The end of the season top 50 prospects is my favorite list to put together. This is because this list is more based on performance than any other list throughout the year. It’s also the easiest to write because it’s less about predictions and is more about what these players have done for us lately. We often get caught up in the “ceiling” of a player and sometimes the statistics have a way of taking a back seat to the scouting report.
On this list the statistics are weighted slightly more because we have seen how each players tools are translating into success at the minor league level. That said, physical talent is still an important consideration and will be factored in accordingly in the creation of this list. Given that September call-ups happened just the other day, those players will still be included on this list. That said, anyone who has been called up before September is ineligible for this list, and the September call-ups themselves will be ineligible for the preseason list next year.
50. Jake Cave: OF, 6-foot-0, 179-pounds, LHB – He’s a lefty, hit .282/.347/.401/.748 and had two homeunrs and 18 SB. Reminds me a lot of Ben Gamel last year. Hopefully his power develops a little more than Gamel’s. The 18 year old catcher Alvaro Noriega got strong consideration for this spot. He’s a young guy from Latin America who’s got a shot if he develops some power to be a solid backstop in the majors.
49. Danny Burawa: RHP, 6-foot-2, 210-pounds – Another great reliever in the system, 2.59 ERA and 66 K in 66 IP this year. Definitely a breakout season for him but he’ll have to limit the walks if he wants to make it in the majors.
48. Caleb Smith: LHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds – Low 90’s fastball, solid secondary offerings. Basically he’s this year’s Matt Tracy. He even pitched in Trenton for one outing this year and looked good with 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, and 5 K. Overall he had a 1.93 ERA in 51.1 IP with 52 K. My prediction? He’ll jump on this list significantly next year.
47. Thairo Estrada: SS, 5-foot-10, 154-pounds, RHB, 17 years old – As just a 17 year old, he managed to hit .278/.350/.432/.782 and had 7 SB. I still don’t know much about him, but to be sent stateside at 17 he has to potentially be a legit prospect. What I do know is that he’s got quickness and a solid contact bat, and plays a good shortstop. They went to great lengths this year to make sure he got time at shortstop too.
46. Omar Luis Rodriguez: LHP, 6-foot-0, 210-pounds, 20 – Got off to a horrific start but finished strong in the GCL. It’s often an adjustment for these Latin pitchers to get accustomed to the US, so that could have played a significant role. Next year we should get a better idea if that $4 million was just inflation at work or if he was really worth it.
45. Dallas Martinez: RHP, 6-foot-0, 174-pounds, 18 – Still just 18, came stateside this year and struggled quite a bit. On the other hand he got his feet wet at a young age and he has similar stuff and control to Gio Gallegos. It was a bit surprising to see him struggle because he is so polished, hopefully next year he will pick up the pace.
44. Giovanny Gallegos: RHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 21 – Not a bad year in Staten Island. He’s got great control and next year will be a really interesting guy to follow in Charleston. He’s got solid stuff and the control is impeccable. He was another slick, cheap pickup from Latin America.
43. Nick Goody: RHP, 5-foot-11, 195-pounds, 22 – He’ll be back again next year, and if he’s back to normal after elbow surgery then he and his slider will be fast movers through the system. He absolutely dominated last year when healthy, so it’s not out of the question that he could be a late innings reliever.
42. Matt Tracy:LHP, 6-foot-3, 212-pounds, 24 – Really a rough year for Tracy in terms of both injuries and production. He’s got solid stuff, is lefty, and can hit mid 90’s. He may end up being a reliever long term, but that would still be great value for the Yankees where they got him in the draft.
41. Angel Rincon: RHP, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, 20 – He’s got some talent but he was pretty low on strikeouts this year. I’ll take a wait and see approach with this kid when he gets to the upper levels. He’s another guy who could develop into something more as he progresses through the system.
