Yankees Build Prospects to Trade for Veterans

Last year the Yankees had the fifth best minor league prospects. In 2017 they were third. They use their prospects to trade for veteran players who can take them to the playoffs. Last year the top 100 prospects for the Yankees was Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Miguel Andujar, Albert Abreu and Domingo Acevedo. Sheffield was used to acquire James Paxton from Seattle. Torres and Andujar contributed to the Yankees 2018 playoff appearance.

The last year the Yankees were in the top ten in prospects was in 2008, when they were fourth. The names from that list is evidence that prospects are not sure things. Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson did not become tier one type players.

Pitching may be the Yankees biggest strength in their minor leagues, with a number of arms that can get the ball to the plate in the high 90s to triple digits. Jonathan Loaisiga may be their top pitching prospect. The Nicaraguan flashes a fastball in the mid-90s with an occasional high 90s thrust. Last year he skipped Triple AAA to get four major league starts (5.11) but struggled to throw strikes, walking 12 hitters in just 25 innings. He also has a tendency to give up fly balls, not a trait recommended for Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have seen a couple injuries to their starting rotation this spring so a spot may open for him, but it would be best if Loaisiga started the season in AAA.

Albert Abreu is a hard thrower who struggles to stay healthy. The fastball hits the high 90s and his curve and change are good secondary pitches when he throws them for strikes. That can be a challenge for Abreu. Elbow issues also put him on the disabled list during mid season. He got 13 starts in High A but then threw five innings of no hit ball in his only AA start. That is where he will start the 2019 season.

Deivi Garcia is the newest Yankee starter to arrive at the scene. The Dominican is not tall at 5′10″ but can still throw the fastball at the lower edges of the mid-90s. His curve and change are solid pitches and he gets the ball over the plate. He started at Low A but his success got him promoted to one AA start. That is where he will start the 2019 season where he hopes to continue his career minor league strikeout rate of 12.4 whiffs per nine innings and an offensive batting average of .183.

Michael King had the best season for Yankee pitchers. At three different levels he finished with a 1.79 ERA with a .202 opposition average. The 2016 12th round pick does not come with dominating stuff but he does find the plate. His fastball sits in the low 90s with a good slider/change combination. He would fit best at the back end of the rotation. King will start the season at AAA where if he repeats his 1.15 ERA in six starts it will get him some time in the major league rotation.

Clarke Schmidt was the Yankees first round pick in 2017. Clarke has a number of pitches in his arsenal (slider, change and curve) but his fastball is not overpowering, sitting in the low 90s. After pitching all last season in the Rookie Leagues Clarke will open the 2019 season at the full season leagues where the Yankees will try to get him to eat up innings.

Domingo Acevedo may be the Yankees most imposing pitcher. He stands 6′6″ and fires his fastball in the high 90s, sitting along the northern edges of the mid-90s. An inability to stay healthy has not allowed him to burn up innings, which may put him in the bullpen. Also, for a pitcher who throws as hard as Domingo, he does not get a lot of swings and misses, averaging less than a whiff per inning. Domingo will be 25 for the 2019 season so this is his season to make the major league club by mid-season, starting with the rotation in AAA.

The star of the Yankees outfield is Estevan Florial, not that the Yankees need another outfielder. A broken wrist in spring training will delay the start to his 2019 season. Last year the Haitian born player was sidelined by hamate issues, forcing him to miss two months. The five tools are there to make him an impact player, with the speed to play centerfield and steal 20 plus bases, plus the arm to play right field. The power is there as well. If he can cut down a bit on his strikeouts that batting average will rise. After a little rehab Florial will start the season in High A.

Everson Pereira is the next outfield prospect rolling along the Yankee assembly line. The Venezuelan signed for $1.7 million in 2017. The power falls short of Florial but the speed is there to play centerfield. Last year he played in Rookie ball as a 17 year old. Everson has more maturing to do. Next year he could open in Low A.

The Yankees have a penchant for acquiring catchers. Anthony Seigler is their latest version, a first round pick in 2018. High School catchers are tough to project since it takes a number of years for them to master the nuances of the catching craft. Defense should be his strong suit but the hope is the bat will develop. Last year he showed good patience at the plate with a 14/12 walk to whiff ratio, hitting .266 with one homerun. Next year he could start the season in a full season league.

There is not a lot of room in the infield for Thairo Estrada. Last year he continued to be bothered by his bullet wound, suffered during a robbery in Venezuela. He played in just 18 games. His defensive game at shortstop is smooth and there is some ability to swing the bat. The power will fall short and last year he failed to walk in 78 at bats. Expect him to start the season in AAA. An improvement in his patience could result in a callup as a utility player, if Troy Tulowitski has not taken over that role after the return of Didi Gregorius.

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