The New York Yankees’ lack of elite prospects has been a hot topic in the baseball world in the past six months or so. The Yankees may need a roster boost in order to compete in the 2014 postseason. While many teams might dip into their farm systems either for immediate impact talent or to build trade packages, the Yankees are viewed by many as having failed to develop these kinds of prospects. This site’s own analysis of the Yanks’ top-15 prospects points largely to injured, unready, or uncertain talents.
While it’s true that the Yankees have grown somewhat thin in terms of MLB-ready prospects, I’m inclined to disagree with the notion that they don’t have the pieces to pull off a major trade. Players like pitcher Adam Warren and catcher John Ryan Murphy have proven themselves in the big leagues already this season. Also, the Yanks’ top prospect—21-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez—is perfectly expendable now that Brian McCann has a five-year deal in pinstripes.
So rather than questioning the clout of the top-level prospects with regard to trade potential, I’d be more inclined to ask: do the Yankees have the depth at the lower levels to deal top prospects without depleting their farm system’s long-term outlook too severely? In highlighting his belief that the Yankees do have the pieces for a major deal, ESPN’s Jim Bowden made note of a few lower level prospects who may help the Yankees to feel secure about pulling the trigger on a deal—and who may be deserving of a larger spotlight. Here’s a look at a few of the Yanks’ promising youngsters.
Bowden used the phrase “quickly coming into his own” to describe Severino, a 6′, 20-year-old prospect out of the Dominican Republic. Boasting a low- to mid-90s fastball and a solid curveball and change-up, Severino is in his second year at Low-A Charleston and in 11 games so far has posted a 2.68 ERA, striking out 52 and walking just 10. The Yanks’ blog, Pinstripe Alley, cites a prediction that Severino could soon be a top-100 MLB prospect. While it may take some time, this is one young talent the Yanks can get excited about—particularly if they consider dealing Warren, or ultimately give up on injured former phenomenon Manny Banuelos.
Another young prospect mentioned by Bowden, Aaron Judge has become something of an emerging name in the Yanks’ system. If you scroll through Rotoworld Fantasy News—a fantasy and MLB news app recommended by Verizon Wireless here as one of the best mobile tools for baseball fantasy enthusiasts—you’ll hardly find a mention of a Yanks player or prospect in recent weeks. However, buried in the headlines is a blurb about a recent streak in which Judge hit .377/.424/.774 with four doubles, a triple, and five home runs in 14 games.
Twenty-two years old and in his first season at Charleston after being a second round selection in the 2013 draft, Judge is a physical monster at 6’7” and 230 lbs—and he is starting to hit like it. Judge has 35 RBIs and 8 home runs through 55 games, hitting .321 and slugging .515. That performance recently earned Judge a selection to the Sally League All-Star game, where he’ll start in right field for the Southern Division. Judge will be accompanied by fellow Charleston All-Stars Mike Ford (starting at 1st base) and pitchers Brady Lail and Caleb Smith, all Yankee prospects that, while not quite as exciting as Judge, appear to have bright futures.
Bichette is a former first-round pick (2011) who at times looked like a potential bust with Low-A Charleston. However, the 21-year-old third baseman has been very encouraging for the Yankees thus far in 2014, his first season with High-A Tampa. Pinstripe Alley did a write-up on Bichette’s improvement back in mid-April, and the numbers are now looking even better, with stats trending up significantly across the board.
Through 55 games—roughly half of the 114 he played in Charleston in 2013—Bichette is on a faster pace for home runs, RBIs, hits, runs, and walks. He’s working at a lower strikeout rate, and his splits at the plate are .281/.371/.459 (next to .214/.292/.331 last year). That’s a very steady, complete improvement against higher levels of competition. With Bichette still very young, he’s another prospect the Yankees are likely beginning to feel good about.
Those with an interest in talented prospects should expect to be seeing these names more frequently in the coming years. If you’re eyeing the Yankees’ trade possibilities, keep in mind that the development of these young players may encourage them to be a bit more bold than many expect!
Jared Harris is a recent graduate with a degree in journalism. He contributes in a freelance capacity to various blogs online as part of his pursuit of a career in sports and entertainment writing.