Image credit: Justus Sheffield (Photo by Patrick McDermott Getty)
SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 10 Prospects
A year ago, the Yankees fell one win shy of the team’s first pennant since 2009. This, by most accounts, was a year ahead of schedule. 2018 was supposed to be the season the big league roster and farm system coalesced into a juggernaut capable of leading the organization back to the World Series.
And, after a bit of a slow start, that’s mostly been true. They added slugger Giancarlo Stanton to an already-fearsome middle of the order, and acquired Brandon Drury to replace Todd Frazier at third base. And while those additions were obviously sizable, the team was able to dip into its farm system for two more big-time pieces in second baseman Gleyber Torres and third baseman Miguel Andujar.
Torres is on the disabled list now with a hip strain, but he played well enough to earn a nod on the All-Star team. Andujar, who came up after Drury’s vision became blurry, has provided considerable power from the bottom of the order. Together, they’ve helped New York keep pace with the Red Sox in the race for the American League East.
With Torres and Andujar out of the system, there’s been considerable attrition. Injuries to some of its biggest names—Estevan Florial, Jonathan Loaisiga, Albert Abreu, Thairo Estrada and Freicer Perez—have blunted its depth. So, too, have a down a down year from Chance Adams and extended blister trouble from fellow righty Domingo Acevedo.
1. Justus Sheffield, LHP
After the graduations of infielders Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, a path was cleared for Sheffield to jump to the top of this list. And aside of from a hiccup with shoulder inflammation, the lefthander has passed every test thrown his way. Now he’s working on refinement. He can reach the upper 90s with his fastball, and will show plus potential with both his slider and his changeup. The Yankees are working on improving both his offspeed offerings to give them more separation, velocity-wise, from his fastball to help give hitters a different look. Once he’s able to do that, he’ll be ready to get his first test in the major leagues.
2. Estevan Florial, OF
High Class A Tampa
Although he’s still stocked with plenty of tools, Florial struggled with his plate discipline this year before breaking a bone in his wrist. Chasing pitches isn’t necessarily his problem, but rather swinging and missing as a whole. He’s still just 20, however, and he’s still one of the highest-ceiling prospects. He’s currently rehabbing in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
3. Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP
After signing the former Giants farmhand out of a tryout camp and waiting while he came back from Tommy John surgery, Loaisiga has rocketed through the system. He was placed on the 40-man roster in the offseason, which made his callup in June more convenient. His three-pitch mix allowed him to flash mid-rotation potential over his first few big league starts, but he’s landed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
4. Albert Abreu, RHP
High Class A Tampa
Abreu missed the early portion of the season with a bout of appendicitis, and he had gotten 10 starts under his belt before landing on the disabled list again with an inflamed right elbow. His fastball had touched as high as 99 mph this year, but he needs to work on sharpening his breaking ball and refining command of all his pitches.
5. Anthony Seigler, C
Rookie-level Gulf Coast League
The Yankees’ first-round pick in this year’s draft attracted a lot attention for being a switch-hitter and a switch-pitcher. Though he won’t be asked to do both in pro ball, Seigler is still plenty intriguing. He was one of the best defensive catchers in the class, and he’s a solid hitter with doubles power from both sides of the plate. Seigler’s addition gives the Yankees a much-needed injection of talent at one of the system’s lone dry spots. He’s been slowed recently by a minor hamstring injury.
6. Dillon Tate, RHP
One of three pieces sent from the Rangers to the Yankees in exchange for Carlos Beltran two summers ago, Tate still shows athleticism and high-end stuff. He still needs to work on consistency with his offspeed pitches—a slider and a changeup—but when both are work he holds three pitches with plus potential. If that happens, he has a future as a starter. If not, he could make a nice bullpen piece.
7. Everson Pereira, OF
Pereira ranked No. 4 among the the 2017 July 2 class, and he quickly proved his worth and more. After an impressive turn in extended spring training, the Yankees skipped him over both the Dominican Summer and Gulf Coast Leagues in favor of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He’s got a premium tool set that includes advanced hittability and center field defense for someone his age.
8. Domingo Acevedo, RHP
Acevedo missed a good chunk of this year with a rather large blister. Once it healed, he had to be built back up. Now fully healed, Acevedo is once again throwing in the mid-90s and coupling the fastball with an above-average changeup. His slider is still developing, but grades out better analytically than it does in person.
9. Matt Sauer, RHP
Short-season Staten Island
The Yankees had high hopes for Sauer when they drafted him in the second round in 2017, and he has rewarded their faith this year. Facing older competition in the New York-Penn League, Sauer has been among the league’s best pitchers. His fastball has sat in the low 90s and has touched as high as 96 mph, and he’s shown improvement in both his command and his changeup.
10. Luis Medina, RHP
No, the numbers have not been pretty, but the premium stuff is still there. When he’s going right, he’ll flash three plus pitches and will hit triple-digits with his fastball. Even with ghastly control numbers (19 walks in 13 innings), that’s enough to keep believing. The Yankees are working with him to get his mechanics back in line in the hopes that he can reach his ceiling.
• RHP Nick Green has used a superb cutter to lead the minor leagues with a 3.18 groundout-to-airout ratio.
• Teenage RHP Roansy Contreras has shown a mid-90s fastball and has whiffed 32 in 28.2 innings with a 1.26 ERA in the New York-Penn League.
• RHP Garrett Whitlock has used a 91-95 mph two-seamer to rack up nearly a 2-to-1 groundout-to-flyout ratio across two A-ball levels.
• RHP Deivi Garcia has gotten hit a little bit in his first test at full-season ball, but the righthander has also racked up nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings in his first five starts with low Class A Charleston.
• Righthander Chance Adams had surgery this offseason to remove bone chips in his elbow, and he has been underwhelming in a return to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he is continuing to refine his curveball and changeup. His velo is also down this year, now sitting in the 91-94 mph range.
• Outfielder Estevan Florial’s early season struggles were compounded when he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist.
• Righthander Freicer Perez had surgery in late June to remove bone chips in his right shoulder.
• Shortstop Thairo Estrada sustained a gunshot wound during the offseason. As if that weren’t bad enough, he’s dealt with wrist and back injuries this year and is unlikely to play again this season.
• Righthander Albert Abreu has soreness in his right elbow and is on the disabled list at high Class A.
• After a promising debut in New York, righthander Jonathan Loaisiga has come down with shoulder soreness, the latest in a series of injuries throughout his career.
• Righthander Dillon Tate, the centerpiece of the Carlos Beltran deal two summers ago, was held out of the Eastern League all-star game with an undisclosed injury.
• Second baseman Gleyber Torres was called up in late April and has been one of the team’s most valuable players. His 14 home runs are second among MLB rookies, and he’s provided strong defense up the middle.
• Brandon Drury’s blurred vision opened a spot for third baseman Miguel Andujar, and the rookie played well enough to displace Drury for the starting spot. Andujar’s 12 homers are third among rookies this season.
• Righthander Domingo German’s record doesn’t jump off the page, but he’s shown three plus pitches and his swinging strike percentage is among the best in baseball.
• First baseman Tyler Austin found early playing time while Greg Bird rehabbed an ankle injury. He provided a bit of pop against lefties before being sent down to Triple-A.