The Yankees are about ready to enter the next phase of the partial rebuild, which is showcasing their prospects. Some of these young players will hopefully end up as part of a future core and others will fail to ever turn into the potential evaluators and fans saw in them. Then there’s the group who will be moved for established players or other talent in return. This is what the Yankees should do with their top prospects:
Gary Sanchez: Keep
Sanchez plays a premium position in catcher and offers a premium skillset of that position with an actual, offensive, ability. In today’s day and age a catcher who can contribute to the offense is rare, making Sanchez, future bust or not, too risky not to try out on the major league team. Sanchez’s potential as an offensive catcher (making Brian mcCann a backup first baseman or DH of the future where his bat would project well anyway) is too valuable to move, regardless of his very early results trying to hit at the MLB level. Sanchez stays, and the Yankees try to work him in to the 25 man roster mix starting as early as next month. Sanchez, still just 23-years-old, is hitting: .280/.326 with five home runs, 24 RBI and just 20 strike outs in 141 at bats for AAA Scranton.
Rob Refsnyder: Trade (TBD)
Refsnyder is a tough case. He’s a prospect who just turned 25-years-old and has always hit at every level when given the chance. The Yankees, allegedly, felt he didn’t have a position so have kept him in AAA until recently when he debuted as a right fielder instead of his previous role at second base. With Starlin Castro under contract long-term and Refsnyder showing an inability to handle third base in the spring, the Yankees have had him play virtually everywhere the past couple of months. If Refsnyder can demonstrate the ability to play right field and say, second or first base in a pinch, his bat projects well.
The Yankees have killed some of his value letting him age so long in the minors and he could serve a purpose as a left-killing utility player on the team for years to come. However, if, and only if, New York could package him with a bigger name to get a true impact player in return, they should. Refsnyder isn’t going to make or break a franchise or even headline a deal, but he will have definite value with his bat if he can play multiple positions and may be worth more in a trade than on the Yankees.
Aaron Judge: Keep
Judge is another borderline situation. At 24-year-sold, to be an elite prospect, now is the time to prove yourself at the major league level. On the other hand, one of the hardest things to do in the game is develop a 6’7″ hitter, who has a massive strike zone and is therefore prone to massive strike out numbers. It’s very likely Judge never turns into a perennial All-Star some fans think he can become, but rather an all or nothing home run type of hitter. The outfielder is hitting: .250/.309 after a hot start at AAA but he does have seven home runs and 24 RBI in 160 at bats, projecting to about 25 home run power over the course of a full season. Of course, Judge also has 40 strikeouts, a 25% strikeout rate which would make him a 150 K guy, not the type of missing you prefer from a guy who hits 25 home runs in a year.
Judge is the easiest prospect to deal while his value remains sky high, something similar to a Delmon Young for Matt Garza trade we saw so many years ago. Still, the Yankees need to prove they can develop a position player from start to finish and dealing Judge would essentially undermine the entire change in philosophy. At this point, New York needs to call him up in a month or two and see what he can do and work with the prized prospect at this level. Judge has been said to be playing all three outfield positions, implying the Yankees are looking for any way possible to get him at bats.
Jorge Mateo: Keep
Almost by force the Yankees need to hold onto Mateo. He is only in A ball which means his trade value hasn’t even reached its ceiling and his combination of speed and production is something which could land him in top 25 prospect status by the end of the year. As it is, Mateo has already leapfrogged his way to becoming the Yankees’ #1 overall prospect. Maybe one day he headlines a blockbuster deal, but for now the infielder is hitting .316/.374 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 14 stolen bases showing his potential as an almost five tool player. New York will need to see what he can do at AA at the very least before it considers his future.