Rookie leagues and draft sleepers
1. Keiner Delgado – 5-foot-8, 145-pounds, SS/2B, SH, 19-years-old – Soon to be everyone’s favorite prospect, the diminutive shortstop was dominant in the DSL in 2022. He hit .310/.504/.506/1.010 with three homeruns, 16 doubles, and four triples in 52 games. He had an incredible 58 BB : 28 K, and stole 34 bases. Delgado does everything well, including in the field. His maturity and talent should allow him to move quickly through the system. He’s drawn comparisons to Jose Altuve, though that is of course not fair. Of all the people on this list who may have a breakout season in 2023, he might be the most likely. He has been highly touted by scouts despite his size, which is both unusual and exciting. For talent evaluators to rave about a player his size as much as they have, he must be special.
2. Roderick Arias - 6-foot-2, 178-pounds, SS, SH, 18-years-old – Arias had a disappointing season in the DSL in 2022, but he was playing through an injury and adjusting to life as a professional baseball player. Arias is a no doubt shortstop with a plus plus arm, plus speed, good ability to barrel the baseball, use the whole field, and make good swing decisions. All of this from both sides of the plate. He has all five tools with the potential to be a star. The only red flag for me was his placement in the DSL last season. It could be a sign that either he is more raw than initially thought, or that his injury is more serious than the Yankees are letting on. Hopefully neither of those are the case. If he’s fully healthy to start 2023, he could be in for a big breakout season.
3. Drew Thorpe – 6-foot-4, 190-pounds, RHP, 22-years-old – Drafted in the 2nd round in 2022, Thorpe is about as polished as they come. He had a magnificent season for Cal Poly San Luis, with a 2.32 ERA and 149 K : 25 BB in 104.2 innings over 15 starts. He averaged almost seven innings a start and was the Big West Pitcher of the Year. Most scouting reports have him at 89-93 mph with his fastball, but he has been up to 97 mph in the past. Additionally, the Yankees feel they can add velocity through the strength and conditioning program (and a thin frame that can support weight gain). There are a couple of tweaks they plan to make with his delivery that will also help with the velocity. If he takes to the changes well, the Yankees could have an ace on their hands. Picture a pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball that touches 98, a changeup which was the best in all of college baseball, an above average slider which will likely improve as well, and plus control. Thorpe should fly through the system this year, and we might even see him as high as Double-A if his stuff has ticked up. He could start as high as High-A, and will be on tap for anywhere between 130-140 innings if he can pitch well enough to get that high.
4. Trystan Vrieling – 6-foot-4, 200-pounds, RHP, 22-years-old – The Yankees’ 2022 third round pick Trystan Vrieling, had a tough year for Gonzaga. He had a 4.91 ERA in 15 starts. It was his first full season as a starter though, and there were some positives. He had 107 K : 46 BB. The fastball was up to 95-96 mph this season, though it trailed off towards the end of the season (as did his performance). This was likely a result of the increased workload he had never experienced before. Being his first year as a starter, he tired out towards the end of the year. His secondary pitches include a 2,500-2,800 rpm slider and a swing and miss curveball. He even shows a changeup, which is a clear fourth pitch at this time. The Yankees not only think they can get him back up to 95-96, but they think there’s even more in the tank once their development guys get a hold of him. Watch out for Vrieling, he could have a monster year in 2023. He should begin the year in Low-A and should be tabbed for about 100-110 innings.
5. Eric Reyzelman – 6-foot-2, 188-pounds, RHP, 21-years-old – The Yankees are excited about getting Reyzelman in the 5th round of the 2022 draft. He had his best collegiate season in 2022, with 66 K : 18 BB in 42.1 innings and a 4.04 ERA. Reyzelman has been a one pitch guy in college, with a fastball that is plus plus, sits mid-90’s, and has already hit 99 mph. It has a 39% swing and miss rate. He gets lots of vertical movement on his pitches. Though he was used as a reliever in college, he started in the Cape Cod League this year where he began throwing a slider and changeup. There is flexibility in the role. If the Yankees use him as a starter, he can be brought along slowly and develop the secondary pitches. If they develop him as a reliever, he will likely shoot through the system and could reach the high minors as early as next season. Whichever route they choose, he is a bigtime breakout candidate.
