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The Yankees have a problem developing third base prospects

The Yankees have had trouble in recent years developing talent at the hot corner. Does the future hold any promise for a turnaround?

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Do you realize the last time the Yankees had a homegrown third baseman on their major league roster was 1991? That's right, you have to go back 25 years, five championships, and four managers to find the last everyday third baseman the Yankees developed in their system, which was Pat Kelly. Since Kelly, the Yankees have filled the hot corner with free agent signings and trades, featuring names such as Wade Boggs (free agent), Scott Brosius (trade), Robin Ventura (trade), Aaron Boone (trade), Alex Rodriguez (trade) and Chase Headley (trade).

With the trade of Eric Jagielo to the Cincinnati Reds for Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees have gone from having a near major league ready third baseman in the upper levels of the minors to nothing. Even then, Jagielo came with some serious flaws on the defensive side of the ball. The questions about his defense were so serious, in fact, that there was talk of converting him into a first baseman. The last major third base prospect in the system before Jagielo was Eric Duncan, who, along with pitcher Phil Hughes, was listed as one of the top prospects in the organization in the early-mid 2000s. Duncan never played an inning of major league baseball, and is now the hitting coach for the Staten Island Yankees.

The point is, the Yankees have done an awful job at developing third baseman (though this is a claim one could make in reference to other positions on the diamond as well). It's not even one of those instances where the Yankees traded a young hot corner prospect who later developed into a solid big leaguer. They just have not done well in developing corner infield talent.

With the trade of Jagielo, the Yankees will again try to develop another third baseman, and there are some intriguing names for the organization to consider.


Miguel Andujar

Andujar is easily the one player on this list that has the best chance at becoming the Yankees' next top hot corner prospect. Andujar signed with the Yankees as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2011, and has spent the past four seasons in the very lowest levels of the organization's system.

The 6-foot, 175-pounder spent all of 2015 with the High-A Tampa Yankees, where he slashed .243/.288/.363 and hit 24 doubles. ranked the right-handed hitter as the team's 18th best prospect at the end of last season, saying the potential is there for Andujar to hit for power if he is able to be a bit more patient at the plate. Defensively, the writers had this to say about the youngster (you can read the whole scouting report and watch video of him, along with all's top 30 Yankees' prospects, right here):

"Despite his offensive promise, there's no question that Andujar's best tool is his arm. It earns double-plus grades from scouts, one of whom guessed that he'd have a 95-mph fastball if he took to the mound. He's still seeking consistency after committing 51 errors in his first 196 pro games at third base, though he has the hands and enough range to be a capable defender."

Nelson Gomez

Like Andujar, Gomez is out of the Dominican Republic, and also signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old (though Gomez signed in 2014 as a part of the organization's huge international spending spree).

Gomez, who turned 18 this past October, spent his first season in pro ball with the Yankees' Dominican Summer League team, slashing .243/.350/.435 and hitting eleven homers. The young third baseman has a big body at 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, and likely has more room to mature physically. Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs wrote this about Gomez last January:

"He's surprisingly nimble on his feet in short areas, despite below average speed, and his above average arm and hands play at the hot corner for now. Gomez is a hit over power prospect with solid average raw power and advanced feel for the bat head. Gomez will need to hit and probably slim up to continue projecting as a potential everyday player, but it's still very early."

Donny Sands

Sands, 19, was drafted in the eighth round of last year's draft out of high school (Salpointe High School in Tucson, Arizona more specifically). The right-handed hitter spent most of the season in Rookie ball with the Gulf Coast Yankees, where he hit .309 and had a .769 OPS before finishing his first season in pro ball with a seven game promotion to the Charleston River Dogs (had nine hits in 30 plate appearances in his brief stint there).

Yankees scouts were said to have been very impressed with Sands during his workout at the team's complex in Tampa last spring, with scouts citing, among other aspects of his game, his "work ethic and competitiveness" (hat tip to our very own Jason Cohen). The only question is whether Sands sticks at third or moves to one of the middle infield positions.

Bobby Dalbec

First, a disclaimer: Yes, it is wayyyy too early to start looking into the draft and even crazier to try to project which prospects will rise and fall and who goes where. Understood.

However, Dalbec is an interesting enough of a prospect to at least discuss. Two separate sources list Dalbec as the 18th (Fangraphs) and 19th ( best prospect heading into the 2016 draft. Like Jagielo a couple years ago, Dalbec is an advanced college bat and, according to FueledBySports (you can read the full scouting report here), has drawn favorable comparisons to Troy Glaus and Kris Bryant, both in is approach at the plate and build (6-foot-4, 219).

Currently, the Yankees have the 19th overall pick of the 2016 draft, though that can change if the team forfeits the pick by unexpectedly signing one of the remaining qualifying free agents, or if any team who holds picks ten through 18 signs one of those free agents, in which case the Yankees would move higher (teams with a pick in the top ten do not forfeit a draft pick if they sign a qualifying free agent). Again, it's extremely early to look ahead to the draft, but the 2016 draft class looks like it will be very heavy on pitching in the early rounds, so if a team wants a power bat, Dalbec might be the answer.


The Yankees system as a whole right now is pretty position player heavy, but most of that talent is situated up the middle (catchers, shortstops, and centerfielders). That's a good thing. However, with the trade of Jagelio and the promotion of Greg Bird (who blew past the rookie limits in his call-up last year), the Yankees have a real dearth of prospects in the corners. There's talent there. It's just so raw and low in the system right now that it's hard to tell what will become of these players. All you can do is project and cross your fingers.