As most of my followers already know, I am the head of the Yankees Minor League Coverage Team at YanksGoYard.com. Week in and week out, I bring you roundups of all the nights scores, features on individual prospects, as well as the bi-weekly Prospect Watch. To say I know a little something about the Yankees’ farm system is an understatement.
If you follow me on Twitter (which I hope you do by now!), you know I constantly get in discussions with other minor league junkies about our depleting farm system. @Draft2Dynasty is one of those such followers. Recently someone posed the question to @Draft2Dynasty: If you could take the entire Yankees’ farm system and make a 25-man roster of people who will make the bigs, what would it look like? Not only has @Draft2Dynasty posted his, he invited a couple of us minor league coverage guys to chime in with ours. Of course I jumped on any opportunity to make some sort of fantasy baseball roster!
The following 25-man roster (we are allowed an additional five roster spots for the DL, which in the minor leagues can be because you sneezed softer than usual) encompasses the four active Yankees’ minor league affiliates: The Charleston RiverDogs, the Tampa Yankees, the Trenton Thunder, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. @Draft2Dynasty hasn’t followed Charleston much this season, so he excluded them. I however, have watched them on the internet, so I am taking a few of their brightest stars. Again, these are the 30 players that I see having a shot to play in pinstripes, not just good ball players. That is pretty much the challenge in a nutshell, so without further ado:
THE YANKEES ALL-MINOR LEAGUE 25-MAN ROSTER (PLUS 5):
Gary Sanchez (Trenton)
I am only rolling with one active catcher and he is the best in the system bar none. The Austin Romine experiment is a failure, as I truly don’t see him being able to hit major league pitching. John Ryan Murphy isn’t going anywhere right now, as he has become a solid back-up to Brian McCann in the Bronx. The starting right fielder for this squad (O’Brien) started the year at catcher for Tampa, so he can fill the void when needed.
1B: Greg Bird (Tampa), Mike Ford (Charleston), Kyle Roller (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
2B: Jose Pirela (SWB), Robert Refsnyder (Trenton)
SS: Zelous Wheeler (SWB)
3B: Dante Bichette, Jr (Tampa), Eric Jagielo (Tampa)
Bichette, Jr and Jagielo both are on the T-Yanks, so Bichette, Jr. also sees some time in the outfield. His flexibility earned him the final bench spot. Wheeler (27 years old) is running out of time to continue with hope for the big leagues, but with an aging middle infield on the big league roster and with Wheeler currently swinging a hot bat, he gets the call. First base is the deepest position, but this team needs a DH and Roller would hit in that slot most days.
OF: Tyler Austin (Trenton), Jake Cave (Tampa), Ramon Flores (SWB), Aaron Judge (Charleston), Peter O’Brien (Trenton)
Second to catcher, the Baby Bombers outfield was supposed to be the future of the Yankees. That however, has not come to fruition, as once elite prospects Williams and Heathcott, due to injury or pressure, have hit a wall. Cave is putting together a nice season. Judge has a long way to go, but he is certainly impressing in Low-A. Austin can play infield and outfield, so he is the kind of guy that can make it to the bigs.
SP: Ian Clarkin (Charleston), Joel De La Cruz (SWB), Rafael De Paula (Tampa), Bryan Mitchell (Trenton), Luis Severino (Charleston)
Starting pitching is definitely the weakness in the Yankees’ farm system, but down in A Ball, things are looking up. Clarkin, Severino, and De Paula are young studs who, once they learn to pitch, will quickly rise up the ladder. Mitchell already made a short lived appearance in the bigs and clearly wasn’t ready, but he is learning. De La Cruz isn’t blowing anyone away, but in 23.1 innings over four starts, he has only walked four. That is something I can work with.
Bullpen: Danny Burawa (SWB), Dietrich Enns (Tampa), Jim Miller (SWB), Mark Montgomery (SWB), Brandon Pinder (Trenton), Nick Rumbleow (Tampa)
To be honest, I think Burawa and Miller should be in the Bronx right now. Burawa had a stint on the DL, so that held him back. Miller was held back by a rough start, but the veteran fire baller has turned around his season and has been untouchable as of late. Enns is the perfect swingman to start or relieve when needed. Pinder and Rumbelow solid at multi-levels of the farm.
5-Man IR: C Francisco Arcia (SWB), RP Manny Barreda (Trenton), CF Slade Heathcott (Trenton), OF Michael O’Neill (Charleston), RP Jose Ramirez (SWB)
Ok, fine, Michael O’Neill may never become a big league player, but I wasn’t leaving Paulie’s nephew off my squad. He does have a great all-around game, he just needs more plate discipline. Heathcott just returned from extended spring training recovering from surgery (and it shows). The rest have a slight outside chance to one day see some major league ball.
CF Jake Cave
RF Aaron Judge
1B Greg Bird
DH Peter O’Brien
C Gary Sanchez
3B Eric Jagielo
SS Zelous Wheeler
2B Robert Refsnyder
LF Tyler Austin
There you have it. Chances are some prospect goes on a hot streak next week and I change my whole outlook. But right now, if I had to put my money on guys with a real shot to be in pinstripes, these are my guys.
Til next time, folks, enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!