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Torres ranked as the No. 2 prospect available on the 2013 international market when the Cubs signed him for $1.7 million. Chicago traded Torres to the Yankees in July 2016 as part of the four-player package for closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman returned to the Yankees as a free agent for 2017 on a five-year, $96 million deal, and Torres put together a torrid first three months of the season and looked like he could soon be in line to make his major league debut. Then, on one freak play, everything derailed. After a mid-June promotion from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Torres tore his left ulnar collateral ligament on a collision at home plate and required season-ending Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. He's expected to be ready for spring training. When he was on the field, Torres was every bit of the player the Yankees expected when they acquired him. At the plate, he showed the ability to hit for a high average and power, as well a discerning knowledge of the strike zone. In particular, Torres' ability to make quick adjustments set him apart from other high-pedigree prospects. Coaches noted how quickly he would identify the way pitchers were working to get him out, then adjust and close those holes. Defensively, there's no reason Torres can't stick at shortstop, but the emergence of Didi Gregorius in New York necessitated that Torres learn other positions quickly. He shuffled around during his brief season, playing 15 games at third base and 10 more at second base before the injury. He has the above-average range and arm to play those positions or shortstop. If he were to land at third base, he would hit for enough power to profile there. The Yankees were working with Torres on the small things throughout the year. In particular, they were helping him find a consistent pre-set position in the field and getting him to chase fewer pitches out of the zone. He's an average runner, but needs to refine his basestealing technique to increase his efficiency. Torres will likely return to Triple-A for more seasoning so he can be ready to fill a potential hole at second base or third base. Evaluators both inside and outside the organization see all-star potential.
The Yankees signed Florial out of Haiti for $200,000 when he was 17. They would have signed him a year earlier had he not been suspended by Major League Baseball after they discovered a discrepancy with his identification. He advanced from the Dominican Summer League to Rookie-level Pulaski in his first two pro seasons, showing hints of five-tool potential, before breaking out at low Class A Charleston and high Class A Tampa in 2017. Florial swings and misses frequently and racked up a 31 percent strikeout rate in 2017, but he impacts the ball when he connects. That's about the only ding on his card, however. Florial hit .298 and drew 50 walks in 2017 and projects to stick in center field, where he has a well above-average arm. He's got well above-average raw power that is beginning to play in games. A plus-plus runner, he regularly gets down the line to first base in fewer than four seconds. Florial got a taste of Double-A Trenton during the Eastern League playoffs and could return there to begin 2018 after six weeks in the Arizona Fall League. If he develops as the Yankees believe he will, Florial could be an all-star-caliber center fielder in the mold of early career Curtis Granderson.
The older brother of Dodgers prospect Jordan Sheffield, Justus was a first-round pick of the Indians in 2014. He showed well in his pro debut but was arrested that offseason for criminal trespass in his hometown. Cleveland dealt Sheffield, Clint Frazier and two others to the Yankees in July 2016 as the freight for closer Andrew Miller. Despite standing just 5-foot-10, Sheffield packs lightning in his left arm. His fastball can sit in the mid-90s, and he has touched as high as 98 mph. Sheffield's fastball generates plenty of swings and misses thanks to intense riding life and a deceptive delivery. He couples the pitch with a slider and changeup that both project as above-average to plus. His slider, which sits in the mid-80s, ranks slightly ahead of his changeup, which sits in the high 80s. Sheffield missed a significant chunk of time in 2017 with a severely strained oblique muscle, so the Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall League to make up innings. After a successful stint in the AFL, where he struck out 22 in 20 innings, Sheffield should move to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2018. If everything clicks, he has the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
Adams moved back and forth between the rotation and bullpen during a collegiate career that saw him transfer from Yavapai (Ariz.) JC to Dallas Baptist after his sophomore season. The Yankees believed in Adams as a starter and took steps to establish him in that role after making him a 2015 fifth-round pick. He has excelled in that role as a pro. Returned to Double-A Trenton in 2018, Adams continued increasing his workload and earned a quick promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He headlines a four-pitch arsenal with a 92-97 mph plus fastball and an plus slider. His fringe-average curveball and changeup rank third and fourth in his repertoire, and he spent time in 2017 working on refining his changeup. He already throws the pitch with the same conviction and arm speed as his fastball. A new two-seam fastball grip could lead to further improvement. Despite some of the best stuff in the system, Adams shows a tendency to nibble for the corners rather than attacking. With two plus pitches and above-average control, Adams profiles as a potential mid-rotation starter. He faces a probable return to Triple-A in 2018.