6. Anthony Hall – 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, OF, LHB, 21-years-old – The Yankees picked Hall in the 4th round in the 2022 draft. Hall had hit .333/.402/.640/1.042 with 14 HR, 17 2B, and five 3B in 60 games. He had 24 BB : 43 K. This was by far his best season as a collegiate. Likely a corner outfielder, Hall has power and has been able to hit higher velocity well. He doesn’t strike out much, and he has good pop. Hall played in just one game during his first at bat, before injuring his wrist last season and missing the remainder of the games. It was disappointing, but there weren’t many games left in the season anyway. Hall could really take off in 2023, especially if he took the offseason seriously and continued to work on his body.
7. Luis Serna – 5-foot-11, 162-pounds, RHP, 18-years-old – The Yankees signed Serna as a 16-year-old out of Mexico, and he has been stellar for them thus far. Serna is a real strike thrower, and he sits at 92 mph and maxes out a 94-95. He has a changeup which is already advanced for his age. He also throws a high spin slider and a curveball with more depth. Most importantly, he has incredible pitchability. He used his mix in 2022 to pitch 41.1 innings of 1.96 ERA ball with 56 K : 17 BB. Serna really knows how to pitch, and at just 162-pounds there is still a lot of room for velocity growth in all of his pitches.
8. Justin Lange – 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, RHP, 21-years-old – The Padres drafted Lange in 2020 in the first round, and the Yankees managed to pry him away in the Luke Voit trade last year just before the season started. The numbers were ugly in both 2021 and 2022, but the Yankees development team has had very little time to spend on him yet. There are some major positives to be gleaned from the stats too. He had 51 K : 30 BB in 34.1 innings over 12 starts last season. His walk rate is astoundingly high, but his average against was just .215. The stats portray a player with challenges in control, but one who could be a dominant force if he cuts down on the walks. Lange has a fastball that sits at 95, touches 98, and has even hit 100. HE also has an above average, high velocity slider which sits 86-89 mph. He’s still working on a changeup. As previously mentioned, the Yankees development staff had little to no time in 2022 to work with him and improve his control/secondary pitches. With a full offseason of work, it’s possible he comes to camp greatly improved this year. If so, his ceiling is tremendous with the arm strength he possesses. He has a lot of competition for the Low-A rotation this season, but could be the best of all of them if something clicks. Think the American version of Luis Medina.
9. Chase Hampton – 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, RHP, 21-years-old – The Yankees picked up Hampton in the 6th round after his sophomore season at Texas Tech. He had a decent season, with a pedestrian ERA but high strikeout rate. He had a 4.29 ERA and 72 K : 28 BB in 56.2 innings. Chase Hampton has four quality pitches, with a fastball that reaches 96 mph already, a curveball with 2,575 rpms, and a solid changeup. He also throws a slider which is nasty. Apparently, he had an bad stomach bug in the middle of the season that hurt his numbers, but at the beginning and end of the season he was aces. Therefore, his numbers may have been deceiving. Hampton could really burst onto the scene this year and is a bigtime breakout candidate.
10. Cam Schlittler – 6-foot-6, 202-pounds, RHP, 21-years-old – The Yankees got Schlittler after his Junior year out of Northeastern university. He pitched well this year, with a 3.44 ERA and 85 K : 32 BB in 91.2 innings over 15 starts. What impresses me most about this is that he averaged more than six innings a start. His fastball is already at 93-95 mph. He also throws a slider, changeup, and curveball. All of his pitches grade out as average or slightly below average, but he is a solid strike thrower. The Yankees think he can put on more size to increase his velocity while a trip to the gas station could kick his secondary pitches up a notch in movement. The Yankees drafted Schlittler in the 7th round, but if they can improve him with a couple of tweaks he could turn into a great find for them.
