With the Yankees season having ended with a whimper, it is officially the time to look to the future - in terms of both the team that will take the field in 2016, and the farm system that will (hopefully) keep it competitive for the rest of the decade (and beyond). And what better place to start than with our pre-season prospect rankings? 30. Hoy Jun Park, SS Pulaski (Rk) - .239/.351/.383, 5 HR, 12 SB (7 CS), 109 wRC+, 262 PA
Every report about Park has been positively glowing. The 19-year-old South Korean flashed above-average power at times, demonstrated patience at the plate, and played excellent defense at short. His overall numbers may not jump off of the page, but his overall skillset is enticing, and despite his distance from the Majors he may be the closest thing to a pure shortstop in the system.
29. Gosuke Katoh, 2B Pulaski (Rk) - .287/.426/.416, 5 HR, 9 SB (0 CS), 143 wRC+, 254 PA Charleston (A) - .161/.264/.202, 1 HR, 8 SB (2 CS), 42 wRC+, 149 PA
Katoh was solid but unspectacular with Charleston in 2014, posting a 96 wRC+ in his full-season debut. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily in his second go at the level before being demoted in late June. He was excellent at Pulaski, though, and he just turned 21 this week, so it isn't necessarily a reason to fret. 2016 will be a big year for him, for better or worse.
28. Jose Pirela, UT SWB (AAA) - .325/.390/.433, 3 HR, 5 SB (2 CS), 142 wRC+, 259 PA Yankees (MLB) - .230/.247/.311, 1 HR, 1 SB (0 CS), 47 wRC+, 78 PA
I'm excluding Pirela's stats at High-A and Double-A, as they were merely rehab stints and are not indicative of anything. That being said, Pirela has the look of a Quad-A type - he raked at Double-A, raked at Triple-A, but he's nearly 26 and looked mostly lost with the Yankees this year. It was a small sample size, to be fair, but he's always been a prospect without a true carrying tool, so performance is everything. His flexibility and minor league success will give him plenty of opportunities going forward.
27. Angel Aguilar, SS Charleston (A) - .229/.283/.330, 3 HR, 14 SB (3 CS), 75 wRC+, 376 PA
Aguilar made his stateside debut this year, and it was ... underwhelming, in all respects. The Venezuelan shortstop raked in short-season ball in 2014, and drew rave reviews for his bat speed and power potential. He struggled with contact (27.1 K%), and failed to show the pop that put him on the map. Moreover, he bounced between second, third, and short, and seems best-suited to play at the keystone. He's only 20 (age will be a common theme here), though, and despite the big splashes made by rookies this year, there's still plenty of time for him to develop.
26. Jordan Montgomery, SP Charleston (A) - 43.2 IP, 36 H, 12 BB, 55 K, 2.68, 2.09 FIP Tampa (A+) - 90.2 IP, 82 H, 24 BB, 77 K, 3.08 ERA, 2.87 FIP
When Montgomery was drafted last year, he was viewed as a classic command/control lefty, working with a low-90s fastball, a change-up, and a couple of breaking balls. As a product of the SEC, he was expected to dominate the low minors. And he did, by limiting walks, striking out a healthy number of batters, and keeping the ball on the ground (his groundball to flyball ratio was right around 2.3:1). His ultimate ceiling may be that of a 4th starter, but he seems a safe bet to contribute at the MLB-level; think Adam Warren and David Phelps.
25. Alexander Palma, OF Charleston (A) - .202/.248/.256, 1 HR, 8 SB (4 CS), 43 wRC+, 303 PA
Much of what was said about Aguilar can be said about Palma - stateside debut, disappointment, only 20 (or will be, in 10 days) etc. Palma's a corner-outfield prospect with plus power potential (despite a scant 9 XBH in 2015), and he'll likely get a do over at Charleston in 2016.
