Keith Law's list of Top 100 prospects has been released and four Yankee prospects have made it onto the list, another prospect has also been ranked within the Top 110. Gary Sanchez is ranked #18, Mason Williams is #35, Tyler Austin is #52, Slade Heathcott is #57, and Jose Ramirez was placed just outside the Top 100. Compare that to MLB.com's list where Sanchez was #36, Williams was #40, Austin was #58 (with Manny Banuelos coming in at #100).
Gary Sanchez (C) put up a solid season in 2012. He crushed pitching in Charleston to the tune of a .297/.353/.517 batting line in 68 games, which equates to a 135 wRC+. He was moved up to Tampa where he leveled off somewhat, but still managed to put up an impressive .279/.330/.436 line. Sanchez has always had problems with his plate discipline, averaging 6.5 walk rate in 2012, compared to a 22% strikeout rate. Thankfully, he's actually striking out less than in past seasons, but improvement needs to continue. He also needs to rediscover his power stroke, because five home runs at Tampa is not going to get it done. He hit 13 in Charleston, so the power is there, it just needs to be more consistent. Somehow he managed to steal 11 bases too, but I'm not sure how exactly. He'll be staying in High-A for now, but a thing to remember is that he's still only going to be 20, so he has a lot of time.
Mason Williams (OF) has real star potential. In 69 games at Low-A he hit .304/.359/.489 for a 131 wRC+ and ended the season in High-A for 22 games where he was right around league average. His K rates went up and his walk rates went down, but it's a small sample size. He use more patience at the plate, but he does have speed on the base path. He stole 19 bases in Charleston, but that is a far cry from his 28 stolen bases in 2011. His athleticism makes him a player to watch out for on both sides of the diamond. He has been compared to Brett Gardner in the field, in both speed and glove work, so if he can add some power and put it all together he has the potential to be an All-Star. He'll be in Tampa to begin the year, but could move up the levels as a 21 year old.
Tyler Austin (OF) had an explosion of a season in 2012, effectively putting him on the map in the eyes of prospect lovers everywhere. He jumped three levels in 2012, putting up a .320/.405/.598 batting line in 70 games in Charleston, good for a monstrous 170 wRC+. He was next bumped up to Tampa, where he put up an impressive .321/.385/.478 triple slash in 36 games, good for a 144 wRC+. His season was stalled when he took a baseball to the head, but he did get as high as Trenton before the end of the season. He could use some work on his plate discipline, but he seems to be correcting that himself as he goes through the system. If he can increase his home run count (14 at Charleston) and consistently steal bases (17 at Charleston) he'll be an all around threat for sure. Austin should be back in Tampa as a 21 year old to start the year, but if he picks up where he left off he should be in Double-A in no time.
Slade Heathcott (OF) is probably the most volatile player out of these five. He has a lot of potential, but his injuries sustained on the field and his problems off the field could prevent him from putting it all together. Prospect rankers seem to be very high on him right now with the hopes that he can put it all together, however several surgeries on his throwing arm have already hindered his once great arm, so it's still yet to be known what his injury history has done to his value. In 60 games he hit an awesome .307/.378/.470, good for a 142 wRC+, so the skill is definitely there. His 27.2 K rate was his second worst rate since his 2010 season in Rookie ball, however his walk rate hovered around 8%, which seems to be about his norm. He still has very little home run power, but his high BABIP rates and decent speed (17 stolen bases) might be enough to make up for it. Hopefully his daredevil style of play will not hinder his career and instead make him an insane highlight reel. At 22 he'll be starting the year in Trenton, so it's time to see what he can really do.
Jose Ramirez (RHP) took a big step up in 2012 in terms of his prospect status. In his first full year at Tampa he put up a 3.19 ERA with a 3.28 FIP in 98 innings, which probably amounts to his strongest season yet. He saw time at High-A in 2011, but it's hard to know how well he did because of his extremely small sample size of six starts. His K/9 dropped back down to his career rate of a little more than 8 strikeouts per nine innings, but his BB/9 showed the greatest improvement as he managed a 2.74 BB/9, which is far better than his previous career best of 3.29 BB/9. He's also stranding runners (71.7% LOB) and limiting home runs (0.64 HR/9) so it's been nothing but good things for him so far. The 23 year old will be starting the season in Trenton so he's going to start being really tested. Hopefully he shows he's for real.
How do they compare to the competition, you ask? Well according to Law's list, Sanchez (#18) is behind the Mets' Travis D'Arnaud (#14) and the Mariners' Mike Zunino (#15) and is three years younger than D'Arnaud and one year younger than Zunino, both of whom are at higher levels. Mason Williams (#35) is ahead of Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. (#40) and the Cubs' expensive Jorge Soler (#42). He is also only five spots behind the great Billy Hamilton (#30) of the Reds. Tyler Austin (#52) and Slade Heathcott (#57) have the Padres' Rymer Liriano (#54) and the Pirates' Gregorio Polanco (#55) between them; Heathcott is a year younger than the rest. For a little more context, the duo is also higher than the Padres' Casey Kelly (#60) and the Braves' Arodys Vizcaino (#64).