Any team that is challenging for a World Series title runs the risk of depleting their farm system, whether it’s due to trades or graduations. We’ve seen that, at least to an extent, for the Yankees but they continue to have a pipeline of intriguing prospects. Who has the highest upside? Who could fully breakout? Let’s take a look at how the Top 10 currently looks:
1) Jasson Dominguez – Outfielder
ETA – 2023
Grade – B+
The bulk of the ranking for Dominguez is based on conjecture and projection, as he won’t turn 17-years old until February ’20 and has yet to take an AB as a professional. There is no question that his ceiling is immense, and he could develop into an overall Top 5 type prospect in short order. That said, until we see his power/speed combination on the field we won’t know for sure if he’ll truly be able to tap into the seemingly limitless potential.
2) Clarke Schmidt – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2020
Grade – B+
If Schmidt was ready to handle a normal workload there wouldn’t be a question as to whether or not he would arrive in the Majors in 2020. However after being drafted in 2017 he needed Tommy John surgery (which the Yankees knew at the time), so his workload has been minimal thus far:
- 2017 – 0.0 IP
- 2018 – 23.1 IP
- 2019 – 90.2 IP
He’s only thrown 19.0 IP above High-A (all at Double-A), and while he will be 24-years old on Opening Day he could still be a year away from arriving. That said when he was on the mound he showed why the Yankees were willing to utilize a first round pick, even with the known surgery coming. He showed strikeouts (10.13 K/9, courtesy of a 14.7% SwStr%), control (2.78 BB/9, and considering the missed time it’s possible it gets better as evidenced by his 1 BB over 19.0 IP at Double-A) and a good groundball rate (53.6%).
It will be interesting to see how the production comes against more advanced prospects, but at this point a full breakout wouldn’t be surprising.
3) Deivi Garcia – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2020
Grade – B/B+
There were cries for him to join the MLB roster by some, though that never came to fruition. Instead the 20-year old was pushed to Triple-A (he appeared at three levels in ’19) and struggled to a 5.40 ERA as he split his time between the rotation and bullpen. His control was an issue regardless of the level he pitched (4.37 BB/9 over 111.1 IP) and we saw his groundball rate regress as he advanced:
- High-A (17.2 IP) – 46.7%
- Double-A (53.2 IP) – 43.0%
- Triple-A (40.0 IP) – 37.4%
Listed at 5’9” he does have the stuff, but as we saw at Triple-A home runs could become a significant issue (1.80 HR/9). When you couple that with his control questions it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ultimately transition to the bullpen, where he does have closer potential.
4) Luis Gil – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2022
Grade – B
Gil struggled in his three starts at High-A (4.85 ERA, 7.62 K/9, 5.54 BB/9), though he was significantly better than that in his 83.0 IP at Single-A (2.39 ERA, 12.14 K/9). He’s armed with a fastball that’s topped 100 mph, though there are two significant questions that need to be answered:
- Will he be able to discover his control (4.41 BB/9)?
- Will his secondary pitches catch up to his fastball?
Worst case is he ultimately transitions to the bullpen, but there’s the potential to develop into significantly more than that. For now he will continue to develop as a starting pitcher and is someone to keep a close eye on.
5) Luis Medina – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2021
Grade – B-
Medina owns a potentially dominant three-pitch mix (including a fastball that has reached triple digits) that can generate swings and misses and enough groundballs. The question is whether or not he can control it enough to be successful, and while there’s still a lot of work to do he made significant strides last year:
- April & May – 36 BB over 31.0 IP
- June – End of Season – 34 BB over 72.2 IP
From June 1 forward he posted an 11.59 K/9 and 4.24 BB/9, and even at that mark it could be enough for him to have success in the rotation (look at someone like Robbie Ray, as an example). Worst case is that he settles into a bullpen role, but the growth he showed last season cannot be ignored. Another step forward in ’20, pitching at 20-years old, will really send his stock soaring.
The Next Five:
6) Roansay Contreras (RHP, Current Grade – B-) – He pitched the year as a 19-year old at Single-A, posting a 3.33 ERA over 132.1 IP. His 2.45 BB/9 appears to be his best skill, though there’s significantly more upside in his strikeout rate (7.69 K/9, despite an 11.5% SwStr%). His changeup is already an advanced second offering, though we’d like to see a few more groundballs being generated (40.1%). He’s still young and should develop further, though it will be interesting to see how he fares against more advanced competition.
7) Canaan Smith (OF, Current Grade – B-) – Smith hit .307 with 11 HR and 16 SB over 449 AB at Single-A last season, but with 32 doubles and 3 triples the upside is there for him to add more power to his game. Couple that with a solid 9.7% SwStr% and 14.0% walk rate and it’s easy to envision the upside that he has. Already 215 lbs. it’s possible that he starts to lose some of his stolen base potential, but with an impressive approach and 20/10 upside he’s a player who could quickly emerge as a viable starting outfielder in the Majors.
8) Alexander Vizcaino (RHP, Current Grade – C+) – Vizcaino garnered little attention at the beginning of the season, but his performance helped to grab our attention. Over 115.0 IP he posted an impressive 16.2% SwStr%, leading to a 10.02 K/9 to go along with solid control (2.97 BB/9) and groundballs (47.7%). He’s currently armed with an impressive fastball/changeup combination, though he needs to develop a third pitch if he’s going to remain as a starter. As it is the numbers regressed upon arriving at High-A (8.89 K/9, 3.62 BB/9) and he needs to prove that he can get more advanced hitters out.
9) Anthony Volpe (SS, Current Grade – C+) – A 2019 first round draft pick, Volpe showed a strong approach in Rookie Ball with a 7.6% SwStr% and 15.3% walk rate. He added 8 HR and 9 SB over 274 AB (while adding 10 doubles and 3 triples) and it comes together as a package where the sum is worth more than it’s individual parts.
10) Estevan Florial (OF, Current Grade – C) – There was a time when Florial was considered an above average prospect, but as he continues to struggle making contact the bloom has come off the rose. He posted a 17.5% SwStr% at High-A last season, leading to a 32.6% strikeout rate. That could further regress as he moves up against more advanced pitching, and that would nullify any other potential he has. The upside keeps him in the Top 10, but he needs to take a significant step forward quickly.
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: