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New York Yankees 2015 Top 10 Fantasy Prospects

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the New York Yankees.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Just like last year, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2015. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below. if we have already reviewed the team, a link to the post, along with the team's top prospect is noted.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore
(Bundy)

Chicago
(Rodon)

Houston
(Correa)

Atlanta
(Sims)

Chicago
(Bryant)

Arizona
(Bradley)

Boston
(Moncada)

Cleveland
(Lindor)

Los Angeles
(Heaney)

Miami
(Kolek)

Cincinnati
(Stephenson)

Colorado
(Gray)

New York
(Today)

Detroit
(Hill)

Oakland
(Olson)

New York
(Syndergaard)

Milwaukee
(Taylor)

Los Angeles
(Pederson)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(Manaea)

Seattle
(Jackson)

Philadelphia
(Crawford)

Pittsburgh
(Glasnow)

San Diego
(Renfroe)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(Buxton)

Texas
(Gallo)

Washington
(Giolito)

St. Louis
(Piscotty)

San Francisco
(Crick)

Organizational Overview
by Jason Hunt

It's been an odd couple years for the Yankees, having missed the playoffs the past two seasons after a 20 year run that included five World Championships and 17 playoff appearances, but that wasn't even the big story last year. It came time for the changing of the guard in the Bronx, as the Captain retired after 20 seasons and 3,465 hits. The void left by Jeter's retirement is no small thing, but the Yankees will look again to compete for a World Series title in 2015.

The biggest gaps in the lineup coming into the offseason were at shortstop and third base, and were able to address both needs in different manners. Chase Headley had been the third baseman at the end of the season after a midseason trade brought him from San Diego, and after testing the free agent waters, re-signed with the Yankees on a 4 year, $52 million contract. They also were able to go out and get a starting shortstop from the Diamondbacks, acquiring Didi Gregorius by sending starting pitcher Shane Greene to Detroit. While Gregorius isn't remotely the kind of impact player that the Yankees usually go acquire, he should be a solid defensive shortstop and at least decent at the plate, both of which the team really needs. They'll also be looking for bounce back years from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, and of course there's Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez is expected to be the spend the majority of his time as a designated hitter, although he's expected to be in a platoon with the newly-acquired Garrett Jones. After reporting for Spring Training, the media circus surrounding A-Rod has died down somewhat, but we will see whether it roars back to life once the season begins.

The starting rotation has more questions than is ideal at this point. They were hoping from a better year from staff ace C.C. Sabathia after a down 2013 season, but he was limited to just eight starts due to a knee injury, and it's not clear which version of himself he will be. The Yankees' biggest acquisition an offseason ago was Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka, who was excellent from the get-go. Unfortunately, a tear in his UCL kept him from pitching for nearly three months, and there remains the potential for the injury to knock him out again at some point in the future. Michael Pineda was excellent after he returned from his own injuries in August, and will look to build on that with a full season this time around. They lost starters Hiroki Kuroda (Japan) and Brandon McCarthy (Dodgers) via free agency, but were able to add a high-upside starter in Nathan Eovaldi in a trade with the Marlins. There is the potential for four above-average starting pitchers if they can all stay healthy, but that is a big question at this time.

In the bullpen, Dellin Betances was outstanding in his first full season in the majors, striking out 135 batters in 90 innings while allowing a ridiculously low 46 hits. It was assumed that he would take over the closer's role with David Robertson leaving via free agency, but it's not a guarantee after the team went out and signed the top reliever on the market (Andrew Miller) and gave him a 4 year, $36 million contract. The Yankees are being vague right now about which one will be the closer, potentially leading to them both being undervalued in fantasy leagues. They've remade the rest of their bullpen this offseason as well, acquiring two relievers from the Braves and another from the Pirates.

The farm is in another bit of an up-and-down wave, as there have been a number of prospects that have vaulted up rankings this year with strong performances. Both of our top prospects, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino, were ranked at #9 and not ranked at all in last year's list, and have jumped up rankings across the web. Meanwhile, two of our top three prospects from last year dropped off the list entirely, and have fallen almost completely off the radar. Overall the system is stronger than it has been in recent years, but remains more of a middle-range system than a top end one.

Overall, the team has the potential to be a contender this year if their health breaks right and they see some improved performance over last year. They have a strong lineup from top to bottom, and the potential for an excellent pitching staff. There are assets in the minors that can be used should a specific need arise during the year, and addressed either via trade or call-up. They just need a bit of luck in having it all come together as hoped.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Yangervis Solarte (AB), Dellin Betances (IP), Masahiro Tanaka (IP), Shane Greene (IP), Chase Whitley (IP), Vidal Nuno (IP/trade)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Jason Hunt

There are likely to be two key opportunities as Spring Training progresses for the Yankees. Second base was a fairly large disaster last year after the departure of Robinson Cano to Seattle, as Brian Roberts manned the position for most of the year before Stephen Drew was acquired. Drew was re-signed this offseason, but there is the potential for our #5 prospect, Rob Refsnyder, to debut and potentially take over the job long-term. The other opportunity is in the 5th starter role, as Adam Warren may be the leading candidate amongst a number of minor-league signings like Scott Baker and Kyle Davies. There's also the possibility that we see our #2 prospect, Luis Severino, before too long. The only other prospect I would anticipate reaching the majors and having an impact would be one of last year's draft picks, college reliever Jacob Lindgren, but I don't expect him to get save opportunities in the near future.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Brian Creagh

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors.

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1. Aaron Judge (OF)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.308 80 17 78 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
563 0.419 0.486 15.81% 23.27%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R A-A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017
The top prospect in the New York Yankees system is unheralded slugger Aaron Judge. For a Top 50 prospect, Judge does not get the same publicity as Yankee prospects of yore. Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez, all received far more attention from dynasty owners but the massive Judge could shake out to be the only one to make an impact in the majors. Drafted 32nd overall in the 2013 draft out of California State University Fresno, Judge looks the part of a 30+ HR monster but has struggled to tap into that power during the game leaving his draft stock depressed. His 2014 season started to change some opinions on his future power as he started launching missiles with regularity in both Low and High A.

Judge ended 2014 with a combined line of .308/.419/.486 with 17 HRs in 131 games evenly split across Low-A and High-A. The offensive production should be tempered slightly by the fact that Judge was a 22 year old college bat playing A-ball, but the realization of the raw power is an encouraging sign nonetheless. Judge did also strike out a ton in his debut with 131 K's in the 131 games. It's not a death sentence for a power bat, but something that will need to be refined as he develops.

Right field seems to be the ultimate landing spot for Judge thanks to a big arm that can handle the position. His offensive development hinges on his ability to control his 6'7" frame and make enough contact to let his power play. Some scouts have noted concern that advanced pitching in AA and above will be too much for him to handle and the swing and miss in his game will negate the rest of his value. 2015 is shaping up to be a huge year for Judge to prove scouts wrong and take another big step in his development. I'm a believer in Judge and feel the hit tool is developing later for most due to his big body and the additional coordination that comes with controlling it.


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2. Luis Severino (RHP)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
6 0 2.47 1.06 127
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
113 0.20 1.56 5.91% 27.79%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A-AA-A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015
Severino is a tough profile for fantasy owners. He has an electric fastball and the type of power arm any organization would want, but everything screams future bullpen arm and the price it would cost to draft Severino is a level that would require less risk. Signed out of the Dominican Republic, Luis Severino has been in the Yankees organization for 3 years and at 21 years old has made it to the AA level. His numbers have been impressive every step of the way, but Severino has yet to really be stretched out for an entire season. 2014 was far and away his most innings pitched and he only got to 113 innings. As long as the Yankees consider him a starter he will retain fantasy value, but if the move ever gets made to the bullpen he takes a huge hit in value.

2014 saw Severino pass through three separate levels and see success at every step. The majority of his season was spent in Low-A, but his success warranted a promotion to High-A, and shortly after a promotion to AA. His combine line was 113 innings, 2.47 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9. Big numbers for a starter and worthy of the Top 50 rankings he's garnering from every major publication. In our fantasy-focused list, I have him sitting at the #100 spot currently, with a chance of moving him down slightly as a tweak the list.

His arsenal is built around a lethal fastball/changeup combo and a developing slider to boot. Severino's fastball is a plus-plus offering sitting 93-96 mph with an explosive late movement. The velocity sits comfortably at 97 in short bursts, another point in favor of moving him to a set-up role. His release is loose and consistent, which helps his advanced changeup play to its ceiling. The change has bottom-dropping action and looks just like his fastball out of his hand. The slider is too inconsistent at this point and not thrown with enough velocity sitting at 83-86 mph with regularity. The development of an average slider is crucial to Severino being taken seriously as a SP prospect. I'd recommend selling high on Severino as he's getting a ton of love on prospect lists at the moment. If he sticks as a starter, I don't believe the huge strikeout numbers will stick, that's not a common result of the fastball/changeup guys.


3. Ian Clarkin (LHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
4 0 3.12 1.25 75
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
75 0.700 1.100 7.57% 24.67%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 L L A-A+
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018
My favorite prospect in this system is left-handed pitcher, Ian Clarkin. After being selected 33rd overall by the Yankees in 2013, Clarkin fell in the backend of most Yankees Top 10 lists heading into 2014. A successful 2014 season has started to build some hype around the projectable left-handed pitcher. Clarkin received an advanced assignment going straight to Low-A and skipping rookie-ball/short season ball as a 19 year old. Success in Charleston led to a promotion to Hi-A to conclude the season. A repeat to Hi-A is likely heading in to 2015, but another aggressive assignment could find Clarkin in AA early into the season.

Across two levels in 2014, Clarkin threw 75 innings with a 3.12 ERA, 9.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. All said, it was a relatively light workload for the 19 year old and so I will keep expectations modest until we get a full workload out of Clarkin. Clarkin showed great control last year and consistently pounded the strike zone with all of his offerings. He's an athletic kid and with his 6'2" frame gets good downward plane on his pitches. There is some projection left on the body and he could fill out in the next few years. Regardless, he has the frame to log the heavy workload of an SP and any physical growth will hopefully come with an increase in velocity.

Clarkin features a fastball, changeup, and curveball and all are projectable pitches. His fastball and curveball look to be his best pitches and his changeup, like many high school pitchers, is the last pitch to develop. Command is a plus with all of his pitches, and if the fastball can consistently sit in the low-90's and the curveball can maintain that sharp break deep into games, then Clarkin has the potential to be a #2 starter. A lot would need to go right for that happen, but the projection is still there. A weakness in Clarkin's profile is the lack of movement on his fastball. He's still a lanky kid and will need to develop control of his body/delivery. There's potential for him to develop into a serious fantasy threat, but there's a long development road ahead so I don't advise jumping all in on him yet.


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4. Gary Sanchez (C)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.270 48 13 65 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
477 0.338 0.406 9.01% 19.08%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R AA
Roster Status: On 40 Man Roster (1 Option Left)
ETA to Majors: Late 2015
Another year, another signing of Gary Sanchez on a Yankees prospect list. The shine has worn off considerably from earlier seasons and prospect fatigue has certainly begun to kick in. The dream of him sticking as a catcher are certainly starting to fade and a 1B/DH role looks to be a certainty at this point. Since the 2011 season, Sanchez has been earning recognition on Top 100 lists but has responded with less than stellar numbers and even worse reports on his on-field attitude. The first note on almost any Sanchez scouting report is his lack of on-field engagement. It's not a death sentence, but when it's reported by so many people and quoted so many times without being fixed, then you really have to wonder if the prospect has what it takes to be great.

Sanchez spent the entire year in AA and put up similar mediocre numbers as previous seasons. In 110 games Sanchez hit .270/.330/.406 with 13 HRs. If Sanchez was a sure-fire catching prospect, you'd take that line all day, but with his likely relegation to 1B or even DH, the power needs to be a lot better than a .406 slugging percentage. I should note that the decrease in power has come with an increase in contact skills. It appears Sanchez has chosen to sacrifice some power for putting more balls in play. The only real plus tool Sanchez can hang his hat on for fantasy owners is a plus power potential that has yet to fully materialize. It's tough to be down on a guy who once had potential for fantasy stardom, but the dream appears to be just about dead for Gary Sanchez.


5. Rob Refsnyder (2B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.318 82 14 63 9
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
577 0.387 0.497 9.53% 18.20%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 R R AAA-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2015
Coming out of nowhere in 2014, Rob Refsnyder produced his way into the fantasy/prospect radar for all dynasty owners. Refsnyder lacks the ceiling we tend to look for, but he's close to big leagues and there should be an opportunity waiting for him when he gets there. Refsnyder is a 2B prospect drafted out of the University of Arizona in 2012 - a great value with a 5th Round pick. The most attractive part about Refsnyder's fantasy value is his success at the AAA level and the presence of Stephen Drew at 2B for the Yanks. While he'll likely start at AAA again to start the year, he'll get a shot to start at some point in 2015 and Stephen Drew won't provide much of an obstacle when that time comes.

Refsnyder will be mostly an AVG-only guy but there's enough pop to make him an interesting fantasy play. He won't steal many bases despite some decent minor league numbers - his SB output has been decreasing every year as he faces better defenses. His 2014 combined line between AA and AAA was .318/.387/.497 with 14 HRs and 9 SBs in 137 games. The HRs and the triple slash are going to be difficult to duplicate, but Refsnyder will pitch in at every category. There's a very high probability Refsnyder becomes a .270 AVG with 10 HR guy at the 2B position. He won't cost much in dynasty leagues, and should be able to hold down 2B for a few years.


6. Jorge Mateo (SS)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.276 14 0 1 11
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
65 0.354 0.397 10.77% 26.15%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019
A broken finger disrupted what could have been a breakout season for the Dominican shortstop, Jorge Mateo. A potential 5-tool talent, every conversation on Mateo starts with his ridiculous 80-grade speed. And unlike the case of most young burners, Mateo appears to have the potential to develop the baseball acumen that lets his speed play to it's highest level. Mateo is currently a SS prospect, but he's not a lock to stick at the position so it'll be important to monitor in the coming years as he breaks into full-season ball. Although Mateo's speed could be good enough where fantasy owners don't care where he ends up since the SB production will be so elite.

Looks at Mateo have been limited during his time with the Yankees, but scouting reports have all been positive. In his 3 seasons with the organization, Mateo has hit .280/.375/.431 with 8 HRs and 64 SBs in 93 games. SB totals at the lower levels are always tough to project because the quality of defense is so poor, but it does seem Mateo knows how to swipe a bag when he gets the opportunity (only 12 caught stealings in the 3 seasons). Mateo has quality bat speed and loose hands which lead scouts to project a possible league average hit and power tools. If that comes together, Mateo is a potential all-star with .280ish AVG, double digit HR numbers, and 40+ SBs. That's the absolute dream scenario. Reality will probably be somewhere less than that, but while he's so far away and the looks have been so limited it's fun to at least dream on a kid like Mateo.


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7. Greg Bird (1B)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.271 52 14 43 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
441 0.376 0.472 14.29% 22.00%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 L R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2016
I've been decidedly down on Greg Bird throughout his career due to his early designation as a 1B-only prospect. Not much has changed from this past season, but 2015 is shaping up to be the season where the rubber meets the road for Bird. Bird figures to spend 2015 at the AA level and if his bat can hold up there, I will finally become a believer. He hasn't lit the world on fire in the lower levels as you'd hope from a 1B-only guy (see Bobby Bradley, D.J. Peterson, and Josh Bell), but there's still a respectable ceiling for Bird if his bat can carry the weight. He reached AA at 21 years old, which means he's ahead of the developmental curve and is a point in his favor.

Across Hi-A and AA, Bird hit .271/.376/.472 with 14 HRs and a 97:63 K:BB ratio. He struggled to make contact in a small sample at AA, but the power definitely carried over as he hit 7 HRs in 27 games. There are a handful of 1B options currently in the Yankee organization - Teixeira is there now, McCann figures to move there in a year or two, Gary Sanchez will likely move there in a year. All of those options will get priority over Bird, but he has time to wait at just 22 years old. Bird is going to move up this list or fall off it completely based on how he produces at the AA level.


8. Leonardo Molina (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.193 18 1 21 6
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
217 0.267 0.260 8.76% 23.50%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
16 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019
Here's another toolsy, potential 5-tool talent that is forever away. Molina was signed out of the Dominican Republic and received an extremely aggressive assignment to the Gulf Coast League as a 16 year old. He appeared overmatched there, but given his age relative to the competition, the results were to be expected. It's impossible to project what sort of numbers Molina could put up one day given that he's only 17 years old, but his power and running abilities both project to be above-average and the hit tool has the ability to be good enough to max out the former tools. It'll be interesting to see where Molina lands to 2015 given his struggles last year, but regardless of where he ends up, do not pay much attention to the statistical output. More important will be the scouting reports and whether Molina is becoming comfortable on the field and developing a baseball feel. He's raw and all athleticism now, but if it starts to translate into baseball skills on the field, watch out.

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9. Jacob Lindgren (LHP)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
2 1 2.19 1.01 48
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
24.2 0.00 9.00 12.50% 46.15%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 L L AA-A+-A-Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015
Lindgren is not nearly exciting as Molina and Mateo above, but he's a solid reliever that is worth a target in deep leagues. His value is sort of league format-dependent, because he won't get a shot at Saves anytime in the near future, but his strikeout rates could be downright stupid. Lindgren isn't far from New York as he reached AA in his first season after being drafted in 2014. He throws a plus fastball and plus slider, and has your typical power relief arm profile. In a short 24.2 IP sample after being drafted, Lindgren struck out batters at a 17.5 K/9 rate. He'll get a shot in the bullpen at some point in the latter stages of 2015, and he's a worthy add in re-draft leagues at that time. Keep Lindgren's name stashed.

10. Luis Torrens (C)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.256 32 3 22 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
254 0.331 0.383 7.87% 19.69%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R A--A-Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019
I was excited for Torrens headed into 2015 as he looked poised to take another huge step forward and solidify himself as a top C prospect, but unfortunately a torn labrum has ended his season before it even started. Torrens is a glove-first catcher, but he should have enough stick to be of interest of fantasy owners. Catcher prospects burn slower in the minors and Torrens hasn't even hit full-season ball so he's not worth an investment in many leagues, especially now considering the injury, but file his name away because he's a guy who could jump up this list. We'll re-evaluate next off-season and if the injury comes and goes with no repercussions, then it might be time to start investing in Torrens.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Brian Creagh

Tyler Austin - Austin has always been a favorite of mine, as I liked him over Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott last season. He looks to be an AVG only OF and of marginal interest to fantasy owners. He spent all of 2014 in AA and should spend this season in AAA. Injuries could bring him up sooner, but expect him to fill a 4th OF role for the Yankees starting in 2016.

Miguel Andujar - Another young, toolsy prospect Andujar is a slugging 3B 19 year old. He is still learning to turn his raw power into in-game power, but he has quick hands and generates good backspin when he makes contact. He'll take a long time to fully develop, so I don't recommend buying in quite yet, but if the power starts to materialize you'll want to jump on board. There is a very strong chance Andujar finds himself in the Top 10 of next year's list and momentum will start to pick up on this kid.


About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects
Follow him on Twitter 

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter