BBDP: Top 5 Yankees first base prospects

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1. Greg Bird – 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, LHB, 1B, 21 – He’s already hitting well in Double-A at the age of just 21, and he’s hitting for power too. He’s one of the best first base prospects in the minors right now. He’s OPSing at .848 this year despite missing significant time. His numbers are right on par with where they were last year at higher levels. He is exactly what the Yankees tend to look for in a player. High OBP, patient approach, and power. His quad slash on the season is .270/.375/.473/.848. He’ll likely start next season in Double-A, where he will have a head start since he spent the end of the season there.

2. Mike Ford – 6-foot-0, 225-pounds, LHB, 1B, 22 – He just turned 22 on July 4th, and will start next season at the same age. We knew very little about Ford going into the season, except that he was born and raised in New Jersey and went to school at Princeton, where he excelled. This year he has shown us that he has some real talent despite being a non-drafted FA following the 2013 draft. He has 13 HR and 17 doubles in 102 games between Low-A and High-A. He has a .293/.383/.459/.842 line this season. He’s not the flashiest player and most probably still don’t know much about him, but trust me he’s officially on the Yankees prospect radar. He has ripped apart High-A pitching so far in his limited time there. He’ll start off in High-A next year and could move quickly to Double-A if Bird Moves up or they can fit him in at DH.

3. Kyle Roller – 6-foot-1, 250-pounds, LHB, 1B, 26 – No question about it, Kyle Roller has had a career year. He has done it at the highest levels of the minors too. The only caveat is that he will spend most of next season as a 27 year old in Triple-A with no major league experience. That’s always a red flag, but the way he has performed is impressive no matter how you look at it. On the season, he is hitting .299/.391/.549/.940 with 25 homeruns, 29 doubles, and three triples. He has increased his stock in a major way this season, and he’s just one Mark Teixeira injury away from being a viable major league option. He’s close to the majors and at this point he will most likely get an opportunity to play, whether it be for the Yankees or someone else. He’ll start the season in Triple-A next season, and with some good luck could see some time in the bigs. Greg Bird is breathing down his neck though.

4. Connor Spencer – 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, LHB, 1B, 21 – He’ll be 22 at the start of next season, and he will have to hit all the way up to be taken seriously as a prospect. Moreover he will have to start finding some more power. Based on what they see in batting practice and with his swing and size, the Yankees think that power will come. No one questions his ability to hit and he can definitely field the position. His batting line in Staten Island this year is .367/.394/.456/.849. He is going to have to improve his patience and his power going forward, but so far he has really impressed with his ability to make hard contact. He’ll likely start out in Charleston next year with Ford manning first in High-A, but he could be in for a quick call-up, especially if the Yankees are willing to temporarily shift him to the outfield to improve his versatility.

5. Chris Gittens – 6-foot-4, 250-pounds, RHB, 1B, 20 – It’s easy to dream on a kid with this kind of size, especially when the Yankees got him in the 12th round and he is just 20 years old. In a limited 11 game sample size, he performed well in the GCL with a .287/.400/.400/.800 line. He’s got a long way to go, but his size will be a major advantage for him. He has a lot of swing and miss right now according to his 10 strikeouts in 11 games, but he has a few years to work on some things. This kid has a world of potential, and how far he goes will depend on how he develops. He’ll probably start out in extended Spring Training next season, and depending on what happens could see some time with Charleston or Staten Island depending on how the off season goes.

Honorable mention: Matt Snyder, Bubba Jones, Jake Anderson, Kevin Gonzalez (6-foot-3, 230-pound 17 year old who had a .329/.408/.422/.830 quad slash in the DSL this year).

This entry was posted in 2011 MLB Draft, 2012 MLB Draft, 2014 MLB Draft, BBDP, Down on the Farm, Prospect Rankings. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to BBDP: Top 5 Yankees first base prospects

  1. tom says:

    Is Connor Spencer only 1b in that class can field well?

    I think you should make comments about their ability to hit balls into opposite field. I get feeling it will be a major key for Yankees' new generation team.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Excellent questions tom. So Connor Spencer is a good fielder, but Bird also holds his own at the position. Bird is also relatively new to the position so I suspect that within a year or so he will be above average. Roller moves better than you would think at first, but fielding will never be his strength. Ford is an average to above average fielder, and Gittens I don't know anything about because I've never seen him and I haven't read any scouting reports on his defense.

      Ability to hit to opposite field: Bird and Spencer are the best of the group in this regard. Many of Birds homeruns are oppo. Spencer sprays the ball everywhere, at least so far. It will be interesting to see if the pressure to develop more power makes him more of a pull hitter… remains to be seen.

      Kyle Roller is a bit of a sleeper in this category. One of the major reasons why he has had such a breakout season is because he changed his approach/swing so he could take more balls the other way. The result has been both a better average and more power.

      Ford is average at hitting the ball the other way, while with Gittens I again don't know much.

    • tom says:

      Ah… he will be eligible for Rule 5 draft this fall so I hope Yankees add him to 40 man roster on Sept 1st.

      Dump either Drew or Ryan. Can't have two IF defensive specialists on the roster.

  2. Daniel Burch says:

    Sort of surprised to see Roller behind Ford only because of Roller's home run numbers and the fact that he is Triple-A. Other than that I like the list, although it depresses me a bit. List looks a little thin at first, which is not great since Mark Teixeira is a sneeze and a Lambo from being Carl Pavano… sarcasm, but not much.

    Love your stuff Greg.

    • tom says:

      Well, Arod, McCann and Beltran could play at 1b next 3 years. Plus, several solid hitters with bad defense outside 1b in the minor league would move to 1b. It is not a concern so we need to save depression for SS class.

    • gcorcoran says:

      I'm actually really high on Ford and clearly the Yankees are too. Bubba Jones had a really good year last year at Staten Island and seemed like the obvious choice to play first in Charleston to start the year. The Yankees actually drafted Jones. Think about how much it had to take for the Yanks to start Ford, a nondrafted free agent, instead of Jones. All he did this season was prove them right. Now he's in High-A and smoking the ball there as well. This guy was a great find, and if the power comes along just a little bit more he could be a major league caliber first baseman.

      As for the depression, I wouldn't be that depressed. There really aren't many first base prospects in the minor leagues period. The Yankees actually have a couple of good ones so that's pretty encouraging the way I see it.

  3. Robert says:

    I didn't think being a 27 year first baseman would be an issue for the yankees. Is he not old enough for the majors? Maybe they'll move him up from AAA when he's 38.

    • gcorcoran says:

      His age wouldn't be an issue if he was already in the majors. Problem is he's 27 and he's not yet in the majors. The fact that he has taken so long to make it to AAA and have success is a red flag. That said, players break in at his age every now and then and have success, so it's not out of the realm of possibilities that he could help the Yankees.

  4. M.Cook says:

    Not bad. Pretty much how I would have it, except I'd replace Gittens with Chris Breen – .286/.382/.514/.896 for Staten Island, still only 20.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Breen has spent most of his time in the of this year. He may end up at first base long term but for now he will be considered in the outfielder group. I like what he did this year though.

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