The New York Yankees have the best farm system in baseball.
It’s hard to believe that this sentence could be true considering the sorry state of Yankees prospects just three years ago. Gary Sanchez was the only Yankee to make the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 in 2014, and he didn’t appear until the rankings hit the eighties. The evaluators are different now, but it’s extremely telling that in the most recent Baseball Prospectus rankings, the Yankees had nine prospects ranked.
Some people might say that the Braves or Brewers have a better system right now, but the fact that the Yankees are even in the conversation is truly remarkable. Brian Cashman has done an amazing job retooling the minors—gone are the days of Jose Ramirez and his ilk crashing the party near the top. The top 10 players are some of baseball’s finest prospects, and several in the 10-20 range would probably be a top-10 prospect in most other organizations. It’s a good time to be a Baby Bomber fan.
Pinstripe Alley’s Top 20 Yankees Prospects
1. Gleyber Torres
Age on Opening Day: 20 (Born December 13, 1996)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 175 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+) 125 G, .270/.354/.421, 29 2B, 11 HR, 21 SB, .775 OPS
Tanya - #1: Easily the best prospect the Yankees have had in quite some time, as well as one of the best in all of baseball. Torres has the potential to be a star. Acquiring him could prove to be a game-changer for the organization.
Andrew - #1: #GleyberGood.
Jason - #1: The combination of hitting prowess and glove work at a premium position makes Torres the team's top prospect. You can see how advanced he is based on the fact that he is only 20 years old and should see time in Double-A this year.
2. Clint Frazier
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born September 6, 1994)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 190 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AAA/AA) 119 G, .263/.335/.447, 27 2B, 16 HR, 13 SB, .782 OPS
Tanya - #2: Bat speed for days. Frazier could see time in the majors as early as mid-2017 with the potential to be above average defensively. If he puts everything together with the bat, he could truly be a special player.
Andrew - #2: They don't call Frazier "Red Thunder" for nothing. He can really crush a baseball, and has an even higher ceiling than his closest system comp, the towering Judge. He might end up being to 2017 what Greg Bird was to 2015 and Gary Sanchez was to 2016.
Jason - #2: While he doesn't have the power potential of Judge, Frazier is a far more balanced player and likely has a higher chance of making it. He struggled after a month with the organization, however, he should be able to push for a September call up with a strong full season.
3. Aaron Judge
Age on Opening Day: 24 (Born April 26, 1992)
Height: 6’7” Weight: 275 lbs.
2016 statistics: (MLB) 27 G, .179/.263/.345, 2 2B, 4 HR, 0 SB, .608 OPS
(AAA) 93 G, .270/.366/.489, 18 2B, 19 HR, 5 SB, .854 OPS
Tanya - #4: Judge is on the verge of losing his prospect status, but he is still slated to be the Yankees’ starting right fielder in 2017. While it has taken him time to adjust to new levels along the way, Judge still has the potential to be an impact player at the big league level.
Andrew - #3: People are a little down on Judge right now because of the way MLB pitchers exposed him, but the power is very real and he should not be overlooked. Although it might take Judge a couple seasons to get into the groove, he could be an AL menace for years.
Jason - #3: Technically still considered a prospect, it has yet to be seen if Judge will break camp with the Yankees or spend time in Triple-A again. While his exposures to major league pitching weren't ideal, he has shown a history of improving with more exposure. Hopefully he gets a chance to make the necessary adjustments so he can start hitting more dingers.
4. Jorge Mateo
Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born June 23, 1995)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 190 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+) 113 G, .254/.306/.379, 16 2B, 8 HR, 36 SB, .685 OPS
Tanya - #5: Overshadowed a bit since the acquisition of Torres, Mateo still has the 80-grade speed to make people sit up and listen. He took a step back in 2017, both on and off the field. He is said to be learning outfield to add to his repertoire though, and maybe that is where his future lies.
Andrew - #4: Some considered Mateo the Yankees' top prospect prior to last year's trade deadline, so he shouldn't fall too far since it's not like his 2016 was a disaster. He can stand to improve though, even on the basepaths, where he wasn't a very efficient runner (70.6% SB%). He is still quite young.
Jason - #4: Mateo may be going through the growing pains that Gary Sanchez previously went through. He's been suspended for disciplinary reasons and his offensive numbers seem to be leveling off in Tampa. Torres has already passed him, and if he can't prove that his bat is at least league-average, all the speed in the world isn't going to be much use to him.
5. Blake Rutherford
Age on Opening Day: 19 (Born May 2, 1997)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 195 lbs.