New York signed Andujar for $750,000 in 2011 out of the Dominican program run by Basilio Vizcaino, who also helped develop Gary Sanchez. The Yankees liked Andujar's overall mix of skills, particularly his power potential and athleticism. He has improved each year as a pro and made his big league debut with two separate callups in 2017. After correcting an issue with his stride early in the season with Double-A Trenton, Andujar made quick work of the Eastern League and continued to mash at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. There, the coaching staff worked with the free-swinger to refine his pitch selection, and Andujar responded with a career-high 16 home runs. Though his home run power plays exclusively to his pull side, he has shown the ability to pepper the whole field with doubles. Scouts are divided on Andujar's fielding ability. His arm strength is well above-average, but questionable footwork and hands might force him off third base. With Greg Bird at first base and Gleyber Torres potentially fitting best at third base, the Yankees don't necessarily have a position open for Andujar, who will return to Triple-A for more seasoning in 2018.
When the Astros signed Abreu in 2013, they knew he had the potential for big-time stuff. They were proved right when he started hitting the mid-90s with his fastball when he got to low Class A. Houston dealt both Abreu and righthander Jorge Guzman to the Yankees for Brian McCann in December 2016 in a deal that worked out for both sides. Abreu dealt with right elbow inflammation at times in 2017, which he spent mostly at high Class A Tampa, but never had surgery. With another year under his belt, Abreu's fastball has ticked up even more. He now sits in the mid-90s with regularity and touches as high as 101 mph on occasion. He couples his fastball, which has average life, with a curveball and changeup that project to be at least average if not plus in the future. He still needs to refine his command, and some evaluators have seen more of a thrower than a pitcher at this point, but scouts inside and outside the organization see a pitcher with the upside of a No. 2 starter if everything develops. Abreu could be ready for Double-A to begin 2018, though a return to high Class A to begin the season is a likely option as well.
When the Yankees signed Medina out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for $280,000 he was already hitting the triple digits with his fastball. He has made tweaks to improve his delivery and allow himself to throw more strikes, but he's still a raw power arm first and foremost. Medina sits in the upper 90s and topped at 102 mph in 2017 in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He couples his fastball with a high-spin curveball and a changeup. His curve is inconsistent but flashes the potential to be a true hammer that he can either land in the zone or bury for chases, and his changeup is above-average already with the potential to be plus as well. There are some in the organization who think Medina might be better served with a slider as his primary breaking ball. As would be expected with an 18-year-old, he needs to continue to refine his fastball command. Medina is talented enough to make the jump to low Class A Charleston in 2018, but he might be better served by starting in extended spring training before moving to short-season Staten Island. He's got the ceiling of a top-flight starter. In a pitching-rich system, Medina's ceiling is among the highest.
Overshadowed by Yankees prospects in his signing class like shortstop Jorge Mateo (now with the Athletics) and catcher Luis Torrens (Padres), Estrada has quietly risen to the ranks of the system's best prospects. He continued to show a knack for contact as he advanced to Double-A Trenton in 2017, when he took over at shortstop when Gleyber Torres was promoted to Triple-A. He was Trenton's most consistent player during its run to the Eastern League finals. None of Estrada's tools jump off the page, but he just keeps performing. As one of the Eastern League's youngest players in 2017, he finished among the top 10 in average (.301) and ranked second in the league with 149 hits. His quick hands and flat bat path allow him to make plenty of contact and spray line drives from gap to gap. Estrada proved that he could play shortstop with above-average range and a plus arm. He's got below-average power, and his smallish frame doesn't make it seem likely to change. He's an average runner on the bases. After a turn in the Arizona Fall League, Estrada will head to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he could split time again with Torres.
When they signed Acevedo for a scant $7,500 in 2012, the Yankees saw a big man with a big arm. He dealt with injury issues early in his career, including blister issues that limited him to just 93 innings in 2016. Acevedo was fully healthy in 2017 and proved a valuable piece of the Double-A Trenton rotation until he reached his innings cap before the Eastern League playoffs. Aside from his massive frame, the first thing that jumps out about Acevedo is just how many strikes he throws--he rang up 142 strikeouts in 2017 against just 34 walks--in spite of a delivery that is littered with funkiness and moving parts. He starts his pitch package with a four-seam fastball in the mid- to high 90s and couples it with a high-80s slider that should develop into a plus pitch. He has enough confidence in his changeup to throw it to both sides of the plate and against both righthanders and lefthanders. The Yankees worked with Acevedo to help him gain more confidence in his offspeed pitches, including a fringe-average slider, by throwing them more often. Acevedo, who has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter and a floor of a power reliever, will head to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2018
After being converted from a reliever to a starter in his junior season at UC Santa Barbara, Tate improved his draft stock immensely. The Rangers liked what they saw, drafted him with the fourth overall pick and signed him to a $4.2 million bonus. Hamstring issues limited his early innings in his first full season, and the Rangers dealt him to the Yankees as the headliner in the Carlos Beltran deal that summer. Tate's 2017 was delayed by lingering back and shoulder issues, but he was dynamite once he got on the field in late June. Between high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, Tate showed off an impressive three-pitch combo led by a mid-90s fastball that topped out at 97 mph. He coupled the pitch with a slider and a changeup, both of which showed flashes of being plus once he's done developing. Scouts are still divided on whether Tate would be better served as a starter with a back-end rotation ceiling or as a power reliever late in games. With a high of 103.1 innings during his collegiate and pro careers, 2018 will be pivotal when it comes to determining Tate's future. He was originally slated to go to the Arizona Fall League, but the Yankees swapped him out in favor of Albert Abreu before the season began, opting instead to let Tate's work in the postseason with Trenton stand as part of the makeup for the time he missed in April and May. He's likely to return to Double-A to begin 2018.
Many prospects these days have help constructing their offseason workout routines. Whether it's a local strength guru or a personal coach, there's no shortage of instruction available. Sauer, however, designed his own workout regimen and saw enough benefits to boost his fastball and his draft stock high enough after his senior season of high school that the Yankees popped him in the second round and signed him to a bonus of $2,497,500--more than double the slot for the 54th overall pick. Tall, athletic and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 201 pounds, Sauer has already given the Yankees plenty to be excited about. He's shown a fastball between 92-97 mph as well as a pair of breaking balls, though the team was using the instructional league to decide whether his slider or his curveball was a better fit for his delivery, as well as a changeup that he didn't need much in high school. Scouts leading up to the draft also saw a pitcher with a tendency to finish across his body as well as a head whack that could affect his control going forth. Given his size and present stuff, however, Sauer has the upside to pitch in the middle of a rotation when he's fully developed.
After an impressive Cape Cod League performance in 2016, Solak continued his standout performance in his junior season with Louisville. He hit .376/.470/.564 with the Cardinals and boosted his draft stock enough to earn a second-round selection and a $950,000 bonus. He was head and shoulders above the competition at short-season Staten Island and was skipped to high Class A Tampa to begin his pro career. With the T-Yanks, Solak continued solidifying his reputation as one of the more polished hitters in the system. He brings a short, quick line-drive stroke designed to spray line drives to all fields, though his spray chart this year suggests his hits skewed toward the opposite field. That's in line with a hole that scouts noticed in his swing on the inside part of the plate. There are also questions about his defense, specifically his stiff actions in the field. His entire profile leads to comparisons to former Yankee Rob Refsnyder, another bat-first second baseman with the outfield in his past and holes that got exposed once he saw the advanced pitching of the upper levels. He's neither a burner nor a clogger, but he'll never be more than an average runner. Solak was promoted to Double-A when Jorge Mateo was traded to Oakland in the Sonny Gray deal, and Solak provided the offensive production the Thunder needed to advance to the Eastern League Championship Series. He's likely to return to Trenton to begin 2018.
