This season the post draft top 50 prospects is no different than any other year. The only difference is that the Yankees acquired far more talent in the international free agent (IFA) market this year than in the draft. Unfortunately we do not have enough information on the new IFA signings to include them in the rankings. It’s just too difficult to tell anything meaningful about 16-year-olds who pro scouts have had limited looks at. Suffice it to say, however, that this top 50 list will be substantially more impressive next season at this time.
Without further ado here is my midseason list. Of note, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy, Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, Zoilo Almonte, Preston Claiborne, Jose Ramirez, and Masahiro Tanaka are all ineligible for this list because they played in the majors this year. I will do a separate piece on where they would have ranked though, so you can look forward to that. Note, some of the stats here are about a week old, but not much has changed in that time anyway.
1. Gary Sanchez – ”the Sanchize” C, 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, RHB, 21 (previous rank: 1) – Despite the emergence of John Ryan Murphy as a viable big league starting catcher, Gary Sanchez is still the best catcher in the system. He has had attitude issues, which seems to be a recurring theme with him. That said, he still has nine homers and 17 doubles in 77 games this year, and has hit .268/.337/.416/.753. Projecting that over 140 games and you have a very Jorge Posada-esque 16 homeruns and 83 RBI. He’s only 21 and he’s having success in Double-A. He could be a part of the major league team as soon as next season. Having seen him play several times he has the most explosive swing in the system.
2. Luis Severino – RHP 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, 20 (previous rank: 4) – The Yankees have been uber aggressive with him, and for good reason. He started the season in Charleston (Low-A) and was recently promoted to Double-A with Trenton, where he will start pitching his next turn in the rotation. On the season he has 88.1 IP, 98 K, just 21 BB, and a 2.45 ERA. He is cruising, and so far has dominated every level he’s been at. His stuff is legit, as he has a mid to upper 90’s fastball and locates his secondary pitches effortlessly. Look out, because here comes the Severino hype machine.
3. Aaron Judge – RF, 6-foot-7, 270-pounds, RHB, 22 (Previous Rank: 16) – Aaron Judge has unquestionably proven this year that he is not just a big, hulking, power hitter. He can also really hit. He has shown that to the tune of a .323/.428/.523/.951 OPS over two levels this season. He’s now in the FSL. He has 13 homeruns on the season, with 18 doubles. He has struck out 85 times in 91 games. He is a monster and he could be a huge, middle of the order bat for the Yankees if things work out.
4. Rob Refsnyder – 2B, 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, RHB, 23 (previous rank: 22) – Refsnyder has exploded onto the scene this year. Few expected this level of success, but he has continued it all the way up to Triple-A. At the current rate of movement, he will not be eligible for this list much longer. He will most likely either get a September call up this year or be given a chance to win the position outright to start next season. There’s also always the chance he gets traded. So far between Double-A and Triple-A, he has a .331/.401/.542/.942 quad slash with 12 homeruns and 25 doubles. For a second baseman those numbers are just fantastic. I look forward to watching this guy play in the majors in the not so distant future. If you have the chance to watch him play, you will see in person what a tough out this kid is.
5. Ian Clarkin – LHP, 6-foot-2, 206-pounds, 19 years old (previous rank: 14) – So far he is proving to be the real deal. He has had success at Charleston as just a 19 year old, and the stuff has been as advertised. His curve is overmatching players at his level. Watching him work is fun. Players just waive at his stuff, and it shows in the numbers. He has a 3.38 ERA in 58.2 IP with 64 K and just 19 BB. He has a .242 average against. Pretty impressive.
6. Abiatal Avelino – SS, 5-foot-11, 186-pounds, RHB, 18 (previous rank: 12) – Avelino is currently rehabbing with the GCL Yankees, but will rejoin Charleston soon. From there, the sky is the limit. While in Charleston for 29 games, he hit .294/.349/.387 with 11 SB, nine doubles, and a triple. He is an excellent contact hitter and has enough speed and wherewithal on the bases to steal a bunch. He also is a top notch fielding shortstop. Now that he’s back to health, you will be hearing his name more often again.
