Last week, Baseball Prospectus unofficially kicked off prospect season by unveiling the first of their top-10 prospects lists. They started off with the AL East, running down the best prospects in the Rays, Orioles, Red Sox, and Yankees systems so far. BP’s prospect work is invaluable every year, and you can check out their Yankees list here.
After reading through BP’s view on the Yankees system, here are a few top-level takeaways about the state of the farm:
The Yankees still have a type
We’ve written at length before about the Yankees’ apparent monopoly on a particular type of prospect: the hard-throwing, tantalizing, right-handed pitching prospect. One glance at BP’s 2020 list indicates that has not changed.
Four of the Yankees’ top-five prospects are right-handed pitchers, led by Deivi Garcia at the top, followed in order by Albert Abreu, Luis Medina, and Luis Gil. BP ultimately profiles 22 Yankees talents in their list, and over half of them are right-handed hurlers.
None of them are on the level of a borderline can’t-miss pitching prospect like Casey Mize or Forrest Whitley, but they all have the kind of mouthwatering stuff that will force a scout to dream. Garcia, Abreu, Medina, and Gil can run their fastballs up into the mid and upper 90’s, and each has a plus or potential plus secondary.
Of course, that kind of profile can develop into a frontline starter, fade a bit into an effective reliever, or flame out altogether before the majors. We remain a long way away from finding out if any of the Yankees’ hard-throwing prospects will pan out, but I’ve hypothesized that the sheer number that they have on hand could plausibly yield them a top starter. Let’s hope there’s an ace in there somewhere.
A tale of two first-rounders
A few of the Yankees’ recent top selections have left us scratching our heads a bit. In particular, the Yankees popped catcher Anthony Seigler in the first round in 2018, and shortstop Anthony Volpe in 2019, and signed them to under-slot deals when there appeared to be higher-end talents still on the board each time.
In those cases, the Yankees seemed to be valuing strong makeup and broad skill bases rather than elite tools. BP’s list indicates that they may have gone 1-for-2, as they rank Volpe sixth in the system, but Siegler all the way down at 17th.
Volpe, only 18-years-old, sounds like a decent bet to stick at short, and offers a package of solid tools across the board, though without a standout skill. He didn’t profile as the most exciting first-round pick, but he seems like a respectable middle infield prospect with an ETA a few years in the future.
Siegler, however, had a lost 2019, suffering multiple lower-body injuries and posting a .534 OPS when he was on the field for Single-A Charleston. BP describes his plate approach as solid, but notes that he struggles to drive the ball and is slight of frame. He’s only 20, but the Yankees’ top pick just 17 months ago already looks like he’s got quite a long way to go.
There’s at least a little balance now
I noted earlier the Yankees have a right-handed type, but it’s a little less extreme this time around. Just last year, BP put seven right-handers in the Yankees’ top ten. Of the 19 total prospects they wrote up, 12 were right-handed pitchers. Only one was an infielder, and none were left-handed hurlers.
Volpe, second baseman Ezequiel Duran, and 2019 second-rounder Josh Smith triple the number of infielders on the list. Left-hander TJ Sikkema, the 38th overall pick in 2019, marks the first southpaw I’ve seen this high on a Yankees list in years.
This is still a system heavy on a certain kind of fire-balling righty, but there’s at least a bit more variety involved now.
The system is still more deep than good
It’s common knowledge at this point that the Yankees’ farm system isn’t nearly as loaded as it was a few years ago, thanks to a number of trades and promotions. That’s just as it should be, as a contending team should use its farm to supplement pennant chases.
As of now, only Garcia and 2019 international signing Jasson Dominguez profile as plausible top-100 global prospects. Otherwise, the Yankees’ system is stocked with talented but flawed players, prospects that have fair bits of upside if everything clicks, but that remain far away from actually putting it all together.
Still, it’s heartening to see that there’s still talent throughout the farm, even if it’s of the higher-variance variety. In truth, how far away from the majors or how risky a prospect is shouldn’t even be particularly germane to the Yankees. For the most part, a team like New York should be looking to flip their prospects for players that contribute to championships right now. We’ll see if they use the farm in that matter this offseason soon enough.