After their midseason trades, the Yankees have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Even outside the top 30 or so prospects that many know about and have been following, there are other players who are just making a name for themselves. In 2016, the Yankees had eight individuals put themselves on the map with the seasons they had.
Chance Adams, RHP: 2.33 ERA, 127.1 IP, 10.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
As the team’s No. 13 prospect, you would think it hard to really open any eyes, but Adams completely re-invented himself in 2016. Drafted as a reliever, he transition to the rotation in 2016 after showing heightened velocity and better stuff as a pro. Adams also maintained impeccable control on his way to one of the more successful reliever-to-starter transitions the Yankees have instigated. At the age of 21, Adams did well in Double-A and it could only be a matter of time before he makes an impact on the major league level.
Nestor Cortes, LHP: 1.53 ERA, 106 IP, 9.8 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
As a former 36th rounder, it’s easy to be ignored by players with greater upside, but after three years of solid pitching, it’s time to pay attention to Cortes. He is more of a finesse lefty than anything else, so he faces a real test in the upper minors next year that will clue us into his future role. There’s more than a real chance he could end up as the next Vidal Nuno, though even he proved to have his value. 2017 will be key for him.
Dietrich Enns, LHP: 1.73 ERA, 135 IP, 8.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9
Another finesse lefty and reliever turned starter, Enns proved to be effective at both Double-A and Triple-A this year. He’s been around for a few years now and as a result he’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft again this winter. While he’s gotten by before, his 2016 season could make him an easy pickup for another team looking for rotation depth. It’s hard to see how he will transition to the big leagues, but he should get a long look this spring as he heads into his age-26 season.
Chris Gittens, 1B: .253/.359/.478, 21 HR
Not the most eye-opening season on this list in terms of overall results, but an impressive power surge has helped Gittens get some much-needed attention. At 22, he’s a little old for Low-A Charleston, but he should be the starting first baseman in Tampa next year. 56 walks on the season is also a nice thing to have for a first baseman who won’t hit for average or have much speed. Gittens could give the Yankees another impressive first base prospect.
Kyle Higashioka, C: .276/.337/.511, 21 HR
He’s been around since 2008, and in that time he’s looked mostly like organizational depth, but at the age of 26 he found his power stroke and showed the Yankees that he might have some value after all. Higashioka has always been a good defensive catcher, but his bat has been anemic. It’s hard to tell where he fits in on the Yankees, especially with the emergence of Gary Sanchez and Brian McCann sticking around. He could end up as Triple-A depth as a replacement for the out-of-options Austin Romine.
Yefrey Ramirez, RHP: 2.82 ERA, 124.1 IP, 9.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
Taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft from the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter, Ramirez had an outstanding first year with his new organization. He began his career as a position player but quickly transitioned to the mound and has found success. Ramirez took things to another level this year as a 22-year-old in Charleston and Tampa. He’s already been a terrific victory for the Yankees scouting team, but depending on what he can do from here, he can become an even more impressive find.
James Reeves, LHP: 2.22 ERA, 97.1 IP, 10.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
The latest reliever to make the transition to the rotation, Reeves showed real promise powered mostly by an awkward delivery that helped him add deception to his pitches. Hopefully he gets another chance in the rotation, but either way he’s pushed himself into the spotlight as he heads into the upper levels of the system.
Matt Wotherspoon, RHP: 2.50 ERA, 90 IP, 8.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9
He might not be a highly-regarded reliever, but he showed this year that he can get the job done. Asked to pitch multiple innings in the upper minors, Wotherspoon proved to be up to the task and he could be a major league option for a team desperate for relief help.