clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pinstripe Alley's 2016 Top 20 Yankees prospects

Jason, Tanya, and I rank the top 20 prospects in the Yankees' system heading into the 2016 season.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees' minor league teams are certainly better than they were a couple years ago. There is intriguing talent aplenty these days, as four Yankees made Keith Law's Top 100 list, and the system is more well-rounded thanks to a combination smarter drafting strategies and the coup of international signees. Baseball ProspectusBaseball America, and Minor League Ball have all weighed in with their picks for top 10 prospects in the Yankees system, so it's high time for Pinstripe Alley to post our thoughts on the team's best young players.

Tanya, Jason, and I each listed our own top 20 prospects, and this list is ordered by average rank. For simplicity's sake, each prospect's total stats between levels are listed rather than individually breaking them down or listing scant major league time. Their full ledgers are available by clicking the link next to their stats, which will redirect to their Baseball-Reference pages. Let us know what you think in the comments and vote in the poll to determine who you think is the top prospect! Enjoy.

Pinstripe Alley's Top 20 Yankees Prospects

1. Aaron Judge

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born April 26, 1992)
Height: 6'7" Weight: 275 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA/AA) 124 G, .255/.330/.448, 26 2B, 20 HR, 7 SB, .777 OPS (full)

Tanya - #3: Triple-A wasn’t kind to Judge in 2015, but he’s knocking on the door of the big leagues with an open spot waiting for him in 2017. The job will be his with a strong season in 2016.

Andrew - #1: Although Judge still needs some time to refine his approach at the plate, his excellent raw tools and proximity to the majors make him the prize of the Yankees' system.

Jason - #1: The de facto top prospect, Judge has a chance to make up for the second half of 2015 this year and prove that he's the offensive weapon that is capable of patrolling right field for years to come.

Video credit: Yankees

2. Gary Sanchez

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born December 2, 1992)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 230 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA/AA) 93 G, .274/.330/.485, 23 2B, 18 HR, 7 SB .815 OPS (full)

Tanya - #1: It might finally be Sanchez’s time to shine behind the plate. Everything clicked for him in 2015, and his stock soared as a result.

Andrew - #2: The man with the power to launch baseballs deep into the Pennsylvania night, Sanchez showed a vast improvement in both makeup and catching ability. After a wayward couple seasons, he might just be the Yankees' catcher of the future after all.

Jason - #3: He's finally taken that step the Yankees have been waiting for him to take over the last few years. He's also matured a lot and shown them that he takes catching seriously.

Video credit: Yankees

3. Jorge Mateo

Age on Opening Day: 20 (Born June 23, 1995)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 188 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A+/A) 117 G, .278/.345/.392, 23 2B, 2 HR, 82 SB, .737 OPS (full)

Tanya - #2: There is certainly an argument for Mateo to be the Yankees’ top prospect. Another strong season could remove all doubt.

Andrew - #3: The success of Didi Gregorius does not mean the Yankees should easily part with the remarkable Mateo. He still has to prove himself in the high minors, but if he can handle that pitching, then he will be even better than Didi.

Jason - #2: An above-average defender and 80 runner make him a candidate to become an everyday player. If he hits, he's an All-Star.

Video credit: Yankees

4. James Kaprielian

Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born March 2, 1994)
Height: 6'4" Weight: 200 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A-/Rk) 5 G, 3 GS, 11 1/3 IP, 3.97 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.235 WHIP (full)

Tanya - #4: The Yankees’ prize of the 2015 draft comes in the form of a pitcher who could make his way to the big leagues as early as late this season. There isn’t a lot on the farm in terms of pitching, so a lot is riding on Kaprielian’s success.

Andrew - #4: Kaprielian is pretty close to the majors in pure ability despite starting 2016 in A-ball. Even if he just becomes a mid-rotation starter, he would be valuable and much-needed addition to the MLB rotation.

Jason - #4: Drafted as a fairly complete package, Kaprielian has pretty high floor and must have made a good impression after being invited to spring training this year.

Video credit: Yankees

5. Ian Clarkin

Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born February 14, 1995)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 190 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AFL) 6 GS, 24 2/3 IP, 5.84 ERA, 6.2 K/9, 5.1 BB/9, 1.946 WHIP (full)

Tanya - #8: Things have been rough for Clarkin as a professional, but he’s still young enough to make it happen. A healthy year from him would be huge.

Andrew - #6: While the lefty still has the potential to be something special, he needs to have a season that isn't just Arizona Fall League stats to assuage doubts.

