Organizations around baseball had a 6pm deadline on Friday to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. Accordingly, the Yankees filled their four open roster spots with players signed during the 2016 international signing period who have developed into some of the organization’s top prospects. Oswald Peraza, Alexander Vizcaino, Roansy Contreras, and Yoendrys Gomez were all added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster ahead of their first year of Rule-5 eligibility. There’s plenty more to know about these prospects the Yankees have added to the roster.
Peraza joins the 40-man as one of the Yankees’ highest-ranked position players. He finished the 2019 season with Low-A Charleston. Peraza is able to put the bat on the ball, only striking out 12.6% of the time while playing at two Class-A levels in 2019 as a 19-year-old. He pairs his ability to make contact with strong exit velocities, peaking at a reported 110 mph. There is a feeling that he will develop more power as he matures.
On the other side of the ball, Peraza is credited by Baseball America as having the strongest infield arm in the Yankees’ minor league system. He has all the tools to remain at shortstop and even be an above average defender.
Peraza will enter 2021 spring training like most Yankees prospects, having not played organized ball in almost a year. He could start the season with Low-A Tampa, or High-A Hudson Valley.
Alexander Vizcaino entered the Yankees’ system a few days shy of his 19th birthday, much later than many of his peers from the Dominican Republic. He is currently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the system by MLB.com after reaching High-A Tampa at the end of 2019. This year, he was with the Yankees’ major league club during spring training and was part of the 60-man roster at the alternate training site in Scranton.
Vizcaino currently has two above-average pitches with his fastball and changeup. In 2019, he routinely sat 94-98 mph while touching triple digits on occasion. He pairs this with what is described by multiple evaluators as the best changeup in the Yankees system. Depending on the evaluation of the Yankees coaches who worked with him at the alternate site, he could start the 2021 season at either High-A Tampa or Double-A Somerset.
Right behind Vizcaino on the MLB.com Yankees’ prospect rankings is another strong-armed righty in Yoendrys Gomez. He graduated to Low-A Charleston in 2019 after a solid start for Rookie-Advanced Pulaski. 2021 will be his first season pitching a full campaign, and he has never thrown more than 55 1⁄3 innings in a season.
Gomez has a high-spin rate fastball that plays up above its mid-90’s velocity. He also brings a curveball that can be a plus offering but sometimes lack consistency. Rounding out his arsenal is a solid changeup and he was being work on a slider during the last spring training. While he has the ability to climb rapidly through the system, Gomez will likely start 2021 in Low-A Tampa.
Rounding out the Yankees’ 40-man is Roansy Contreras, the Yankees’ No. 19 prospect according to MLB.com. He put together a very impressive 2019 season as a 19-year-old pitching in Low-A Charleston. During that season, he posted a 3.33 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and was particularly strong down the stretch.
Using superb control and command, Contreras gets the most out of his fastball, changeup, curveball mix. Some scouting reports identify his curveball as a slider. None of his pitches are considered to be elite, but he has is considered advanced for his age by scouts who see him exploit opponents weaknesses and pitch to the situation.
Contreras will likely start 2021 in High-A Hudson Valley with a chance to finish in Double-A Somerset. While his raw stuff does not give him the ceiling of some of the others, his ability to command three solid offerings gives him the chance to continue moving towards the major leagues.
The story around these additions to the roster is also about those not selected to the roster. Nobody knows how the Rule 5 Draft will play out in a few weeks at the 2020 Winter Meetings. The Yankees did not protect reliever Addison Russ, who posted strong Double-A numbers in 2019 as a member of the Phillies organization and was part of the Yankees 60-man roster this past season after coming over in the David Hale trade. Garrett Whitlock is another name who could garner consideration, and he had great numbers up to the Double-A level but is recovering from Tommy John surgery in mid-2019. Trevor Stephan, who is ranked as the Yankees’ 24th best prospect, and minor league relief pitcher Kaleb Ort are other names that could gain attention from teams around the league.
In addition to leaving these players exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees have also maintained players like Albert Abreu and Thairo Estrada, who are out of minor league options but have yet to solidify a major league roster spot.
The Yankees have rounded out their 40-man roster, adding some of the most highly-regarded prospects in the system. Unheralded at the time of their signings, the 2016 international free agent class has developed into a fine group for the Yankees farm system and now four members of that class are one step closer to the major leagues. With their decision, the Yankees have also left some talented players and strong performers exposed to the Rule 5 Draft.