24. Chasen Shreve, RP Yankees (MLB) - 58.1 IP, 49 H, 33 BB, 64 K, 3.09 ERA, 4.92 FIP
It was a tale of two seasons for Shreve. Through August 19, he had a 2.05 ERA and 2.75 K/BB, and allowed only 12% of inherited runners to score (which represents 48.1 IP). He was well within Girardi's Circle of Trust for the vast majority of the season. Over the last six weeks, however, he completely fell apart, to the tune of an 8.10 ERA and more walks (13) than strikeouts (9). He failed to record more than one out in any of his last four appearances, and allowed a staggering 67% of inherited runners to score. Awful is not a strong enough word here. Given the team's bullpen woes down the stretch, Shreve's ability to bounce back (and re-earn Girardi's trust) will bear watching.
22(t). Daniel Camarena, SP
Camarena did not pitch this season ... but I couldn't quite figure out why. His Twitter feed indicates that he had a setback in April, and that's about it. I went to the source, and ended up speaking to the prospect via DM. He told me that he spent the season rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery. His arm and elbow feel great now, and he'll be ready in time for Spring Training. He's a command/control prospect who has taken quite well to pitching full-time (which only happened when he joined the Yankees organization), with a change-up that belies his age and relative inexperience.
22(t). Abiatal Avelino, SS Charleston (A) - .301/.341/.398, 0 HR, 16 SB (3 CS), 111 wRC+, 90 PA Tampa (A+) - .252/.309/.321, 4 HR, 38 SB (15 CS), 95 wRC+, 446 PA
Avelino performed quite well at Charleston, and then held his own at Tampa as a 20-year-old. He's a safe bet to stick at shortstop, making up for average range with solid instincts and a strong arm, and he has a fairly advanced approach at the plate. He doesn't have much power, as evidenced by his .084 ISO across two levels, but he makes a great deal of contact and sprays the ball all over the field.
21. Austin DeCarr, SP
DeCarr did not pitch this season, and underwent Tommy John Surgery ... sometime in the late Spring or early Summer.
20. Leonardo Molina, OF GCL Yankees (Rk) - .247/.290/.364, 2 HR, 6 SB (5 CS), 96 wRC+, 178 PA
Molina spent half of the 2015 season as a 17-year-old, and the numbers reflect that. He is a reasonable approximation of a five-tool prospect (though he added quite a bit of weight between 2014 and 2015, and the impact of that on his speed/defense remains to be seen), and is several years away from being a factor in the Majors.
19. Mason Williams, OF Trenton (AA) - .317/.407/.375, 0 HR, 11 SB (6 CS), 131 wRC+, 144 PA SWB (AAA) - .321/.382/.432, 0 HR, 2 SB (1 CS), 136 wRC+, 91 PA Yankees (MLB) - .286/.318/.571, 1 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 139 wRC+, 22 PA
The former top-50 prospect bounced back in a big way this season, after a mediocre 2013 and a horrendous 2014, regaining much of the luster that made folk fawn over him two short years ago. He hit a home run in his Major League debut, and played excellent defense every step of the way. Par the course for the 2015 Yankees, however, he suffered a shoulder injury in his 8th big league game, and had season-ending surgery in August.
18. Jose Ramirez, RP
17. Ty Hensley, SP
Hensley had Tommy John Surgery in March and missed the entire season.
16. Bryan Mitchell, SP SWB (AAA) - 75.0 IP, 63 H, 37 BB, 61 K, 3.12 ERA, 3.18 FIP Yankees (MLB) - 29.2 IP, 37 H, 16 BB, 29 K, 6.37 ERA, 4.75 FIP
Through his first 10 appearances, Mitchell was pitching quite well for the Yankees. He had a 3.86 ERA, 22 K, and only 6 BB in 21 IP, pumping his fastball into the upper-90s at times. Mitchell was even better in relieve over that time, with allowing only 10 H and 4 BB in 15.1, striking out 15 and posting a 2.35 ERA (obligatory small sample size disclaimer). On August 17, however, he was struck in the face with a line drive, and he wasn't the same when he returned 11 days later. In those last 8.2 IP, he allowed 23 baserunners and 12 ER, never finding his groove. I think it's fair to chalk much of that up to the injury, as he threw fewer fastballs and was noticeably jittery at times. If he can regain his confidence, I believe that he could be a poor man's David Robertson out of the bullpen, give his terrific fastball, big breaking ball, and general approach.
