3 Yankees prospects we’re most excited to see in 2021
By Adam Weinrib
The New York Yankees have plenty of top prospects whose names we’ve heard, but have been completely mysterious to us. Hopefully that changes in 2021!
We’re ready for minor-league baseball to return more than…nearly anything else that’s been absent since 2019. This one-year hiatus has felt like a permanent fracture, considering how many franchises have already been displaced, with more to follow.
But seeing as MiLB is the greatest thing since sliced bread (which, coincidentally, they sometimes give away at the gate), we’ll be lined up for Day 1 of its return, even if we’re harboring some negative feelings about MLB exerting its control on the lower levels.
After a full season away from the game, the league’s top prospects are certainly itching to make their mark on ’21, and the Yankees have a solid collection of names to sort out. We’re dealing with MLB-ready-ish arms, a few certified studs at the lower levels, and some forgotten prospects ready to stand out in a crowd and take the final steps up to the bigs quicker than anticipated.
So, who are we most excited to check back in with? Quick rule: The guys at the real low levels? Maybe next year. I’m not excited to watch a 16-year-old work on bunting at a chain-link field behind the high school. I can wait.
But there are some interesting names who could be big league ready in a flash, once given the chance. Of course, there’s also one big name I can’t even pretend I’m not including here. When it’s curtains up on 2021, these are the guys I’ll be most focused on.
3. Josh Smith, 3B
Can Josh Smith make the Yankees bench by 2022?
Josh Smith, the mighty mite 5-10, 172-pound infielder would probably not make any Yankees fan’s final three right now. What can I say? I’m different.
When Smith was taken out of LSU in the second round in 2019, he certainly didn’t anticipate taking a year and a half off without injury, and he’ll turn 24 midway through the ’21 season. That would indicate it’s time for the Yankees to get a move on with his development, and since he’s only ever appeared at short-season Staten Island (which no longer exists), I’m interested to see where the team fast-tracks him. Can his bat help by…midway through next season? That was probably his timeline on draft day.
Smith’s professional ledger is short at this point (not his own fault!) but he did nothing but hit after signing in the summer of 2019, batting .324 with three homers in 111 at-bats.
The Yankees need as much versatility as they can get, and Smith profiles as someone who can hop around the infield and put bat to ball, must like his fellow LSU Tiger DJ LeMahieu. Hopefully, we get an extension for DJ soon, and Smith rushes through the minors so they can be united.
Surely, Smith isn’t at the top of most prospectors’ lists, but who cares? Give me a big-league ready bat instead of a projection.