This short season has been defined, in many ways, by injuries and disappointments (excepting Messrs Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Dellin Betances, of course). An interesting side of effect of that is the constant need and demand for reinforcements and replacements, from within and outside of the system. The fact that six Yankees have made their Major League debut in 2015 thus far (Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Branden Pinder, Jacob Lindgren, and Matt Tracy) is a direct result of stints on the disabled list and under-performance - and further cries for change come with each CC Sabathia start, and every Stephen Drew at-bat. With so many players making their way to the show, and others seemingly forcing their way out, now seems like as good a time as any to check-in on the cream of the crop that the Yankees system has to offer. So let's see how the team's ten best prospects are doing, and wonder whether we may be seeing them in the Bronx this year.
10. Tyler Austin AAA - .227/.291/.315, 22 R, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 76 wRC+ (227 PA)
Austin's first turn in Triple-A has been uninspiring, to say the least. Prior to being placed on the DL with a hip injury, he was putting up the worst BB%, K%, and ISO of his career, and was passed over when the team was in need of an outfielder three times (thought, to be fair, two of the three could play CF). Austin was showing signs of life in the two weeks leading up to his injury, though, batting .305/.406/.441 (153 wRC+) from May 21 on. With Jacoby Ellsbury likely out another couple of weeks, a healthy and productive return by Austin could bode well for his immediate future.
08(t). Domingo German
German had Tommy John Surgery this Spring, and has not pitched this season...
08(t). Luis Torrens
...and Torrens had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and will likewise not play this season. It's contagious, apparently.
07. Eric Jagielo AA - .284/.347/.491, 36 R, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 138 wRC+ (248 PA)
Jagielo is walking less this year, but his performance has otherwise remained steady across the board. His work at third base remains a mixed bag, and he is blocked by the underwhelming Chase Headley for the time being - but he has been quietly impressive with the bat from the moment he was drafted.
06. Rob Refsnyder AAA - .279/.355/.399, 31 R, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 122 wRC+ (263 PA)
With the aforementioned Drew struggling to do much of anything, Refsnyder seems poised to earn a shot at the second base gig. He may not be embarrassing pitchers as thoroughly as he did last season, but he is still producing above-average numbers at the highest level of the minors (and now sports a .290/.374/.431 line in 597 Triple-A PA). His porous defense at the keystone is still an issue, however, and it is clearly holding him back.
04(t). Ian Clarkin
Last we heard about Clarkin, he had been shut down with elbow soreness/inflammation ... on April 19. As a result of this, he has yet to take the mound for the team's High-A affiliate. He did send out this ambiguous tweet on Wednesday evening, though.
04(t). Greg Bird AA - .254/.354/.444, 19 R, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 129 wRC+ (147 PA)
Bird missed nearly a month with a shoulder strain, but has raked since returning on June 4 (.333/.361/.515, 147 wRC+). He's limited to 1B/DH, and the Teixeira/Rodriguez combo has been dynamite ... but a prolonged DL stint for either could open the door for him.
03. Gary Sanchez AA - .256/.313/.432, 24 R, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 113 wRC+ (192 PA)
The eternal prospect has performed well this season, with an uptick in power off-setting a small dip in his plate discipline numbers. His defense remains a frustrating work in progress, though, and I have to wonder if complacency is an issue as this is his third trip through Double-A. The duo of McCann and Murphy has been effective, but Sanchez is probably next in-line at this point.
02. Luis Severino AA - 38.0 IP, 32 H, 10 BB, 48 K, 3.32 ERA, 2.41 FIP AAA - 21.2 IP, 17 H, 8 BB, 11 K, 2.91 ERA, 3.42 FIP
It's a matter of when and not if with Severino. While he will likely be capped at around 140 IP, his performance has been good to great across four levels these last two seasons, and the rotation and bullpen are both in flux at the big league level. He could have an immediate impact in the bullpen, and I wouldn't mind seeing him there late in the season to manage his innings and give him a taste of the competition.
01. Aaron Judge AA - .278/.345/.491, 32 R, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 138 wRC+ (261 PA)
The Yankees seem to be taking a slow and steady approach with Judge, and he has rewarded them by demonstrated his surprisingly strong all-around game at every level. His above-average athleticism has translated to solid defense in right field, and his raw power has been showcased regularly in his second professional season. The drop in walks and uptick in strikeouts may not be ideal, but everything else is trending in the right direction as Judge climbs top prospect lists throughout the league. I doubt that we will see him in the Majors this season, barring a cup of coffee, but I think the plan is definitely for him to take over right field as early as 2016.