1. OF, Estevan Florial - One thing not up for debate in these rankings is who ranks first. The player formally known as Haniel d'Oleo when he was tearing through the amateur Dominican circuit to become one of the most desired International free agents in the 2014 class faced identity issues that caused him to sign for significantly less than the $2-3 million he could have received that year. Now Estevan Florial and a year old than originally thought, he signed for a reported $200,000 in January of 2015 and the discounted rate was more about potential visa issues that could have come up as a result of the incorrect documentation [not his baseball abilities]. Cleared to play, he tore through the Dominican Summer League in his debut season last year to the tune of a .313 average, 26 extra-base hits in 57 games, 15 stolen bases, and a .921 OPS. Forget the numbers though, it's the present five-tool package and high level of intelligence [he speaks three languages already] that really stand out. Plus power, plus arm strength, above average speed, and a feel for hitting are just a few of his top-shelf traits. With visa in hand now and hardly a 'sleeper', he's set to become one of the top overall prospects in the Yankee farm system now and for the foreseeable future.
2. 3B, Nelson Gomez - After Florial, at least internally in the Yankee organization, there's little debate as to whom is next either. Despite some reasonable concerns about a less than perfect body, a resulting subsequent lack of mobility, and some legitimate long-term questions about his eventual defensive position, Gomez, who signed in July of 2014 for a reported $2.25 million out of the Dominican Republic, has plus power to all fields and it's not projectable power -- it's now power! He hit a Dominican Summer League-leading 11 home runs last year [not including the playoffs] and there is no question about his long-term potential to hit in the heart of a big league lineup someday. He still has some rough edges to smooth out, however, including becoming a bit more consistent at the plate [he hit just .243], chiseling his conservatively listed 6-foot-2, 220 pound frame, and ironing out his defensive game at third base. He may eventually wind up at first base down the road if he's not careful with his conditioning but he certainly has the special power that can fit in anywhere.
3. SS, Diego Castillo - Had it not been for Florial's outstanding success perhaps a little bit more light would have been shed on this Venezuelan native's incredible debut season last year. Inked to a reported $750,000 in July of 2014, Castillo debuted in the Dominican Summer League to the tune of a .331 batting average with 19 extra-base hits last year and long-term could have the look of a real bargain. His pitch recognition, plate discipline, and feel for hitting are extremely advanced, as is his propensity for using the whole field. In fact, it's his ability to consistently go to the opposite field with a simple swing path that have conjured up some Derek Jeter-like hitting images. Like Jeter there probably isn't a whole lot of long-term home run power potential but there could be a lot of extra-base hits in his future as well as some consistent batting averages along the way. He's not all that speedy, swiping just five bases a year ago, and it has raised some mild concerns that his range at shortstop might not play to the level as some of the elite defenders. But with tremendous makeup and internal game clock he certainly could find a permanent home at either middle infield position when it's all said and done. He's a gamer, pure and simple.
4. OF, Juan De Leon - One of the more disappointing debut seasons was turned in from this Dominican native last year, at least statistically. He hit just .226, struck out a bit too much [66 times in 53 games], and he stole just one base. Those are hardly representative numbers after signing for a reported $2 million in July of 2014 and they're certainly not indicative of the supposed polished bat and above average speed he was billed to have either. Still, it's important to keep in mind that he played last year as a 17-year old [the equivalent of a high school junior by most standards]. He still has outstanding bat speed, a patient approach at the plate, and some significant power potential packed into his 6-foot-2, 185-pound, still very projectable frame. A very confident player, perhaps the slice of humble pie he received last year will get him a bit more motivated to turn things around and it could start by not constantly changing things around, trusting the development system more, and worrying less about the results. There is still a considerable ceiling here and the natural talent to become one of the better overall prospects in the coming years. He deserves a mulligan for last season if for no other reason than his extreme youth.
5. RHP, Luis Medina - One of the top International free agents signed by the Yankees in 2015, this Dominican native throws some serious cheese. He's already hit 100 mph multiple times and boasts the kind of plus-plus arm speed that already makes him one of the elite throwers. He's not a pitcher yet by any means, however. He still has to iron out the delivery and improve both the command and pitch-ability, but his breaking ball shows flashes of being a plus pitch someday and few can match his live body and athleticism. Physically he compares to Luis Severino and he may just be the closest thing to Severino since he first signed from an arm speed standpoint. The Yankees have proven to be very adept at improving secondary pitches for their pitchers over the years. Throwing Medina's special arm into that kind of program and there's no telling how high the ceiling could eventually be.