40. Gabriel Encinas: RHP, 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, 21 – Looking forward to his return in 2014. There are now great expectations for this kid and I expect him to make a full recovery. Hopefully he’ll be ready for the start of the season and is able to pick up where he left off. If he does he’s a top 20 player in this system.
39. Jordan Cote: ”JoCo”: RHP, 6-foot-5, 215-pounds, 20 – Didn’t quite make it out of the GCL this year, but was good while he was there. He threw 28 innings and had a 0.96 ERA. He’ll likely be at Short Season Staten Island next year. He had 20 K this year, and really has nothing left to prove in the GCL. He was a project when he was signed two years ago, so by next year that project should start to see some more results.
38. Joey Maher: RHP, 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, 21 – 58.0 IP, 43 hits, 29 K, 3.10 ERA on the season. His sinking fastball will be his ticket up the latter. If he can develop a better strikeout pitch he could really become a dangerous force. The time is coming for him to make a move, and next year should be that time.
37. Bryan Mitchell: “The Mitchuation”: RHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 22 – Really struggled in Tampa this year, so naturally he was promoted to Trenton late in the year. He has pitched really well since his promotion. Overall this season he has 145.1 IP, a 4.71 ERA and 120 K. If he can ever learn to harness and control his stuff, he will be a fantastic pitcher. Ironically he has had his lowest walk rate of his career this year and yet his worst ERA. Figure that one out.
36. Ronnier Mustelier: 3B/OF, 5-foot-10, 210-pounds, RHB, 28 – He’s had bad injury luck, which is probably the only reason he hasn’t had a shot at the show yet. He will fight for a spot next year in the outfield and might be able to contribute as a bench bat with the potential to be more if he gets an opportunity. Bad defense, solid bat.
35. Brady Lail: RHP, 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, 20 years old – 61.2 innings pitched, 56 K, 2.92 ERA. This was his second season in the GCL, but after this performance with his solid repertoire he’s bound to move quickly from here on out. He got a lot of innings this year so next year he could feasibly start in a long season league.
34. Tyler Wade: SS, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, LHB, 18 – He got promoted to Staten Island late in the season for a cup of coffee. This should help with the adjustment time next year. Overall he ended the season .291/.412/.349/.761. He had 11 SB to just one CS. He did hit 10 doubles on the season. With his speed and athleticism, he could have a big future in the organization. He’s got some decent size to go along with his speed, so it’s not completely out of the question that he could develop power as time goes on.
33. Shane Greene: RHP, 6-foot-3, 200-pounds, 24 years old – He went from off the list last season to number 33. That’s pretty impressive. He was even more impressive in Trenton than he was in Tampa. He pitched 79.1 innings in Trenton, struck out 68, and had a 3.18 ERA. He threw 154.1 IP total in 2013 so he’ll be ready to take on a full load in 2014. It’ll be a big year for him and he should be a part of the Triple-A rotation.
32. Angelo Gumbs: 2B, 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, RHB 19 – Tough, tough season for him. Batted close to the Mendoza line both in High-A and Low-A. Hopefully next year he’ll be healthy and ready to go. If so, he will be in line for a huge comeback season.
31. Mark Montgomery: RP, 5-foot-11, 205-pounds, RHP, 22 – Falling off the radar as time goes by but he still has one of the best sliders in all the minors. If he can get some of his fastball velocity back he could be an important piece in the post-Mo era.
30. Rony Bautista: LHP, 6-foot-7, 200-pounds, 21 – He’s getting a bit long in the tooth considering he repeated the GCL this season, but he’s got incredible stuff and the Yankees have time to let him develop. 40.2 innings this season, 41 K, but 23 walks. The listed height is accurate. Keep an eye on this guy he could be a late bloomer who shoots through the system.
29. Ben Gamel: OF, 5-foot-11, 180-pounds, LHB, 20 – Getting a taste of Double-A now, hopefully allowing him to hit the ground running next season. He has a great hit tool, a discerning eye, and solid speed. If he can develop some more power you’ll be hearing his name a lot more.
