Just a few short years ago, the Yankees’ farm system was brimming with talent in the upper minors. Even just last April, in fact, the Yankees had a top-five prospect in baseball in Gleyber Torres.
Trenton and Scranton are no longer filled with these types of prospects, and for good reason — they have graduated off of prospect lists and have become integral parts of the major league roster. That does not mean, however, that the farm system has become barren. Far from it, as Freeni noted yesterday. What it does mean, however, is that the system does not brim with talent the same way that it once did.
The Yankees’ farm system is loaded with pitching, particularly right-handers; depending on whether you are looking at MLB.com or FanGraphs, they make up one-half to two-thirds of the team’s top thirty prospects. This means that, to some extent, pretty much everything else can be classified as a “weakness” in relation to their pitching prospects. Not all “weaknesses”, however, are created equal.
When it comes to outfield depth in the minor leagues, the Yankees still have a sizable amount, albeit most are years away from making the majors. Antonio Cabello, Everson Pereira, and Anthony Garcia are just three of the numerous outfielders that found themselves listed among the top 30 or so in the system. Unfortunately, their average age is about 18 years old and they have not yet to play in organized games, so they cannot be expected to contribute for several years.
Whereas the Yankees once had such an overabundance of catching prospects that they had to move Greg Bird off the position, the Yankees’ minor league system lacks any quality catchers beyond last year’s first round pick Anthony Seigler and second round pick Josh Breaux. While Seigler is an intriguing prospect—he was a switch-pitching two-way player in high school—and Breaux’s bat has a lot of pop, neither figure to be in any of the team’s immediate plans. They will likely not see the Bronx until 2021 or 2022 at the earliest.
If you had to pick one area that would be the farm system’s number one weakness, however, it would have to be the infield. Prospects at the lower levels like Alexander Vargas, Roberto Chirinos, and Oswald Peraza tend to fall out of the farm’s top 30 and have Future Values of 35-40 on the 20-80 scale. That is not to say that there may not be some diamonds in the rough among the team’s infielders. Nonetheless, this is where the farm has its biggest question marks.
Last, and most importantly, the biggest weakness in the Yankees’ farm system is the lack of a top prospect. There is no “blue chip” prospect that headlines the system. Estevan Florial is the closest thing, and while he could be a veritable five-tool player, he has high bust potential due to an apparent difficulty in distinguishing pitch types.
While obviously this is not exactly something that the organization has complete control over—the easiest way to get these types of prospects is to lose a lot of games and pick at the top of the draft—it does give us a glimpse of the Yankees’ organizational philosophy: gain as many high-risk, high-reward players as possible.
FanGraphs notes that the Yankees have more mid-tier, high-risk prospects who fall just outside their top 100 than any other system. As most of these are pitchers, this stacks the odds in the Yankees’ favor that they could get at least one player to rise above the rest and emerge as a top prospect. These potential top prospects, however, don’t help in immediate future, whether as trade chip they can use at the deadline or reinforcements that the team can call up right away.
Of course, when it comes down to it, the best way for the Yankees to solve all of these weaknesses is to pick the best player available when their turn to pick happens, and then see how things develop. After all, Mike Trout, arguably the best player of all time, was drafted 25th overall.