6. RHP, Daniel Ramos - He hasn't even accumulated five career official innings to date yet since signing with the Yankees nearly two years ago but that shouldn't detract from what could wind up being a whale of a prospect. A low dollar signing out of the Dominican Republic, it's Ramos' free and easy delivery combined with his fastball that has hit as high as 95 mph and now plus curveball that has scouts and team officials very excited about his long-term potential. We tabbed him as a big-time 'sleeper' prospect a year ago, one with a virtual limitless ceiling, and despite having shoulder surgery last year [he didn't pitch in games at all in 2015] those statements still very much ring true to this day. Like Medina there's some legitimate Luis Severino comparisons and like Severino he could be one of the quicker risers through the minor leagues once he's back pitching in games. The combination of innate strike-throwing and advanced feel for pitching should be fun to watch.
7. C, Miguel Flames - Ranked at this very spot a year ago, this Venezuelan native, like Florial and Castillo, had one of the better professional debut seasons last year, hitting .317 with 17 extra-base hits. Billed as an offensive-minded prospect cut in the mold of Gary Sanchez [when he first signed] type as more of a hit-first backstop, some mild shoulder soreness prevented him from making the full-time switch to behind the plate and as a result logged quite a few games at first base  in the Dominican Summer League last year. With rather average arm strength and limited mobility there were already some questions as to his ability to make the switch to catcher but both the bat and offensive approach are advanced. Combining that with average or better power potential, even if moving to catcher doesn't work out he does have the kind of consistent bat that could play elsewhere but then the question comes up if the power will play at other spots [first base namely].
8. C, Jason Lopez - We tabbed this Venezuelan native as a hidden gem a year ago and he's quickly becoming an organizational favorite. It has little to do with his at the plate production too as he hit just .240 with one home run in his debut season last year. However, the former infielder has made an extremely quick and seamless transition to catching, so much so that he's already an advanced catch-and-throw receiver. He shows a lot of cat-like reflexes behind the plate, has plus arm strength, makes accurate throws, and has some of the softest hands. He's even an above average to plus runner for a catcher [he grades out as average overall] and he has tremendous makeup. At just 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds though, more than most he needs to get physically stronger to make optimal use of his advanced plate discipline and become the consistent hitter most believe he can be down the road. He's Luis Torren-light, meaning he has the solid all-around game to be a potential force as he continues to physically mature.
9. OF, Jonathan Amundaray - This Venezuelan native inked to a reported $1.5 million in July of 2014 battled a nagging wrist/hand injury in his debut season last year so he never really got off the proverbial ground, hitting just .111 in only 13 games. Still, as limited as his exposure was he proved to be the patient hitter he was billed to be, drawing a remarkable 12 walks in those 13 games. Physically all of his tools are above average or better; power, speed, defense, etc. However, while the patience is very much there, he does need work on his pitch recognition to become a better overall hitter and that's where the lost development time really hurt him. If he can stay healthy and make the necessary strides with his hitting, with his already strong but still very much projectable frame, he has an enormous ceiling still left to be tapped.
10. OF, Raymundo Moreno - Like Amundaray, Moreno, another Venezuelan native signed in 2014, struggled to stay healthy in his debut season last year, hitting just .067 in six games. However, that's where the comparison ends. Noted as a much more polished hitter and smoother defensive player, he doesn't have quite the same physical tools as Amundaray, grading out as more average across the board. Still, scouts and team officials alike are very high on his long-term potential as one of the more solid all-around players and many believe that once he's able to stay healthy that he could be a relatively quick mover through the farm system given his overall consistency on both sides of the ball. For now though it's about getting and staying healthy.
11. SS, Jesus Bastidas - If Medina wasn't the top International free agent signed by the Yankees in 2015 then it's this Venezuelan native. Signed for a reported $300,000 [the highest amount the Yankees were allowed to pay in the penalty year], he has some impressive tools on both sides of the ball. He shows above average speed, plus bat speed, and above average arm strength. He is also a very smooth defensive shortstop with some of the best hands and internal game clock around. About the only thing missing in his game is size and home run power. Standing just 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds, while he shows some significant gap power already, he doesn't project to be much of a home run threat. A little Franklin Barreto-like [former top Blue Jays' top International free agent and current Oakland A's shortstop prospect] in that regard, physically getting stronger in the coming years will be of the utmost importance to maximize his abilities; everything else is in place to potentially become an impact prospect.
12. OF, Ricardo Ferreira - There's a split between the scouting community and the player development program on this Dominican native switch-hitting shortstop turned outfielder. The power potential is somewhat questionable, ranging from below average to average at best. However, he's proven he play a solid shortstop and second base, and recently got moved to centerfield to not only get him more reps but to make better use of his top-flight speed. The recently turned 21-year old is a bit too long in the tooth for somebody who hasn't played in the United States just yet and it's a major factor when polling scouts but it's hard to ignore his performance to date [he hit .382 last year in the Dominican Summer League with more walks than strikeout and stole 35 bases], the fact that he's a switch-hitter, and that he has defensive versatility. He's going to have to make up for lost time rather quickly and start playing against competition closer to his age but if he can show some short-term success he could potentially propel himself on to the radar as something more than a super-sub..