7. Peter O’Brien – C, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, 23 (previous rank: 15) – Sure, he strikes out a lot and so far in Double-A, has had a lot of trouble hitting for average. The bottom line, however, is he has massive power. Looking for a sturdy position for him will be another issue going forward, but with his power DH is an option. He has 29 HR on the season in just 89 games. Over a 150 games schedule that’s 49 homeruns. I know this is just the minors but that kind of power is extremely rare. If he can figure out a way to stay away from the strikeouts more, he is going to be a dangerous force someday in the majors.
8. Gregory Bird – 1B, 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, LHB, 21 (Previous rank: 8) – Bird has struggled a bit this year with injuries, and has not been quite as effective as last year when healthy. He still has a power stroke though and likely the most patient approach of any player in the system. I’d like to see him finish strong this year, which could put him even higher on this list. He’ll have to pick it up soon though as he has about a month and a half to right the ship this season. He’s .265/.354/.412/.765 on the season with five homers in 61 games. Those numbers are borderline and could easily be brought to respectable with a strong finish to the season.
9. Jorge Mateo – SS, 6-foot-0, 188-pounds, RHB, 19 – Came over from the DR this season and hit the ground running until he suffered an injury a few weeks back. He took the league by storm, batting .308/.390/.442/.832 with seven walks in his first 13 games. He also stole 11 bases in that time. He is the best power/speed combo shortstop in the system. Really, overall he is the shortstop with the best tools in the system. He has 70 speed.
10. Jacob Lindgren – LHP, RP, 5-foot-11, 180-pounds, 21 – He’s basically as dominant of a relief pitcher that you could come across in the draft, and he’s lefty. He has already moved from Charleston to Tampa, where he struck out the first three batters he faced. Overall on the season he has let up a total of three hits in 7.0 innings, and has struck out 16 while walking zero. He’s going to move fast. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitching for Trenton before the end of the season, and for the Yankees as soon as next season. He’ll hit 95 with his fastball which has excellent life and has a vicious slider.
11. Luis Torrens – C, 6-foot-0, 171-pounds, RHB, 18 (previous rank: 25) – Since joining Staten Island, Torrens has been torrid. He has hit .383/.422/.600/1.022 in 15 games so far. In a short nine game stint with Charleston he didn’t fare quite as well. It’s nine games though. Overall you have an excellent defending catcher who seems to be wrapping his head around hitting this season. He is .304/.388/.471/.859 overall with two homeruns, seven doubles, and two triples in 29 games. This always seems to be the case when their at this level, but he has a chance to be the best catcher of the bunch.
12. Brady Lail – RHP, 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, 20 years old (previous rank: 29) – Still just 20 years old, he has really come into his own this year as I expected. Lail dialed his stuff up a notch late last year and hasn’t looked back. He has a mid 90’s fastball and excellent control of the secondary stuff, which still needs a bit more improvement. On the season he has a solid 3.71 ERA in 97.0 IP with 95 K and just 17 walks. He was recently promoted to High-A, which will be a nice test for him going forward.
13. Tyler Austin – “3:16″: RF, 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, RHB, 22 (previous rank: 5) – Austin took a step back on this list, and it’s because of the poor stats he has this season. That said, I have watched him on multiple occasions this season and each time I come away shocked that his numbers aren’t better. He looks great at the plate and seems to hit the ball hard every time up. I strongly feel he will turn things around at some point, but he needs to get out of the current funk he’s in, or just start getting luckier. He’s hitting .249/.311/.357/.669 on the season. I still have some faith in this kid, and I hope he can turn it around.
14. Eric Jagielo – 3B, 6-foot-2, 195-pounds, LHB, 21 (previous rank: 13) – Jagielo was having a decent season until he got injured. He is currently rehabbing with the GCL and should be back with High-A Tampa soon. He’s going to have to improve his average if he wants to make noise on this list, but there’s no question the power is there. He already has 12 homeruns in just 51 games. I suspect he will improve on the .246 average as time goes on, but only time will tell at this point. His scouting report has not changed and a strong showing in July and August will bring him back on the map, and possibly to the top 10.
15. Ty Hensley – RHP, 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, 20 (previous rank: 23) – Finally healthy and pitching again, and pitching well. Just today he pitched three innings and struck out seven, while letting up one run. So far on the season he has 20 IP and 28 K, with an ERA under 3.0 and just five walks. This is an encouraging development. Next year he’ll be 21 and it will be time to start moving him fast.
16. Austin DeCarr – RHP, 6-foot-3, 218-pounds, 19 – Got roughed up in his most recent outing, but that’s going to happen to a rookie. Yankees overpaid for him and that’ because he’s got so much potential. He already sits 92-95 with a promising curveball and changeup. At his size, he could add velocity and should have good durability. He’ll be a fun one to watch going forward.
17. Caleb Smith – LHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 22 (previous rank: 46) – A fastball that sits mid-90’s. Two breaking pitches that get swings and misses. He has size and power. He’s got everything you would want in a lefty starter, and is moving up the latter quickly. He was recently promoted to High-A, where he will likely finish the season. On the season he has a 3.10 ERA in 78.1 IP with 80 K. He’s having an excellent season and will look to continue the success at High-A.
18. Dan Camarena – “Killa Cam”: LHP, 6-foot-0, 200-pounds, 20 (previous rank: 26) – Camarena has had a monster year in High-A so far. The only problem is the two starts he has made in Double-A, during which he got torched. Even including those two starts, however, his season numbers look great. With an ERA of 3.01 in 95.2 IP, and 72 K (which is about what you’d expect from an effective soft tossing lefty), he will look to take it up a notch when he gets promoted to Double-A following the all-star break. He is 87-90 with the fastball still, but the secondary offerings are excellent and he locates with the best of them. It will be really interesting to see where his career goes from here because low velocity pitchers like him often get overlooked.
19. Simon De la Rosa – RHP, 6-foot-3, 185-pounds, 21 – Cut from the same cloth as Rafael DePaula, Simon De la Rosa has great raw stuff. Where he needs to get better is his control. His fastball reaches 96, and he has a good curve and change to go along with it. He gets the strikeouts, as he already has 20 in just 18.2 IP on the season. Once he gets fully acclimated in the United States, he is going to be a weapon.
20. Jake Cave – OF, 6-foot-0, 179-pounds, LHB, 21 (previous rank: 48) – He is .303/.354/.394/.750 on the year with three homeruns and 19 doubles. He is duplicating his numbers from last year, which is a good thing. The only problem is he showed little to no power last year, and he hasn’t shown the speed to make up for light hitting. If he develops power, he can be a starting outfielder in the majors. If not, he’s likely a 4th or 5th OF. Right now my money is on the latter, but anything can happen.
21. Miguel Sulbaran – LHP, 5-foot-10, 209-pounds, 20 years old – Just 20 years old an already dominating High-A, Sulbaran has been a big surprise this season. He has a low 90’s fastball, plus curve, and a slider and change which he can go to in any count. He’s a bit like Camarena with more velocity. On the season he has a 2.29 ERA in 74.2 IP with 54 K and just 17 BB. This kid is flying under the radar right now but he’s got a chance to be something special.
22. James Pazos – LHP, 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, 23 (Previous rank: 44) – Pazos has been quite dominant in relief this season, posting a 2.84 ERA in 44.1 IP with 54 K. He’s been pumping mid-90’s heat while hitting 97-98 mph at times. I’ve had a chance to watch him a few times, and he has a bit of a funky delivery. Combine that with the velocity he is able to throw at, and you can see why he is difficult to hit. I see a future for him in the back end of a bullpen somewhere.