Jason - #5: He missed the entire 2015 season, but he avoided Tommy John surgery and could make up for lost time in 2016.

Video credit: Yankees

6. Tyler Wade

Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born November 23, 1994)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 180 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AA/A+) 127 G, .262/.321/.333, 15 2B, 3 HR, 33 SB, .654 OPS (full)

Tanya - #7: Wade is overshadowed by Mateo, but he is still a fine prospect in his own right. The Yankees have played him at second base as well to add to his versatility.

Andrew - #13: The 2013 draft pick is off to a decent start, though he will need to show more with both the bat and the glove to crack the majors. Becoming a useful defender at multiple infield positions.

Jason - #6: While he isn't can't-miss prospect, he's been pretty solid for a middle infielder and the Yankees have pushed him through the system. They like him, but it would seem he'd need to become a utility infielder if he's going to stay with the team.

Video credit: Yankees

7. Wilkerman Garcia

Age on Opening Day: 18 (Born April 1, 1998)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 176 lbs.
2015 statistics: (Rk/DSL) 39 G, .299/.414/.362, 6 2B, 0 HR, 11 SB, .776 OPS (full)

Tanya - #6: At just 17 years old, Garcia lit up the Gulf Coast League. He has, so far, been the best looking player to come out of the Yankees’ international spending spree.

Andrew - #10: The current standout of the 2014 international haul, "the Wilkerman" showed similar promise in Rookie ball to what Mateo did in 2014 before his breakout. Another fascinating shortstop could be in the near-future.

Jason - #10: Still only a teenager, it's hard to see much in his game yet; however, he has to the potential to be one of the best prospects in the system if he sticks at short.

Video credit: FanGraphs

8. Dustin Fowler

Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born December 29, 1994)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 185 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A+/A) 123 G, .298/.334/.394, 20 2B, 5 HR, 30 SB, .728 OPS (full)

Tanya - #9: His bat might be the most obviously impressive thing about Fowler, but his defense is solid as well. Strong 2015 results make him the best of the outfielders behind Judge.

Andrew - #8: An overlooked 18th round draft pick out of a Georgia high school in 2013, Fowler used a contact-oriented approach at the plate that led to both vicious line drives in the low minors and a noticeable growth in the prospect world. Even if his hitting doesn't keep up, his speed and defense are strong enough to make him a useful fourth outfielder down the road.

Jason - #9: He's been mostly been under the radar over the last few years, but he's been picking up a lot of attention from evaluators. If he improves on his 2015 season, he's more than just a borderline top 10 prospect.

Video credit: Yankees

9. Rob Refsnyder

Age on Opening Day: 25 (Born March 26, 1991)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA) 117 G, .271/.359/.402, 28 2B, 9 HR, 12 SB, .761 OPS (full)

Tanya - #11: Refsnyder is kind of the ‘always the bridesmaid’ of Yankee prospects. The team doesn’t trust him enough to hand him the second base job, so his future with this organization is very much up in the air.

Andrew - #5: There's little doubt that Refsnyder's bat is big-league ready, hence his spot in my personal top 10. Although his defense might prevent him from finding a key role with the Yankees, his hitting should eventually give him a decent career.

Jason - #13: After the trade for Starlin Castro, Refsnyder has lost his role on the team, but that doesn't mean he's without value. Whether they use him as a utility infielder or trade piece, he still has some use.

Video credit: Yankees

10. Jacob Lindgren

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born March 12, 1993)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 205 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA) 15 G, 22 IP, 1.23 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 1.182 WHIP (full)

Tanya - #10: His first taste of the majors didn’t exactly go according to plan, then surgery prematurely ended his season. The Strikeout Factory should be back in business in 2016 with Lindgren serving as a big part of the bullpen in the Bronx.

Andrew - #11: "Big Chunk" should still have his high strikeout tendencies following surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. The bullpen already has marquee names; imagine how much scarier it could be if Lindgren breaks out.

Jason - #8: He has the potential to be a closer-type, but in 2016, he's only going to be asked to get left-handed hitters out. The Justin Wilson trade was likely made in part so he could contribute, so look out for him to make the team.

Video credit: Yankees on Demand

11. Drew Finley

Age on Opening Day: 19 (Born July 10, 1996)
Height: 6'3" Weight: 200 lbs.
2015 statistics: (Rk+) 12 GS, 32 IP, 3.94 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 5.3 BB/9, 1.625 WHIP (full)

Tanya - #14: Finley represents the best high school pick of last year’s draft. He performed well in his first taste of professional baseball last season, and is still just 19 years old.

