The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues as of June 22 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2016 draft and July 2, 2016 signees are also not eligible.
The Yankees’ woes this season began before Opening Day, when first baseman Greg Bird had surgery to repair a torn labrum and was lost for the year. Before that, general manager Brian Cashman had attempted to balance rebuilding and contention on a decidedly un-Yankee-like budget.
|2019 PROJECTED LINEUP
|C Gary Sanchez
|1B Greg Bird
|2B Starlin Castro
|3B Didi Gregorius
|SS Jorge Mateo
|LF Jacoby Ellsbury
|CF Dustin Fowler
|RF Aaron Judge
|No. 1 Starter Masahiro Tanaka
|No. 2 Starter James Kaprielian
|No. 3 Starter Luis Severino
|No. 4 Starter Michael Pineda
|No. 5 Starter Domingo Acevedo
|Closer Dellin Betances
To wit, the team didn’t sign a single major league free agent this offseason. Instead, the Yankees dealt for Starlin Castro play second base and pounced when the price for Aroldis Chapman dropped after he was accused of domestic violence involving a firearm.
All this has led to a decidedly mediocre season in which the Yankees were perched awkwardly between buying and selling. Their record has hovered near .500 all season long, and yet they sit just a few games out of the second wild card spot in the American League.
If they decide to sell, both Chapman and fellow late-inning fireballer Andrew Miller could be shipped to contenders for a haul of prospects that could rejuvenate a middling farm system. Outfielder Carlos Beltran, too, in the midst of a renaissance year, could fetch a prospect.
If they decide to buy, they’ll have work hard to find a package that’s good enough to bring back rotation help while simultaneously leaving the team’s top trio of Jorge Mateo, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge intact.
It’s a tough road to tread, but that’s just the situation Cashman and the Yankees are in thanks to regression and an aging core.
MIDSEASON TOP 10
1. Jorge Mateo, ss
Still one of the toolsiest players and best prospects in the game, Mateo started strong but has stalled a little bit at high Class A Tampa. That stagnation has gotten to him a little, and he earned a two-week suspension for complaining to team brass that he hasn’t been promoted. Even so, scouts still love the tools, including 80-grade speed and enough range and arm strength to stick at shortstop. He’s still adjusting to more advanced pitchers and will chase good breaking balls out of the zone. Mateo was disciplined for lashing out at team officials over not being promoted to Double-A. He’s got a long way to go both physically and mentally, but the finished product could mean a long-term shortstop option in New York.
2. Gary Sanchez, c
Sanchez missed about a month with a fractured thumb, but when healthy he’s showed continued improvement. Evaluators still like him as an everyday catcher with well above-average power and a double-plus throwing arm. He’s gotten more mature and has refined his receiving and blocking, too.
3. Aaron Judge, of
After a rough month of May, Judge tore up Triple-A in June and has continued to show scouts the light-tower power he’s known for, though it will come with some swing-and-miss. He’s a big man at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds, but he’s at least average in right field with an above-average throwing arm. Judge is currently on the disabled list with a sprained ligament and a bone bruise in his left knee.
4. James Kaprielian, rhp
Kaprielian’s season started splendidly, with a fastball touching 99 mph and three offspeed pitches that project as average or better. Unfortunately, his elbow started barking in April and then again during his rehab. He’s been diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon and the remainder of his season is unclear.
5. Miguel Andujar, 3b
A notorious slow starter, Andujar shed that label in a return to high Class A Tampa this year before earning a promotion to Double-A Trenton. He’s got above-average raw power but still needs to refine his strike-zone awareness and smooth some rough edges on defense. His arm is plenty to strong to play at third base.
6. Wilkerman Garcia, ss
Still the second-best shortstop in the system behind Mateo, Garcia’s season was delayed by a shoulder injury incurred in spring training. He stayed back at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., before reporting to Rookie-level Pulaski in June.
