Stock rising : Yankees hitting prospects making big strides
Starting from Triple-A and moving down, here are the position player prospects who have made the most progress since 2019 when they last played in the minors. Many of these players are still sleepers, but they won’t be for much longer if this success continues.
1. Trey Amburgey – OF, 26-years-old – Amburgey did make big progress in 2019, where he finished with 22 homeruns and an .822 OPS. The start he is off to puts that line to shame though. In just 13 games, he has five homeruns and five doubles with a .404/.451/.830/1.281 line. This is obviously not a sustainable pace, however he is making a loud argument to get some playing time for the major league team. At this rate, it is only a matter of time before he plays in the majors somewhere, and his stock is rising rapidly.
2. Hoy Jun Park – SS/2B, 25-years-old – Up until now, Park’s career high in homeruns is seven in 110 games. So far this year, he already has six homeruns in just 25 games. He also has five doubles and five stolen bases. That would put him on pace for a 30/30 season. He has hit .306/.417/.576/.994 on the season. Park has always been a guy with four tools, the only one missing is power. If he continues this trend, however, that missing ingredient could propel him rapidly to the majors. Given how badly the Yankees need a lefty bat in the lineup right now, it may not be too long before he gets the call. Typically Park sits in the 30’s-40’s on the prospect list, but he is rapidly skyrocketing up that list.
3. Chris Gittens – 1B, 27-years-old – Gittens is another guy who has had a big season before this year. In 2019, he had 23 homeruns and hit .281/.393/.500/.893. This year he was off to an even bigger start before the promotion though. He had four homeruns and four doubles in 18 games good for a .283/.486/.585/1.071 line. The Yankees recognized his success and called him up recently. He still hasn’t collected his first major league hit, but with his bat and power it is only a matter of time. Gittens has one of if not the best exit velocity in all of the minors. He has the hitting tools to become a mainstay in the majors if he can make consistent enough contact. Gittens value is on the rise.
4. Diego Castillo – SS/2B, 23-years-old – Castillo has started off hot and already tied his career high in homeruns. He is hitting .350/.412/.633/1.045 in 17 games early in the season. He’s always been known as a hitter who somehow didn’t live up to his high average potential. Now he is beginning to make that leap. Castillo also has five doubles and three stolen bases in the early going. He’s worth watching the rest of the year. Though he doesn’t have tremendous tools, he is an excellent defender and hitter and it appears the power has come a long way since we last saw him. He could end up being a nice replacement for the loss of Thairo Estrada.
5. Aaron Palensky – OF, 22-years-old – It was a shock to see Palensky sent to Double-A Somerset after being an undrafted free agent (albeit in an abbreviated five round draft) in 2020. Perhaps even more surprising is how he has hit the ground running at that level. He has hit .342/.432/.605/1.037 with one homerun, five doubles, and one triple in just 12 games. Palensky is rapidly increasing his stock and is looking like a steal considering he went undrafted in 2020.
6. Donny Sands – C, 25-years-old – If he continues the current pace Sands will have the best season of his career. He has three homeruns and six doubles and has struck out just 15 times in 25 games. Sands is hitting .284/.385/.455/.839 on the season. Behind the scenes, Sands has improved immensely defensively while also improving his strength. This has led to the numbers you see this season.
7. Oswald Peraza – SS, 20-years-old – Due to his impressive performance thus far in High-A, Peraza has been promoted to Double-A at the age of just 20-years-old. He has hit .306/.386/.532/.917 in High-A with five homeruns, 10 doubles, and 16 SB this year. Peraza has crept into the Baseball America top 100 and was already there on some other prospect ranking lists. He is a tremendous defender at shortstop in addition to being an excellent hitter with burgeoning power. Peraza has superstar potential and could be seen in the Bronx before long. This appears to be his breakout campaign.
8. Ezequiel Duran – 2B, 22-years-old – Duran is another high ceiling middle-infielder in High-A. He has hit .302/.351/.547/.898 with four homeruns, six doubles, and four triples. He also has stolen six bases. Duran is a plus second baseman who puts up impressive exit velocities. His patience is improving, and he is able to barrel the ball with frequency. Duran is another guy who has greatly increased his stock this year and will be exciting to watch going forward.
9. Josh Smith – SS, 23-years-old – Smith missed some time to start the season but he came out swinging upon his return. In 11 games since returning, he has six homeruns and five stolen bases with a .333/.480/.795/1.275 line. This has resulted in a well-deserved promotion to High-A. Smith has a fantastic contact-oriented swing with improving power. He is also a lefty bat which is of great value to this team. He is a solid average shortstop and may slide over to second base as time goes on. Smith should be a fast mover in this system and he has already increased his stock this year.
10. Trevor Hauver – 2B, 22-years-old – Another left-handed middle-infielder, Hauver came out of the gait like a complete monster this season. He was the Yankees’ third round pick this year and went off on a tear in Low-A at the start of the season. He has cooled down considerably, but still possesses a .295/.465/.568/1.033 line with six homeruns, six doubles, and three triples in 26 games. Hauver is on the rise and he too could be a fast riser in this system.
11. Elijah Dunham – OF, 23-years-old – The Yankees were very excited to pick up Dunham as an undrafted free agent this season. He is an excellent contact hitter and has some good power to go with it. He is a lefty who can play both outfield and first base. So far he is hitting .289/.438/.554/.992 with four homeruns, six doubles, and three triples in 24 games. Dunham is a great player to have in the system and could move quickly through the system. His stock is definitely up.
12. Anthony Volpe – SS/2B, 20-years-old – Coming into this season Volpe was seen as an all-fields hitter, but one who probably wouldn’t develop much power. 27 games in Volpe looks like he’s gained a lot of power since the draft. He has hit .278/.400/.539/.939 with five homeruns, 11 doubles, two triples, and 14 SB. He is showing why the Yankees used a first round pick on him, and it has his stock soaring.