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New York Yankees Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

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The Yankees went on a massive spending spree last year in acquiring international talent. Has it started to translate into their top prospects list? Let's look at our top 10 fantasy prospects and find out.

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With the playoffs set to begin this week, that means it will be time for teams to assess their needs for next season and start planning for a longer than hoped offseason. We're at the same point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and we're here to help you with the information you need as you prepare for your minor league drafts.

In previous years, we have done rather intensive top 10 prospect lists, including an organizational rundown, opportunities in the coming season, as well as the top fantasy prospects. However, we have found that a number of these topics are covered as we continue through the offseason, and specifically through profiles done as a part of our preseason redraft rankings. As a result, this year's top 10 lists will be primarily that: a list of the prospects with brief writeups rather than the 4000-8000 word opuses that have occurred in the past. We feel that this year's format will both suit the goal better (of providing fantasy relevant information and rankings) as well as allow us to move through them much more quickly so that they can be completed by the Christmas holiday.

The schedule itself is fairly basic: We cover a division, going in alphabetical order of city/location name. This means the next team after this post will be Rays, then the Blue Jays, and so on. Once we finish a division, we'll move to the next division to their west, (the AL Central in this case), then repeat for the AL West. Once we've finished one league, we start over on the East Coast in the National League and do the same.

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat I provide every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the offseason, and so it is very possible that by the end of the offseason, how we view a player may be very different from where we had them originally.  We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

Something new I wanted to introduce this year is a tier system to help delineate where prospects are likely to fall on the overall top prospect list. We have not completed our top prospects lists yet, and will not likely do so until we are close to finishing all the prospect rankings. The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers which do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

#1 - Aaron Judge (OF)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 23
ETA: 2016

There was a pretty long debate among our rankers about whether Judge belongs in tier 1 or tier 2. If he hits close to his ceiling, he can be a .270+ hitter with 30+ home runs, which would make him a fairly elite option in the outfield for all formats. If the issues with strikeouts continue, and he settles in as more of a .230-.240 hitter with 25 home runs, it probably drops him enough to be more of a tier 2 prospect. Either way, the power potential is going to make him valuable in all formats, and he could be ready during the 2016 season.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

#2 - Jorge Mateo (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 20
ETA: 2018

The numbers jump off the page for Mateo, who stole 82 bases in 99 attempts between two Single-A levels this year. If that were all the reports said, he'd join the long list of high steal, no hit prospects in the lower minors. However, those reports have been fairly glowing, and with good reason. Mateo is considered an above-average defender at short and capable of staying there, and should provide at least a solid batting average with a little bit of power. The ultimate ceiling seems like Jose Reyes from a fantasy profile only (high speed, some power, good batting average), but that's probably the 1% outcome at best. More likely, we're looking at a .260-.270 hitter with 8-10 home runs and 30-40 SB on a regular basis.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#3 - Gary Sanchez (C)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 23
ETA: 2016

It feels like we've been talking about Sanchez forever, and realistically he signed back in 2009, so it has been quite a while. Sanchez is in his first stint with the big club right now, and made his debut on Saturday as a pinch hitter. He split his year mostly between AA and AAA, hitting .274 with 18 home runs between both stops. Sanchez seems likely to return to AAA to start 2016 with only 35 games at the level this year, and he'll continue to work on his defense there. He's not likely to be a full-time catcher, but if he can hold qualification and get regular playing time elsewhere on the field, he could be a top 10 catching option even in a part time role.

#4 - James Kaprielian (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 22
ETA: 2017

Kaprielian was the top draft pick of the Yankees this year out of UCLA, and threw just 11 innings in short season leagues after signing. Early reports on him point to a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher who may not need a lot of time in the minors. He doesn't likely have the ceiling to make him a top 20 fantasy starter overall, but should still be a solid producer on a consistent basis. The potential production reminds me a lot of a profile like Wei-Yin Chen, where the numbers are solid but not spectacular, and slots in well as your 3rd or 4th fantasy starter.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#5 - Wilkerman Garcia (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 18
ETA: 2019

Garcia was one of the prospects signed in 2014's international free agent bonanza by the Yankees, and has already started to show why he received a seven figure bonus. Garcia spent most of the year in the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year old, hitting. 281/.396/.347 with 24 walks and just 19 strikeouts in 37 games. His most likely outcome is a shortstop who can provide a good batting average with some power and some speed, with the potential for more power to develop. Garcia is a prospect that could skyrocket up these rankings next year if he posts another strong performance in a full season league in 2016.

#6 - Eric Jagielo (3B)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 23
ETA: 2017

Jagielo was having an excellent season at AA Trenton (.284/.347/.495 with 9 HR in 58 games) before a knee injury ended his season in mid-June. He was headed to the Arizona Fall League as well, but has not progressed as hoped and will not head out to the desert. There are open questions about whether Jagielo can stay at third base, or whether a move to first base will be needed. He has above-average power, and can provide value to fantasy owners if he ends up as a .240-.250 hitter with 20-25 HR power, especially as a lefty headed to Yankee Stadium.

#7 - Ian Clarkin (LHP)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 21
ETA: 2019

Clarkin missed the whole season this year with elbow inflammation, but is currently slated to head to the Arizona Fall League. The upside for him remains a mid-rotation starting pitcher (same as last year), but a lost year of development and building up innings adds a little more risk to him. He could return to High-A in 2016, but I don't expect him to throw more than about 100 innings. He's an interesting buy-low candidate, as on pure talent he probably belongs in tier 3, but the injury risk keeps him down this list.

#8 - Rob Refsnyder (2B)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 25
ETA: 2016

We saw the Yankees spend all year starting Stephen Drew at second base despite his well-chronicled struggles at the plate, but the future at the position for the Yankees likely lies with Refsnyder. Questions about his defense kept him in the minors for most of the year, but he can potentially provide solid production in steals and home runs, and seems like he will profile more like a starting MI or top 20 second baseman.

#9 - Domingo Acevedo (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 22
ETA: 2019

There's a distinct possibility that this ranking looks way too low in a year's time, but for a pitcher who has thrown less than two innings in a full-season league, it's hard to move him up too far. Acevedo was dominant in the New York-Penn League with 53 strikeouts against 15 walks in 48 innings pitched, and the reports on him start with a fastball that touches 100 MPH on a regular basis. If his secondary offerings continue to develop as hoped, he could end up as a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Even if they don't, he likely has a future as a late inning reliever that could dominate with that one pitch.

Tier 5 - We Ranked Ten Prospects, We Really Did

These prospects generally will be useful in the deepest of formats. Think 24+ teams for mixed leagues and single-league formats with more teams than the league it uses. In many cases, these will be part-time players or utility-types when they get to the majors.

#10 - Rookie Davis (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2016: 22
ETA: 2017

Davis split his year between High-A and AA, throwing a total of 130 innings with 129 strikeouts, 26 walks, and a 3.86 ERA. His performance was solid, and helped address some of the concerns about whether Davis can stay in the rotation long term or not. He profiles right now as a back-end rotation starting pitcher, capable of providing innings with decent statistics. A lot of his value for fantasy owners hinges on his ability to stick in the rotation, and a return to AA Trenton in 2016 will go a long way toward that end.