New York Yankees 2020 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
Josh Norris: Howdy. Let's chat.
Bored Lawyer, Esq. (Office):
- The Yankees haven't been shy about pushing advanced Latin signees to Pulaski, skipping DSL and GCL (Everson Pereira comes to mind). Any chance we see Jasson there in 2020 (before the Appy League is discontinued)
Josh Norris: There are several versions of this question in the queue, and I will answer it the best I can by saying: Dominguez should move as quickly as his performance dictates. It would not be surprising to see him in Pulaski in the summer, but given his age they could very easily and justifiably keep him in ExST/GCL all season.
Everson Pereira (11-15?):
- I came in with a lot of hype after signing in 2017. After holding my own in the APP league in 2018 I had an injury abbreviated 2019. Are scouts still high on my tools? Should I expect to fall in the #11-15 range?
Josh Norris: I believe you should. It was a tough year for you, obviously, but you're still just 18 years old and will play all of next year at 19. The Yankees assigning you, an 18-year-old, to the college-heavy NYPL was bullish and shows their confidence in your tools. Rival scouts liked what they saw as well, but the injury obviously complicates things.
Antonio Cabello (still highly thought of?):
- Thanks for chatting with us today! Signed originally as a C in 2017, I impressed with my athleticism to be moved to CF. After an encouraging 2018, I scuffled as an 18 year old in the APP league in 2019. What were scouts thoughts on my tools? Do they still see above-average tools across the board? Should I fall somewhere within the #11-15 range along with my 2017 signee Everson Pereira?
Josh Norris: I am flattered that both Antonio Cabello AND Everson Pereira are in this chat asking questions about themselves. If you read our site closely, Mr. Cabello, you will surely realize that we ranked you as the No. 5 prospect in the Appalachian League despite stats that didn't jump off the page. If you missed it, here's what we said about you: "A toolsy converted catcher, Cabello stood out in the Gulf Coast League in 2018, where he showed plus potential as a hitter in addition to plus running and throwing ability. He struggled this year in the Appy League, hitting .211/.280/.330, but his raw tools are still there and league managers praised his approach to the game. Cabello posts gaudy exit velocity numbers, but scouts this year were concerned with how the 18-year-old handles offspeed stuff and competes when behind in the count. He has the tool set to become an impact everyday player, but he’s physically maxed out and will need to show that his 2019 season was more of a fluke than anything. Cabello played all three outfield positions but spent most of his time in left and center."
Cameron (Rochester, NY):
- Who is your favorite under-the-radar prospect in the Yankees system?
Josh Norris: Brandon Lockridge probably fits this bill best. He got overlooked somewhat by the grouping of pitchers (read about them here https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/yankees-quartet-of-high-upside-arms-presents-rankings-quandary/) but was intriguing nonetheless for his blend of speed and power while playing center field.
- I was surprised to see Clarke Schmidt ahead of Deivi Garcia in your rankings. What sets Schmidt apart? Is it due to bullpen risk for Garcia?
Josh Norris: This is a bit of a 2 and 2a situation rather than a true 2 vs. 3. Throughout Garcia's rise through the minors (even while he was tearing up Trenton this year) the scouting reports didn't quite match the numbers. They were good, to be sure, but not befitting a true No.1 or 2 type starter. More of a midrotation type, which is still very good! You've heard the risk factors before: Smaller frame that might not hold up over a full starter's workload, still some command to polish, etc. Now let's compare with Schmidt, whose first red flag is the Tommy John surgery already on his medical sheet. It wasn't a surprise, obviously, but it happened. His body is bigger than Garcia's and his arsenal is a little more powerful. He got better as the season went on, and was very impressive in the EL The margin between the two was very small, and the evaluators surveyed were about a 50-50 split on whom they'd rather add to their organization.
- How did the other 2 big IFAs from 2017 progress from poor debuts- Ronny Rojas and Raimfer Salinas? Have their tools regressed with their stat lines?
