Severino jumps to No. 1 on Yankees' updated Top 20
Righty joins catcher Sanchez, third baseman Jagielo as New York's top prospects
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Luis Severino, RHP
Preseason rank: 10
MLB Top 100 rank: 70 (Preseason: None)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
Severino began 2013 as an unknown Yankees prospect who had yet to make his U.S. debut, and he finished it as the top right-handed pitching prospect in the system. He has made another leap in 2014, becoming the organization's top prospect, period, and pitching in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Though he isn't especially big, Severino is strong, and he can run his fastball up to 98 mph. His heater usually sits at 94-95 mph and features some sink at the lower end of its velocity range. Both Severino's hard slider and his changeup have the potential to be solid or better offerings.
Severino reached low Class A ahead of schedule last August, and the Yankees are excited to see what he can do in his first full pro season. If Severino continues to fill the strike zone with three quality pitches, he'll continue to accelerate his timetable.
2. Gary Sanchez, C
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 76 (Preseason: 47)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 30 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Sanchez was well regarded as an amateur in the Dominican Republic, and he got a $3 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2009. He has continued to impress -- especially with his bat -- as he climbs through the Minor Leagues.
Sanchez has above-average raw power, and he knows how to use it, hitting at least 15 home runs in all three of his years in full-season ball. Sanchez has a good approach at the plate and the potential to be a solid all-around hitter.
Sanchez's defense remains a question mark, though he has gotten better behind the plate. He still needs to work on his receiving and blocking balls. Sanchez's strong throwing arm remains an asset behind the plate. His bat would make him a valuable Major Leaguer, even if he had to change positions, but he has star potential as a catcher.
3. Eric Jagielo, 3B
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 35 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Just the fifth first-rounder in Notre Dame history, Jagielo went 26th overall in June 2013 and signed for $1,839,400. The Yankees hadn't taken a college position player in the first round since going for John-Ford Griffin in 2001, but they couldn't ignore that Jagielo's left-handed power was tailor-made for Yankee Stadium.
Jagielo showed an ability to drive the ball to all fields when he finished second in the Cape Cod League with 13 homers in the summer of 2012, and he continued to do so while going deep six times in his pro debut. He has matured as a hitter in the past year, displaying more patience at the plate.
Jagielo has improved defensively, too. While he won't be a Gold Glover, he should be able to stick at third base, and he definitely has the arm strength for the position.
4. Ian Clarkin, LHP
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Clarkin established himself as a potential first-rounder with a strong summer in 2012, capped by winning the gold-medal game for Team USA at the 18-and-under World Championships. When he followed up with a strong high school senior season, the Yankees didn't think they'd get a shot to draft him, but they were pleasantly surprised when Clarkin was available as their third of three first-rounders in 2013.
Signed for $1,650,100 as the 33rd overall pick, Clarkin is a left-hander with three quality pitches at his disposal and more polish than a typical prepster. His 90-94 mph fastball is his best pitch, but his hard 12-to-6 curveball isn't far behind. Clarkin's changeup features good fade and deception.
Clarkin pitched just five innings in his pro debut because he sprained an ankle. Healthy again in 2014, he has performed impressively in low Class A. Clarkin could move quickly through the Minors, and he has the upside of a No. 2 or 3 starter.
5. Aaron Judge, OF
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
At 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, Judge looks more like he should be playing football (most of his college scholarship offers were as a tight end) or basketball (he has a close physical resemblance to NBA star Blake Griffin). He also has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who played in eight straight All-Star Games for the Yankees, and Giancarlo Stanton.
The 32nd overall pick in the 2013 Draft and recipient of a $1.8 million bonus, Judge has huge power potential. He uses his leverage and strength to crush balls, and he has a two-homer game against No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel and the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby title on his resume. With his long arms, his swing can get very long as well, which results in strikeouts and reduces his ability to hit for average.
Judge moves very well for a big man, with his solid speed and strong arm making him a nice fit in right field. He has yet to make his debut because he arrived in pro ball with a quad injury, yet Judge could move quickly if he makes consistent contact.
6. Rob Refsnyder, 2B
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Refsnyder batted .476 with two homers at the 2012 College World Series, leading Arizona to the championship while winning Most Outstanding Player honors. Though he was an outfielder in college, the Yankees were intrigued by the possibility of moving him to second base, which they did in his first full professional season in 2013.
The former fifth-round pick has established himself as the best pure hitter in a system loaded with seven-figure bonus babies. Refsnyder has a quality approach at the plate, recognizing pitches, controlling the strike zone and using the entire field. He has shown more power in 2014 than he has in the past, and he could develop into a 15-homer threat in the Major Leagues.
Refsnyder was extremely shaky when he first moved to second base, and he still has a lot of work to do there, but he could develop into an adequate defender. Though Refsnyder has solid speed and an average arm, he really doesn't profile well at another position, and he doesn't have the true versatility desired in a utilityman.
7. Jake Cave, OF
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Some teams liked Cave more as a pitcher when they scouted him in high school, and he would have been a two-way player had he attended Louisiana State. The Yanks had other plans, however, signing him for $800,000 as a sixth-round pick in 2011 and making him a full-time outfielder. Cave fractured his right kneecap in his first pro game and missed all of '12 when it didn't heal properly, but he since has emerged as one of the system's top position prospects.
Cave makes consistent hard contract from the left side of the plate. He'll need to tighten his strike-zone discipline against better pitching, but the bigger question is how much power he'll develop. Most of Cave's pop comes to the gaps for now, and he might max out at 10-12 homers per season.
Cave has good if not great speed, but his instincts could allow him to remain in center field. He has arm strength and hit 94 mph with his fastball as an amateur, though he hasn't registered many assists in pro ball. Scouts love the way Cave plays with full effort on a daily basis.
8. Manny Banuelos, LHP
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Banuelos began his pro career as a control-oriented starter, then he saw his stuff take a huge step forward while his command regressed in 2010. He was a sensation in big league camp the following spring, and he appeared on the verge of reaching Yankee Stadium. But Banuelos has yet to reach New York, missing most of 2012 and all of '13 following Tommy John surgery.
Before he got hurt, Banuelos showed the potential for three plus pitches. He worked at 91-94 mph and touched 97 with a tailing fastball. Banuelos also got swings and misses with his curveball and changeup.
In addition to regaining his health, Banuelos will have to prove he can throw enough strikes to realize his ceiling as a No. 2 starter. His velocity has bounced back in 2014, but he's still getting himself into trouble with walks.
9. Peter O'Brien, 1B/C
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 20 | Arm: 55 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50
The Rockies made O'Brien the second-highest pick ever out of Bethune-Cookman when they took him in the third round in 2011, but he opted to transfer to Miami rather than sign. He went in the second round a year later as a senior, and he has demonstrated consistent power since turning pro. O'Brien led the short-season New York-Penn League with 10 homers in his pro debut in '12, and he topped the Yankees' system with 22 in his first full season in '13.
O'Brien's raw pop ranks among the best in the Minors, and he can crush the ball out of any part of any ballpark with his combination of bat speed and strength. He hit the longest measured homer during the 2013 Arizona Fall League season, a 455-foot blast. O'Brien does swing and miss a lot, and he doesn't control the strike zone well, so there's some concern as to how much he'll be able to hit for average and tap into his power against more advanced pitchers.
There are defensive concerns with O'Brien, as well. He has raw arm strength, though he needs to quicken his transfer and release, and other clubs don't share the Yankees' optimism that he can refine his receiving and stay behind the plate. O'Brien has seen time at third base and in the outfield, but his lack of speed and quickness may leave first base as his only realistic fallback.
10. Jacob Lindgren, LHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 65 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Lindgren helped pitch Mississippi State to the College World Series as a starter in 2013, then dominated after a shift to the bullpen this spring. He went 6-1 with a 0.81 ERA and three saves as opponents hit just .124 with one extra-base hit and 100 strikeouts in 185 at-bats. The Yankees took Lindgren with their top pick (second round) in June and signed him for $1,018,700.
Lindgren's stuff took a leap forward when he worked in shorter stints. His fastball zoomed from 87-91 mph last year to 91-95, and his slider became a true wipeout pitch at 82-84 mph, with late bite. When batters manage to make contact against Lindgren, they struggle to put the ball in the air.