2016 statistics: (Rk) 33 G, .351/.415/.570, 8 2B, 3 HR, 0 SB, .986 OPS
Tanya - #3: The Yankees lucked into Rutherford due to other teams’ concern over his signability. Their loss is New York’s gain, as Rutherford tore up the Appalachian League in his first few months as a professional. Above-average power? Yes please.
Andrew - #5: Rutherford might be forever away, but he has some of the best tools in baseball. It's not often that the Yankees get a player as talented as Rutherford in the MLB Draft, and he could very well be number one on this list before long.
Jason - #7: Things got off to an exciting start for Rutherford last year, but it will still be a long time before we see him anywhere near the majors. There's a chance the Yankees could push him hard this year to see what he's capable of even at 19 years old.
6. James Kaprielian
Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born March 2, 1994)
Height: 6’4” Weight: 200 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+) 3 GS, 18 IP, 1.50 ERA, 11.0 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 0.611 WHIP
Tanya - #6: Kaprielian came into the system as a polished college pitcher, but injury cost him considerable time in 2016. He returned to pitch well in the Arizona Fall League, and could continue to climb up the minor-league ladder fairly quickly.
Andrew - #6: It's telling that the Yankees have been so open about how the 2015 first-round pick is closer to the majors than people might think. Health seems to be Kaprielian’s only bugaboo. If he can find it in 2017 though, he could be a big-league contributor by season's end.
Jason - #6: After missing a majority of the 2016 season, Kaprielian came back healthy for the Arizona Fall League. While he lost a good portion of development time, he is advanced enough to get back on target with a big year in 2017.
7. Justus Sheffield
Age on Opening Day: 20 (Born May 13, 1996)
Height: 5’10” Weight: 195 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AA/A+) 19 GS, 125 1/3 IP, 3.09 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.277 WHIP
Tanya - #7: A hard thrower despite his smaller stature, Sheffield has multiple above-average pitches that could turn him into a solid starter at the big league level.
Andrew - #7: I would not fault anyone who ranks Sheffield higher than Kaprielian right now since he's been healthier and has plenty of potential as well (at a younger age, too). I want him to make it if not only so one day we can get Sheffield v. Sheffield in an Old-Timers' Day game.
Jason - #5: The organization's new top pitching prospect is extremely young for his age. It's likely that he starts out at Double-A at just 20 years old, and there is reason to believe he could succeed there too. The Yankees certainly have time with him, but he may not need it after a full season with his new team.
8. Chance Adams
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born August 10, 1994)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 215 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AA/A+) 24 GS, 127 1/3 IP, 2.33 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.903 WHIP
Tanya - #9: The Yankees took a college reliever and made him a starter, and Adams adjusted to the change quite well. His size may mean an eventual move back to the bullpen, but his good command has gotten him this far.
Andrew - #9: It would not be a shocker at all to see Adams eventually end up in a big-league bullpen, but one huge perk that the Yankees drew from 2016 is that this role is probably his floor. He was filthy in minor-league rotations throughout the season, so if he can keep it up, watch out.
Jason - #8: As a first-time starter, Adams broke out in a big way last year. Now all eyes are on him as one of the few solutions to the 2018 rotation problem. We might see him at some point this year.
9. Miguel Andujar
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born March 2, 1995)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 175 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AA/A+) 130 G, .273/.332/.410, 26 2B, 12 HR, 3 SB, .742 OPS
Tanya - #8: It feels like Andujar has been kicking around forever, but he’s still just 21 years old. He has the tools to be great with a very strong arm and good power potential, but putting everything together has been a bit of a struggle. If he figures out how to be consistent, he could be very, very good.
Andrew - #8: The most likely potential successor to Chase Headley at third base, Andujar is talented enough to be knocking on the door to the big leagues by the end of 2017. His bat will be what carries him though, and he needs to establish a little more consistency. Don't forget about him.
Jason - #12: Traditionally seen as a slow starter at each new level, Andujar finally bucked the trend with a successful first few months in Double-A. The Yankees believe in his ability to serve as their only legitimate third base prospect, so it will be interesting to see how he will do with a full year in Trenton at the age of 22.
10. Domingo Acevedo
Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born March 6, 1994)
Height: 6’7” Weight: 190 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+/A) 18 GS, 93 IP, 2.61 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.129 WHIP
Tanya - #10: He can hit 102 mph with his fastball. Acevedo is a massive guy who throws strikes and gets results. Concerns about his health aren’t unfounded, but hopefully he can put those to rest.
Andrew - #15: If Acevedo was just a little healthier and younger, he'd be higher on my list. Nonetheless, even if he just makes it to the majors as a reliever, he has the overwhelming repertoire to dominate out of the bullpen.