When the Yankees signed Perez, they knew he was a project built on the projectability of the changeup he showed as a teenager. At 6-foot-8 and 190 pounds, Perez had plenty more room to add strength. He's added 50 pounds since then and has seen the corresponding velocity gains. Built like current Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Perez can sit in the mid-90s with his fastball and has touched triple-digits. He spent all of 2017 at low Class A Charleston, where his 2.84 ERA and 117 strikeouts placed him among the league's top 10 in both categories. He's got a four-pitch package, with the changeup as the best of his three secondaries. His slider and curveball both vary in their consistency. On the right day, they might flash average, and some outside evaluators see them both becoming 55-grade offerings in the future. As would be expected for a man his size, Perez has some issues he needs to iron out in his delivery. In particular, he needs to work on staying on-line to home plate instead of getting side-to-side. He'll advance to high Class A Tampa this year, where he could work with pitching coach Tim Norton, who stands 6-foot-7 himself. If everything clicks, he has a chance to be a No. 3 starter. If not, he could be a fireballing reliever.
Were he healthy, there was a good chance Schmidt would not have lasted until the 16th selection in this year's draft. Instead, he had Tommy John surgery during the season and fell to the Yankees, who were happy to snap him up and add him to their collection of hard-throwing righthanders for a below-slot bonus of $2,184,300. At his best, Schmidt, the brother of Tigers prospect Clate Schmidt, shows a low-90s fastball that routinely touched 95-96 during his junior year with the Gamecocks. He blended the four-seam fastball with a two-seamer, a slider that got plenty of swings and misses and a changeup that showed above-average potential as well. More than his stuff, the Yankees were wowed by makeup that made them buy in despite knowing he wouldn't get back on the mound until sometime in 2018. He had the surgery in early May, which would put him on track for a return during the summer. If his stuff returns in full, he has the potential to pitch in a big league rotation.
After a relatively quick rise through the minor leagues, Wade made his major league debut on June 27 and was quickly overmatched by major league pitching. Still just 22, he struck out in 19 of his 63 plate appearances and went just 9-for-58 in his big league time. With Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, however, where he was still nearly five years younger than average in the International League, Wade thrived. He hit .310/.382/.460, the highest marks in all three categories in any of his four full minor league seasons. He showed up to spring training this year noticeably stronger and hit a career-best seven home runs as a result while seemingly sacrificing none of his well above-average speed. He doesn't show standout tools anywhere but on the basepaths, though he doesn't have any glaring deficiencies either. Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro seem to have a lock on the middle-infield positions in the Bronx, and once he returns from Tommy John surgery top prospect Gleyber Torres will vault back to the top of the Yankees' infield prospects. Wade played outfield in the Arizona Fall League in 2016 and was used all over the diamond this past season in Scranton. With the extra versatility, Wade has the ceiling of a super-utility type of player.
German first burst onto the national scene at the 2014 Futures Game in Minnesota. There, he pitched a scoreless inning that included strikeouts of two of the game's top prospects at the time--the Cubs' Kris Bryant and the Rangers' Joey Gallo. He was included in a trade with the Yankees that winter along with righthander Nate Eovaldi and infielder Garrett Jones in the deal that sent infielder Martin Prado and righthander David Phelps to the Marlins. He missed the 2015 season with Tommy John surgery but made up for lost time over the next two seasons and made his major league debut this June. He was dominant in the minor leagues this season, going 8-6, 2.88 with 119 strikeouts in 109.1 innings between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He boasts a three-pitch mix, starting with a fastball that sat between 92-96 this year and touched as high as 97 on occasion. German replaced his slider this year with a curveball that sat between 79-83 mph and a changeup in the 86-90 range. Both pitches flashed above-average potential, and he showed an ability in the minors to get lefties and righties out with near-equal aplomb. He's likely to head back to Triple-A to begin 2018.
Then was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mariners as a pitcher who, with a quick arm and a slight frame, had a good amount of projectability remaining. He was dealt to the Yankees in the 2017 offseason with lefthander J.P. Sears in exchange for righthanded reliever Nick Rumbelow as New York cleared space on its 40-man roster. He had a stellar opening season as a professional, allowing just 50 hits in 61.1 innings in the Dominican Summer League. He also experienced a velocity jump, moving into the low-90s with his fastball and touching as high as 94. He backs it up with a loose, 74-78 mph curveballt that he needs to tighten and work to land in the strike zone more frequently. He also has an 81-86 changeup that's ahead of the curveball in both development and ability to throw the pitch for a strike. His delivery calls to mind Mariners closer Edwin Diaz, but he needs to gain strength to be able to repeat his motion. Added muscle will help him land on-line more often and keep from falling off the mound on every pitch. He's likely to start the year in extended spring training before heading to either one of the two Yankees half-season affiliates in mid-June.
