Stock Up, Stock Down for Yankees' Top 10 Prospects for Week 16
Back on June 12, I wrote a piece breaking down the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the New York Yankees' top 10 prospects. Now, over a month later, it seems as if a new set of rankings is in order as I determine whether the stock of some of the Yankees' top prospects has dropped or risen.
While the Yankees' website is a bit conservative to drop some of their farm hands in their rankings, I will not be so generous. A batting average just above the Mendoza Line means Mason Williams is gone. A season lost to injury will push Slade Heathcott out of the top 10, no matter how talented he is. Other players are consistently producing and are deserving of some recognition.
Taking into consideration the past week and the overall season, take a look at the stocks of some of the Yankees' best young players.
*Note: While other sources were taken into consideration, this set of rankings is based on my own opinion.
10. Greg Bird, 1B
6-19, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 SO
.274 AVG, 21 2B, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .360 OBP
Greg Bird got off to a rough start this season at high Single-A Tampa. With injuries getting in the way, Bird's power numbers and average took a hit.
While his numbers are slowly getting better, Bird has failed to meet the expectations that were bestowed upon him following his breakout 2013 season. Last year he hit .288 with 36 doubles, 20 home runs, 84 RBI and a .938 OPS. With a sharp eye at the plate, he led the minor leagues with 107 walks.
He does, however, have a long swing that leads him to strike out quite a bit.
Bird was originally a catcher but has shifted over to first base since joining the Yankees organization. His defense at the position is not quite there yet, but he is coming along nicely. He has five errors in 450 chances this year, showing off a solid .988 fielding percentage.
Bird needs to get his offensive game back on track, and that starts with him getting on base as frequently as he was last season. This year his strikeout total has nearly doubled the number of walks he has drawn.
9. Jose Pirela, 2B/SS/OF
1-13, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO
.313 AVG, 64 R, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 12 SB
Jose Pirela is having a fine season for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He was promoted to Triple-A last season but only managed to get in five games.
This year he is making good use of his time. Pirela has done just about everything, hitting for contact and power, stealing bases and playing strong defense despite moving around between five different positions.
This season Pirela has spent most of his time at second base but has primarily become an outfielder since Rob Refsnyder took over at second. He has also spent some time at first base and shortstop.
Pirela's status as an outfielder actually works out better for him. The Yankees' right field situation is a mess. Carlos Beltran can not play the field, Ichiro Suzuki hits nothing but singles and Alfonso Soriano was designated for assignment after putting up some dreadful numbers in the first half of the season.
If Pirela continues to hit, he could soon find himself in pinstripes.
8. Ian Clarkin, LHP
1 ND, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 SO, 0 BB, 1 GS
3-3, 3.38 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 5 HR, 19 BB, 58.2 IP, 13 GS
A lefty power pitcher, Ian Clarkin has already developed a strong three-pitch repertoire despite being a 19-year-old kid a year removed from high school.
His fastball tops out in the mid-90s, and his curveball is well beyond his years. It was deemed the best curve among high school pitchers in the 2013 draft class. Clarkin's changeup, a pitch most believed needed some work heading into the season, has developed nicely as well. He has sharp control over all three pitches.
Clarkin has pitched well at Single-A this year. He had two particularly bad outings, but other than that, Clarkin has done a nice job of keeping his team in games, allowing no more than three runs in 11 of his 13 starts.
Clarkin went on the disabled list at the beginning of July but made his first start back on July 17. He only went two innings, but he retired all six batters he faced. He appears healthy and ready to go.
7. Aaron Judge, OF
10-24, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R, 6 SO
.324 AVG, 18 2B, 13 HR, 62 RBI, .947 OPS
Aaron Judge's professional career has gotten off to a fine start, as he has already received his first promotion. After sporting a .333 average, nine homers and 45 RBI in 65 games with low Class-A Charleston, the Yanks decided Judge was ready to go to Tampa, their high Single-A club.
Judge is a mountain of a man, standing tall at 6'7" and 230 pounds. A former high school tight end who received several college football scholarships, Judge has a powerful swing, one that has been put on full display this season.
Judge has also shown he is quite nimble in the field despite his size. He has good range in the outfield, and his strong throwing arm makes him an asset in right. He has five errors this season, but there is no reason to think he can not be a reliable outfielder.
6. Peter O'Brien, C/1B/3B/OF
0-8, 1 BB, 4 SO
.259 AVG, 17 2B, 29 HR, 63 RBI, 16 BB, 91 SO
Peter O'Brien has done nothing but turn heads this season thanks to his monstrous display of power. The Miami University product earned a quick promotion to the Double-A Trenton Thunder after hitting 10 homers in just 30 games with the Tampa Yankees.
When he hits the ball, he hits it hard and he hits it far. However, one problem with O'Brien is the rate at which he strike outs compared to how often he walks, as seen by the numbers above. With the power numbers he has put up, pitchers will eventually start pitching around O'Brien, meaning he needs to learn some patience at the plate.
