The Yankees’ farm system is stocked with talent; it is just all very young.
This refrain from talent evaluators has persisted since Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar graduated from prospect status early in the 2018 season, leaving gaps in terms of raw talent coming through the upper levels of the system. In terms of prospect evaluations, youth means risk, but it also means untapped potential. This coming season, the Yankees project to have an outfield with three of the highest-potential players in the system at the Rookie Advanced Pulaski Yankees.
The Pulaski Yankees are coming off a year where they set a league record for attendance, while winning their division with the best winning percentage in the system. The 2020 season should shape up for them to see a level of attention that far eclipses what they experienced in 2019.
Most of that hype will center on one young man, Jasson Dominguez. Likely joining Dominguez on the roster will be the two players that the Yankees spent the most on in the two previous international signing periods, center fielder Raimfer Salinas and shortstop Alexander Vargas. While Vargas is a talented young player in his own right, it is another highly regarded player from his 2018 signing class, Kevin Alcantara that completes the center field triumvirate at the upper level of rookie ball in the Yankees’ system.
Dominguez needs little introduction at this point. On July 2 the Yankees gave him the largest bonus they have ever handed out to an amateur player. Nothing he has done since joining the organization has slowed the hype train down. From hitting a home run in his first at-bat during an instructional league game in the Dominican Republic, to the glowing praise that has come out of the system about his work ethic and skill level, he ranks near the top of all the team’s top prospects lists.
To reach Pulaski next June, Dominguez would have to jump over not just the Dominican Summer League, but also the more advanced Gulf Coast League. That type of leap is not unprecedented among elite prospects. Wander Franco, currently the number one prospect in baseball, started at this level in 2018. Even within the Yankees’ system, Everson Pereira skipped the GCL to start with Pulaski. Based on all the scouting reports, I’d be surprised if Dominguez is not in Pulaski come mid-June when their season begins.
The Yankees’ top-prospects list is cluttered with players from the 2017 international signing class. Antonio Cabello, Anthony Garcia, and Pereira have all earned recognition. Salinas, however, received the largest bonus from that period. His stock has dropped slightly since signing, as he was limited to 11 games during his debut season due to injuries. He returned and put up solid numbers in the GCL this season, making all of his defensive starts in center field. After producing a 114 wRC+ in the GCL, the next natural progression for him would be with Rookie Advanced Pulaski.
Alcantara rounds out the list. He was a top-15 international free agent prospect when he signed with the Yankees in mid-July 2018. Standing 6-feet-6-inches tall, Alcantara like Salinas, played center field exclusively this past season. With long legs that let him glide and cover ground, he is considered a natural fit for the position. He was one of the youngest players playing professionally in the United States this season, when the Yankees promoted him to the GCL while he was still just 16 years-old. He improved his production each month, and scouts seem to like his tools now more than they did at the time of his signing.
Will this outfield of incredibly high ceiling center fielders come to fruition in the Appalachian League next summer? Only time will tell as offseason leaps or set-backs in development could alter a players assignment. The Yankees will almost certainly want to make sure that players with the physical tools to cover the most difficult outfield position are given every chance to continue developing their game in center field. With a log jam of talented young players, the Yankees will be hoping that they all put together seasons worthy of their raw ability and lofty projections, and continue to force their way up the organizational ladder.