Patrick Teale

We made some bold predictions heading into the 2016 season; some were right, some were wrong.

Each offseason we make some bold prospect predictions heading into the new season and sometimes we nail it, and sometimes we were off-base. Here's where we were right in our predictions for the 2016 season and where we were wrong [and why].

Where We Were Right -- Ranking Gary Sanchez number one overall: Whether it was prospect fatigue or not, Sanchez, who was entering his seventh minor league season in 2016, had fallen a bit out of grace with national analysts last offseason.  Most pundits had some combination of Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo ranking first and second, and in some rankings Sanchez was even around fourth or so in the Yankee farm system despite his high-ceiling talent on both sides of the ball.  He might not have proven his top overall spot in our rankings with his minor league production this year either [although .282 with 21 doubles and ten home runs in 71 games is beyond solid], but his .299, 20-home run showing in just 53 big league games has our top placement for him heading into the season completely justified.  He was certainly the top prospect in the Yankee farm system.

Where We Were Wrong -- Ranking Wilkerman Garcia fourth: We were not necessarily wrong with his ranking last offseason -- internally the Yankees had him just as high as did many outside organizations too -- it's just that his 2016 production didn't exactly back up the ranking.  He followed up his tremendous debut season that saw him advance all the way to the United States and wind up walking more than he struck out with a rather poor showing in 2016, hitting just .198 in short-season Pulaski this year.  He's still just 18 years old and he played his first season under the lights, and there's a bit more of a learning curve with young switch-hitters too, so there's plenty of time for him to prove his Top Five ranking worth.  In fact, there's a Gleyber Torres-like stillset that can't be ignored.  However, there's no mixing words; stats-wise we might have jumped the gun here.

Where We We Right -- Jordan Montgomery would be the prospect to break into the Top Ten: Our annual offseason rankings are still a little more than a month away and therefore it still remains to be seen if Montgomery actually breaks into the Top Ten numbers-wise given the extremely impressive depth of the Yankees farm system, especially after the mid-season trades to acquire a lot of prospect talent.  However, whether he winds up ranking ninth or twelfth it doesn't really matter because he certainly pitched like a Top Ten prospect and he's clearly in the Top Ten discussion now.  Ranking 30th entering the 2016 season, we even predicted a Triple Crown type season [wins, ERA, and strikeouts] for him this year.  While he wound up leading in wins [14] and second in strikeouts [134], he finished third in ERA [2.13], and didn't actually get the farm system Triple Crown.  Still, the fact is though he had the breakout season we had anticipated ["We think he's in line for a huge year" -- PinstripesPlus, 4/7/16] and he's clearly now one of the top pitching prospects for the Yankees now.

Where We Were Wrong -- Kendall Coleman was a breakout candidate: We actually listed James Kaprielian as our breakout candidate entering the season but injuries quickly derailed that possibility.  While predicting injuries are impossible, we can't ding ourselves for that one.  However, among the other breakout possibilities we listed [Andujar, Estrada, Cave, Molina, etc -- all of whom had breakout seasons of sorts], it's Coleman that didn't come close to busting out.  In fact, numbers-wise it would appear he was completely lost at the plate after he hit a combined .197 between low-A Charleston and short-season Staten Island with 99 strikeouts in 92 games.  He's about to enter his fifth minor league season in 2017 and we still very much believe he's a strong breakout candidate even as soon as next year because he has the natural talent to do so.  However, there's no denying that it hasn't happened yet and statistically there isn't a whole lot of faith to be derived that a breakout season is coming. .

Where We Were Right -- Our aggressive ranking of Chance Adams at #11: Our very aggressive ranking of Chance Adams at #11 last offseason turned many a collective head among fans and media alike.  Sure he had the blazing fastball everyone knew about and the fantastic debut season stats to back it up [1.78 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 35 innings] but few on the national scene knew just how good his secondary pitches were.  Throw in a smaller stature [he's just 6-foot-0 tall], Adams was met with unbridled skepticism as a potential Top Ten prospect across the board with everyone except PinstripesPlus.com.  The fact that he's not 6-foot-4 might prevent him from being a top overall prospect for the Yankees but after leading the farm system in strikeouts this year, finishing second in WHIP ratio [0.90] and opponent's batting average [.169], and tallying a 13-1 record in 2016, clearly his near Top Ten ranking a year ago was warranted.

Where We Were Wrong -- Ranking Jeff Degano in the Top 20: When looking at the basics -- a big left-hander with above average to plus pitches -- we weren't necessarily wrong ranking Degano 18th last offseason.  And in fairness, nobody could have predicted the unbelievable wildness that was about to take place with last year's second round pick after he walked nine batters in 21 innings a year go; bad but not awful.  However, he completely unraveled and walked 25 batters in just 5.2 innings with the short-season Pulaski Yankees this year.  Those are rare numbers indeed, numbers going in the wrong direction.  Sure, the stuff warrants a Top 20 ranking even now but the lack of control was so bad in 2016 that he really shouldn't have been more than a back-end of the Top 50 type prospect in hindsight. 

Where We Were Right -- Still ranking Tyler Austin: This former Top Five prospect was left for dead by seemingly everyone entering the 2016 season after he had hit just .261 with a combined 21 home runs in three seasons prior to this year's Spring Training camp.  In fact, he didn't make anyone's offseason Top 30 Yankees Prospects rankings except ours and we received a lot of criticism for doing so.  However, hitting a combined .294 with 34 doubles, 17 home runs, and drawing 62 walks later at the two highest minor league levels this year before a representative showing at the big league level, Austin's placement at #23 not only seems warranted but light in retrospect.  Too many pundits want to write off prospects too quickly when patience is otherwise better served.


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