It’s the offseason, which, in addition to waiting forever for top free agents to sign (thanks MLB collusion!), means we get updated prospect rankings. Over the past couple weeks, Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America released their new lists for top Yankee prospects. You can access the BPro list by making a free account, but the BA list remains strictly behind a paywall.
Here are the respective lists so you can take a look, and then we’ll get into some thoughts:
BP has Deivi Garcia as the top overall prospect whereas BA puts him third. In their write-up, BP mentioned Garcia has developed a plus slider in addition to his already excellent fastball and curveball. Here’s some video of Garcia’s fastball and curveball from the MLB Futures Game this July:
That combination alone is lethal and could make Deivi a solid starter in the big leagues. Throw in another off-speed pitch like the slider and you have the makings of a top-tier starter. BP also wrote about how Garcia’s curveball and changeup improved this season, which shows his growth as a pitcher and the ability to tighten his arsenal moving forward. The slider was the big development though, and they highlight that pitch as the reason which makes Garcia potentially a No. 1 or 2 starter who could make the majors as early as next season. BA is likely less high on the slider development and may be concerned with Garcia’s command struggles in AAA. Since reaching AA in 2018, his BB% is over 11%, which is much higher than what you want. In 2020, look for Garcia to lower the walks and improve his command as the final step before he is ready to contribute to the big leagues.
The Jasson hype is real, people. The newly signed 16-year-old is in either the top or second spot on both of these lists, which is unheard of for a 16 year old. Interestingly, BP has no confidence in this ranking because they have not seen him themselves. To which I say, let’s watch some video:
Good morning. Jasson Dominguez is going to be a problem.
Just hearing that sound tells you all you need to know about the bat potential. That’s music to my ears and I’m excited to see what Jasson is able to do once he is stateside. International scouting director Donny Rowland told BA, “He’s possibly the best combination of tools, athleticism and performance that I’ve run across,” which is huge praise for Dominguez. That article also mentions players like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Wander Franco, who have all risen up the ladder quickly as teenagers. If Jasson is anywhere near as good as these reports, we could be talking about him as a top prospect in baseball within 2 years and reaching the bigs in 3.
No Consensus on Clarke
The biggest surprise in the BA list was having Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees 2017 first round pick, as the top pitching prospect over Deivi Garcia. BA says after recovering from Tommy John, Schmidt’s fastball has touched 97 with good movement, and his curve and chageup have plus potential. Three above average pitches is the recipe for starters, and if Schmidt can harness his potential there is upside there as a No. 2/3 pitcher. BP has him 9th, citing injury concerns as well as a lower view of his changeup. 2020 could be a huge year for Schmidt. If he can put it all together, he could reach the majors by the end of the year either as a starter or out of the bullpen.
Everyone’s favorite potential center fielder Estevan Florial took another step back this year, and it shows in the prospect rankings. BP ranked him 7th, which is a downgrade from his #2 ranking last year. Florial was expected to spend 2019 in AA, yet he performed so poorly he spent the season still in High A ball. In 78 games, he hit .251/.309/.397 which just isn’t getting it done. A series of wrist and hand injuries have hampered Florial the past few years, and the farther away he gets from those injuries the better he can hit. We all remember how it took Mark Teixeira half a season to get his power back after a wrist injury, so I’m still holding out hope for Florial. BA doesn’t even have Florial in their top 10, which shows how far he has fallen over the past 2 seasons.
BA vs. BP
In reading the lists, it looks like BP favors upside whereas BA places a high value on reliability. That philosophical difference can explain ranking Clarke Schmidt ahead of Deivi Garcia as well as the exclusion of Florial. BA ranked Oswald Peraza 5th and Anthony Volpe 6th, both of whom are lower-upside players who will likely rise through the system linearly. In general, I tend to prefer high-upside because those guys become superstars. Yet there is a case to be made for safe prospects with the high volatility inherent with any prospect. It is good see those differences and let us form our own opinions about which guys we are high on.
I was excited to see Luis Medina ranked 4th on the BP list and 7th on BA’s. He has some of the best stuff in the system, with a fastball that reaches 100 and two plus off-speed pitches, but he could never command it. In the 2nd half of this season, he suddenly started to. In fact, he was able to move up to High A ball and still pitch into the 6th inning in both his starts. He is still only 20, and if this newfound command is real, I could see him making a leap like Dellin Betances did way back in the day after he learned how to throw the ball over the plate.
Two other prospects on both lists are Luis Gil and Anthony Volpe. Gil was acquired in the Jake Cave trade which is starting to look like a steal. He has a great fastball-curve combo and could be the next great reliever prospect. Volpe was the Yankees first round pick out of New Jersey this year, and he has solid tools all around. He has the defensive chops to stick at short, and if he can develop as a hitter, he could rise quickly.
It’s clear after years of graduating top position players like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge that the Yankees system strength right now is right-handed pitchers. 7 of the top 10 on BA’s list and 5 on BP’s list are RHP. Ideally 1-2 of those guys can stick as starters and contribute to the rotation. Garcia, Schmidt, and Medina are most likely to do that. Even if those guys don’t develop as planned, it looks like the bullpen pipeline will remain strong for years with all of these guys likely able to air it out for 1-2 innings at a time.
Even after years of graduating several prospects, the Yankees system is in good shape. With a strong developmental year in 2020, the system could easily be top 10 again, which bodes well for a team currently in a contention window set up to compete for the next 5-10 years.