11. Omar Gonzalez – 6-foot-4, 175-pounds, RHP, 17-years-old – This big, young righty is off to a great start to his career in the minor leagues. In the DSL, he had 36 K : 9 BB in 20.1 innings with a 0.44 ERA. Gonzales has some advanced metrics working in his favor. He had the most vertical movement on his fastball of any players in the entire minor leagues. His fastball velocity is on the lower side, but not for a 17-year-old. He sits at 90.5 and tops out at 92. At just 175-pounds, however, he has plenty of room to fill out, and I have no doubt the Yankees will get higher radar readings out of him in the coming years. He also has a high spin curveball and changeup which have the potential to be plus secondary offerings. Gonzalez has many years of development left, but he has tons of talent and the Yankees could turn him into a breakout prospect within the next couple of years.
12. Enmanuel Tejeda – 5-foot-11, 158-pounds, SS/2B, RHB, 18-years-old – Another middle infield sleeper, Tejeda is a solid defensive SS with an incredible eye and a penchant for avoiding strikeouts. He hit .289/.463/.493/.956 with three homers, six doubles, seven triples, and 11 SB in 2022. He also had 41 BB : 25 K in 46 games. That’s incredible at any level. Similar to Keiner Delgado in that way, Tejeda will look to continue his success in the FCL in 2023, where he will have plenty of competition (Arias, Delgado, and more). He has a good chance to have a breakout season with his mature, contact oriented approach.
13. Henry Lalane – 6-foot-7, 211-pounds, LHP, 18-years-old – Lalane is a huge specimen with tons of potential. At 18, he already sits in the low 90’s and has greatly improved his control. He has a fastball, curveball, and changeup. In 2022, he had a 2.98 ERA with 52 K : 14 BB in 48.1 IP. At his size in the Yankees system it’s only a matter of time before his velocity creeps up into the mid to upper 90’s. If and when that happens, the Yankees could have a special talent on their hands.
14. Jesus Rodriguez – 5-foot-10, 182-pounds, C, RHB, 20-years-old – Rodriguez hit really well in the FCL this year, finishing with a .349/.434/.576/1.010 with four homeruns, 10 doubles, and four triples in 37 games. Rodriguez is an extreme contact hitter who also takes his fair share of walks. He finished with 14 K : 15 BB in 2022. Rodriguez is also a solid catcher. Between Rodriguez, Agustin Ramirez, and Rafael Flores the Yankees will have quite the catching tandem in Low-A in 2023.
15. Rafael Flores – 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, C, RHB, 22-years-old – Flores was an undrafted free agent who made some noise in the FCL after being signed. In four games plus the playoffs, he absolutely wrecked FCL pitching. In seven total games including the playoffs, Flores hit .480/.500/1.04/1.54 with three homeruns, four doubles, and one triple, while striking out seven times. Flores clearly has power, and it will be interesting to see how his skills translate next year.
16. Felix Negueis – 6-foot-0, 200-pounds, LF/RF, RHB, 22-years-old – Negueis hit the ball hard and often in 2022, finishing with a .287/.388/.574/.963 line with four homeruns, 13 doubles, two triples, and seven SB in 32 games in the FCL. He was old for the level and struck out a bit too much (36 times), so he has a long way to go. If he hits the ball well in Low-A next year he could move fast thought.
17. Jordarlin Mendoza – 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, RHP, 19-years-old – Mendoza has a 96-mph fastball and a nasty slider. He pitched well in the DSL this year, with 77 K : 19 BB and a 2.95 ERA in 55 innings. Mendoza is a promising young starter and could burst onto the scene in 2023 with his powerful arm.