7. Tyler Wade, ss/2b
Though Wade has no standout tool, the sum of his parts makes him intriguing. He can hit a little, play shortstop well enough, run a tick above-average and spray doubles around the park. He’s been playing some second base to increase his versatility as well.
8. Dustin Fowler, of
Fowler is a spark plug who has added strength but must control the strike zone better to fill the leadoff profile. He’s got plenty of range in center field as well. His arm is below-average but he makes up for it with a quick release. His plus foot speed serves him well in center field and on the basepaths.
9. Domingo Acevedo, rhp
A big, imposing figure, Acevedo still runs his fastball in the high-90s and flashes an above-average changeup. He’s been dominant at two A-ball levels this year, but scouts still would like to see further development of his command and slider before he fits in the rotation.
10. Ian Clarkin, lhp
After a lost 2015 season with a balky elbow, Clarkin has been a healthy all season, reaching a career-best 98 innings. He’s been inconsistent this year at high Class A and has shown a fastball in the low-90s. His curveball has backed up a bit and his slider, added this year, also needs development. His changeup is his best offspeed offering at this point.
Low Class A first baseman Chris Gittens, lauded for his power as an amateur, has slugged 13 home runs with Charleston, the second most in the system behind only Judge . . . Righthander Chance Adams, projected by some as a reliever, is exceeding expectations in a starting role and is tied for the system lead in strikeouts with Vicente Campos . . . Righthander Chad Green has parlayed a mid-90s fastball and above-average command into a rotation spot in place of struggling Nathan Eovaldi.
Outfielder Jhalan Jackson has big-time tools but has struggled with contact issues thus far with low Class A Charleston . . . Lefthander Jeff Degano, New York’s second-rounder in 2015, was not assigned to an affiliate out of spring training and has struggled to throw strikes (15 walks in five innings) with Rookie-level Pulaski.
Kaprielian experienced tenderness in his right elbow early in the season, then was diagnosed with a flexor strain during his rehab . . . After reaching the major leagues in 2015, lefthander Jacob Lindgren had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, then was hurt early this season and hasn’t pitched since April 21 . . . Sanchez missed a month with a fractured right thumb, but has since returned . . . Garcia dealt with a shoulder injury that kept him from being assigned to an affiliate out of spring training . . . Righthander Bryan Mitchell, expected to be a big part of the big league bullpen, had surgery for a case of turf toe and hasn’t returned to action . . . Judge recently hit the disabled list in Triple-A with a pair of knee injuries that could keep him out up to a month or so.
Utilityman Rob Refsnyder has finally found a role in the major leagues after a couple of cameos last season. He’s splitting time between right field and first base in an effort to work his polished bat into the lineup more often.
COMING ABOARD (Check Draft Database for all picks)
The Yankees’ first five picks of the 2016 draft. (s-supplemental round)
1. Blake Rutherford, of, Chaminade College Prep HS, Canoga Park, Calif. Rutherford is a little older for the high school class, but he was one of the top bats available in the draft. Scouts have to project on his power a little bit, but if it all pans out Rutherford can be a center fielder who hits for average and power.
2. Nick Solak, 2b, Louisville. A gap-to-gap hitter who can bang line drives all over the field, Solak has worked hard to make himself a fringe-average defender at second base and dabbled in the outfield during his time at Louisville.
3. Nolan Martinez, rhp, Culver City (Calif.) HS. A quick-armed, athletic righthander who touched 95 with his fastball this past summer, Martinez also features a slider in the mid-70s that he’s still learning to throw for strikes but projects as above-average.
4. Nick Nelson, rhp, Gulf Coast State (Fla.) JC. Nelson was a two-way player at Gulf Coast State (Fla.) JC, but the Yankees selected him as a pitcher thanks to his low-90s fastball and solid breaking ball.
5. Dom Thompson-Williams, of, South Carolina. An athletic outfielder who parlayed his talents into a transfer to South Carolina, Thompson-Williams has worked to alter his hitting mechanics to make up for his lack of bat speed.