Believe what you’ve heard: the New York Yankees farm system is reaching impressive heights due to both its upper-tier talent and its unparalleled depth.
That depth made it relatively painless for New York to trade an extra prospect for Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo last summer, forcing Texas and Chicago to kick in the remainder of their salaries to make the dream work. Could Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran and Kevin Alcantara all break out at their new homes? It’s possible! But they were in the 10-to-20 range for the Yankees’ farm, and have swiftly been replaced by 2021 breakouts, international signees, and surprise prospects who are expected to reveal themselves this season.
After all, the minor-league season is progressing as scheduled for all those who aren’t on the 40-man roster.
Ahead of the action resuming, Yankees farm director Kevin Reese spoke about what we can expect to see this year based on offseason conditioning. When asked about possible lesser-known surprises, he cited two names.
One of which we should all be familiar with by now: Elijah Dunham, a UDFA from Indiana who the Yankees signed in 2020 (and would’ve never had a shot at if the draft had been longer than five rounds). Dunham raked in 2021, raked in the Arizona Fall League, and has kept on raking after the dust settled, moving up Baseball America’s prospect list during this dormant period.
The other? 2021 eighth-round pitcher Will Warren, whose velocity has ticked up significantly after joining the Yankees’ Gas Station.
Yankees prospects Will Warren, Elijah Dunham should break out
The 22-year-old Warren has reportedly turned heads internally, hitting 98 on the gun during organized offseason activities.
2021 was certainly the Year of the Pitcher in the Yankees’ farm, with vaunted names like Luis Gil and Luis Medina hitting new heights, and under-the-radar pitchers like Ken Waldichuk, Hayden Wesneski, and seemingly 80 different bullpen options all establishing themselves as “must-protect” names, too.
As Reese relayed to MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo:
"“Will Warren had some velo in college, but it continues to trend up, and he’s working on some secondary stuff,” Reese said. “We get the opportunity in these situations to talk to the hitters, ‘Hey, who’s the toughest guy you’ve faced so far?’ And that’s a name that continues to jump out.”"
And that’s the second time in as many weeks he’s singled out Warren when pressed on the issue. Not a bad predictor of future success.
Whether you believe Anthony Volpe’s single season of dominance, combined with Jasson Dominguez question marks, merit calling the Yankees a top-15 farm system is up to you.
Clearly, the people in charge have uncovered hidden gems at a higher rate lately, and developed them spectacularly. Even after a partial purge last summer, New York’s farm is still on the rise, according to those who are there every day as well as outside observers.