Stock Up, Stock Down for New York Yankees' Top 10 Prospects at Midseason
As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the New York Yankees will look to their farm system to see if other teams might be interested in some of their young talent. At almost the midway point of the season, there is certainly a lot to digest.
Some of the team's young prospects have shined in the lower levels of the organization. Likewise, others have struggled. Young players experience hiccups frequently, but hiccups that last half the season aren't just minor issues. For those players who have gone through extended slumps, this might be the last straw.
There are some prospects on this list who continue to disappoint after several promising years in the past. Do the Yankees count on them moving forward? Or will they look to trade them now while they still have some value?
We'll know all the answers to these questions in the coming weeks. For now, take a look at the stock report for the Yankees' top 10 farmhands at the midway point of the 2014 season.
No. 10: LHP Ian Clarkin, Low-A Charleston RiverDogs
2-3, 3.47 ERA, 10 G (10 GS), 46.2 IP, 47 H, 11 BB, 50 SO, .260 BAA
Ian Clarkin hasn't been a professional ballplayer for all that long, but the young left-hander has already shown flashes of some very good stuff in one of the lowest levels of the Yankees' system.
The southpaw has more strikeouts than innings pitched, and his 50-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio is also pretty impressive. His 2-3 record is deceiving, as he has been let down by shoddy offensive performances multiple times.
The Yankees have to be impressed with Clarkin's work. He pitched in three rookie-ball games last season. Apparently, that was enough for the team to be convinced that he could handle a higher level of play.
It appears that he can, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the second half of the year.
For someone who was a bit of a question mark after being thrust into a higher level pretty quickly, Clarkin has exceeded expectations.
No. 9: RHP Jose Ramirez, New York Yankees
Midseason Stats (RailRiders and Yankees)
SWB: 2-0, 0.84 ERA, 7 G, 1 S, 10.2 IP, 12 H, 13 SO, 6 BB, .279 BAA
NYY: 0-1, 5.63 ERA, 6 G, 8.0 IP, 10 H, 8 SO, 4 BB, .303
It appears as if Jose Ramirez is not yet ready for The Show, as the right-hander has really struggled in limited action with the parent club. The Yankees really have no choice but to use him, though, as both injuries and ineffectiveness have hampered their bullpen depth.
Ramirez was in the running for a bullpen job out of spring training before an injury sidelined him for a bit of time. After the injury, Ramirez dominated in Triple-A. As you can see from the above numbers, he put a lot of runners on base but was capable of getting the punch-out when he needed it.
He hasn't had that same success in the bigs, though. Major league hitters have gotten the better of the young righty, but there's still time for him to turn it around.
Ramirez has been both good and bad early on in 2014.
No. 8: 1B Greg Bird, High-a Tampa Yankees
.276/.374/.441, 145 AB, 40 H, 15 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 38 SO, 24 BB
Greg Bird is one of the team's most powerful prospects, so it's a bit concerning to see that he only has three big flies through 40 games this season. The low RBI total is also worrisome.
Clearly, though, Bird hasn't been doing much wrong at the plate. His slash line is stellar, and he does have 40 hits on the year. His 15 doubles are a sign of power, but only gap power. The Yankees know this kid can hit it out of the ballpark. It's only a matter of time before he gets a little more lift to his swing.
Then again, it's really not a terrible thing that he only has three homers right now. In the bigs, it would be a huge problem. But in the minors, working on swing mechanics is far more important. Bird obviously has a level swing that allows him to take the ball into the gaps.
While Mark Teixeira still has first base all locked up in the Bronx, Bird could be the next big bat that handles the position for the Yankees.
No. 7: RF/DH Aaron Judge, High-A Tampa Yankees
.327/.424/.516, 248 AB, 81 H, 16 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 62 SO, 42 BB
If you love power, then Aaron Judge is the prospect you need to look out for in the next few years. A physical beast, Judge can absolutely mash at the plate.
He has struggled a bit making the transition from Low-A to High-A, but he'll begin to turn it around with more plate appearances at the higher level. He's hitting .214 through just four games with Tampa.
The Yankees outfield is crowded right now with big names, but luckily for Judge, the likes of Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki will be long gone by the time he's ready. The right fielder is a player whom the Yankees will be able to insert into the middle of their lineup upon calling him up.
He's that good.
It'll take time for him to adjust to better pitching, but Judge is a future All-Star.
No. 6: RF Tyler Austin, Double-A Trenton Thunder
.249/.317/.353, 201 AB, 50 H, 7 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 47 SO, 20 BB
Tyler Austin is one of those prospects that I mentioned earlier who has disappointed after a few strong seasons in years past. At one point, the Yankees were relying on Austin to be in the bigs by now. Instead, he's toiling away in Double-A and not showing any signs of improvement.
