Yankees' All-Prospect Team -- First Team
Catcher, Gary Sanchez: From a pure power bat and power arm standpoint, there is simply nobody that can hang with the likes of Gary Sanchez behind the plate. Not only does he have the best arm strength but he has developed one of the quicker releases and become one of the more accurate throwers as well. He has steadily improved receiving the ball and blocking pitches too over the years, so much so that nearly the entire package screams big league starting catcher. He still has work to do learning the nuances of calling games and various pitch sequences and further developing his English lingual skills would help create a better rapport with his pitchers, but physically his defensive game is ready. Throw in plus bat speed and above average to plus power potential to all fields, he is more than a mere slugger simply playing the catcher's spot. A little more mental maturity and consistent in-game focus could help tap his immense potential as a dangerous two-way catcher.
First Base, Greg Bird: Offensively there arguably isn't a more professional hitter in the farm system in terms of implementing a plan, sticking to it, and and employing it, and yet, despite posting some great results over the past two seasons, Bird continues to fly under the national radar. He has above average 'now' power to all fields and plus power to the pull-side in particular, he knows the strike zone as well as anyone, has plus bat speed, exceptional pitch recognition, and an ability to use all fields when he hits. Defensively, while not a Gold Glove caliber first baseman yet, he is already big league average, perhaps a tick above, and he has the kind of tireless work ethic that makes it unwise to bet against him developing into one of the elite defenders someday. With makeup off the charts too, he is simply the complete package.
Second Base, Rob Refsnyder: Outside of rather average power potential, the exact same thing can be said of this former college standout. He too has tremendous makeup, the kind of professional demeanor seldom found in minor league players, and like Bird he has a real knack for hitting and doing it consistently well. Where Refsnyder might have a leg up over Bird, however, is in his recent ability to step up his normally patient approach to become a bit more aggressive at the plate in the name of driving the ball more consistently. He won't be nearly the same kind of home run hitter, probably maxing out in the 20-25 range if things break right, but he can be an exceptional gap hitter who can pile up extra-base hits in a hurry. Defensively, the former college outfielder's shortcomings at second base have been a bit exaggerated. He has shown a real proclivity for making the highlight-reel plays look more routine and he is far from a liability in the middle infield. Like Bird, Refsnyder has quickly become a complete player.
Shortstop, Jorge Mateo: This Dominican 19-year old has amassed a grand total of 58 at-bats in the United States and yet he already possesses one of the highest ceilings, not only at his position, but in the entire farm system. He has speed to burn, a true 80 runner on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale, and rare top-shelf athleticism. In fact, had it not been for growing up in the Dominican Republic instead of the United States there could have been a realistic chance this kid would be on the front pages of newspapers everywhere making headlines as a standout college football player. As it stands, however, he is a true five-tool shortstop cut in the mold of a right-handed hitting Jose Reyes. And like Reyes, who ascended to the big leagues in just three years, Mateo might not be long for the minor leagues.
Third Base, Miguel Andujar: A strong argument could be made to put Eric Jagielo here given his 'now' above average to plus power but the simple fact is Andujar, already the better defensive third baseman, is younger and has a lot more room to grow at the hot corner, thus giving him the greater chance at developing as the better two-way player. He has some juice too, although more on the average side right now with room to get better as he continues to physically mature, and he has shown a real ability to make adjustments at the plate, hitting .319 over his final 64 games with the Charleston RiverDogs this past season. He uses all fields when he hits, has exceptional gap power and growing home run power, and defensively, while there will be some growing pains as he matures, he can really pick it.
