by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The transformation of the New York Yankees was swift, and even with the emergence of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez they own one of the best farm systems in the game. That’s not to say that they are loaded with “A” prospects, but they have a slew of intriguing in the “B” range and many of them could take another leap forward in ’18 (though there are questions). Who are the most intriguing? Let’s take a look:
1) Gleyber Torres – Shortstop
Grade – A
ETA – 2018
You can easily argue that Torres would’ve arrived in 2017 (to fill the void at 3B), had injury not ended his season in mid-June. Prior to the injury he was showing his talent, hitting .287 with 7 HR and 7 SB over 202 AB split between Double and Triple-A. Playing at those levels at 20-years old (he turns 21 in December) just adds to the potential upside.
We can point towards a 12.2% SwStr% as a slight red flag, but considering his age there’s obviously time for him to mature and adjust (and considering his 12.8% walk rate in ’17 and 10.5% SwStr% in ‘16, there’s every reason to believe that it will come). Torres also began to show signs of tapping into his power, hitting the ball hard (26.5% line drive rate) and cutting down on his groundball rate (35.8%). The potential to tap into his power, developing into a 20+ HR threat, to go along with the average makes him one of the potentially elite talents in the game.
2) Justus Sheffield – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018
Standing 5’11” and 200 lbs., there are going to be questions regarding whether he can stick in the rotation or if he’s destined for a bullpen role. Spending the bulk of his year at Double-A (17 starts, 93.1 IP) he did check off most of the boxes we look for:
- Strikeouts – 7.91 K/9 (11.5% SwStr%)
- Control – 3.18 BB/9
- Groundballs – 46.2%
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t questions, as he’s consistently battled injury (he missed time in ’17 due to an oblique injury) and he needs to find consistency in his control. He has the upside, especially as a southpaw, but there is risk involved.
3) Chance Adams – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2018
There were consistent cries for the Yankees to promote Adams in ’17, and it made sense considering his 2.45 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 150.1 IP between Double and Triple-A. The Yankees didn’t bite, and despite the impressive numbers we’ll have to watch a few key metrics. For one there was definitely luck involved in the numbers (.234 BABIP, 80.4% strand rate) and he also has the potential to be home run prone (41.1% groundball rate), especially pitching half his games in Yankee Stadium. We’ll need to watch those two things extremely closely, as they could easily help to limit his production at the next level.
4) Estevan Florial – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
No one is going to argue against the upside of a player who brings the potential to hit for power and provide significant speed. As a 19-year old, splitting time between two levels of Single-A, he showed signs by hitting .298 with 13 HR (as well as 23 doubles and 7 triples) and 23 SB. That definitely has people rushing to anoint him the next big thing, but don’t overlook the key risks:
- SwStr% – 15.5%
- Groundball Rate – 54.1%
- BABIP – .426
So there are going to be questions whether or not he can grow into his power, he benefited from significant luck and the strikeout rate (31.1%) could be further exposed against upper level pitching. That’s not a knock on his talent, it’s just a warning sign that you need to watch closely and see how he develops.
5) Miguel Andujar – Third Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
He made an impact during his MLB cup of coffee and hit .315 with 16 HR (as well as 6 doubles and 2 triples) over 480 AB in the minors. So why is it that he doesn’t get much love or attention? He hits the ball hard (23.9% line drive rate) and makes consistent contact (7.8% SwStr%), both of which show that he has the potential to carry a strong average. There’s also clearly room for his power to grow, with 25 HR not an unreasonable expectation. Obviously we’d like to see him draw a few more walks, but the potential is there for him to be a solid option at the Major League level. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking him.
6) Domingo Acevedo – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B)
7) Albert Abreu – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B)
Note – Questions about his control and a “shoulder issue” limiting him in ’17 keeps him outside the Top 5. Make no mistake, though, he has the potential to be the team’s top pitching prospect and it was debated if he should be placed above Adams despite these concerns.
8) Dillon Tate – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
9) Jorge Guzman – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
10) Matt Sauer – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Keep an Eye On – Clarke Schmidt – Right-Handed Pitcher – The team’s ’17 first round pick, he is sidelined due to Tommy John surgery.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists: