Prospects season is creeping up on us, and yesterday Jonathon Mayo of MLB.com released his top 100 overall prospects of 2013. On this list, Yankee prospects Gary Sanchez ranked 35th, Mason Williams 41st, and Tyler Austin 75th. The top three overall prospects were Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals, the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, and Jurickson Profar of the Rangers.
Sanchez also finished as the Yankees top prospect on John Sickels’ 2013 ranking, though he was given the same grade as Austin. The 19 year old catcher played 474 plate appearances in 2012, through Charleston and High-A Tampa. In that time, Sanchez hit .290/.344/.485 with 18 home runs and 15 stolen bases. His abilities to hit for power and average at such a young age are his highest touted tools, but he also showed off a strong arm and better foot work behind the plate in 2012. Sanchez looks as if he can stay at catcher, and if can keep hitting for power and start to avoid the strikeouts, he could be extremely valuable at an awfully weak position in baseball.
William’s ranking at 41st on Mayo’s list is bound to stir some controversy. Though he hasn’t put up the same amount of power, Williams is an extremely athletic outfielder that has the ability to field and hit for average and some power. Baseball America has Williams ranked as the number 1 prospect for the Yankees, and touted him as the best athlete, fastest baserunner, and best defensive outfielder in the system. At 20 years old, Williams had 397 plate appearances in 2012, through Charleston and Tampa. In that time, he hit .298/.346/.474 with 11 home runs and 20 stolen bases. I’ve seen a couple of reports that say Williams was trying too hard to hit for power in 2012, something he needs to be more patient with, which reduced his ability to hit for average. Scouts believe he’ll develop more natural power and refine his speed on the base paths.
Although Austin ranked as the last Yankee prospect on the top 100 list, he probably had the best season. At just 20 years old, Austin hit .322/.400/.559 in 472 plate appearances across Charleston, Tampa, and Trenton. As I mentioned before, Austin received the same grade as Sanchez (B+) by Sickels, and Baseball America rated him as the best hitter for average in the Yankee system. Being drafted in the 13th round probably still has scouts worried about placing him too high on lists, but he has produced as much as any Yankee prospect over the last two years.
Once we start to see more of these top 100 prospect lists come out, I think there’s a good chance the Yankees see Slade Heathcott on most of the other lists. Heathcott ranked fourth on Sickels list, and receiving the same grade as Williams. He also ranked 2nd on Baseball America’s list, where he was said to have the best outfield arm in the system, despite ongoing arm injuries. Earlier this offseason, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer spoke very highly of the outfielder, and said he has a chance to play in New York in 2013.
Outside of Heathcott, I doubt we’ll see many more Yankee prospects on top 100 lists. I’ve seen a few less mainstream lists that still included Manny Banuelos at the bottom of the top 100, but that’s certainly a long shot to continue with his recent Tommy John surgery. Baseball America appears to be high on Jose Campos, who I suppose could squeak into the end of a list as well. In regards to both pitchers and Heathcott, all three deserved a spot over some of the overhyped prospects like Jose Iglesias, who somehow landed at 96 on Mayo’s top 100.