With Spring Training upon us on Wednesday, it’s yet again time for another round of prospect rankings and evaluations. Baseball America (subs req’d), Baseball Prospectus (subs req’d), and MLB.com’s Pipeline all released their Top 100 prospect lists in the last few weeks. As you can imagine, each of those lists included some Yankees.
As with all prospect rankings and projection, there is a good amount of guesswork involved. Even the very best scouts/analysts are often very wrong with prospects – baseball is a tough game even for those born with the tools –and therefore, there is always a wide range of opinions and projections. With that in mind, here is what the experts are saying about the Yankees’ system and a few holistic takeaways at the end.
What They’re Saying
Of course, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus’ lists are each behind a paywall, so I’m only going to stick to the basics for those. (You should be subscribing to both sites, if you can. They’re worth it.) Here is what they say about the Yankees:
- Jasson Dominguez (38): The 17-year-old phenom has a MLB ETA of 2024, with BA noting that “his combination of elite tools, athleticism and performance have him primed to follow the path of Ronald Acuña, Juan Soto and other international stars who raced to the majors by the time they were 20.”
- Clarke Schmidt (62): BA argues that the soon-to-be 24-year-old can make his MLB debut in 2021 after “showing his full potential” in 2019.
- Deivi Garcia (65): Everyone’s favorite prospect phenom actually ranks as the second-best pitcher in the Yankees system, per BA, due to his small frame “raising questions” about his ability to remain in the rotation long-term. Still, they expect Deivi to make his debut in 2020.
- Deivi Garcia (24): In a chat following the list’s publication, BP lead prospect writer Jeff Paternostro expressed surprise that they were much higher on Deivi than others in the industry. He said that his “curve has been a monster for two years, the velocity has steadily increased and he’s added a good slider, and the change is fine”, later adding that “he looked like a potential top of the rotation starter on our staff live looks.”
- Jasson Dominguez (46): BP routinely argues that it is uncomfortable ranking J2 prospects given the lack of information and often misleading J2 scouting reports. They included Jasson because “the recent success of Wander Franco, Julio Rodriquez, and Marco Luciano does provide more confidence in reports surrounding The Martian.”
- Jasson Dominguez (54): MLB’s scouting report on Dominguez is glowing, saying that “a scout willing to be aggressive could grade each of Dominguez’s five tools as well above average, and his instincts are nearly as impressive as his physical ability. He’s a switch-hitter who’s loaded with bat speed and strength. He has a smooth swing from both sides of the plate, advanced feel for the barrel and a disciplined approach, so he should hit for power and average.” Sign me up!
- Clarke Schmidt (88): Also high on Schmidt, MLB says that he “has three pitches that grade as plus at their best, and his slider did as well before he scrapped it to focus on his curveball. He uses two- and four-seam fastballs, ranging from 92-97 mph with heavy sink on the former and cut and carry on the latter. His tumbling changeup bottoms out at the plate and his low-80s curve features good depth.”
- Deivi Garcia (92): According to MLB, Garcia has “one of the best breaking balls in the Minors, a high-spin curveball with so much depth that he sometimes has difficulty landing it for strikes. He also dodges bats with a fastball that ranges from 91-97 mph with high spin rates that give it riding life up in the strike zone. He added a mid-80s slider in 2019 to give batters a different look, and he also flashes a solid changeup with fading action.” Still, concerns about his size place him below Schmidt on the list.
Believe it or not, there actually was a bit of consensus on the Yankees’ best prospects, huh? Granted, each of the major outlets obviously had varying opinions, but there were no real surprises. I think there’s enough here to draw a few conclusions:
1. The Jasson Dominguez Hype is Real: It only feels natural to start with Jasson. We’re going to be hearing a lot about him in the next few years. In that sense, he reminds me a lot of Gary Sánchez. It felt like we were reading about The Kraken for a decade before he made his debut in 2016. There is one big difference, though: it won’t take Jasson seven years to make his debut. (Gary signed with New York as a 15-year-old back in 2009.) It feels like a broad consensus at this point that Jasson will follow the Acuña fast-track if all goes well. That’s pretty exciting.