Jason - #9: Once again, it comes down to health. He has amazing stuff, and he knows how to use it, but if he can't stay on the mound, Acevedo will never be able to shake his projection as a future reliever.
11. Jordan Montgomery
Age on Opening Day: 24 (Born December 27, 1992)
Height: 6’6” Weight: 225 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AAA/AA) 25 GS, 139 1/3 IP, 2.13 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.199 WHIP
Tanya - #15: Montgomery had a fantastic season in 2016, and has positioned himself to make a big league impact at some point this season. His fastball isn’t overly flashy in the low 90s, but he has good control and some deception with his arm angle to make everything a bit more effective.
Andrew - #10: Yes, Montgomery has a low ceiling. No, that doesn't mean he's not deserving of top prospect consideration. Consistent back-of-the-rotation arms are valuable and based on his 2016 success, it sure seems like Montgomery could be in the Yankees' front five very soon.
Jason - #11: He might not have the highest ceiling, but Montgomery is one of the team's most MLB-ready pitchers in the organization. We should see him at some point this season, and he should be able to provide some length.
12. Albert Abreu
Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born September 26, 1995)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 175 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+/A) 24 G, 16 GS, 101 2/3 IP, 3.72 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 5.1 BB/9, 1.298 WHIP
Tanya - #11: Abreu has a big fastball but lacks some command of his pitches. It may take some time for him to iron out those issues, but the stuff is definitely there.
Andrew - #11: Like Acevedo, Abreu might ultimately be a reliever, but for now, his tremendous stuff makes him an impressive prospect. They did very well in the Brian McCann trade to get him from Houston.
Jason - #15: 2016 was Abreu’s first year out of rookie ball, and he did quite well for himself. His control issues could ultimately hurt his chances of making it as a starter, however, the Yankees have time to work with him so that he can develop.
13. Dustin Fowler
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born December 29, 1994)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 195 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AA) 132 G, .281/.311/.458, 30 2B, 12 HR, 25 SB, .770 OPS
Tanya - #12: Speedy center field type who also has some sneaky power. Fowler could play any outfield position with a good arm and pretty good defense. The Yankees have a bit of a logjam when it comes to outfielders, but Fowler is one of the better ones.
Andrew - #16: Fowler's not going to lead the league in triples every year as he did in 2016 with 15, but it's a nice perk. He's a Brett Gardner-esque player with not quite as much speed though, so will there be a spot for him in the Yankees' outfield? Unclear.
Jason - #10: Fowler has been an interesting prospect for a few years now, but it wasn't until 2016 that he truly broke out. His power emerged, he continued to be active on the base paths, and he offers an impressive center field glove. This will be an important year for him.
14. Tyler Wade
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born November 23, 1994)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 185 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AA) 133 G, .259/.352/.349, 16 2B, 5 HR, 27 SB, .701 OPS
Tanya - #14: He’s fast and gets on base. Wade can play shortstop or second base and recently added some outfield which could make him a fairly ideal utility player. His good eye at the plate should serve him well in the upper levels of the minors and beyond.
Andrew - #13: The utilityman ceiling isn't sexy, but it's useful and could turn into a long MLB career. Just ask Miguel Cairo. That makes for a fine prospect, and Wade is just that.
Jason - #13: Wade is just 22 and had already completed a full season at Double-A. The numbers aren't there yet, but you have to keep in mind that he's still sticking around because he is able to compete at a higher level. The Yankees likely see his versatility in the field as a strength.
15. Dillon Tate
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born May 1, 1994)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 165 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A) 24 G, 16 GS, 82 1/3 IP, 4.70 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.603 WHIP
Tanya - #13: Another guy with a fastball that can hit 98 mph, Tate is a bit of a project. The Rangers didn’t have a problem letting him go for half a season of Carlos Beltran, and clearly the Yankees feel like they can work out some of his issues to let his stuff really shine again.
Andrew - #14: Even at Tate's current form, he would be a top-10 guy in the system just a couple years ago. He was a sneaky midseason pick-up for minimal cost; keep an eye on him in 2017.
Jason - #17: The Yankees were able to scoop up Tate after the Rangers lost faith in their 2015 fourth overall pick when his velocity dropped substantially. They were able to introduce adjustments that improved his performance, but unless the velocity comes back, things could be over for him already.
16. Tyler Austin
Age on Opening Day: 25 (Born September 6, 1991)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 220 lbs.
