Yankees’ Prospect Watch
Mar 6, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Mason Williams (97) at bat against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
If you have followed Yanks Go Yard throughout the spring, you know the Yankee farm system is ranked near the bottom of baseball’s franchises. Many experts feel that there are no longer any “elite” prospects in the Yankees’ system. (For example, if you look at Keith Law’s list on ESPN, Yankee top prospect Gary Sanchez ranks out as the 68th overall prospect.) Here’s a look at how well the Yankees’ top prospects have handled themselves so far in 2014. (Author’s note: John Ryan Murphy was removed from this list as he was called up to the Yankees as the piece was being finished.)
1. C Gary Sanchez, Trenton Thunder. The Yankees believe that the next in line for a big league promotion is Austin Romine or John Ryan Murphy. I think it is time for Sanchez. I do understand why he is at Double-A. If he were at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he would be platooning with Romine or Murphy. If he was in the bigs with the Yankees, he would play probably once a week. He gets his everyday licks in Trenton and that’s what the Yankees feel he needs to develop. He isn’t just the best player for the Thunder, he is their leader and he is tearing it up thus far in 2014.
2014 stats: .353, 1 HR, 5 2B, 10 RBI
2. OF/IF Tyler Austin, Trenton Thunder. Austin is in a transition phase of his career. With the over-crowded Yankee outfield both in the majors and at Triple-A, the Thunder have been working to switch Austin to an infielder to find ways to get his potent bat into the lineup. Austin missed the first week of the season, but is starting to put it together.
2014 stats: .241, 3 RBI
3. Mason Williams, Trenton Thunder. Notice a trend? Seems like most of the Yankees top prospects are at the Double-A level. People have touted Williams as the best overall athlete in the system and so far he has been hinting that they are right. Last season’s number one overall prospect for the Yanks takes a step back, but he is still creating runs for the Thunder.
2014 stats: .261, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 10 runs scored
4. OF Slade Heathcott, extended spring training. Heathcott has yet to suit up in 2014 as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. He hopefully suits up for the RailRiders soon. He is widely considered one of the better defensive prospects in the system with a cannon of an arm.
5. 3B Eric Jagielo, Tampa Yankees. It seems like last year’s first round pick is a huge step in the right direction in finding elite prospects. Jagielo isn’t just driving in runs, he is doing it in the clutch. He’s currently down in Single-A Advanced ball, but if he continues on this pace, he could move up quickly.
2014 stats: .239, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 7 runs scored
6. OF/ 1B Aaron Judge, Charleston RiverDogs. Judge, too, was a 2013 first round draft pick. He didn’t play at all last season as he recovered from a quad injury, but he is now starting to show some life in Low-A ball. The 21-year-old beast (listed at 6’7” and 255 pounds) is a huge power prospect, but has yet to collect his first home run as a pro.
2014 stats: .256, 3 RBI, 6 runs scored
7. 1B Greg Bird, extended spring training. He was left behind as he deals with a back injury and has yet to start his 2014 season. Many feel he is the most disciplined hitter in the system. Bird is coming off a monster .288, 20 HR, and 107 walk campaign for the RiverDogs.
8. SP Ian Clarkin, extended spring training. The left-handed starting pitching prospect joined Judge and Jagielo as the third first round draft pick in 2013. He has yet to throw a pitch in the 2014 season.
9. SP, Luis Severino, Charleston RiverDogs. Severino comes in at 9 or 10 on most Yankee prospect lists. The 20-year old righty has yet to find his groove in the young 2014 season as he has been getting hit hard. He is scheduled to make his third start Tuesday night.
2014 stats: 0-1, 5.79 ERA, 7 Ks, 2 walks
10. SP, Manny Banuelos, Tampa Yankees. He’s fallen out a lot of top Yankee prospect lists. He’s usually listed around the 11- 13 prospect, but after his hot start, he should come in as a Top Ten. Coming off of injury, his innings have been limited thus far, but he has been nonetheless dominating.
2014 stats: 0-0, 11 Ks, 1 walk over 3 starts
Others to keep an eye on:
RP Danny Burawa (SWB) is 1-0 with 9Ks over 4 appearances and has yet to allow a run… Fellow RP Mike Montgomery (SWB) has been stingy to opposing teams. He has one save and 5 Ks over his 4 appearances while allowing no runs… RP Manny Barreda (Trenton) has yet to allow a run or a walk in his 6.2 innings thus far while compiling 6 Ks… SP Rafael De Paula (Tampa) was roughed up in his first outing but showed his dominating form the second time around. He stands at 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA and 12 Ks… C Peter O’Brien (Tampa) took home the Player of the Week award. He is now batting .333 with 4 HRs and 6 RBI… SP Eric Wooten (Tampa) has been lights out compiling a 2-0 record with a 0.82 ERA and 11 Ks… 1B Mike Ford (Charleston) came out blazing to the tune of a .341 average with 2 HRs and 6 RBI.