The waiting is over. We've been teasing and slow-playing the build to this over the last 2 days with the review of last year's prospects who were no longer in consideration and the look at the players who didn't make the cut, but now it's time to get down to business and start unveiling this year's IIATMS Top 30.
An explanation of how this list was put together, just so everybody knows and understands what we did. EJ, Domenic, and myself all did our own top 30 lists and assigned point values of 30-1 for each spot on the list, so the #1 ranked player gets 30 points, the #2 gets 29, and so on down the line. We then simply compiled all the point totals from the 3 lists and made our composite IIATMS Top 30 based on highest point total to lowest. It's not overly scientific, but it doesn't really need to be when we're talking prospects. Everybody has their own preferences, especially when you get down to the bottom, and this ended up being a good way to balance out those differing opinions.
In addition to the 3-man job in creating the final list, we also wanted to get as many different voices involved in the actual write-ups as possible. You're going to see analysis and scouting reports from myself, EJ, Dom, and Stacey, and we even managed to drag long-time IIATMS prospect specialist Tamar out of hiding to write a few.
Alright. Enough explaining, time to start ranking. Without further ado, the first 10 spots of the 2015 IIATMS Top 30.
30) Hyo-Jun Park- SS, GCL Yankees
Age: 18, Height: 6'2", Weight: 170 Bats: Left, Throws: Right Key Stats: .371/.475/.557 as a sophomore in the Gogyo Yagu Jumal High School League in Korea (2013) ETA: 2020 Brad's Rank: NR, Dom's Rank: 25th, EJ's Rank: NR
Dom's Take- Signed this past summer, Park was one of the gems of the Yankees international free agency spending bonanza, earning a bonus of around $1.1 MM. The 18-year-old Korean has been touted as a true shortstop, with well above-average speed and the potential for an above-average hit tool. He doesn’t project to hit for much power and he hits the ball to all fields (potentially negating the advantages of Yankee Stadium), but his 6’2” frame could stand to add some muscle, and, as per MLB.com, some believe that he could hit around 10 HR a year as he matures. And, most importantly, he has a plus-plus bat flip tool (0:35 mark):
29) Gosuke Katoh- 2B, Low-A Charleston
Age: 20, Height: 6'2", Weight: 180 Bats: Left, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .222/.345/.326, 58 R, 37 RBI, 19 2B, 6 3B, 3 HR, 20/30 SB in 121 Games (465 PA) ETA: 2018-2019 Brad's Rank: 24th, Dom's Rank: NR, EJ's Rank: NR
Brad's Take- Katoh burst onto the scene with a .310/.402/.522 GCL slash line after being a 2nd round pick in 2013. The Yankees aggressively promoted him to full-season ball in Charleston on the strength of that debut, but his 2014 results were a far cry from those stellar first-season numbers. Katoh's low batting average and power output were indicative of a hitter who was getting overmatched by better pitching, as was his sky high 30.5% K rate. The plus plate discipline was still on display though (15.3% BB rate), and Katoh still projects to be athletic and skilled enough to be a good second baseman. I'm willing to give him a chance to prove that his 2014 struggles were growing pains in his first full-season league experience before completely writing him off.
28) Jose Pirela- 2B/OF, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Age: 25, Height: 5'1", Weight: 210 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .305/.351/.441, 87 R, 60 RBI, 21 2B, 11 3B, 10 HR, 15/22 SB in 130 Games (581 PA) ETA: 2015 Brad's Rank: 23rd, Dom's Rank: NR, EJ's Rank: 30th
Dom's Take- In 2011, Pirela made 37 errors at shortstop (not a typo), and slashed .239/.292/.353 (76 wRC+) in his first crack at Double-A. To say he looked awful in all facets of his game would be kind. Since then, however, Pirela has spent the majority of his time at second base (a position at which he is at least average), while also playing 64 games in left field and around a dozen apiece at first, third, right, and center. In addition to developing a super utility profile defensively, Pirela has improved dramatically with the bat, putting up wRC+ numbers of 123, 116, and 117 over the last three years between Double-A and Triple-A (as well as a 149 wRC+ in 25 PA with the Yankees last Fall). He has done so by making a ton of contact (12.5 K%), hitting for some pop (.145 ISO), and running the bases quite well. He lacks a standout tool, but his solid all-around game should make him a fine utility player for a long time.
27) Angel Aguilar- SS, Low-A Charleston
Age: 19, Height: 6'0", Weight: 170 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .311/.373/.536, 34 R, 31 RBI, 11 2B, 7 HR, in 39 GCL Games (167 PA) ETA: 2019 Brad's Rank: NR, Dom's Rank: NR, EJ's Rank: 21st
EJ's Take- Aguilar is another of the handful of strong up-the-middle prospect that the Yankees have found on the cheap in Latin America. Baseball America rated him the #15 prospect in the Gulf Coast League in 2014, ahead of a lot of notable prospects. He hit .311/.373/.536 with an average 19% K rate and decent defense. The Yankees have a lot of guys like Aguilar in the low levels, but his standout hitting performance sets him apart. Based on his strong performance in the GCL, he could get pushed up to A-ball this year.
