Well, we've covered the sizable list of players who fell off the top 30 from last year to this year and we've covered the shorter list of players who just missed the cut this year. Nothing left to do now but get into the actual top 30 countdown.
Before we do that, a quick recap of our ranking system and format. We tried to keep it as simple as possible, assigning a points system for every spot in the top 30. The 1st ranked player gets 30 points, 2nd gets 29, all the way down to 1 point for the 30th spot. Individual staff members filled out their personal rankings and the points totals from all individual rankings were tallied up for each player. Dom, EJ, Scott, and myself did individual rankings to create this composite top 30.
For the individual player write-ups, we divvied them up among even more of the staff to give you different perspectives and different writing styles on each player. Some of us like certain guys more than others and I think that will definitely come through as you read each player's capsule. We tried to put a little more into each one than just stats, tools, and potential, especially with this first batch of lower third guys. For some of these players it's more about why you should care about them as a prospect than what things combine to make them a prospect and we tried to convey that.
The MiL level listed for each player is my best guess at where I think they will open this season, so don't read too much into that. I'll definitely be hanging around in the comments and on Twitter over the next few days to discuss the rankings and my thoughts on certain players, and I'm sure we'll have the rest of the team pop in as time allows. Without further ado, here are the first 10 spots in the 2016 IIATMS Top 30:
30) Jhalan Jackson- OF, Low-A Charleston Age: 22, Bats: R, Throws: R Drafted: 7th Round, 2015 2015 Stats: .266/.338/.452, 5 HR, 34 RBI, 35 R, 4-4 SB in 198 PA (SS SI) ETA: 2017-2018
Dom's Take- With the new draft system, signability issues are essentially a thing of the past, and the number of legitimate, high-ceiling prospects slipping into the later rounds has dwindled. As such, it seems almost counterintuitive that a nearly 23-year-old 7th rounder from this past draft would find his way onto this list and into my heart - but Jackson deserves this spot. Jackson has a prototypical right field profile, with plus or better power, a strong arm, and surprising athleticism for his size. The right-handed hitter has a great deal of swing and miss in his game (he struck out in 29.8% of his PA in his pro debut), but he has a solid approach at the plate and doesn’t get fooled too often. He’s Aaron Judge lite, and he’s my sleeper in this system (Editor's Note- Dom had Jackson ranked 20th in his top 30).
29) Chance Adams- RHRP, Double-A Trenton Age: 21, Throws: R Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 2015 Stats: 1.78 ERA, 45 K/9 BB, 0 HR allowed in 35.1 IP (SS SI, A-, A+) ETA: 2017
Dom's Take- I debated calling Adams a right-handed Jacob Lindgren and moving on. They are similarly talented pitchers who feature big-time fastballs and wipeout sliders, and both were drafted with the hope that they would rocket through the minors. Lindgren’s stuff may be half a grade better, but I don’t think the gap is all that staggering (particularly if the uptick in velocity Adams found in his professional debut is legitimate). The key difference (aside from handedness) is that Adams has at least average command and control, and is far less prone to bouts of wildness. Is he the better prospect right now? It’s difficult to say with so little professional information - but it’s a fair question to ask.
28) Johnny Barbato- RHRP, Triple-A SWB Age: 23, Throws: R Acquired via trade w/ SD, 2014 2015 Stats: 2.67 ERA, 55 H, 70 K/25 BB in 67.1 IP (AA, AAA) ETA: 2016
Scott's Take- Barbato had a much better ERA at AAA (0.36) than AA (3.54) last year due to a lower HR rate and SSS balls-in-play luck, but his core performance was very consistent at both levels (0.9 HR, 2.9 BB, 9.4 K per 9 IP at AA vs. 0.4 HR, 4.0 BB, 9.4 at AAA). Barbato’s profile is also similar to Jacob Lindgren’s: high-K reliever with middling control of a mainly two-pitch arsenal of lower-mid 90s fastball and stronger breaking pitch (Lindgren’s slider, Barbato’s curve). Lindgren has better K rates than Barbato but also disturbingly higher walk rates. Who’s a better bet? It’s closer than the rankings imply. Lindgren’s ceiling is higher, but Barbato’s is high enough, and he’s more likely to reach it.
27) Jordan Montgomery- LHSP, Double-A Trenton Age: 23, Throws: L Drafted: 4th Round, 2014 2015 Stats: 2.95 ERA, 118 H, 132 K/36 BB, 5 HR allowed in 134.1 IP (A-, A+) ETA: 2017-2018
Dom's Take- Montgomery is a classic left-handed command/control pitcher with four average-ish offerings (low-90s fastball, change, curve, cutter). Much of what was written about David Phelps and Adam Warren in years past could be copied and pasted here, as Montgomery has quickly established a similar low-risk/moderate-reward profile. His numbers have been excellent thus far, which is highly encouraging, but that is almost to be expected for a pitcher from a major college program plying his trade in Single-A. Montgomery should begin 2016 at Double-A, where we will get a far better idea of what he’s capable of going forward.