23. Ben Gamel – OF, 5-foot-11, 180-pounds, LHB, 22 (previous rank: 27) – Gamel is having another nice season, with one caveat. He is still not hitting for enough power. At this point it is hard to imagine him as anything more than a 4th outfielder, but he is still young and has time to mature into his man strength. For now you have a guy who is a solid fielder and has an excellent hit tool and enough speed to steal 20 bases a season if given extended playing time. There’s value in that, but there’d be more value if he could hit 15 homers a year.
24. Nick Rumbelow – RHP, RP, 6-foot-0, 190-pounds, 23 (previously unranked)– Off to a great start to his career so far, he has a 1.73 ERA in 36.1 IP and 49 K. He was recently promoted to Trenton. If he continues to dominate as he has, he will continue to move rapidly through the system. He could be playing in the big leagues as soon as next season. Mid 90’s fastball with good deception, and has drawn many comparisons to David Robertson. He pounds the zone and locates well. He also throws a curve and a change
25. Manny Banuelos – LHP, 5-foot-10, 205-pounds, 23 (previous rank: 3) – Banuelos is coming off of Tommy John Surgery, and this is becoming a bit of a lost season for him. He is the first of three who have had a precipitous drop on this countdown. Some sources are claiming he has diminished velocity and not the same stuff. Others are claiming his stuff is back but he is just trying to regain consistency. Either way, even when healthy this year he has been inconsistent. Next year he’ll have to really pick it up to regain his old prospect status.
26. Dante Bichette Jr. – 3B, 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, RHB, 22 (previously unranked) – It’s hard not to remain skeptical about Dante, but He’s officially back on the radar after posting solid numbers so far this season. .288/.374/.429/.803 with eight homeruns and 24 doubles will do that for you. He will have to hit for more power to stick in the majors, but he has taken a major leap in the right direction this season after two miserable seasons in Charleston.
27. Slade Heathcott – OF, 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, LHB, 23 (previous rank: 2) – Injured yet again, going under the knife yet again. He’ll be back next season but at this point I have to conclude that he is the positional version of Christian Garcia, and will never stay healthy enough. He has long so much development that he will likely always be behind the eight ball. That said, if healthy his athleticism is unparalleled on this farm, and you never know what can happen from there. We’ve seen what happens when you give up on someone with a world of talent in Dellin Betances. You can just end up being wrong.
28. Miguel Andujar – 3B, 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, 19 (previous rank: 38) – One of the youngest players in the SAL, yet he has hit his stride and is now in midseason form. Over his past eight games he is 11/28 (.392) with five doubles. He has been hitting over .300 for the past month now and shows no signs of slowing down. On the season he has seven homeruns and 18 doubles, so the power is coming around. If he keeps this up by the end of the season his numbers will be in respectable range.
29. Tyler Webb – LHP, RP, 6-foot-6, 225-pounds, 24 (previously unranked) – Has low to mid-90’s velocity with strikeout stuff, and has quickly advanced to Triple-A in just his second year in the system. He could be with the major league team as soon as next year, joining Lindgren and Pazos as three lefty relievers who could make an impact. He has 71 K in just 50.0 innings. His ERA is a bit high at 3.96 but he has done a nice job limiting walks.
30. Matt Tracy – LHP, 6-foot-3, 212-pounds, 25 (previous rank: 37) – He’s had an excellent season ERA-wise, with just a 3.24 ERA over two levels. He has been promoted to Triple-A and will look to make a lasting impression at the end of this season. He doesn’t strike out too many guys, but he gets outs. He’l have to do a better job limiting walks going forward if he wants to be effective in the majors. His stuff is pretty good though, with a low-mid 90’s fastball and good secondary offerings.
31. Gosuke Katoh – 2B, 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, LHB, 19 (previous rank: 20) – Katoh got off to a dreadful start to his full season career, but at just 19 years old it’s hard to fault him for that. He has really picked it up of late though, bringing his average from below .200 to .229 in less than a month. He has a long way to go, but another positive sign is that he was striking out more than once per game but has only 5 strikeouts to six walks in the past 10 games. He has plenty of time to get where he needs to go.
32. Michael O’Neill – OF, 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, RHB, 22 – O’Neill is another one who has really picked up the pace recently. This season he has shown surprising speed and some decent power to boot. He has struggled to hit for average though… until recently. Over his last 10 games he’s hitting .316/.381/.447/.828 with five SB. His average is up to .254 and climbing. If he can finish strong his overall numbers are going to look really good this season. His main limitation is his age, as he will have to start moving a bit faster if he wants to remain a factor in this system.
33. Jose Pirela – Util, 5-foot-11, 210-pounds, RHB, 24 – He has been one of the most consistent performers since opening day, and he has a great deal of versatility. He offers an excellent hit tool with decent patience, and has hit for surprising power this year. In many ways he’s similar to Yangervis Solarte. At the very least, his versatility and his bat could be useful to the Yankees as a bench piece.
34. Kyle Roller – 1B, 6-foot-1, 250-pounds, LHB, 26 – Kyle is a bit of a late bloomer, but bloom he has. He has 18 homeruns in 83 games this season and has a line of .300/.385/.551/.936 over two levels. He is one step away from the majors. If Mark Teixeira goes down again, I’m betting Roller will get a shot. He’s a long shot to stick long term in the majors, as he’s at a position where he must hit well to last. He has significant power though and can hold his own at first.
35. Jordan Foley – RHP, 6-foot-4, 215-pounds, 21 – Just turned 21 July 12th, and he is performing quite well so far with Staten Island. He was a starter for Central Michigan, where he threw his 90-96 mph fastball and maintained the velocity late into games. The main questions he has to answer are whether he can repeat his delivery and whether his secondary stuff can start to play up. So far so good, as he has a 1.26 ERA and 16 K in 14.1 professional innings.
36. Dustin Fowler – OF, 6-foot-0, 185-pounds, LHB, 19 – One of the younger players in the SAL, Fowler has displayed impressive power. In 54 games, he has nine homeruns, 12 doubles and five triples. He is a good fielder and shows good athleticism. Over a full season that’s 25 HR, 30 doubles, and 13 triples. He needs work on his plate discipline and could use to add a few points to his average, but as a 19 year old in Low-A, I will take this production any day.
37. Domingo Acevedo – RHP, 6-foot-7, 242-pounds, 20 – He’s only managed three appearances in the GCL so far, but boy is his stuff impressive. He sits mid-90’s and has reached 99. It’s not hard to dream on this kid but he’ll have to get healthy and stay healthy to continue to progress.
38. Junior Valera – 2B, 6-foot-0, 180-pounds, SH, 21 – Took a bit longer to develop since the Yankees wanted to try him out at switch hitting, but he seems to have finally hit his stride. He’ll really have to move fast going forward, but he has shown that this is a possibility this season by hitting really well. He has been a beacon of consistency and is currently batting a robust .357/.439/.476/.915. He also has eight SB in 22 games, and is known to have fantastic speed.
39. Tyler Wade – SS, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, LHB, 19 – Another 19 year old playing well in Low-A, Wade has made quite a bit of progress in one year. He has showed that he belongs at this level despite being one of the younger players there. He has hit .273/.354/.335/.689 on the season with 15 SB. He definitely needs to raise the bar with his power production going forward, but his defense and athleticism are off the charts. Given his position, he will be given a good amount of offensive leeway. He’s a couple of homeruns away from being an impact offensive player.
40. Frank Frias – OF, 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, RHB, 20 – Frias is not your highly touted, million dollar bonus international free agent signing, but he definitely has tools and he can definitely play. He has plus speed (6 SB already) and plus athleticism. In his first season stateside he is already having success. He’s batting .342/.405/.421/.826. He has been light on power so far, but if either that or his baserunning game comes along he has the tools to become a top prospect.
41. Jaron Long – RHP, 6-foot-0, 185-pounds, 22 – Non-drafted free agent this year, Kevin Long’s son. He has pitched extremely well at all three levels (Low-A, High-A, and Double-A) he’s played at this season. He’s done it with pinpoint control and good secondary offerings. He does not possess the high velocity fastball you would hope for, but he has been untouchable so far in the minors. For now he’s a fun guy to follow, and a good story. If he takes his 2.16 ERA to the majors, however, it will go from a good story to a big story.
42. Bryan Mitchell – RHP, 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, 23 – There’s no question he’s talented, but he still hasn’t been able to put together a full successful season in the minors. He’s starting to look like another Dellin Betances type, who could benefit from a role in relief. For now, we’ll just have to dream on his plus plus stuff and hope one day he figures it all out.
43. Alexander Palma – OF, 6-foot-0, 201-pounds, RHB, 18 – Having success in the GCL and he’s still just a kid. As time goes on the hope is that he will be able to develop some power and improve on his patience. He’s so young still and has a ton of time to mature both physically and mentally. He’s got the tools and now it’s just a matter of putting them in practice.
44. Jordan Montgomery – LHP, 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, 21 – Big lefty who throws between 88-92 and has an excellent changeup. He’s got other secondary offerings which can use some seasoning as well. He has had two extremely successful seasons pitching in the competitive SEC and is a low-ceiling, high probability guy because of that. All of that said, he has the size which could foreshadow a velocity increase somewhere down the line.
45. Leonardo Molina – OF, 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, RHB, 16 – Still just 16, the Yankees decided to throw him into the pool and let him sink or swim in the GCL. So far, he has sank. With youth on his side, and apparently seen as one of the top two overall international free agents of last year’s class, I don’t envision him sinking long term. Next year should be his year to shine, when he has a better grip on life in America and grows into his body a bit more.
46. Rookie Davis – RHP, 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, 21 – Rookie took a bit of a step back this season statistically, but the stuff is still very much there. He could benefit from a reduction in walks, and he’s a bit Shane Greene-ish in that respect. His stuff is good though. He hits mid 90’s with the fastball, and has good secondary pitches. He’s another guy with all the tools, but just has to put them together.
47. Mike Ford – 1B, 6-foot-0, 225-pounds, LHB, 22 – All he has done is OPS 0.816 as a non-drafted free agent out of Princeton. He has been the starting 1B in Charleston the whole year, and has proved he belongs. He has excellent plate discipline and decent power. He has 10 HR in 77 games this season and a 0.379 OBP. It’s tough to say what the future holds for a guy like him, but he has nothing to lose and he plays like it.
48. Taylor Dugas – OF, 5-foot-9, 180-pounds, LHB, 24 – Now in Triple-A, this is a kid who has performed at every level so far in his career. He is extremely polished, and draws walks with the best of them in this system. Unfortunately he does not have a third tool. He has the hit tool, and he has the patience tool. There’s no power tool, speed tool, and he’s just a solid defender. There’s a role for a guy like him, especially as a fourth outfielder who can wear pitchers down. At this point that’s going to be his ceiling unless he proves he can do something else well. There’s nothing wrong with having a guy like that in your system though.
49. Ty McFarland – 2B, 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, LHB, 22 – The Yankees drafted McFarland in the 10th round, and he has really impressed thus far in Staten Island. As a big second baseman who can field well he could be a guy who sticks around in this system. He is hitting .296/.338/.464/.802 so far, and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s big and has the potential to hit for power down the line. This deep in the countdown he has a long way to go, but next year will be much more telling to see what his future will hold.
50. Orby Tavares – LHP , 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, 19 – This is his first year in the Yankees organization and he was sent straight to the states, which is always a good sign. All he has done is throw 22.2 innings of 2.78 ERA ball. Known for his control, his 11 walks in 22.2 innings are likely to improve. He has been clocked anywhere from 88-94 mph, and has okay secondary offerings. If he develops some more velocity and he improves the secondary offerings, he has some big upside.