With pitchers and catchers having reported, it’s time to start wrapping up prospect season and start focusing on actual baseball. In that vein, we’ve got one more major public prospect list: FanGraphs’ 2019 Top-100 Prospects list, courtesy of prospect hounds Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel.
The Yankees placed just one prospect on FanGraphs’ list, Estevan Florial. The outfielder didn’t actually even come in on the Top-100, instead ranking 106th. Longenhagen and McDaniel decided to run their list to 130 prospects, which included every prospect they gave a 50 FV grade too, or in other words, every prospect they anticipate, on average, contributing average value in the majors.
Their ranking of Florial is instructive in plenty of ways. We’ve heard all about Florial’s weakness as a hitter, namely his contact issues, and FanGraphs drills that home as well. They both talk up his tools, including his plus speed, plus raw power, and premier arm strength, as well as the holes in his game:
Florial’s issues — his strikeout rate has fallen between 27% and 32% each of the last three years — appear to stem from his bat path and limited bat control. Stiff wrists cause his bat head to drag into the zone, which can cause him to be tardy on fastballs at the letters and, more frequently, flail at soft stuff dipping down and away from him.
I encourage you take a look at the full list, as it’s full of interesting insights, not the least among them is the inclusion some intriguing FV probability distribution charts. FanGraphs generated rough estimates of the likelihood each prospect hits a certain level of future value, ranging up to 60 FV (an All-Star) and 70 FV (an elite player), and all the way down to 40 FV (bench player) and below (a bust).
Florial’s enticing tools, combined with his obvious shortcomings, should intuitively leave him as a boom-or-bust prospect. Well, take a look at FanGraphs’ probable FV outcomes for Florial:
He has an estimated chance of above 40 percent to produce little or no value at the major-league level, while also possessing a 10-to-15 percent chance of becoming anything from a platoon bat to a superstar. Compare his chart to another player with a 50 FV grade, such, as Isan Diaz, who ranks just two spots ahead of Florial:
Florial profiles as a quintessential boom-or-bust prospect. In some sense, it’s good news that the Yankees’ top prospect is so high variance. Their big-league roster is already stacked, and it’s hard to imagine a prospect making a significant impact without becoming something close to a star. The Yankees don’t have much need for bench bats and average players; stars move the needle right now.
In that way, Florial stands something of a microcosm for the Yankees’ whole system. The farm is thinner at the top than it has been in recent years, with most of the Yankees’ high-probability prospects having graduated into productive players. Instead, they’re left with the likes of Florial, and Jonathan Loaisiga, and Deivi Garcia, and Luis Gil, and so on. There are a lot of players that could pop and become elite prospects, or flame out far from the majors. If the team can hit on just a couple of them, then they’ll be thrilled with their farm system.