With the month of July in the books, its time for the monthly re-ranking of the Yankees’ prospects, starting with the top 10. I did not include players currently in the majors, regardless of whether or not they’ve reached the cut-offs for rookie eligibility. So Shane Greene wasn’t considered. For hitting prospects, I also included their KATOH projection, which estimates their odds of making it to the majors based on their 2014 stats. Check back tomorrow for prospects 11-20.
#1 Luis SeverinoAge: 20
Position: Right Handed Pitcher
After a very brief, but very dominant, four game stint in High-A Tampa, the Yankees opted to push Luis Severino up to Double-A Trenton. Severino’s been up for the challenge so far, fanning 20 hitters while only walking four in his first three starts in Trenton.
The Yankees are being very aggressive with Severino, who’s now pitched for three minor league levels this year after spending all of 2013 in rookie ball. Severino’s stuff is excellent, but it’ll be interesting to see if he’s polished enough to succeed in Double-A given his limited experience. Severino’s developing into a pretty exciting prospect, and it’s not inconceivable that he could be in the majors by the middle of next year — much earlier than anyone had anticipated.
#2 Aaron JudgeAge: 22
Position: Right Field
2014 KATOH: 43%
After he tore up the Sally league for two and a half months, the Yankees finally promoted Aaron Judge to High-A Tampa in mid June. Although he’s hit just four home runs since his promotion, he holds a very impressive .418 OBP.
As well as Judge has hit, its important to keep in mind that at 22, he’s been a little old for his competition level, especially for a first-round draft choice. Additionally, his .393 BABIP disguises his mildly concerning 21.4% strikeout rate, which may worsen as he climbs the minor league ladder. Even so, Judge has loads of talent, and it’s hard not to get excited about his power potential.
#3 Gary SanchezAge: 21
2014 KATOH: 99%
Gary Sanchez went through a rough stretch in May and June, but has turned it on since his 5-game suspension last month, and has hit .308/.353/.432 since his return.
Sanchez’s .275/.338/.421 line may not be the sexiest, but is still pretty darn good for a catcher who’s facing pitching three or four years older than he is. Sanchez will likely find his way to Triple-A before long, but with Brian McCann in tow, his future is probably with another organization.
#4 Ian ClarkinAge: 19
Position: Left Handed Pitcher
Ian Clarkin missed a couple of weeks with an ankle injury following a rough outing on July 1st, but has since returned to action and continues to pitch well. Overall, the 19-year-old holds a 3.46 ERA and has struck out an impressive 26% of batters faced since his early-May promotion.
There were some concerns about Clarkin’s control heading into the season — especially following his rough three start stint from last year — but those issues seem to be more or less behind him. Clarkin’s still years away from pitching in the majors, but he’s been everything the Yankees could have hoped for in his first year as a pro.
#5 John Ryan MurphyAge: 23
2014 KATOH: 71%
John Ryan Murphy (formerly J.R. Murphy) spent most of the first half backing up Brian McCann, but was optioned to Triple-A Scranton when Francisco Cervelli returned from injury. Murphy fared pretty well in his stint with the big club, but has struggled since his return to the minors.
Although he’s struggled a bit of late, Murphy’s developing into a pretty solid player. Not only can he hit a little bit, but he’s also a fine defensive catcher despite being just 23 years old. Murphy probably has a future as an everyday catcher, but with McCann locked up for the next five years, that future’s probably not with the Yankees.
#6 Eric JagieloAge: 22
Position: Third Base
2014 KATOH: 39%
Eric Jagielo has struggled to get going since returning from an oblique strain that sidelined him for six weeks. Since rejoining the Class-A Tampa, he’s hit just .245/.339/.415 while striking out a concerning 29% of the time.
Overall, last year’s 26th overall pick has had a decent start to his pro career, but his performance hasn’t been without flaws. He’s struck out 25% of the time in nearly 500 plate appearances, and his defense at third has been pretty spotty, as evidenced by his 11 errors in 39 games this year. It’s still very early in Jagielo’s career, but considering his age and draft pedigree, it’s a little disappointing that he’s not particularly close to mastering A-ball.
#7 Rob RefsnyderAge: 23
Position: Second Base, Right Field
2014 KATOH: 90%
After hitting an unbelievable .347/.413/.561 in the first three months of the season, Rob Refsnyder has cooled off a bit in July. Even in his down month, he’s still clubbed four homers for the Scranton Yankees on his way to a respectable 112 wRC+. He’s also played nine games in right field since his promotion to Triple-A
As well as he’s hit, Refsnyder’s defense at second is still a work in progress, which seems to be enough reason for the Yankees to hold him in the minors. He’ll might get a look in September, but probably wouldn’t see much playing time with Stephen Drew and Martin Prado in the fold. He might be ready to take over second base duties as soon as next year, but Prado’s presence clouds his future a bit.
#8 Greg BirdAge: 21
Position: First Base
2014 KATOH: 57%
Although he got off to something of a slow start, Gregory Bird has hit very well of late, especially in the power department, where he’s strung together seven extra base hits in the last 14 games.
Bird clearly has some offensive talent, but its not clear if he’ll be able to hit enough to be a productive first baseman. Much of his output to date has been via the walk, which aren’t much of a predictor of future success of hitters in A-ball. Take away the walks, and Bird’s stats suddenly look pretty ordinary. Health has also been a major issue for Bird, who also missed most of the 2012 and the first month of 2014 with back problems. He’s an interesting player, but the real test will come next year when he squares off against Double-A pitching.
#9 Tyler AustinAge: 22
Position: First Base, Left Field, Right Field
2014 KATOH: 58%
For the first time since 2012, Tyler Austin seems to be coming alive offensively. Since July 14th, he’s hit a torrid .386/.438/.561.
Austin’s monster 2012 season put him on the prospect map, but pretty much turned into a pumpkin as soon as he got to Double-A last year. Some of that was likely due to a wrist injury, but the further we get away from that season, the less likely it is that he’ll ever hit for that type of power again. Hopefully this recent hot streak is more than just a flash in the pan. Otherwise, he’s probably a future backup.
#10 Luis TorrensAge: 18
2014 KATOH: 46%
After missing two months with a shoulder injury, Luis Torrens has really turned it on in Class-A Staten Island by scorching .337/.378/.500 in 26 games. He’s also completely shut down the running game by gunning down 41% of would-be base stealers.
Torrens’ performance is pretty impressive for an 18-year-old, and even more impressive considering he’s only been a catcher for two years — including the time he sat out due to injury. He still has a ways to go, but Torrens has the tools to develop into a very good player, both offensively and defensively.