As a group, the Double-A Trenton Thunder earned the right to pop the corks as Eastern League champions. But the best individual performances in the Yankees’ organization took place at the lower levels, where outfielder Canaan Smith and right-hander Miguel Yajure enjoyed standout seasons.
In recognition of their stellar campaigns, Smith and Yajure have been selected as the Yankees’ Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year, respectively.
Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared among the team's Top 30 Prospects.
A fourth-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, the 20-year-old Smith shined while making his full-season debut this year at Class A Charleston, a campaign that included hitting for the cycle on May 12 at Hickory.
He batted .307/.405/.465 with 11 homers and 16 steals. He led the South Atlantic League in walks (74), while ranking third in batting average, OPS (.871) and total bases (209), and second in on-base percentage. Smith is rated as the Yankees’ No. 25 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
“What more can you say about him?” RiverDogs manager Julio Mosquera told the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier. “His bat knows where the strike zone is, and he’s a guy who truly understands hitting. He swings at good pitches and always puts himself in a position to be successful.”
Rated as the No. 26 prospect in the Yanks’ system, the 21-year-old Yajure was signed out of Venezuela for the bargain price of $30,000. After rebounding from Tommy John surgery to make his full-season debut in 2018, Yajure continued to open eyes this season this year while with Class A Advanced Tampa, compiling a 2.26 ERA that ranked second in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Taking the ball in 22 games (18 starts) for the Tarpons, Yajure’s 122 strikeouts also tied for second in the circuit. He permitted 110 hits while issuing only 28 walks over 127 2/3 innings, a 1.08 WHIP that also ranked second in the FSL.
Yajure features a 92-95 mph fastball with a solid to plus changeup and a cutter that shows potential, as well as a curveball that should be at least an average offering. The efficient strike-thrower made two August starts for Double-A Trenton, where he went 1-0 with an 0.82 ERA.
“This is solid competition down here, and [Yajure is] still young for his [league],” Tarpons manager Aaron Holbert told NJ Advance Media. “Normally, you always assume, sky’s the limit and he’s going to keep developing and keep working toward his future success. This guy is going to continue to take off and be a solid contributor for the New York Yankees in the near future.”