The strangest thing about the 2021 New York Yankees season — ok, fine, one of 1,000 daily-occurring strange things — is that every level of the minor leagues is playing like a house afire.
Every minor-league team in the Yankees system looks like a collection of 25 behemoths — but, as we all know, minor-league win-loss records do not translate to farm system rankings, nor MLB success.
Typically, that’s because of great performances from journeymen that can’t be replicated, or a mysterious standout year from a group of Four-A former big leaguers at Triple-A, playing out the string but winning games with their experience and guile.
This year across the system, though? We don’t know … we don’t want to get our hopes up, but it’s a lot of good stuff from a lot of viable prospects and fringe mid-20s dudes. It’s offensive consistency and breakout performances from the mound. It’s … what a good group of players looks like.
Naturally, the Yankees have shown zero willingness to plumb the depths at the big-league level. We haven’t seen Trey Amburgey or Hoy Jun Park. We haven’t heard a whisper about any pitcher other than Deivi Garcia.
Nothing about the minor-league system’s explosion will really have any relevance this season, you’d think. After all, who wants to see the Bombers make an earth-shattering trade at the deadline to prop up this phony contender? Not … not me, really. Who wants to see them promote from within? Me, absolutely! But with the 40-man roster the way it is … nope.
All of that exhaustingly being said … it’s still extremely nice that the team’s top prospects, like Estevan Florial, Luis Medina, Luis Gil and Oswald Peraza, by and large look good (sorry, Deivi). It’s also quite nice that some of the depth pieces we’ve enjoyed scouting over the years are also mid-hot streak — and some of them are building history.
These 3 forgotten Yankees prospects should give you some degree of hope.
3. Josh Smith
Oh, we’ve been on the Josh Smith wagon for a while, folks. And we’ve greatly enjoyed the payoff.
Though the high-average, high-OBP second-rounder out of LSU in 2019 was off the radar for quite a while (thank you, 2020!), he’s reestablished himself as a viable middle infield threat with the bat and glove thus far in 2021.
In other words, if you’re still angry the Yankees traded away Nick Solak to obtain Brandon Drury in roundabout fashion, Smith’s arrival could soothe your nerves in a year.
Though he didn’t play his first game of the year until May 25 in Tampa, missing about three weeks of action to overcome some type of offseason issue, he got to producing immediately, and found himself promoted to High-A Hudson Valley by June 9.
Across two levels, Smith has torn the cover off the baseball to the tune of a .343/.472/.706 triple-slash with a 1.178 OPS. Does he perhaps suffer in terms of prospect profile because his name is … Josh Smith? Highly possible, but you won’t see this one criticizing Doc Rivers on Instagram Live.
Smith, a shortstop by trade, ranks as MLB Pipeline’s 14th-best prospect (which seems somewhat higher than we expected), and has hit the ground running and raking this year. He’s 23. He can cover short. He’s bat-first, unlike Tyler Wade, but solid with the glove. He filled Alex Bregman’s shoes at LSU. Bring him to us.