Stephan began his career at Hill (Texas) JC, where he pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen. He transferred to Arkansas for this junior season and started in all 16 games in which he appeared. His use in the rotation, plus an uptick in stuff, raised his draft stock and led to the Yankees drafting him in the third round and sending him to short-season Staten Island to start his career. His fastball sits in the low-90s and can touch a tick higher. The pitch plays up because of the high, riding life--which the Yankees compare to the fastballs thrown by a pair of other SEC arms who became Yankees: David Robertson and Nick Goody--and the funkiness in Stephan's delivery. He couples the pitch primarily with a slider that developed throughout his college career into an offering that gets swings and misses. He has a changeup as well, but it's well below-average now and will need to be developed further if Stephan is to continue developing as a starter. He's likely to move to low Class A Charleston in 2018.
Much like they did with Chance Adams, the Yankees looked at Otto, who made just four starts in 84 appearances with Rice, and saw a pitcher with rotation potential. He dealt with a little bit of shoulder soreness early in his junior season but rebounded to strike out 81 in 59.2 innings with the Owls. That was enough for the Yankees to take him with their fifth-round pick. Once Otto got to pro ball, the Yankees used him on a starter's schedule, with five or six days coming between appearances. Those who saw him after he signed saw a potential horse, based on his massive size and fastball in the mid-90s with downhill plane. He coupled the fastball with an average or better 12-to-6 curveball that he used to ring up 30 strikeouts in his first 20 pro innings. He's still developing his changeup, and his fastball command will have to show continued refinement, but the Yankees like his upside as a rotation piece. If he falters in that role, he could easily move back to the bullpen and dominate. He's slated for the rotation with Charleston in 2018, where he would join an intriguing mix of high-end arms with varying backgrounds.
Signed for $3 million as part of the Yankees' massive international spending spree in 2014, Garcia's development has been slow but steady. There are serious questions as to whether he'll stay at third base in the long-term, but there are zero doubts about his massive power potential. Garcia was one of 25 players this season to hit 17 home runs, and he did it in 95 fewer at-bats than anybody else. As would be expected, however, those home runs came with significant swing-and-miss issues, as well. He struck out at a 33-percent clip during his time with low Class A Charleston over the season's last month, which was in line with the marks he's produced throughout his career. The 27.7 percent rate he produced with Rookie-level Pulaski to begin the season represented the best mark of his career. He's improved his footwork and agility at third base but has already begun seeing time at first base, which evaluators see as his potential home once he's fully developed. To avoid that fate, he'll need to keep up with his conditioning and continue working very hard to improve. Garcia needs to reduce his swing and miss, but his power makes him an incredibly intriguing prospect nonetheless. He should return to Charleston in 2018.
De Paula was part of the two-pitcher package (along with fellow righthander Jio Orozco) that the Mariners sent the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Ben Gamel, who put together a fine season in Seattle after being given extended playing time. The Mariners originally signed De Paula for $175,000, and he rewarded them early by throwing a complete-game shutout in the Dominican Summer League. With short-season Staten Island this year, De Paula continued to show signs that he could be a future rotation piece. He attacked the zone with a low-90s fastball that got to 94-95 mph at times, and he coupled the pitch with an average changeup and a potentially average curveball, as well. With 25 walks in 62 innings, he'll need to continue to iron out his control as he moves up the ladder. The Yankees are encouraged, however, by the aggression he shows on the mound. He'll throw his fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone, and he showed an ability to make big pitches when he needed to make them. He'll pitch all of 2018 at 20 years old, and he's likely shown enough to earn a spot at low Class A Charleston.
