MLB.com's prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis (former executive editor of Baseball America) unveiled their consensus list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Since the Yankees do not have a particularly strong farm system at the moment, they were not well-represented, but two players made appearances amid the Byron Buxtons and Miguel Sanos of the world. (Sheesh, the Twins are loaded.)
Gary Sanchez: #47
Very few Yankees prospects lists these days fail to include catcher Gary Sanchez at the top, and scouts still love his bat potential behind the plate, so it's no surprise that he managed to find his way onto this list. In 2011, he was #34 on MLB.com's list, in 2012, he was #36, and in 2013, he jumped up to #27. This year, Sanchez was ranked 47th out of the MLB.com top 100 prospects, the fourth catcher on the list behind the Mets' Travis d'Arnaud (#22), the Padres' Austin Hedges (#24), and the Rangers' Jorge Alfaro (#39). It should be noted though that all four catchers' overall scouting grade ended up equal at 60. Sanchez boasted a 55 Hit, 65 Power, 30 Run, 70 Arm, and 50 Field.
The write-up had a positive impression of Sanchez's hitting noting that he "has above-average raw power and he knows how to use it," and that "he has a good approach at the plate" with "the potential to be a solid all-around hitter." Despite a strong throwing arm, Sanchez's defense has been shaky since his earliest days of development, but while MLB.com acknowledged that it was a "question mark," and that he needed to work on receiving and blocking balls, they said that he has gotten better. They gave him an ETA of sometime in 2015. With some defensive improvements and consistent hitting, it certainly does not seem out of the realm of possibility for Sanchez to make the majors near the end of that season following time spent at Triple-A Scranton (hopefully starting at the end of 2014).
Mason Williams: #75
Sanchez was somewhat surprisingly not alone on the top 100 prospects list. He was joined by toolsy outfielder Mason Williams, who was his teammate both in Tampa and Trenton in 2013. Williams previously appeared on the lists in 2012 at #40 and 2013 at #37, but he took a step backward in 2014, falling to #75. Given his rough year in 2014, perhaps he should feel lucky to even make the list. They ranked Williams a 60 Hit, 50 Power, 60 Run, 50 Arm, and 60 Field, good for a 55 overall.
There's no denying that Williams likely has the natural athletic skills to make it in the majors; they are what helped him stay on this list after a combined .245/.304/.337 triple slash mostly in A-ball last year. MLB.com called him "an above-average defender in center field," who "takes good routes" with "plus speed [allowing] him to cover plenty of ground." However, as his numbers suggest, he still has plenty of work to get better at the plate. The report remarked that while he covers the plate well, "his slashing swing saps most of his power." Scouts say a smoother swing might help him hit for more power, but they also admit his speed could help his current approach. Either way, the 2015 ETA seems a little bold. it's obvious that Mason needs a big bounce-back year in 2014 to rebuild his higher stock prospect status. Mayo agreed:
RT Thoughts on Mason Williams? @joeyalfieri Good tools, but it's time for him to put it into production #mlbpipeline— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayoB3) January 24, 2014
Although no other Yankee made the prospect list, here are a few other notes about prospects passed along by Callis on Twitter last night:
In 4-7 range for me. @_RFan: If Tanaka were eligible, would he have been #1? @Yankees #mlbpipeline— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) January 24, 2014
Masahiro Tanaka was not eligible for this list, but Callis said he would slot Tanaka in around the very top pitchers in the prospect rankings fell. Arizona's Archie Bradley ranked 5th (the highest-ranked pitcher), and Seattle's Taijuan Walker was right behind him at #6.
.270, 20 HR. @DavidEnglander: what kind of hitter do you see Eric Jagielo becoming? #MLBPipeline @Yankees— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) January 24, 2014
Top 2013 pick Eric Jagielo did not make this Top 100 Prospects list, a fact that isn't too surprising since he was the 26th overall pick of the 2013 draft and he only played 51 games in short-season ball. He reportedly has a good-looking bat though, and Callis sees bright things in Jagielo's future. (If you're underwhelmed by .270, 20 homers, keep in mind that near-Hall of Famer Graig Nettles had a 162-game average of .248, 23 homers.) The Yankees better hope so, because they desperately need infielders to get through their system and make a major league impact as soon as possible. Hopefully, Jagielo finds his way onto the top 100 next year.
As Jason wrote the other day, Greg Bird was ranked seventh out of the top 10 first base prospects in baseball, though he did not crack the top 100. It's a bummer that he didn't make it, but at least they gave us this video:
Greg Bird Greg Bird Greg Bird Greg Bird Greg Bird Greg Bird.