Though Lindgren has a decent third pitch in his sinking changeup, New York has no plans to try him in the rotation. He could become the first player from the 2014 Draft to reach the big leagues. Lindgren's ability to throw consistent strikes will determine how much time he needs in the Minors.
11. Luis Torrens, C
Preseason rank: 17
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 35 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Though Torrens had played mostly shortstop as an amateur, the Yankees switched him to catcher after signing him for $1.3 million out of Venezuela in 2012. They considered Torrens advanced enough to bring him to the United States for his pro debut last year, and he responded by leading the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League by throwing out 45 percent of basestealers.
Torrens has a strong arm, and he already has developed the footwork and release to make the most of it. He's coming along as a receiver, though he had 13 passed balls in 32 games behind the plate in 2013. Torrens' intelligence and work ethic are two more assets that will help him as a catcher.
Torrens predictably wore down in his first season as a pro, but he has the tools to contribute offensively, as well. He has good pitch-recognition skills, a patient approach and solid raw power.
12. Shane Greene, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Improbably and suddenly, Greene developed into the Yankees' best healthy starting pitcher in their big league rotation. He had Tommy John surgery as a freshman at NCAA Division II West Florida in 2008, then he transferred to Daytona Beach (Fla.) CC, where New York spotted him and signed him for $100,000 as a 15th-rounder in 2009. Greene went 12-31, with a 4.79 ERA in his first four pro seasons before figuring out how to command his stuff last year.
That made all the difference for Greene, who started racking up outs with his sinker and cutter/slider once he learned how to locate them. He throws his fastball at 90-94 mph with good sinking and tailing life. Greene's breaking ball can reach the upper 80s, and it is tough on right-handers because his crossfire delivery gives him tough angle to the plate.
Greene's changeup lags behind his other two offerings. He has the stuff to stick in the Yanks' rotation, though he fits best in the back half rather than being counted on heavily.
13. Gregory Bird, 1B
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Bird served as Kevin Gausman's catcher at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo., helping him attract the attention of scouts. He has since moved out from behind the plate, flourishing as a hitter at the same time.
Bird has a patient approach, and he led the Minor Leagues with 107 walks in 2013. He is a smart hitter and earns praise for his understanding of the game. Bird has the ability to hit for both average and power, though his swing has a tendency to get long at times.
Bird has had back problems in the past, and his athleticism has suffered. He is an adequate defender, but his bat will need to continue to produce as he climbs the ladder.
14. Gosuke Katoh, 2B
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Katoh is an exception to the rule that high school second basemen aren't usually highly regarded as top pro prospects. His stock soared right before the 2013 Draft, and the Yankees didn't let him get past their second-round pick at No. 66 overall.
Katoh continued to raise his profile in pro ball, leading the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with six home runs and a .924 OPS. He has struggled in low Class A this year, but his bat-on-ball skills and his plus speed should help hit for average as he climbs the ladder. Katoh also has wiry strength and good pop for a middle infielder.
Katoh's high baseball IQ and athleticism make him a fine defender at second base. He has quick feet and turns the double play well. New York may give Katoh a chance to show what he can do at shortstop.
15. Jose A. Ramirez, RHP
Preseason rank: 13
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
It took Ramirez three years to escape Class A, but just one to vault from Double-A to Triple-A in 2013. He got his first big league callup this June. Ramirez is the most big league-ready pitcher in the Yankees' system, and he might have the best changeup in the entire organization -- including the Majors.
Ramirez makes hitters look silly with his changeup, which bottoms out at the plate with splitter action. It plays well off his fastball, another plus pitch and one that usually ranges from 91-96 mph. If Ramirez can refine his slider and his command, he could be No. 3 starter.
Ramirez has had durability problems, however, never working more than 115 innings in a season. He missed the start of last season with a tired arm and the end with a strained oblique, and he has had oblique issues again in 2014. Though Ramirez has the stuff to start, the Yanks have decided to make him a full-time reliever to try to keep him healthy.
