I'm serious, from the top of the organization to all the way down to the bottom, there are a ton of things to really like about the organization right now.
Quad-A New York
At the quad-A level in the Bronx the talk of the town these past few weeks has been the youth movement. Not just that but a youth movement that's kept the Yankees in the wild card race.
No doubt most of you have been pelted with articles about how much of a force Gary Sanchez has been in recent times. The wonder kin has hit a dinger in almost every game he's appeared in. Of course his hot streak will cool off but even then he can still be a very elite catcher for years to come.
Add in how other youngsters like Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Luis Cessa and Chad Green are getting significant playing time and have had their fair share of high points and it's exciting. In-house farmhands contributing at the big league level. That's exactly what a significant portion of the fan base has been demanding for years. And finally seeing it happen is quite a sight.
There's also something to be said for the other non-prospect eligible talent on the big league roster. Didi Gregorius is having one heck of a year and is making an incredibly great case to be the Yankees' shortstop long term, even with Mateo and Torres (and a bunch more) down in the minors. This past month, the largely inconsistent Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks have also improved and made great strides. Whether that's just an illusion or if they've adjusted to the AL East at last remains to be seen but it's nice to see regardless. And let's not forget that there's still Greg Bird.
At the moment the only blips would probably be Luis Severino taking a step back due to his change-up issues. If he can regain confidence in that pitch and throw it again he'd be a great starter once more. Also the Yankees not really seeing what they have in Robert Refsnyder isn't exactly a great course of action, but oh well.
For much of this year the Scranton roster was packed with prospect power. After the trade deadline the team was downright LOADED.
Let's put it like this, a team where the core of the lineup is/was Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Jake Cave and Ben Gamel CAN and WILL do damage. Throw in how the Railriders have gotten great production out of their pitching staff and boom, it's no wonder that the Railriders are playoff bound in the International League.
Obviously Frazier is the best prospect in Scranton (even if he is on the DL right now), but one prospect who's emerged in a big way this year is Kyle Higashioka. Higgy has found his power stroke and his prospect stock has gone up ten fold (he was always solid defensively). Higgy provides another layer depth at catcher within the organization as he was (at times) just a Romine or McCann injury away from making the big league roster.
Now about that pitching, the Scranton roster boasts a ton of notable pitching prospects who've emerged as very very interesting in-house options for the Yankees' starting rotation/bullpen.
Brady Lail has been on prospecting radars for a while now. With a fastball, curveball, change-up and cutter, Lail has a ceiling of a back of the rotation starter.
Jordan Montgomery is one of the most underrated gems in the Yankees org. With a dominant change up and a fastball, curveball and cutter to accompany it, Monty is a low-ceiling, high floor guy who could be a really good number 4 or 5 starter going forward.
Dietrich Enns came back in a big way this year after getting Tommy John surgery back in 2014. With a plus change up, fastball, slider and curveball, he kind of projects to be a swingman who fulfills a long-man role in the bullpen most of the time at the big league level. That's still excellent though.
Jonathan Holder is a very good, downright dominant reliever. Armed with what I'm told is a fastball, curveball, slider and change-up, Holder's having quite an impressible season in relief down in triple-A. Just take a look at what he did yesterday.
Jesus. That's some Goose Gossage shit right there man. 11 of those K's were CONSECUTIVE for the record.Final line on Jonathan Holder: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB 12 K, 53 pitches-41 strikes. Yes, you read that correctly. AMAZING.— Shane Hennigan (@RailRidersTT) August 28, 2016
Of course there are some more notable players on the Railriders like a surprisingly productive Cito Culver (he's alive!) intriguing 40-man arms like Johnny Barbato and Bryan Mitchell and potential 2017 Scranton shuttle reliever, Tyler Webb.
The Scranton Railriders also clinched a postseason spot yesterday. I assume that guys like Holder and Severino will be called up to the big leagues after the playoff have concluded for them.
Woof, if you think the Scranton team was built well, the Trenton team can hold it's own just fine. Many of the prospects I talked about in the Scranton section spent parts of the first half of the season in Trenton and for a while they had a very loaded pitching staff. Even after the promotions the Thunder staff still have a good pitching squad.
Chance Adams has been used as a starter this year and he's rewarded the Yankees with a very good season. Armed with a fastball, slider and change-up, Adams' long term role is kind of up in the air but I assume the Yankees plan to start him until he can't start anymore.
Ronald Herrera has been a pleasant addition to the Yankees org since coming over in the Jose Pirela trade that was just made so NYY could clear up a roster spot. Herrera has a fastball, slider and curveball. His fastball sits in the low 90's and his slider is said to be above average.
Others like Cale Coshow, Daniel Camarena, Will Carter, J.P. Feyerisen and Matt Wotherspoon also have varying amounts of potential at the big league level.
