Image credit: Jasson Dominguez (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Josh Norris chatted with subscribers regarding the Yankees Top 10 Prospects list from 2-4 p.m. ET. You can read the transcript below.
Josh Norris: Hello, chatters. Let’s kick off Prospect SZN with a chat.
- Can you speak to the state of the Yankees’ pitching development in the minors right now? At midseason this organization was the envy of baseball, pitching wise. Then a lot of injuries occurred to the big league pen, and they traded away some of their pop up prospect arms. Is there still a big focus on the “whirly” developmentally? How big of a hit did their minor league depth take with those trades? Thanks in advance for all you do — can’t wait for every team to be rolled out!
Josh Norris: I think you kind of answered your own question there. The last few trade deadlines have led to big hits in their pitching stockpile. In 2021, Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo and Andrew Heaney cost the Yankees Glenn Otto, Alexander Vizcaino, Elvis Peguero and Janson Junk. In 2022, Frankie Montas, Andrew Benintendi, Scott Effross and Harrison Bader cost them Luis Medina, Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Hayden Wesneski, Beck Way, Chandler Champlain and Jordan Montgomery. That’s 10 pitching prospects dealt the last two Julys, which obviously will cut into a system’s depth. There’s still some arms coming—Randy Vasquez, Will Warren, Drew Thorpe are among the Top 10 and Luis Serna is one of the most intriguing Rookie-ball pitchers in the sport. They’ve also done a good job graduating some intriguing guys—Clarke Schmidt, Ron Marinaccio, Greg Weissert—to the big leagues. That’s a long way of saying that, yes, the pitching stockpile took a hit, but it’s not completely barren.
- How far off the top 10 was Juan Carela? What’s his potential?
Josh Norris: He was pretty far off. Carela is an intriguing young arm, but he has to throw harder and the command needs to take a step forward.
- Do you think Austin Wells can stick at catcher or do you think a move to first base of the outfield is in his future?
Josh Norris: Wells got better this year defensively. Is he ever going to be Yadier Molina back there? No, but he might be passable as a below-average defender whose bat plays in the middle of a lineup. If not, then you could see him get reps at first base or an outfield corner.
- Luis Serna put up a sub-2.00 ERA as a 17-year old in the FCL. What’s the industry view on him at the moment?
Josh Norris: I’ll put it this way. There were some people in the industry playfully annoyed with me for pumping him up on my Twitter all summer. He was requested in trades at midseason and shows outstanding pitchability and command for someone his age. His changeup is among the best in the org already. He’s definitely on the map.
Joe Schwartzberg (Vista ca):
- Who do you believe is the better shortstop prospect, Peraza or Volpe? Joe Schwartzberg
Josh Norris: Defensively, Peraza. Overall, Volpe.
Evan (New York):
- Do you envision Everson Pereira as a top 100 candidate for next year? What do you think is the earliest we’d see him in the majors for the Yanks?
Josh Norris: Pereira has plenty of tools, but he really needs to stay healthy. That’s true not only for the obvious reasons, but it simply costs him valuable reps and time to improve his focus areas. To show how stunted his development has been by injuries (and the pandemic), let’s compare him to Ronny Mauricio, was part of the same international signing class. Pereira = 926 plate appearances Mauricio = 1,745 plate appearances My phone calculator tells me that’s a difference of 819 plate appearances, which is an awfully large margin. Pereira’s ceiling in the big leagues is going to be determined by how well he learns to manage the strike zone. To improve, he needs to be on the field. In short, simply staying healthy will go a long toward expediting his path to the show. Using my handy-dandy phone calculator, I know that’s a difference of just 155 PAs.
- Is Alexander Vargas still a prospect at this point? What does he need to do to get himself back on the map and talked about as a future middle infielder for the Yanks?
Josh Norris: Vargas still has tools, but there’s a long way to go for him to reach the ceiling envisioned for him as an amateur. It’s hard to find anyone on a rival club to say anything nice about him at this point.
- Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? 1) Jasson Dominguez’s ceiling is that of an above average everyday player in the majors. 2) Spending your entire bonus pool to get an above average everyday player in MLB is a good return on investment. 3) The Yankees would have been better off spreading their bonus pool around and signing more players.
Josh Norris: 1) I think that’s about right. If he reaches his ceiling, he can be an above-average big leaguer. Not a superstar, but an above-average big leaguer (story coming tomorrow on the site about Mr. Dominguez) 2) That’s an interesting one. Personally, I like the approach of going all-in on one or two guys if you believe they have truly elite ceilings, but BA’s philosophy usually values top-heavy clubs with a few players who can be superstars over more balanced systems with a lot of potential average regulars.
- How high do you rate Tyler Hardman? Will he stick at 3B or move to 1B?
