1. SS, Wilkerman Garcia: Signed last year as one of the top International free agents, the Venezuelan native had a bit of an inauspicious professional debut season this year from a numbers standpoint, hitting .281 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees with no home runs and just seven extra-base hits overall in his first 37 games. However, the 17-year old is garnering some serious helium attention with his prospect status with the way he has conducted himself behind the scenes and at Instructional League camp this year.
Reportedly one of the real standouts in camp, it's Garcia's smooth play on both sides of the ball that has his prospect status rising quickly to unchartered territories. Team insiders love his swing, one that some officials believe is reminiscent of former Yankee great Robinson Cano, and most scouts believe he has just scratched the surface of his speed and power combination. Like Jorge Mateo a year ago, Garcia is already considered one of the elite prospects in the Yankee farm system even before making his way into the long-season leagues and some team officials aren't exactly sure if Garcia even the better long-term solution at the position. His star is very much on the rise.
2. OF, Esteven Florial: The two most cited names when discussing the Yankees' Instructional League camps with baseball officials this year have been Garcia and Florial. In fact, there hasn't been a noticeable difference in excitement level when the two are discussed and that has the Yankees on the precipice of some exciting times to come at the lower minor league levels in the immediate future.
Unlike Garcia and Park, Florial, who also made his debut this season, put up some monster numbers in 2015 [.313, 26 extra-base hits in 57 games, 15 stolen bases] in the Dominican Summer League. But just like Garcia and Park, however, he too was one of the real standouts in Instructs this year, so much so that team officials believe they could have a true impact position prospect on their hands. His prospect status is soaring as a result of his tremendous 2015 calendar year.
3. RHP, James Kaprielian: There's very little surprise that this year's first round pick out of UCLA finds his way on to this list given his top-shelf talent and the way he debuted in Staten Island this year [9 innings, 1,11 WHIP, 12 K's]. Still, it was the way he pitched at Instructs that led many team officials to believe that they not only may have an impact pitching prospect on their hands but one who could move very quickly through the minor leagues.
Sitting 93-96 mph in camp, not an easy feat to do for a first-year hurler, Kaprielian showed three more above average or better big league pitches to go along with his fastball, desplayed better than average command, and the type of complete package that already assures him of a Top Ten ranking in the farm system. Already one of the safer bets among the higher-end arms down on the farm, his stock is soaring after an exceptional Instructional League camp.
4. SS, Hoy Jun Park: There is one major similarity between Garcia and this Korean native; Park, like Garcia, has his prospect status soaring in the face of some rather pedestrian-like numbers posted in his debut season. Park hit just .239 for short-season Pulaski but did chip in with five home runs and twelve stolen bases, but was one of the real offensive [and defensive] standouts during this year's Instrucitonal League camp.
Forget for a moment that he was clubbing balls with a little more thump in camp, it was the way in which he was crushing them that has team officials excited about his long-term potential. The exit velocity on his line-drives -- like it was in the Appy League -- were clocked among the best around, suggesting that there is a lot more power yet to be tapped. And given his already patient approach at the plate and premium defensive play at shortstop, Park already finds himself among the top ranked shortstop prospects in a Yankee farm system boasting some significant long-term potential depth at the position.
5. 1B, Chris Gittens: Unlike the other aforementioned names in this list, Gittens, a 12th round pick out of junior college last year, entered the Yankee farm system with little to no fanfare at all and yet all he did in his first full season was hit a ridiculous .363 with eight home runs and 18 extra-base hits overall in just 41 Gulf Coast League games this year, and he reportedly kept up that kind of production at Instructs this year too.
Why he wasn't promoted to a higher minor league level sooner this year to better test him remains a bit of a mystery, especially in light of his strong Instructional League camp. However, while he might not have achieved the top prospect status some of these other players have just yet, the fact remains that he has pole-vaulted his prospect status in the Yankee farm system and now has the chance to be the next impact-hitting first baseman. He should be one ot watch in 2016.
Other Standouts at Instructs: Domingo Acevedo, Chance Adams, Trey Amburgey, Brody Koerner, and Luis Torrens.