BBDP: Yankees Top 10 Outfield Prospects

Outfield prospects have not been a strong suit for the Yankees organization since Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera were coming up. Now there is a new batch of prospects knocking on the door and the organizational depth at the position is actually pretty extraordinary. Hopefully, somewhere in there lies a replacement for Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson. Hopefully that replacement arrives soon. There is an expectation both within the organization and with scouts that at least one or two of these outfielders will work out, and the Yankees will save a ton of money.

10. Adonis Garcia – 27 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 5-foot-7, 190-pounds. This Cuban outfielder doesn’t have a standout tool and is short, but he is an advanced hitter. He has shown in limited action that he can hit for power, and appeared to improve when he moved from High-A to Double-A and the competition got better. With four homeruns and an .817 OPS in Trenton, he could be an in house option for right field next season. He batted .288/.325/.492 for Trenton. He’s a bit old for his level, but he just got to the USA so he could be a great find.

9. Ronnier “Musketeer” Mustelier – 28 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 5-foot-9, 210-pounds. Aside from having one of the coolest names in the organization, Ronnier Mustelier can flat out hit. In two years he’s skipped across all six levels, and he’s hit every step along the way. His latest challenge in Triple-A resulted in a .303/.359/.455/.815 quadruple slash. He had 15 homeruns across two levels in just 114 games. How this would translate to the major leagues is the bigger question, especially given his age. He hasn’t found his level yet, and I’m not gonna be the one to bet against him.

8. “Honest Abe” Abraham Almonte- 23 years old. Bats: Both. Throws: Right. 5-foot-11, 185-pounds. Actually has a great swing for such a speedster. Almonte does everything you want a leadoff guy to do. He gets on base, he steals bases, and he can bunt. He bats from both sides of the plate, and still has some power projection if he’s able to stay healthy. He’s certainly had his struggles with average and consistency over the years, but that’s very common in switch hitters. He had a solid season in Double-A last year with a .276/.350/.392/.742 year, and will look to build on that in Scranton this season.

7. “It’s Gam-Time” Ben Gamel- 20 years old. Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. You already know I like him because he is one of my 2013 breakout candidates, but guys who can hit for average AND get on base are worth a lot in my book. If Ben Gamel can develop some power, he’s gonna be a guy.  He’s only 20 so he’s got plenty of time to accomplish that. He’s a hard worker with a major league pedigree (his brother), so he knows what he has to do. He also has decent speed. .306/.342/.394/.737 was the quadruple slash, and he had 19 stolen bases. He’ll likely start in High-A this season.

6. Melky Mesa “Melkman 2.0″- 26 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 6-foot-1, 190-pounds. Hit .264/.325/.480/.805 this season in Double-A and Triple-A. Melky struggled a bit in Triple-A but still had an OPS of .794. It’s approaching make or break time for him, but he’s also on the brink of the majors and has outstanding tools. He is a definite 4-tool player with the chance to become a 5-tool guy. He has power, speed, arm strength, and defense. The hit tool is not there yet but it’s coming around. If he can continue to improve his strikeout totals, he could be a major league regular.

5. Zoilo “Zee” Almonte  – 23 years old. Bats: Both, Throws: Right. 6-foot-0, 205-pounds. Zoilo Almonte is still young and has some excellent power to all fields. He had a good season in Double-A this year, continuing his consistent upward trajectory through the minors. A .277/.322/.487/.808 hitter last season, he also hit 21 home runs over the course of the season and stole 15 bases. He has the speed to continue stealing bases, and has the ability to be an excellent fielder. Unfortunately his fielding is one aspect of his game that is inconsistent. He has good tools and good natural abilities, but he has had trouble sometimes with routine plays. Defense is one of those things that can improve if you work hard enough at it, especially if you have the tools. If he is able to do that, he could end up being a late bloomer with everyday outfielder potential.

4. “Ray-Flo” Ramon Flores- 21 years old. Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 5-foot-11, 180-pounds. Recently added to the 40 man roster to protect him from a Rule 5 Draft selection. Everybody’s favorite sleeper, Flores ranked #10 on BBDP’s top 50 prospect list. He often gets lost in the shuffle because the top three outfielders get all of the notoriety, but he’s a legitimate candidate to become the next super prospect. The last element of his game waiting to come through is the power. He already has the swing for it, so it’s just a matter of developing his man strength. Some guys never get it, but there’s a strong belief that Flores will. A solid fielder in addition to his great hit tool, he hit .303/.370/.425/.796 last season in High-A. He’ll start in Double-A, and the sky is his limit.

3. Slade Heathcott- 22 years old, Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 6-foot-1, 190-pounds. After this season Heathcott has been the subject of a lot of buzz. Drawing comparisons to Mike Trout will certainly do that. So will tearing the cover off the ball in the Arizona Fall League, and batting .302/.380/.461/.841 in High-A last season. He also had 5 homeruns and 19 stolen bases in just 265 at bats. An argument could be made that he is actually the Yankees top prospect now that Banuelos is injured and Mason Williams has undergone surgery as well. Personally, I will reserve that honor until he can stay healthy for a full season. His tools are off the charts. He has a great hit tool, power, speed with ability to steal bases, a cannon for an arm (although I’m not sure if the arm strength has fully returned after his surgeries yet), and excellent fielding ability. After 2013 he’s probably the most likely player to supplant Mason Williams as the Yankees #1 prospect. After his performance in the AFL, I can’t envision him starting any lower than Double-A this season, so he could help the team as soon as 2014.

2. “Stone Cold” Tyler Austin- 21 years old. Bats: Right. Throws: Right. 6-foot-2, 200-pounds. Tools wise Heathcott is the better prospect, with the exception of the hit tool and the power tool. Performance wise Tyler Austin is the better prospect. As a 20 year old over three levels this season, he hit .322/.400/.559/.960. He hit 17 homeruns and stole 23 bases. The base stealing is unlikely to continue as he moves up to better pitcher moves and better catchers, but the hitting is real. He has serious power and he also has superior patience. He’s not afraid to take a walk. Austin switched to right field this season and that actually improved his stock. His defense at third base was spotty, while his defense in right field is solid. Another young phenom outfielder starting in Trenton.

1. “Mad Mase” Mason Williams: 21 years old. Bats: Left. Throws: Left. 6-foot-0, 195-pounds. Just 150-pounds when he was drafted, Williams has bulked up significantly without losing any speed. He had a major break out season in 2012. He hit .298/.346/.474/.820 last season, and is another 5-tool outfielder for the Yankees. His shoulder injury is a concern, but it is apparently similar to Slade Heathcott’s, and is in his non throwing shoulder. He has a cannon arm, phenomenal hit tool, good patience, developing power, and great speed. He only stole 20 bases and go caught 13 times this year, but with his speed he will be learn to read pitchers better with time. Definitely the most hyped Yankee prospect of the moment, he deserves the hype because he is that good. When he comes back from the injury, he’ll likely start in Tampa and if all goes well he’ll see some time in Double-A before the season is over.

As you can see with this system outfield depth is one of the major strengths. The Yankees have an excellent blend of major league close talent, extremely high upside talent, and long term projects. It will be interesting to see how these guys pan out, but all of them show significant promise and could help the major league team in one way or another soon.

Honorable Mention: Taylor Dugas, Rob Segedin

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18 Responses to BBDP: Yankees Top 10 Outfield Prospects

  1. Matthew says:

    "Outfield prospects have not been a strong suit for the Yankees…" – looking at the list, I'd say are not instead of have not.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      I have to disagree on this one. I don't think too many teams have three top 100 outfield prospects all about to start Double-A. This system is very deep in outfielders. There's major league close talent, high ceiling talent, and some long term projects.

      • Matthew says:

        Agree to disagree Greg as it's all hype and hope until proven in the show. Remember the hype of the killer "B's" Manny and Dellin – how's that working out for us so far? Or how about the Joba, Ian, Phil rotation domination we were all supposed to enjoy for at least a decade?

        Cano and DRob are the best farm products of the last 8 years. 1 stud every 4 years does not equate into long term sustainable success. Andy, Mo, Bernie, Jeter, Jorge – 5 every 8 is long term sustainable success.

        I do agree with you and Wally – farm hands need better shots at the show.

        Nice article – thanks!

        • No prob. You're right in that farm systems too often are all about hype and nothing tangible. Unfortunately that's the nature of the beast. If you could predict who would be successful and who would flop prospects would be a lot less interesting.

          In this case, I'm not saying all of these guys will succeed. I'm saying that we have the strongest and deepest farm system in terms of outfielders in a very, very long time. Hopefully 1-2 of these guys can contribute to the major league level. A few of them have some real star potential (I would say the top 4).

  2. Tanned Tom says:

    3 of these guys are over age 25. I really would like to see 2 of them on the 25 man roster for next season.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      Part of that is because 2 of the guys on the list were signed well after their 25th birthday (Mustelier and Garcia). The other is Melky Mesa. I agree that I'd like to see some of these guys start to contribute this season.

  3. wally says:

    The problem right now is not outfield talent — it's the willingness of Yankee management to give its own young players a shot.
    Though the best prospects are stilll a year or two away, i think a case can be made for integrating one or two of the others on this year's roster. Both Almontes, for exxample, have very good splits against lefties. And Mustelier hits righties. A platoon chosen out of these three (and maybe A. Garcia who I don't know as well) could work. Not going to produce All-Star numbers but it will do something the Yankees have been very bad at to date — raise the market value of their own prospects. These guys could be placeholders for the Williams/Austin/Flores wave. And one or two could emerge as valuable trade chip. That's important, when you basically have to turn over almost your entire roster over the next two years (and on a budget…ugh).

    • I couldn't agree more. I'm not a huge fan of sending either of the Almontes up this year because they haven't played in Triple-A yet, but Mustelier and Mesa have had some experience and appear ready to contribute something.

  4. wally says:

    Oops. May have rred on Almonte splits. I remembe rthat they had similar splits but now not sure whether they hit lefties or righties better. Haven't been able to locate data. If anyone can find, please post. Also Mustelier splits.

    • I don't have the stats but I'm pretty sure the Almontes his righties better and Mesa/Mustelier hit lefties better.

      • wally says:

        Sounds right, Greg. I didn't mention Mesa because I think he still needs to cut down on Ks — and I'm not sure he can at this point. He did improve in that respect last year so maybe there's room for hope.
        BTW, I remember your intriguing comments on Yanks' young Dominican talent. Hope ypu can update that eventually.

  5. Prof says:

    The comparison of Slade Heathcott to Mike Trout is wishful thinking, but wouldn't it make sense to make the kid a 4th outfielder on the big league team? The Angels and the Nationals had the guts to bring up a couple of kids. The Yankees very seldom bring a kid up. Jackson, Montero, and pehaps Tabata were prospects that could have helped the team, yet the Yankees did not have enough faith in their own system to give them a shot at the big league level, and traded them for veterans instead. The Yankees need to take a couple of their top prospects and let them fill the backup roles of the big league squad. They will get big league at-bats while filling in for injured or tired teamates, or in the late innings of blowouts. They will get comfortable with the environment and gain confidence in their own abilities. Mickey Mantle was 19 when they brought him up, Feller was 17. Demonstrate some intestinal fortitude New York. Give a kid a chance.

    • I agree that the Heathcott to Trout comparison is wishful thinking. That is obviously beyond a best case scenario. He has similar tools though and is a very highly regarded prospect. It may be more realistic to say he's the closest thing to Mike Trout the Yankees have. Either way, I'd love to see some of these guys get a shot with the big league team. It's almost like they keep them in the minors and wait for them to give the team a reason NOT to bring them up, or wait for a good opportunity to trade them rather than allow them to play.

      • Matthew says:

        BBDP – for XMAS, please allow thumbs up/down mistakes to be corrected. Sorry Greg; I agree with your comment.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Greg, there's a reason these guys aren't in the majors. They aren't good enough. And hey, if you want to espouse the "let 'em play" philosophy, that's fine. I just hope you don't mind losing. A lot. And I don't mean losing in the ALCS and then calling that a failure. I mean losing 90+ games and playing out the string by the all-star game.

  6. slowleftarm says:

    Other than the top two or three, these guys are all terrible. And someone who is 27 or 28 is not a "prospect", they are a career minor-leaguer. Finally, comparing Heathcott to Trout is a bit ridiculous when you consider that Trout is YOUNGER than Heathcott. Let's see, two guys about the same age, one is the runner-up for AL MVP and the other hit 5 home runs in A ball. Yeah, real similar.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      I think you're missing the point of these articles. Let me address each of your issues one by one.

      First of all, the 27 and 28 year olds you mention are both players who were signed within the past two years. They are not career minor leaguers because they JUST came to America. Both are knocking on the door to the majors and could almost definitely contribute something to a major league team. They certainly aren't going to be all-stars but they could legitimately end up starting somewhere at some point in their careers.

      Next point, I think you seriously mistook the Heathcott to Trout comparison. The comparison is not saying that Heathcott is going to be Mike Trout, all it is saying is that his tools and style of play are similar. I even gave the caveat above that the likelihood of Heathcott ever coming close to matching up to Trout is extremely low. He does have that ceiling though, and he has a lot of people excited. I'd be surprised if he wasn't on Baseball America's top 100 this year, and top 50 by the end of the season.

      Finally, you are right when you say that these guys aren't in the majors for the reason. If you thought that I was advocating for the Yankees to just say screw it and not sign anyone this year while letting the farm take over, then you again mistook my points above. My point is that guys like Jesus Montero or Austin Jackson are often stored away in the Yankees farm system and they can spend 2 years or more in Triple-A when they are already major league ready and could help the team. With the austerity budget the Yankees are trying to stay under, they are going to have to allow some young players like that to play at some point. I'm referring to guys like Williams, Austin, and Heathcott, but obviously not now. I mean when they have at least half a year of AAA experience under their belts they shouldn't be rotting away in AAA anymore. I'm certainly not saying that Mustelier or Garcia should be given a chance to start in the majors They are great emergency options though and would likely make solid backup outfielders.