As for the Thunder offense, woof it's loaded too. Starting with Miguel Andujar who has had a great breakout year this year. Hitting for contact and for power and with an improved overall game, Andujar is a borderline top 100 (in the minors) prospect. And of course there is Dustin Fowler who is yet another lefty hitting outfielder who can flat out hit. He's good. Of course there are also Tyler Wade (who is a high end short stop prospect), Billy McKinney, Billy Flemming and Abiatal Avelino contributing too.
With good pitching and good offense, the Trenton Thunder have already clinched a playoff birth in the Eastern League.
Tampa has an impressive roster with some of the most exciting names in the system on it.
Of course there's Gleyber Torres who I still don't have a card of and Jorge Mateo at the very top. Those two make for a very good double play combo and make the team a formidable one. Add in impressive players around them like Thairo Estrada, Connor Spencer, Trey Amburgey and Rashad Craford and the offense is looking good.
On the pitching side, the Tampa Yankees Disabled List includes some of the organization's best arms including James Kaprielian, Domingo Acevedo, Domingo German, Ian Clarkin, Jacob Lindgren and Brody Koerner. Those are all legitimate pitching talents. If they were all healthy and productive the Yankees farm system would be even stronger (if that's possible!).
As for the pitchers who're actually healthy they're not bad either.
Josh Rogers is having a phenomenal season as a starter and could join several top 30 Yankees prospect lists when the likes of Sanchez and Green lose their prospect status.
Justus Sheffield has been excellent since coming from the Cleveland organization, he's so so good and he's probably the Yankees' best prospect with Kaprielian on the shelf.
My personal favorite pitching standouts are James Reeves, Nestor Cortes and Travis Hissong. Reeves has been used as a starter and reliever this season and he's excelled in both, striking out more than a batter per inning Reeves is definitely a name to watch.
Cortes was my pick for the Yankees' sleeper prospect coming into 2016 and he's proved me right. He's dominated the SAL and the FSL, earning All Star Honors and Pitcher of the Week honors this year. He's good.
Hissong is a personal fave because I saw him in 2015 (and he was mad cool) but also because he can throw strikes. Seriously, like 80% of his pitches are for strikes and he's an effective reliever. I expect him to be in double-A next year.
Other impressive arms on the Tampa Yankees includes Yefrey Ramirez, Caleb Frare and Jose Mesa Jr.
The Tampa Yankees have already clinched a playoff berth for this year.
Charleston has an interesting mix of prospects that kind of skews more towards the offense.
Obviously the Yankees have the God prospect in Luis Torrens but they also have Kyle Holder, Hoy Jun Park, Chris Gittens and Jhalan Jackson. Holder is hitting with authority this year and boy is it great. Park is holding his own but he's still adjusting. Gittens has steadily paced the org in home runs as he's hit 21 home runs this year (as of this post), 21! Jackson also has steady power and has made great strides in improving as a pro.
The Riverdogs offense also boasts guys with nice seasons like Gosuke Katoh, Ricardo Ferreira and Alexander Palma.
On the pitching side the conversation has to start with Dillon Tate. Tate has struggled mightily this year (the Rangers broke him!) but the Yankees hope to get him back on track. Right now they are having him pitch in the bullpen. If he can improve his change up he may regain some form. Lets hope the Yankees can pull it off. The Riverdogs also have some interesting arms in Daris Vargas, Luis Cedeno and Nick Green. Vargas leads the team in strikeouts, while Cedeno has had an up and down season but still has an intriguing set of skills. Green came over in the Beltran trade along with Tate and the early signs are that he has the potential to be something good (Cashman and his men really did their homework). Oh crud, I forgot to mention Taylor Widener who's having a good season in relief.
Of course I also have to mention Ty Hensley who's on the DL. He just had his second Tommy John surgery which means he's still yet to pitch above short season ball since being drafted in 2012. Stinks, but I still hope the best for him. For TLC's sake.
And yes, the Riverdogs have already clinched a playoff berth. If you're keeping track that means that all four of the higher level affiliates in the organization are headed to their respective postseasons. That's insane!
Short Season-A Staten Island
Ah, home sweet home.
The Staten Island Yankees possess a great deal of interesting players and pitchers. No, they are not as good as they were before in the season but they do still have what it takes to be good.
The offense is anchored by second baseman Nick Solak, who is the team's best position player by a pretty wide margin. Supporting him are Dom Thompson-Williams, a lefty hitting outfielder with speed, and various other players with varying skills like Angel Aguilar, Drew Bridges, Dalton Blaser and Kendall Coleman. Of which the biggest lottery ticket with potential is Coleman.
