New York Yankees Editorial: Yankees Feature Depth and Upside in Minors
As the Yankees march towards the playoffs, there is a general feeling that this could be the last run in a while due to an older, injury-susceptible roster that returns virtually all of the same players next year. Are these Alex Rodriguez’s last 600 quality plate appearances? Can Mark Teixeira remain relatively healthy for another year? Can Brian McCann maintain performance as he approaches 10,500 innings at catcher? Does the dynamite bullpen slip even a little? The downside risk remains, as it was this year, a huge concern with this specific roster. Yet, as seen with numerous call-ups in 2015, the Yankees seem to possess a minor league system that will churn out players who can contribute at the major league level when taking over for injured or underperforming players. Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela, Bryan Mitchell, and numerous bullpen arms were all seen at various points this season. They won’t all pan out, but some combination of that list will help the Yankees win games in future seasons.
Additionally, the Yankees maintain 3 upper echelon players in their minor-league system projecting as above average players who could form the core of a roster. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently ranked Luis Severino (9), Aaron Judge (22), and Jorge Mateo (25) among the top 26 prospects in all of baseball. On the 20-80 scouting scale (50 being average), Severino (60), Judge (55), and Mateo (55) all clear the “average” benchmark according to McDaniel’s future value marks. These players have the chance to make All Star Teams in their prime while running a 3.5-1 strikeout to walk ratio across 200 innings (Severino), hitting 25 home runs with above average defense in right (Judge), and stealing 50 bases with solid defense at shortstop (Mateo).
The combination of prospect depth (all the players called up this year) and upside (the 3 Yankees on McDaniel’s list) serves two masters: it acts to make the team better while lowering the payroll and getting under the luxury tax threshold. Maximize wins and minimize cost. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
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