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New York Yankees

It could be that I watch so many of the Yankees’ minor league affiliates over the summer that I develop a bias, but I really like their system.  Anthony Volpe has star written all over him, and despite being the most overhyped prospect in a long time, so does Jasson Dominguez.  Everyone forgets Oswald Peraza, but he hit 19 home runs, stole 33 bases last season, and didn’t look lost in a September call-up for the Yankees.  Trey Sweeney took a step forward, and there’s a lot to get excited about the Yankees’ first-round pick last July, Spencer Jones.  And then there are the young Latin kids they seem to acquire yearly.  It’s a deep system, particularly with positional players, that should provide depth for the Yankees’ machine for the next several years as first responders or trade bait.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Anthony Volpe
  • Biggest Mover: Everson Pereira
  • Emerging Prospect: Jared Serna

1. Anthony Volpe (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  First-Round Pick
  • Tools Summary: Traded line drives for ground balls, and the stat line suffered.  There’s too much to like here to project anything but star potential.

We had Anthony Volpe in our Top 10 prospects entering the 2022 season, and while he only hit .249 across Double and Triple-A, he did everything else.  There’s plus speed, excellent bat speed to project 20+ home runs, and he has an approach and enough contact ability to project not only an everyday player but a star.  He only produced a .272 BABIP, which is the direct result of a 10% increase in his ground ball rate and a corresponding decrease in line drives.  Fix that, which I think he does, and the results will improve.  The Yankees have cleared the path for Volpe, and it’s up to him to take it.  It might take another year, but I think he has a chance to be an impact baseball player and an even better fantasy player.

2. Jasson Dominguez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Over-hyped players often don’t live up to expectations.  While time will tell with Dominguez, the tools continue to project him to be an impact player at the highest level.

Jasson Dominguez has been one of the most hyped prospects in recent memory.  Before he had even played a game, he was being compared to Mike Trout.  How could anyone live up to that hype?  Well, I don’t think Dominguez is Trout, but the talent is evident, and 2022 was a bit of a breakout for the 19-year-old outfielder.  He has the tools.  He’s a 70-runner with plus bat speed that should allow him to project as a 20-20 player at the highest level.  Plus, he’s cut down on his strikeouts and has developed a solid approach at the plate.  He’s not a big guy, and his lower half is significant, so long-term, he’s likely to slow down a grade.  I’m not ready to put his ceiling as a first-round fantasy pick, but he’s moving up the board…and quickly.

3. Oswald Peraza (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: He’s a plus defender who could go 20-20.  He seems like the ideal prospect, but he’s not the chosen one…

I know that Anthony Volpe is the heir apparent at shortstop, but Oswald Peraza can play.  In 99 games in Triple-A, he hit 19 home runs and stole 33 bases while keeping his strikeouts in check (23%).  The Yankees were impressed enough to give him a September call-up where he didn’t look lost at the plate or in the field.  With Volpe still at least a half-season away, I would not be surprised if Peraza gets the job out of spring training.  If he doesn’t, and they go again with Kiner-Falefa, or a similar player, then I’m not sure where he fits in.  To repeat: he’s a plus defender with speed and the potential to hit 20 home runs annually.  Surely, he’ll be a full-time player somewhere.  If you own him in a Dynasty League, hold tight.  There’s way too much upside to move him.

4. Everson Pereira (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-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’s stat line continues to satisfy as he shows power and speed.  In 102 games across High and Double-A, he slashed .277/.350/.469 with 14 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He continues to work his walks (9.6% BB-Rate) but is still being fooled by breaking pitches resulting in a high strikeout rate (28%).  The skills are fantasy-friendly, with a potential to be a 20-20 performer earlier in his career, but as he works his way through the minor leagues, the pitching will get better, and he could continue to struggle to make contact.

5. Spencer Jones (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: He’s athletic with plus power.  But he’s also 6-foot-7 with a massive strike zone.