T-25) Leonardo Molina- OF, SS Staten Island Age: 18, Bats: R, Throws: R Signed as international FA, 2013 2015 Stats: .247/.290/.364, 13 XBH, 17 RBI, 15 R in 178 GCL PA ETA: 2019-2020
Dom's Take- If any player is on the list solely on the basis of his potential, it’s Molina. The 18-year-old Dominican was rated as the 5th best prospect in the 2013 IFA class by Baseball America, and snuck onto Baseball Prospectus’ top-ten Yankees prospects list prior to the 2015 season. Scouting reports for Molina are glowing, praising his five tool potential and tremendous athleticism - and it’s easy to see when he’s on the field. That being said, he was completely overmatched in the GCL in 2014 (58 wRC+) and was exceedingly mediocre repeating the level in 2015 (96 wRC+). It’s far too early to call this a make-or-break year for Molina, but his performance thus far makes this something of an aggressive ranking.
T-25) Hoy Jun Park- SS, Low-A Charleston Age: 19, Bats: L, Throws: R Signed as international FA, 2014 2015 Stats: .239/.351/.383, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 48 R, 12 SB in 262 App. Lg. PA ETA: 2019
Dom's Take- I was all in on Park before he made his stateside debut, and he rewarded my confidence with a solid all-around season. The 19-year-old shortstop posted a 109 wRC+ in 56 Rookie League games, and his defense drew strong reviews. Park has plus bat speed and he hits the ball hard, utilizing the entire field. Josh Norris of Baseball America praised his bat control as well, noting that he shortened his swing and blooped the ball into left when he noticed the infield drawn in. Park may be a few years away from the show, and he hasn’t played full season ball yet - but I think a compelling argument could be made that he’s the Yankees second best SS prospect
24) Luis Cessa- RHSP, Triple-A SWB Age: 23, Throws: R Acquired via trade w/ DET, 2015 2015 Stats: 4.52 ERA, 119 K, 36 BB in 139.1 IP (AA, AAA w/ 2 organizations) ETA: 2016-2017
Tamar's Take- Acquired from the Tigers in December, the 23-year-old hurler was originally signed by the Mets as a shortstop when he was 16. They moved him to the mound after a couple rough seasons at the plate, and he has settled well into his new role. Cessa can regularly hit 95 MPH with his fastball, which typically sits in the low 90s. His secondary pitches are both works in progress, but show signs of potential. The stronger of the two is his changeup, which the Mets favored, but his slider continues to strengthen. Given his history as a position player, Cessa shows good athleticism on the mound and a surprisingly smooth delivery. He spent last year bouncing between AA and AAA in the Met and Tiger systems after being a part of the Yoenis Cespedes trade, which could partially explain the rough results in his 25 starts.
T-22) Domingo German- RHSP, Low-A Charleston Age: 23, Throws: R Acquired via trade w/ MIA, 2014 2015 Stats: DNP (Tommy John Surgery) ETA: 2017-2018
EJ's Take- The Yankees acquired German in the Martin Prado trade back in the 2014-2015 offseason. He promptly went down with Tommy John surgery near the end of spring training, which quickly quelled any excitement about him. When he was healthy, German had a killer power/control (5% BB rate, >20% K rate) combination to go with a strong curveball. We'll see if he still throws 92-94 post-surgery, but the ingredients are there for German to become an above-average Major League starter. The Yankees recently non-tendered and re-signed him, because he was stuck on the 40-man roster. If he returns strong, look for German to shoot up prospect rankings after this year.
T-22) Nick Goody- RHRP, Triple-A SWB Age: 24, Throws: R Drafted: 6th Round, 2012 2015 Stats: 1.59 ERA, 84 K, 21 BB in 62.1 MiL IP/4.76 ERA in 7 MLB app. ETA: 2016
Brad's Take- I'm a sucker for relief prospects. I fall in love immediately with guys who get drafted, sign quickly, and come in and dominate, and that's what Goody did in 2012 (4 ER, 9 BB, 52 K in 32.0 IP spread across 3 levels). He missed a significant chunk of time after going down with an elbow injury and having TJS in early 2013, but Goody basically picked up where he left off in his first full season back in 2015, and he did it against upper-level competition. Goody struck out over 30% of the batters he faced in 62+ Double-A and Triple-A innings with a combined 1.59 ERA, and even though his SSS results in the Majors weren't as good, he figures to be in the mix for more big league bullpen time in 2016. He misses bats, he throws strikes, and he keeps the ball in the yard. What more could you want from a reliever?
21) Abiatal Avelino- SS, Double-A Trenton Age: 20, Bats: R, Throws: R Signed as international FA, 2012 2015 Stats: .260/.314/.334, 20 2B, 4 HR, 80 R, 54 SB in 536 PA (A-, A+) ETA: 2018
Dom's Take- Since making his professional debut in 2012, Avelino has had a slow and steady ascent through the minors, spending parts of three seasons in Rookie Ball, 73 games at Single-A, and 103 games at High-A. He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft this season, and will continue to be, so his age-21 season at Double-A may determine his future (or at the very least, his future in pinstripes). Avelino does not have a true carrying tool, though he is a solid defensive shortstop and a well above-average second baseman. He has average to above-average speed, a high-contact approach, and good bat speed, but some feel that his lack of power could doom him to a utility role.