15. Ramon Flores, OF
Dealt to the Mariners on July 30.
14. Jacob Lindgren, RP SWB (AAA) - 22.0 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 29 K, 1.23 ERA, 1.88 FIP Yankees (MLB) - 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 5.14 ERA, 8.13 FIP
Lindgren had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in late June, and missed the rest of the season. His stuff was flat when he reached the Majors, and his fastball sat in the high-80s, which may be a result of said bone spurs. He struggled to find the plate (a common theme in his professional career thus far), and allowed three home runs in just seven innings. He should be ready for Spring Training next year.
12(t). Jake Cave, OF Trenton (AA) - .269/.330/.345, 2 HR, 17 SB (3 CS), 97 wRC+, 563 PA SWB (AAA) - .458/.517/.667, 0 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 239 wRC+, 29 PA
2015 was more of the same for Cave, with steady offense and strong defense in center-field. His lack on in-game power continues to be an issue, but he did improve his baserunning noticeably this season (based on both his success rate and reports). Without more pop he's probably a fourth outfielder, but he has some semblance of a Brett Gardner starter kit.
12(t). Miguel Andujar, 3B Tampa (A+) - .243/.288/.363, 8 HR, 12 SB (1 CS), 98 wRC+, 520 PA
As was the case in 2014, Andujar struggled in the first half (.208/.252/.319, 73 wRC+ through June 30), made adjustments, and excelled in the second half (.291/.338/.422, 132 wRC+). He spent the entire season as a 20-year-old, a couple of years below the average age for the Florida State League, and his body of work thus far has been reflective of his age. If he can put it all together, he seems as good a bet as any player to break out in 2016 as he advances to Double-A.
Check out this excellent MLB.com Prospect Watch from July for more information.
11. Jorge Mateo, SS Charleston (A) - .268/.338/.378, 2 HR, 71 SB (15 CS), 106 wRC+, 409 PA Tampa (A+) - .321/.374/.452, 0 HR, 11 SB (2 CS), 152 wRC+, 91 PA
Mateo was the breakout prospect of the Yankees system this season, and was recently ranked as the second-best prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America. He led all of professional baseball in steals this year, putting his legitimate 80-grade speed on display all season long. Mateo isn't all about speed, though - he has a good approach at the plate, and an above-average hit tool. His power potential is lacking, but he's not going to have the bat knocked out of his hands, either. Reports of his shortstop play are mixed, due to his occasionally shaky hands, but he has excellent range and a strong arm, and will stay up the middle in some capacity. He'll be on every top-100 list this Winter.
10. Tyler Austin, OF Trenton (AA) - .260/.337/.455, 2 HR, 3 SB (2 CS), 128 wRC+, 86 PA SWB (AAA) - .235/.309/.311, 4 HR, 8 SB (1 CS), 82 wRC+, 299 PA
Austin struggled in his first taste of Triple-A, and was demoted to Double-A in August as a result. With so many opportunities at the Major League level, it is somewhat telling that Austin ended up out-righted off of the 40-man roster this Summer, as he should have been poised to fill the four corner role that he's been groomed for. He'll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season, and will also be playing in the Arizona Fall League.
08(t). Domingo German, SP
German had Tommy John Surgery this Spring and missed the entire season.
08(t). Luis Torrens, C
Torrens had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder this Spring, and missed the entire season.
07. Eric Jagielo, 3B Trenton (AA) - .284/.347/.495, 9 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 141 wRC+, 248 PA
Prior to having season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery in August, Jagielo was showing the offensive potential that made him a first round pick a couple of years ago. His defense at third base is still a work in progress (at best), but he has the chops to stick there without being a liability. He was originally set to play in the Arizona Fall League, but the team held him out to ensure that he would be fully healthy for the 2016 season.
06. Rob Refsnyder, 2B SWB (AAA) - .271/.359/.402, 9 HR, 12 SB (2 CS), 123 wRC+, 522 PA Yankees (MLB) - .302/.348/.512, 2 HR, 2 SB (0 CS), 130 wRC+, 47 PA
It was a frustrating season for Refsnyder, who continued to showcase legitimate offensive potential in Triple-A while the Yankees trotted out a pu pu platter at second base. He raked in his cup of coffee with the team, but his defense was incredibly shaky - and the team has made its desire to have above-average defenders up the middle a priority these last few seasons. His production at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was not jaw-dropping, to be fair, but it's difficult to see how he fits into the team's plans when his only real shot came after rosters expanded.
04(t). Ian Clarkin, SP
Clarkin missed the entire season with what was classified as "elbow inflammation," but he's slated to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
04(t). Greg Bird, 1B Trenton (AA) - .258/.358/.445, 6 HR, 1 SB (1 CS), 133 wRC+, 212 PA SWB (AAA) - .301/.353/.500, 6 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 146 wRC+, 150 PA Yankees (MLB) - .261/.343/.529, 11 HR, 0 SB (0 CS), 137 wRC+, 178 PA
#GREGBIRD was everything the Yankees could have hoped for in 2015, and then some. He blew through Double-A and Triple-A, and did his best Mark Texeira impression in the Majors. In fact, he ranked 5th in wRC+ among first basemen in September, behind only Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt. He's a fringe-average defender at first and he had platoon issues as LHP made adjustments, but you can't ask for much more from a 22-year-old that wasn't expected to contribute this season.
03. Gary Sanchez, C Trenton (AA) - .262/.319/.476, 12 HR, 6 SB (0 CS), 127 wRC+, 254 PA SWB (AAA) - .295/.349/.500, 6 HR, 1 SB (2 CS), 145 wRC+, 146 PA
2015 represents the best professional season of Sanchez's career, as the 22-year-old (yes, he's still only 22) put together a 134 wRC+ between Double-A and Triple-A. Rumors of his demise were largely unfounded, as his offense has never been subpar - it's a simple matter of prospect fatigue that has sullied many opinions. His defense will likely never be better than fringe-average, but he's shown enough that it is clear that he can stick behind the plate. He's heading to the Arizona Fall League to focus on his defense ... and I suspect to showcase his abilities to other teams, given the presence of Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy.
02. Luis Severino, SP Trenton (AA) - 38.0 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 48 K, 3.32 ERA, 2.37 FIP SWB (AAA) - 61.1 IP, 40 H, 17 BB, 50 K, 1.91 ERA, 2.50 FIP Yankees (MLB) - 62.1 IP, 53 H, 22 BB, 56 K, 2.89 ERA, 4.37 FIP
Severino rose from Double-A to the front of the Yankees rotation in a few short months, as one can make the argument that he was the team's best starter for the last two months of the season. The only real blemish on his Major League resume is a bit of gopheritis, as he struck out batters at a slightly above-average rate, kept the ball on the ground at a well above-average rate, and mostly limited walks. If he is not in the Yankees rotation on Opening Day, something fairly dramatic will have happened.
01. Aaron Judge, OF Trenton (AA) - .284/.350/.516, 12 HR, 1 SB (0 CS), 147 wRC+, 280 PA SWB (AAA) - .224/.308/.373, 8 HR, 6 SB (2 CS), 98 wRC+, 260 PA
Judge cemented his status as a top-50 prospect at Double-A, rising in most every mid-season prospect ranking due to his continued excellence with the bat (and surprisingly strong defense in right). And then, for the first time as a professional, he struggled. Judge looked over-matched at times in Triple-A, as better pitchers were able to exploit the holes in his swing (and his immense strike zone). He was never able to adjust, either, posting a 62 wRC+ in the last ten games of the season. It is not surprising to see a 23-year-old power hitter struggle in his first taste of Triple-A, and so there is no reason to be apprehensive - but his ability to adjust in his second trip through Triple-A will be one of the biggest storylines for the Yankees farm system in 2016.