The Yankees selected outfielder Spencer Jones with their first pick.  The 6-foot-7 outfielder is athletic with plus power potential, but given his length, there is likely to be swing and miss in his game.  Yankees fans are excited that he might be the next “Aaron Judge” – another very tall, late first-round pick with swing and miss concerns that kind of did all right.  Jones did well in his debut, hitting .344 in 25 games with four home runs and 12 stolen bases.  He also only struck out 19% of the time.  It’s enough to get excited and take a gamble in Rookie Drafts next season.  Just know that lightning rarely strikes twice.

6. Trey Sweeney (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF or Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with intriguing 20-20 power-speed potential.

I saw Trey Sweeney several times last season, and he’s a hard guy to get your arms around.  First, he looks great in the uniform.  He’s tall, athletic, and carries himself well.  At 6-foot-4, he’s faster than you think (plus speed), but his swing is more geared for contact than power.  While he was a fine at short, you typically don’t see players of his size stick at the position.  Finally, and most importantly, he controls the strike zone well.  He doesn’t chase and produced acceptable strikeout rates across High and Double-A (23%).  So, there are several nice building blocks for him to be an impact performer.  I believe that as he continues to fill out, the 31 bases he stole will be an outlier, but a 20-20 player who can post a .350 OBP is in the cards.

7. Randy Vazquez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: He has a plus fastball-curveball combination, but his delivery points to a bullpen role.

I saw Randy Vazquez pitch several times over the summer, and I’m torn whether he’ll be a starter or a reliever.  The stuff is great with a fastball that tops out at 95 with a plus curveball.  There’s a lot of deception, so batters don’t pick up his pitches, and the result is a strikeout an inning.  His delivery has effort, and his arm slot is a lower three-quarters delivery which doesn’t give his change-up a chance to work.  While on paper, he feels like a reliever, but after watching him pitch as a starter, he’s effective in that role.  Regardless of the role, he’s about ready and should see time in New York next season.

8. Will Warren (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: He’s a sinker-slider pitcher with enough control to be a number four starter.

The Yankees appear to have gotten one of the steals of the 2021 Draft in Will Warren.  Taken in the 8th round, he pitched to a 4.88 ERA (which I know isn’t great), but he posted a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio while striking out nearly a batter an inning.  The stuff isn’t plus, but he throws a heavy sinker that sits 92 to 93 and a serviceable slider and change-up.  It’s not the stuff of a front-of-the-rotation pitcher, but he could be a decent number four starter.

9. Drew Thorpe (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: He doesn’t have the big fastball but has swing-and-miss secondary pitches and pounds the strike zone.

I’m not particularly eager to roster command and control guys in Dynasty Leagues.  In general, I maintain that you need the big fastball to be successful in the big leagues.  Sure, there are always exceptions, but playing the game of exceptions is hard and usually doesn’t end well.  However, sometimes certain pitchers interest you, and Drew Thorpe is one of them.  He doesn’t throw hard but has excellent secondary pitches and throws strikes.  He’s also 6-foot-4 and only weighs a listed 190 pounds.  Perhaps with some weighted ball training and as he naturally fills out, his fastball could go up a grade.  If so, the ceiling goes way up.  His fastball currently sits 88 to 91, but 92 to 94 MPH is a much different situation.  It’s a project for the Yankees, and Dynasty League managers need to understand the parameters, but there are also some nice building blocks.

10. Roderick Arias (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with star-level tools.  He’s 17, though, with a long way to go.

Roderick Arias was the Yankees’ big 2022 International signee in January.  He’s athletic with all the tools to be an impact performer in the Major Leagues.  The Yankees had him play in the DSL, and he held his own, hitting three home runs and stealing ten bases in 31 games.  He struck out too much, but his youth and tools are what the Yankees are focusing on and what fantasy managers should do.  While the power and speed combination point to a potential star, the risk is enormous at this stage of his development.

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