Nearly everyone glows about his physical tools. Danny Rowland, the Yankees’ international scouting director, is even on record as saying that Dominguez has “possibly the best combination of tools, athleticism, and performance” that he’s ever seen. The Yankees have also repeatedly said that if you took the best tools of every other position player in the system and molded them into one player, you’d get Jasson. That is, uh, high praise! It’s also the only reason to spend your entire $5 million pool on one guy.
It seems as though the major scouts agree, too. Each of the scouting reports are glowing – as is everything we’ve ever read about him – and it is difficult not to get excited. We’ve now seen a number of young Latin American prospects fly through the minors, many of whom are some of the game’s brightest stars. And, I mean, it’s easy to see why people are enamored with him. Look at a screengrab of a recent interview with him:
It’s not too difficult to see why people expect him to fly through the lower minors at least. Still, it’s worth noting that BP’s skepticism is warranted. He’s never played a professional game and there is a lot yet to learn about Dominguez. For, now, though the hype is real. Here’s the MLB.com video that’s the source of the screengrab:
2. There is Deivi Consensus (Kind of): Everyone agrees that Deivi Garcia has MLB-caliber stuff. In fact, that sounds like an excuse to post one of my favorite gifs:
I could watch that curve all day. Thanks to the Future’s Game, we know that Garcia’s curve clocks in at 78-80 mph and it’s long been an open secret that it has a very high spin rate. His curve, along with his new slider and good fastball, are why he struck out so many batters last year. As a 20-year-old, his strikeout rate (32%) ranked 2nd among all pitchers in Double-A and Triple-A last season. Pretty good! In any case, nobody doubts the stuff. (He got hit around in Triple-A, but he’s young. I don’t think that raised too many red flags.)
The only question — one with no real answer yet — is whether he’ll be in the rotation or bullpen long term. I admit that I’m biased: to me, the results are the results. I don’t put a lot of stock into the “oh, he’s short” argument. But, at the same time, I get it. The list of successful pitchers 5’9 or shorter is, uh, short.
Thanks to Play Index, I sorted the best pitchers 5’9 or shorter (MLB.com lists Deivi as 5’9) by their career bWAR. To qualify, pitchers had to be under 69 inches and have 75% of their appearances be as a starter. Here’s the list:
|3||Bullet Joe Bush||31.6||69||1912-28||370|
Not exactly an inspiring list! It’s a bit more generous at 5’10 (Tom Gordon) or 5’11 (Pedro) but yeah. There’s not a huge sample here. All of this is to say that it makes sense for there to be some doubt. The 2020 season will be an important one for Deivi’s future.
3. Clarke Schmidt is Divisive: So, what about Clarke Schmidt? He doesn’t appear at all on BP’s list but ranks higher than Deivi on both MLB.com and BA’s rankings. It’s interesting! And it’s part of a larger trend, with BP much more sour on Schmidt than their peers. They even ranked him as a future reliever in their midseason rankings.
Like Deivi, though, Schmidt has great stuff, but there are questions. He’s had a lengthy injury history (Tommy John weeks before the draft plus other injuries) and is absolutely a high-risk, high-reward type pitcher. I’m personally not sure what to make of him. Occam’s razor, though, tells us to be at least interested in Schmidt. His stuff is obviously very good and I’m very excited to see what the new pitching apparatus will do with it.
Overall, he’s one of the few potential impact prospects in the upper levels of the Yankees’ system. If all goes well, he’ll earn a call-up to Triple-A sometime in the season and possibly even suit up in the Bronx when rosters expand. That’s pretty neat! Here’s some video:
So, that’s about where things stand with the Yankees’ high-impact prospects. There are few surprises — nearly everyone agrees on who they are — and both Deivi and Schmidt could potentially make a Bronx impact this year. That’s where things stand going into camp with the best in the system. We’ll have more coverage of other top prospects in the system in the next few days. Get ready, everyone. Prime prospect watching season is nearly here.