by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
For a team not expected to compete for another year or two, it was a mild surprise that the Yankees were willing to trade away four players (three prospects) in an effort to take advantage and go for it in ’17. That said, both David Robertson (2018) and Tommy Kahnle (2018-2020) are more than rentals and Todd Frazier represents an obvious upgrade, even with his lackluster numbers, over the mess that the team has been marching out at 1B.
New York also has plenty of depth in their system, and were able to swing the deal without giving up the true top prizes they’ve accumulated. There is still a lot of upside in Chicago’s return, so let’s take a look:
Blake Rutherford – Outfielder
A first round pick in 2016, Rutherford was ranked #7 on our preseason Yankee prospect list and has fared well at Single-A in ’17 hitting .281 with 2 HR and 9 SB over 274 AB. Still just 20-years old he has driven the ball into the ground a lot (51.4% groundball rate), but there is reason to believe that the left-handed hitter will grow and mature into power in time. Just look at the description of his approach/swing courtesy of MLB.com:
“Rutherford is a rare talent who has the chance to hit for plus average and power. He has a smooth left-handed stroke with plenty of bat speed, recognizes pitches well, shows signs of patience and uses the entire field. While he currently employs a line-drive approach, he has big raw power and will tap into it once he adds some loft to his swing.”
That development will be key, as he ultimately profiles more as a corner infielder and not a significant stolen base threat. If he can’t learn to tap into his power, he’ll ultimately be more of a fourth outfield type.
Current Grade – B
Ian Clarkin – Left-Handed Pitcher
The 22-year is repeating High-A this season, after missing all of ’15 and throwing only 98.0 innings in ’16. That type of injury history is alone going to raise some red flags (he’s also missed time this season with a shoulder issue) and you have to wonder if he will ultimately profile more as a reliever than a starter. While he’s flashed groundballs (53.7%) and control (3.11 BB/9) over his 72.1 innings in ’17, he’s lacked strikeouts (7.09 K/9) just adding to the concerns.
As far as his stuff, Baseball America recently described his repertoire by saying:
“When he’s been healthy, he’s shown a fastball between 89-93 mph in addition to his traditional mix of changeup and curveball, neither of which stand out as a particularly dominant offering. He also throws a slider, which he added last season, but it lags behind his three other pitches at this point.”
In other words there’s nothing to get excited about here.
Current Grade – C
Tito Polo – Outfielder
Acquired from the Pirates as part of the Ivan Nova trade, Polo has split time between High-A and Double-A this season hitting .307 with 5 HR and 27 SB over 290 AB. He did post a 24.1% strikeout rate and 6.2% walk rate over 257 PA at High-A, which obviously is a bit of a red flag for a player whose value stems from his ability to get on base and utilize his speed. There is potential upside, but he needs to refine his approach or he will ultimately struggle at the upper levels of the minors.
Current Grade – C
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball America, MLB.com
Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking her