Prospect Musings A Few Days Away From IIATMS Prospect Week

Dustin Fowler 2015 It's been a busy week preparing for Prospect Week 2016.  There's wild stuff going on behind the scenes that you guys don't even know about.  I'm talking serious spreadsheet action.  The festivities kick off on Monday and there will be some more details on the whole schedule for the week coming later, but to get the prospect juices flowing I thought I'd touch on some of the trends I've noticed as we've worked on the list and some of the individual players I'm higher on and lower on than most.  It's like a free look into the Brad Vietrogoski IIATMS Top 30 war room.

- The first thing that stands out to me after putting together this year's list is how much upper-level talent the Yankees have right now.  It feels like they've got more legit future potential MLB guys in Triple-A and Double-A than they've had in a long time, and that's without Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, and Jake Cave, who all would have been top 20 guys in our rankings.  By my count, 5 of the top 10 and 8 of the top 15 Yankee prospects are going to open this year in Triple-A SWB.  That's solid.

- As for those prospects lost to the trade market this offseason, if you're wondering where I would have had them, here you go: Davis 6th, Jagielo 7th, Cave 21st.  I also had Bryan Mitchell 13th up until a few days ago when I finally realized he exceeded his rookie eligibility in 2015.

- Another overall organizational trend that carries over to this year is the high level of Triple-A outfield depth.  We saw Ramon Flores, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott all get shots in the big leagues last year and 2 of those 3 will be back in SWB this year along with Aaron Judge and Ben Gamel.  I'm curious to see how the playing time breakdown will work once the regular season starts, and I'm even more curious to see how the call-up pecking order settles out.  I have to think Williams is the early favorite, but Judge could easily jump him if he hits better and Gamel's "do a little bit of everything" style makes him a very viable call up candidate now that he's on the 40-man.

- He's a few years away from Major League consideration, but I really like Dustin Fowler.  He's exactly what you hope for when you draft a 2-sport HS player and exactly what the Yankees hoped they were getting when they reached and took Austin Aune back in the day.  Fowler, like Gamel, has a little bit of everything to his game and has seen improvements in all parts of his game from the moment he started playing baseball full time.  He still has room to grow at 21, he held his own in the AZFL as an unexpected selection, and I think he's primed for a breakout this year.

- On the other side of the breakout coin, I'm not sold on Domingo Acevedo.  The velocity is certainly there and it sounds like he can snap off a good offspeed pitch every now and then.  But I haven't read anything that makes it sound like his offspeed stuff, mechanics, or command are even remotely as good as his velocity and I can't get too excited about a 21-year-old pitching prospect who's never thrown more than 50 innings in a season and has only made 1 appearance above short-season ball.  Acevedo has a lot of potential, but he has a long way to go towards reaching it and I think it's telling that the Yankees sent him to the AZFL to work as a reliever.

- I'm also not a Kyle Holder guy and I'm not going to be until he proves he can hit.  I think I said that before.  I didn't even include him in my top 30.

- One group of guys that didn't make the final top 30 cut but are definitely worth watching in 2016 are the arm injury comeback guys.  Guys like Ty Hensley, Austin DeCarr, and Dan Camarena.  They were all top 25 guys in our rankings last year and I believe they'll all be coming back from TJS this year, along with Domingo German.  It wouldn't be fair to have high expectations for any of them, especially guys like Hensley and DeCarr who haven't really pitched much as pros, but I wouldn't say any of their prospect flames have been completely extinguished.  Maybe they get themselves back on track for 2017.

- He didn't get the headlines that James Kaprielian did for being the 1st-round pick, but keep an eye on Drew Finley this year.  He's got everything you look for in a good pitching prospect.  He's got size, good mechanics, he throws 3 above-average pitches and he throws them all with plus command, he comes from a baseball family and he attended a baseball powerhouse school, and he's only 19 years old.  Some had Finley rated as a 1st-round talent and he was a steal for the Yankees in the 3rd.  Don't be surprised if he's sitting on a bunch of top 10 lists this time next year.

- Also keep an eye on Josh Rogers.  Tall lefty with swing-and-miss stuff and plus command.  I had him 28th on my top 30.

- You want an idea of how much the Yankees have improved their farm system?  I didn't rank any of their big 3 international signings from 2014.  I don't think anybody else on staff did either.  We've got a few players from that signing class included, but Dermis Garcia, Juan De Leon, and Nelson Gomez are all nowhere to be seen.  That's partially because none of them have come stateside yet, and they didn't light the world on fire in the Dominican Summer League.  But there would have been years where their raw talent and potential ceiling would have been enough to get them on the list.  Not today.  The Yankees simply have too much talent in their system right now to overlook in favor of young, unproven teenagers.  I think that's a good thing, both for now and for the foreseeable future.