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While Frazier is seen by many as the crown jewel of the Yankees system, I tend to see him as more of a future solid regular than a real star. He’s got an enticing combination of power and speed, but is kind of a hacker at the plate and still seems to have significant trouble recognizing breaking pitches. He struggled mightily in his first time through the International League in the second half of the year, hitting .228/.278/.396 with the Railriders, striking out in 28.5% of his plate appearances.
If he could stick in center field long-term it would improve his projection, but I think ultimately he’ll move to a corner spot where the bat won’t play as well. Don’t get me wrong, I think Frazier is going to be a good player. This is my justification for keeping him this low when most outlets have him at or near the top.
This may seem like an aggressive ranking for a pitcher with just three starts during the regular season, but after showing he’s once again healthy in the Arizona Fall League, Kap looks ready to take back his mantle as the organization’s top pitching prospect.
The club’s 2015 first rounder completely outclassed High-A hitters in April, striking out 22 and walking three in his 18 frames. In the AFL, Kap’s fastball continued in the mid to upper 90’s even after the elbow issue. To compliment the heater, the 22-year-old has three above-average MLB offerings that he mixes well with excellent command.
Last year in big league spring training, Kaprielian looked like he could step right into New York’s rotation with no problem and I expect that will be the case next year as well. The team will have to baby him in 2017 to prevent another flare up, but look for him to be the club’s ace by 2018 if Masahiro Tanaka opts out.
2. Aaron Judge
I recently wrote about Judge getting a short shrift on 2017 prospect lists because of one bad month in the major leagues. He’s shown similar contact skills, power, and defensive abilities to Frazier in the minors, but he was one of the most feared hitters in the International League in 2016 while Frazier struggled. Both hitters need to make adjustments to succeed at their new more advanced levels, and I have faith that both guys are capable of that.
Not only is Judge more advanced, however, but he’s shown superior plate discipline at every level of the minor leagues and his immense frame gives him incredible power potential when he cuts down on the Ks. He led all major league hitters who put at least 15 balls in play last year with a 96.8 mph average exit velocity. As he starts to make more consistent contact next year, those towering moon shots we saw last year will start coming with even greater frequency.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you if you’ve made it this far. The 19-year-old’s MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League was the icing on the cake of an already excellent 2016 campaign. He has no real holes in his game, with all of his tools except power projected as plus across the board, and many scouts think he’ll eventually develop 20 homer pop as his frame fills out.
When the various Top 100 lists get released closer to the season, expect Torres to rank in the 5-10 range on most of them after sitting around 20-30 last year. His stock should only continue to rise, and there seems to be no reason why we won’t see Torres somewhere in the Yankees infield at some point before his 21st birthday.