1. RHP, Luis Medina - The Yankees graduated a lot of players to the United States from their Dominican Academy last year but even if the likes of Estevan Florial, Nelson Gomez, Diego Castillo and others were eligible for these rankings there's a good chance Medina would still take the top spot. He didn't pitch much in games last season dealing with an assortment of undisclosed injuries [nothing major], tallying just 4.2 official innings, but he dominated behind the scenes and the stuff is beyond electric. He sits in the mid-to-high-90s already with his fastball, conjuring up images of a young Yordany Ventura, he can really spin the breaking ball, and he reportedly made a lot of strides with his pitch-ability. He's the closest thing to Luis Severino at the lower minor league levels and has a lot of the attributes of an eventual frontline big league starting pitcher.
2. C, Saul Torres - Arguably the top International free agent signed by the Yankees in 2016, Torres [in the photo above] enters the professional ranks noted for the way he can really impact the baseball. In fact, he's even drawn some early comparisons power-wise [not hitting-wise] to Gary Sanchez with the way the ball jumps off of his bat. He's exceptionally strong at a very young age and defensively he's not just a stud in the making but a stud, period! Already bilingual, he is extremely intelligent, shows excellent athleticism, and is already an elite defender by all accounts. Comparing him to Sanchez is a little unfair in two regards, however; one, Torres has a great work ethic. And two, while Torres shows a willingness and an ability to go to all fields, the raw hitting ability is not nearly as advanced as Sanchez at a comparable age. Some team insiders believe though that with his high mental makeup and work ethic that he could become a consistent hitter as he gains more experience.
3. RHP, Roancy Contreras - Another 2016 International free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic, this righty is advanced in nearly every way at a very young age. He sits in the 91-93 mph range already with real loose arm action, the kind of looseness that makes it easy to project eventual mid-90s heat down the road. He begins his career with a plus breaking ball already too, a slider, and he shows good feel for a changeup. Throw in innate strike-throwing ability akin to current Yankee farmhand Rony Garcia and a similarly extremely athletic delivery, as well as a projectable body, there could be some immediate excitement brewing here.
4. SS, Eduardo Torrealba - In one of the more odd cases, the Yankees signed this former Red Sox signing [who was declared a free agent last July after some shady behind-closed-door dealing after initially signing with Boston in 2015] to $300,000, and he brings even more unbelievable depth to a position of great strength for the Yankees. Defensively he's already one of the best, showing incredible ease in the field and the kind of mature feel for the game seldom found in players even ten years older. In fact, many believe he's a plus-plus defensive player already. He isn't very big, however, standing just 5-foot-9 and very much needing to add some strength. However, while the power potential is pretty limited to more of the gap variety, there is the potential for elite hitting down the road. He shows great hands, plus-plus plate discipline, and in some ways conjures up images of a young Thairo Estrada hitting-wise. That kind of defensive prowess to go with that kind of hitting potential is very rare these days.
5. SS, Jose Devers - The cousin of current top Red Sox prospect Rafael Devers, even though some prospects rank higher than Jose here right now, he does have the ceiling to potentially shoot his way up to the top of the prospect charts if everything falls in line, namely hitting-wise. He already shows plus running potential, a quick bat, a wiry but strong frame that is very Jose Mateo-like, but already a smoother defender than Mateo was at a similar age. While he can put a charge into some balls right now, the in-game power isn't exactly present yet and it may take some time to show up. He shows a professional Estrada-like approach both offensively and defensively, however, and if the bat becomes consistent he could be a real force as a two-way player. His development may take longer than some but the ceiling is rather considerable.
6. RHP, Alexander Vizcaino - This Dominican hurler was signed in May of 2016 and got his feet wet last year with some inauspicious results in the Dominican Summer League, going 0-5 with a 4.89 ERA in eleven games. However, behind the numbers is a high-ceiling projection guy whose stuff right now will most likely be a shade of its former self down the road. His breaking ball is in the developmental stages right now but it shows a lot of long-term promise and his fastball, which already hits 95 mph, has the chance to eventually sit at that level as he gains more experience. Throw in a plus changeup and a Freicer Perez-like bio-mechanical quality to him that suggests some big things power-wise forthcoming, especially given his high degree of athleticism and awesome work ethic, he's a bit of a 'sleeper' right now but one that may not take long to emerge.
7. SS, Jesus Bastidas - Signed in 2015 at the same time as Medina, there was a time when there were strong internal debates as to which prospect was better. While Medina appears to have grabbed a stranglehold in those arguments these days, it shouldn't detract from the steady progress this Venezuelan native made in his debut season last year. The numbers [.247, one home run, ten stolen bases] were more average than anything but as if often the case at the lowest minor league levels they don't exactly come close to telling the whole story ability-wise. There are some legitimate Torrealba-like qualities to him, including an advanced defensive game, some real hit-ability, solid running skills, and while the power is of the gap variety there is a Saul Torres-like ability to really impact the baseball that suggests potentially even more power down the road. Defensively he's a standout and offensively there's a chance for average or better production across the board.
8. RHP, Wellington Cacares - This Dominican native, signed just last year as an older signing, has the look of a big-time 'sleeper'. A former position player only now making the transition to pitching, it's very uncanny how he's been able to seamlessly make the transition to the mound and do so with such innate strike-throwing ability. If that weren't enough, he's doing it with a 92-95 mph fastball that already touches 97 mph and he has an advanced feel for a changeup too. Though he's just 5-foot-11, there are some tangible Chance Adams-like qualities that can't be ignored. The breaking ball has been and will most likely continue to be a work in progress for the foreseeable future but should that breaking ball begin to click at some point everything else is in place for him to be quite special on the mound.
9. SS, Oswald Peraza - This Venezuelan native signed for a reported $175,000 in 2016 and already fits nicely into the pantheon of high-end middle infield prospects for the Yankees. Not exactly Torrealba or Devers-like, Peraza is more of a hit-first offensive player with good speed but limited power. Very smooth defensively too, he enters the organization as sort of a right-handed hitting version of Tyler Wade. In fact, he even resembles Wade physically at similar points in their careers as a taller, leaner body who hasn't matured physically yet. Like Wade too there are some intangibles and natural leadership skills he brings to the table.
10. C, Carlos Narvaez - This Venezuelan native signed in 2015 and had a great debut season last year, hitting .338 in 35 DSL games. While the numbers were quite good offensively, it's on the defensive side of the ball where he quickly has made a name for himself and most likely will continue to do so throughout his career. He's nearly everything you want in a catcher; bilingual, good receiver, great exchange and quick release, and top-notch work ethic. About the only negative to his defensive game is rather average arm strength, perhaps even a tick below, but he makes up for it with one of the quicker releases around. A little Kyle Higashioka-like in that regard, like 'Higgy' it may take some time for the bat to come around as he moves up the minor league ladder but there's some intriguing hitting ability. At worst he looks like a Drew Butera type, somebody who could carve out a long big league career as a defense-first backup catcher..
11. 3B, Andres Chapparo - This Venezuelan native was signed in 2015 with the reputation of an advanced hitter. And while the numbers in his debut season last year [.238, no home runs] might not exactly support that, team insiders still believe everything about his approach, plate discipline, and patience suggests his bat has the chance to be extremely consistent someday. Nearly everyone believes he's going to hit but what is a guessing game at this point is how much power is going to show up. Throw in average at best defensive abilities at third base along with the questionable power potential and there then becomes a profiling question mark at the position, enough that it wouldn't be surprising to see a Donny Sands-like trial behind the plate at some point in the not-so-distant future. Still, the bat is going to play most likely long-term, it's just finding out where.
12. OF, Antonio Arias - One the few high-profile signings from the massive 2014 International free agent class still playing on the island, it should be noted that Arias is still just 18 years old and will be for nearly half of the 2017 season too. So while there may be some disappointment among the fan base he hasn't moved quicker the fact is he's still quite young. The tools aren't big though, more average than anything. In fact, with some average speed and power, and really some average hitting and defensive abilities, he's a little bit Ben Gamel-like, although probably a bit less hitter-ish. Like Gamel he's a gamer and a hard worker. While that might not be sexy long-term it does give him a good chance to advance to the highest minor league levels with a shot at a productive big league career too as long as he stays healthy.
13. SS, Brayan Jimenez - Signed in 2015, this Dominican native is pretty much the infield version of Arias. While the speed is above average, it's not quite up to par with some of the other middle infielders in this ranking and in the organization. And while he has both the range and the arm to stick at shortstop, the incredible depth of shortstops needing reps in the organization could force him to other positions and it already has as he played some second base in his debut season last year. He impacts the ball well too which suggests some power could be coming and the approach offensively to date has been quite solid. In fact, 'solid' is the operative word here. He doesn't have top prospect ability but the completeness game-wise makes him a good bet to reach the upper levels with the opportunity for more if things break right.
14. OF, Jonathan Amundaray - This has been and where fans and team officials alike can continue to dream a bit bigger. Another 2014 signing class holdover, another one who is still just 18 years old, he's missed important development time over his first two years dealing with injuries. Physically he's a man among boys, standing 6-foot-3 with the kind of tapered upper-body only seen in elite college and professional football players. He just doesn't have projectable power either, it's 'now' power. He's only now starting to put things together a bit and translate some of his impressive tools into actual baseball production. His defensive game remains a work in progress but there's an enormous offensive upside that can't be ignored.
15. OF, Luis Martinez - While not nearly the same physically, this Dominican native signed in 2015 falls into the Amundaray category of a prospect with special physical tools learning how to become a more refined baseball player. Standing just 5-foot-11, physically he resembles former top prospect Ravel Santana. Like Santana he's a plus run, plus throw, plus power guy who brings excitement to the field in nearly every way but profiles better in right field than he does in center long-term. Unlike Santana, however, Martinez has some work to do to become a better overall hitter and further develop his actual baseball skills. A little Pedro Cerrano-like too from the movie "Major League", there's a bit too much swing and miss at this point. The tools are huge though, certainly worth keeping an eye on.
16. RHP, Elvis Peguero - Another 2015 signing out of the Dominican Republic, Peguero is yet another older signing on the mound with an electric arm whose pitch-ability is starting to catch up to his raw abilities. Forget his debut season numbers last year [2-7, 4.39 ERA] for a moment, it's the stuff that has the chance to be special. Mechanically he's very different, employing a herky-jerky delivery that brings a lot of deception but some consistency issues too. Should he learn to iron those out, however, given his low-to-mid-90s fastball that projects to eventually be mid-to-upper-90s if he stays the course and a breaking ball with plus potential, the Yankees could have a real 'sleeper' on their hands. There's a developing changeup too that gives the Yankees some role flexibility as well.
17. LHP, Argelis Herrera - Dreaming big is the optimal phrase here. Looking at the numbers in this Dominican native's debut season last year [6.89 ERA, 38 walks in 31.1 innings] is not the smart thing to do because it ignores what's underneath the surface, and what's underneath could be an absolute beast somewhere down the road if things break right. This southpaw stands 6-foot-5 already and has a ton of room to fill out given his enormous shoulders, but weighs just 175 pounds right now. Already able to hit 95 mph, it's not far-fetched to think he can sit at that velocity as he continues to physically mature. He needs to throw a lot more strikes though and continue developing his changeup and slider for him to even think about beginning to tap what is nearly an immeasurable ceiling.
18. SS/2B, Borinquen Mendez - Signed last summer out of the Dominican, Mendez is the infield version of Luis Martinez as an ultra-toolsy guy who is just now learning to translate it to the baseball diamond. He's a plus run, plus arm, switch-hitter with quick-twitch power potential and the physical ability to stick at shortstop. Like Martinez though he has to work on his internal game clock and game awareness, and that may take some time to develop. There will be some growing pains which is par for the course for switch-hitters but it especially may be the case with Mendez since he doesn't have much baseball experience even as an amateur.
19. RHP, Luis Rijo - Yet another 2015 signing, this Venezuelan native is very different from a lot of the other pitchers in these rankings in that he's a pitch-first kind of hurler who has developing stuff, not the other way around. Statistically it was a very good year for him in debut season last year, posting a 1.67 ERA and walking just two batters in 32.1 innings. Very Miguel Yajure-like, he has three big league pitches already, including an average 89-91 mph fastball that shows run and sink. While he doesn't have the top-end velocity some of the other names here have, what he does have is pinpoint command. Very Cesar Vargas-like at a similar age, don't discount the possibility this 6-foot-2 righty adds some velocity in the coming years.
20. OF, Raymundo Moreno - This Venezuelan native is another 2014 class holdover but one who most likely already played his way off of the island after hitting .284 with 17 stolen bases in his second DSL season last year. Very Antonio Arias-like, the tools are more average than standout but with perhaps even less power. A right-handed hitting version of Ben Gamel somewhat, Moreno will have an uphill battle tools-wise so he is going to have to hit his way up the minor league ladder. However, the all-around game is solid enough to do exactly that.