This is the first in a series breaking down the Yankees’ farm system position by position. First up is a position that the Yankees have well manned at the major-league level, as they can turn to Gio Urshela, Miguel Andujar and DJ LeMahieu on any given day. Below them is a farm system that is lacking in the redundancy and proximity to the upper-levels of the minors that defines a strong position in the system.
Marcos Cabrera, coming in at 37th, is the only third base prospect rated on FanGraphs top 54 prospects for the Yankees system. The 18-year-old just completed his debut season in the Dominican Summer League by recording a 130 wRC+, with a 14.4% walk rate. Cabrera was signed as a shortstop who projected to grow into third base with a very strong arm. He will likely make his state-side debut in the Gulf Coast League this coming season.
While Cabrera is as far from the majors as a prospect can be, Armando Alvrarez (formally known as Mandy) has reached the top levels of the minors after being drafted in the 17th round out of Eastern Kentucky in 2016. Now 25-years-old, Alvarez was getting plenty of looks with the big-leaguers during spring training before it was shut-down. Alvarez’s offense would have to improve by an order of magnitude in order for him to become a real major-league option, as he has largely been an average offensive player on his way through the system.
Andres Chapparo, 20, showed improvement during his second season with Short-Season A Staten Island. Chapparo has yet to show much power in the minor leagues, but he recorded a .366 OBP this past season on his way to a 119 wRC+. He will likely begin next season with Class-A Charleston.
In the 19th round of the 2019 draft, the Yankees took Chad Bell out of Louisiana-Monroe. Bell’s production improved every season in college peaking with an 1.096 OPS in 2019. The Yankees assigned him to Rookie-Advanced Pulaski, where he hit nine home runs in just 55 games. The downside is that he struck out 74 times in that stretch.
The 6’3” lefty swinging Bell just turned 23, and will like see action with either Class-A Charleston, or Short-Season Staten Island this coming season. Swing-and-miss issues in the low minors are not a good indicator of future success, but with his debut season behind him this coming season will tell a lot about his future potential.
Also in the lower levels of the minors is an interesting bat who is going to be coming off an injury shortened season. Jose Villa has hit .343/.391/.490 over his first 68 professional games. Almost all of that production has come in the two lowest levels of the minor leagues, the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. Reviews of Villa’s defense are not as promising as the reviews of his bat. He is generally considered a bat in search of a position as the Yankees have tried him at third base, first base and left field.
There’s also Dominican teenager Enger Castellano was signed for $377,500 this past international signing period. He received the second-highest signing bonus the Yankees handed out after signing Jasson Dominguez. He reminds some of a young Miguel Andujar, with an impact bat, but questions on defense. Castellano will have to improve his defense to stay at third base, but has the arm and physical ability to do just that.
There is a good chance that the next Yankees third base prospect will come from their group of players currently working through the system as middle infielders. This spring players like Kyle Holder and Thairo Estrada were getting plenty of reps at third base in spring training. Both of those players will be starting the season with Triple-A Scranton.
Farther down in the system the Yankees second round pick from 2019 Josh Smith played third base during his freshman season at Louisiana State University. He was drafted as a shortstop, but with other high ceiling shortstop prospects in the system there is a good chance that he is going to see time at multiple positions as he attempts to climb the system.
Another name to keep an eye on is Oswaldo Cabrera who finished the season strong for High-A Tampa and is rated as the 16th best prospect in the system by FanGraphs. He played a significant amount of time at third base, but fits the profile of a utility player as he is a capable shortstop and second baseman.
Other notable names are still in the system. Nelson Gomez was one of the highest rated prospects in the Yankees 2014 international signing class. He struggled offensively and defensively last year before his season ended after 26 games and an amazing 14 errors. As recent as last spring training at least one scout was still praising his physical tools, and potential. The Yankees acquired James Nelson from Miami this offseason in the Stephan Tarpley trade, but they will have to work some of their minor league magic on him as he has a career .663 OPS through four minor league seasons.
Third base is one of if not the weakest position in the Yankees’ minor-league system. There are some interesting candidates that could rise through the system and position themselves as solid prospects down the road, but those players look to be several years down the road. Just as likely is that the next really good third base prospect is currently playing shortstop or second base in the system. Luckily for the Yankees they have the position well manned at the majo- league level for the immediate future.