Scout.com’s top 100 minor league prospects list has been released, and two Yankees have made the cut. The Yankees farm system has been less than stellar in recent years, forcing the team to continually look to the free agent market to replace players that leave. It is difficult to continually win without taking a few years to reload, as many teams do, so losing the farm system and buying players seems to always be necessary. Hopefully these two, as well as others making their way up the rankings, will change that trend in the next couple seasons.
Gary Sanchez is the first Yankee on the list at number 83. Sanchez is a 6’2, 220-pound catcher that the Yankees signed for $3 million when he was 16 out of the Dominican Republic. Sanchez is currently the 5th ranked catching prospect in baseball. He reached Double-A Trenton last season, and had respectable numbers. After spending 94 games in Tampa, he played 23 games for the Trenton Thunder. What I take from his move up is that his average didn’t fluctuate, and his on-base percentage actually went up. While 23 games is a minute sample, it’s clear he was not intimidated by the change in scenery. Sanchez is entering his 5th year in the Yankees’ system, yet he just turned 21 a month ago.
Jose Ramirez is the other Yankee prospect on the Scout.com 100 list, checking in at number 98. Ramirez is a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher that split his time between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton last season. He throws hard, owning a fastball in the mid-90s that can reach the upper-90s on occasion. He’s a strong 6’3, 190 lb. player that is still very raw, but has pieces in place that will help him dominate at the major league level if he can get them all working together. He has a mid-80s changeup, as well as a slider that sits in the high-80s. The slider needs work on its horizontal movement, but will come with time. Ramirez has a smooth delivery, leading to less worry about his shoulder and elbow than the average young pitcher. If he can decrease his walk percentage while keeping his high strikeout rate, look for Ramirez to make his way into the Yankees’ bullpen sooner rather than later.
The Yankees currently have two of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Sanchez has a wait in front of him, with the recent signing of Brian McCann. It is not realistic to expect Sanchez to wait five years if he really becomes major league ready. Sanchez could become a great trade piece down the line, make it easier for the team to move McCann, or become Mark Teixeira’s replacement. Ramirez, on the other hand, could be a vital asset to the team as early as late this summer. Like I mentioned above, his walk rate needs work. If he pitches this season with a more consistent strike zone, he may be one of the first prospects called up in 2014.