3 Yankees prospects who should break out in 2022

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Indiana University’s Elijah Dunham (21) /

The New York Yankees have a deeper farm system than outsiders might realize. Though the pedigree of their top 10 prospects doesn’t quite compete with the league’s star-studded elite (the damn Mariners…), Brian Cashman was able to pull off a Joey Gallo trade by clearing out several interesting depth pieces who were all headed for the Rule 5 Draft and now make up the Rangers’ upper tier of the minors.

Now, a whole new class of Yankees prospects are ready to assume the reins and take hold of that 10-to-20 range, according to most evaluators.

Does that mean they’re the future of the Bronx Bombers, or are they simply the next class to be shipped out when they get too close to the bigs? That’s an issue for another day.

As of now, all three names pinpointed here could fill positions of need with the big-league club, and their development — whether linear or exponential — could be massive for the system as a whole.

Sometimes, breakout prospects come out of literally nowhere. As wild as it is that the world now accepts Anthony Volpe as New York’s top budding young star, he was a confusing first-round pick without a perceived standout tool as recently as … April 2021. We didn’t know much of anything about Volpe’s power, instincts and speed prior to Opening Day of last year, thanks in part to the blacked-out 2020 season.

Projecting breakouts is certainly a lot like throwing darts at the wall (not a dart board, the wall). It’s almost completely foolish, and can often lead to Freezing Cold Takes.

These three players, though, have given us enough of a baseline of evidence that we feel confident in declaring them prospects on the rise.

These 3 Yankees prospects will break out in 2022.

3. Elijah Dunham

Perhaps we’re stretching here — not because it’s unlikely Elijah Dunham breaks out, but because he already did in the Arizona Fall League.

We’re expecting the surge to continue when the curtain rises on 2022.

Dunham, 23 years old and currently ranked 24th on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 list, landed in New York thanks to the 2020 MLB Draft being shortened into oblivion (really, we did a five-round draft last year?!). He signed with the club as a free agent out of Indiana the second the draft ended, an opportunity New York would’ve never had if not for a pandemic-related rule adjustment.

Unlike recent Hoosier products like Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis, Dunham’s calling card is his athleticism as well as his electric bat. The lefty swinger destroyed the baseball in 29 games in Low-A Tampa this past year (.441 OBP, .941 OPS,11 steals) before being promoted to High-A Hudson Valley. There, the power was on display (nine homers in 64 games), while the other numbers waned (his OBP fell to .325).

Dunham truly shined after the campaign ended in the desert of the AFL, though, triple-slashing .357/.465/.571 in 23 games among baseball’s elite prospects — and, yes, he also stole 11 more bases.

Dunham might just start 2022 at Double-A Somerset, placing him alongside Brandon Lockridge and Estevan Florial as the Yankees’ most likely upper-level outfield prospects to get promoted in case of emergency. His rise has been swift, and it’s far from over.