Baseball Prospectus released its newest list of MLB’s top 100 prospects and the Yankees landed: Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo and Gary Sanchez on the list. For the Yankees, three players cracking the top 100 ties them for 15th most in baseball (A’s, Diamondbacks, Padres and Mets also have three) and sixth in the AL and third in the AL East behind the Red Sox and Rays. Of teams with a winning record last season, the Yankees have the sixth most prospects and only the: Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers and Pirates had a better record and more players represented.
While the results for the team were basically league average, all three players from the Yankees ranked higher than the previous season. Judge, entered last season ranked 49th and comes into this season ranked 18th (only six teams have a player ranked higher) listed as the fifth best outfield prospect in the game and projected to break into the majors as early as this season. Judge hit a wall down the stretch last season after hitting well in AA and starting out in AAA. He will look to prove himself at the minor league’s highest level and improve upon a .224/.308/.373 line he finished with in 260 at bats.
Judge is the natural replacement for Carlos Beltran in right field when his contract expires after this season and, along with Mateo and Sanchez, has been deemed largely untouchable in trades.
Mateo is new to this list and came in ranked 65th overall and 16th on a deep list of top shortstop prospects in the game. Mateo has a much longer path than his two counterparts at the age of 21, breaking his way onto the list after stealing 82 bases between A and high A and hitting .321/.374 in the latter in his final 91 at bats to end the year. He will look to make better contact, steal with a higher percentage and break his way into AA the same way he did into the top 100 in 2016.
Sanchez has the best chance to break spring on the 25 man roster and he will compete directly with Austin Romine for the opportunity to back up Brian McCann. Sanchez showed great strides in maturity and on defense earning him a spot at 92 and as the fifth best catching prospect in baseball. It’s been a long road of development since the right-handed hitter was brought into the Yankees’ system at the age of 16, but .295/.357 performance in AAA with 14 extra base hits in 98 at bats earned Sanchez his first two major league at bats when September callups took place in 2015. The Yankees project him as a strong bat with average defense at catcher and Sanchez will look to continue his development at the major league level.
Players to watch in 2016 to break the list next year:
James Kaprielian – Already ranked the third best Yankees’ prospect (Sanchez is fifth), Kaprielian will be on this list with a performance to match his scouting report in 2016. With no legitimate professional experience, it’s a matter of putting that first achievement on the resume for the right-handed starter. Kaprielian is considered a high candidate to be a fast riser in the minor leagues and could make his Yankees’ debut as early as September if he stays healthy and performs well.
Ian Clarkin – All he has to do is stay healthy and pitch to his potential. The scouting reports have his raw stuff over Kaprielian’s and Clarkin is one breakout season away from easily cracking this list. But he has to stay on the mound, a feat that has alluded the left handed starter so far in his young career. As of right now, Clarkin is the sixth best Yankees’ prospect, one spot behind Sanchez.
Dustin Fowler – Still just 21, Fowler has the age and development ahead of him to make this list over most of the other Yankees’ outfield prospects not named “Judge”. Fowler turned some heads in high A Tampa last season, hitting .298/.334 and stealing 30 bases. If he can duplicate that performance in AA, he could make a name for himself somewhere on the back half of this list in 2017.
Miguel Andujar – Still just 20-years-old, Andujar got his feet wet in the Florida State League in 2015 and put up a meager .243/.288 line with 51 errors on defense at third base. Still, at a young age and with a double plus arm and offensive promise in his scouting report, Andujar has the type of tools where he can explode at any moment. It may be too early for him to take “the next step” but if he does have a big year, scouts are going to be all over his raw potential, potentially earning him a spot among the minor league elites.