Facing an uphill battle for a playoff berth, the Yankees got down to business during the last week of July attempting to improve the major league roster prior to the MLB trade deadline. In order to bring in players such as Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, Clay Holmes, Joely Rodríguez, and Andrew Heaney the team traded numerous prospects, including seven who were ranked by MLB.com among the Yankees top-30 prospects at the time of their trade. When prospects move on, new prospects take their place on the rankings, so lets take a look at the new prospects on MLB.com’s top Yankees prospects list.
Entering the list early last week was Oswaldo Cabrera, a versatile middle infielder who leads Double-A Somerset in games played at both second base and third base this season. He has also played 11 games at shortstop and is a true utility infielder around the diamond.
Listed at 5-foot-10 and weighing 145 pounds, Cabrera packs more power than a casual observer would expect. He is slugging .488 this season with 14 home runs and 22 doubles. Cabrera struggled early on but has shown his power stroke with 11 home runs in 49 games since returning from the Olympic qualifying tournament in early June.
️ GET OUTTA HERE!!!— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) July 9, 2021
Oswaldo Cabrera with the GRAND SLAM! pic.twitter.com/rvNZsrFeT9
A few spots below Cabrera is Randy Vasquez, a pitcher known for his big time spin rates who is climbing the organizational ladder this year. Signed for just a $10,000 signing bonus as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, he entered the system with few expectations and is now making scouts take notice.
After a strong start to the season with Low-A Tampa, he was promoted to High-A Hudson Valley and is coming off a six inning performance where he allowed just one hit while striking out 10. His best pitch is a high spin rate curveball that is frequently above 3100 rpm, has a lot of movement and sets up his low-to-mid 90s fastball. Most scouting reports think that he is ticketed for the bullpen in the long term as he has not developed a third pitch or the type of command that will allow him to work through advanced lineups multiple times.
When Vasquez was promoted to High-A Hudson Valley he joined a rotation that already had Mitch Spence pitching on a regular basis. Spence was the Yankees 10th round draft pick in 2019 out of the University of South Carolina-Aiken. He put together an outstanding professional debut with Rookie-Advanced Pulaski in 2019 and earned a spot at the High-A level to start 2021.
Like many Yankees prospects, Spence saw his velocity bump up after joining the team — he regularly touches 95 mph now after peaking around 91 mph in college. Spence complements the pitch with a good slider/cutter and a changeup that will have to improve as he moves up the ranks. Spence attacks the strike zone frequently, compiling a 10.58 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 so far this season.
Elijah Dunham is another name helping to provide the offense for High-A Hudson Valley. Dunham was an undrafted free agent in the five round 2020 MLB draft before the Yankees signed him, and he has been a pleasant surprise for the team so far this season. The left-handed hitter posted a 159 wRC+ in 29 games for the Low-A Tampa Tarpons before earning a promotion to High-A. He has solid power and can play either corner outfield position. He has taken to the Yankees minor league base stealing philosophy and has 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts at the High-A level and 21 total on the season.
FIRST HOMER AS A RENEGADE! Elijah Dunham with the BOMB to tie the game at 4 pic.twitter.com/p5EuOqzcyJ— HV Renegades (@HVRenegades) June 27, 2021
One of the top prospects in the 2017 international free agent class, Raimfer Salinas patiently waited while the Yankees pursued Shohei Ohtani that summer and fall. Salinas finally signed with the team in mid-December of that year and made his professional debut the next year. His reward for waiting was the largest signing bonus the Yankees handed out in a signing class that also featured highly touted prospects Everson Pereira and Antonio Cabello. His debut season was cut short by injury after just 11 games, but he returned with a solid performance in the Gulf Coast League in 2019.
Caught up in the minor league realignment and a very deep crop of Yankees outfield prospects, Salinas is back in the Florida Complex League this summer and playing well. Through 18 games he is hitting .283/.377/.567 and earning strong reviews for his defense. Known for his aggressive approach, Salinas has seen his walk rate climb three percent so far this season while significantly improving his slugging percentage. Even if his bat never fully develops his defense gives him a chance to contribute in a positive manner down the road.
Here’s Yankees prospect Raimfer Salinas with an RBI Triple in today’s FCL game. The 20 year old outfielder was the #7 ranked player in the 2017 International signing class. pic.twitter.com/xwsSHZPMmd— Eli Fishman (@elijfishman) July 16, 2021
The last player who jumped into the Yankees ranked prospect list is outfielder Fidel Montero, who is currently getting a start on his professional career in the Dominican Summer League. When scouts were allowed to see players again after COVID related restrictions were lifted, they were very surprised by the physical gains that Montero made. Several teams reportedly made a late run at signing him away from the Yankees but he honored his earlier verbal agreement with the team and signed shortly after the international free agent period opened up.
Montero’s biggest gains were in his overall strength, where he has an outstanding arm and above average raw power. He is also an above average runner, giving him the chance to be a very good centerfielder at the start of his career. He is just 13 games into his professional career and is a name to watch down the road.
The Yankees minor league system was able to provide the Yankees with a boost around the trade deadline. Even after watching numerous prospects leave the system for established major league players, there was still enough talent for players like Luis Gil and Stephen Ridings to come up and flash their potential. Behind those players are more young prospects who are looking to carve out their niche in the system and take the next step towards the major leagues.