hard to be as excited about Mitchell as scouts seem to be with extremely so-so results even if the peripherals are there. It would be nice to see him take a big step forward in 2014.
Jesse - #20: Stuff-wise, Mitchell may be the best pitcher in the Yankees' system, as he features a fastball that routinely sits in the high-90's, a nasty 12-6 curve, and a cutter that may already be a plus third pitch. Unfortunately, lack of command and consistency have been Mitchell's story since being drafted four years ago. Added to the 40-man roster by New York, Mitchell will have to prove he belongs in 2014.
25. Corban Joseph, 2B
Age: 25 (Born October 28, 1988)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 180 lbs.
2013 statistics: Triple-A: 47 games, 213 PA, .239/.329/.383, 6 HR, 101 wRC+
Major Leagues: 2 games, 7 PA, .167/.286/.333, 0 HR, 71 wRC+
Andrew - #17: CoJo is about as close to the Yankees' Opening Day roster as anyone on this list, even given his topsy-turvy 2013. The second baseman has hit well in Triple-A in the past, so now that he has recovered from shoulder surgery, he might have an outside shot at a roster spot. It seems more likely that the Yankees will send him back to Scranton, but he should be given a legitimate look in the infield.
Jason - #26: I don't think he has much upside, but I still think he can contribute at the major league level right now. He could be better than Brian Roberts, but he should be put on standby when he inevitably gets hurt. CoJo is their only chance to produce a major league infielder in 2014 and I hope he gets the chance.
Tanya - #24: Joseph could find his way to the majors as a regular in 2014 if Brian Roberts does Brian Roberts things and breaks before the All-Star break. The second baseman had a rough season in 2013 that ended early with an injury that required surgery, but his 2012 season gives some reason for optimism.
26. Tyler Wade, SS
Age: 19 (Born November 23, 1994)
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 180 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 46 games, 198 PA, .309/.429/.370, 0 HR, 147 wRC+
Staten Island Yankees: 4 games, 15 PA, .077/.200/.077, 0 HR, -2 wRC+
Andrew - #24: A fourth-round pick from last year's draft, Wade joined Katoh in destroying Rookie Ball pitching, and one could argue that perhaps his 147 wRC+ there means he might actually be a better shortstop prospect than Avelino. I think Avelino brings a smidgen more pure talent to the table though, and reports on his defense were a little better than Wade's (which were solid as well). I'm not sure how they'll resolve where Wade and Avelino will both go and start at shortstop, but it will be interesting to watch the two prospects develop together.
Jason - #27: He might already be one of their best shortstop prospects, even right out of the draft. He showed a good glove and hit well, even if he only played four games above Rookie Ball. If he continues to roll through 2014 I might put him in the 2015 top 20 list. Bold, I know.
Tanya - #25: Wade may very well end up as the Yankees' best shortstop prospect by the end of this season, which is both a testament to his potential and to the total lack of depth at the position within the system. Seeing how he does in a full season as a professional will tell a lot.
27. Tyler Webb, RP
Age: 23 (Born July 20, 1990)
Height: 6' 6" Weight: 225 lbs.
2013 statistics: Staten Island Yankees: 4 games, 5 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.20 FIP, 14.4 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0 HR/9
Low-A: 16 games, 30.1 IP, 3-1, 3.86 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 11.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9
Andrew - #29: The Yankees have a reputable history of drafting high-talent relievers, and Webb certainly meets the criteria. They took him out of South Carolina in the 10th round last year and he immediately made an impression by notching a 12.2 K/9 with a mere 2.0 BB/9 in 20 games between Staten Island and Charleston. Webb, Dietrich Enns, and Nick Goody all give the Yankees some hope for future strikeout artists just a couple years down the road.
Jason - #25: Fresh out of college, Webb was pretty dominant in Low-A Charleston. He's likely bound to move through the system relatively fast, like Mark Montgomery did before him, because I think he has the ability to be a high-strikeout closer if everything goes well.
Tanya - #30: Like Nick Rumbelow, Webb was drafted right out of college last season before coming in and putting up good numbers at Low-A. He could move quickly with success and end up like a Mark Montgomery-type prospect if everything breaks right for him.