O'Brien and the Yankees must also figure out where he is going to play. Originally a catcher, O'Brien has bounced around between third, the outfield and, most recently, first base.
Despite his flaws, O'Brien is still having a tremendous year. He represented the Yankees as a member of the U.S. team at the Futures Game on July 13. He struck out twice in two at-bats.
He just has a few things to work on.
5. Tyler Austin, 1B/3B/OF
9-21, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 SO
.260 AVG, 12 2B, 4 HR, 29 RBI
Tyler Austin is having a nice week. The same can not be said for his season as a whole, however.
Austin was named the Yankees' Minor League Player of the Year in 2012 when he batted .322 with 35 doubles, 17 homers and 80 runs driven in. Since then his numbers have gone down—way down. In 2013 he hit .265 with six home runs and 40 RBI. This year he is not slated to do much better.
In Austin's defense, injuries have hindered him these past two seasons. Still, he does have good fundamentals and a smart approach at the plate. His ability to wait back on off-speed pitches serves him well, and while he is not fast, he is a smart baserunner and base stealer.
Austin is another guy who has yet to figure out what position suits him best. He has played first base, third base and the outfield this season.
Austin has the potential to be a solid big leaguer, but he has to get healthy and find a true position first.
4. Eric Jagielo, 3B
4-20, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 SO
.246 AVG, 12 HR, 39 RBI, .801 OPS
Eric Jagielo recently returned to rookie ball on a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Yankees following an oblique injury. He had been playing with the high Class-A Tampa Yankees prior to the injury.
The Notre Dame alum has struggled in his seven games back, batting just .217.
Batting from the left side, Jagielo has a swing perfectly suited for Yankee Stadium. With plenty of pop in his bat, Jagielo could make good use of the ballpark's short right field porch. The problem is that when Jagielo does not hit a home run, he barely hits at all. He does not hit for contact and rarely comes up with an extra-base hit that is not worth four bases. He draws very few walks as well.
Another thing Jagielo needs to work on is his defense. Many believe he will have to leave the hot corner in favor of first base or a corner outfield position. He has 12 errors this year in 96 chances at third base.
3. Rob Refsnyder, 2B/OF
2-14, 1 R, 4 SO
.326 AVG, 25 2B, 6 3B, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 8 SB, .908 OPS
Rob Refsnyder has ascended through the minor league ranks much faster than anyone expected. In just his third minor league season, Refsnyder is already at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, a promotion he earned this year after batting .342 in 60 games at Double-A.
Originally not thought to have much power, Refsnyder has proven he can do all things offense this year. He hits for average and power, has good speed and has just about as many walks as he does strikeouts since being promoted.
Refsnyder does have work to do defensively, however. The Yankees have made him into a second baseman, where he is improving. Still, he has 10 errors on the season. He was originally a right fielder coming out of college, a spot the Yankees continue to work him at just in case.
Of all the Yankees prospects, Refsnyder is most likely the closest to donning pinstripes. Brian Roberts has struggled in the Bronx this year, and many are calling for Refsnyder to take over. If he does not get called up this season, Refsnyder could very well be New York's starting second baseman in 2015.
2. Luis Severino, RHP
1 W, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 6 SO, 1 BB, 1 GS
5-3, 2.41 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 2 HR, 22 BB, 93.1 IP, 19 GS
Luis Severino has been flat-out dominant this season, pitching at three different minor league levels. He started with the low Single-A Charleston RiverDogs, then the High-A Tampa Yankees and, most recently, the Double-A Trenton Thunder.
Severino made his debut for Trenton on Saturday, and he was lights-out in five strong innings. A native of the Dominican Republic, he was a member of the World team at the Futures Game. He pitched one inning, allowing no runs while striking out one.
Severino has quickly become one of the Yankees' best prospects. He has a small 6'0" and 195-pound frame, but his heater packs a punch. Severino's fastball has sinking action and can top out at 98 mph. The pitch is accompanied by a hard slider and a changeup that Severino has shown good control of.
At just 20 years of age, Severino is still a few years away from the majors. However, he has risen through the minors quickly and has turned many heads in the process. The Yankees clearly have themselves something in Severino.
1. Gary Sanchez, C
3-14, 1 RBI, 6 SO
.267 AVG, 17 2B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
Gary Sanchez is the Yankees' undisputed No. 1 prospect, but it has been an interesting year for him.
His numbers are decent, not too good but not too bad. Simply put, he is capable of more production but has not been a disappointment. Given the Yankees' problematic roster, Sanchez's name has come up in trade rumors numerous times this season.
He was also benched back in June for unspecified disciplinary reasons.
Sanchez's value comes at the plate. He has a lot of pop, as he has hit at least 15 dingers in each of his three full minor league seasons. His contact is not bad either, as he has a .274 career average in the minors.
Behind the pate is a different story. Sanchez has a strong arm, but the rest of his defensive game is not ready. He has work to do when it comes to calling games and blocking balls in the dirt.