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Yankees 2019 Draft Preview: Farm system strengths

An abundance of right-handed pitchers stands out as the Yankees’ primary strength in the minors.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When more than two-thirds of the New York Yankees’ top 30 prospects are right-handed pitchers, per MLB Pipeline, it’s not hard to discern exactly where the system’s strength lies. A familiar name in Jonathan Loaisiga is the top pitching prospect, followed by Albert Abreu and Deivi Garcia, both currently in Double-A Trenton.

The book on Loaisiga is already on full display this season as he has gone down with injury yet again. Originally signed by the San Francisco Giants, Loaisiga impressed in 2013, throwing 68.2 innings in rookie ball for a 2.75 ERA. As promising as that season was, he suffered an injury that forced him to miss 2014 entirely and was released in May 2015.

The Yankees signed him in February 2016 and gave Loaisiga another shot at the bigs. His initial stint was cut short, as after going a little over two innings in Charleston, Loaisiga underwent Tommy John Surgery, forcing him to lose another season. From 2014 to 2016 Loaisiga threw no more than three innings.

After coming back in 2017, Loaisiga shot through the Yankee system to become the pitcher we see today. He throws fastball for an average of 96 mph, combined with a curve and changeup he uses the other half of the time. He posted a sterling 12.04 K/9 rate in the major leagues during 2018, but has walked hitters far more often than he did in the minors. The stuff is there, what needs to follow is the health and consistency.

Deivi Garcia began 2019 with the realistic goal of reaching Triple-A Scranton, or maybe even the major leagues. After pitching 17.2 innings in High-A Tampa, striking out 33 batters, Garcia moved to Double-A and has posted a 14.54 K/9 rate over 26 frames. He has clearly dominated hitters, and if he keeps this up, further promotions shouldn’t be too far away. Currently not on the 40-man roster, Garcia will likely be added sometime this year, though we’ll have to wait and see if it will be during the regular season.

Unlike Garcia, Abreu has struggled to begin 2019. Having pitched 43.1 innings so far, he has a 6.65 BB/9 with a .342 BABIP, resulting in a 4.78 ERA. Walks have been a constant trend for Abreu, and in a year where he started the season in Trenton, he will need to figure it out if he wants to keep moving up.

Second to right-handed pitching in the farm system, the Yankees’ outfield prospects also profile as a strength, with six outfielders as part of their top-30 prospects. Estevan Florial, whose highest minor league level is High-A, is currently injured but had a great showing during spring training, and looks like the best hitting prospect on the farm.

The outfield help doesn’t get any closer to the major league level, as Josh Stowers is currently in Low-A Charleston. Stowers was acquired from the Mariners for Shed Long, who was the player the Yankees got in exchange for Sonny Gray. So far to start 2019, Stowers has shown well, with a .398 BABIP and .187 ISO, though his strikeout rate is high.

The Yankees no longer have one of top farm systems in the league but there still have plenty of depth. Trevor Stephen, Nick Nelson, and Michael King are all pitchers working their way up, with King closest to the majors. The top outfielders aren’t estimated to be major league ready for a few years, but Everson Pereira, Antonio Cabello, Anthony Garcia, and Ryder Green will give us some players to pay attention to on the offensive side in the low minors.

This season alone we have seen players like Thairo Estrada and Chance Adams contribute as we wait for the stars to return from injury. Estrada is the only infielder on the top-30 list, but has been a great addition to the Bombers when one of the regulars has needed a day off. The rest of the system is littered with potential impact right-handed arms and outfielders, and though they may not all come up any time soon, the farm should continue to help the Yankees for years to come.