Every year Bronx Baseball Daily and many, many others rank the top prospects in the Yankees’ system. Sometimes these players perform like top prospects, but other times less touted players end up having the best statistical seasons for one reason or another. This year is no different. The top 10 performers in the minors are a mix of top prospects and guys you might not think of when you dream on the future of this organization.
Three of the preseason top four prospects have been thoroughly disappointing so far, although they have all shown signs of life at one point or another this season. Some others have stepped up to produce with what we already knew was top tier talent. Still others have launched themselves from nonprospect obscurity to someone who has to be taken seriously.
This year’s top 10 so far are as intriguing as any other this farm has had in a while. When you take a look at this list, a lot of the negative things that have been said about this system in 2013 seem unfounded.
10. J.R. Murphy C – The 5-foot-11 right handed catcher has really come into his own this year. He has already tied his career high in homeruns with nine, and he’s still just 22 years old. His season line is now .272/.356/.437/.793, a line which has only improved since arriving in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. His catching skills have been impressive, as he is looking more and more like an above average defensive catcher in the league. He has now gone from fringe prospect to legitimate prospect. Some feel he will be on some top 100 lists by the end of the season. If he’s lucky he’ll be in the tail end of some. Most importantly though, he’s impressed with his statistics this year, and the Yankees brass has taken notice. He could fight for a job as soon as next season.
9. Gary Sanchez C – Another bigtime catcher in the Yankees system. They have a ton of them right now. He has 12 homers already, and his quad slash is .272/.334/.474/.809. His defense has been solid and he’s looking like he will definitely be able to stick at the position in the future. With his offensive output he could easily be an all-star catcher in the future. After having maturity issues in the past, he has emerged as a leader in the clubhouse as well. Sanchez could be a star in the making.
8. Shane Greene RHP – This 6-foot-3 behemoth is in the midst of his true breakout season. After a recent promotion to Trenton he has replicated his stats from High-A so far. In 96 IP for the season he has a 3.66 ERA with 88 K. The main difference between this year and last is that he has cut down on his walks. He has made such a complete turnaround in his walks that his whole game has been transformed. He’s always been a guy with great stuff, and now he has coupled that with much improved control. He could be a sleeper as time goes on.
7. Sean Black RHP – Another 6-foot-3 pitcher who started in High-A this year, Sean Black has enjoyed a successful first half. He has 58.1 IP, and has a 2.16 ERA during that time with 38 K. There’s no beating around the bush, he is a guy who is old for his level. He’s now 25 in Double-A. This article, however, is about performance and not future potential. Sean Black deserves credit for what he has accomplished this year, and hopefully his success continues.
6. Gregory Bird 1B – Just 20 years old and already in Low-A, Greg Bird deserves credit for being one of the most successful players in his age group the Yankees have had in Charleston in recent years. His .276/.397/.459/.856 quad slash is tremendous. He has 24 doubles, two triples, and eight homeruns so far this season. His patient approach in the batter’s box has already impressed coaches and scouts alike. He doesn’t get a lot of love because of his position, but at his age and with his ability to hit it’s only a matter of time before he starts drawing a lot of attention. He’s a big dude at 6-foot-3 and he can straight up mash from the left side.
5. Cesar Vargas RHP- Another guy who has really flown under the radar, Cesar Vargas has done nothing but produce since arriving in Charleston. His 3.11 ERA in 75.1 innings is stellar. People also don’t realize he’s still just 21 years old. He has 65 K on the season. His BAA is just .214. His fastball will sit low 90’s and reach 95 mph, and his secondary pitches include a curve and a change.
4. Dietrich Enns LHP – This lefty surprised everyone when he was shockingly good in Charleston this season. He didn’t even break camp with the squad, but he quickly began making a name for himself by striking out everyone with a bat in his relief appearances for Low-A Charleston. Through 44.1 IP, he had an ERA of just 0.61 with 69 strikeouts over 19 appearances. That’s a 14 K/9 IP. He was promoted to Tampa, where one rough outing has tainted his numbers, but he still has a 1.74 ERA on the season. He has been converted to a starter as well, so it will be interesting to see where that goes.
3. Peter O’Brien C – Word was he was going to play third base when he arrived at High-A, but that switch still hasn’t happened. He has been catching and continuing to hit bombs. His line so far this season is .309/.370/.602/.972 with 14 homeruns and 23 doubles. He leads the system in homeruns and he’s a catcher. His offensive performance has been fantastic, but his defense clearly needs work. He mostly has to work on his receiving and blocking balls.
2. Jose Ramirez RHP – He’s 23, 6-foot-3 and he’s already in Triple-A. In 64.1 IP, he has 71 K so far this season in Double-A and Triple-A. His ERA between the two levels is 3.08. His walk rate is too high, but he has kept away from the big inning and he has just a .199 average against. He has top of the rotation stuff. If he can limit his walks more he could be a future ace. It’s funny because as it turns out, he has turned the tides and now appears to be a better prospect than Arodys Vizcaino. Remember how pissed everyone was when he was traded? Anyway, J-Ram should be a top 100 prospect by season’s end.
1. Rafael De Paula RHP – Here’s another guy with top of the rotation stuff. He’s one year younger than J-Ram and currently two levels behind. If he shows the level of domination he did at Charleston, however, that won’t last. He has been mowing people down ever since he arrived stateside. His 3.31 ERA and 105 K in just 73.1 innings is ridonkulous. He’s got the size, the stuff, and the control to be a front of the rotation starter. He will continue to move fast if he keeps this up, and the Yankees could really be looking at a gem here.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Garrison, Fernando Martinez, Thomas Neal, Addison Maruszak, Randy Ruiz, Kyle Roller, Zach Nuding, Tommy Kahnle, Carmen Angelini, Ben Gamel, Robert Refsnyder, Jake Cave, Danny Oh, Jose Campos