Baseball America unveiled the New York Yankees Top-10 prospects in the system this week. The top four selections are not surprising, but unfortunately they are also far away from providing anything at the Major League level and may be too inexperienced to exploit in a deal at this time. Their progress will help dictate the Yankees moves over the next couple seasons. Let’s take a brief look at the top-five on the list to see if there are any bodies ready to help the Yankees over the next couple seasons.
Baseball America’s Top-10 Yankees Prospects:
1. Mason Williams, of
Williams was a fourth round pick in the 2010 draft. Baseball America (BA) also tabbed Williams as the organization’s best athlete, fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder. Williams went .298/.346/.474 in 383 plate appearances this season. He spent a majority of his time with Low-A Charleston. He hit 11 home runs and stole 20 bases in total. He’s projected by most to hit New York late 2014 or 2015
2. Slade Heathcott, of
Heathcott was the team’s first pick in the 2009 draft. He’s endured two shoulder surgeries since then which have significantly delayed his progress. That said he has not faltered when on the field. He hit .302/.380/.461 in 257 plate appearances mostly with High-A Tampa this season. BA also named him the prospect with the best arm in the outfield. He too is likely to hit the Major Leagues in late 2014 or the start of 2015.
3. Gary Sanchez, c
Sanchez is learning the catching trade and it is that which will keep him from hitting the bigs sooner. He’s got immense power and his 2012 slash line was .290/.344/.485 in 467 plate appearances between Low-A and High-A. He banged out 18 home runs and produced 85 RBIs. BA named him the organization’s best power hitter. He’s got a better chance of hitting the Bronx in 2014 than the first two players mentioned, but 2015 is not out of the question depending on how he develops behind the plate.
4. Tyler Austin, of
Austin was a 13th round pick in 2010. He had a breakout season while splitting time with four different levels, ending the season at Double-A Trenton where he will likely begin 2013. He hit .322/.400/.559 in 464 plate appearances. Eye-popping numbers to be sure. BA named him the Yankees’ prospect with the best ability to hit for average. Austin is the Yankees best bet to break through in 2014 based on the quick path he has taken so far. It will depend on if the Yankees need a boost in the outfield during the season due to the poor play of a regular or in case of injury as they won’t want him to sit on the bench. If circumstances do not pan out that way, Austin would certainly be ready by 2015 barring injury.
5. Jose Campos, rhp
Campos came over in the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade with the Seattle Mariners last year. He was pitching well at Low-A (3-0, 4.01ERA, 26 Ks in 24 2/3 innings over five starts), but unfortunately he felt soreness in his pitching elbow and was shutdown for the season. Because of the injury, it is hard to determine when he’ll be able to help the big club, but normal progression assuming he starts at Low-A again in 2013 probably indicates 2015 or 2016.
The Yankees have plenty of excellent talent at the top of the list, but no one is remotely close to the Major Leagues. This hurts the Yankees in their quest to lower payroll below the $189 million competitive balance tax for 2014 and limits the player’s worth in trades. It remains to be seen if their development next season will push them closer to big league level at which point their trade value could increase, but the likelihood of any of the players reaching New York as a regular in 2014 is marginal at best.
In the next minor league report we’ll take a glance at the next five players in BA’s list. The names are below.