2017 New York Yankees Prospects Preview Part Two
If you missed Part One, find it here. Now, let’s take a closer look at the top 10 prospects in a Yankees farms system that’s bursting with talent.
10.) RHP – Albert Abreu
Acquired in the Brian McCann trade, Abreu has a fastball that consistently hits in the mid-90s and has life to it, which helps with his power breaking balls, but he needs to improve his changeup to be effective. The former Houston Astro does have a tendency to be inconsistent, but that has a lot to do with fixable mechanics. The Yankees will start Abreu at Double-A Trenton.
9.) OF – Dustin Fowler
The Yankees selected Fowler in the 18th round of the 2013 draft. After a pair of seasons, they’re beginning to see some of the tools he displayed in high school. He’s an above-average defender in center field, and he definitely has the speed to track down balls heading into the gaps. Fowler does have what some scouts call a weak arm, but makes up for it with an extremely quick release.
His speed has always been his weapon, particularly on the base paths where he has swiped 25 or more bases in back-to-back years. Fowler also possess a solid left-handed swing that gives him potential to hit for average and power, but he has to learn to not expand the strike zone. Fowler will get a chance at Triple-A this season to improve on that.
8.) RHP – Chance Adams
The Yankees selected Adams in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Adams was a reliever coming out of college, but New York transitioned him to the rotation in 2016. He put up eye-popping numbers, which drew praise from other teams. Adams approaches his starts as if he’s still a reliever, attacking hitters with a mid-90’s fastball that is accompanied by a truly nasty slider.
His changeup and curveball are still very much works in progress. However, if one of those secondary pitches improves, you could see him in a big league rotation. For now, he’ll start the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Don’t be surprised if he makes his MLB debut sometime in 2017.
7.) OF – Aaron Judge
Judge made his presence felt right from the get-go last season, when he crushed a home run in his very first at-bat. He also displayed surprising athleticism for a player who’s 6’7, and he showed off not only an accurate arm, but an absolute cannon. Like most sluggers, Judge also showed he has a tendency to strikeout. MLB pitchers exploited that more than 44% of the time, per FanGraphs. He’s fighting switch-hitter Aaron Hicks for the start in right field; if he continues to have a high strikeout ratio, he might find himself back in Triple-A to work things out.
6.) LHP – Justus Sheffield
Since being acquired from the Cleveland Indians, Sheffield has worked his way through the lower levels of the Yankees minor league system. He’s only 5’10”, but the southpaw creates a fantastic downward plane toward the plate and does a great job of keeping the ball in the yard.
He has no fear about using his entire arsenal. Sheffield has three plus pitches he’ll use anytime. His fastball has a sinking action to it, and normally registers at 93-95 but can touch 97 MPH. His slider is short breaking in the low-to mid-80s, and his changeup sits around the same range. Sheffield is probably more suited for the bullpen, but he’ll head to Double-A Trenton in 2017 to see if he can take the next step toward becoming a starter.
5.) RHP – James Kaprielian
Less than a year after being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, Kaprielian heard his name being mentioned as a possible addition to the Yankees regular season rotation. Unfortunately for Kaprielian, issues with his elbow limited him to just three starts, effectively ending any opportunity he had to make his MLB debut.
Kaprielian is equipped with a fastball in the mid- to upper-90s, a wicked curveball, a consistent changeup and a slider that is constantly improving. The only question going forward is whether or not Kaprielian can stay healthy. If he does, he’ll be in Pinstripes shortly.
4.) SS/2B – Jorge Mateo
The Yankees signed Mateo as an international free agent back in 2012 and brought him along slowly. In 2015, he finally broke out, hitting .278 with a .737 OPS and a minor league-leading 82 stolen bases between Single-A and High-A Tampa. Last year was troubling for Mateo, both on the field and off. His play regressed and he was suspended for insubordination. Mateo must show that he can make the necessary adjustments at the plate, so he can showcase his unbelievably blazing speed, and that he’s matured.
3.) OF – Blake Rutherford
Because of Rutherford’s high signing demands, he ultimately fell to the Yankees with the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Rutherford certainly didn’t disappoint in his professional debut, showing superb bat speed and a very smooth swing that can hit for average or power. He’s athletic enough to play center field, but a corner spot would be a better fit.
2.) OF – Clint Frazier
Frazier was the center piece in the Miller trade, and he’s considered one of MLB’s best prospects. Frazier is widely considered an above-average defender with good speed and a very strong arm, allowing him to play all three outfield positions. Frazier will start the season in Triple-A. He struggled slightly there late last season, batting .230 and striking out 36 times 122 at-bats. Frazier does not lack in confidence; don’t be surprised if he’s a mid-summer call-up.
1.) SS – Gleyber Torres
Not only was Torres the youngest player in the Arizona Fall League, but he was the youngest to win MVP. He hit .403 with a .513 on-base percentage. Torres will begin the 2017 season with Double-A Trenton. Look for him in Pinstripes much sooner than expected.