When Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada was officially announced as a major league free agent, it was expected that the New York Yankees would certainly pounce on the opportunity to utilize their economic advantage over other teams. However, while the Yankees did put in a rather hefty bid (about $27 million), Moncada decided to join their arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox, who gave him a bit more in terms of cash with $31.5 million.
Although it would have been nice to add a young piece to an aging franchise, losing out on Moncada is not the end of the world. In 2014, multiple Yankees prospects stepped up their game and opened the eyes of many scouts in the game. So, rather than thinking about what could have been with Moncada, let’s think about what the Yankees do have.
Topping the list of high-potential prospects in the Yankees farm system is towering right fielder, Aaron Judge. At 6’7” and 230 pounds, Judge has a very similar skill set as Marlins super star, Giancarlo Stanton. While it is unfair to expect Judge to turn out as good as Stanton did, the Yankees may very well have something special with him.
In 2014, Judge batted .308 with 17 home runs and 78 RBI while splitting time between the Charleston RiverDogs (A) and the Tampa Yankees (A+). He also had an OPS of .905, which, if he was with the New York Yankees, would have ranked as the highest on the team.
Right now, the risk factor definitely comes into play here, as Judge has only proved himself on the single-A level. He will likely begin 2015 in double-A with a promotion to triple-A a good possibility if he continues his high level of play. Currently however, there is no reason to not be excited about this kid.
Another highlight in the Yankees farm system is starting pitcher Luis Severino. Just 21 years old, Severino had a fantastic break out year in 2014, pitching to a 2.47 ERA in 24 starts and giving up just 3 home runs. He finished the year with the Yankees double-A affiliate Trenton Thunder where he had no regression of performance despite playing in a higher league.
MLB.com ranked Severino as the 24th best prospect in the league and have compared him to the likes of Royals’ Yordano Ventura and yes, even Pedro Martinez, but only due to the similar body makeup. If you ask me, I believe Severino can end up as a solid number two starter at the MLB level as long as all goes well from here on out.
First baseman Greg Bird is another Yankees prospect who has a chance to perform well at the major league level. Bird, 21, will likely begin 2015 in double-A (AA) after splitting time in both A+ and AA last year. He hit .271 with 14 home runs and an OPS of .848 between the two leagues.
While these are solid stats, Bird truly made a name for himself later in the Arizona Fall League. Prior to being named the league’s MVP, Bird hit a league leading 6 home runs and scored 21 runs in just 26 games. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs described Bird as a healthy Nick Johnson. If this comparison is correct, it could mean that Bird would be able to hit about 25 home runs and bat around .270 when in the major leagues.
Overall, the Yankees farm system is not the barren, empty pit that it once was. The players I mentioned are just the beginning, as they also have others like shortstop Jorge Mateo, catcher Gary Sanchez, and starting pitcher Ian Clarkin. Put all these players together, the Yankees system ranks 11th overall in the MLB according to FanGraphs. So, while it would have been nice to sign a potential star like Moncada, the Yankees certainly have other things to look forward to.