A lot has changed since the beginning of the season in prospect land. At the same time, half of a season isn’t enough to shun a prospect, especially those who are having their first foray into the ever difficult task of tackling Double-A. In most cases, rankings have not changed much unless something about the scouting report has become better or worse. These players still have the opportunity to turn it around, and in many cases I expect them to.
At the same time, there are some players whose stats are likely inflated at this time, and their rankings should not change too much based on what is still a relatively small sample size.
All of that being said, there are some major changes to the list from the beginning of the season. So before the draft signings begin, let’s take a look at the pre-draft top 50.
Note: By BBD standards, Preston Claiborne, Austin Romine, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Dellin Betances and David Adams are no longer eligible for this list because they have played innings for major league team this year. In addition to excluding new draftees, DSL guys who are likely to start in the GCL this year will also be excluded.
1. Gary Sanchez, “the Sanchize”: C, 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, RHB, 20 – He continues to hit the ball and hit it hard and far. More importantly, he has continued to work on his defense and has vastly improved. His leadership skills have also come a long way. At this point in time he continues to earn his place at the #1 spot. Previous Rank: 1
2. Zachary Slade Heathcott: CF, 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, LHB, 22 – He got off to a slow start, but has recently started to come around. He had an adjustment period to Double-A, but he now looks ready to handle the pitching, and probably finishes the season with a .280 or above average and 10 or so homeruns. I can’t think of a good reason to drop him in the rankings. Previous Rank: 2
3. Tyler Austin “3:16″: RF, 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, RHB, 21: Another one who is really starting to heat up. His overall stats are less than impressive for the first half. He is in the midst of an explosion though, which was enough to put him ahead of Mason Williams, who hasn’t shown any signs of life in High-A. Austin still has the power and the ability to make contact. Before the season is over fans will again be calling for Austin to man right field in Yankees stadium. Previous Rank: 4
4. Rafael De Paula: RHP, 6-foot-3, 212-pounds, 21 – DePaula makes a quantum leap on this list. He is destroying my projections for him and his strikeout rate is absolutely absurd. He is everything fans had hoped for and more, and he’s a shoe-in for the top 100 prospect list next season. By the end of this season if he continues the success in High-A he could be as high as number two on this list. Previous Rank: 13
5. Jose Ramirez “J-Ram”: RHP, 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, 22 – He has been about as good as last season with the exception of an increase in his walks. Other than that Double-A hitters haven’t been able to figure him out. If he stays healthy the rest of the season he will surely be a top 100 candidate and could ascend even higher on this list. Previous Rank: 6
6. Mason Williams: CF, 6-foot-0, 180-pounds, LHB, 21 – He could even be lower on this list. He has taken a major step back this season, but it’s not even close to too late. First of all he has the rest of this season to turn it around. Besides that, this season could serve as a wake up call for him and he could come to spring training prepared next year. One season is absolutely nothing. The sooner he turns it around, however, the better. Previous Rank: 3
7. Manny Banuelos “ManBan”: LHP, 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, 22 – He moves down because Jose Ramirez and Rafael DePaula are more sure things at this point. On the other hand, Banuelos is better than both when fully healthy as of right now. Just by coming back from injury in 2014, this system is improved vastly. He’s one step away from the majors, and may be ready to help as soon as 2014. Previous Rank: 5
8. Jose Campos “J-Cam”: RHP, 6-foot-4, 195-pounds, 20 – Coming back slowly from injury. Still sitting in the low 90’s which is lower than his usual mid 90’s heat. That said, he’s still not full strength. When he is, the numbers will get better and the outings will get longer. The only thing that makes me nervous is that he is either still injured or the injury was more serious than anyone let on. Either way, he’s still got long term ace potential. He’s got a very long time to go until that point though. Previous Rank: 6
9. J.R. Murphy “Murph”: C, 5-foot-11, 195-pounds, RHB, 21 – Having another breakthrough performance this year. It has been enough to move him all the way up to 9th on this list. He’s exhibited power, average, patience, and most importantly, defense. He’s already good enough to stick at catcher, and with the look of things on the major league club it’s only a matter of time before he gets an opportunity. Previous Rank: 17
10. Peter O’Brien: C, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, 22 – He’s already got nine homers, which is the same as Gary Sanchez. Granted he’s also two years Gary’s senior and one level below. That said, he’s ONLY one level below and he’s mashing to Gary Sanchez levels right now. The defense still needs work, but the power is real. He’s working on limiting the passed balls and he seems to have hit his stride in that respect. He does have a cannon arm. This is a guy who has really increased his stock in the past year. Previous Rank: 20
