Well, it's all been building to this. The cream of the crop, the best of the best, the bluest of all the organizational prospect chips. Today we wrap up the IIATMS Top 30 with the top 10 prospects in the Yankee system as voted on by our 3-man panel, and for the first time in a few years those top 10 players are primarily located in the top levels of the system. Long considered a bottom-heavy farm system, the Yankees now boast an upper portion that is chock full of their best prospects and possibly multiple league-wide top 50-100 guys. Who did we say is #1? Keep reading to find out.
10) Tyler Austin- OF, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Age: 23, Height: 6'1", Weight: 220 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .275/.336/.419, 59 R, 47 RBI, 20 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, in 105 Games (437 PA) ETA: 2015-2016 Brad's Rank: 9th, Dom's Rank: 12th, EJ's Rank: 9th
Dom's Take- Austin was a consensus top 100 prospect 2 years ago on the heels of an excellent 2012, when he batted .322/.400/.559 with 17 HR and 23 SB (in only 25 attempts) in 472 PA split mostly between Charleston and Tampa. Austin was praised for his above-average bat speed, line drive stroke with backspin, superb instincts on the basepaths, and quick adjustment to right field, and he was a big part of the rejuvenated Yankees farm system. In 2013, however, he suffered multiple hand/wrist injuries, and struggled for the better part of the last two seasons. He began to turn it around last summer, though, hitting .293/.344/.459 from June forward, and .304/.392/.449 in the Arizona Fall League. This season will be very telling, in terms of both his upside and his floor.
T-8) Domingo German- RHSP, High-A Tampa
Age: 22, Height: 6'2", Weight: 175 Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: 2.48 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 113 K, 25 BB, 123.0 IP in 25 Starts ETA: 2018 Brad's Rank: 8th, Dom's Rank: 14th, EJ's Rank: 6th
Brad's Take- When the Yankees made the Pineda-Montero trade, there were some who though A-ball pitcher Jose Campos could turn into the best piece of that trade. As a hard-throwing righty with plus command, he immediately became a top 10 prospect. Things haven't worked out well for Campos, but the Yankees basically re-acquired him when they got German as part of the Eovaldi-Jones trade earlier this offseason. 2014 was German's first venture into full-season ball and he handled himself just fine, putting up a decent 22.4% K rate and a very good 5.0% BB rate. He lives off his low-to-mid 90s sinking fastball, features a solid changeup and an inconsistent curveball, and compliments his stuff with smooth mechanics. If he can avoid the injury pitfalls that did in Campos and improve his secondary stuff, he could end up being the best part of that trade.
T-8) Luis Torrens- C, Low-A Charleston
Age: 18, Height: 6'0", 175 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .256/.331/.383, 32 R, 22 RBI, 13 2B, 2 HR in 62 Games (254 PA) ETA: 2019-2020 Brad's Rank: 10th, Dom's Rank: 7th, EJ's Rank: 11th
Dom's Take- Torrens is a unique prospect, in that his profile can be described as either relatively safe or incredibly risky depending upon your point of view. Despite being only 18 years old, the Venezuelan catcher boasts a veritable treasure chest of defensive tools – a plus arm (in terms of both strength and accuracy), impressive agility behind the dish, and smooth overall actions. His only real flaw defensively lays in his struggles with digging pitches out of the dirt, but that is understandable for a young catcher with all of eighty some odd games of professional receiving experience. It is here that one could argue that he’s a safe prospect, as it is quite likely that his defense can merit a long career as a backup. Offensively, however, the risk is quite obvious. His power potential may not be much better than fringe average, and there isn’t a great deal of loft in his swing. His swing is level, however, and his quick wrists and all fields approach portend solid average contact skills. That’s essentially it offensively, though; a guy that can hit .270 with 8 home runs isn’t terribly exciting. Of course, a stud defensive catcher that can hit competently is worth his weight in gold.
7) Eric Jagielo- 3B, Double-A Trenton
Age: 22, Height: 6'2", Weight: 195 Bats: Left, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .259/.354/.460, 43 R, 54 RBI, 14 2B, 16 HR in 85 Games (359 PA) ETA: 2017 Brad's Rank: 7th, Dom's Rank: 10th, EJ's Rank: 10th
Stacey's Take- Jagielo was getting ready to play in the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2014 but thanks to an errant fastball to the face in an instructional league game, his season was done. He was diagnosed with a fracture in his zygomatic arch and needed surgery to fix it. Luckily for the third baseman, he’s now on the road to recovery and he should be fine for start of this season. Jagielo had other injuries last season that shortened his time with Class-A Advanced Tampa - an oblique strain that kept him off the field for two months - but he still put up a line of 259/.354/.460 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs in 85 games, which helped him make the FSL All-Star team. Reports say that Jagielo is expected to start this year with Double-A Trenton and if he can sustain his power stroke against a higher level of pitchers and also avoid more injuries, he could possibly make the leap to Triple A Scranton before season’s end.
