Top 10 Prospects (2017): New York Yankees: Judge Falling Outside The Top 5 & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Yankees made a few bold trades leading up to the deadline, stockpiling their system in the process.  The improvement is obvious, with many of the names acquired littering the top spots on our rankings.  Couple the newbies with an impressive group of holdovers and you suddenly have a bright outlook for the future.  Who is the best of the group?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Gleyber Torres – Shortstop
Current Grade – A
ETA – 2018

The key acquisition in the Aroldis Chapman trade, one of his best attributes is his willingness to draw a walk.  It’s something he displayed both before and after the trade at High-A:

  • Cubs – 10.3%
  • Yankees – 11.6%

He’s never going to be an elite power hitter, but that part of his game is developing (29 doubles, 5 triples, 11 home runs).  He has speed, though he needs to improve his efficiency (21-for-34).  That should come with experience, and he clearly has 20/20 type upside.  We will need to watch the strikeout rate (21.3% prior to the trade), but his overall skillset is highly impressive.

 

2) Clint Frazier – Outfielder
Current Grade – A-/B+
ETA – 2017

You know the Indians do not regret making the trade to acquire Andrew Miller at this point, though it’s possible that they come to at some point down the line.  Frazier was the centerpiece of the trade and he did show improvements this season to help get us excited.  Opening the year at Double-A he showed an improvement in his plate discipline, with a 22.0% strikeout rate and 10.5% walk rate.  The strikeouts did jump back up upon reaching Triple-A, both for the Indians (28.6% in 21 PA) and Yankees (27.8% in 108 PA), so it is something we will have to continue to monitor.

He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he has the potential to swipe 15-20 bases annually (he had 13 last season).  His power is also developing and putting that in Yankee Stadium could yield instant results.  Of course, there’s the risk that he becomes power hungry, which will have a direct impact on his strikeout rate, which is something we’ll need to continue to monitor.

 

3) Jorge Mateo – Second Baseman/Shortstop
Current Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

He had some issues this past season, but hopefully he learns from them and continues to mature.  If he can, there is no questioning the potential upside that he brings.  His speed is elite, stealing 36 bases last season (after swiping 82 in ’15).  That said, as a player who profiles as a top-of-the order bat he does need to work on his plate discipline:

  • Strikeouts – 21.3%
  • Walks – 6.5%

He was also putting the ball in the air far too much, for a player with his skill set, with a 0.68 GO/AO.  In total it was a clear step backwards for him.  That doesn’t mean that his value has disappeared, but we need to drop him down the rankings a bit and wait to see if he can make the necessary adjustments.

 

4) Domingo Acevedo – Right-Handed Pitcher
Current Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

He missed some time in ’16 due to injury, but when he was on the field he showed the same type of potential he previously has.  Over 93.0 IP (split across two levels of Single-A) he posted a 2.61 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and an impressive 102 K vs. 22 BB.  Over his minor league career he owns a 9.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, something that’s extremely impressive for a pitcher who stands at 6’7” and throws as hard as he does.

Is it possible that he ultimately transitions into a lights out reliever and closer of the future?  Absolutely, and that could expedite his arrival (he is 22-years old).  At this point, though, the Yankees have little reason to make that transition.  Look for them to continue utilizing him as a starting pitcher, a spot he has thrived in.

 

5) Justus Sheffield – Left Handed Pitcher
Current Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

A first round pick in 2014, Sheffield was another key piece to the trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland.  The big question facing him is his control, with a 3.8 BB/9 this past season despite spending most of his time across two levels of Single-A.  There also is an issue with his stature, as you know there are going to be questions as to whether or not a 5’10” pitcher can handle a starter’s workload or if he will ultimately find a home in the bullpen.

There’s no questioning the potential (129 K over 125.1 IP last season), it’s just a matter of answering the questions.

 

6) Aaron Judge – Outfielder
Current Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

We all know about the power potential, which he put on display a bit in his first taste of the Majors (4 HR over 84 AB).  At the same time the risk of strikeouts was also abundantly clear, posting a gaudy 44.2% strikeout rate courtesy of an 18.1% SwStr%.  Obviously it was a short sample, but he showed swing and miss stuff across the board (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 13.10%
  • Braking – 25.00%
  • Offspeed – 31.75%

Obviously there’s the potential for him to correct the issue, but it also isn’t a guarantee (strikeout rates of 25.0% and 28.5% at Double and Triple-A in ’15).

 

The Rest:

7) Blake Rutherford – Outfielder (Grade – B)
15 extra base hits (8 doubles, 4 triples and 3 home runs) in his first 114 AB certainly has to grab our attention

8) Miguel Andujar – Third Baseman (Grade – B)

9) James Kaprilian – Right Handed Pitcher (Grade – B)
His upside is higher than this, but he needs to get healthy

10) Dustin Fowler – Outfielder (Grade – B)

 

Keep An Eye On – Chance Adams (RHP)
There’s a good chance that he transitions to the bullpen, where he has the potential to make an impact as soon as 2017.  That said in 127.1 IP between High-A and Double-A he posted a 2.33 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 140 K and 39 BB.  Those are impressive numbers, and he could force the Yankees to keep him in the rotation.  His upside may not be quite as high as the other starters on this list, which does go to show you how deep the system has become overall.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com, MILB.com

 

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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