Josh Norris: Rojas had one of the weirdest stat lines I can remember. Get this: More than 60 percent of plate appearances in 2019 ended in either a strikeout or a walk. That is quite the non-contact stat line. Salinas played all season at 18 years old and is still making adjustments. The Yankees were pleased with the progress he made that didn't show up in the stat line. One thing to remember with all these young hitters, too, is that they're all adjusting to a new organizational philosophy after the Yankees hired Dillon Lawson from the Astros as their new hitting coordinator before the year. That's just another variable to throw into the mix when the development of the Pereiras, Cabellos, Salinas and Alcantaras of the world are concerned.
- Does Estavan Florial remain a solid prospect in your opinion?
Josh Norris: He'll rank in the Top 30 and he continues to show raw tools, but he needs to stay healthy and he needs to hit. Both of his injuries are freak injuries, but they've also opened him up to serious questions about his future offensive abilities. Beyond that, he still needs to show in-zone command.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Of the short season hurlers moving up to full season Charleston, who are your favorites?
Josh Norris: He already pitched there a bit this season, but RHP Yoendrys Gomez is one of my favorites. He's got the stuff and the projection to make big jumps over the next couple of years and was in the mix for a Top 10 spot.
Brandon (New Jersey):
- Josh Smith had a hot start to his professional career. Where do you rank him in the top prospect list and was he close to being a top 10? Also what are your thoughts on Jacob Sanford?
Josh Norris: Smith will rank in the 30 but was not close to being in the Top 10. He's got the feel to hit that would be expected from someone with an SEC pedigree and could skip Charleston entirely and start next year in Tampa. Sanford is a bucket of tools but is very raw and will take time to develop. If it all clicks, he could become very interesting.
- Has Estevan Florial shown any positive signs of growth as a hitter? Is this coming season a make-or-break year for him? Seems his struggle has been staying healthy long enough to get into a rhythm at the plate.
Josh Norris: He really hasn't had much time to show growth. Two injuries like he's had will certainly cost you a lot of development time.
- Besides the obvious top 2, which prospect would be most coveted by other teams in any potential winter deals?
Josh Norris: That's very difficult for me to answer, simply because every team will value NYY's prospects differently. It also depends on the trade piece the Yankees are trying to acquire.
- Where do you land on Alexander Vargas?
Josh Norris: He's a real prospect. We ranked him No. 9 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and said the following: The Reds had exceeded their international bonus pool in 2016-17, so they couldn’t sign any international players for more than $300,000 the next two signing periods. Vargas was expected to wait until July 2, 2019 to sign with the Reds, but he instead ended up signing with the Yankees in July 2018 for $2.5 million. Vargas sticks out for his defensive skills at shortstop. Vargas is an athletic defender with a quick first step and good range. His hands and feet work well and his field awareness is advanced for his age. Vargas has quality hitting actions, good feel for the strike zone and bat-to-ball skills to make consistent contact. However, because he’s so thin and has little strength, Vargas does little damage when he does connect, so getting stronger will be critical for his development, even if it’s just to hit at the bottom of a lineup. He is a plus runner who stole 13 bases without getting caught in the GCL.
- What are some reasons for optimism with Abreu? His raw stuff rates so well, but will he ever be able to command it? And beyond that, the strikeouts have yet to show up. Is that a result of wildness, or has he not found how to work pitches off each other yet? Thanks.
Josh Norris: I wrote this breakdown of Abreu and detailed—with the help of some very keen-eyed scouts—some of the issues that might be keeping him from unlocking his potential. https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/can-yankees-prospect-albert-abreu-maximize-his-potential/ I ranked him where I did fully knowing there's a strong risk of him becoming a reliever. If he does move to the bullpen, however, his stuff is good enough that he could be a dominant late-innings, non-closer reliever.
Christian (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas):
- RHP Michael King. I know it was a lost year for him, but do you see a chance at a rotation spot for him or is he destined for a reliever role?
Josh Norris: King is one of those guys who will likely have to make it in the rotation. His arsenal is based around impeccable command and control rather than the ability to blow it by guys. He's a Ginsu knife, not a flamethrower.
- Which Yankees picture would you consider with the most upside within the entire farm system? Thank you.
Josh Norris: Luis Medina
Josh Norris: OK, all. Thanks for the questions. Hope you enjoyed the articles.