by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Yankees likely had the opportunity to make a move at the Trading Deadline, but at the end of the day they decided to hold onto their chips (and the prospects they recently gave up certainly aren’t among their best). Luis Severino & Greg Bird has already paid dividends, but who else is on the horizon? Who could make the biggest impact? Let’s take a look at how things shape up, after the Yankees sent four prospects to Cincinnati to acquire Aroldis Chapman last week:
1) Jorge Mateo – Shortstop
ETA – 2017
Grade – A-
Mateo’s name came up often around the Trade Deadline, most notably connected to the Padres in return for Craig Kimbrel, but at the end of the day he remained property of the Yankees. When we look back three years from now chances are that the Yankees are ultimately happy that they failed to culminate the deal.
Across two levels in ’15 Mateo hit .278 with 82 stolen bases in 449 AB. Right now we would draw the comparisons to Billy Hamilton, with Mateo’s struggles to make consistent contact (98 K) at the lower levels something well worth watching (this is a comparison we looked at, which you can read by clicking here). As the old adage goes you can’t steal first base, and with his speed all he needs to do is put the ball in play and he should be able to use his speed and wreak havoc. At 20-years old he has plenty of time to adjust and mature, we just need to be patient.
2) Aaron Judge – Outfielder
ETA – 2016
Grade – A-
Power is at a premium in baseball and Judge brings the potential to bring it to the table. At 6’7” and 275 lbs. he’s certainly an imposing figure in the batters box, though that also means an enormous strike zone and he did struggle with strike outs between Double-A (25.0%) and Triple-A (28.5%) in 2015. That’s a major concern, as it’s going to drag down his average (as it is he hit just .224 at Triple-A). He also has yet to fully put his power on display, hitting “just” 20 HR in 478 AB last season. That should develop, given more experience (he was drafted in 2013), but it’s possible that he ultimately develops into a .250-ish hitter with 25-30 HR upside.
3) Gary Sanchez – Catcher
ETA – 2016
Grade – B+
It feels like we’ve been waiting a lifetime for him to develop into a Major League catcher, doesn’t it? After spending part of a third straight season at Double-A he finally graduated to Triple-A and was solid, hitting .295 with 6 HR over 146 PA and not being overmatched (19.2% strikeout rate). With a .274 average and 18 HR in 365 AB overall he obviously brings enough potential behind the plate that he deserves attention. The question is going to be where he plays, as Brian McCann is going to be the Yankees catcher for at least another season.
4) James Kaprielian – RHP
ETA – 2017
Grade – B
Kaprielian was the Yankees first round draft pick in 2015 and was viewed as a polished college pitcher who could move quickly through the system. He only tossed 11.1 innings last season, with 14 K vs. 4 BB, but it’s too small of a sample size to draw any conclusions from. Obviously the upside is there and it’s possible that he reaches the Majors late in ’16 in some role.
5) Domingo Acevedo – RHP
ETA – 2017/2018
Grade – B (could easily rise to B+/A- next year)
This is an aggressive ranking for Acevedo, but the upside is so high that it’s impossible to ignore. Listed at 6’7” he features a big fastball and strikeout stuff and showed it over 48.0 IP at Low-A Ball last season (53 K vs. 15 BB). There are questions, though, as he needs to prove he can pitch a significant number of innings (49.2 total in ’15, 106.0 IP since ’13) and he needs to develop a breaking ball to keep opponents honest. At worst he could be a lights out reliever, but with his size and stuff the upside is that of an elite starting pitcher. He’s definitely a name that needs to be watched closely as ’16 progresses.
The Next Five:
6) Rob Refsnyder – 2B
7) Ian Clarkin – LHP
8) Wilkerman Garcia – SS
9) Tyler Wade – 2B/SS
10) Luis Cessa – RHP
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
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Grading System (still in development):
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 Top 10 Prospect Lists: