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TRACK RECORD: Growing up in Tennessee, the Sheffield brothers were quite the one-two combination of pitchers. Older brother Jordan went to Vanderbilt before signing with the Dodgers, while Justus signed with the Indians out of high school as a first-round pick. Justus was traded to the Yankees with Clint Frazier in 2016 to help the Indians acquire reliever Andrew Miller. Sheffield quickly made a splash in his new organization. In the playoffs, he pitched the first half of a no-hitter against Binghamton before handing the ball to righthander Taylor Widener for the final four innings. Sheffield missed time in 2017 with an oblique issue and missed one start in 2018 with tightness in his left shoulder. The Yankees moved him to the bullpen in August to prepare him for a bullpen role in New York in September. He struggled to throw strikes in three late-season outings in New York.
SCOUTING REPORT: Sheffield is a starter who attacks hitters like a late-inning reliever. Everything he throws is hard and he shows little finesse. He attacks hitters with an effort-filled delivery. A generation ago, that would likely lead to a move to the bullpen, but today Sheffield will get to prove that his all-out approach can work for five to six innings per start. After much debate, the Yankees sent Sheffield back to Double-A Trenton to begin the season so he could continue to sharpen the command of his mid-90s fastball. He worked to add two-plane break to his mid-80s slider. He was successful at times in this regard, with the pitch showing more depth in particular during his stint in the big leagues. Now, he’ll need to work to repeat the mechanics that allowed him to make this change. His 87-89 mph changeup is too firm for the Yankees’ taste, and they would like to see him figure out a grip that would allow him to get more separation between it and his fastball. The Yankees say that in spurts he showed the ability to dial back his offspeed pitches, but sometimes, especially when he moved to the bullpen, adrenaline took over and he reverted back to throwing everything as hard as possible. They expect to see better results now that his major league debut is behind him.
THE FUTURE: Sheffield will likely return to Triple-A in 2019, but he should make starts big league starts later next season.
TRACK RECORD: After a breakout season at the lower levels in 2017 that vaulted him to the top of the Yankees’ ranking, Florial endured what essentially was a lost season in 2018. He broke the hamate bone in his right wrist, which sidelined him for two months at high Class A Tampa. In all, Florial was limited to just 84 games.
SCOUTING REPORT: Florial remains a tantalizing but risky combination of outstanding tools and limited refinement. He generates above-average power thanks to quick hands and above-average bat speed. He can drive the ball to left field and center nearly as easily as he yanks it over a right-field fence, but he needs to make solid contact more consistently. Florial is relatively patient and is not prone to chase, but his bat has a long path to the strike zone thanks to high handset he uses to start his swing. He often swings through pitches in the zone because his barrel control and hand-eye coordination needs to improve. Evaluators noticed improved angles and routes in center field. He’s a plus runner who is faster than that once he gets going.
THE FUTURE: Florial is likely to head back to the Florida State League to try to reclaim his 2017 magic. He has allstar potential but a long way to go to reach it.
TRACK RECORD: The Giants released Loaisiga after shoulder injuries sidelined him for two seasons. The Yankees liked what they saw in a tryout camp, but soon after they signed him he needed Tommy John surgery. The Yankees were rewarded with a pitcher with electric stuff. He made his big league debut in 2018 but also missed a month with a sore shoulder.
SCOUTING REPORT: Loaisiga missed enough time with injuries throughout his career that he needed to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2017 season even though he had barely pitched in full-season ball. But he jumped from Class A to the major leagues in just two months thanks to three pitches that grade as above-average or better. He throws a plus fastball that sits 95-96 mph and touches 98, though it is straight enough that it doesn’t miss a lot of bats. His fastball sets up a hard changeup that grades as plus. His mid-80s curveball is more of an above-average offering, but on his best days, it is a plus pitch that gets swings and misses. Nothing in Loaisiga’s delivery precludes him from throwing strikes.
THE FUTURE: Loaisiga could be a mid-rotation starter if he can stay healthy, but that’s a big concern.
TRACK RECORD: The Yankees completed their 2017 international class by signing outfielders Raimfer Salinas and Antonio Cabello, but their biggest signing on July 2 was Pereira, who got $1.5 million. He’s bulked up significantly since signing, and now stands at a sturdy 190 pounds. Salinas, Cabello and Pereira are all working toward futures in center field, so to help find playing time Pereira was pushed to Rookie-level Pulaski for his pro debut just two months after he turned 17.
SCOUTING REPORT: As an amateur, Pereira was lauded for his all-around blend of skills, and scouts saw the same against more advanced competition. He doesn’t have any 70- or 80-grade tools, but some scouts were confident enough to put future plus grades on his hit, run and raw power already. They also saw a defender in center field with plus range and instincts with an average throwing arm. Those things were especially impressive because they were coming from someone so young.
THE FUTURE: It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Yankees continue to be aggressive with Pereira and move him to low Class A Charleston. He’s a long way off, but he ha
TRACK RECORD: Seigler earned high marks on the amateur circuit for his unique blend of skills. Not only is he an accomplished switch-hitter, but he made waves on the mound as a switch-pitcher also. The Yankees aren’t going to put him on the mound, but he’s still an intriguing prospect as a catcher. He also showed strong makeup in pro ball, going so far as to request a Spanish-speaking roommate so he could work on learning the language.
SCOUTING REPORT: Seigler brings a smooth, compact swing from both sides of the plate that should help make him at least an average hitter as he develops. He’s not likely to produce big-time home run power, but he has shown the ability to drive the ball out of the park from the right side. Realistically, he’s going to be more of a gap-to-gap hitter with plenty of doubles. Behind the plate, Seigler is at least a plus defender and could become even better as he matures. He’s got a near-elite arm that has produced pop times of better than 1.9 seconds both as an amateur and a pro.
THE FUTURE: Seigler’s first test in pro ball was abbreviated by injuries to his hamstrings and a late-season concussion. He could start 2019 in low Class A.
TRACK RECORD: The Yankees picked up King in a seemingly minor trade that sent the Marlins Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper. He ended up as the Yankees’ most productive minor league pitcher in 2018, advancing from high Class A Tampa to Triple-A.
SCOUTING REPORT: Many pitchers in the Yankees’ system have a higher upside than King, but he is one of the safest bets to have a big league career, even if it’s most likely as a back-of-the-rotation starter. While none of King’s pitches is truly a knockout, his plus command amplifies his entire arsenal. He throws a pair of fastballs—a two-seamer and a cutter, the latter of which was added in Triple-A. The cutter is thrown in the high 80s, while the two-seamer averaged 92 mph. His two-seamer is his money pitch, and it has above-average action. He’s particularly adept at starting the two-seamer at the hip of lefthanded hitters and bringing it back over the inside corner for a strike. He backs up his fastballs with a changeup that is near plus and an average slider, though his command helps each pitch play up.
THE FUTURE: King will probably head back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to begin 2019 as he prepares for an in-season callup.
TRACK RECORD: After signing a huge international class in 2014, the Yankees began 2015 in the international penalty box, meaning they could not sign any player for more than $300,000. Despite the limitations, that signing class has already produced two intriguing prospects, including righthander Luis Medina and Garcia.
SCOUTING REPORT: The biggest knock on Garcia is his size and high-effort delivery, which many scouts believe will eventually force a move to the bullpen. His stuff, however, has been dominant. He struck out 12.8 hitters per nine innings across three levels in 2018. He uses a three-pitch mix that starts with a low-90s fastball that topped out around 95 mph from a whip-quick arm. The gem of his arsenal is his power curveball. The pitch shows downer break and has an elite spin rate of better than 3,000 revolutions per minute. He needs to shorten the break on the pitch, but the spin and bite are enough to get plenty of swings and misses. The Yankees believe his changeup has developed to the point that it is nearing the quality of his curveball.
THE FUTURE: Garcia likely will return to high Class A Tampa after making five starts there in 2018.
TRACK RECORD: The Yankees were in the international penalty phase in 2016, meaning they could not sign any player for more than $300,000. Even so, their scouts found Contreras and signed him for $250,000. He trained with Basilio Vizcaino, otherwise known as Cachaza, who trained current Yankees Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar.
SCOUTING REPORT: Contreras moved to the short-season New York-Penn League halfway through 2018. With Staten Island, he showed the makings of a solid threepitch mix headed by a fastball in the 91-94 mph range with hints of 96. The pitch featured running life to both sides of the plate. His best secondary pitch was a 78-81 mph downer curveball that was inconsistent but had the potential to be above-average once he gained the feel necessary to spin it more consistently. His third pitch is a mid-80s changeup with average sinking action when he keeps it down in the zone. There’s still projectability left in his body, which scouts believe could be the difference between a back-end starter or a mid-rotation piece.
THE FUTURE: Contreras so thoroughly dominated at Staten Island that he moved up to low Class A Charleston toward the end of the season. He’ll likely return there in 2019.
TRACK RECORD: The Yankees spent a good chunk of the 2017 offseason acquiring international bonus pool space in their effort to sign Japanese two-way talent Shohei Ohtani. Once Ohtani eliminated them, however, they spread that money around to acquire other targets, including Cabello and outfielder Raimfer Salinas.
SCOUTING REPORT: Cabello was advanced enough in extended spring training that the Yankees moved him quickly out of the Dominican Summer League and into the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. To earn that boost, Cabello displayed a diverse blend of skills, showing plus speed and the potential for a plus bat with plus power and plus defense in center field. He also shows an advanced ability to hit the ball hard, with exit velocities as high as 106 mph already. His throwing arm is already at least average. Cabello was a catcher as an amateur, meaning his outfield defense will be the toughest tool to gauge.
THE FUTURE: Cabello dislocated his non-throwing shoulder late in the season and needed surgery, which cost him a chance to participate in instructional league. He has a chance to be a true impact bat in the middle of the order.
TRACK RECORD: Abreu was part of package the Yankees received from the Astros for Brian McCann after the 2016 season. Abreu opened eyes in his first season in the organization, but he dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness in 2018. It all began with an appendectomy toward the end of spring training and elbow inflammation at midseason.
SCOUTING REPORT: In terms of stuff, Abreu still shows the big, upper-90s fastball that the Yankees sought when they acquired him from Houston. The pitch has late life and is particularly effective when thrown up in the zone. He backs up his fastball with a power curveball in the mid-80s and a changeup that each project as at least above-average, if not plus, offerings. He also throws a slider, but he leans heavily on his three main pitches. While Abreu’s pure stuff is tantalizing, his command is fringy at best. He struggles to repeat his delivery at times, and will get strikeout-happy and try to overthrow. The Yankees also would like to see him pitch inside more effectively to both righthanders and lefthanders.
THE FUTURE: Abreu was limited to just 73 innings, making 2018 a bit of a lost year. He still has huge upside and will likely return to high Class A Tampa.
- Josh Norrris
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