Outfielders; Tyler Austin, Jake Cave, and Aaron Judge: Just like the other All-Prospect teams, there is a mixed bag collectively with this group. All three have significant ceilings but none higher than Judge, one of last year's first round picks. The 6-foot-7 behemoth entered his debut season this year with the label of being a raw athlete and he proved to be anything near that in 2014, hitting a combined .308 with 17 home runs and 89 walks between two A-ball levels. He has plus-plus arm strength that is tailor-made for right field, plus power potential to all fields, and despite his size, the kind of rare plus plate discipline and short stroke displayed in most larger players. Tyler Austin once showed Judge-like power at the lower levels too but had his power zapped by an injured wrist that plagued him for the better part of a year and a half. He finally proved to be healthy in the second half this past season and responded by hitting .336 and posting a .954 OPS after the Double-A All-Star break. The ceiling isn't quite as vast as Judge's because of the difference in size, but Austin still has the chance to develop into an impact everyday big league outfielder. Cave has a significant ceiling of his own, although power-wise not quite on par with the aforementioned duo. He has displayed a real knack for hitting [he led the farm system in hits this year] and the power is starting to develop into the average range after missing his first two professional seasons with knee injuries. He has gotten better defensively in centerfield too, enough to keep him in potential long-term discussions at the position, and his all-out hustle style of play allows his average or better tools to play a level higher.
Starting Pitchers; Manny Banuelos, Ian Clarkin, Austin DeCarr, Brady Lail, and Luis Severino: All five pitching prospects have ceilings high enough to potentially pitch in the front-half of a big league starting rotation someday, especially right-hander Luis Severino. All the Dominican native did this year was post a combined 2.46 ERA over three minor league levels, ascend all the way to Double-A, and strike out more batters than innings pitched. With innate strike-throwing ability of three plus pitches on any given day, including a fastball that can hit 99 mph, folks on the national scene have gotten a glimpse of what he can become after watching Yordano Ventura from the Kansas City Royals this postseason, another Dominican right-hander with similar build and stuff to Severino. There is an obvious dropoff arm-wise after Severino but the next closest might be this year's third round pick, Austin DeCarr. The 19-year old hasn't hit in the high-90s but he does sits comfortably in the 90-96 mph range already and boasts one of the best curveballs in the farm system. Throw in a projetable frame, great makeup and work ethic, and there's a chance that velocity could creep upwards in the coming years. It stands to reason that he could develop three plus pitches and be a quick mover through the minor leagues despite his youth. Ian Clarkin, one of last year's third round picks, won't hit 96 mph and above like Severino and DeCarr but this left-hander already has three plus pitches for a southpaw, sitting mostly in the 91-94 mph range with his fastball. The 19-year old really knows how to pitch, has gotten a ton better throwing strikes, and he too has tremendous makeup. There were Clayton Kershaw comparisons coming out of high school for a reason. It isn't fair to expect that kind of eventual production out of him but it shouldn't detract from the obvious talent. Banuelos has had three plus pitches for a long while now but missed the better part of two years after Tommy John surgery. He showed remaining command problems upon his return this year but there were glimpses of him being the super strike-thrower he once was in his younger days. If he can get back to throwing strikes again, this 24-year old still has time to become one of the more electric starting pitchers cut in the mold of Texas left-hander Martin Perez. Lail hasn't shown the same kind of plus stuff just yet as the aforementioned four. Sitting more in the 91-94 mph range, it's his secondary pitches that have gotten noticeably better to the point where they are oh-so close to being plus offerings. Already one of the more polished pitch-ability hurlers in the farm system, he has a Bryan Mitchell-like frame that suggests there could be some hidden power potential coming. If that power ever materializes, watch out!
Relievers; Jacob Lindgren and Nick Rumbelow: If there was anything evident from the farm system in 2014 and it wasn't just that both Lindgren and Rumbelow were the best relief pitching prospects, it was that both are big league relievers in waiting who just happened to pitch at the minor league level this year. Both toyed with the opposition most of the time, Lindgren to the tune of a combined 2.16 ERA and 48 strikeouts in just 25 innings over four minor league levels after being New York's top pick in the draft his past June, and Rumbelow posting a combined 2.62 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 58.1 innings over four minor league levels in his first full professional season this year, ascending to Double-A and Triple-A respectively. Both have plus fastballs and plus breaking pitches, and both have flashed plus changeups too. Throw in a full-attack pitching style by each of them, it's just a matter of time before they become impact relievers for the Yankees' big league bullpen, most likely next season.