26) Jordan Montgomery- LHSP, Low-A Charleston
Age: 22, Height: 6'4", Weight: 225 Throws: Left Key 2014 Stats: 19.0 IP, 16 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 20 K in 10 GCL/SS SI Appearances ETA: 2018 Brad's Rank: 26th, Dom's Rank: 24th, EJ's Rank: NR
Brad's Take- One of the multiple SEC pitchers taken by the Yankees in last year's draft, Montgomery is a classic command lefty who succeeds on his ability to locate and mix pitches. He features a 4-pitch mix of low-90s fastball, plus changeup, curveball, and cutter. While none are standout pitches individually, they all play up thanks to Montgomery's ability to throw them all for strikes and throw them at different points in the count. He was a 3-year starter in college, and although his numbers weren't great in his short 2014 debut, there's no reason he shouldn't be starting 2015 in A-ball. Not a very high ceiling here, but definite potential as a David Phelps/Adam Warren type of back-end starter.
25) Alexander Palma- OF, SS Staten Island
Age: 19, Height: 6'0", Weight: 200 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .305/.318/.451, 22 R, 45 RBI, 13 2B, 4 HR, 9/9 SB in 52 GCL Games (220 PA) ETA: 2019 Brad's Rank: 29th, Dom's Rank: 26th, EJ's Rank: 23rd
EJ's Take- Palma was the top ranked outfielder among the 2013-2014 IFA class, and had a great stateside debut in 2014. He hit .305/.318/.451 with a fantastic 6.8% K rate across 52 games. That killer strikeout rate and solid power led Chris Mitchell's new prospect forecasting system KATOH to rank him as one of the top prospects in rookie ball, alongside IFAs like Ozzy Albies, Willy Adames and Gleyber Torres. On defense, he is nothing special, but should be able to hold down a corner outfield spot well enough. He's my favorite dark horse prospect in the organization.
24) Chasen Shreve- LHRP, Triple-A SWB or NYY Bullpen
Age: 24, Height: 6'3", Weight: 190 Throws: Left Key 2014 Stats: 2.67 ERA, 87 K in 64.0 MiL IP; 0.73 ERA, 1.43 FIP, 15 K in 12.1 MLB IP ETA: 2015 Brad's Rank: NR, Dom's Rank: 20th, EJ's Rank: 22nd
EJ's Take- Shreve has one of the more interesting stories in the Yankee system. After years of having mediocre stuff, Shreve all of the sudden started throwing harder. Rather than make a mechanical adjustment or put on muscle, he just decided to throw max effort on every pitch and it worked to his advantage. He went from being a crafty lefty with a strong changeup who threw 88 to a craft lefty with a strong changeup who threw 93. He posted a 30% strikeout rate in 2014 in the Minors and the Majors, along with great control. The Yankees acquired him in the David Carpenter trade, but Shreve might already be the better player. Justin Wilson should be nervous about his spot on the roster.
T-22) Dan Camarena- LHSP, Double-A Trenton
Age: 22, Height: 6'0", Weight: 200 Throws: Left Key 2014 Stats: 3.40 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 112 K, 42 BB in 143.0 total MiL IP (High-A & Double-A) ETA: 2017 Brad's Rank: 21st, Dom's Rank: NR, EJ's Rank: 19th
Brad's Take- He didn't draw a lot of attention as a 20th round pick out of high school in 2011 or in his first 2 years of pro ball, and you could make the argument that his 2014 season flew well under the radar as well, but Camarena is a name all Yankee fans should start to familiarize themselves with. Similar to Montgomery, Camarena's greatest strength is his ability to mix pitches and throw all 3 (fastball, changeup, curveball) for strikes. He got a solid workload in split between Tampa and Trenton last year, which is notable because he only became a full-time pitcher after he was drafted, and he should open this season back in Double-A. It's unknown how well his stuff will play against higher levels of hitting competition, but he did strike out 17 in 15 IP over his final 2 starts of 2014.
T-22) Abiatial Avelino- SS, Low-A Charleston
Age: 19, Height: 5'11", Weight: 185 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .247/.308/.351, 38 R, 15 RBI, 18 2B, 2 HR, 11/16 SB in 61 total MiL Games (275 PA) ETA: 2018-2019 Brad's Rank: 25th, Dom's Rank: 17th, EJ's Rank: 29th
EJ's Take- Avelino is the 3rd or 4th best shortstop prospect in the system, depending on what you think of Tyler Wade and Angel Aguilar. He only hit .232/.295/.323 at Charleston in 2014, but he battled and lost a chunk of time to a quadriceps injury and would have been one of the youngest qualified players in the South Atlantic League with a few more at bats. He's a career .340/.417/.484 hitter with a great 9.4% K rate at Rookie Ball, so he gets a mulligan for 2014. Plus, he projects to stick at shortstop.
21) Austin DeCarr- RHSP, GCL Yankees
Age: 19, Height: 6'3", Weight: 220 Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: 23.1 IP, 20 H, 12 ER, 7 BB, 24 K in 11 GCL Appearances ETA: 2020 Brad's Rank: 20th, Dom's Rank: 23rd, EJ's Rank: 25th
Tamar's Take- DeCarr went from being undrafted out of high school to having a dominant post-graduate season for Salisbury School in CT and being picked by the Yankees in the 3rd round of last year's draft. He got his first taste of professional baseball in the GCL, where he threw 23.1 innings. A big guy, DeCarr can throw hard, hitting 96 mph on occasion this year. His curveball, however, is his big pitch, coming in the low 80s and having the potential to get called strikes in the zone or drop away for big swings and misses. Still very young and inexperienced, DeCarr has a ways to go before he gets close to the Bronx. If he can improve his changeup to a respectable third pitch, he may have a future as a top-to-mid-rotation Major League starter.
** Coming up tomorrow- Spots 20-11. **