The Yankees' system has a lot of useful outfield prospects, which is particularly helpful when all three of their big league starting outfielders have near-constant injury concerns. Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has a wealth of options when it comes to replacement options just one level away from MLB, even after the release of Slade Heathcott on Thursday. That means that most of the names will be familiar to fans of the team.
Aaron Judge is, of course, the biggest name in the outfield for the RailRiders. The assumption is that he will take over in right field when Carlos Beltran's three-year deal ends at the end of the 2016 season if everything goes right, but he could certainly see big league time at some point this year if necessary. Judge is the rare big man with huge power who can also step in and play center field when necessary. He's already got seven home runs to his name so far this year, and his main goal is to cut down on his strikeouts while learning to better identify offspeed coming his way.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre also has Ben Gamel and Jake Cave in their outfield, representing two players who have definitely played well in their minor league careers. Gamel got a brief call up earlier this year, and Cave was returned to the Yankees after being selected by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft this offseason. Either one of them could fill in just fine if an outfielder needed to miss time due to injury, but whether or not they will end up as a starter on the team remains to be seen.
Dustin Fowler headlines the Double-A Trenton outfield. The 2013 18th round pick has steadily climbed through the Yankee system with perfectly solid results along the way. Fowler owns a .277/.314/.407 triple slash for his minor league career to this point, and will likely see time at Triple-A later on this year. Mark Payton, the Thunder center fielder, has also put up strong numbers since being drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round back in 2014. He's batting .307/.407/.456 between two levels in 33 games so far this year.
The next biggest names in the way of outfielders currently play for the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs. Eighteen-year-old Leonardo Molina doesn't have the kind of numbers that will turn many heads, but taking his age into consideration should help temper expectations. Trey Amburgey has gotten off to a great start this year for Charleston, making him someone worth keeping an eye on. His numbers throughout his minor league career have been very good to this point after having been selected in the 13th round just last year.
Outfielders always seem to be readily available in the draft, and that will likely be true again this year. The Yankees have found some strong players in the later rounds who have turned into intriguing outfield prospects, and there is no reason to believe that trend won't continue.