28. Shane Greene, SP
Age: 25 (Born November 17, 1988)
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 200 lbs.
2013 statistics: High-A: 13 games, 75 IP, 4-6, 3.60 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 8.3 K/9, 1.2 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9
Double-A: 14 games (13 starts), 79.1 IP, 8-4, 3.18 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 7.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
Andrew - #27: A recent addition to the 40-man roster, the 25-year-old right-hander did yeoman's work between High-A and Double-A last year, finishing with a 3.18 ERA and 3.49 FIP in Trenton. Greene greatly cut down on his control problems from 2012 and that led to a far better year in 2013. He'll probably start the season back in Trenton, but another midseason promotion could be right around the corner. I almost included hard-throwing Rookie Davis as one of the last starters on this list, but since Greene has much more seasoning than Davis, who has only made 14 professional starts, I gave Greene and Mitchell the edge.
Tanya - #28: Greene is another prospect that has flown under the radar a bit. It's hard to argue with the results from last season in the more challenging levels of the minor leagues.
Jesse - #30: Greene's 2013 was easily his best year in the system. After struggling with control in his first four years with the Yankees, Greene pitched to just a 1.7 BB/9 split between Tampa and Trenton last season. The right-hander was added to the 40-man by New York, so, if he continues to progress, we could see him in the Bronx sometime this season.
29. Chase Whitley, RP
Age: 24 (Born June 14, 1989)
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 215 lbs.
2013 statistics: Triple-A: 29 games (5 starts), 3-2, 3.06 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 8.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9
Andrew - #26: An oft-forgotten prospect since he's a reliever, the 24-year-old has been nothing but productive out of the Triple-A bullpen for the past two years. He pitched to a 3.06 ERA and 3.05 FIP last year with a fine 2.8 BB/9, so he should be one of the first arms called up (if he's not up already) should the Yankees' bullpen need reinforcements.
Tanya - #27: Whitley has managed to fly under the radar a bit but he has a decent chance of breaking camp with the big league club this season. He's not as flashy as Montgomery is, but he's been more than serviceable in the RailRiders' bullpen.
30. Dellin Betances, RP
Age: 25 (Born March 23, 1988)
Height: 6' 8" Weight: 260 lbs.
2013 statistics: Triple-A: 38 games (6 starts), 84 IP, 6-4, 2.68 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 11.6 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9
Major Leagues: 6 games, 5 IP, 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 18 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.8 HR/9
Jesse - #25: After being converted to a reliever, Betances finally found his rhythm. He was able to keep his strikeout numbers up in the ‘pen, but, more importantly, his control greatly improved. If he can continue to be consistent in his new relief role, Betances has the ability to become a high-end, late-inning reliever.
Beyond the Top 30
Brady Lail, SP
Age: 20 (Born August 9, 1993)
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 175 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 12 games (11 starts), 54 IP, 4-1, 2.33 ERA, 1.64 FIP, 8.5 K/9, 0.8 BB/9, 0 HR/9
High-A: 2 games (1 start), 7.2 IP, 1-0, 7.04 ERA, 4.77 FIP, 5.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9
Jesse - #26: Lail is yet another sleeper in the Yankees' system with a chance to breakout in 2014. The 20-year-old pitched outstanding in a 12-outing trial at the GCL last season, while even making a brief two-outing cameo at High-A later in the year. The right-handed Lail boasts a fastball in the low-90's, including a two-seamer, which helps him pick up plenty of ground balls. His changeup and curve are his two main off-speed pitches, with the former already his main go-to out-pitch.
Miguel Andujar, 3B
Age: 18 (Born March 2, 1995)
Height: 6' 0" Weight 175 lbs.
2013 statistics: Gulf Coast League: 34 games, 144 PA, .323/.368/.496, 4 HR
Jesse - #27: In his second go-around at the GCL, Andujar raked to an .864 OPS. Turning only 19 years of age in March, Andujar has the potential to be a very good, all-around hitter, but has some room to improve defensively at third base.
Zoilo Almonte, OF
Age: 24 (Born June 10, 1989)
Height: 6' 0" Weight" 205 lbs.