The pitching features two notable guys in Austin DeCarr and Drew Finley. DeCarr returned from Tommy John surgery this season and the Yankees have been careful (limiting his starts to five innings max). He's still shaking off rust but he's been good overall. Finley has been dominant although his stats don't really show it. Oddly enough Finley hasn't pitched since late July so there isn't much else to say except that he's probably the best overall prospect on the entire team (Finley's the only SI Yankee on MLB.com's top 30 NYY prospects list).
And of course I'd be remiss to forget Freicer Perez. Perez is huge (6'8") with a good arsenal of pitches. With a good season under his belt (next year?) it wouldn't surprise me if he got Domingo levels of hype.
The SI Yankees have yet to clinch a playoff birth. Winning the McNamara division seems out of reach now but they are still in contention for the wild card. This upcoming series against the Connecticut Tigers will be crucial as the Tigers are in second and right behind the Yankees for the wildcard in the standings.
If you thought the Scranton offense was lethal, the Pulaski offense is just as fun. In terms of name value that is.
Prospect nuts like me have really enjoyed the daily lineups the Pulaski Yankees trotted out, only to be flabbergasted to know that they didn't hit all of the dingers.
The Pulaski offense includes highlights like Dermis Garcia, Wilkerman Garcia, Isiah Gilliam, Leonardo Molina, Donny Sands, Blake Rutherford, Estevan Florial and Oswaldo Cabrera. That is an insane amount of prospect capital.
Oof, where to begin? Dermis Garcia was one of the top international prospects from the 2014 international signing period. The infielder has insane amounts of power and started the year off strong by blasting home runs to the moon. He's cooled off since then but the potential is still there, the fact that he can take walks is an incredibly good sign.
Wilkerman Garcia was another high profile signing from 2014. Wilky is a switch hitting SS who can hit for power and also has good speed. His defense is very serviceable at SS and Wilky's another part of the infield log-jam.
Isiah Gilliam is a first baseman with a lot of potential with the bat. The first baseman/outfielder is having a pretty good season for the P-Yanks. Going forward it should be interesting to see if Gilliam can stick in the outfield and how much more he can use the whole field to hit.
Leonardo Molina was the crown jewel of the 2013 international free agent haul. A 5-tool potential player with plenty of power and hitting potential. He also has great speed. That speed and his strong arm (his arm is a cannon!) also helps him defensively in the outfield.
Donny Sands in an intriguing prospect who was an infielder before being drafted who has since been converted into a catcher. Offensively Sands can spray the ball to all parts of the field and he has the contact skills to be a pretty consistent hitter.
Blake Rutherford was the Yankees' first pick in the draft this year. They spent every last penny they could on him after the potential top 10 talent fell into their lap. Rutherford can hit for average and for power, and he also has the speed and arm to be a good-to-great defender. Rutherford is done for the year with a hamstring injury but he will report to instructs.
Estevan Florial made headlines as a Haitian prospect to immediately make it stateside after minimal time in the DSL. He's a solid overall player.
Oswaldo Cabrera is like Florial in that zoomed up the ladder quickly after destroying the DSL and GCL. The 17 year old who was signed just last year is already up in Pulaski. That's incredible.
And the pitching side? Well Nick Nelson is a thing I suppose. Although his innings have been largely limited. Jeff Degano still might be a thing is he regains his composure next season (I hope he does). Icezack Flemming is also notable, both for his name and his solid production this year.
The Pulaski Yankees have been eliminated from playoff contention in their league.
The Other Rookie Ball Clubs (GCL & DSL)
I'm just going to lump all four GCL and DSL clubs together (the NYY have two apiece).
Down in these low level leagues most of the key position player prospects are the other international signees from 2014. Like Nelson Gomez, Juan De Leon, Miguel Flames, Brayan (or Bryan) Emery, Diego Castillo, and as far as domestic guys go there's Terrance Robertson and Edel Luaces. All of these guys are from the GCL rosters. I have no clue who's who in the DSL. I have my limits.
Pitching wise the GCL has 2016 third rounder Nolan Martinez who's said to be very promising and Anderson Severino (another Sevy!). In the DSL there's Luis Medina who's still a teenager and he's throwing 100 mph heat.
He hasn't made his debut yet but Roancy Contreras (the top international prospect the Yankees signed this year) is probably going to be in the mix next year. He was Baseball America's 25th best international prospect and third best pitching prospect in this year's potential signing class. The righty has a low-90's fastball and a curveball. The Yankees being able to get him for only a $300,000 bonus is huge. Although it's probably because they've already had a verbal agreement with him/his trainer (or manager) since he was 14.
None of these lower level clubs are playoff bound.
Alright I think that's enough. The point is that this particular point in time is one where farmhands are impacting and producing up and down the entire organization, even at the big league level. And it's really showing because while the big league Yankees chase a wildcard, the minor league Yankees (or most of them) are headed for their own postseasons. There's a lot of talent and depth at the top, middle and especially at the bottom. These are exciting times to be a Yankees fan. I love it.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).