15 Sleepers in the Yankees farm system

The Yankees farm system is full of diamonds. Many of these have already made a name for themselves and are ranked near the top of the farm system, and in some cases near the top of the whole minor leagues. There are, more than ever, a ton of diamonds in the rough this year though. These are guys who have the requisite skills to be big time prospects but haven’t quite made the jump yet to getting national recognition. These are the sleepers, the guys who could break out this year. I already wrote a post on breakout candidates, but the following are more deep REM sleepers that have a decent chance of breaking out this year, but may be one or two more years from that.

  1. Daris Vargas – RHP, 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, 24-years-old – Mid-90’s fastball (both 2-seam and 4-seam), slider, and changeup mix that gave him a ton of success this year. He threw 131.1 innings, struck out 108, and had a 2.95 ERA in Low-A. He also walked a hefty 57 batters. If he tightens up his control and improves his secondary pitches, he will be a major league starter. If not, he could still break in as a reliever given his velocity. Now that he made some noise in Charleston, the next step for him will be High-A, and from there he could move fast. At his age and with the competition he faces ahead of him, I’m betting on a high-end reliever ceiling here. With a big year this year he could put his name on the map, and might even put himself in the conversation to be a big league starter.


  1. Carlos Vidal – CF, 5-foot-11, 160-pounds, LHB, 21-years-old – He had a breakout season when he was 19, but last year he was injured and ineffective. With all of the stars in this farm system he is a bit of a forgotten man, but there’s a good chance he can make people remember him again quickly if he stays healthy. He’s a small guy but he has surprising speed and pop. Hopefully that translates into success in Charleston this year.


  1. Dom Thompson-Williams – OF, 6-foot-0, 185-pounds, LHB, 21-years-old – Yankees picked up DTW in the 5th round this past year. He had a pretty successful first year. He hit .246/.348/.344/.691 with three homeruns, eight doubles, a triple, and 15 SB in his first season. He also hit seven homeruns in the NCAA last season and stole 18 more bases there. He’s definitely a tool shed and if he can translate that into success in the minors he could be a real sleeper. He’ll start in Charleston where he’ll have his first opportunity to make a name for himself this year.


  1. Eduardo Rivera – RHP, 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, 24-years-old – He can hit triple digits with his fastball, and has a nasty curveball on top of that. There aren’t many relievers in the system with better stuff, but he has to learn how to control it. He had a very good season in 2016, with a 1.34 ERA and 47 K to 19 BB in 33.2 innings. He had a .180 average against. He did this over three levels. If he can start to limit his walks this season, we are looking at a future late inning reliever in the making. Think Dellin Betances type potential.


  1. Jeff Hendrix – OF, 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, LHB, 23-years-old – It’s hard to call Hendrix a sleeper because he had such a good year in 2016, but he remains under the radar due to his lack of power. He has done a great job making contact though, and he flashes some speed on the base paths. He will need to become more of an offensive threat if he wants to make it to the majors, either by increasing his power or aggression with steals. With his quick bat though, the potential is there for his power game to come along. If it does he becomes a legitimate prospect. This will be a big year for him to prove himself in that regard, because now he’s at the upper levels where the competition becomes fierce quickly.


  1. Jordan Foley – RHP, 6-foot-4, 215-pounds, 23-years-old – Foley moved back to the bullpen this season and it went quite well. He threw 65.1 innings, struck out 88 while walking 33, and had a 3.03 ERA. The major area for improvement now is the walks. Foley is one of these pop-up velocity guys who the Yankees managed to get a radar gun bump from. He can hit upper 90’s with his fastball and has excellent secondary pitches. If he can cut down on his walks this year, he is most certainly a major league caliber reliever.


  1. Caleb Frare – LHP, 6-foot-1, 195-pounds, 23-years-old – Speaking of major league caliber relievers, Frare is cut from that mold as well. He is another who it’s hard to call a sleeper with the tremendous success he has had in the lower minors, but I haven’t seen him on a single top 50 list. As a lefty who throws 94-96 mph, with a nasty slider and the success he has been able to have, it’s almost shocking he has not been on any lists. It really speaks to the depth of the system right now. Anyway, he’ll start in Double-A this year and if he can have success there, we could be hearing about him as a potential big league option very soon. There is even an off chance that the Yankees try him out starting if there’s an opening for him.


  1. Will Carter – RHP, 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, 24-years-old – The guy has tremendous stuff and it’s kind of surprising it didn’t translate into more success in 2016. At least part of it can be explained by the elbow injury he had early in the year. He has a mid to upper 90’s fastball as a starter, a plus curve, plus slider, and a changeup. Don’t be surprised if Will Carter breaks out this year and quickly puts himself in the conversation for spot in the big league rotation. His stuff is that good. Now it’s just a matter of putting up the numbers. In a normal year a guy with this kind of specs would be in the top 30 even with his inflated ERA. This year he’s not even top 50 because of the crazy depth. This is a big year for him, but even if he can’t cut it as a starter he has late inning reliever potential as well.


  1. Jorge Guzman – RHP, 6-foot-2, 182-pounds, 21-years-old – He threw 40 innings last season in the rookie leagues and struck out 54 with 17 walks. He hits 103 mph with his fastball, which is enough right there to make him a major sleeper. He’s working on his slider, changeup, and his control. If those come along well this year he will likely have a breakout season and garner some national attention.


  1. Kyle Holder – SS, 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, LHB, 22-years-old – He might be the best defensive shortstop in the entire minor leagues. That alone makes him valuable. It’s tough to call him a sleeper when many sources have him in their top 30. He’s a sleeper for me though, because he’s not in my top 50. With his phenomenal defensive prowess, all he has to do to break out is really get it going with the bat. A little bit of power would go a long way. He has shown he can hit for average, but he needs to show he can get on base and hit for a bit more power. If he can do that he would become a big time prospect. He has a lot to prove with the bat though.


  1. Luis Cedeno – RHP, 5-foot-11, 154-pounds, 22-years-old – Cedeno improved many things about his game in 2016, including his velocity, his strikeout rate and his walk rate. He finished the year with a 3.68 ERA, 107.2 innings, 95 strikeouts to just 36 walks, and a .249 average against. He’s small and tired out towards the end of the year last year. Now that he has more innings under his belt though, hopefully he can maintain the velocity longer. Not on many people’s radars, he’s a guy to definitely watch out for this year as a kid with great stuff who may start moving fast and garnering a lot of attention.


  1. Ricardo Ferreira – CF, 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, SH, 22-years-old – In 2015 Ferreira got lost in the massive shuffle of shortstops and somehow ended up staying in the DSL for an extra year when he really belonged in the USA. In 2016, however, all of that changed. The Yankees moved him to CF, where there was more space. He swept through the short season leagues and played well enough to earn a promotion to Charleston, where he held his own. He stole 26 bases in 62 games and with 80 speed there should be more where that came from. Extremely athletic, I expect him to adjust quickly to whatever level he is at this year. With his tools he could garner national attention if he has a big year.


  1. Jason Lopez – C, 5-foot-10, 160-pounds, RHB, 19-years-old – With plus defensive skills across the board and burgeoning offensive skills, Lopez can be compared favorably to Francisco Cervelli. He’s a small guy with some pop and a good hit tool. All he has to do is be an average hitter to be a factor in the big leagues. He hasn’t been able to play much due to nagging injuries last year but 2017 could be the year he breaks out.


  1. Donny Sands – C, 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, RHB, 20-years-old – Guys who break out usually do so because they put in significant offseason work. Sands is one of the players who did that this offseason. He came to camp in the best shape of his life and has been working on his catching skills since the end of last season. He apparently never left Tampa. He had a good year in 2016, but now he is stronger and his catching skills have greatly improved. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Charleston this year, and he could break out if given the opportunity.


  1. Daniel Alvarez – RHP, 6-foot-3, 228-pounds, 20-years-old – At just 19, Alvarez pitched great in the GCL and Pulaski last year. A very polished pitcher with excellent secondary pitches and control, perhaps the one weakness in his game is the lack of power and velocity. At his age and size, however, I have little doubt that we will see an uptick in that department, probably in the near future. My guess is he will do that either this year or next year. Whenever he does, I expect he will have a big time breakout year.
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19 Responses to 15 Sleepers in the Yankees farm system

  1. tom says:

    Will Carter's elbow situation?

    I will keep eyes peeled for Vargas, especially how whining Yankees have been about kids' poor showcase in ST.

    DTW could be an ideal replacement for Gardner next year or two. I like his chance to block Rutherford and Frazier. *evil laughing manically*

    Alvarez will be suspended for PED this season. If that is him then he shouldn't be on this list.

  2. Johnny says:

    Jio orozco seems like candidate for sleeper status also

    • tom says:

      Ah yes! Greg has to write up about buried treasure. BBBBbbbbbring it on!

    • gcorcoran says:

      He's definitely a sleeper. I don't think he'll make it out of the short season leagues though, which I think is necessary to truly break out unless you are a special talent like Blake Rutherford.

      • tom says:

        Oh I think he will end up with Tampa this year with a potential mop duty in Trenton. You said Chance Adams has clean mechanic and he did pitch for Trenton last year so it should be same story for Jio this year. Granted, I have not seen him pitching to justify anything as there are a bunch of pitchers who may knock doors in either Scranton or Trenton but I think Jio's potential climbing up the levels should be recognized.

        I know you predict wrong regularly, lol, but I am happy to tell you that you are wrong about Jio BEFOREHAND.

        • Yeah, but I doubt he ends up in Tampa. He pitched in the GCL last year. The absolute highest level he could start at is Charleston, and there's a ton of competition for thone spots.

  3. Olie says:

    Hey Rob, nice job with farm info. It's interesting to read about who may be coming. I watched a player in Phillies game yesterday and really liked his approach at plate. Of course he struckout! But still he looked like he can hit. What can u tell me about outfielder named Zehner?

    • gcorcoran says:

      Zehner was drafted 2 years ago. Last year he performed well in High-A. He is a bit lacking in the power or speed department, but he's a big dude who definitely passes the eye test. If he can develop some more power he could be a guy to look out for.

  4. tom says:

    I am pondering about tapping on Milb tv but my internet speed is laughingly terrible. However, does Milb.tv any teams in the southern states?

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