2013 statistics: Triple-A: 68 games, 293 PA, .297/.369/.421, 6 HR, 124 wRC+
Major Leagues: 34 games, 113 PA, .236/.274/.302, 1 HR, 55 wRC+
Jason - #28: He just barely fits onto this list, but he's likely never going to amount to much. What he could offer is a decent bat off the bench and, at most, a fourth outfielder.
Angelo Gumbs, 2B
Age: 21 (Born October 13, 1992)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 175 lbs.
2013 statistics: High-A: 39 games, 170 PA, .214/.265/.302, 0 HR, 61 wRC+
Low-A: 52 games, 218 PA, .213/.261/.351, 4 HR, 75 wRC+
Jesse - #28: Gumbs has some of the best tools in the entire system, including immense bat speed, but it's his over aggressiveness at the plate and on the base paths that has hurt his stock. He was set to breakout following a strong 2012 in Charleston, but he regressed mightily in 2013 at Tampa to the point where he was demoted back to Charleston, where he then continued to flounder. The upside is still there for a rebound in 2014.
Jake Cave, CF
Age: 21 (Born December 7, 1992)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 179 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 115 games, 520 PA, .282/.347/.401, 2 HR, 117 wRC+
Jesse - #29: A bit of an underrated prospect, Cave was sidelined all of 2012 thanks to knee problems. He was able to stay healthy in 2013, thankfully, and he had a rock-solid season with the bat as the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the RiverDogs. A good defender in center, Cave will need to tap into some more power before moving further up the prospect ladder.
Dietrich Enns, SP/RP
Age: 22 (Born May 16, 1991)
Height: 6' 1" 195 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 19 games (1 start), 44.1 IP, 4-1, 0.61 ERA, 1.24 FIP, 14 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0 HR/9
High-A: 9 games (7 starts), 38.1 IP, 0-5, 5.63 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 4.9 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9
Jason #29 - I think he has a chance to be an elite reliever, but it seems the Yankees are going to try him out as a starter. If he can stay in the rotation he's likely destined to just be an innings eater, so at some point they'll have to decide what they'd rather have - a closer or a longman. I know starters are more important, but I'd prefer an elite reliever over a fringe starter.
Nick Rumbelow, RP
Age: 22 (Born June 12, 1991)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 190 lbs.
2013 statistics: Staten Island Yankees: 19 games, 23 IP, 2-2, 2.35 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 7.8 K/9, 2 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9
Tanya: #29: Rumbelow is another reliever with college experience like David Robertson or Mark Montgomery that could end up flying through the system with any regular success. He struck out 20 in 23 innings to kick off his career as a professional, holding batters to a .148 average over that span.
Cito Culver, SS
Age: 21 (Born August 26, 1992)
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 190 lbs.
2013 statistics: Low-A: 104 games, 466 PA, .232/.312/.344, 8 HR, 92 wRC+
High-A: 16 games, 66 PA, .355/.394/.484, 1 HR, 153 wRC+
Andrew: #30: Cito is probably a bust at this point, but he still has a highly-regarded defensive reputation and seemed to hit a little bit better in the minors last year once he finally gave up switch-hitting. Although it probably won't make much of a difference in the long run, his 92 wRC+ in 104 games with Charleston was roughly league-average for a shortstop and though inflated by a .447 BABIP, he actually seemed productive in a 16-game cameo with Tampa. Call me magnanimous or whatever--these slight improvements over his 2012 campaign make Culver just intriguing enough to crack my top 30 list, though I would still count myself among Cito's doubters.
Ben Gamel, OF
Age: 21 (Born May 17, 1992)
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 185 lbs.
2013 statistics: High-A: 96 games, 423 PA, .272/.352/.396, 3 HR, 114 wRC+
Double-A: 16 games, 72 PA, .239/.282/.343, 1 HR, 72 wRC+
Jason: #30: He might not come with the hype surrounding the Yankees' top three outfield prospects, but I still think he deserves credit for producing at a comparable rate. He's already in Double-A at the age of 21, so he's clearly proven himself to the Yankees. He could become a legitimate option at the major league level before too long, though his lack of power will likely prevent him from ever becoming a full-time option.