New York Yankees Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects For 2015
This New York Yankees top-10 fantasy baseball prospects list is the first of 30. It’s our debut of off-season rankings at ROTOscouting, so we wanted to do it a little differently. From Luis Severino to Aaron Judge, our picks will focus on “Fantasy Baseball Fueled By Baseball Scouting”. In living up to this, any and all future prospect and player lists published here will have a fantasy baseball slant. Other sites will release lists focusing on future MLB players, but leave readers to do the dynasty league guess work. Not us. We’ll focus on what’s important to the ROTO player.
Because this list is meant for the dynasty fantasy baseball player, it’s important to have a basic system for separating fantasy value from MLB value.
1. Review scouting notes on baseball prospects from the ballpark.
2. Review prospect video for any players not seen in person.
3. Review statistics and level movement in 2014.
4. Run a basic 5×5 auction value calculator using statistics from the 2013 season
5. Compare peak projections for each player and match it actual production of a MLB player at the same position. This will yield a fantasy baseball peak dollar value.
6. Assess a $1 penalty per full season minor league level not completed (MLB = $0, Triple-A = $1, Double-A = $2, High-A = $3, Single-A = $4, Short Season = $5)
7. After final dollar values were totaled, the information was used in a 10 player mock draft. Most picks were made in order of value, but I did stray on occasion.
New York Yankees Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects For 2015
10. Jorge Mateo, Shortstop
Age 19 / Short Season
2014 Stats: 58 AB, .276/.354/.397, 6 XBH, 11/12 SB
A sucker for speed and shorstops, New York Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo leapfrogged a pair of safer players in Bryan Mitchell and Jake Cave to secure the #10 position. When dealing with teenaged prospects, it’s best to bet on tools and Mateo has them. On video, the swing presents as long for an elite speed guy, but he has plenty of time to add strength and improve bat whip. Of course younger prospects have more inherent risk (hence, the penalty), but it’s better to cycle through high ceiling players like Mateo than sit on C+ prospects who’ll fill a fantasy baseball bench. In 2013, Everth Cabrera netted $8 in value while batting .283 with 37 stolen bases and low power production. And with Cabrera logging less than 400 at bats, limiting counting stats, a peak projection for Jorge Mateo is even higher.
9. Abiatal Avelino, Shortstop
Age 19 / Single-A
2014 Stats: 215 AB, .247/.308/.351, 21 XBH, 11/16 SB
With all the hubbub about the aforementioned Mateo, it appears prospect writers have forgotten about Abiatal Avelino (ROTOscouting Report). The Charleston shortstop is a level ahead at the same point in development. In multiple looks, the right-handed hitter reminded me of a young Jean Segura before a quad injury derailed his season. Like Mateo, Everth Cabrera is a solid upside comparison until Avelino adds strength and begins showing more power. 2015 will be an interesting year for New York Yankees shortstop prospects. Mateo and Avelino can split time in Charleston until the New York-Penn season begins with Tyler Wade in High-A. A plethora of quality young shortstops is a great problem to have and former big money picks Cito Culver and Carmen Angelini aren’t exactly road blocks. Expect the organization to sign a free agent shortstop for two-to-three years while waiting for the cream to rise.
8. Ian Clarkin, Left-Handed Pitcher
Age 19 / High-A
2014 Stats: 75 IP, 3.12 ERA, 75/23 K/BB, 71 H
Clarkin is safe. His Kershaw-like mechanics and three pitch mix screams mid-rotation starter. Likely to reach MLB by the age of 22, the left-hander has the potential for a long and successful MLB career. In 2013, Patrick Corbin was worth $10 behind a 3.41 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 178 strikeouts in 208 innings pitched. Similar production can be expected of Ian Clarkin (ROTOscouting Report), but fantasy baseball owners who sell out for ceiling won’t think this is enough. Ultimately, ROTOscouting loves cheap, controllable pitching and the ability to safely project it. The former 1st round pick is a sure bet to develop into a fantasy 3/4 starter and money saved by owing Clarkin can be reallocated towards acquiring an ace.
7. Leonardo Molina, Centerfield
Age 17 / Short Season
2014 Stats: 192 AB, .193/.267/.260, 11 XBH, 6/7 SB
Sometimes, fantasy baseball owners need to sell out for ceiling. In the New York Yankees organization, Molina is the guy. Yes, the numbers were terrible, but the fact he debuted in the United States and not the Dominican speaks to the ceiling. Throw the statistics out the window and focus on the big picture. In video analysis, the tools are impressive, but speak to an all-around set of skills over impact potential. From scouting Desmond Jennings as a prospect, the body is similar. If production follows, then Leonardo Molina is a $11 asset or more as the Rays outfielder’s .252 batting average with 14 home runs and 20 steals equaled double digit value. If more is in the tank, then the five tool prospect’s value can mushroom.
6. Gary Sanchez, Catcher
Age 21 / Double-A
2014 Stats: 429 AB, .270/.338/.406, 32 XBH, 1/2 SB
Sanchez has always been young for his level of competition. This has depressed the catcher’s power production at the minor league level. The right-handed hitter has the batting eye and contact skills for home run production to take a step forward. From multiple looks in Charleston, Sanchez struck me as a future .250 hitter with 25 home run potential. Since then, he’s continued with solid, but unspectacular numbers while advancing levels. Most fantasy baseball owners underestimate the value of this. Minor leaguers who maintain production while advancing levels aren’t just maintaining, they’re improving and adjusting because of the quality of competition. In 2013, Evan Gattis was an $11 catcher after hitting .243 with 21 home runs. Gary Sanchez can post similar numbers, but his value is closely tied to the ability to stick behind home plate. If a move to first base happens, similar production is worth half as much in 5×5 leagues.
5. Greg Bird, First Base
Age 21 / Double-A
2014 Stats: 369 AB, .271/.376/.472, 45 XBH, 1/1 SB
In Double-A, Paul Goldschmidt was a missed scouting opportunity. His deep crouch, short swing path, and strong batting eye afforded Goldschmidt a high floor, but the right-handed hitter struggled against mid-90’s fastballs from Nathan Eovaldi. The subsequent report was mixed because of it. In watching video of Greg Bird (ROTOscouting Report), he possesses similar swing traits and a strong batting eye, forcing flashbacks to a personal miss. Just 21, Bird has crushed his way through Double-A and has put on a show in the Arizona Fall League. At present, it’s possible to project him beginning the season in Triple-A and debuting by the age of 22, an age where stars are called up. A first base profile and little-to-no speed brings the profile down, but Kendry Morales was worth $12 in 2013 behind a .277 batting average, 23 home runs and zero stolen bases.
4. Jose Pirela, Second Base / Left Field
Age 24 / MLB
2014 Stats: 535 AB, .305/.351/.441, 42 XBH, 15/22 SB
Pirela has been on the radar since he stood out as a teenaged shortstop in the South Atlantic League. Today, his skill set and frame reminds of Josh Harrison, a fringe prospect who shocked baseball en route to an All-Star appearance. Let’s face it, the New York Yankees are old and brittle. Martin Prado is an aged version of the spark plug Jose Pirela can be, but plate appearances are bound to open up. If Pirela is able to replicate Ben Zobrist’s 2013 season (.275 batting average, 12 home runs, 11 stolen bases), then he’s an $11 player. And with his strong season in Triple-A, combined with a September call up, he’s a safe bet to become a contributing MLB player as early as 2015.
3. Rob Refsnyder, Second Base
Age 23 / Triple-A
2014 Stats: 515 AB, .318/.387/.497, 58 XBH, 9/18 SB
Another safe play, Refsnyder had a dominant season at the upper levels of minor league baseball. With gap power and some stolen base ability, it’s possible for him to replicate Ian Kinsler’s 2013 production (.277, 13 home runs, 15 stolen bases). If this happens, then the sleeper prospect produces $17 in value. In the top-50, comfort with his profile and the ability to play a premium position led to Rob Refsnyder (ROTOscouting Report) being ranked above Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. Upon further review, the top three remains the same, but age and expected years of strong production win out over the sure thing and higher floor.
2. Aaron Judge, Right Field
Age 22 / High-A
2014 Stats: 467 AB, .308/.419/.486, 45 XBH, 1/1 SB
Judge is a giant with the ability for light tower power. And while the home run pop hasn’t fully come in yet, a strong batting eye leaves hope it will. In a multi-game look, Judge looked lost for an entire series before clearing the scoreboard in left-centerfield against the Rome Braves. It was a glimpse into what made him a 1st round pick in the first place. In a subsequent report, Aaron Judge (ROTOscouting Report) was compared to Kyle Blanks due to the combination of power and limited athleticism. Readers viewed it as a slight, but the oft injured slugger was once a top-100 prospect who took the National League by storm (10 home runs in 174 plate appearances) in his debut. In 2013, Brandon Moss batted .256 with 30 home runs and four steals, accumulating $17 in value. Marlon Byrd was worth $19 behind a .291 batting average with 24 home runs and two steals. Split the difference and Judge has the potential to produce like a borderline top-20 outfielder in baseball.
1. Luis Severino, Right-Handed Pitcher
Age 20 / Double-A
2014 Stats: 113.1 IP, 2.46 ERA, 127/27 K/BB, 93 H
In 5×5 auction leagues, pitchers are worth less than hitters. With no way around this, ranking Severino in the top spot was difficult. Ultimately, his ability to become a number two starter or shut down closer forced the leap of faith. In 2013, Jordan Zimmermann supplied $17 in value fueled by a 3.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 161 strikeouts. The 19 wins helped boost the profile, but it’s not a stretch to think Luis Severino (ROTOscouting Report) can accumulate similar value in other ways. Meanwhile, the best closers in baseball were worth $14-$16 in 2013, so the top prospect’s floor is high as well. With closers having top-20 value overall, dynasty league owners fail to realize saves potential is better than a pitcher settling in as a quality fourth starter in fantasy baseball. Take note and add more big stuff pitchers with closer floors.
New York Yankees Honorable Mentions: Bryan Mitchell (RHP), Jake Cave (OF), Luis Torrens (C), Ramon Flores (OF), Eric Jagielo (3B), Alexander Palma (OF)
3 Nov 2014 / Mike Newman / 2
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