New York Yankees

I saw a ton of Yankees High and Double-A games in 2021 and feel I know their system well. 

While the Yankees minor league players generally get overhyped, this group of players is talented.  Infielders Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Oswaldo Cabrera all have Major League upside with Volpe having some the highest upside in the minor leagues.  Clarke Schmidt is their best pitching prospect and while he missed a lot of time last season, the arsenal continues to impress. Luis Gil showed what he’s capable of when he throws strikes in the Major Leagues last season, but there is an open question as to how often that will happen.  Finally, there is Jasson Dominguez.  The hype train has long left the station. No matter what he did in his professional debut, it would have been a letdown.  Honestly, all things considered, he did ok.  He’s not the next Mike Trout, but he has a chance to be a full-time regular, perhaps even more than that.

I know many people don’t like to hear good things about the Yankees, but it’s a good system.  Now, how many of them hit their ceiling outside of New York?  History would say, more than one…

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Anthony Volpe
  • Biggest Mover: Ken Waldichuk
  • Emerging Prospect: Roderick Arias

1. Anthony Volpe (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS or Top 10 2B
  • Tools Summary: Plus hit tool and more power than was originally thought.  He has a chance to be an impact player at the highest level

I wasn’t impressed when the Yankees drafted Anthony Volpe in the first round in 2018.  I thought the upside was a utility player.  The problem was he just didn’t have any loud tools.  Average bat speed and average foot speed.  After seeing him live for a couple of games this season, I was light on both his tools and ability to hit.  He makes a lot of loud contact and is a solid above-average runner (not a burner).  Plus, he controls the strike zone and is a very pesky hitter, fouling off pitch after pitch.  Across Low and High-A, he struck out 20% of the time while walking 15% of the time.  He also hit 27 home runs and stole 33 bases.  It was just an impressive year.  Now, I don’t see him as a 30-30 type player as I still don’t see true plus power in the bat.  But, he can hit with solid-average power (18 to 22 bombs a year) who can steal 20 bases annually.  That’s an impact player by any definition.

2. Oswald Peraza (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS or Top 5 2B
  • Tools Summary: Fantasy friendly tools who makes enough contact to allow his tools to play

The Yankees hype machine has not yet found Oswald Peraza.  He’s an excellent player with a lot of tools, but yet he’s rarely discussed.  He’s athletic, can pick it at short with the best of them, is a plus runner with plenty of bat speed to hit for at least average power.  Plus, he can hit.  What’s not to like?  He split his time between High, Double-A, and Triple-A slashing .297/.356/.477 with 18 home runs and 38 stolen bases.  He struck out 20% of the time but only walked 7% of the time.  So, he can be aggressive at the plate but he doesn’t expand the strike zone and otherwise, has a solid approach.  I saw him play a lot last year and he’s not flashy, but is steady and looks just about ready.  Will it be with the Yankees?  If so, where does he play?  Those are questions that are over my pay grade.

3. Jasson Dominguez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: In an aggressive assignment in 2022, he performed ok.  Maxed out physically but there should be enough there for him to be a full-time regular, perhaps more

We had two years of hype and finally last June we got to see Mr. Jasson Dominguez play.  And as the cartoon would go…Wah, Wah, Wah….  Said another way, when considering all the hype, it didn’t go great.  But, when you look at objectively, he did ok.  He spent most of his time in Low-A which was an aggressive assignment for an 18-year-old kid that didn’t play last year.  Consequently, he slashed .258/.346/.398 with 5 home runs and 7 stolen bases.  He did strike out 31% of the time.  I only saw video and one thing is for sure, he’s already a big dude and looks maxed out physically.  I think he improves his strikeout rate and he appears to have a sound understanding of the strike zone.  There’s going to be power and he’s a 70-grade runner.  So, while he might not be the next Mike Trout, he appears to be at a minimum a full-time regular with a chance to be more.

