Keith Law only just released his farm system rankings, placing the Yankees at 20th overall to the disappointed surprise of many. Now he's released his top 100 prospect list and only two Baby Bombers made the cut, but it's not the duo you would expect it to be. Law placed Aaron Judge and Greg Bird among his top 100, leaving off a few notable names in the process.
Aaron Judge made the list as the no. 23 prospect in baseball, which is a huge leap forward for him after going unranked by Law in 2014. Granted, he hadn't played professionally yet at this point last year, but it's still a big step forward either way. Like many others, Law was pleasantly surprised by Judge's hitting abilities given his monstrous frame:
Judge's size was expected to be an impediment to his ability to hit, but so far it hasn't proven to be an obstacle at all. He showed outstanding plate discipline and ability to make contact in his first full year in pro ball while giving glimpses of the huge raw power you'd expect from someone of his build...Judge has a short swing, surprisingly so given the length of his arms, and very strong command of the strike zone (which is partly why I didn't like seeing him in low-A to start the year). The challenge for him will be to learn when he can uncoil and turn on a ball without losing that compact stroke, which keeps his contact rate up.
He also pinned him for 30-home run a year potential and believes he is an above-average defender in right field. If the Yankees can produce that, it would be a huge coup for the organization after years of disappointment from many of their position prospects, and especially since Judge was a compensation pick for losing Nick Swisher in 2013, a move that is looking more and more like the best decision Brian Cashman has ever made.
The other Yankee to make the list was Greg Bird. Yes, GREG BIRD. After two years of success and an MVP-winning Fall, Bird has finally arrived on the prospect map. He was ranked the no. 3 first baseman prospect in baseball by MLB.com and the organization's No. 3 prospect by Fangraphs. Ranking him at No. 80, it would seem that Law believes Judge and Bird and the team's top two prospects entering the 2015 season. He's considered to be the full package as far as hitting goes:
Bird's swing is very short to the ball, and he accelerates his hands quickly for hard contact to all fields, rarely putting the ball on the ground because he squares it up so frequently. He's a high-IQ hitter with outstanding plate discipline and understanding of how to work a pitcher, giving reason to think he'll continue to post high OBPs even though he'll probably hit only .250-260 with a lot of strikeouts.
The only real concern with regards to Bird's major league potential is whether or not he can improve his defense at first base, namely on ground balls, and how he can hold up health-wise. He's not missed tim with two back injuries and if it becomes a chronic issue it could mean the difference between being Mark Teixeira's replacement and the next Nick Johnson.
In a surprising move, it seems that Law did not include Luis Severino in his top 100. Perhaps he believes the right-hander to be the organization's third-best prospect due to the concern of him ultimately ending up as a reliever, but the talent is there and it should have gotten him a top-100 nod. Also missing is Gary Sanchez, who he ranked 68th overall last year. This is less surprising given the way his stock has fallen over the last few seasons, but now that he's completely off the list it's telling just how evaluators consider his catching skills and the ability for his bat to make up for it.