A week after Baseball Prospectus released its top 10 Yankees prospects, Baseball America has done the same. It’s subscription required, so I can’t give away the whole thing, but here are some takeaways from BA’s list, which differed heavily from BP.
1. Jasson Dominguez has special potential: BA has Dominguez as the Yankees’ top prospect. While another outlet putting him that high might seem speculative, the BA team has seen him in the Dominican Republic and has as good a sense of his potential as any public-facing prospect group.
In case you forgot, Dominguez was given a $5.1 million bonus on July 2 this offseason, the largest bonus the Yankees have ever given out for a J2 signing. He’s a switch-hitter who BA says the Yankees scouted at both catcher and shortstop before deciding on letting him thrive in center field.
The highlight of the writeup on Jasson was the following sentence: “Internally, the Yankees describe Dominguez as a player who might be constructed with by taking the best tools from other players throughout their system and molding them into a single player.” Holy wow. Obviously, teams are going to talk up their own guys, but hearing this about a 16-year-old is wild. We have a long way until he’s potentially in pinstripes, but there’s a lot to dream on.
2. Concerns on Deivi García’s starting future: BP had García as a midseason top 25 prospect and had him No. 1 on their Yankees list. Meanwhile, Baseball America put him third, mentioning that scouts were divided on whether he’s a future starter or reliever.
We at Views saw this and debated the merits. On one hand, he’s gone from being a two-pitch starter with a fastball and high-spin curveball to a potential four-pitch stud. BA even rates his slider as the best in the system, and it’s an offspeed offering that BP already rates as plus. He just posted a career-high in innings and tore up the Eastern League.
But there’s non-negligible concern within García’s profile as well. He’s 5-foot-9, often a death knell for the hopes of a right-hander remaining in a rotation unless your name is Pedro Martinez. He walks over 10 percent of opponents and still needs to pitch deeper into games.
I’d still lean towards García as a future starter. For one things, the line between starter and reliever these days is ever blurred and you don’t need to go seven strong every fifth day to hang in a rotation. If he can maintain the gains he made with his slider into 2020, he could be in the Bronx by midseason.
3. The Clarke Schmidt hype might be real: In between Dominguez and García was Schmidt. BA is quite high on Schmidt, who fell to No. 9 on BP’s list as their prospect team saw his a future reliever. BA hailed his fastball, which can touch 97 mph, as well as his split changeup and slurvy curveball.
The South Carolina product had his first full season since Tommy John recovery and made it to Double-A Trenton, where he impressed over a few starts. He’ll be 24 when next season begins and should start off in Double-A.
Schmidt, like García, is in the upper Minors and thus can start to be considered for a Major League role soon. BA gave him a 60 future grade, albeit with high risk, and his leap up their list shows a certain confidence in his abilities to stay in the rotation.
4. The Yankees actually have upper Minors pitching depth now: Unlike last season, the Yankees could have some prospects break into the rotation. New York likely hoped Michael King was ready for that leap after 2018, but his shoulder injury in Spring Training precluded any impact, though he did debut in September. Nestor Cortes Jr., Chance Adams and others were forced into makeshift bulk starter roles instead.
The Yankees might have rotation depth to begin with in 2020 if Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery are healthy, in addition to any free agent acquisitions (Gerrit Cole?). It’s just a fact of modern baseball that you need more than five starters to get through a season. Guys get hurt and the 2019 Yankees were a prime example.
The prospects could be ready to help this time around when the injury bug inevitably hits. García is already in Triple-A and will be added to the 40-man roster. Albert Abreu, BA’s No. 10 and BP’s No. 2 NYY prospect, as well as King are in the upper minors and are already on the 40-man. Schmidt is ready for consideration in Double-A, and there’s always the potential for one of the many starters in Single-A to have a breakout a la Deivi.
If one, or perhaps a couple, of that list of prospects could force their way into pinstripes, the Yankees’ needs for starting and relief depth could be solved when issues pop up at midseason, lessening the always dire need to a trade deadline acquisition while setting the team up for 2021 as well.
5. Stray thoughts: BA had Oswald Peraza fifth, one of three position players in their top 10 along with Dominguez and Anthony Volpe (sixth). Peraza was a 19-year-old with Staten Island and Charleston in 2019, so his sub-.700 OPS shouldn’t scare away fans. His ranking reflects the potential tools that could breakout (and he had a .348 OBP in Charleston, so he has plate discipline already).
The cadre of low Minors arms that the Yankees have is scary and one is bound for a breakout. Luis Medina, Luis Gil, Roansy Contreras and Alexander Vizcaino were all in Single-A last year and could make up a scary High-A Tampa rotation in 2020. That’s before you get to the likes of Miguel Yajure, Yoendrys Gomez and others.
The point is, with so many arms reaching the upper 90s on their fastballs and sporting in-progress breaking pitches, there certainly a high chance of busts — these are pitching prospects — but the Yankees are likely to hit on a one or even a few, and turn them into future starters, relievers or enticing trade bait.