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Breaking down the Yankees system’s corner outfield depth

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The Yankees’ best corner outfield prospects remain in the lower levels of the minors, but could elevate their status this coming season.

MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ depth at the major league level has been tested repeatedly over the last several years. With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Clint Frazier struggling to stay healthy at times, the Yankees have seen players like Thairo Estrada, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade manning the outfield with less experience than they likely would prefer. Despite that, the Yankees were comfortable trading one of their better corner outfield prospects in Canaan Smith based on the amount of depth that is still present at the position across the system. Let’s take a look around the system and see who is coming down the pipe.

Antonio Cabello quickly emerged in his pro debut, as he posted a 174 wRC+ across 40 games in the GCL as a 17-year-old. That 2018 season ended early after he injured his shoulder while playing defense. With some lingering effects of the shoulder injury perhaps hampering him, combined with facing a higher level of competition, Cabello’s struggled with Rookie-Advanced Pulaski, as he slashed just .211/.280/.330 in 2019. Many of the tools that made him an exciting prospect following 2018 are still there, and he will likely start the season with Low-A Tampa.

The best pure power prospect in the Yankees system is 20-year-old Anthony Garcia. The 6-foot-6 switch-hitter led the GCL in home runs as a 17-year-old during his professional debut. A quad injury cut short his season with Pulaski in 2019 after just six games, leaving many questions about any potential progress he’s made. Garcia has struck out 40 percent of the time so far in his professional career, but is better from the left-hand side and will be given the chance to develop based on his exciting potential. He will likely start the season in extended spring training and could return to the Gulf Coast League this year in the reconfigured minor leagues.

Acquired in the Sonny Gray trade in 2018, Josh Stowers was part of a talented outfield for Low-A Charleston in 2019. He posted a solid 135 wRC+ with an impressive .386 OBP. He has the speed to play center field, but spent most of the season in right field. Stowers is likely heading to High-A Hudson Valley at the start of the season.

In the third round of the 2019 draft, the Yankees selected Jake Sanford from Western Kentucky University. After two years of lighting up the JUCO ranks, Sanford was the first player to win the Conference USA Triple-Crown during his only season at the D-1 level. After a slow start to professional ball, he picked it up over his last 23 games and hit for a 143 wRC+ in the short NY-Penn League season. Sanford could start the 2021 season at either the Low-A or High-A level.

Signed away from a commitment to NCAA baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt, Ryder Green put together a strong 2019 season for Rookie-Advance Pulaski. Scouts credit him with possessing elite raw power, to go with good speed and a strong arm that is more than enough for right field. Green reduced his strikeout rate significantly during the 2019 season, and also stole 10 bases in 13 attempts. He will likely start the season with Low-A Tampa.

Madison Santos quickly made his mark on the Dominican Summer League in 2018 posting a 167 wRC+ in 43 games. The Yankees aggressively promoted Santos over the GCL to Rookie-Advanced Pulaski in 2019, where he struggled against more advanced pitching. Santos has all the tools to be a centerfielder with elite speed and good power. Depending on his progress during the lost season, he is a candidate to either be part of the Low-A Tampa or return to the Gulf Coast League.

Closer to the majors, a player that could be called on this coming season for the Yankees is Trey Amburgey. He was a slightly above average offensive performer for Triple-A Scranton in 2019 where he posted a 106 wRC+. Right behind Amburgey in the system is Isiah Gilliam, who hit nine home runs in just 47 games after being promoted to Double-A in 2019. He will have to find more consistency as his overall numbers show a high strikeout rate that can be exploited at the higher levels.

Pablo Olivares is another player working his way through the system. He has had spurts of offensive brilliance, but also struggled in stretches and battled injuries. He finished 2019 hitting .280 with a .375 OBP over his last 55 games. The only thing holding him back was a lack of power as he slugged just .337 in that stretch. He saw some limited action in the Venezuelan winter league late last year and will likely start the season with Double-A Somerset.

Not considered an elite prospect by most evaluations prior to COVID related scouting shutdowns, Fidel Montero apparently turned heads once scouts were back on the trail ahead of the January 15th international free agency period. He reportedly grew three inches, adding speed and strength to an already solid frame. Other teams saw the improved tool set and attempted to sign him away from his commitment to the Yankees. His physical development was enough for FanGraphs to install him as the Yankees 17th-best prospect for 2021.

It is worth noting as well that two of the Yankees’ draft picks from 2020 are pegged as long-term outfielders by some evaluators. Both first-round pick Austin Wells and third-rounder Trevor Hauver are expected by some scouts to end up in the outfield. The Yankees plan on developing Wells as a catcher and Hauver as a second baseman for the time being.

The corner outfield position is manned by a mix of talented but still developing prospects throughout the system. With many of their highest-ranked corner outfield prospects still in the lower minors, there is a lot of boom-or-bust potential with this group. At the higher levels, the Yankees are betting on players fans are familiar with and veterans like Jay Bruce to provide immediate depth at the position.