New York Yankees Prospects: B/R's Top 15 Breakdown, Post-2013 Draft
The New York Yankees had three first-round picks in the 2013 First Year Player Draft, capitalizing on two compensation picks coming from the losses of Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano to the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals, respectively.
Surprisingly (at least to me), only one of those three picks was a pitcher. That was lefty Ian Clarkin, the 33rd and final pick of the first round.
The team's top-15 prospect breakdown was (as expected) a bit shaken up after the first round, as two newcomers have placed themselves amongst the Yankees' top farm talent.
Who are those two? Where do they rank? I've got the answers to both of those questions right here.
No. 15: Eric Jagielo, 3B
Third baseman Eric Jagielo is one of the newest Yankees. He was taken at No. 26 in the draft out of Notre Dame, and the Yankees are obviously high on his ability to hit.
He generates a lot of power for someone with such a short stride. Being a left-handed hitter should work in his favor at Yankee Stadium, so don't be surprised if he works his way up quickly through the minors. I say we see Jagielo by 2016.
He'll have difficulties finding a position, especially considering he's not really gifted in the field. It's hard to make room for a rookie designated hitter, so the organization may have to get creative with the draftee.
Regardless, his strong bat helps him crack this list.
No. 14: Corban Joseph, 2B
Corban Joseph appeared in two games for the Yankees this season, hitting .167 in seven at-bats. He's a very underrated prospect, but the Yankees seem willing to give him his shot in the bigs.
He's gifted at the plate, even though he doesn't possess all that much power or patience. He carries himself well and is versatile in the field, though, and that makes him a valuable asset in the system.
Even if he turns into a trade chip or lifelong reserve infielder, Joseph has the tools to make it in the bigs.
No. 13: Aaron Judge, OF
Aaron Judge, the No. 32 pick in the draft out of Fresno State, carries with him a big on-base percentage to go along with his big frame.
The 6'7" outfielder finished his Fresno State career with an unbelievable .451 OBP. For a guy with average power at best, Judge actually fits quite well into the Yankees' offensive game. He's an above-average hitter that gets on base a ton—what more could the Yankees want?
If he builds his strength just a little, then he could easily move into the top 10 prospects in the Yankees' system. Ending up at No. 13 just a day or so after being drafted is nothing to sneeze at, though.
I expect big things from Judge.
No. 12: J.R. Murphy, C
Once considered to have the most potential out of the triad of catching prospects (Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine), J.R. Murphy seems to have fallen behind the pack.
Romine has already seen a decent amount of major league playing time, and Sanchez is one of the best catching prospects in the game. That being said, Murphy's glove is still good enough to keep him on the list.
If his bat catches up to his glove, then he will rival Sanchez as the team's top catching prospect. Until then, he's an average prospect at best. It'll be interesting to see which of the three catchers earns the most playing time in the bigs.
No. 11: Ty Hensley, RHP
Ty Hensley may not be pitching much this season due to a shoulder injury, but the ceiling is high for last year's first-round selection.
Hensley throws gas, throws strikes and throws a ton of innings. He's a potential workhorse and ace-type pitcher for the Yankees if he stays healthy. Injuries are the primary reason why Manny Banuelos doesn't crack this list, but just one season of injury coupled with his ceiling keeps Hensley on.
It'll be interesting to see the type of pitcher the Yankees drafted when he's finally healthy. Even if he profiles as a starter, the team could fast-track him as a reliever just to get his arm up to the bigs.
No. 10: Rafael DePaula, RHP
Rafael DePaula is a relatively unknown prospect, but he has great upside. DePaula features electric stuff that resulted in 83 strikeouts in just 54.1 innings for Single-A Charleston last season.
DePaula could rise up this list quickly once he pitches against better competition, but that won't happen until he's promoted to Double-A. As he's only 22 years old, that may not happen for a few months.
While he may not be a future ace, DePaula has the tools to be a mid-rotation starter in New York. Working on keeping his pitch counts low and his three-ball counts even lower will prove to be the biggest test for him, though.
No. 9: Zoilo Almonte, OF
Zoilo Almonte posted a strong spring training this season, making him a candidate to fill one of the vacated outfielder's roles on Opening Day. The acquisition of Vernon Wells put those talks to rest, but Almonte is a player with high upside at the plate.
He does strikeout an awful lot, however, which will inevitably hurt his chances of becoming a major success. If he can cut down on strikeouts, then I have no doubts about his ability to handle major league pitching.
Almonte is very good and could be a part of the team's outfield in the near future—say, late-2014, perhaps.
No. 8: Ramon Flores, OF
Ramon Flores is a solid all-around player. He offers skill in nearly every facet of the game, though not one of his skills particularly stands out.
He has moderate power, speed, patience, pitch recognition and fielding skills. This makes him a great candidate as a future fourth outfielder and possible bottom-of-the-order bat. He ranks ahead of Almonte because of his ability to do a little of everything.
Flores is currently in Double-A Trenton, and he seems like a station-to-station type of player. It'll probably be two more years before he's ready for the bigs.
No. 7: Angelo Gumbs, 2B
Angelo Gumbs is a great defender with great speed and developing power. Even if he never develops top-notch power, Gumbs is a solid prospect who profiles as a lower-tier second baseman in the bigs.
Depending on Robinson Cano's contract negotiations, Gumbs may never get his shot with the Yankees. He could become a reserve infielder, but Gumbs could also be used as trade bait. Speed is valuable, and several teams would be happy to take him off the Yankees' hands.
Gumbs is just 20 years old. It'll be a few years before he's ready to make the jump to the bigs. His talent level suggests he can do it, though.
No. 6: Brett Marshall, RHP
Brett Marshall allowed five runs in 5.2 innings during his lone appearance with the Yankees this season, earning the praise of manager Joe Girardi in the process. This should bode well for him going forward.
Marshall is one of the top pitching prospects in the system and will definitely get another chance with the team. Whether or not that is this season remains to be seen, though he is a likely candidate for a September call-up.
Look for Marshall to become a member of the bullpen as early as next season, or even a candidate for a final rotation spot depending on how the team's pitching is handled during the offseason.
No. 5: Jose Campos, RHP
Jose Campos, the forgotten member of the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade, is the top pitcher in the Yankees' farm system—period. He has electric stuff, a great fastball and the potential to be even better than Pineda.
Both have shown the propensity for health troubles, however, and this could hurt Campos' shot at progressing quickly through the minors. Keeping tabs on his pitch count is also important, as his status as a power pitcher is quantified by his deep counts.
Campos has the skills to be an ace or No. 2 starter in the bigs, and he has unseated both Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances (two pitchers who have fallen from grace with the Yankees) as the top pitcher in the system.
No. 4: Slade Heathcott, OF
Slade Heathcott may not be the most consistent hitter at the plate, but he's finally starting to hit for some power and plays very good defense in the outfield.
He's right on track with Mason Williams and Tyler Austin to be the next great trio in the Yankees' outfield. While Williams and Austin are both more talented, Heathcott isn't very far behind. What is holding him back is his impatience at the plate and propensity to strike out—both of which can be remedied by some more experience.
Heathcott's intensity and passion for the game will be a welcome addition to the Yankees once he's ready to make the jump to the bigs.
No. 3: Mason Williams, OF
Mason Williams may not be the biggest guy on the field, but he has big-time skills. His speed and ability to get on base make him a threat to become a pesky player in the big leagues when his time comes.
Williams makes up for his lack of power with his stellar defense. His speed allows him to catch up to balls many other center fielders wouldn't, while the jumps he gets on balls give him even more of an advantage.
A natural athlete, there's no doubt in my mind that Williams will have a home with the Yankees for a long time. He's still about a year-and-a-half away, but don't be surprised if the Yankees give him a full two years before promoting him.
No. 2: Tyler Austin, OF
Tyler Austin is the only Yankees' prospect who can consider himself close to the team's No. 1 prospect in terms of talent. He has massive power and even speed.
He has 28 homers and 43 stolen bases for his career in the Yankees' system, while also maintaining an average of .313. It's only a matter of time before he makes the Yankees. His prowess at the plate would suggest that he could succeed at any level.
Austin will likely be the first of the team's top prospects to reach the bigs. When he does make his MLB debut, expect him to stay there. He has the potential to make an impact right away.
No. 1: Gary Sanchez, C
Catcher Gary Sanchez is far and away the top prospect in the Yankees' system—even if he's still a few seasons away from making an impact in the bigs.
Sanchez has power, a quick bat and the potential to stay behind the plate for a good portion of his career. It's rare these days to see young catchers finish out their careers at the position, but Sanchez could turn into a Carlos Santana-type who plays first base as well.
His bat is by far more valuable than his glove, but his defense is steadily improving in the minors. Even after the talent taken in this year's draft, Sanchez is the top dog for the Yankees.
Bonus: Mark Montgomery, RHP
Mark Montgomery is 100 percent ready for the big leagues, hence why I chose to leave him off the team's top-15 prospects list. Even though he's still technically a prospect, Montgomery could outperform many major league relievers at this point in his career.
Over three seasons in the minors (all with the Yankees), he has an ERA of 2.00 and 185 strikeouts in 121.2 innings pitched. He's dominant and the closer of the future in New York.
If the Yankees were smart, Montgomery would be up in the second half of the season. With Mariano Rivera's retirement coming ever closer, it's time to start training the guy who will take his place. That should be Montgomery.