4. Clarke Schmidt (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: Plus arsenal that plays up because of his high spin rate

It was a tough season for Clarke Schmidt.  He was expected to help the Yankees in a meaningful way but started the season on the IL and once he got healthy and stretched out, it was the middle of September before he made his Major League debut.  He has a good fastball that sits 93 to 94 MPH with quality secondary pitches.  His pitches play up because of their high spin rate (2,461 RPM for the four-seamer and 2,754 for his curveball).  In general, he has a good command of them.  It’s a number two starter profile and assuming health, I think he begins the 2022 season in the big leagues and pitches very well.

5. Luis Gil (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: He has the arsenal of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher but he’s never showed even average control.  Do the Yankees have the patience for him to develop or do they throw him in the bullpen and call it a day?

Luis Gil got the call to the Major Leagues last August and he did not disappoint.  In six innings against the Orioles, he struck out six, issued one walk, and did not allow a run.  All told, he made 6 starts in the big leagues striking out a batter an inning but also walking four per nine.  The arsenal consists of a double-plus fastball that sits 96 MPH, a plus slider that misses plenty of bats, and a hard change-up that big league hitters posted a .143 against it in a limited sample size.  It’s the arsenal of a top-of-rotation talent.  However, he’s never at any level be able to throw consistent strikes.  Since the Yankees are built to win now, the leash will be short and a move to the bullpen could result.  If that happens, it would be a shame, as I believe with time and repetition, he can achieve his ceiling of a number two starter.  How does this story end?  I don’t know…but, those are your parameters.

6. Luis Medina (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Three plus pitches with a fastball that can touch 100 MPH.  Unfortunately, his 20-grade control must improve for him to be effective.  It’s all there though, he just needs time

I saw Luis Medina pitch four times this season and every time, it was a treat.  First, it was the best stuff I saw all season and I watched a lot of games.  His fastball can touch triple-digits, he has a plus, if not double-plus curveball, and a change-up that at times was his best pitch.  It’s a great arsenal.  The part that made it a treat was at times, I was convinced he had “absolutely” no idea where the ball was going.  When he’s on, he can throw strikes, but once he gets out of sync, he misses badly.  I saw him throw six balls in a row, not once, but three times.  I lost count on how many wild pitches he threw.  The stats back it up.  In High-A, he walked 5.2 per nine, and in Double-A, he walked 5.7 per nine.  It doesn’t matter how good the stuff is, his 20-grade control will not work at the big league level.  I do believe there is hope though.  He’s very athletic and can repeat his delivery when he’s in sync.  He’s just very young and still needs work.  If it comes together, he could be a number two starter.  I would say ace, but he’s only 6-foot-1, so I won’t go there.  Regardless, the upside is very high.

7. Yoendrys Gomez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: Three quality pitches with a fastball that can touch the upper 90s.  Missed time in 2021 with a sore arm and Covid symptoms and consequently, only pitched 23.2 innings

Gomez has got some of the best stuff in the Yankees system.  He flashes a plus fastball that will touch the upper 90s with solid spin.  His secondary pitches also show promise with his curveball considered a plus offering.  He’s tall and athletic with a simple delivery although he doesn’t always repeat it.  To start the year, he spent time on the IL with a sore arm.  When he returned to action, he reeled off 9 great starts striking out 29 in 23.2 innings.  Then, he went on the Covid-IL and did not return.   Assuming health, he has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter, perhaps even more. 

8. Oswaldo Cabrera (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Great season with a better approach and significantly more power

Not many players went 20-20 this year.  Oswaldo Cabrera was one of them.  Playing mostly in Double-A, he hit 27 home runs and stole 21 bags.   His high-water mark before that was 8 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 2019.  So, what happened?  He got bigger and stronger.  His baseball card might say he’s 145 pounds, but I saw him a lot and he’s at least 30 pounds heavier.  He’s always had solid speed but also improved his approach.  One could say, he’s rounding into a full-time regular and assuming he stays at second, perhaps a great fantasy asset at that position.