His poor on-base percentage and lack of power at this stage of his career are concerning. Yes, multiple injuries have slowed his progression, but when healthy, he's expected to produce.
It's not yet time to give up all hope on the young right fielder, but he might not have too many more opportunities. If he doesn't show improvement over the next year-and-a-half, then it might be it.
This season has been a bit better than last, but it's still not great.
No. 5: 3B Eric Jagielo, High-A Tampa Yankees
.256/.339/.500, 156 AB, 40 H, 8 2B, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 41 SO, 19 BB
It's always a good thing to see double-digit home runs from young prospects at midseason, especially when the average is above .250 and the on-base percentage isn't close to .300. Eric Jagielo will continue to develop at the plate, but the power is already there for the young infielder.
Jagielo would have more homers if he were healthy, as he hasn't played since May 20. In a month's time, he feasibly could have tacked on another three or four big flies.
The future is bright for Jagielo. While guys such as Tyler Austin, Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott continue to struggle, Jagielo is going to shoot up the team's prospect rankings.
Aaron Judge might have the highest ceiling of any player in the current top 10, but Jagielo is a close second.
No. 4: CF Mason Williams, Double-A Trenton Thunder
.226/.306/.302, 265 AB, 60 H, 12 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 37 SO, 30 BB, 15 SB (5 CS)
Once a contender for the team's title of top prospect, Mason Williams is now an afterthought.
The center fielder has proven nothing after being promoted to Double-A late last season. He has been a major disappointment. Even if he averages nearly a walk for every strikeout, his on-base percentage is still near .300 because he fails to hit. His .226 batting average is atrocious.
A guy with his speed shouldn't be hitting that poorly. Williams has enough speed to rack up infield hits on a defense that is playing him back. He's hitting far too many balls in the air, however, hence his low marks.
On the basepaths, Williams needs to mature just a bit. His 15 stolen bases are impressive, but getting caught stealing five times isn't good. He needs to either pick his spots better or pause when he gets a bad jump.
Williams doesn't have much longer to prove to the Yankees that he belongs in Double-A.
No. 3: C John Ryan Murphy, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
SWB: .229/.229/.343, 35 AB, 8 H, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 7 SO, 0 BB
NYY: .286/.308/.365, 63 AB, 18 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 17 SO, 2 BB
John Ryan Murphy has surprisingly performed better in the bigs than he has in the minors this season, even if he only has 35 at-bats under his belt at Triple-A.
While he has actually hit well in the bigs, there is one glaring concern. In almost 100 at-bats this season, Murphy has walked just twice. When he's up there, he's swinging the bat.
That doesn't always result in hits, either. Twenty-four strikeouts in 98 at-bats is nearly one every four times, and that's not conducive to moving runners over and keeping rallies alive.
The Yankees sent him back down to the minors to make room for Francisco Cervelli, so we might not see Murphy again until September at the earliest.
No. 2: CF Slade Heathcott, Double-A Trenton Thunder
.182/.250/.242, 33 AB, 6 H, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 13 SO, 3 BB
Slade Heathcott has been a real disappointment. He has serious potential when healthy, but that's been a major issue for him this season and in the past. The center fielder hasn't played since May 27.
It's really very frustrating. Heathcott's lack of quality performances is really because of his injury problems. If he could stay on the field, then he'd show the Yankees what they expect of him.
Heading into the season, it was hard not to rank him No. 2. He has a high ceiling and, at times, has flashed five-tool potential. I don't know if he should be counted on moving forward, though.
Injury problems in the minors won't change once (if) he reaches the bigs. That's something to consider.
No. 1: C Gary Sanchez, Double-A Trenton Thunder
.259/.327/.421, 228 AB, 59 H, 13 2B, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 45 SO, 23 BB
Gary Sanchez has gone through some rough patches this season, but the backstop has been largely successful. He has displayed good power and a good eye at the plate, and it might not be long before he moves up a level.
Then again, it also might not be too long before he's involved in some trade chatter. The Yankees need pitching. Sanchez is their most attractive prospect. Naturally, he'll be involved in talks.
By the end of the season, Sanchez might not even be on this list anymore—and it won't be because he dropped off.
For now, he's a Yankees farmhand. You can bet that the team is glad he is. This kid has proven himself as a quality prospect year after year, and it won't be long before he makes it hard for the team to leave him down in the minors.
*Top 10 rankings in this report continue to refer to the preseason list and breakdown from April 3, 2014. Top 10 list subject to change (new rankings, new candidates or both) once the minor league clubs reach the midway point of the season.