18. Dayro Perez – 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, SS, RHB, 20-years-old – Perez had a decent season in 2022 in his first trip stateside. He hit .250/.389/.375/.764 with three homeruns, eight doubles, and 16 SB in 38 games. He has speed and can play solid defense at shortstop. Perez has all of the physical tools needed to be a top prospect. He has speed, a good arm, good range, and some pop. At the plate, he needs to cut down on strikeouts, perhaps by swinging earlier in the count. In the field, he needs to cut down on errors. If he can do that in 2023, Perez could break out.
19. Matt Keating – 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, 22-years-old – The Yankees picked him up in the 9th round last year. Previously up to 93-96 mph, was 90-93 this year. Yankees think they can get him back up. He has a plus slider. He held his own in the Pac-12 last year, with a 3.6 ERA and 44 K in 30 IP. If the Yankees can unlock him, Keating could end up as a starter in the system. Otherwise, he could move quickly as a reliever if the gas station can pump the velo.
20. Brett Barrera – 6-foot-1, 217-pounds, 2B/3B, RHB, 21-years-old – Barrera can flat out hit, and he showed that at Stanford this year where he hit .351/.394/.575/.970 with 11 homeruns, 19 doubles, and three triples. He struck out just 42 times in 63 games in college. Once he got to the Yankees, he held his own in Low-A as well, hitting .274/.287/.381/.626 with six doubles and a homerun in 23 games. Position wise, Barrera could stick at 2B or 3B, but the bat will carry him if he continues to hit like he can. It’s a similar profile to several prospects the Yankees have had success with recently at second base.
21. Tayler Aguilar -6-foot-0, 205-pounds, OF, LHB, 22-years-old – Yankees picked him up in the 15th round out of GCU. He’s a lefty with potentially some big pop who profiles best as a corner outfielder. He hit 23 homeruns in 59 games in the NCAA this year, and hit .326/.397/.719/1.116 with 13 doubles and three triples. I’m getting a lot of Elijah Dunham type vibes on this pick. He could break out next season and surprise a lot of people much like Elijah did.
22. Shane Gray – 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, RHP, 22-years-old – Gray has location, and he can spin two breaking balls and a changeup. His current fastball velocity is 90-92 mph. If the gas station can get pump the velocity up a few mph the Yankees could have a good one on their hands.
23. Kris Bow - 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, RHP, 22-years-old – 94-97 mph with his fastball and has a high spin slider so far. The Yankees think they can help him improve his command. If they can, and he shows them a third pitch, then Bow could start next year and be a potential breakout player.
24. Beau Brewer – 6-foot-3, 215-pounds 3B, RHB, 21-years-old – Brewer had a great year statistically at junior college, hitting .411/.502/.660/1.162. He hit 25 doubles, three triples, and six homeruns, while stealing 12 bases in 56 games and only striking out eight times. He was not nearly as good in his 12 games in the FCL and Tampa, but he only struck out three times in all of those games. His contact skills are off the charts, and he plays a solid third base. Brewer could have a breakout year in 2023 if everything clicks.
25. Jared Serna – 5-foot-8, 168-pounds, 2B, RHB, 20-years-old – Serna had a great year in the FCL, culminating in a late season promotion to Low-A. He finished with a .274/.397/.458/.855 line with six homeruns, 11 doubles, a triple, and 17 stolen bases. He struck out 39 times in 49 games. Serna has great speed, a good glove, and a good hit tool. Serna has a good chance to break out in Low-A in 2023. He has a lot of competition up the middle but should get plenty of opportunities to prove himself.
Bonus: Osiel Rodriguez – 6-foot-2, 210-poiunds, RHP, 21-years-old – Rodriguez finally got some innings in 2022, and the results were decent but not great. His career has been injury-ridden and disappointing so far, but there is some reason for optimism. During the season, he was sitting 92-94 with a four seam fastball, and 89-91 with a sinker. The training wheels will come off in 2023, and if he’s good enough he could start in Low-A and we’ll see how it goes. He has always had the talent, but can he stay healthy and put it all together?
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