6) Rob Refsnyder- 2B, Triple-A SWB
Age: 23, Height: 6'1", Weight: 205 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .318/.397/.497, 82 R, 63 RBI, 38 2B, 6 3B, 14 HR, 9/18 SB in 137 Games (577 PA) ETA: 2015 Brad's Rank: 4th, Dom's Rank: 11th, EJ's Rank: 7th
Tamar's Take- Chances are if you hadn't heard of the Yankees' second base prospect before last season, by now you probably have a general idea of who Rob Refsnyder is. After graduating from Arizona, the former outfielder was drafted by the Yankees in 2012 and has shot through the farm system. Refsnyder has been impressive with the bat throughout his professional stint, showing an ability to hit for line drives and use the whole field. In 2014, Refsnyder split time between Trenton and SWB, where he hit a combined .318/.397/.497. While Refsnyder's bat seems ready for a shot in the big leagues, he hadn't played second base since high school and, while it continues to improve, his defense remains a big question mark. Refsnyder has a shot at starting 2015 in the Bronx, but even if he doesn't make it out of Spring Training it does seem likely that we will see him in pinstripes at some point this season and definitely by 2016.
T-4) Ian Clarkin- LHSP, High-A Tampa
Age: 19, Height: 6'2", Weight: 190 Throws: Left Key 2014 Stats: 3.12 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 75 K, 23 BB, in 75.0 IP ETA: 2018 Brad's Rank: 6th, Dom's Rank: 3rd, EJ's Rank: 5th
Stacey's Take- Clarkin is young - he’s turning 20 on Valentine’s Day - so he’s still developing and growing. He’s also a lefty with three quality pitches who is good at striking out batters and limiting walks. His fastball, which sits at 90-94 mph, is his best pitch but he also has a pretty good curveball and a changeup that, according to scouts, has “good deception and fade.”. Clarkin started the 2014 season in Low- A Charleston but finished in High-A Tampa. If he keeps up this level of progression, you’ll definitely be seeing him in the not-so-distant future.
T-4) Greg Bird- 1B, Double-A Trenton
Age: 22, Height: 6'3", Weight: 215 Bats: Left, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .271/.376/.472, 52 R, 43 RBI, 30 2B, 14 HR in 102 Games (441 PA) ETA: 2016-2017 Brad's Rank: 5th, Dom's Rank: 5th, EJ's Rank: 4th
Dom's Take- With the exception of a player a few spots ahead, Bird boasts the sexiest offensive potential of any prospect in the Yankees system. Pairing an above-average hit tool with plus power will do that for a player; throw in a swing with a great deal of loft and the patience and eye to find the right pitch, and you have a potential middle-of-the-order masher on your hands. And Bird is just that. He’s selective at the plate, yet aggressive enough to know when to pounce. There is a bit of length to his swing that could limit his batting average against top-level pitching, but I think he’s a safe bet to hit around .270. As we all know, bating average tells us precious little about a player’s overall ability; such would be the case with Bird, who should also be capable of hitting 25+ home runs, with the eye and selectivity to walk 80+ times. With offense trending down across the league, that’s a hell of a package.
Editor's Note- Never forget...
3) Gary Sanchez- C, Triple-A SWB
Age: 22, Height: 6'3", Weight: 235 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .270/.338/.406, 48 R, 65 RBI, 19 2B, 13 HR in 110 Games (477 PA) ETA: 2016-2017 Brad's Rank: 3rd, Dom's Rank: 4th, EJ's Rank: 3rd
EJ's Take- Managing expectations has been a challenge in evaluating Sanchez over the years. He flashes killer power in batting practice, but has been far below elite in games. In 133 games over two seasons, Sanchez has hit just .267/.342/.401 at Double-A. On the other hand, he was the 4th youngest qualified player in the Eastern League in 2014, and catchers tend to be slow to develop. I think he gets a pass on the slow development, and deserves his #3 ranking, but big concerns about his makeup set off alarm bells. We'll see how he handles another step up in competition when he makes the jump to Triple-A this year.
2) Luis Severino- RHSP, Double-A Trenton
Age: 20, Height: 6'0", Weight: 195 Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: 2.47 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 127 K, 27 BB in 113.0 IP across 3 Levels (24 Starts) ETA: 2016 Brad's Rank: 2nd, Dom's Rank: 2nd, EJ's Rank: 2nd
Stacey's Take- The thing you hear the most about Severino is that he isn’t very big - both scouts and writers who cover the Minors say it - but what they also say is how strong the soon-to-be 21 year-old is, and strong equals a fastball that sits at 94-95 but that can be dialed up to 98 if the need arises. Besides his fastball, Severino also has a good slider and changeup. The Dominican who was unknown at the beginning of the 2013 season burst onto the scene and became one of the Yankees’ top prospects. He’s so good that Hal Steinbrenner knows who is he and thinks we can be seeing him with the Yankees in 2015. He'll probably start out in Trenton again, but the team has been aggressive with him thus far and could continue that trend if he continues to dominate.
1) Aaron Judge- RF, Double-A Trenton
Age: 22, Height: 6'7", Weight: 230 Bats: Right, Throws: Right Key 2014 Stats: .308/.419/.486, 80 R, 78 RBI, 24 2B, 17 HR in 131 Games split across 2 Levels (563 PA) ETA: 2017 Brad's Rank: 1st, Dom's Rank: 1st, EJ's Rank: 1st
EJ's Take- It wasn't that long ago that Judge was a raw, enigmatic college sophomore that the Yankees took a huge risk on with a first round pick in 2013 and $1.7 million. He put some serious meat on the bones in his minor league debut by hitting .308/.419/.486 while flashing even greater potential to scouts. If he turns more of his 80 power in batting practice into game power while retaining his plate discipline and hitting skills, Judge could end 2015 as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. It is easy to forget that Judge is still rawer than your average college prospect, and has tremendous room to grow.
So there you have it. That's the list. Let the debate commence.