MLB.com has ranked the Yankees as the no. 2 overall farm system in baseball this year. It’s been a long journey from the bottom, but now we’re here (almost) at the top. The only team with a better system are the Braves, and the Yankees beat out the White Sox, Padres, Brewers, Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies, Reds, and Rays for the top 10 in baseball. It’s not just cool that the Yankees are this high on the list, but they made it there while being one of the better teams that are ranked this high.
Jim Callis ranked Gleyber Torres as the team’s no. 1 prospect, which seem like a no-brainer at this point. He rounds out the top five with Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, Aaron Judge, and Jorge Mateo. He considers James Kaprielian and Justus Sheffield as the system’s top two pitchers. After his breakout season last year, Chance Adams has rocketed all the way up to no. 8 on the list. Dustin Fowler and Miguel Andujar come in at no. 9 and no. 10.
The next five players possess a healthy amount of untapped potential. The newly acquired Albert Abreu ranked no. 11. Shortstop Tyler Wade is a gifted young athlete, he’s already going to reach Scranton this year, and he’s spent time in the outfield this spring. Jordan Montgomery doesn’t have a very high ceiling, but his college background makes him an advanced arm in the system. Domingo Acevedo and Dillon Tate will both need strong years to boost their stock.
After a big 2016 season, Tyler Austin—somehow still a prospect—has earned a spot on this list. Estevan Florial earned plenty of praise as a gifted outfielder in rookie ball, however, last season was a bit of a disappointment. Same goes for Wilkerman Garcia, who has a lot of potential but has yet to show it consistently on the field. Last year’s draftees right-hander Nolan Martinez and second baseman Nick Solak earned praise in their debut seasons to earn a place on this list.
The last few guys are a wide mix of players. Injury has knocked Ian Clarkin down a few pegs. Chad Green and the recently acquired Zack Littell make the list, while Drew Finley and Kyle Holder maintain a presence. Jonathan Holder gets a shoutout, as does infielder-turned-catcher Donny Sands. The list ends with young arms Jorge Guzman and Freicer Perez, and college reliever Taylor Widener.
As part of his coverage of the Yankees farm system, Callis also did a Q&A on Twitter about the organization. It proved to be very insightful for a number of reasons.
On pitchers we might see in 2017: Out of Montgomery, Adams, Kaprielian, and Dietrich Enns, Callis believes that Montgomery will see the most playing time at the big league level this season. He has the left-handed Enns as more of a reliever (which he likely is), while Adams and Montgomery will require more seasoning before they make the jump.
On players who were not in the top 30: Names to look out for include Hoy Jun Park, Dermis Garcia, Leonardo Molina, Billy McKinney (if he’s healthy), Trey Amburgey, Chris Gittens, and Nick Nelson. They didn’t make it this year, but Callis wouldn’t be surprised if any of these guys change that. He also simply ran out of room when he left off infielders Dermis Garcia and Thairo Estrada, who he seemed especially sorry for.
On the potential of James Kaprielian: Kap might not end up being an ace, but Callis sees him as a strong no. 2 for the Yankees after his stuff saw improvement in pro ball. It’s also clear that he finds the right-hander to be a better pitcher than lefty Justus Sheffield, claiming Kap has a higher ceiling with the higher floor.
On the future of center field: The Yankees have a lot of outfield prospects, but if any of them are going to be a regular center fielder, he says it will be Dustin Fowler. Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, and Blake Rutherford all look to be future corner guys.
On Billy McKinney: McKinney has been a prospect in free fall over the last few seasons. He has one of the best hit tools around, but the power is definitely going to be a problem, especially since he is not a good enough athlete to make up for it with his glove. Callis believes that, even with his impressive spring so far, the best he can hope for is Tyler Austin-lite, which doesn’t sound like much.
On Ian Clarkin: He was a highly regarded prospect but an injury to his pitching elbow slowed his progress and he hasn’t looked the same yet. Callis says Clarkin still has a chance as a solid mid-rotation guy, but his stuff and control are only good, not great.
On Jorge Mateo: Does Mateo have a future in the organization? Callis says he needs to grow up before we can know for sure.