The Yankees making the decision to sell at the 2016 trade deadline did wonders for their farm system. In addition to some recent luck developing their own draftees, the team got an influx of promising prospects from selling off assets like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. The result is a new-look farm system that is loaded with talent.
Baseball America released an updated version of the Yankees Top 10 prospect list on Friday, and there has definitely been a shake up at the top. Gleyber Torres gets the top spot after coming over from the Cubs in the Chapman trade. He has kind of stolen the future shortstop shine away from Jorge Mateo a bit. The right-hander has a strong arm, can definitely stay at shortstop long-term, and strong pitch recognition.
At just 20 years old, Torres is expected to start his 2017 season at Double-A Trenton, and could be poised to make his big league debut before his 22nd birthday. It seems like he will be getting the majority of the reps at shortstop, despite Mateo tagging along at a similar level of the minors. That kind of speaks to what the future may hold for the both of them.
Clint Frazier, another newcomer to the Yankees’ system, comes in second on Baseball America’s list. The outfielder was the key piece in the Andrew Miller trade with Cleveland. Like Torres and left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield, who also came over in the Miller trade, Frazier was one of three midseason Top 100 prospects now in the Yankees’ system.
A former fifth overall pick, Frazier struggled a bit in his first taste of Triple-A. He has worked on reducing pre-swing movement and will need to continue to cut down on his strikeouts. His bat speed and raw power coupled with good range and an above-average arm in the outfield earn him such a high ranking. He should find his way to the big leagues at some point next season.
Outfielder Blake Rutherford is the first prospect drafted by the Yankees to make Baseball America’s list. It was noted around draft time that he ended up falling to the Yankees because of other teams’ concern about his signability and slightly older age (19, gasp). Baseball America projects him as a four-tool player with only his arm strength holding him back a bit.
Scouts have projected Rutherford’s future hitting and power at 60 on the 20-80 scale, and his left-handed swing should fit right in with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. His athleticism and range give him the ability to play center field, but his arm could force a move to left field eventually.
Shortstop Jorge Mateo and right-hander James Kaprielian round out the Yankees’ top 5. Both will be looking for bounce back seasons in 2017 as Mateo saw a bit of a drop in his production and Kaprielian lost most of his season to injury.
The biggest fall on the list is Aaron Judge being ranked sixth. Some are going to see this and panic, but there may not really be reason to. As a college player, Judge is obviously older than plenty of his prospect competition. A player like Torres is going to have much more potential to blossom than a player like Judge.
The Yankees also acquired a ton of highly rated talent in their trades that wouldn’t have been in the system otherwise. Judge may not have blown the lid off the majors the way that Gary Sanchez did, but there is still time. All is not lost.
Rounding out Baseball America’s top 10 are Justus Sheffield, who came over in the Miller trade, right-hander Chance Adams, outfielder Dustin Fowler, and right-hander Domingo Acevedo.
The fact that there are quite a few promising pitching prospects on the list has to be somewhat of a relief after producing homegrown pitching talent has been so weak for the Yankees as of late. With a real starting rotation issue looming after 2017, the more bodies they can have to potentially fill those spots, the better.