28. Tommy Kahnle: “TKO”: RHP, 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, 23 – Exactly 60 innings on the season, with a 2.85 ERA and 74 K. He’ll be fun to watch in Triple-A next year and may help bolster the post-Mariano bullpen. Yet another relief stud in this organization.
27. Dan Camarena: “DanCam”: LHP, 6-foot-0, 200-pounds, 20 – His second half numbers were great. If you cut out his first five starts his ERA would be in the threes. A clean slate next season is the best thing that could happen to this kid. He’s got good enough stuff that if he starts putting up numbers he is going to get a lot of attention.
26. Cesar Vargas: RHP, 6-foot-1, 160-pounds, 21 – Tired out a bit towards the end of the season when he was promoted to High-A for his last three starts, but that’s because he threw a career high in innings by about 50 innings. He’s one of those guys who has done nothing but perform and thus deserves to move up slightly in the countdown from 28 to 26. The stuff isn’t fantastic but the control is excellent and he is a competitor. These are the types who end up like David Phelps.
25. Luis Torrens: “Torr-nado” C, 6-foot-0, 171-pounds, RHB, 17 – He drops quite a bit in this countdown because he didn’t finish strong, but he is just 17 years old and has all the tools to be a hot shot. Give it one year and a repeat of the GCL (like Andujar this year) and he will be a big deal again. He didn’t show much power, and he hit just .241, but he got experience and has the potential to be another Gary Sanchez type in a couple of years.
24. Cito Culver – SS, 6-foot-0, 190-pounds, 21 – This will be a controversial pick, but Cito breathed new life into his career with a really strong finish to the season in both Low-A and High-A. In 16 games with High-A Tampa, he hit .355/.394/.484/.878. He had been hot for about 15-20 games before that point as well. He brought his average up to .248 on the season, which is 33 points higher than 2012. He also had nine homeruns, which is three more than he hit in his entire career before 2013. He’s got a long way to go and he’s going to have to do it over an entire season, but this is the Culver the Yanks were hoping for when they drafted him.
23. Ty Hensley: RHP, 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, 19 – We were all disappointed to hear about Ty’s season ending surgery, but the good news is that it wasn’t his arm and other pitchers have come back to their baseline after similar surgeries. Hopefully this is the end of his injury bug and he will enjoy a long and healthy career.
22. Rob Refsnyder: 2B, 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, RHB, 22 – Finished the season with a .293/.413/.413/.826 quad slash. He ended up hitting six homeruns and 23 stolen bases. If he can pick up some power at the higher levels he could be a valuable prospect later on. I like this kid for many reasons not the least of which is that he is a real leader.
21. Gosuke Katoh: 2B, 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, LHB, 18 – A thin, wiry, tall frame with some now power and great patience. He’s also one of the best defensive second basemen in the entire draft. Many questioned taking him in the second round, but few are questioning it now. He has a lot of development to go but he has the potential to be a great ballplayer. A .310/.402/.522/.924 slash line with six homeruns, five triples, and 11 doubles will get a lot of people’s attention. Also, with his thin frame he has plenty of room to add meat, and thus add power.
20. Ramon Flores: “Ray-Flo”: OF, 5-foot-11, 190-pounds, LHB, 21 – Came on strong at the end of the season in Double-A. Finished off with a respectable .260/.353/.363/.717. The power is still not there but he did manage 37 extra base hits on the season. Still, he’s not trending in the right direction, so next year will be important in terms of improvement for Ramon, but given the way he finished things are looking up.
19. Nik Turley: LHP, 6-foot-6, 230-pounds, 22 – Finished strong in Double-A and managed to throw a career high 145 innings this year. He has struck out 8.8/9 innings, and got his ERA down to 3.79 by the end of the year. As a 6-foot-6 lefty who sits low 90’s, he’s got a shot to make an impact as a major leaguer.
18. Aaron Judge- RF, 6-foot-7, 230-pounds, RHB, 21 – The only reason he’s so low on this list is because he hasn’t played a game yet and he’s so tall. I just can’t wrap my head around a guy being this tall and being able to make consistent hard contact. That said, Giancarlo Stanton does exist and that is Judge’s ceiling. If he reaches it then the Yankees struck gold, and he will ascend to the top of this list. At his height, however, he is a high risk, high reward proposition. You could probably convince me to rank him higher if you tried hard enough.
17. Rookie Davis: RHP, 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, 20 – He’s the real deal, and the late promotion to Charleston proves that. He had an uptick in stuff during the offseason, and he has been able to control it this season. In 52.0 innings this season, he had 11 earned runs, 13 walks (2.2 BB/9), and 47 K (8.1 K/9). He had a 1.90 ERA. It’s a long road ahead for this kid but he’s only getting better. He truly has front of the rotation potential.
16. Miguel Andujar: ”Mandujar”: 3B, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, RHB, 18 – He definitely struggled to find himself in 2012, but in 2013 he came into his own. He rebounded in his second season as a pro to bat .323/.368/.496/.864 and went from 49 to 17 on this list. He hit four homeruns and 11 doubles on the season, and truly did look like a man amongst boys. Third base is now a crowded position in the lower minors but whether he starts in Staten Island or Charleston next season I expect big things.
15. Peter O’Brien: C, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, 22 – His overall stats this year were outstanding. Many will look at his stats in High-A and say he’s not ready. That doesn’t tell the whole story though because O’Brien still had an OPS of .800 in High-A. He hit 22 homeruns on the season and his total line for the season was .291/.350/.544/.893. He had a staggering 65 extra base hits this season. The strikeouts are concerning for sure but if he can improve his pitch selection he could be a monster in the majors.
14. Ian Clarkin: LHP, 6-foot-2, 206-pounds, 18 years old – We’ve all heard about this kid by now who somehow made it all the way to the end of the first round for the Yankees to scoop him up. He’s a polished young left hander who already sits in the 90′s with his fastball and has some secondary pitches which he of course will need to work on. He disppointed a bit in his limited debut with the GCL, but he’ll have 10 years to erase the memory of his debut, and the sample size means absolutely nothing.
13. Eric Jagielo: 3B, 6-foot-2, 195-pounds, LHB, 22 – I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in his output in Staten Island this season. Those statistics mean nothing, but I was really hoping he would take the league by storm. Instead, on the season he hit .264/.376/.451/.826 with six home runs. Admittedly those are actually pretty solid numbers, but I’d like to see the batting average come up a bit, as well as the power output. He also struck out 56 times in 55 games. Next year he’ll start out at Charleston and have plenty of time to figure things out. He can certainly hit and proved that in college. Hopefully his skills will translate to success in the Yankees organization.
12. Abiatal Avelino: SS, 5-foot-11, 186-pounds, RHB, 18 – Simply dominated in the GCL this season, and held his own in limited Short Season Staten Island work. Super athletic shortstop and his bat has been just as impressive so far. Stole 28 bases in just 51 games this year, and had a .303/.381/.399/.780 batting line. He hit nine doubles and five triples in that time. His ceiling is huge. He has decent pop too, but that won’t be a necessary skill for him to move up.
11. Gregory Bird: 1B, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, LHB, 20 – After the numbers he put up this season I am no longer concerned about his position. Still just 20 years old and NOT too old for his league (no idea what Keith Law was talking about on that one), he hit .288/.428/.511/.938 this season. He walked 107 times, which is the most this system has seen since Nick Johnson. Finally, he hit 20 homeruns and 36 doubles. No matter what position you’re at that’s impressive, and that’s why he goes from 17 to 11 at the end of the year countdown.