11. Ramon Flores “Ray-Flo”: OF, 5-foot-11, 190-pounds, LHB, 21 – It’s only midway through the season, but Flores has taken a bit of a step back this season. The power has disappeared, and the average is below .250. He has still shown his trademark patience though, and there is still hope he can break out during the second half at Trenton. He’s also still extremely young. Previous Rank: 9
12. Mark Montgomery: He slides a little bit here because he showed up to camp out of shape and the Yankees weren’t happy with his off season routine. The velocity still hasn’t come back up, but the slider is still devastating. He will eventually get back to where he was, and when he does he will be an integral part of the future of the Yankees bullpen. Previous Rank: 8
13. Nik Turley: LHP, 6-foot-6, 230-pounds, 22: He’s definitely had some bumps in the road this season, something he’s not accustomed to in the past. The stuff is still there though and as long as he maintains his control he’s a solid bet for Triple-A next season. A lefty at his height with his stuff is destined for the major leagues at some point, and Nik is no different. Previous Rank: 14
14. Ty Hensley: RHP, 6-foot-5, 215-pounds, 19 – Ty’s injury which will hold him out for the 2013 season is concerning, but by no means is it a career ender. He will be back to full strength by the start of next season, and he has the talent to make us all forget about this tiny blip on the radar. He is an injury risk, however, and that will likely be the only thing that can hold him back going forward. Hopefully this lost development time won’t affect his long term value, but it shouldn’t. It’s just one season. Previous Rank: 11
15. Gregory Bird: 1B, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, LHB, 20 – I’m not gonna lie, a big part of his ascent is because of the five guys who are no longer on this list. He is also OPSing over .800 in his first season though, and is showing the patience of a saint. He has solid power to go along with that and has been solid enough at first base. He should only get better with time. Previous Rank: 22
16. Angelo Gumbs: 2B, 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, 19 – He is so young and he’s already in Tampa. He has struggled a bit so far but has been much better after returning from injury. It’s only a matter of time before he explodes. There are very few in this system with as much talent/tools as Gumbs, and by the end of the season his rank could be much higher. Previous Rank: 19
17. Angel Rincon: RHP, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, 19 – Not much has changed since we last talked about him. Superior control of a mid 90’s fastball and above average secondary offerings. He doesn’t have much exposure but he’ll be in Staten Island this year and could really open some eyes. Previous Rank: 18
18. Corban Joseph “CoJo”: 2B, 6-foot-0, 180-pounds, 23: He has struggled quite a bit for the first half of the season. He did have a brief call-up where he didn’t get a single at bat, and has been having trouble since then. He is currently on the DL with an unknown injury. Hopefully after resting up and returning he will be back to his old self. He has a great deal of patience and power at the plate for a second baseman. Every day that passes with Cano not signing is another day closer to him being a big part of the solution at second. Previous Rank: 15.
19. Zoilo Almonte: OF, 6-foot, 190-pounds, SH, 23: He hasn’t received much press, but I have been quite impressed with him this year. As a 23 year old switch hitter he has held his own for the first half in Triple-A. He’s also known to be a second half player, so things should only get better from here. His power has taken a hit against better pitching this season but his average has been stable and he is still stealing bases. Could be a big help to the major league team next season. Previous Rank: 26
20. Rob Refsnyder: 2B, 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, RHB, 21 – Easily the biggest leap on this list. He’s OPSing over .800 as a second baseman in High-A. He continues to hit and he’s also 15/15 in stolen bases. He’s a leader and more of a prospect than most people give him credit for. His bat and athleticism play up at second base, and his defense has improved immensely since the start of the season.
21. Brett Marshall: RHP, 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, 22 – Oh how the mighty have fallen. Brett was looking like the next David Phelps, Adam Warren, etc. Then he began struggling with everything in Triple-A. He has been extremely hittable and his control has faltered at times. His ERA is in the sevens. I’ll give him a shot to return to form, because he is not even close to this bad. If that sinker gets back to where it was it could turn his whole season around. Previous Ranking: 12
22. Bryan Mitchell “The Mitchuation”: RHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 22 – So far 2013 hasn’t been the breakout season we had all hoped for from this kid, but he has been okay and has been better at limiting the walks this season, especially recently. He still has a long way to go, and in High-A he is running out of minor league levels to have a breakout season. His stuff, however, is good enough that if he puts it together he will be a top 10 guy on this list.
23. Dan Camarena “DanCam”: LHP, 6-foot-0, 200-pounds, 19 – The first half has been brutal to Dan, but that’s because of an uncharacteristic decrease in stuff and lack of control. The stuff appears to be coming back, and he has been much better in his last few outings. He’s going to need to put together a strong second half to keep his ranking this high.
24. Ben Gamel: OF, 5-foot-11, 180-pounds, LHB, 20 – Hasn’t had the breakout season I had hoped for, but he is still hitting well and is always a likely candidate for a multi-hit game. We know he can hit, and we know he has patience. The power still has not blossomed. Previous Rank: 27
25. Ravel Santana: OF, 6-foot-2, 160-pounds, RHB, 20 – He keeps his spot here because he is apparently 100% healthy and ready for the Staten Island season. If the old Ravel is back, look out, because this ranking won’t last long. Previous Rank: 28
26. Austin Aune: SS, 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, LHB, 19 – All the athleticism in the world. He’s also a patient batter and can hit for significant power. There’s the question of whether he can stick at short stop, but that may not matter. Given that the Yankees drafted three, maybe four shortstops in the top 10, it’s not looking good for Aune’s defensive future. Previous Rank: 31
27. Matt Tracy: LHP, 6-foot-3, 212-pounds, 24 – he’s had an up and down year so far in 2013. Walks have uncharacteristically plagued him, and his ERA is sky high. He is also striking out a lot more guys this year. The control will come around and by season’s end his stat line should look solid. His stuff is also great for a lefty and he is likely to get a shot in the majors before we know it. Previous Rank: 32
28. Rony Bautista: LHP, 6-foot-7, 200-pounds, 21 – Fastball reaching the high 90’s, control issues, and solid stuff. He’ll start in Staten Island next week. This monster is definitely a guy to look out for, because he could become a top prospect real quick. Prevoius Rank: 33
29. Ronnier Mustelier: 3B/OF, 5-foot-10, 210-pounds, RHB, 28 – If it wasn’t for Vernon Wells, he’d be getting some major league playing time this season. Mustelier got off to a slow start after his early injury, but has done nothing but rake since returning. His average is above .300, and he’s hitting for power. He doesn’t have size or good projection, and his position in the field is a major question. Joe Girardi will find a position for someone who can hit like him though, as proven by Lyle Overbay playing right field. Previous Rank: 34
30. Cesar Vargas: RHP, 6-foot-1, 160-pounds, 21 – Has looked extremely solid in Charleston this year. Can hit the mid 90’s on the radar with a good curve. Has done nothing but impress this season and could be in line for a mid season promotion if all goes well. Previous Rank: 43
31. Tommy Kahnle “TKO”: RHP, 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, 23 – Triple digit fastball on occasion, filthy change and an improving slider. He’s got all the makings of a power, late inning reliever. He’s proving he can do it in Double-A this season. Previous Rank: 44
32. Jordan Cote “JoCo”: RHP, 6-foot-5, 215-pounds, 20 – This big kid was great in the GCL last season. He has good stuff, a great work ethic, and a projectable frame. He’ll be a guy to watch out for when Staten Island starts up. Previous Rank: 35
33. Chase Whitley: RHP, 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, 23 – He’s back and healthy in Triple-A, and has only had a couple of outings under his belt this season. The numbers will definitely improve, and he will be a big part of the Yankees bullpen next season. Previous Rank: 36
34. William Rookie Davis: RHP, 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, 20 – Mid 90’s fastball, solid change up, developing power curve. Looked great in Spring Training this year. Many were surprised he didn’t make Charleston over Camarena. Previous Rank: 37
35. Gabriel Encinas: RHP, 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, 21 – Gabe exploded onto the seen this year in Charleston. Unfortunately he blew out his elbow. The good news is he’s young and people recover well from Tommy John. The bad news is he’s out for the season. When he comes back though, his mid to upper 90’s fastball with excellent secondary stuff and newly found control will rocket to the top of this system, as long as he can stay healthy: Previous Rank: unranked
36. Nick Goody: RHP, 5-foot-11, 195-pounds, 21- another blown out elbow. See ya next year Nick. Hopefully you come back as strong as he was before. He’s a beast when healthy. Previous Rank: 39
37. Corey Black: 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, 21 – His future is likely in the bullpen, but oh what a future he has there. He can dial it up to 99 mph. The fact that he has three secondary pitches means he still has a chance to start. So far the results have been mixed, but his ERA is 4.1 this season and he’s getting a lot of strikeouts in High-A. Previous Rank: 41
38. Miguel Andujar “Mandujar”: 3B, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, RHB, 18 – Here’s a guy who had a rough go of it last year, but was only 18 in the GCL, in a new country and learning a lot. This year will be a big test for him, but if he passes it he will shoot up this list in a hurry. Previous Rank: 42
39. Chaz Hebert: LHP, 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, 20 – Low 90’s fastball with good secondary stuff and a projectable frame. He was extremely impressive in the GCL last season and there’s no reason that success shouldn’t continue in Staten Island. Previous Rank: 49
40. Hayden Sharp “Sharp Shooter”: RHP, 6-foot-6, 195-pounds, 20 – A fastball that reaches 95+ MPH, a slider that has been improving, and all of the makings for a monster season in Staten Island. He’s a major break out candidate. Previous Rank: 50
41. Melky Mesa “Melkman 2.0″: OF, 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, RHB, 25 – His time is almost up, and it’s sad because he still has all the potential in the world. He has so much speed and power, but he falls on this list because he strikes out an astronomically high amount. There have been several occasions this year where he has struck out four times in one game. Not good. He slips on this list because he can’t keep his strikeouts down enough and his average high enough in Triple-A, and his major league prospects are looking bleak. Previous Rank: 29
42. Dante Bichette Jr.: 3B, 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, RHB, 20 – He had a horrific year last year, and I was hoping this year he would pick up the slack since he was repeating a level. No such luck. He has been brutal. For a brief 10-12 game period, he appeared to finally be turning things around, but he has since reverted to his old ways. It’s a shame for this to happen to a first round pick, but he may lose playing time to Jagielo once he’s signed. Tough luck. Previous Rank: 23.
