One of the hallmarks of Spring Training is the opportunity to see several prospects we may not see in the Bronx for a while. After the regulars get their work in, these guys come in to replace the starters and get some cracks against major league competition. As a self-proclaimed prospect nut, I live for the latter innings of spring training games watching players most people have never heard of, and now you can too.
Over the past month, most major outlets have released their top 100 prospect lists. In preparing for who we can expect to see in games over the next month and hopefully up in the show later this year, it’s worth going through these lists and getting hyped. These lists come courtesy of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, the Baseball America staff, Keith Law of The Athletic, and Jeffrey Paternostro, Jarrett Seidler, and Keanan Lamb of Baseball Prospectus. Here are the Yankees’ players who made at least one of these lists.
- MLB Pipeline: 32
- FanGraphs: 51
- Baseball America: 33
- The Athletic: 66
- Baseball Prospectus: 59
Dominguez is easily the most tantalizing prospect in the Yankees system with potential that is drool-worthy. He is the consensus top prospect despite not appearing in a single game stateside yet. The hype is real with International Scouting Director Donny Rowland describing him as having “possible the best combination of tools and performance that I’ve run across.” Dominguez is only one of five prospects in all of baseball with all tools graded at 60 or above on the 20-80 scale, which is absolutely insane.
Nicknamed The Martian and signed for over $5 million two years ago, Dominguez is a switch-hitting centerfielder who can apparently play elite defense while being built like a freight train. On the offensive side, Dominguez has already reached exit velos of 117 MPH which is elite for full-grown MLBers and unheard of for an 18-year old wunderkind.
2021 Outlook: Dominguez was not invited to big league camp, though he is training in Tampa Bay. As spring training winds down, maybe we’ll see Dominguez get called up for a game to show what he’s got. Otherwise, we should all be pumped for his minor league debut this season and I would expect Dominguez to spend the year topping out in A ball. MLB Pipeline expect Dominguez to be a global top 5 prospect by the end of this season, and like we’ve seen with players such as Wander Franco, Juan Soto, and Fernando Tatis, he could blow the doors off the competition and rise up the system as fast as his exit velocities. And here’s some video for your enjoyment.
- MLB Pipeline: 88
- FanGraphs: 75
- Baseball America: 64
- The Athletic: 48
- Baseball Prospectus: 96
Schmidt is the other Yankee prospect featured on all five lists, though the rankings are all over the place. Keith Law is the high man on Schmidt clamoring over his spin rates over 3,000 on his curve and slider and having a “legit four-pitch mix and a couple of weapons that should miss bats.”
With any pitcher, the differing rankings come down to whether or not the player projects as a starter or a reliever, with Longenhagen saying there is “substantial relief risk here” due to Schmidt’s long arm action and discrepancies in his release point.
Schmidt is also a self-proclaimed analytics nerd. In a great article by David Laurila of FanGraphs, Schmidt detailed how he changed his curveball grip after being drafted and that he is up to 3,500 RPM on the pitch, which is absolutely bananas. During Sunday’s broadcast, Meredith Marakovits mentioned that Schmidt is up to 97 mph on his four-seamer, which could make a big difference in separating him from a back-end guy to mid-rotation starter.
2021 Outlook: Unfortunately, Schmidt was as hyped up as we all are, and went all out in his first spring training bullpen which resulted in a common extensor strain according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News and others. Boone said the strain thankfully is unrelated to the Tommy John surgery Schmidt had after being drafted, and he is likely to resume throwing in 3-4 weeks. This injury likely takes Schmidt out of the 5th starter competition to start the year, but look for him to be an integral part of the rotation once the calendar flips to May and the summer months. Keith Law believes a regular routine is what Schmidt needs to unlock his potential, and with the huge jump in season length from last year, guys like Schmidt will be needed for several starts. I would anticipate Schmidt makes 10-15 starts with the big league club this season and may even feature in the playoffs.
