Yesterday, FanGraphs released its top 100 prospects list for 2020 (well, 100 ranked, plus 20 honorable mentions who received a Future Value grade of 50, i.e., league average). Put together by Eric Longenhagen, it’s the last prospect list we will receive for some time, as we begin to focus more on 2020 rather than the future.
Last season, the Yankees struck out on this list, with the only player appearing in the report, Estevan Florial, being found outside the Top 100. The farm system has made a stark comeback this year, however, placing five prospects on the list: RHP Deivi Garcia (#45, 55 FV), CF Jasson Dominguez (#55, 50 FV), CF Kevin Alcantara (#81, 50 FV), 2B Ezequiel Duran (#85, 50 FV), and Alexander Vargas (#90, 50 FV).
Perhaps not surprisingly, Deivi Garcia tops the list for the Yankees. Just 20 years old, the right-hander out of the Dominican Republic flew through the minor leagues last season, reaching Triple-A Scranton. Although he struggled at that level down the stretch, he has the stuff to dominate, with a fastball that sits 91-95 and a “beautiful curveball” that FanGraphs rates as a current 70 on the 20-80 scale. Load management will be a concern — he threw fewer than 115 innings last season — but he appears likely to make some sort of contribution in the big leagues this year. Considering how the Yankees limited Luis Severino’s innings prior to his promotion in 2015, that’s something you might see with Garcia.
Although lacking many top prospects, the Yankees’ system has a lot of youth, with three of the five youngest prospects on the list. Additionally, they have the distinction of having the two youngest players on the list, outfielders Dominguez (turned 17 last week) and Alcantara (turned 17 last July). As such, the fact that these prospects even made the list in the first place is exciting, as only six players whose highest level is rookie ball cracked the list — and the Martian has not even played a professional game yet!
The writer, in fact, even struggled to describe the young outfielder, saying that he is “impossible to evaluate for a list like this,” but that he can’t leave him off the list because he “[doesn’t] know of another 16-year-old on the planet with tools this loud, and struggle[s] to think of a historical example.” While it’s true that prospects break hearts, it’s hard to not get excited about him.
Alcantara, meanwhile, lacks the hype surrounding Dominguez, but is an intriguing prospect in his own right. Barely older than the Martian, Alcantara has immense power potential at 6’6”, as well as both the range and athleticism to remain in center field. Both he and Dominguez will likely start the year in rookie ball, playing for either the Gulf Coast League or Pulaski farm teams, and it will be interesting to see how the two of them develop alongside each other over the next few seasons.
Filling out the Yankees’ representatives in the Top 100 are middle infielders Duran and Vargas. The former, at age 20, will struggle a bit defensively at second base (reminds me of Rob Refsnyder in that sense), but has immense power — especially if he can remain at the position. Vargas, the Yankees’ third youngest top prospect at just 18, ranks currently as a glove-first prospect, but has the tools to be a well-rounded hitter if he can put it all together.
Two notable omissions from the list are Estevan Florial and Clarke Schmidt. Prospect lists have soured on Florial in recent years. Once a top prospect in the organization and a sleeper in all of baseball, injuries and underperformance have hurt his perception around the country, as he has already been considered a high-risk prospect with both a high ceiling and a low floor. This season could very well be his last opportunity to restore his place, with numerous outfield prospects nipping at his heels. Schmidt, meanwhile, has found a lot of supporters in offseason rankings, with MLB Pipeline even ranking him higher than Garcia. His absence here reflects FanGraphs not buying into his resurgence, possibly looking for a larger sample size in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
For the most part, with the exception of Garcia, something extraordinarily unlikely would have to occur for any of the top prospects listed by FanGraphs to have any impact at the Major League level in 2020 (although let me tell you, I will continue to dream about Dominguez taking the league by storm and forcing the unlikely late-season call-up). Nonetheless, having multiple impact players at the low levels of the minor leagues is exciting, and will go a long way to assuring that this current window of contention will remain as open as possible for as long as possible.