Yesterday we examined the strengths of the Yankees system heading into this years first-year player draft. Today we will take a look at the weaknesses within the Yankees farm system, and yes they do exist.
Gary Sanchez isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That being said, it is no guarantee that he will be on the field every day, for this is baseball and nothing is guaranteed, especially at the catcher position. Behind the Kraken, they still have the very dependable Austin Romine and the 0-18 Kyle Higashioka.
I’m not saying Higgy won’t turn it around at the plate eventually, but beyond him there really isn’t much to fall back on. Wilkin Castillo and Eddy Rodriguez are at Triple-A, but they were signed as organizational depth. Donny Sands is currently the only catching prospect with any real potential, but he is still very much a work in progress.
Another factor to consider is that young catchers are valuable. When the Yankees actually had decent catchers coming through the system, it was not uncommon to see them involved in a trades to fill other needs, a la Francisco Cervelli and the man formerly known as JR Murphy.
There are a lot of reasons to want to stock up on catching talent. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees look to add a new cub to the Wolfpack.
I am a believer in Greg Bird, and I have no doubts that the Bird we all saw in April is a thing of the past. However, we must at least consider the possibility that he may not turn it around. What answers do the Yankees have behind Bird? Chris Carter has all but justified the Brewers decision to non-tender him, Rob Refsnyder isn’t a long term answer, and the jury is still out on Tyler Austin. Outside the 40-man roster the Yankees have Ji-Man Choi, Mike Ford, and Chris Gittens. All have had somewhat intriguing seasons on the farm, but again, none of them are viewed as long term answers.
There are some interesting first base prospects in this years draft. If the right situation presents itself, the Bombers may decide to take a big bat.
Brett Gardner currently owns the title for most home runs by a Yankees left-handed hitter this season with nine long balls. While this burst of power is gladly welcomed by everyone, it would be näive to believe Gardy will evolve into a premier slugger. Then of course there is aforementioned Greg Bird, who should hopefully be the answer to this problem. Even if Bird does provide power upon his return, the next most lethal left-handed bat the Yankees currently employee is Didi Gregorius. As far as the farm system goes, Dustin Fowler and Blake Rutherford could turn into reliable power sources, with the former being a big if.
Yankee Stadium was crafted by the swing of the legendary Babe Ruth and has always served as a haven for left-handed sluggers. From Lou Gehrig and Ruth, to Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, and Mark Teixeira, a reliable abundance of left-handed power has always been a vital ingredient to the Yankees’ recipes for success. Cashman may decide that the best solution to this problem is waiting in the free agent class of 2018, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him address it via the draft.
One more minor weakness
Aaron Hicks and Chase Headley are the only switch-hitters on the 40-man roster. Quality switch-hitters are one of the most valuable commodities in the game and so rare that it would be unfair to consider them an essential part of a championship team. However, the Yankees do have a rich history of switch-hitters on winning teams, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that I would love to see the Yankees develop another switch-hitting All-Star.
It seems like the Yankees have gotten exponentially better at drafting in the the past few years. With a system that has so few holes in it, this draft should be especially interesting to keep an eye on.