- MLB Pipeline: unranked
- FanGraphs: 60
- Baseball America: 55
- The Athletic: 81
- Baseball Prospectus: 17
The rankings on Deivi are certainly the most all over the place – with Baseball Prospectus considering him a top 20 prospect in all of baseball and MLB Pipeline not even ranking him in their top 100. BP has always been the high guy on García based largely on high marks they give his slider. The slider is a new pitch for Deivi to complement his bread and butter fastball/curveball combo.
García works in the low 90s with his heater, yet he gets an inordinate number of swings and misses on it due to his elite spin efficiency. Spin efficiency is the big brother of spin rate because it measures how much of spin contributes to rise on a fastball. In Deivi’s case, 96% of his spin is “active” which makes his fastball appear faster than it is with more rise. Combine that with a curveball that has nearly 3,000 RPM of spin and you get this:
Despite being short, and with clear tells in his release point for which pitch is coming, García has a unique and potentially devastating arsenal. Maybe it’s because he’s the same size as me but I’ve always been a huge Deivi fan, and would love to see him incorporate the slider and changeup more this season to showcase his full four-pitch arsenal.
2021 Outlook: García will likely compete for the 5th starter’s job in camp and since the other main candidate is Domingo Germán who hasn’t pitched since 2019 because of a domestic violence suspension, I’m hoping Deivi wins that job running away. He’s fun, he’s good, and watching him develop further will be a pure joy this season.
- FanGraphs: 67
- All others: unranked
The rest of the guys on this list are only ranked in Eric Longenhagen’s top 100, which is noteworthy. Peraza actually appeared in Sunday’s game as a pinch runner for Gleyber Torres. He popped out to second in his only at-bat and made a couple plays in the field. For those who are unfamiliar, Peraza is a defense-first guy, however, scouts like Longenhagen believe Peraza has the tools for average power. Combine that with his elite defense at short and you have the makings of a starting infielder.
Peraza is 20 years old and hit .263/.332/.340 as an 18 year old in A ball in 2019. Look for him to reach Double-A and maybe Triple-A this season, especially if that power comes to fruition.
2021 Outlook: Peraza seems like the top prospect the Yankees would consider including in a trade at the deadline should they need to acquire a high-end player. He’s young, has not advanced past A ball, and the Yankees are set in the middle infield for the next several years with Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu. Having said that, Peraza could easily replace Tyler Wade as the backup infielder in a couple years which would make a certain writer for this site very, very happy.
- FanGraphs: 91
- All others: unranked
Vargas is eerily similar to Peraza, just one year younger. They’re both 6 foot tall glove first shortstops who run well and may have untapped power potential. Longenhagen is again the high man here citing Vargas’ athleticism that he believes will turn into power down the line. Vargas is definitely a name to watch this season.
2021 Outlook: Vargas hasn’t played above rookie ball, so look for him to either start there or in A ball this season and likely spend the full year there. Remember the name, though he isn’t someone we’ll hear about much until next year.
- FanGraphs: 97
- All others: unranked
Alright, finally the guy I really wanted to write about. In my opinion, Medina is the guy most likely to turn into a star among this group. He’s always had a huge arm that can hit 100 consistently on his fastball with a high-end curve. The knock against him has always been he just cannot throw strikes…until recently, that is. In his last eight starts of 2019 he struck out 63 batters compared to just 15 walks in 45 innings. He backed that up in the Puerto Rican league this winter where he struck out 32 compared to 6 walks in 16 innings winning the Pitcher of the Year award. Yes, that’s an 18 K/9 for those counting.
Just look at that filth. Straight up nasty stuff and real easy heat.
2021 Outlook: Medina threw 100 innings in A ball in 2019 and I would expect him to start there this season with a quick promotion to Double-A. He’s a prime candidate to get called up in August or September to be a weapon out of the bullpen for a postseason run. I’m all aboard the Medina hype train.
The Yankees have several intriguing prospects among the league’s best. Deivi and Schmidt are already ready to help the big league team and we may see a guy like Medina towards the end of the season. For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching these guys whenever they get an inning or at-bat during Spring Training.