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TOP 10 PROSPECTS
|1. Gleyber Torres, ss|
|2. Clint Frazier, of|
|3. Blake Rutherford, of|
|4. Jorge Mateo, ss|
|5. James Kaprielian, rhp|
|6. Aaron Judge, of|
|7. Justus Sheffield, lhp|
|8. Chance Adams, rhp|
|9. Dustin Fowler, of|
|10. Domingo Acevedo, rhp|
When the Yankees acquired Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, they thought the duo would be used to get key outs in the middle of a run to the World Series. They were right—except that they weren’t getting outs for the Yankees.
Instead, Miller was shipped to the Indians and Chapman to the Cubs as the Yankees went through their first major sell-off since the early 1990s. With those two trades, plus three more, the Yankees acquired 14 prospects, including three midseason Top 100 Prospects: shortstop Gleyber Torres (Cubs), outfielder Clint Frazier and lefthander Justus Sheffield (Indians).
Before they could get younger, however, the Yankees had to shed some of their past. They released Alex Rodriguez, while first baseman Mark Teixeira announced his retirement. The slew of changes helped create lineup space for the team’s host of talented youngsters and provided a preview for 2017 and beyond.
No one took advantage of that opportunity like catcher Gary Sanchez, who positioned himself to become the face of the franchise. He scalded the ball over the final two months and hit .299/.376/.657 with 20 home runs in just 53 games. He hit a record 11 in his first 23 games and thrust himself into the middle of the rookie-of-the-year conversation. Prospects Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin contributed moments of their own and could join Sanchez as focal points of the team’s offense in 2017.
To truly move back into contention, though, the Yankees will need major pitching upgrades. Masahiro Tanaka did his job at the front of the rotation, but righthanders Michael Pineda and Luis Severino took steps backward, Nathan Eovaldi turned in an uneven performance before having Tommy John surgery and Ivan Nova was traded to the Pirates.
That leaves Tanaka as the only rotation certainty entering 2017. Pineda and Severino will likely be given more chances. Righthanders Luis Cessa and Chad Green, both acquired from the Tigers for lefty reliever Justin Wilson, made a combined 17 starts and should get cracks at the back-end spots out of spring training.
The Yankees could choose other avenues to address their pitching. Armed with one of the game’s top farm systems, they could try to swing a trade for an ace such as Chris Sale of the White Sox.
They also have young arms developing at the upper levels of the system. Four of their Top 10 Prospects—Sheffield and righthanders James Kaprielian, Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo—should pitch in Double-A or higher in 2017. Lefthander Jordan Montgomery, who went 14-5, 2.13 while helping lead Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Triple-A championship, also could help in New York in 2017.
The Yankees missed the playoffs for the third time in four years, but finally their youth movement has begun. This offseason will determine how quickly they return to big league relevance.
1. Gleyber Torres, ss |
Born: Dec. 13, 1996. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Signed: Venezuela, 2013. Signed by: Louie Eljaua/Hector Ortega (Cubs).
|Based on 20-80 scouting scale—where 50 represents major league average—and future projection rather than present tools.|
Background: As an amateur, Torres trained in Venezuela with Ciro Barrios, who also worked with Athletics shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto. The Cubs signed Torres on July 2, 2013, for a bonus of $1.7 million as part of the same international haul that brought outfielder Eloy Jimenez to the Chicago organization. Torres also worked with Cubs minor league infield coordinator Jose Flores to help him mold the skills that will help him stay at shortstop for the long term. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reportedly was given a choice between Torres and Jimenez when negotiating the Aroldis Chapman deal with the Cubs, and he chose the shortstop as the key piece of the deal. Torres joined high Class A Tampa after the trade and slotted in at shortstop despite the presence of Jorge Mateo, another of the system’s cadre of shortstops and the organization’s No. 1 prospect entering the season. Pushing Mateo to the other side of the bag, Torres continued to hit after the trade. He batted .270/.354/.421 with 11 home runs, 21 stolen bases and 58 walks at two high Class A stops and thoroughly impressed evaluators in the Carolina (No. 4 prospect) and Florida State (No. 2) leagues.
Scouting Report: Even with a host of talented middle-infield prospects in the system, Torres shoots to the top of the ranking. He’s an excellent bet to stay at shortstop because of his soft, quick hands and smooth actions around the bag. He’s also got range to both sides, and an accurate arm with enough strength to handle third base if he switches positions. He also played a little second base in the Arizona Fall League (because there are other players who need time at shortstop) and showed the same smooth actions and instincts at the keystone. Moreover, he looked comfortable turning the double play from that position. Evaluators in the Florida State League compared his defensive chops with the Reds’ Zack Cozart. What makes Torres special, however, is his offensive potential. At just 19 years old he already has excellent pitch recognition skills and has shown the ability to sort through breaking pitches in order to get to the fastball he desires. Early in the season, Torres tried too hard to hit for power and got pull happy, but he showed the ability to adjust and got back to an all-fields approach. Evaluators believe Torres has the ability to hit for plus average and plus power, and this season showed pop to both corners. It’s evident in both games and batting practice, but Torres has an uncanny ability to put barrel of the bat on the baseball. To prove it, he opened his AFL campaign with a monster home run to the opposite field at Scottsdale Stadium. Though he has just average speed, he has enough baseball instincts, aggressiveness and intellect to make it play on the bases.
The Future: After his AFL stint, Torres should move up to Double-A Trenton in 2017. He’ll continue to be paired with Mateo in what should be a dynamic Trenton lineup. He’ll play all of the 2017 season at age 20, and with a good year could position himself to make his big league debut before he turns 22.
|Myrtle Beach (Hi A)||.275||.359||.433||356||62||98||23||3||9||47||42||87||19|
|Tampa (Hi A)||.254||.341||.385||122||19||31||6||2||2||19||16||23||2|