Where they would have ranked
To take it a step further, when you consider some of the guys who are not on this list, but are products of the Yankees' farm system, it's even more staggering. Guys like Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances, and Tyler Austin have all made an impact at varying levels to the major league team. Here is a list of the guys who have had limited exposure to the majors still, or were rookies this year.
1. Aaron Judge – RF, 6-foot-7, 282-pounds, RHB, 25-years-old – I don’t know how you could look at the season Judge had and say he would not be the top prospect in the organization if he were rankable. Obviously because he played a full season in the majors he is not eligible for this list. The guy put up historic numbers. He broke the rookie record for homeruns, and has hit .284/.421/.622/1.043 on the season. Sure, he leads the league in strikeouts, but quite frankly who cares? He will win rookie of the year easily this year, and he deserves to be the MVP as well. If he doesn’t win, it’s only because he is a rookie and a Yankee. His is going to be a wonderful career to watch.
3. Clint Frazier – LF/CF, 6-foot-1, 190-pounds, RHB, 23-years-old – It hasn’t been the easiest transition for Clint Frazier, hitting just .237/.273/.458/.731 with four homeruns, nine doubles, and four triples in 38 games. Those aren’t bad numbers, but he could definitely do better. Knowing him as a player, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make some adjustments and improve greatly upon those numbers next season. I’m not sure if he blew threw his rookie eligibility this year, but if not he is a prime candidate to win it next year. He comes in behind Gleyber Torres and would be the number three prospect in the organization.
4. Jordan Montgomery – LHP, 6-foot-6, 225-pounds, 24-years-old – After the year he had in the majors, it would be tough to rank any pitcher in the system ahead of Montgomery. He had a 3.96 ERA and 141 K : 50 BB in 150 innings this year. Batters hit .240 against him. He has a mid-90’s fastball and several above average secondary pitches. He controls the zone like a pro. The thing is, he still hasn’t quite hit his ceiling. He was consistent all year, but I think he could be even better. Next year the training wheels will be off and he’ll be ready for a full workload. He’s definitely a major part of the future for this team.
8. Chad Green – RHP, 6-foot-3, 210-pounds, 26-years-old – He went from struggling starter to indispensable reliever in just one year. In 2017, Green has a 1.86 ERA and 102 K : 17 BB in 67.2 innings. Simply put, he has become a superstar reliever. He averages 95.7 mph and tops out at 98.2 mph. He’ll go to his slider and changeup sometimes, but throws the fastball 70% of the time. Some have postulated he could move back to the rotation next season. I doubt that would happen. You can’t use your fastball this often in the rotation, and that is far and away his best pitch. Either way, he has become a top player on a very good team. That allows him to crack the top 10.
12. Domingo German – RHP, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, 25-years-old – German threw 12.2 innings in relief for the Yankees this year, and he impressed. He had 15 K and a 2.84 ERA. He walked eight batters though, and that will be an unacceptable rate going forward. As he builds confidence his control should improve. The stuff was never really in question. He has an upper-90’s fastball, a good changeup, and a good but inconsistent slider. If he can tighten that up before next year, he could compete for that last spot in the rotation with Chance Adams. Otherwise, he already has the stuff in place to be a good, if not great reliever. He slots in after Miguel Andujar and before Dillon Tate on the list.
18. Tyler Wade – SS, 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, 22-years-old – He appeared in 29 games in the majors this season, and his statistics were not impressive. He hit .145/.217/.218/.435 with four doubles. He did play really well in Triple-A though prior to the promotion. In 85 games he hit .310/.382/.460/.842 with seven homeruns, 22 doubles, four triples, and 26 stolen bases. I believe he is capable of putting up those kind of numbers in the major leagues if given playing time and opportunities. Maybe not as a rookie, but possibly with a couple of years experience. I don’t know if he’ll ever get that chance with the Yankees given their middle infield talent, but he’s still a valuable piece right now and that places him 18th on the list, just after Matt Sauer and before Nick Solak.
40. Jonathan Holder – RHP, 6-foot-2, 235-pounds, 24-years-old – Holder held his own in the MLB this year. He had 40 K : 8 BB and a 3.89 ERA in 39.1 innings. He also threw 16 innings in Triple-A with 21 K and a 1.69 ERA. He too has a low-mid-90’s fastball and great control. His fastball sinks and he also has a cutter. The other pitch he has is a curveball. His results were pretty good, especially for a 24-year-old this season. He should continue to improve and will most likely be even more useful next season. He would slot in after Nick Green and before Giovanny Gallegos on the list if eligible.
41. Giovanny Gallegos – RHP, 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, 26-years-old – Gallegos had a tough first experience in the major leagues, hurling 20.1 innings with a 4.87 ERA. He did strike out 22 and walk just five, but let up three homeruns and a .263 average against. He again pitched really well in Triple-A, with 69 K : 11 BB in 43.1 innings and a 2.49 ERA. I do expect him to improve with time, as he has a mid-90’s fastball with good run and an above average curveball. He also has good control. In due time I think he will be a regular major league reliever somewhere. He would come in on the list between Jonathan Holder and Ben Heller if he were eligible.
42. Ben Heller – RHP, 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, 26-years-old – Heller has a mid-90’s fastball that can hit 98, and a good slider. His average velocity this season was 94.64. He pitched well in limited action this year, with a 0.9 ERA and eight strikeouts in 10 innings. He was way too wild though, with six walks in that time frame. In the minors he had a 3.36 ERA and 82 K : 21 BB in 56.1 innings. I expect the Yankees to expand his role more next season.
43. Garrett Cooper – 1B, 6-foot-6, 230-pounds, RHB, 26-years-old – Cooper had a huge year in the minors in 2017, and even got a taste of MLB baseball. In his short stint he played 13 games and hit .326/.333/.488/.822 with five doubles, one triple, and 12 K. Then he got hurt. He also had a tremendous season in the minors, where he hit .359/.423/.634/1.057 with 18 homeruns and 30 doubles in 83 games. If given the change he may be able to compete with Greg Bird for at bats next season, or send Bird to the DH slot and put another solid bat in the lineup. The main knock on Cooper is his power (or lack there of), but he seems to be addressing that as he comes into his man strength. I think the Yankees should keep him around, especially with Bird’s injury history.
50. Caleb Smith – LHP, 6-foot-2, 205-pounds, 26-years-old – Smith had a tough major league debut this year. Throw in the fact that he’s 26, and that’s not encouraging. That said, he averages 93.68 mph with his fastball, which is pretty good for a lefty. He also struck out 18 in 18.2 innings. He uncharacteristically walked 10 batters and let up four homeruns in his limited work. I believe he will improve once he settles in more. I’m not sure if his shot will come with the Yankees, but I believe he will be a successful reliever in the major leagues within the next couple of years