Josh Norris: I think he’s got a chance to stick at third base. South Atlantic League managers agreed, voting him the Best Defensive 3B on the circuit.
Brandon (New Jersey):
- In 2022, we saw Ron Marinaccio and Greg Weissert come up and be solid arms. Who will be the next group of surprising, come out of no where arms be?
Josh Norris: In terms of guys who might help the big league team next year, there’s not a whole lot of guys who immediately jump to mind. Jhony Brito could be intriguing if he figures out a breaking ball, and Carson Coleman had some buzz at Double-A. A little lower down, keep an eye on a physical righty named Kris Bow, whom NYY drafted in the 14th round this past year; righty Alex Bustamante, an NDFA from this past summer who throws mid-90s with a potential plus slider; righty Zach Messinger, who fanned 118 83.2 innings but needs to clean up his command to reach his ceiling; and Ryan Harvey, who was the closer at UCSB and has brought his FB into the upper 90s and has remaining projection.
- Could Spencer Jones make the move to 1stbase? team seem to have the outfield covered
Josh Norris: I would not make that move with a guy who is extremely athletic, and even if the team has the outfield covered for now, there are plenty of wrinkles that could get in the way before Jones is ready for the big leagues.
- Estevan Florial still hanging around these lists, huh?
Josh Norris: Yep. Guys who can play center field are going to get a lot of chances. Are there still holes to close? You bet. Is his ceiling significantly lower than it was around the time the Yankees made the Sonny Gray trade? Absolutely. Even so, there are rival organizations who like him quite a bit and believe there’s the potential for guy who could provide solid defense with a bit of impact at the plate too. Plus, his makeup is generally regarded as excellent.
- can both Drew Thorpe & Trystan Vrieling jump up the prospect ladder?
Josh Norris: Thorpe’s already pretty high for a guy who didn’t throw a pitch as a professional. Vrieling’s off speed stuff in particular popped for the Yankees’ group of evaluation, who also saw a fastball that was underutilized in college and still had projection remaining. He’s a bit of a wild card.
- I saw Richard Fitts pitch a couple times at High A. He had a great K/BB rate and great control. What’s his ceiling?
Josh Norris: Fitts’ season was quite interesting. He gave up more home runs than one would expect for a pitcher with his experience in a league that typically favors hitters, then went up to High-A and transformed into some version of Cy Young for a little while. Part of Fitts’ improvement stemmed from a delivery tweak that left his front side firmer and helped him better drive the ball down in the zone. Once those improvements clicked, he took off. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but could fit as a back-end starter.
- The Yankees didn’t seem to show much trust in Florial this summer when they were struggling in August/September? Do the Yankees think of him as an every day player?
Josh Norris: One of the big things I believe is that a team will tell you what they think of a player by their actions. Despite an excellent season at Triple-A, Florial got sparse use in New York, and the Yankees added Harrison Bader at the deadline as well. That tells me they were not comfortable thrusting him into a critical stretch of the season. My placement of him in the Top 10 comes more from outside sources who really liked him this year and suggested that he could still be a useful big league piece at his best.
- Hi, what’s the longterm outlook on Yoendrys Gomez?
Josh Norris: Gomez’s outlook is tricky. Quite frankly, his stuff took a step back this year. The fastball in particular isn’t heating up radar guns the way it used to before the pandemic and his surgery, and his delivery has gone backward in a way that has robbed the fastball of some its life as well. His slider has backed up as well and isn’t showing as strong of a shape as it did earlier in his career. He was invited to the instructional league to help regain some of what he’d lost.
- If Volpe moves off of SS, is 2B where he would move to?
Josh Norris: That seems likely. Here’s the thing with Volpe and shortstop, though. I’m personally not convinced he’ll absolutely have to move off of shortstop based on conversations with evaluators who have excellent feel for judging infielders defensively. Is he going to be a standout at the position? No, but I wouldn’t totally write him off playing there in the long run. The main question is his arm, which has gained some strength year over year. He can mitigate some of the deficiencies in that area through instincts, quickness and a strong internal clock. If it’s between Peraza and Volpe, Peraza wins, but if the question is simply “Can Anthony Volpe play shortstop?” the answer is: Maybe.
Brandon (New Jersey):
- What do you think of Carson Coleman?
Josh Norris: Scouts are intrigued by Mr. Coleman, who punched out 95 hitters in just 63.1 innings between High-A and Double-A. For those counting, he struck out 37.8 percent of the batters he faced. He came by those numbers thanks to a fastball that rates among the best in the organization and a short slider with plenty of velocity separation. He’s one of their better upper-level relief prospects.
Josh Norris: Thanks for the questions, y’all. I’ll chat at you again when the Marlins drop.