Minor Leagues

Yankees minor league update: top prospects

The Yankees’ stellar first third of the season has placed them at the top of the A.L. East, but this makes it easy to forget that the Yankees’ future will likely grow brighter as their top prospects arrive in the Bronx. With the season reaching the two-month mark and both major and minor league teams providing increasingly meaningful statistical samples to review, let’s take a look at how some of the top prospects in the Yankees organization are doing. This week, the minor league update will profile the team’s top four prospects, as judged by both Baseball America and MLB.com.

Gleyber Torres– SS- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA): The Yankees have taken an aggressive approach with the 20-year-old Torres, promoting him to Triple-A last Monday. Torres proved he could handle higher level minor league pitching, posting a batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage slash line of .273/.367/.496 with five home runs and 18 RBI. In five games since his promotion, Torres has gone 6-18 including a double and three RBI. Torres, a natural shortstop, has played at third base since his promotion to AAA, and has played occasionally at both second and third base this season. The Yankees’ decision to call Torres up to AAA has raised the possibility that the team may call up Torres before the end of this season. Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman alluded to that option back in March, and depending on how Torres performs in Scranton, a call-up may still be a possibility.

Clint Frazier– OF- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA): Frazier has caught fire this past week, slugging home runs in three consecutive games. The 22-year-old has nine home runs and 29 RBI this season and is hitting .253 with a .335 on-base percentage through Sunday. His relatively pedestrian stat line hides some of his more substantial improvements, however. Frazier is striking out in 20.9% of his appearances, the lowest rate of any of his previous minor league stops. In addition, Frazier has a .279 batting average on balls in play, which is also a career low. This indicates that Frazier may actually be suffering from some bad luck at the plate and that his line may improve as the summer progresses. The renowned redhead may have to wait until 2018 to find a spot in a crowded Yankees outfield, but with an injury, a possible trade of Brett Gardner, or a particularly hot streak on his part, Frazier may still make his Bronx debut sometime this season.

Blake Rutherford– OF- Charleston (A): Rutherford, who just turned 20 earlier this month, had reached base in 15 consecutive games until an 0-3 performance Saturday. The young outfielder is hitting .277 on the season, including one home run, 17 RBI, a .358 on-base percentage, and six steals in seven attempts. Despite a relative lack of home run power, Rutherford has still been finding the gaps, as he has 15 total extra base hits this season. His 38:21 strikeout to walk ratio in 155 at-bats indicates that last year’s first-round pick has been able to maintain his plate discipline in his first season playing above rookie ball. Because of Rutherford’s age and the club’s organizational depth, the Yankees have no need to rush him through the minors. That being said, Rutherford may be able to force the organization’s hand if he continues to improve.

Jorge Mateo– SS- Tampa (A-Advanced): Despite offseason predictions that he may start 2017 in Trenton, the 21-year-old speedster began in Tampa for the second consecutive season. So far, while he has continued to show off his speed with 18 steals in 20 attempts, Mateo has scuffled at the plate. Despite a .254 average, Mateo has a relatively low .289 on-base percentage and has struck out 57 times in 193 at-bats. In the same span, Mateo has drawn just nine walks. Still, upside remains. The shortstop has steadily improved his defense, as he has just six errors so far this season after posting 18 last season and 30 two seasons ago. He also has 21 total extra base hits, including three home runs and six triples. For Mateo to earn a promotion to Trenton, however, he will need to rein in his strikeouts and get on base more often so his speed can be fully utilized.

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