2021 New York Yankees’ Top 5 Prospectsby Alex Kielar February 25, 2021 1 comment
The New York Yankees’ prospect list entering the 2021 season doesn’t have much change from a year ago. The only real change came with their one big trade this offseason. In the Jameson Taillon trade, the Yankees sent four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates, including three that were in their Top 30. Right-handers Miguel Yajure (No. 15 prospect) and Roansy Contreras (No. 19), outfielder Canaan Smith (No. 21) were those three, while shortstop Maikol Escotto was the fourth prospect. Along with those three that left the Yankees’ system, they will also have at least two more to graduate as their rookie eligibility is used up in 2021. Those two are in this top five, so more on them later.
The Yankees don’t have too deep a farm system, but they do have some very solid pieces with plenty of upside, albeit still very raw. They are rarely ever in a rebuild so they usually never have one of the top farm systems in the league. This year is no different as they are clearly one of the best teams in the majors once again. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at their top five prospects and what we should expect from them. The scouting grades are based on the standard 20-80 scale.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. Jasson Dominguez – OF
Dominguez has been extremely hyped up ever since the Yankees signed him as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019 for $5.1 million. Before even playing professional ball – he will make his pro debut this year – The Martian has earned comparisons to the likes of Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle, and Mike Trout. While I don’t doubt his talent and potential, that seems like a bit of an overhype if you ask me. Time will only tell how he turns out, but getting that much hype before seeing live-action in the states is crazy.
The kid has the drive to take this hype and run with it as he is oozing with talent and potential. All five of his tools are above average, and the fact he is a switch-hitter makes him even more valuable. Dominguez has insane bat speed and strength and one of the smoothest swings I have seen from both sides of the plate. Unlike a lot of hitters these days, he doesn’t just hit for crazy power and strike out a ton. He has a disciplined approach at the plate so he has the potential to hit over 40 bombs and have a high OBP.
Dominguez will obviously have a learning curve as he adjusts to pro ball this year. So there isn’t a sure year when he will be able to make his Major League debut. But if he is able to develop quickly, 4-5 years in the minor leagues could be enough time for him to make it to the show. That would put the young stud at age 22-23 with an opening in center field, as Aaron Hicks‘ contract runs out as early as 2025 (club option for 2026).
Jasson Dominguez may have just turned 18 this month, but he is a grown man! Can’t wait to see him in game action.
🎥 via his Instagram pic.twitter.com/GTqbu6CXBS
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) February 24, 2021
2. Deivi Garcia – RHP
Garcia was one of the prospects that made his debut during the shortened 2020 season and he impressed. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at his journey through the Yankees’ system. The right-hander was signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015 for a $200,000 signing bonus at the age of 16. He had previously been an infielder and outfielder but the Yankees turned him into a pitcher because of his elite arm strength. Garcia made his professional debut in 2016. He played in the Dominican Summer League and also pitched there for part of 2017. He then started 2018 with the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs before pitching his way up to the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Garcia made his final start of the season in Trenton.
Garcia excelled at every level up to that point but began the 2019 season at High-A Tampa. He started four games there before being promoted back up to Trenton. He was selected to start the All-Star Futures Game in July. The young gun started the game with a called strikeout of Atlanta Braves’ top prospect Cristian Pache and pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Following that game, he was promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders where he went through some growing pains but still showed off his impressive stuff in 11 games (6 starts).
The Yankees then added Garcia to their 40-man roster following the season. He began the odd 2020 season at the alternate site and made his Major League debut on August 30. The youngster pitched six innings on 75 pitches. He allowed four singles, one unearned run, no walks, and had six strikeouts in a no-decision. Garcia compiled a 4.98 ERA and a 33-to-six strikeout-to-walk ratio across six regular season starts. He later became the youngest Yankees pitcher to start a postseason contest since Whitey Ford as he was the opener in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Garcia has the potential to be a number two starter and could work his way into the Yankees’ rotation this season. He also may end up transitioning into more of a bullpen role. That just depends on how well he continues to develop as a starter. His best pitch is his curveball which Pitching Ninja utilized in a number of his gifs last season.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 10, 2020
3. Clarke Schmidt – RHP
Schmidt was the Yankees’ other top prospect to make his debut in 2020. The Yankees drafted him with the 16th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina. They selected him despite Schmidt undergoing Tommy John surgery after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. He didn’t see any action in 2017 as he was recovering from the surgery before making his highly-anticipated pro debut in 2018. Schmidt spent time between the Gulf Coast League Yankees and the Staten Island Yankees that year. He went 0–3 with a 3.09 ERA in23.1 innings pitched between the two teams.
Schmidt started 2019 in the Gulf Coast League before moving up to the Tampa Tarpons in Advanced-A. He was promoted to Trenton in August after making 12 starts for the Tarpons. The former Gamecock impressed in Double-A with a 2.37 ERA and a 19-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 innings pitched. Despite never pitching above Double-A, Schmidt got the call-up to the Yankees in 2020 on September 4 where he made his debut as a reliever. He wound up making three appearances in the shortened season, striking out seven over 6.1 innings.
Schmidt added a slider to his impressive pitch arsenal in 2020, boosting his mix of fastball, curveball, and changeup. He adapted very well to the big leagues and was highly advanced for never pitching above Trenton. Unfortunately, Schmidt was shut down from throwing for at least three weeks after he was diagnosed with a common extensor strain near his right elbow on day one of Spring Training. Thankfully there was no damage to his UCL that required Tommy John in 2017. If he can come back throwing strong, he could work his way into the Yankees’ rotation. But with the Yankees’ recent history with injuries, hold your breath it doesn’t turn out worse.
Clarke Schmidt, 95mph Fastball and 85mph Slider, Overlay (synced at release). pic.twitter.com/IXpBGeHjN0
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 4, 2020
4. Oswald Pereza – SS
The Yankees signed Pereza out of Venezuala in 2016. He wasn’t considered an elite prospect his first few seasons in the Yankees’ system. He made his professional debut in 2017, splitting time between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League. Pereza started to tap more into his tools in 2019, especially his power. His instincts and high baseball IQ caught the attention of scouts along with his strong bat-to-ball skills. He struck out at just a 12.6 percent clip in 2019 between Staten Island and Charleston.
Peraza also stole 44 bases in 54 attempts that season and hit four homers after previously never hitting more than one. He traveled to his native Venezuela to play in their winter league and slashed .250/.400/.313 in six games. His offseason work saw recording exit velocities around 110 mph as he looks to tap more into his power potential. A big focus for him this offseason has “just been keeping the ball off the ground and seeing as many breaking balls as possible,” Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson was recently quoted by Baseball America.
The Venezuelan shortstop also has a plus arm and fielding ability and some scouts view him as the best defensive shortstop in the Yankees’ system. Whether or not he may be asked to move to third base given the lack of depth there in the system is yet to be seen. But his defense is strong enough to play either position. Peraza is on the Yankees’ 40-man roster and will likely see action in Spring Training. He will probably start the season with High-A Hudson Valley or Low-A Tampa.
— Robert M. Pimpsner (@RPimpsner) February 7, 2020
5. Luis Gil – RHP
Gil is the only prospect on this list who didn’t start out in the Yankees’ system. He was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins for $90,000 out of the Dominican Republic before shoulder surgery sidelined him for the entire 2016 season following his 2015 debut. When he returned in 2017, he flashed a mid-90s fastball and the Yankees acquired him for Jake Cave the next spring. He has started to add even more velocity and will just need to add some more polish. Gil’s fastball has sat high-90s and touched 100 over his time in the Yankees’ system. The Yankees have a ton of power arms in their system, and Gil might be the best one.
Gil is projecting more as a high-leverage reliever like a closer or set-up man. With his consistent uptick in velocity, he may not be able to handle a starter’s workload. But that doesn’t make him any less appealing. These days, pitchers being projected more as relievers isn’t as terrible a thing with the way the game is moving. The Yankees are especially a team that has valued their relievers and Gil would fit right into their bullpen within a couple of years. He needs to work on developing more consistency with his breaking ball and refine in his changeup to really make a push. Gil had a career-low walk rate (4.2 BB/9) at Class A Charleston in 2019. He will likely start this season in Charleston or at High-A Tampa.
— Pinstriped Prospects (@PinstripedPros) October 27, 2020
What Does the Future Hold?
With Garcia and Schmidt likely graduating from the system this season, prospects just outside the top five will have a chance to move up. 2020 MLB Draft pick Austin Wells would be my sixth prospect on this list and will move into the top five next season. The catcher was drafted 28th overall out of Arizona and has already begun to impress in Spring Training. The Yankees have been impressed by his swing that garnered him a .357/.476/.560 slash line with a 1.035 OPS, seven homers, and 74 RBI in his two seasons with the Wildcats. If Gary Sanchez doesn’t begin to improve and show the Yankees something, Wells is the catcher of the future.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 18, 2021