MLB Pipeline's Yankees Top 30 Prospects list features 2 unexpected swaps

Feb 19, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) winds up during spring
Feb 19, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza (91) winds up during spring / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 season is nearly upon us, which means MLB Pipeline is staking its claim on which Yankees prospects are prepared to vault up their top 30 list and break out -- or, at least, they're temporarily staking a claim that can be reversed this summer when the midseason update drops. Still! Big.

You already know the Top 3. In fact, you could probably write them out with your finger while sleeping. They're that ingrained in your muscle memory: Anthony Volpe No. 1, Jasson Dominguez No. 2, Oswald Peraza No. 3. That's as close to a consensus as you'll see, except for the folks that want to be funky and have Spencer Jones usurping the field prior to his first pro season.

Beyond the top trio -- and Austin Wells fourth, Jones fifth, and Everson Pereira sixth -- there are several fast risers to keep track of prior to Opening Day, as well as a few unexpected pairings where the less-heralded name has pulled ahead.

Even compared to the 2022 year-end list (featuring Jones inserted in the seventh spot), there are a few massive moves that must be accounted for.

Yankees Top Prospects: Brando Mayea, Drew Thorpe rising

Between his first stop on the list in 2022 post-draft (13th), second-round selection Drew Thorpe has leapt over a few more established Yankees pitching prospects. Now, Thorpe ranks eighth, one spot ahead of Will Warren and seven spots ahead of Clayton Beeter, who ranked in the Top 10 last year. Huh.

When Thorpe was drafted, the consensus was that the Yankees would be able to add more velocity to his portfolio and pair a more effective fastball with his already-plus changeup. In his first spring outing, Thorpe sat at 92-93 MPH with the heater, a few ticks faster than last year. That could explain it.

Also unexpectedly surpassing Beeter (what did this guy do wrong?!) was Richard Fitts, a right-hander who now ranks 10th. Fitts, who prefers to be called "Richard" for obvious reasons, posted an 0.55 ERA and struck out 38 while walking just three in five High-A starts last year, and will start 2023 at the same level, pending something ridiculous. His fastball has a natural cut to it, and his featured breaking ball is the patented "sweeper," which the Yankees have prioritized developing in recent years (Hayden Wesneski, Warren, etc.).

Also of note? Top 2023 international signee Brando Mayea, who scouts have compared to a mini Gary Sheffield (it's always good to go outlandish with your comps, just ask The Martian), ranks ahead of 2022's prize Roderick Arias before playing a minor-league game. Recency bias wins again!

The Yankees farm system's biggest challenge this year will be replenishing their pitching at the upper levels after trading significant depth to acquire Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino, Scott Effross and Andrew Benintendi last summer. If Pipeline's assessment is accurate, Fitts and Thorpe could step into the vacated roles quickly -- and don't forget the late-season return of Luis Gil, either.