While the big-league New York Yankees have found their footing in recent days, the minor-league system as a whole isn’t off to quite the same sterling start they were in 2021.
That’s to be expected, of course. It will be difficult to top whatever organization-wide heater the four feeder teams opened on last season. Thanks to a stunningly potent April, prospects like Trevor Hauver turned themselves from 2020 unknowns to legitimate trade chips (sent away for Joey Gallo), pitchers like Ken Waldichuk sprinted up the team’s top 30, and an “unknown” first-rounder named Anthony Volpe sent shockwaves through the minor-league landscape.
For the sequel … there’s still plenty of heat to be found, but a lot of the Yankees system’s top names haven’t hit the ground running. Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera have struggled at Triple-A, and at the very least aren’t forcing the issue of their promotion. Jasson “The Martian” Dominguez has broken every exit velocity reader in Tampa, but has struck out 22 times in 58 at-bats with his new swing.
Even Volpe himself, though he’s been affable and has shown a flair for the dramatic in his first taste of Double-A with a key grand slam, is hitting .163 with two bombs and six steals in limited action. Nothing to scream about, but won’t get you going.
So, until the upper echelon names decide to join the party, it’s Yanks Go Yard’s job to assure you there are still plenty of great performances simmering below the surface from names you haven’t heard of or thought about.
The staff has already done an excellent job of making you aware of Elijah Dunham (still just 23, still hitting bombs and bringing attitude to Double-A), who just hit the IL for a hopefully-short stint. TJ Rumfield, the infielder swiped from Philadelphia in the Nick Nelson trade, was also covered in full this past week (and is likely the top-performing unheralded name in the minor-league ranks so far).
Though the following three players flew under the radar all winter, they’re similarly blowing the doors off thus far.
3 surprise Yankees prospects you should be paying attention to
3. Blake Perkins
Is Blake Perkins on your “prospect radar”? Likely not, and there’s an easy explanation behind your blind spot: he wasn’t drafted and developed by the Yankees, but rather snuck into the system this offseason in an under-the-radar minor-league deal.
Perkins, not to be confused with Blake Rutherford (traded for D-Rob and Todd Frazier), was the Washington Nationals’ 2015 second-round pick. Still just 25, he might be unlocking his athleticism for the first time in years with the Double-A Somerset Patriots.
In an outfield with fellow studs Dunham and Brandon Lockridge, Perkins has already blown expectations out of the water. In 41 at-bats, he’s notched 15 hits, five bombs, and four steals, hitting .366 with a small-sample-size 1.324 OPS. His recent production was enough to make him the reigning Eastern League Player of the Week, owing the honor to a six-game stretch where he hit a cool .473.
It’s obviously far too early to make any sort of judgment on Perkins, a former highly-touted 69th overall pick (nice) who’s never hit above .255 in a full season at any level. This level of production has astounded prospect watchers thus far, and ideally, Perkins can at least somewhat keep up the pace to turn himself into a major-league option or an asset.