2016 statistics: (MLB) 31 G, .241/.300/.458, 3 2B, 5 HR, 1 SB, .758 OPS
(AAA/AA) 107 G, .294/.392/.524, 34 2B, 17 HR, 6 SB, .916 OPS
Tanya - #17: Austin revived his prospect status with a strong showing in New York last season. He’ll need to prove he is more of that guy than the guy who had all the shine wear off him in previous seasons, but his promising bat could help him do just that.
Andrew - #12: Austin is still technically a rookie, but his actual MLB success should give him a decent spot on prospect lists. He'll probably stick around the majors for longer than people suspect, though he's not enough of a presence to justify passing on the Chris Carters of the world.
Jason - #16: He finally made his mark after this year after a big minor league performance. Things looked bad in August but a September revival showed us what he is really capable of offering. If he amounts to a solid bench bat, the Yankees will call it a win.
17. Ian Clarkin
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born February 14, 1995)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 190 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+) 18 GS, 98 IP, 3.31 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.327 WHIP
Tanya - #16: Injuries upon injuries have hampered Clarkin’s progression through the system. Good command of his pitches still makes him an intriguing prospect, but he has to prove that he can stay on the field at this point. At 21 years old, he still has time on his side for now.
Andrew - #17: Don't be too deterred by Clarkin's relatively low ranking on this prospect list. He'll be in Double-A in 2017 and while the 2013 first-round pick has been around awhile, he is still feelin' 22.
Jason - #14: Despite the lack of attention, Clarkin recovered nicely from an injury-plagued 2015 season. His next big challenge will be Double-A this year, and he will need to bring his strikeout rate up to where it was before the elbow injury.
18. Dietrich Enns
Age on Opening Day: 25 (Born May 16, 1991)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 210 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AAA/AA) 26 G, 22 GS, 135 IP, 1.73 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.170 WHIP
Tanya - #18: Definitely not a guy who is going to blow you away with speed, but Enns knows how to find the strike zone and that is very important. He doesn’t have one fantastic pitch, but all of them should be serviceable. He could make a big league impact this season.
Jason - #18: Enns proved to be major league ready last season and should get a chance in the majors this year. His ceiling isn't very high, but as a left-handed reliever turned starting pitcher he could serve a valuable role as a backend starter or longman out of the bullpen.
19. Drew Finley
Age on Opening Day: 20 (Born July 10, 1996)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 200 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A-) 6 GS, 27 1/3 IP, 4.28 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.098 WHIP
Tanya - #20: Finley is another guy who arrived in the system already more polished than some other guys his age, especially right out of high school. His curveball is his money pitch, but he does get some good swings and misses on his fastball. The command is good and he could easily develop into a solid rotation guy for the future.
Andrew - #19: Finley mirrors Clarkin a lot, from his San Diego prep roots to the acclaimed draft status and unfortunately, to the injury problems. A healthy 2017 would make him zoom up the ranks.
20. Billy McKinney
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born August 23, 1994)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 205 lbs.
2016 statistics: (AA) 123 G, .246/.342/.338, 19 2B, 4 HR, 4 SB, .680 OPS
Tanya - #19: McKinney’s calling card is his bat, and how his professional career shakes out will depend on it. He doesn’t have the speed or defensive ability to be more than serviceable as necessary, but there is some pop in his bat that could carry him along. He does get on base well enough, but having more power develop would be huge for him.
Jason - #20: Once a top 100 prospect in baseball, McKinney has struggled in recent years and could fall off lists in 2017. He's 22 and this is already his third organization since 2013. Things are not looking good for him.
Others receiving votes
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born March 25, 1995)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 165 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A/A-) 12 GS, 62 IP, 3.34 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.177 WHIP
Andrew - #18: The Beltran trade was sneaky in another way, as the Yankees brought Green into the farm system as well. He rewarded their interest with an ERA under two in five starts, almost immediately earning a promotion to Low-A Charleston. That’s where he’ll probably begin 2017, his first exposure to full-season ball.
Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born November 28, 1993)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 165 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A+/A) 22 GS, 124 IP, 2.82 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.917 WHIP
Jason - #18: The Yankees picked up Ramirez in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft and now he has a spot on the 40-man roster. He could turn out to be an extremely good pickup, and an extremely unfortunate loss for Arizona.
Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born January 22, 1995)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 175 lbs.
2016 statistics: (A-) 64 G, .321/.412/.421, 13 2B, 3 HR, 8 SB, .833 OPS
Andrew - #20: The 2016 second-round pick wasted no time tearing up the New York-Penn League after the Yankees drafted him. Should Solak add a little more pop to his game (a challenge in Charleston, his likely destination), he’ll garner some more attention.