16. Ramon Flores, OF
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Flores has progressed steadily through the system after signing out of Venezuela for $775,000 in 2008. Even with his development slowed by a high ankle sprain this year, he's on the verge of reaching the Major Leagues. Yet it remains to be seen whether Flores will be an everyday player or a fourth outfielder.
An extremely patient hitter, Flores diligently works counts and uses the entire field. Scouts believe he can be too passive at times, however, and would like to see him try to drive balls more often. Flores needs to get stronger, as well, or else he might be pegged as more of a tweener than a regular.
Flores' speed, arm and defensive ability are all fine, but he presently lacks the power to fit on an outfield corner or the quickness to start in center. While his skills are best suited for left field, he's capable of playing all three spots.
17. Tyler Austin, OF/1B
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Austin broke out in his first taste of full-season ball, winning Yankees Minor League Player of the Year honors while batting .322/.400/.559 and reaching Double-A in 2012. A persistent sprained right thumb prevented him from putting up a solid encore last season, as his OPS plummeted 230 points, and he has yet to regain his form in 2014.
Nevertheless, Austin has the tools to produce at the plate. He has a short stroke and plenty of bat speed, and for a youngster, he does an excellent job of staying back and waiting on offspeed pitches. Austin added some more loft to his swing in 2013, which should help his power production down the road.
Austin has fringy speed, and he won't be a big basestealing threat, though he has succeeded on 47 of his first 51 steal attempts (92 percent) as a pro. A corner infielder during his first two pro seasons, Austin has found a home in right field, where he gets the job done and has a solid arm.
18. Slade Heathcott, OF
Preseason rank: 3
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Heathcott's tools enticed the Yankees to draft him 29th overall and sign him for $2.2 million in 2009, and his all-around ability is still impressive. But he hasn't been able to stay healthy enough to put together a complete season -- he hurt his shoulder and knee as a high school senior and has had continued problems with both joints -- hampering his development. After an offseason operation on his right knee, Heathcott played in just nine games in '14 before needing further arthroscopic surgery.
Heathcott has the bat speed and strength to be a power threat in the middle of a lineup, provided he can refine his hitting ability. He has some uppercut to his swing, which can get long, and he gets too aggressive at the plate. Heathcott has just 1,187 at-bats through six pro seasons, and all the missed reps are holding him back as a hitter.
Heathcott's speed, arm and outfield defense all rate as better than average, making him an asset in center field and capable of playing all three outfield positions. After New York signed Jacoby Ellsbury as a free agent, Heathcott now projects as the club's right fielder of the future -- provided he can stay healthy.
19. Mason Williams, OF
Preseason rank: 2
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
The son of former NFL wide receiver Derwin Williams, Mason inherited his dad's athleticism, and he is one of the most physically gifted players to come through the Yankees' system in years. Signed for $1.45 million as a fourth-round pick in 2010, Mason had a breakthrough season in '12 to emerge as one of the top prospects in baseball. But he has regressed the last two years, leaving his future in doubt.
At his best, Williams projected as an above-average runner who can hit for both power and average -- think .280 with 20 homers per season -- while stealing bases, as well. He's also played quality center field while displaying an average arm.
For the past two seasons, however, Williams hasn't looked like the same player. He has become more of a slap hitter and has done little at the plate. Scouts have criticized Williams' makeup, noting that he rarely gives full effort, and he was arrested on DUI charges in April 2013.
20. Jorge Mateo, SS
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 75 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Mateo didn't make his U.S. debut until late June, but already teams are asking about him when they engage the Yankees in trade talks. Signed for $250,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, he offers an exciting package of tools.
Mateo stands out most for his speed, which draws grades ranging from 70-80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's a threat to steal bases and covers lots of ground at shortstop. New York wondered about Mateo's arm strength when he signed, but it has gotten stronger and is now an asset.
In addition to his speed and defense, Mateo has more upside at the plate than most shortstops. He's wiry strong, and he already shows signs of being able to hit for average and provide double-digit home run totals down the line. Mateo is still just 19 and is six levels removed from the big leagues, but one club official said the organization hasn't had a middle infielder with a ceiling higher than his since Derek Jeter.