At South Carolina, Widener moved back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation before making nine starts in 17 appearances in his junior season. He ranked as BA's No. 2 prospect in the Coastal Plain League in 2015, just behind current Marlins prospect Brian Miller. Widener had ulnar transposition surgery in the fall between his sophomore and junior seasons and has also has dealt with injuries to his back and knee in the past. He spent all of the 2017 regular season with high Class A Tampa this year but was moved to Double-A Trenton for the postseason. He made history with the Thunder when he pitched the final five innings of the team's no-hitter in the Eastern League Division Series. His four-pitch arsenal includes a 92-97 mph fastball fired from a three-quarter arm slot. His go-to offspeed offering is his slider in the low-80s that gets swings and misses, but his 81-87 mph changeup, which features depth and fade, is catching up rapidly. His curveball is a distinct fourth pitch at this point. The Yankees have used Widener as a starter, but his future is more likely as a long reliever. He'll return to Trenton in 2018.
No matter what happens in McKinney's career, he can always say he was part of a pair trades that helped the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years. He was included with shortstop Addison Russell in the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, and he was then sent to New York in the trade that brought closer Aroldis Chapman in for the stretch run. Now with the Yankees, he's on the cusp of the major leagues. He was a late addition to big league spring training after Tyler Austin broke his foot in the early going, and he responded by going 10-for-25 with three home runs. Once he was assigned to Double-A Trenton, he went into a prolonged slump for the season's first two months. In June, however, he began to bust out and was excellent in the second half of the season with Triple-A. He worked extensively throughout the year to keep a strong base and be consistent with his timing. Despite the strong numbers, scouts who saw McKinney with Scranton saw a lower energy player who looked lost against pitchers with even an average breaking ball. He improved his throwing mechanics in the outfield this year, and he takes solid routes to balls despite not being an above-average runner. The Yankees had McKinney begin working at first base in the Arizona Fall League because the emergence of Aaron Judge in New York has put up a major roadblock in the outfield. He's likely to return to Triple-A in 2018.
When the Yankees signed Garcia in 2015 they did so because of the big-time arm speed they saw coming from his small frame. He opened his career with 61 strikeouts in 48.2 innings in the Dominican Summer League, then in 2017 shot from the DSL to the Gulf Coast League and finished the year at Rookie-level Pulaski. He's totaled 143 strikeouts in 101 career innings, good for nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings. He produces a low-90s fastball that peaked this year at 93 mph, but his bread and butter is a curveball that registers a spin rate of better than 3,000 on StatCast. His fastball has a high spin rate, too, and comes with riding life in the zone. He's also got a fringe-average changeup with fade and sink in the low-80s as his third pitch. He obviously needs to gain strength if he wants to find a spot in a rotation. Still a teenager, he'll have plenty of time do that. He could begin next year in extended spring training before moving to short-season Staten Island in June.
Loaisiga originally signed with the Giants in 2012, but he was released after missing the 2014 and 2015 seasons with recurring injuries. The Yankees signed him out of a tryout camp in 2016. He pitched just 2.1 innings with low Class A Charleston before landing on the disabled list again with Tommy John surgery. This year, however, the Yankees finally saw the pitcher they signed when he blew away the competition at short-season Staten Island. He consistently sat in the mid-90s and touched as high as 98 mph with his fastball. He paired the pitch with an 11-to-5 curveball in the low-80s that showed plenty of depth and helped Loaisiga whiff 33 in 33.2 innings this year. He also throws an 87-88 mph changeup with sink, though he could stand to drive the pitch down in the zone better. If Loaisiga can stay healthy, his fastball and curveball combination give him a chance to pitch in the back of a big league bullpen. If he can show improvement with his changeup, however, he has an outside chance at a long-term spot in a rotation.
When the Yankees signed Cabrera out of Venezuela two Julys ago, he was extremely skinny at 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds. Since then he's grown two inches and added nearly 50 pounds, turning a frail frame into something slightly more imposing. The Yankees believe in his ability to hit and have assigned him aggressively throughout his short career. He spent just 26 combined games in complex-level leagues before moving to Rookie-level Pulaski, where he was one of just six 17-year-olds in the league and was just two weeks older than the league's youngest player, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He opened this year with low Class A Charleston, where he was the youngest player, before moving to short-season Staten Island at midseason and then back to Charleston a few weeks later. He didn't tear the cover off the ball at either stop, but he made the strides the Yankees wanted to see. Specifically, he worked on improving his rhythm and timing at the plate and getting himself in a better position to hit. New York's hitting coaches worked with Cabrera to incorporate his hips more into his swing rather than trying to create with his hands and upper body. He moved around the infield all year and has the range and hands to play at second base and the arm to play at third base as well, though his below-average power would be more appropriate up the middle. He's also shown a quick release and a strong sense of timing in the field. He's a tick below-average on the bases now, and there are concerns about him slowing down as he gets older.