9. Trey Sweeney (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF or Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: Controls the strike zone with above-average power potential

Sweeney was the Yankees’ first-round pick last June after he had a standout junior year at Eastern Illinois.  He showed power and walked twice as much as he struck out.   He looked solid in his pro debut, slugging .518 in 29 games in Low-A striking out 22% of the time and walking 14% of the time.  For math nerds, that’s far from the 2:1 walk to strikeout ratio he had in college.  He is 6-foot-4, so a move off short to perhaps the outfield could be in order.  There’s not a ton of speed but he’s an intriguing prospect nonetheless.

10. Everson Pereira (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Plus bat speed is starting to translate into 20+ home run pop.  He does chase too many pitches out of the strike zone and that will need attention for him to reach his potential

Everson Pereira had a solid season in 2021 where he split time between Low and High-A.  He’s got plenty of bat speed resulting in 19 home runs and is a solid runner and was able to steal 9 bases.  He chases balls out of the zone too much and that contributed to his 30% strikeout rate in High-A but he also walked 12% of the time.  He’ll need to learn better pitch recognition or at the next level, he could get picked apart.  Overall, I think he could be a full-time regular with potential 25+ home run pop.

11. Austin Wells (C)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher if he stays there
  • Tools Summary: Showed good pop with surprising speed.  The swing is simple and direct to the ball but he does chase too many pitches out of the zone

Wells was the Yankees’ first pick in 2020.  He had a nice season splitting his time between Low and High-A.  He showed nice pop, slugging .475 with 16 home runs, and controlled the strike zone well in Low-A.  Once he was promoted, he chased too many pitches out of the zone and wound up striking out 32% of the time.  I only saw one game and can verify that he struggled with laying off breaking pitches out of the zone.  That said, I did like the swing, and assuming he can lay off those pitches, I think he hits.  The speed was surprising.  He stole 16 bases.  I never saw him run as he went 0-5, but there is plenty of athleticism.

12. Deivi Garcia (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Bullpen arm, maybe a Closer
  • Tools Summary: Control backed up in 2021 and the arsenal is not translating as well in the upper minors and his limited Major League time

I never completely bought in the hype of Deivi Garcia.  At 5-foot-9 (if he’s that tall), the data suggest he won’t be a starter.  Once he got to Triple-A and the Majors, the stuff didn’t play as well and then he couldn’t find the plate.  Last season in 90.2 innings in Triple-A, he walked nearly 7 per nine.  He never had great control, but I didn’t expect this.  I still maintain he’s a bullpen arm and if he can find some level of control, he might have closer potential.  Just remember, small pitchers like Garcia don’t have a long history of Major League success.

13. Ken Waldichuk (LHP)

Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP with some upside

Tools Summary: Solid stuff but needs to control the arsenal better

In his first seven games of the year, Ken Waldichuk did not give up an earned run.  In his first start in Double-A, his eighth start, he gave up two.  I was at the game and he was wild.  I saw a couple of additional starts and while he doesn’t always repeat his delivery, I would not call him wild.  The stuff is good with his fastball sitting 92 to 93 MPH but with a double-plus curveball.  He’s got a starter’s body, is a lefty with a good enough arsenal to be an effective Major League pitcher.  Since the Yankees are always in need of pitching, I would expect to see him in 2022.

14. Roderick Arias (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l Player Expected to Sign ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: One of the premier international players expected to sign

The Yankees are once again prominent players in the International market and are expected to sign one of the best talents in the class in Roderick Arias.  He’s athletic with great bat speed with a feel to hit.  If you like speculating in your Dynasty League drafts, this is a guy to target.

15. Allen Facundo (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP with extreme risk or Closer
  • Tools Summary: He’s showing a big fastball and a swing-and-miss slider in the DSL and getting plenty of guys out.  He has years to develop but is a pitcher that should be watched

The Yankees signed Allen Facundo in 2019 and he had his first exposure to professional batters in the Dominican Summer League and pitched very effectively.  He’s not a big guy but has a plus fastball and slider from the left side and raked up significant strikeout totals in the process.  He doesn’t always throw strikes but is athletic enough to eventually repeat his delivery consistently.  He’s not yet a guy to own in Dynasty Leagues, but he is a kid to monitor.