Ben Badler of Baseball America recently had a chat where he spoke about a few Yankees prospects. He talked about being impressed with Aaron Judge, believing he has been better than he expected him to be.
You don't see many long-armed hitters like him with his plate coverage and ability to square the ball up with the frequency he's shown, along with the leverage and strength to clear the fence like he can.
I have to say I have been surprised as well. I figured all his value would lie in his ability to hit home run, but he'd continue to struggle to show it in-game. He still may not have brought it out to its full potential, but it doesn't exactly matter because he's essentially done it all this year – he's hitting the ball (.320 AVG), getting on base (.423 OBP), hitting for power (.507 SLG with 13 home runs), taking walks (15.1 BB%). Everything he's done this year has been a surprise of some kind, but so far it looks legit and the Yankees might have something special.
Badler also got asked about Gary Sanchez and his perceived value:
As much as we don't want to admit it, he's kind of right. Sure, when you have good power potential and a cannon for an arm behind the plate you'll have a legitimate amount of value, but without showing it on the field on a consistent basis that value isn't going to stand for very long. He's certainly never had a bad season, but you expect more from an organization's top prospect and that hasn't happen, at least not yet. Perhaps his Baseball Prospectus rankings on his B-Ref page say it all:
Despite his talent and his youth, he just continues to disappoint and his value drops again and again.
If anyone needed a reminder that baseball is hard, Badler made it a little clearer for you:
As impressive as Severino has been so far, jumping three levels in one year, he's still not as highly regarded as Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain were when they were still in the system. At one point Hughes was considered to be a better pitcher than Tim Lincecum. Before 2007, BP ranked Hughes as the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, meanwhile Severino just made the back of the top 50 this year after mulling around in anonymity for the last two seasons. Maybe he has the right pitches or the Yankees handle him differently or their luck is just better this time around, but he still has a lot more question marks surrounding him than Hughes or Joba did. Bad things happen to prospects all the time, so let's get excited about what Severino has shown, but there still remains a very real possibility that he ends in the bullpen in the end. We just have to wait and see.
A few weeks ago Baseball America released their top 50 midseason prospect list, and while Luis Severino was the only Yankees prospect to make the list, Rob Refsnyder was at least considered. They credit him as "the best pure hitter in the Yankees system," fully believing in his bat, though his glove is another story. BA still believes "he's very raw at the position and needs to make improvements in just about every aspect before he's a real option there." The unfortunate part is that his future really depends on things working out at second base because he's not utility man material and he doesn't have the power to be an everyday corner outfielder. Perhaps this is why the Yankees are hesitant to bring him up just yet, maybe he really does need a lot of work in the field, even if his bat might be major league ready.
Ron Shah at Baseball Prospectus did a breakdown of all the prospects who played in the Futures Game during the week of the All-Star Game and he wasn't very impressed with Peter O`Brien. While he give him credit for his raw power after hitting 30 dingers this season, "it is difficult to see the overall profile finding a spot on a roster at the highest level." As we all know, O`Brien has been pushed out from behind the plate and relocated to first base full-time. Shah doesn't feel he can even be a part-time catcher going forward and is value will drop at first and DH. Most damning is that he calls O`Brien's approach "unrefined and he'll hack at the plate, hindering his power potential." Despite hitting 10 home runs over the last two months, the right-handed slugger has only batted .244/.295/.494 with 49 strikeouts and only nine walks. This is the extent of what he can offer the Yankees.
After impressing in his debut season, Katoh has taken a huge step back in Low-A Charleston hitting only .229/.326/.353 while already striking out 103 times in just one half of the season. Matt Eddy of Baseball America identified him as someone who needs to have a better second half, believing that "even evaluators who like Katoh point out that he must get stronger." Judging by the 19-year-old's slim build, it's been said that he needs to strengthen his arms and wrists so he can catch up to higher velocity. He has yet to do that, which is likely the reason for the high strikeouts. The encouraging thing is that he's still walking at a 12.4% rate, so he's not exactly overmatched, and he's actually hit .320/.405/.433 since midway through June. As Eddy notes, he has "athleticism, speed and instincts on his side," and right now it looks like he's actually turning things around.
If you don't know by now, Jaron Long is the son of Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, and despite the obvious nepotism at work here, he's proven to be more than just a favor. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2013, Long has been jostled between levels, but everywhere he's gone he's been impressive. According to a scout, Long "could see big league time for the Yankees this year." He just recently made the jump to Double-A at the age of 22 and has a 2.12 ERA with a 1.2 BB/9 and 8.2 K/9 between three levels moving between the bullpen and rotation. It's highly unlikely that he gets a call-up this year, but he could get a shot to impress in spring training next year.