The Yankees have those "prospect" things again. That’s bad, right? The Yankees usually get rid of those things as soon as they show up. Almost makes you feel bad for teams like the Cubs and Astros. They’re absolutely infested with prospects. Thank goodness that the Red Sox have so many prospects too, and they’re going to get more very soon when they start selling off their dumpster fire of a team. Heh, prospects.
On a much more serious note, it’s all kinds of awesome that the Yankee farm system is showing signs of life again. Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo, and Greg Bird are seriously exciting pieces that could contribute in big ways for the major league club when all is said and done. That’s not to mention the king’s ransom of international prospects the Yanks brought in last year, and younger kids like Miguel Andujar and Leonardo Molina still stewing and marinating in the lower minors. Perhaps lost in the shuffle is 2013’s highest Yankee draft pick, Eric Jagielo. Jagielo was the star of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish when New York took him 26th overall, before taking Judge and Ian Clarkin in the supplemental round. Judge shot to the top in 2014, but Jagielo disappointed somewhat by looking shaky at third and hitting only .251 (he still managed a .351 OBP and .461 slugging percentage while hitting 18 bombs in 92 games). Some scouts wondered if Jagielo could stick at third base because of his poor range, while still raving about his throwing arm.
Jagielo is playing a different tune this year. Through 27 games with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, Jagielo leads the Eastern League with six homers and owns a triple-slash of .287/.368/.584. Scouts still say that he’s far from ideal at third base, with Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus going as far to say that Jagielo is "not a good third baseman and will likely need to shift to first sooner rather than later." With Greg Bird doing his thing at first, Jagielo could become trade bait at some point in the next year. Maybe Bird’s shoulder injury changes things, but in all likelihood, Bird is the word.
Jagielo’s bat could fetch a pretty decent arm at the trade deadline, but who? Personally, I’m not a fan of emptying one’s farm for half a season of an ace and therefore don’t find the idea of a Johnny Cueto acquisition all that appealing. What the Yankees should be targeting in terms of rentals are mid-rotation innings eaters that can take a load off the already heavily-taxed bullpen. My two pitchers of choice are Mike Leake of the Reds and Scott Kazmir of the Athletics. Both are on expiring contracts and on teams that are struggling in a big way. Cincinnati is hard up for prospects and would probably be happy to take on Jagielo and a secondary piece (probably an arm) for Leake. As for the Athletics, the A’s actually have a few good-looking 1B prospects in Matt Olson and Rangel Ravelo. Oakland would be much more tempted to take Jagielo as part of a Kazmir trade if they feel he can stick at third base or be converted to a corner outfield position, as we all know Billy Beane is a fan of whatever power bats he can shove into his lineup.
Of course, Brian Cashman may decide that it would behoove the Yanks to keep Jagielo and purchase with different currency. The GM works in mysterious ways, as do prospects. One thing is for sure; Jagielo is showing why he was a first round talent.