It's prospect ranking season with the hot stove drawing to a close, and the Baseball Prospectus top 101 list offers a glimpse into the Yankees' future. The ranking is included in their 2016 Annual, which is available on Amazon for about $15. It is absolutely worth the small investment to preview 2016 beyond the prospect list, so go buy it. The rankings were primarily put together by BP prospect writers Jeffrey Paternostro and Wilson Karaman, and included on them are three Yankees: Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, and Gary Sanchez.
Judge earned the highest position of all three, somewhat surprisingly ending up at 18th overall, the fifth-highest ranked outfielder. BP noted that when he gets a chance to extend his arms, "the 70-grade power definitely plays." He was previously ranked 13th midseason 2015 and 49th prior to the season. The 23-year-old right fielder's biggest asset is his home run potential, and he has certainly demonstrated it over his first two years in the minors, crushing 41 homers in 279 games. While Judge hit 20 last year, he did slump from .284/.350/.516 in Double-A Trenton to .224/.308/.373 in Scranton following his Triple-A promotion, so some lists haven't been as kind to Judge. This vote of confidence is encouraging though, and it will be exciting to see how Carlos Beltran's heir apparent progresses in his third professional season.
BP put Mateo 65th on the list, marking it for the first time at just 20 years old. A shortstop with unbelievable speed, Mateo led all of professional baseball with 82 stolen bases in 99 attempts, adding an impressive success rate to the gaudy total. BP confirmed his 80-grade speed and said he had a "solid glove," but they admitted that his bat is "still raw." Mateo did hit .278/.345/.392 between Low-A Charleston and High-Tampa last season however, so there is certainly hope yet that he's not just Billy Hamilton at the plate.
Rounding out the Yankees portion of the top 101 prospects is catcher Gary Sanchez at number 92. In a testament to how exciting he was as a teenager, this is his sixth time on BP's list (and he didn't even make it last year). BP acknowledged his comeback in 2015, remarking that "he took step forwards on both sides of the ball," which is major progress given the questions about his defense. At age 22, he launched 18 homers between Trenton and Scranton, slugged .485 in 93 games, and followed it up by leading the Arizona Fall League with seven dingers. Sanchez was so good that he made his MLB debut on October 3rd and has a strong chance to back up Brian McCann at the big league level in 2016.
It's pretty exciting that the Yankees placed three prospects among BP's elite, particularly since Luis Severino and Greg Bird both became ineligible for the list. It wouldn't be surprising if highly regarded 2015 draft pick James Kaprielian finished just outside the top 101. The praise around Wilkerman Garcia and Domingo Acevedo resembles the positive early reviews on Mateo and Severino prior to their entrance on such lists, too.
Regardless of where all these prospects fit, the Yankees' farm system seems to be looking up. Keep an eye on these players as the story of 2016 plays out.