Castillo was as fundamentally sound as shortstops come when he signed three years ago and has moved deliberately through the system. The Yankees thought enough of him this year to skip him past both half-season clubs--Pulaski and Staten Island--and place him among a pack of their youngest prospects at low Class A Charleston. Castillo is never going to be mistaken for a bopper, but he has impressive bat-to-ball skills. He's struck out just 101 times in 867 career at-bats, including just 51 in 463 trips this season. Part of the reason for such a successful contact rate involved his unwillingness to go deep in counts. The Yankees worked with him this year on learning to wait for pitches he could drive rather than swinging at the first hittable offering, which often produced weak contact. They also worked with him this year to become less of an exclusively pull-side hitter and let the ball get deeper in the zone. He's got impressive defensive instincts for someone his age as well as an average or better arm. He rotated between shortstop and second base this year because of the presence of Hoy Park and Oswaldo Cabrera on the roster. He's a project, but he could be a defensive-minded middle infielder in the major leagues if everything comes together. He'll head to Tampa in 2018.
When the Yankees signed Vargas for $10,000 in 2014, they did so because of the changeup he'd already developed and the projection they assumed would come as he matured. He missed 2016 with Tommy John surgery (check this) and was challenged this year with time at low Class A Charleston. He didn't overpower hitters there, but he certainly performed, with 34 strikeouts against just five walks in 48.1 innings. His changeup, which he throws in the mid-80s, is still his out pitch, and he uses it with confidence against both lefthanders and righthanders. He's still working on developing his slider, which shows potential but has more horizontal break than depth at this point. The major question with Vargas involves his projectability. Some see a 20-year-old who performed well this year at high Class A and could eventually add more strength to his 6-foot-4 frame, thus turning the low-90s fastball into something more in the mid-90s. Others see an already maxed-out body, which would severely limit his ceiling. If everything clicks, he could be a back-end type of starter because of his ability to fill up the zone.
Yet another of the Yankees' low-dollar international signings that has begun to pay off, Garcia made his stateside debut in his first professional season before being moved to Rookie-level Pulaski this year to begin his season. When the rotation at low Class A Charleston ran thin, however, the Yankees challenged Garcia with a promotion and he spent the entire season thereafter with the RiverDogs. He starts his three-pitch arsenal with a low-90s fastball that touches the mid-90s regularly. The pitch shows both two-seam and cut life but will flatten when he rushes and leaves the ball up in the zone. He complements the fastball with a curveball that he can loosen and tighten as necessary and a changeup with split-finger diving action. Neither pitch is average at this point, though both could reach that level with time and repetitions. Scouts who like him see a pitcher who could fit in at the back of the rotation, while those who are more pessimistic see a swingman type of pitcher in the mold of a Brad Peacock. He's likely to begin 2018 in the rotation at high Class A Tampa.
It's no secret that the Yankees love to stockpile tall, hard-throwing righthanders as potential bullpen pieces. Carroll, the team's 22nd-round choice out of Southern Mississippi in 2015, certainly fits that bill. He had Tommy John surgery after his senior season of high school, then redshirted during his freshman year at SMU. The Yankees had a pack of prospects in that mold at their upper levels this year, but Carroll distanced himself from the others with his high-end velocity. His four-seam fastball sits in the mid-to-upper-90s and has touched triple-digits frequently. More impressively, he generates that velocity with relative ease. He couples the pitch with a low-80s slider and a mid-80s split-finger fastball that he uses as a changeup. His slider has improved greatly this season, and some scouts grade it as plus. There are still command and control issues to iron out, as shown by his 30 walks in 67.1 innings between high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year, but Carroll's stuff is tantalizing enough that he's put himself on the prospect map.