Thoughts On MLB.com’s Updated Top 20 Prospects List

The post-draft top prospect list updates are still trickling in, and MLB.com was the latest to release theirs over the weekend.  The Yankees had 2 representatives on that list, right-hander Luis Severino (70th) and Gary Sanchez (76th), which I believe is an improvement from the preseason list on which only Sanchez was ranked.  If you’re wondering, Byron Buxton is still #1.

Of greater interest to Yankee fans is MLB.com’s updated top 20 organizational prospects list, which was also released over the weekend.  The list includes detailed write-ups on each player, tool grades, and stats, and is completely and totally free to check out, which is nice.  As usual, the gang at MLB.com offered up a different take on the top 20 Yankee prospects than most other outlets.  A few thoughts on their list:

- Hard to argue with Severino as the new #1.  Sanchez has been quietly stagnating a bit for the last year or 2 while Severino has burst onto the scene as a guy who can throw 3 pitches for strikes and get swings and misses in bunches while avoiding walks.  He dominated both levels of A-ball in half a season this year and looked very good in his Double-A debut.  He’s caught Sanchez and blown right past him in terms of prospect status and his ranking above Sanchez is well deserved.

- Not sure how to feel about Jake Cave cracking the top 10.  I’ve had him anywhere from 17-23 on my list, mainly because he didn’t hit for a lot of power or take a lot of walks in A-ball and I think that could put a cap on his offensive ceiling as he starts to face upper-level pitching.  How he handles Double-A for the rest of this year will be a big determining factor for me in setting his final ranking.

- Gosuke Katoh is too high for me too.  I get that he mashed last year, I get that he’s gone through some serious growing pains in his first full-season league experience, and I get that he’s been much better lately (.267/.380/.400 in July).  I still don’t think that’s enough to rank him above guys like Heathcott, Austin, and Williams, who have all had some level of success hitting against upper-level pitching.  Heathcott maybe because of the injuries, but I don’t think Katoh’s ceiling as a hitter is high enough to vault him over the other 2 right now.

- Clarkin at 4, Refsnyder at 6, and ManBan at 8 are all spot on.  No arguments with any of those.

- Good to see Ramon Flores getting his due and staying on the top 20.  He’s been an under-the-radar guy for a while and he was quietly having a nice year in Triple-A before getting hurt.  He’s over 6 months younger than Austin and Williams and much closer to the show.  Don’t sleep on him as a legit contender for a bench spot in camp next year.

We discussed the list a little on an email chain yesterday afternoon.  I’ll let some of the other IIATMS team members comment on how ludicrous the Aaron Judge ranking was.

Katie- “Really surprised that Judge is that low.”

Dom- “Anyone that rates Judge that low hasn’t seen how much better his swing has looked this season. He’s much quicker to the ball than he was in college, and he shortened his stride.”

I couldn’t agree more.  You want to say that Judge is #2 behind Severino, fine.  I can dig that.  But there’s no way you can try to tell me Judge is the 5th best prospect in the Yankee system and expect me to take that seriously.  There’s also no way you can convince me that he (45) and Peter O’Brien (40) grade out almost identically on the hit tool.  No way, no how.

On his absolute worst day, Judge is a top 3 guy and it’s not a difficult case to make to say he’s #1 ahead of Severino.  The guy has hit for high average and power this year and drawn a ton of walks, garnering universal praise from all scouts who’ve seen him on his swing mechanics and his approach.  He has plus speed in the outfield and a plus arm.  He’s a borderline 5-tool guy right now and there’s nobody else in the Yankee system who can make that claim.

Overall I think it’s a pretty solid list by MLB.com, with the exception of the Judge ranking.  But take a look for yourselves and give some thoughts in the comments.

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

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