With Baseball America’s top 10 prospect rankings set to be released tomorrow for the Yankees, we decided to take a stab at our own list beforehand. Both of us ranked our top fifteen prospects in the system, and weighted them accordingly to come up with the following agreed list:
1. Gary Sanchez C, ETA: 2015 – Sanchez may be the only Yankee prospect to land on any top 100 lists this year. With the addition of Brian McCann, Sanchez is blocked and may serve as trade bait in the not so distant future. He should be ready for the majors before the time McCann needs to move to first base.
2. Eric Jagielo 3B, ETA: 2016 – This season’s first-round pick made a nice debut at Short-Season Staten Island, posting a 153 wRC+ in 218 plate appearances. As a polished college bat out of Notre Dame, Jagielo could move quickly and beat our 2016 ETA.
3. Mason Williams CF, ETA: 2015 – Mason was disappointing with the bat this year, posting a 95 wRC+ in 461 High-A plate appearances. He was overmatched after a promotion to Double-A, hitting .154/.164/.264 in 76 plate appearances. Yet, the highly athletic Williams already plays superb defense in center and probably will at worst be a fourth outfielder in the big leagues.
4. J.R. Murphy C, ETA: N/A – Like Sanchez, Murphy might be better served as a trade chip with McCann in tow. He didn’t hit much during his cup of coffee in the majors this season, but he thrived offensively at both Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Murphy’s defense is well touted, too, increasing his value as trade bait.
5. Slade Heathcott CF – ETA: 2014 – Heathcott may have the highest upside of any Yankees’ prospect, but may also be the riskiest of the bunch. He’s had his issues staying healthy, and didn’t do anything overly impressive in Double-A (104 wRC+). Just added to the 40-man, there’s a decent chance he sees some time as a September call-up.
6. Rafael De Paula SP, ETA: 2016 - De Paula is probably the biggest mystery of this group. It seems like we’ve been hearing about him for ages, with visa issues holding up his stateside debut until 2012. His stuff is nasty, but will he be able to hone his command to remain a starter?
7. Greg Bird 1B, ETA: 2016 – Bird torched the SAL to a tune of a 170 wRC+, launching 20 home runs while posting an awesome 18.7% walk rate. Yet, a few detractors hold him back from being higher up on this list. The SAL is known to be hitter friendly, and first base is a position that requires high levels of offensive production at the major league level. He’ll have to sustain similar performances as he moves up the minor league ladder.
8. Tyler Austin OF, ETA: 2014 – Austin might have been the most disappointing prospect this year, after a 2012 in which he tore up both the SAL and FSL (A and High-A). He struggled to stay healthy in 2013, playing in just 83 games due to wrist issues.
9. Jose Campos SP, ETA: 2016 – Campos was eased back into competition in 2013 after recovering from elbow problems in 2012, but did a nice job in the SAL for Charleston. In 87 innings, he posted a 3.41 ERA and 2.83 FIP.
10. Ty Hensley SP, ETA: 2018 – Hensley was the Yankees’ first rounder in 2012, but succumbed to a hip injury that required surgery. He didn’t pitch at all in 2013, but has prototypical size for a pitcher that makes him very projectable. Unfortunately, as a high school selection coming off major surgery, a lot can still go wrong.
Photo by Bryan from Florida (Gary Sanchez) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons