The most storied franchise in sports has not traditionally had one of the better farm systems, relying heavily on free agency to build their big league club over the years. That’s all changing now, however, and the Yankees have built one of the better minor league systems in baseball. With several very intriguing bats and a plethora of young arms, the future looks extremely bright in the Bronx.
1. Gary Sanchez/ Catcher
When the Yankees traded Jesus Montero for Miguel Pineda in 2012, a lot of people shrugged their shoulders. Why were the Bombers so confident that they could trade away a top catching prospect at that time? Anybody who’s watched Gary Sanchez develop now knows the answer to that question. Sanchez is now the best catching prospect in baseball, and he’s not far from the big leagues. A strong defensive catcher, Sanchez will clearly stay behind the dish. Fantasy owners are more concerned with the stick, and it’s impressive. While Sanchez will not win any batting titles, his power should make him a fantasy star. He may well have a few 30 homer seasons in his prime.
2. Aaron Judge/ Outfield
You’ll find Judge at the bottom half of most of the industry’s top 10 lists, so why all the love here? No, he’s not my cousin (though our builds are virtually identical). Quite simply, I’m a believer in his amazing power potential. Think a right-handed hitting Adam Dunn. Yes, he’s going to strike out. No, he won’t win a Gold Glove award. In fact, he profiles as more of a DH than a left fielder at this point. But there’s plenty of time to work on defense. His bat is going to get him to the Majors, regardless. If everything pans out, he’s capable of hitting… wait for it… 60 homers in a season. Will it happen? Only time will tell, but Judge is a virtual lock to hit upwards of 25 homers a year. That’s not bad, but the very real possibility of Aaron becoming a power monster make him a must-own in your dynasty league.
3. Slade Heathcott/ Outfield
Heathcott is finally starting to live up to the hype that surrounded him as a 1st round pick back in 2009. His power/speed combo should have him on the radar of every fantasy owner. His speed is more of a sure thing at this point, but there is potential for him to grow (both literally and figuratively) into a 15 homer guy. Shane Victorino lite? Yeah, I’ll take that.
4. Eric Jagielo/ Third Base
Like Judge, Jagielo is a 2013 first rounder with high upside. While he doesn’t have quite the upside of Judge (few do), Jagielo’s position scarcity and high ceiling make him a solid dynasty choice as well. Jagielo profiles as a 20+ homer a year guy, and he has the ability to develop into an even better power threat than that. While he’s not a lock to stay at the hot corner, he was a solid defender at Notre Dame, and the odds are still in his favor to do so. If he moves over to the opposite side of the infield, his stock will go down a smidge.
5. John Ryan Murphy/ Catcher
Murphy does not have the defensive abilities of Gary Sanchez, and his quick cup of coffee in the Brox last season was nothing to write home about. But his bat can simply not be ignored. The stats junkies won’t drool over Murphy, but scouts continue to rave over him. While his path in New York appears to be blocked by Brian McCann and Gary Sanchez, a trade or position switch (perhaps to 3rd base, especially if Jagielo can’t cut it there) remain possibilities. You should be able to grab Murphy late in your dynasty drafts. Don’t let him slip too far.
6. Mason Williams/ Outfield
Williams had a season to forget in 2013. He was questioned for his conditioning and weight, and had a DUI incident early in the season. On the field, his numbers did not live up to expectations. He hit just .245 overall (between high A and AA), with 4 homers and 15 steals. Still, his tremendous upside is still there. It wasn’t too long ago that he was being touted as a future 20/20 guy. You should temper expectations a bit based on his lousy 2013, but keep him in mind in the late rounds.
7. Gosuke Katoh/ Second Base
Katoh will not make his full-season debut until this season, yet he already has Yankees fans touting him as Cano’s replacement at 2B. While that may be jumping the gun just a bit, Katoh is a very intriguing fantasy player. He should hit for outstanding average and has good on-base abilities. His power will be interesting to watch. While he’s not going to Uggla his way to the big leagues, he could end up as a double-digit homer guy when all is said and done.
8. Greg Bird/ First Base
I don’t know how the A’s missed out on the Money Ball poster boy, but Greg Bird is just that. The guy flat out knows how to get on base, and has just enough power (20 homers in A ball in 2013) to think that he can become a starting 1B. A converted catcher, Bird is a bit of a tweener as a first base prospect. He’s going to hit, but does he have enough pop to cut it as a starting first baseman? Mark Grace is the obvious comparison, and he seemed to do ok for himself. Still, it’s a different game today, and there seems to be an endless list of corner infielders who profile as 30 homer guys. The odds are against Bird a bit at this point, but he’s one to watch for now.
9. Manny Banuelos/ Pitcher
Normally, getting this far down a prospect list without featuring any pitchers would indicate an organization that is devoid of any good arms. This is most certainly not the case with the Yankees though. The high upside bats take precedence in dynasty leagues, but the arms are a plenty. Banuelos is working his way back from Tommy John Surgery. While it’s still not quite getting an ingrown toenail removed, Tommy John surgery is not the career destroyer it once was either. If Banuelos is healthy, there’s no reason to believe he won’t become the ace he was expected to. He could make an impact in the Bronx starting this year.
10. Rafael De Paula/ Pitcher
If you like sky’s the limit/low basement guys, then look no further. De Paula looked at times last year like he was set to become a dominant starter. On other nights, not so much. He looked completely lost. Rafael had dynamic stuff, as showcased by his 146 K’s over 113 minor league innings. But his sometimes hittable fastball and occasionally erratic control led to a 4.29 ERA. If you’re a gambler, there are worse bets to make than a late-round flyer in your dynasty prospect draft.