Yankees Early Season Prospect Report

HOLD FOR STORY BY RON BLUM - New York Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams answers reporters questions during an appearance at Hard Rock Cafe Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Checking in on the next crop of Yankees

**3B Miguel Andujar and SS Gleyber Torres were not considered as they are currently on the Major League roster

Estevan Florial / CF / Age 20 / Tampa Tarpons (High-A) / ETA: 2020

With Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres graduated to the big-league team, the dynamic center fielder is the most exciting position player in the New York Yankees organization. Estevan Florial has tantalizing speed, raw untapped power, and a plus arm. If he develops as the Yankees hope, he could become a player who can one day produce 20-20(HR-SB) seasons with elite defense out in center field. With his off the charts athleticism, he looks every bit the rangy outfielder who will patrol the center of the yard for years to come.

Florial also has the versatility to hit at the top or in the middle of the order. Through 113 at-bats this season in High-A ball, he is hitting .248 with five steals, one homerun, five doubles and 9 RBIs. He has also struck out an eye-opening 40 times in 129 plate appearances. This is definitely a cause for concern and something to monitor throughout this season. Last season, the outfielder burst onto the scene in both low and high Single-A, hitting .298 with 13 homeruns, 23 doubles, 7 triples, and 23 stolen bases. This has the Yankees hopeful that the only question mark in his game, his bat, can continue to improve and develop along with the rest of his game. Whether he is traded for an established player at the trade deadline, or remains with the Yankees, he must improve his contact rate in order to maximize his value and reach his full potential.

Justus Sheffield / LHP / Age 21 / Scranton RailRiders (Triple-A) ETA: 2018

The highlight of the Andrew Miller trade looks ready to make an impact on a pennant run this season. Sheffield has an explosive pitching arsenal and relies on a power slider that he can vary in shape and velocity making it look like a classic low-80s curveball. His fastball sits around 93 MPH and he has the ability to dial it up to 96 when needed. His final pitch is a changeup with swing and miss ability, but he lacks the command to throw it consistently at this stage in his career and could one day be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the middle of the Yankees rotation. If the Yankees do bring this kid up towards the end of this season, he could prove valuable out of the bullpen to start his career.

The young pitcher has already earned a promotion from Double-A to Triple-A this season having notched a 2.25 ERA through 5 starts for the Trenton Thunder. He labored in his first start for the Scranton RailRiders, going only 42/3 innings, walking four, and giving up four hits but limited the damage by only giving up two runs. He followed that start up with a solid outing in his next one but left early in the 3rd inning with shoulder tightness. The Yankees opted not to send him for further testing and placed him on the 7-day DL with his status worth monitoring. His current trajectory looks to be on a path to the big-league roster. Whether his impact will be felt in spot starts or out of the bullpen, Justus Sheffield has the ability to make his mark on this special Yankees season.

Albert Abreu / RHP / Age 22 / Tampa Tarpons (High-A) ETA: 2019

This pitcher is a bit more of a wild card for the Yankees. He has tremendous top of the rotation upside but has also looked inconsistent to the point where some project him to end up in the bullpen. Abreu has an electric arm who usually sits around 94-95 MPH. His secondary pitches are filthy as he throws a darting power curve and a disappearing changeup that keeps hitters off balance. This coupled with a bit of an odd delivery creates more deception. The stuff is not the problem, it is inconsistent command that often hounds this young pitcher.  Since coming over to the Yankees organization in 2017, Abreu has improved his command from 5.1 walks per 9 innings to a much better 3 walks per 9 innings.

The former Astros prospect has always had the ability to limit damage and miss bats. His career ERA in the minors is an impressive 3.19, and in his first season in the Yanks organization, he went 2-3 with a 3.88 ERA and showed off improved command before being shut down with a shoulder strain. This season was a bit of a slow start for the young prospect as he went through an appendectomy in February and is just now fully getting his footing. There is a lot uncertainty with this prospect but I would not be surprised if he turns out to the best of the bunch listed in this piece.

Chance Adams / RHP / Age 23 / Scranton RailRiders (Triple-A) ETA: 2018

Looking solely at results, this kid can bring it.  In the two seasons leading up to this year, Adams has compiled a record of 28-6 with a 2.40 ERA and 279 strikeouts in 2771/3 innings. His path to becoming a potential number three starting pitcher is unconventional. He started his professional career as a relief pitcher, but the Yankees quickly realized his potential and moved him into the rotation. His fastball is average and tops out at 94 MPH. The key here is not the movement or velocity, but his command and location of this pitch. If he can keep his fastball down, he is much less prone to getting barreled up by opposing hitters. To complement this fastball, he rolls with a plus slider and a changeup that needs improvement.

Adams began the year in Triple-A and has struggled through 7 starts. He is currently 0-2 with a 5.67 ERA, 14 walks, 33 hits, and 32 strikeouts in 331/3 innings. He has been up in the zone far too often this season and International League hitters have made him pay. The Yankees are hopeful he will display improvement to provide value during a pennant race. He will need to work on getting his fastball down in the zone on a consistent basis and continue to improve his changeup. With so much uncertainty around the 4 and 5 spots in the big-league rotation, Adams or Sheffield could get a chance at a big-league start even earlier than expected.

Luis Medina / RHP / Age 19 / Pulaski Yankees (Rookie-A) ETA: 2021

This young pitcher from the Dominican Republic has developed into a talent with incredible stuff. The young pitcher has tremendous upside and this immediately puts him in the conversation as an eventual ace for the Bronx Bombers. His fastball reaches triple digits and hovers around 97 MPH. He keeps hitters off balance with a power curveball that gets up to 92 MPH. The separator for this young arm, is his changeup. He throws an off-speed pitch that is a split changeup with tumbling action. This pitch can be devastating and is not often seen in young pitchers. During a pitcher’s development, the changeup is often hard to command and be effective with. If the Yankees hope to pick up a star player around the trade deadline, the deal will more than likely be centered around a package with this young arm.

Luis Medina is still far out from being considered for the big-league squad because he was only signed in 2016. He started this season in extended spring training with the idea of placing the dynamic starter on an innings cap and smooth him into another season in rookie ball. The focus this season will be to see improvements in his command.