Mason Williams, Ravel Santana and Slade Heathcott are the only Yankee outfield prospects worth mentioning. Both Santana and Heathcott have had significant injuries in recent times. Santana broke his ankle in two places and tore many ligaments, while Heathcott has had three surgeries on his left shoulder since 2009.
Mason Williams has not had any major injuries and he had a very good 2011 season, but he did play in Low-A Ball. As much as I love Williams' potential, I will admit that the chances of him being a star in the majors is not good.
Even if he pans out, that only fills one outfield position.
Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson are the Yankees' current starting outfielders.
Swisher is in the last year of his deal, and despite being a great clubhouse influence and good bat he will likely walk unless he agrees to a one-year deal at below market value.
He very well may do that, but I am not counting on it.
Then there is the speedster Brett Gardner. Gardner plays arguably the best defense in the majors and is also one of the best on the basepaths. Those two skills rely heavily on speed and as we saw with Carl Crawford, speed starts to decline at around 30 years old.
Gardner has been in the majors for three full seasons, and he is 28 years old. By the time Williams, Santana, Heathcott and Soler are ready for the majors, Gardner will be in his early 30s.
That is the perfect time to let Gardner walk when he hits free agency and let one of the Yankees' young outfielders take his place. All four of those outfielders are in the lower minors, so the more of them there are, the higher the chance one or two of them will succeed in the major leagues and be able to replace Gardner and Swisher.