I mentioned earlier that there was a high level of turnover in the Top 30 this year and I was serious. Only 14 players carried over from the 2015 edition to the 2016, with 16 new guys joining them to complete the list. What happened to those other 16 players from last year? Good question. Some of them have moved into regular roles with the Major League club, some of them were parts of this offseason's trade activity, and some of them just fell off because they were injured and unable to play. Before we fully dive into the 2016 list, let's take a quick look back at those players from last year who have moved on.
Luis Severino- RHSP, 2015 Rank: 2nd
He was almost at the top of the class to start the 2015 season, and Severino definitely graduated at the top when it was over. After opening the year in Double-A Trenton, it only took 19 starts for him to make the jump to the show, where he continued to impress with a 2.89/4.37/3.72 tripleslash in 11 starts. All together Severino threw 161.2 innings last year and the Yankees have already committed to managing his workload again in 2016. Despite that, Severino is penciled into the middle of the Major League rotation and could evolve into a top line starter with the right adjustments.
Greg Bird- 1B, 2015 Rank: 4th
The Greg Bird story had a much happier tone until last week's season-ending injury news. Bird mashed again in the minors last year (.277/.356/.469 in 83 AA and AAA games) and looked very good in the Majors when Teix's injury created an opportunity (.261/.343/.529, 11 HR, 31 RBI in 46 MLB games). This year was supposed to be about refining his approach against lefties, becoming a better defender, and getting the torch passed to him by Teix. Now it'll be about recovery, rehab, and hope that this labrum tear doesn't sap too much of Bird's power.
Eric Jagielo- 3B, 2015 Rank: 7th
It was more of the same for Jagielo in 2015: swing the bat very well (.284/.347/.495 in AA), not field his position very well, and end the season hurt and on the disabled list. The talk of transitioning him from third to first base to minimize his defensive inefficiencies was gaining steam before he was included as one of the primary pieces in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Now he'll try to continue his path to the big leagues as a top 10 Cincy prospect. Maybe the move to first base will help keep his legs healthier.
Tyler Austin- OF, 2015 Rank: 10th
Remember when Tyler Austin was a preseason top 100 prospect in 2013? He got there because of his bat. What's happened since then? He stopped hitting, pretty simple. Austin hit .275/.336/.419 in Trenton in 2014 and then hit the wall when he got to Triple-A in 2015 (.235/.309/.311 in 299 PA). It doesn't help that he keeps getting banged up and doesn't really have a position, and Austin has been outrighted off the 40-man roster. He'll get more PT with Bird out this season, but Austin isn't much of a prospect anymore.
Jake Cave- OF, 2015 Rank: T-12th
Cave stoked his prospect fire with a solid 2014. He smothered it a bit with a down year in his return trip to Trenton (.278/.339/.359 in 592 PA) and got lost in the upper-level outfield shuffle. Despite making it to Triple-A for a short stint at the end of the season, Cave made himself expendable as a lefty-swinging outfielder without a standout tool in a large group of lefty-swinging outfielders and the Yankees left him unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft, where he was taken by the Cincinnati Reds.
Ramon Flores- OF, 2015 Rank: 15th
Maybe my favorite underrated prospect in the time that I've followed Yankee prospects, Flores was also a victim of the "too many lefty outfielders" problem. He hit .286/.377/.417 in 321 Triple-A plate appearances, got a 33-PA cup of coffee with the big league club in the early summer, and was then traded to Seattle for Dustin Ackley at the deadline. He suffered a pretty nasty ankle injury playing for the Mariner's Triple-A affiliate and was recently traded to the Brewers, where he'll have an outside chance to make their rebuilding roster. He's still young at 23 and he still profiles as a solid 4th outfielder. I'm excited that I have a small chance to see him this year.
Bryan Mitchell- RHSP, 2015 Rank: 16th
It was a mixed bag of results for Mitchell in 2015. He pitched quietly well in 15 starts at Triple-A, posting a 3.12 ERA in 75 innings and cutting down on his HR rate. He wasn't as good in 29.2 MLB innings, most of them as a reliever (6.37 ERA, 4 HR allowed). A scary line drive off the face put him on the DL for a few weeks late in the year, and Mitchell was understandably not the same pitcher when he came back. But hopefully he's put that completely in the rearview because he has a chance to carve out a bigger role for himself on the big league squad this year and step into the vacated Adam Warren swingman role.
Ty Hensley- RHSP, 2015 Rank: 17th
This dude just can't catch a break. He had his signing bonus cut because of a shoulder abnormality discovered during his physical, he missed all of the 2013 season due to surgeries in both of his hips, he got beat up and suffered severe head and facial injuries during the 2014-2015 offseason, and his 2015 ended early when he had to have Tommy John Surgery. He should make it back to the hill sometime this year, but as someone who's pitched a total of 42.1 professional innings since being drafted, it's fair to wonder if Hensley's time has already passed.
Jose Ramirez- RHRP, 2015 Rank: 18th
Ramirez had a golden chance to seize a Major League bullpen job last year, but he didn't pitch well and was the other piece in the Ackley trade. He's actually been mostly terrible in his limited MLB experience (8.66 ERA with more BB thank K in 17.2 IP) and could never stay healthy enough to become anything as a starter. Maybe Seattle can figure something out to make him a useful middle reliever.
Austin DeCarr- RHSP, 2015 Rank: 21st
Another victim of early-season TJS in 2015, DeCarr's missed season was even more detrimental because as a cold weather HS pitcher he's had less time to work on his game than most other pitchers his age. Last year could have been a great learning and preparatory experience for him for his full-season league debut in 2016. Instead DeCarr will use this year to rebuild arm strength and innings count.
Dan Camarena- RHSP, 2015 Rank: T-22nd
The last of the 2015 TJS crew, I have this small bit of hope that Camarena can come back stronger and faster from it than the younger guys because he's pitched a full season's workload before and his strength was already based in command and location more than stuff. We'll see where the Yankees decide to get him his comeback work, but it's worth remembering that he was pitching in Double-A before he got hurt.
Chasen Shreve- LHRP, 2015 Rank: 24th
Finally another graduate! Shreve was regarded as the third most important piece of the Manny Banuelos-David Carpenter trade on New Year's Day 2015, and even with a very rocky finish to his regular season he still finished it as the most valuable. Shreve worked most of the season as an important part of Joe Girardi's bullpen, finishing with a 3.02 ERA (4.92 FIP) with 64 strikeouts in 58.1 IP. If he can fix what was broken in September, he should be one of Joe's leading middle relievers ahead of the late game big 3 this season.
Alex Palma- OF, 2015 Rank: 25th
Palma greatly outshined his younger outfield counterpart Leonardo Molina in the GCL in 2014, hitting .305/.318/.451 and earning himself a promotion to full-season ball with Low-A Charleston last year. That debut proved to be much more of a struggle, as Palma hit a meager .202/.248/.256 in 303 PA. He's still got some upside at age 20, but it's hard to stay in the lower third of the rankings when you have a bad season.
Angel Aguilar- SS, 2015 Rank: 27th
Identical situation to Palma's. Performed well in the DSL upon signing, raked in the GCL in 2014 (.910 OPS, 7 HR in 167 PA), struggled at Low-A Charleston last year (.229/.283/.330). In an organization that has a ton of middle infield prospects moving up and performing well, it's easy to get left behind. Aguilar needs to hit again if he wants to stay in the mix.
Jose Pirela- Util Man, 2015 Rank: 28th
A sleeper to make the Opening Day roster in spring camp, Pirela's prospect status was basically tied to that possibility as he was a little older than your average prospect. He bounced back and forth between the Majors and SWB last season, swinging a good bat in Triple-A again but less so in the Majors. He also proved to be more of a utility man in name only, looking rough defensively at the big league level. He was traded to San Diego this offseason and he'll look to follow the Yangervis Solarate path to more playing time out there.
Gosuke Katoh- 2B, 2015 Rank: 29th
Last year was a repeat of what we already knew about Katoh. He can hit rookie league pitching (.842 OPS for Pulaski) but he can't come close to hitting A-ball pitching (.161/.264/.202 in 149 Low-A PA). It's concerning that he's gotten worse in 2 years at Charleston and his strikeout rates are hideous. Whatever the coaching staffs have tried to do to work with Katoh isn't taking and at this point he's a non-prospect.
** Coming up tomorrow- The Honorable Mentions **