43. Giovanny Gallegos: RHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 21 – Ivan Nova twin who dominated the GCL in 2012. His stuff is excellent, his control is even better, and he will start in Staten Island this season. Look out for this guy, he could be a fast riser. Previous Rank: 45
44. Shane Greene: RHP, 6-foot-3, 200-pounds, 24 years old – Greene is enjoying his breakout season in High-A this year. He’s old for the level, but he has finally began to put it together and has really learned to limit his walks. In 72 IP, he has 68 strikeouts and a 3.62 ERA. Last year, he walked 5.1/9. This year, he’s only walking 1.2/9 innings. He went from a wild pitcher to a complete control freak while maintaining his K rate at 8.5/9 IP. Look for a move to Trenton as soon as a spot opens up. Previous Rank: unranked
45. Zach Nuding: RHP, 6-foot-4, 255-pounds, 23: Another newcomer to the list, Nuding is a big kid and is still just 23 in Double-A. He enjoyed his breakout season last year in High-A and has followed it up with an even better season in Trenton. His ERA sits at 3.39, and he has 53 K in 63.2 IP. He’s walked 3.3/9 IP. He’s a large kid who still could have some projection left in the tank if he gets stronger with that 255-pound frame. Previous Rank: unranked.
46. Caleb Cotham: RHP, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, 25 years old: Cotham doesn’t have much time left to show what he’s got, but he has moved quite rapidly through the system in the past two years and could still be useful. He has struggled a bit against Triple-A competition but his past two starts have been much better and he could be on the verge of breaking out. By the end of the season he could be anywhere from off this list completely to already contributing to the major league team. Previous Rank: unranked.
47. Dietrich Enns: LHP, 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, 22 years old: There hasn’t been a more impressive reliever statistically in the system this year than Dietrich. He has a 0.76 ERA in 35.1 IP, with 58 K and a 0.934 WHIP. He has a 14.8 K/9 IP. Shouldn’t be at this level much longer, and could be the latest fast moving reliever. Previous Rank: unranked.
48. Mikey O’Brien: RHP, 5-foot-11, 190-pounds, 23 – His future almost definitely resides in the ‘pen, but he has been great for Trenton this year as a starter. He could be a David Robertson type in short spurts, so look for him to have a bright future with the Yankees, likely in the bullpen. Previous Rank: unranked.
49. Taylor Garrison: RHP, 5-foot-11, 165-pounds, 23: Here’s a guy who doesn’t get much press but has quietly already skipped through four levels in less than two years. He got promoted to High-A after only 13 innings in Low-A, and has only let up three earned runs in 14 innings since then, good for a 1.93 ERA. He also has a 9.7 K/9 IP strikeout rate on the season. Previous Rank: unranked.
50. Brady Lail: RHP, 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, 19 years old: This last position was basically a coin flip between Lail, Frare, Dawe, Maher, and Jose Mesa Jr. Lail wins out because he pitched for Tampa recently and held his own. He’ll be in Staten Island or the GCL this year and will look to expand on his brief GCL performance last season. Previous Rank: Unranked.
Just Missed the List: Caleb Frare, Jose Mesa Jr., Dayton Dawe, Chris Breen, Rob Segedin, Addison Maruszak, Matt Snyder, Matt Duran, Claudio Custodio, Cito Culver, Jose Rosario, James Pazos, Jerison Lopez, Joey Maher, Saxon Butler, Mikeson Oliberto, Walter Ibarra, Dan Fiorito, Jeremy Bleich, Branden Pinder, Kyle Roller, Sean Black, Carmen Angelini (not by much, really only not on this list because the Yankees will have to go year to year with home now), Yeral Sanchez, Adonis Garcia, Reymond Nunez, Claudio Custodio, Jake Cave, Evan Rutckyj, Luis Niebla, Charley Short,