Yankees prospect report from alternate site

October 9th, 2020

With alternate training sites having ended, MLB Pipeline is recapping the development highlights for the prospects involved for each organization.

Top position prospect: Estevan Florial, OF (No. 7 on Yankees Top 30)
When they formed their 60-man list, the Yankees went with players they believed could help them win the World Series in 2020. Florial was the only position prospect on our Yankees Top 30 who was invited to the alternate site at New York's Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate in Pennsylvania.

Florial has some of the best tools in the system, including well above-average raw power and arm strength and at least plus speed and center-field defense. He also has a career 28 percent strikeout rate in five pro seasons -- including a personal-worst 33 percent in 2019 -- and needed at-bats after missing significant time the last two years with hamate and wrist injuries. He wound up making his big league debut at the end of August, going 1-for-3 against the Mets in his lone game.

"Alternative camp was good for Estevan for a number of reasons," New York farm director Kevin Reese said. "We value makeup and work ethic, so to be around a bunch of veteran guys helped. He got to see some good pitching, more advanced left-handers and right-handers, and he got up close and personal with Dillon Lawson, our hitting coordinator.

"Everyone is aware that he has some swing-and-miss in there. We wanted to see what we could do with his pitch recognition and we were able to put him under the microscope. On the defensive side, he has ability and consistency out there. We were confident he could handle it when we called him up."

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Top pitching prospect: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 2)
Based on how well Schmidt looked at the end of the 2019 season in Double-A, the Yankees knew he would be ready to help them in the near future. The 2017 first-rounder reinforced that notion by continuing to excel in Spring Training and Summer Camp. So when he got to Scranton, his focus was on getting ready to make the jump to New York.

Schmidt's pure stuff was already good enough, as he has five pitches (two- and four-seam fastballs, curveball, slider, changeup) that all can grade as plus offerings when they're on. He spent his time at the alternate site trying to learn how to get the most out of it. While he posted a 7.11 ERA in three brief appearances with the Yankees, he should become a permanent part of their rotation at some point in 2021.

"Clarke can kind of do whatever he wants with all of his pitches," Reese said. "We just educated him with what plays against each batter, where to locate at the next level. You've got to hone in on that, introduce more information and scouting reports. We had to speed that up with him because he went from 20 innings in Double-A to the big leagues."

Youngest prospect: Deivi García, RHP (No. 3)
Like Schmidt, García is a Top 100 Prospect who was ticketed for big league innings without having much upper-level experience (53 2/3 innings in Double-A, 40 in Triple-A). Just 21, he's known for his big-breaking curveball and also can miss bats with a 91-97 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider. Those weapons helped him average 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2019, which would have ranked second in the Minors if he hadn't fallen just shy of qualifying.

García is small (5-foot-9, 163 pounds) and features some effort in his delivery, so he battles the strike zone at times. He worked on harnessing his stuff while in Scranton, and it paid off. He made six starts for the Yankees, going 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA and a 33/6 K/BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings.

"Deivi continued to have a tremendous work ethic and did everything we asked at the alternative site," Reese said. "He worked on improving the command of his secondary pitches. We wanted to make sure he could land that curveball and use it as a chase pitch. He's always had pretty good fastball command.

"We saw him handle different situations so well in the big leagues. He never got shaken."

2020 Draft picks
The Yankees didn't bring any of their 2020 draftees to Scranton but plan on inviting all three of them -- catcher Austin Wells (first round), second baseman Trevor Hauer (third) and right-hander Beck Way (fourth) -- to instructional league.

Pleasant developments
Right-hander Luis Gil (No. 5) has made just three starts in Class A Advanced but he has some of the best stuff in the system and could start to move rapidly. He discovered that he can get advanced hitters out with an elite fastball that sits at 95-98 mph, often reaches triple digits and features significant riding life. He also made progress with a power breaking ball that has slider velocity and curveball shape.

Right-hander Luis Medina (No. 11) owns a 96-99 mph fastball that tops out at 102 with natural cut, a hammer curveball and a devastating changeup that parks around 90 mph with splitter action. All three offerings can earn 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale when they're on, but he had little track record of throwing strikes before the last two months of the 2019 season. He had his ups and downs at Scranton but learned that he can get veteran hitters out when he finds the zone.