10. J.R. Murphy: “Murph”: C, 5-foot-11, 195-pounds, RHB, 21 – I like Jagielo, and his short season stats mean very little to me. On the other hand, I moved Murphy ahead of him on this list because Murphy has improved every aspect of his game this year and shows no signs of slowing down. He has handled Triple-A pitching just as well as he did in Double-A. He has become a solid defensive catcher along the way as well. His season line is .269/.347/.26/.774 with 12 homeruns, three more than his career high. His CS% was 37% this year which is impressive. We may be looking at the future starting catcher of the Yankees.
9. Mason Williams: CF, 6-foot-0, 180-pounds, LHB, 21 – I just can’t get that down on a 21-year-old who performs poorly in his first 17 games in Double-A. He got a late season promotion and has had no time to adjust. He had an overall disappointing season in High-A this year. He lacked performance, leadership, or maturity this year but it really is just one season and he still has all the tools he came up with. Next year is his opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Many had him at the top of their list at the end of last season, so he has fallen quite a bit, but one bad season doesn’t end a career.
8. Manny Banuelos: “ManBan”: LHP, 5-foot-11, 200-pounds, 22 – It seems that Manny has lost his luster to most as a prospect. Not me. I am eagerly anticipating his return to action which will happen next season. He’s already been throwing and according to his Facebook is really close to getting into game action now. Still young for his level, still has ace potential.
7. Luis Severino: “Lu-sever” RHP 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, 19 – The Yankees shocked a lot of people when they sent him to Charleston in the middle of the GCL season. The thing is, he is that good. He finished his first stateside season with a 2.45 ERA in 44.0 innings. He struck out 53 during that time. At just 19 he held his own in Charleston and continued to strike out more than one batter per inning while demonstrating pinpoint control with just 2.0 BB/9. This time next year there’s a good chance he will be much higher on this list.
6. Jose Campos: “J-Cam”: RHP, 6-foot-4, 195-pounds, 20 – Here’s where it starts to get interesting. Up two spots from the midseason list, Campos really started to round into form late in the season. He appears to be fully recovered from the injury last season, and has successfully built up his arm strength to pre-trade levels. Next year he will be unleashed on High-A, and people may be shocked at how good he still is.
5. Jose Ramirez: ”J-Ram”: RHP, 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, 23 – He’s just one step away from the show but he still has to show he can stay healthy. He has the stuff that can overpower the competition, even at the major league level, but he has to develop some consistency. The good news is that despite the fact that he is in Triple-A, he’s still quite young and has plenty of time to develop that consistency. His 3.67 ERA and 78 K in 73.2 IP this season were impressive and I’d expect to see him make an impact late next season with the major league team, if not earlier.
4. Rafael De Paula: “RDP” RHP, 6-foot-3, 212-pounds, 21 – Struggled in High-A during his brief time there in 2013, but he dominated while in Charleston and at least now he has some things to work on this offseason. As long as he regains his control from Charleston, next season should be a good one for RDP. He threw a career high 113.1 innings, so it’s not surprising that he ran out of steam at the end of the season. Overall he had a 4.29 ERA with 146 K on the season.
3. Slade Heathcott: CF, 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, LHB, 22 – After a tremendously slow start, he finished the season batting .261/.327/.411/.738 with eight homers and 15 stolen bases. He managed to play a career high 103 games this season, a major step in the right direction. He has the best tools of any outfielder in the system, and might well be the best athlete the Yankees farm has to offer. The second half of the season was encouraging, and I suspect next year he will hit the ground running.
2. Tyler Austin: “3:16″: RF, 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, RHB, 21 – Seems to be back to his old self after returning from the wrist injury. While his stats have been disappointing this season, he is still young for the level and it has now become obvious that the injured wrist really hurt him this season. When he is back to 100% next season I expect him to take Double-A by storm.
1. Gary Sanchez -“the Sanchize” C, 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, RHB, 20 – Finished the season with a .253/.324/.412/.736 line and 15 home runs. That’s impressive for a catcher but he’s gonna need to improve upon that to keep this ranking. He’s still the best player in this farm system and has the tools to be a future star in the league. Many question his defense but I’ve read more accounts about his improved defense this year, and that’s encouraging.