Andrew - #9: Finley came from a very similar southern California prep background as Clarkin. He might be far from the majors, but his solid fastball/curveball/changeup combination has already caught some eyes.

Jason - #7: One of the more advanced arms in the system, Finley should really make his mark with a full season in 2016.

Video credit: Video (draft day)

12. Domingo Acevedo

Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born March 6, 1994)
Height: 6'7" Weight: 190 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A/A-) 12 GS, 49 2/3 IP, 1.81 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.107 WHIP (full)

Tanya - #5: If you can easily throw 100+ mph, your name rises up prospect lists. He could be an ace if he puts everything together.

Andrew - #7: Domingo Acevedo compares pretty favorably to where Luis Severino before his minor league breakout in 2014, just with a few years added (perhaps since he didn't play baseball at all until turning 16). His size, high velocity, and delivery also easily bring a younger Michael Pineda to mind, and he has the kind of jaw-dropping pitches in his arsenal to turn some heads in 2016.

Jason - #20: He hasn't amounted to much so far, but he has a pretty powerful fastball. Hopefully he can get some innings in this year and move up the list.

Video credit: Yankees

13. Brady Lail

Age on Opening Day: 22 (Born August 29, 1993)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 205 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA/AA/A+) 27 GS, 148 1/3 IP, 2.91 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.240 WHIP (full)

Tanya - #12: Lail is another Yankee prospect who could see big league time later in 2016. He isn’t overly flashly, but has found a way to get the job done.

Andrew - #12: Lail made short work of the low minors and is probably among the Yankees' first few go-to rotation options from Triple-A in an emergency. It remains to be seen if he actually has a good enough repertoire to beat major league caliber hitters.

Jason - #16: He's probably just about MLB ready at this point. He might not have a ton of upside, but he should contribute in some capacity.

Video credit: Yankees

14. Slade Heathcott

Age on Opening Day: 25 (Born September 28, 1990)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 190 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA) 64 G, .267/.315/.343, 7 2B, 2 HR, 6 SB, .657 OPS (full)

Tanya - #16: Rescued his prospect status with a strong showing in 2015. He looked capable at the big league level in limited time. He’s probably the first guy called up if the team is in need of an outfielder in 2016.

Andrew - #14: Yankees fans finally saw a glimpse of the flashy tools that made Heathcott a first round pick six years ago. Injuries and inconsistency will probably keep him from ever being a major league starter, but at least unlike after 2014, the dream still appears to be alive.

Jason - #12: It's hard to see Slade contributing anything at this point, but a brief appearance in 2015 keeps hope alive. He's like just a fourth outfielder going forward, but he could be a good one.

Video credit: Yankees on Demand

15. Mason Williams

Age on Opening Day: 24 (Born August 21, 1991)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 185 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA/AA) 54 G, .318/.397/.398, 14 2B, 0 HR, 13 SB, .795 OPS (full)

Tanya - #18: Like Heathcott, Williams rescued his stock by performing well in 2015. His season was cut short by injury, but he proved that he could hang with big leaguers in limited time. His tools have always been there and could make him an important prospect to watch in 2016.

Andrew - #15: Williams played as well as Heathcott in his brief Bronx cameo before shoulder surgery cut his season short. Injuries are just the worst.

Jason - #11: He looked good in a brief appearance, but he's probably not much more than a fourth outfielder at this point. He'll probably play a part over the next few years, but it will be a small one.

Video credit: MLB

16. Abiatal Avelino

Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born February 14, 1995)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 186 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A+/A) 123 G, .260/.314/.334, 20 2B, 4 HR, 54 SB, .648 OPS (full)

Tanya - #13: Like Wade, Avelino is a bit overshadowed by Mateo in the system. He’s the least exciting of the shortstop prospects previously mentioned, but his defense really stands out.

Andrew - #18: The speedy infielder racked up a high stolen base total in 2015, but it's difficult to say if he'll actually hit enough to go very far.

Jason - #19: As a shortstop who stole over 50 bases this year, he's looking pretty good right now, but he'd have looked better if he could hit a bit more.

Video credit: Video (2015 prospects)

17. Luis Torrens

Age on Opening Day: 19 (Born May 2, 1996)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 175 lbs.
2015 statistics: Did not play (injured)

Tanya - #19: 2015 was a lost season for Torrens, but he’s young enough to survive that. A good return season should get him back toward the top half of the team’s prospect list.

Andrew - #17: Raw ability alone keeps Torrens in the top 20, as he was one of the New York-Penn League's most exciting players as a mere 18-year-old in 2014. The question is how he will fare after missing a year of development.