13. OF, Brayan Emery - One the opposite end of the Ferreira spectrum is this Colombian native. Easily considered one of the top International free agents leading up to the 2014 signing period, Emery is all about the physicality and power. Standing 6-foot-3 and a rock-solid 185 pounds [with room to grow], he already has impressive power that could eventually become an above average or better tool from the left side. The Yankees knew when they signed him that he would be a bit of a project from a hitting standpoint -- he hit just .192 in his debut season last year -- but one that could pay long-term dividends. In fairness to Emery, he was hitting close to .300 halfway through the season last year before tiring down the stretch. There's some rough edges to be smoothed out in his overall hitting approach and he does need to get stronger to beef up his endurance, but there's also some significant potential yet to be tapped here.
14. RHP, Freicer Perez - Not only could the Yankees have the second coming of Luis Severino in either Luis Medina or Daniel Ramos but they could also have the second coming of Domingo Acevedo in the form of this Dominican native. Standing 6-foot-10, Perez, like Acevedo, is a natural strike-thrower despite his taller frame. He doesn't hit 100 mph quite like Acevedo does now but neither did Acevedo at similar point to Perez's career. He'll hit 95 mph routinely, throw strikes, and mix in some decent secondary pitches to keep hitters guessing. Neither the breaking ball nor the changeup are anything more than average right now -- if they were he'd rank a lot higher than this -- but should they develop at some point, and as noted the Yankees are pretty adept at developing those, he could become quite the pitching prospect with his size and strength. He's a 'sleeper' for now but one with a ton of potential.
15. OF, Leobaldo Cabrera - On the subject of 'sleepers' is this Venezuelan native. Scouts and player development personnel alike are in complete agreement, this kid can flat-out rake. He shows a nice blend of patience at the plate, pitch recognition, and ability to use the whole field. The power is merely average at best at this point and that could wind up being problematic for a sure-fire corner outfielder type like him but, more of a doubles-hitter right now, if he can add some significant strength to a very projectable frame, with his ability to consistently put balls in play, he could wind up being one of the more solid all-around players in due time. He's not a top prospect yet and the tools don't necessarily scream out top prospect down the road either but it's his high makeup and overall consistency that could lend itself quite well in the coming years.
16. RHP, Miguel Yajure - Poll team insiders and we might be a little light on the ranking of this Venezuelan right-hander. He doesn't have elite stuff yet -- it's mainly average across the board -- but all three of his pitches do have long-term above average or better potential, especially if he can fill out his rather skinny 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame. Still just 17 years old, there is little doubt that he will in fact add power to already solid 90-92 mph fastball and with his advanced feel for pitching the Yankees could have something special on their hands in a couple of years. It may take some time for the physicality to catch up to the pitch-ability and as a result the ceiling may fluctuate but for now he also offers one of the safer floors among the teenage hurlers.
17. OF, Antonio Arias - We mentioned a year ago that despite not being in the Top 20 last year that he clearly had the talent to be there and he still very much does, even if his .235, one home run showing in his debut season last year might prove otherwise. Standing 6-foot-3 and wiry strong, Arias is a premium athlete still learning the nuances of professional baseball. A little Amundaray-like in that regard, the still 17-year old [he doesn't turn 18 until May] simply needs more time, experience, and strength to make optimal use of his top-shelf athleticism. He'll take some time to develop but the long-term potential is significant.
18. OF, Pablo Olivares - One of the more unheralded signings from the massive 2014 International haul was this Venezuelan centerfielder. He had a solid debut season last year too, hitting .267 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. He's not quite as tooled up as Arias and Amundaray but falls more into the Raymundo Moreno category as solid across the board. He's an above average runner and an above average defender in centerfield with good plate discipline. Like most of these teenage International players, getting stronger in the coming years will be vital to his development. With his running, defensive, and hitting prowess, if he can muster even average power potential down the road the Yankees could have a real player on their hands.
19. RHP, Deivi Garcia - Signed last summer as one of their top International free agent pitchers, Garcia is already turning heads with his live-wire arm. The still 16-year old has already been as high as 94 mph and has the makings of a plus curveball down the road. It's not a plus pitch yet but many team officials believe it won't be long before it gets there. Considering his extreme youth, already solid power, and feel for pitching, it may not be long before this equivalent to a high school sophomore headlines the prospect rankings down the road. He has the chance to be special.
20. RHP, Rony Garcia - It's not often that a 'passed over' player [one who doesn't sign until a year after he's eligible] cracks the Top 20 immediately but he's already close to a near consensus internal pick, thanks to a fastball that already touches 95 mph, a breaking ball that shows both action and tightness, and a solid combination of natural strike-throwing and pitch-ability. At 6-foot-2 and already 200 pounds there isn't much in the way of more power to be tapped but the game is very solid already at a young age.