Top 10 prospect breakout candidates for 2023
1. Spencer Jones – 6-foot-7, 240-pounds, CF, LHB, 21-years-old – Not yet a top 100 prospect, but will be if he has the season he is capable of in 2023. Jones has the speed to man CF, the power to be a perpetual 40 homerun threat, and a left-handed bat with tremendous exit velocity. He even has a powerful left-handed arm in centerfield. It still baffles me that he somehow made it to the Yankees in the 2022 draft. Personally, I think he’s the next top prospect in this organization, and possibly a star someday.
2. Will Warren – 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, RHP, 23-years-old – Word from camp is that Warren is up 1-2 mph from last season, which would put him at 94-97 mph. If this is true, Warren is incredibly dangerous with his spin rate and arsenal, and could be a major league option by the end of 2023. Warren has filthy secondary pitches, though scouts main gripe with him at this point is command (locating his pitches within the strike zone). Warren is another developmental success story for the Yankees. He should be in Triple-A before mid-season.
3. Trey Sweeney 6-foot-4 210-pounds, SS, LHB, 22-years-old – According to Day, Sweeney’s swing has been retooled a bit and he is poised for a breakout in 2023. From Day’s sources, he has been hitting the cover off the ball and registering impressive exit velocities. If true, Sweeney could be an option for the infield in 2024 and could really break out in 2023. A huge season could even result in a top 100 prospect list berth.
4. Clayton Beeter – 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, RHP, 24-years-old – He has a 93-96 mph fastball with good carry, and a high spin curveball. He also throw a plus slider and a changeup that has potential. His main bugaboo has always been control. He already seemed to have turned a corner almost immediately upon his arrival from the Dodgers last year. It wouldn’t surprise me if his control remains better in 2023 and he has a huge breakout year. With his stuff, that could propel him quickly to Triple-A and he could be a candidate for a promotion to the majors by the end of the year. This is a big arm with tons of potential, and appears to be on the brink of a break out.
5. Brendan Beck – 6-foot-2, 205-pounds, RHP, 24-years-old – 2022 should have been Beck’s breakout season. He was up to 98 mph, sitting mid-90’s after the 2021 season. He has a four-pitch arsenal including a four seam, two seam, and plus plus changeup. He also throws a slider and curveball. Now that he’s healthy, 2023 should be that breakout season for him. He will probably start in Low-A to get his feet wet but could reach as high as Double-A before the season is up. This is a big arrow up guy and has a high likelihood of a breakout season.
6. Richard Fitts – 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, RHP, 22-years-old – Fitts turned the corner for his last six starts of the season and dominated in both Low-A and High-A from that point on. Over his last six starts spanning 39 innings, Fitts let up just two earned runs. He sports a 91-94 mph fastball that tops out at 97. He also has a slider with good sweep, and a hard changeup with splitting action. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a big breakout season in 2023. If he picks up where he left off in High-A, he will likely see significant time in Double-A.
7. Tyler Hardman – 6-foot-3, 204-pounds, 3B, RHB, 23-years-old – Initially seen as a first baseman, Hardman appears to have proven he can stick at third. Meanwhile, his bat took a huge leap forward in the second half of the season in 2022, and he finished off in Double-A in just his first season as a professional. He should start there again in 2023, and with a big season could be knocking at the door to the majors by 2024. Given that Josh Donaldson’s contract is up after 2023, he could be the one to replace him. Hardman finished off with 22 homeruns in 111 games in 2022, and I think he is only scratching the surface.
8. TJ Rumfield – 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, LHB, 22-years-old – Rumfield has shown to be a very good hitter since donning pinstripes in the minors. He hit .284/.381/.411/.792 with three homeruns and 13 doubles in 52 High-A games this season. While these numbers may not jump off the page at you, they do represent a big improvement in power compared to his first season with the Phillies. At his height, packing on a bit more muscle could result in a lof more power. His 2022 numbers projected over 156 games would be nine homeruns and 39 doubles. The doubles are what interest me the most. Usually, high output in the doubles department in a young player is a sign that the power may be about to manifest. If Rumfield takes his offseason workout regimen seriously and the Yankees can help him improve his launch angle, Rumfield could be in for a big breakout in 2023. He also hit well in the Arizona Fall League, to the tune of a .400/.477/.582/1.059 line with a homerun and seven doubles in 17 games. If he can spend the offseason improving his strength and launch angle, we could see a breakout season in 2023. At his size he’s got a lot of room to fill out too.
9. Brock Selvidge – 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, LHP, 20-years-old – The Yankees took Selvidge in the third round in 2021, and he has the potential to be a good one. He had a nice first full season in 2022, with a 2.95 ERA and 53 K : 17 BB in 42.2 innings in the FCL. He likely earned himself a promotion to Low-A to start 2023. Selvidge has a fastball that has reached 95 mph already and sits in the low-90’s, an above average slider, and a curveball the Yankees believe could be plus. He also has a changeup that shows promise. Put it all together and you have a kid with a sky-high ceiling if everything clicks. Selvidge still has a lot of physical development to go and could really take off once his strength and size increase. A trip to the gas station this Winter could lead to an uptick and a big increase in value here. As a lefty with his velocity and stuff, there is huge potential here and I think he has a good chance to fulfil it.
10. Agustin Ramirez – 6-foot-0, 210-pounds, C, RHB, 21-years-old – Ramirez came out swinging in 2022 and was the full-time catcher for the FCL Yankees. He hit .304/.386/.506/.892 with six homeruns, 14 doubles, one triple, and 13 SB in 44 games. Ramirez will be the starting catcher at Low-A Tampa next season. With his hitting ability and defensive chops, he could make some noise and put himself in the position to become a top prospect. The Yankees have solid catching prospects all the way from Triple-A to Low-A now. It will be fun to see how it all turns out. Triple-A – Breaux. Double-A – Wells. High-A – Gomez, Rice. Low-A – Ramirez, Jesus Rodriguez, Rafael Flores.
Bonus: Zach Messinger – 6-foot-6, 225-pounds, RHP, 22-years-old – Messinger finished 2022 with a 83.2 IP, 4.3 ERA, and 112 K : 45 BB. He started the season as a reliever and finished up as a starting pitcher. I believe this was by design as his career high in innings was 57 prior to this year. Most importantly, Messinger had a significant uptick in stuff. He was drafted in the 13th round and sat in the low-90’s in college, but would occasionally hit 96 mph. Now in the system for a year, Messinger sits 93-95 mph and hits 97 regularly. He also added two pitches this season in the changeup and slider. He now has a four-pitch mix. At his size there is potentially still more in the tank to increase his velocity even further. One thing to watch is the walks. Given that he added two pitches this season it is not surprising the walks were elevated, but he will have to reign in the control more as he moves up. Messinger is arrow up and is a sleeper for 2023.