Jason - #14: After missing the 2015 season with a shoulder injury, things are looking down for Torrens. He struggled in his first taste of higher competition, but there's still a lot of talent here.

Video credit: Video (2015 prospects)

18. Hoy Jun Park

Age on Opening Day: 19 (Born April 7, 1996)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 175 lbs.
2015 statistics: (Rk+) 56 G, .239/.351/.383, 11 2B, 5 HR, 12 SB, .734 OPS (full)

Tanya - #15: Another shortstop! Hitting isn’t going to be his strong suit, but he has the skills to make him a good defender in the infield. Hopefully his bat improves.

Video credit: Baseball America

19. Caleb Smith

Age on Opening Day: 24 (Born July 28, 1991)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 200 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA/AA) 25 GS, 135 IP, 3.47 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.326 WHIP (full)

Jason - #15: I'm a fan of Smith because he's pretty unheralded and has looked good so far in the minors. He's ready for Triple-A and should be able to eat some innings, so he could be useful in 2016.

Video credit: MiLB Video

20. Ben Gamel

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born May 17, 1992)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 185 lbs.
2015 statistics: (AAA) 129 G, .300/.358/.472, 28 2B, 10 HR, 13 SB, .830 OPS (full)

Tanya - #17: Gamel had himself quite a season in 2015, hitting better than he ever has before. He’s probably not destined to be a regular with the Yankees, but could make it as outfield depth.

Andrew - #20: An impressive year in the International League vaulted Gamel back into the fringe prospect discussion. He's young enough to be an intriguing replacement should someone go down an injury and if the team doesn't want to call Judge up quite yet. Also, the fact that he had more triples (14) than stolen bases amuses me.

Video credit: Yankees

Others receiving votes

Miguel Andujar

Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born March 2, 1995)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 175 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A+) 130 G, .243/.288/.363, 24 2B, 8 HR, 12 SB, .651 OPS (full)

Andrew - #16: Make that two straight years in which the third baseman has had to overcome a first half slump with a better showing in the second (.277/.325/.400). Reports seem to indicate he has a chance to stick at third base, so he just needs to actually put it all together one year.

Jason - (originally ranked): He's been a top prospect for a few years now, but he's basically gone downhill ever since he started getting attention. If he doesn't rebound next year, he's going to remain outside the top 20.

Video credit: Yankees

Jordan Montgomery

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born December 27, 1992)
Height: 6'4" Weight: 225 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A+/A) 24 GS, 134 1/3 IP, 2.95 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.146 WHIP (full)

Jason - #17: Drafted as an advanced arm, Montgomery has done well in the minors, but might ultimately top out as a backend starter. Luckily, those still have value.

Video credit: MiLB Video

Kyle Holder

Age on Opening Day: 21 (Born May 25, 1994)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 185 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A-) 56 G, .213/.273/.253, 7 2B, 0 HR, 6 SB, .527 OPS (full)

Tanya - (originally ranked): He was drafted for his defense and not his bat, which definitely showed in his first half-season as a professional. Holder is hanging on to the bottom of this list for his defense, but another poor season at the plate and there won’t really be much to talk about.

Andrew - (originally ranked): I'm certainly willing to give the slick-fielding 2015 draft pick some time to work out the kinks at bat since he was relatively new to baseball in college. The problem is that even his oft-cited defensive comp, Brendan Ryan, hit when he was in short-season ball (.311/.363/.425). So...

Jason - #18: He's supposedly really good with the glove, but he didn't show much competence with his bat at all after he was drafted. I'll give him another chance, but if he can't OPS higher than .600, he's going to easily fall off this list.

Video credit: Yankees

Domingo German

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born August 4, 1992)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 175 lbs.
2015 statistics: Did not play (injured)

Andrew - #19: Tommy John surgery nixed German's first season in pinstripes back in March, but like Torrens, his natural talent should keep him in the prospect discussion. It's just a matter of how he'll respond.

Video credit: Video (2015 prospects)

Jhalan Jackson

Age on Opening Day: 23 (Born February 12, 1993)
Height: 6'3" Weight: 220 lbs.
2015 statistics: (A-) 49 G, .266/.338/.452, 14 2B, 5 HR, 4 SB, .790 OPS (full)

Tanya - #20: Jackson was an intriguing prospect drafted in 2015 whose results were pretty good in his first taste of professional baseball. There’s enough here to keep an eye on, even if you’re not totally convinced yet.

Video credit: Video


Previous Pinstripe Alley top prospect lists