It's prospect ranking season, so we have another post about ranking prospects. Keith Law of ESPN has released his list of the top 10 Yankees prospects and while some of them are expected, there were still a few surprises.
1. Gary Sanchez, C (68)
2. Tyler Austin, RF (85)
3. Mason Williams, CF (87)
4. J.R. Murphy, C
5. Slade Heathcott, CF
6. Aaron Judge, CF
7. Ian Clarkin, LHP
8. Eric Jagielo, 3B
9. Luis Severino, RHP
10. Greg Bird, 1B
Law said that Gary Sanchez wasn't close to the offensive player he expected him to be this year, and I kind of agree. I think Sanchez is good, but as the No.1 prospect in the system, he needs to start putting up great seasons. Yes, he's young for the level, but there's a reason he's slowly slipping down prospect lists; he needs to make a statement.
I like the ranking of Austin over Mason. I think, despite a weak system, that after two disappointing seasons, Mason's star has fallen just a bit. I hope he turns it around, but I have more faith in Austin discovering his power swing than Mason Williams fixing everything that is pushing him in the wrong direction.
The inclusion of Murphy on the list, let alone ranked fourth is a big surprise. Law believes "Murphy's year was the brightest spot, as he's going to be an every-day catcher for somebody." I believe he's more of a solid backup, but if he can prove to be better than that, it's a good problem to have, even with Brian McCann in the fold and Sanchez coming up behind him.
He also believes that we should worry whether or not Slade will ever be able to stay healthy enough to be an every-day player, and I have to agree. Surgeries have already wrecked his shoulder, and he's running out of time to show he can stay healthy. To him, Heathcott has lost major prospect points after needing another surgery. "He couldn't run, his reads in center were poor, and his makeup has never been his strong suit. (One scout: "He's legitimately a crazy person." That scout is not a real doctor, however.) Heathcott fell off the top 100 entirely, and I don't see him returning there until he has a full, productive season." Ouch.
The addition of Luis Severino was unexpected too. He's definitely good, but he's kind of off everyone's radar. To Law, his "three-pitch mix might be three pluses out of the pen, and it's a grade-65 or 70 fastball even in the rotation. However, he's less than 6-foot, and he has to prove he can maintain his stuff over a full season when going six innings every time out." That's a lot of question marks for a top-10 prospect if he's already being projected as a reliever with only the ceiling of a No.3 starter in the rotation.
I'm glad to see Greg Bird included after the season he had, though Law kind of gives him a back-handed compliment, saying that his "patience/power game could make him a second-division regular down the road." Second-division? I'd prefer first-division, please, because someone has to take over for Mark Teixeira in a few years (or maybe sooner, if this wrist thing continues to be a thing).
Law believed Gosuke Katoh had the best debut season out of anyone in the Yankees 2013 draft thanks to his "great plate discipline while playing strong defense." It's odd that he ranked Aaron Judge higher than Eric Jagielo and Ian Clarkin because, for me, I think he projects high, but has a much longer way to go than the other two.
As for players who might make a difference in 2014, "other than some relief help from someone like right-hander Mark Montgomery or hard-throwing and often-hurt Jose Ramirez (No. 11 in their system), the Yankees aren't likely to give any significant playing time to rookies this year." But what about Corban Joseph?
One of the biggest sleepers in the system is Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens. "A new convert to catching, Torrens took to it extremely well, with plus hands and plus defense overall, with a good swing and feel at the plate, only lacking power but likely hitting for average with good OBP when he develops." I'm excited to see where he goes from here. He might be less of an offensive-first catcher, but he could also be good all around.
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