SSTN Top 15 Prospects: Our Honorable Mentions
As you’ve seen over the last week here at SSTN, all of our writers have very different opinions on a variety of prospects in the Yankee system. I encourage you to read our kick-off post, which documents the process for selecting the SSTN Top 15 Prospects. As part of that process, I asked each of our writers to list a couple of prospects who didn’t fit into their Top 15 list, but were worthy of mention. Today, our writers explain what they see in the prospects that made their Honorable Mentions.
As a refresher, here’s how our writers ranked the Yankees’ prospects:
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Without any further ado, here’s what our writers have to say:
Nick Nelson – A hard thrower who can touch 98 mph with a variety of other pitches, he has climbed the Yankees Minor Leagues and was pitching as high as Triple-A last year. He has a lot of promise. He struck out 114 batters in 89.2 innings. That’s always a promising sign. The fact that the Yankees have been keeping him as a starting pitcher is also a good sign. Because he isn’t a big name (yet) and because so many of the other pitchers in the system seem to have higher upside, Nelson, for me, ranked as an honorable mention. What is true, often times though, is that it’s the guys who consistently put up solid numbers that become effective big leaguers. I’m high on Nick Nelson.
T.J. Sikkema – I am always high on left-handed pitchers with a variety of “stuff” and the ability to locates and an understanding of how to pitch. Those words define T.J. Sikkema. Crafty lefties have a way of sticking around forever in the big leagues (once they get there). Sikkema is young, he was only drafted last year. He has promise, but his climb, because he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, will most likely be steady, if slow. He’ll have to prove himself again and again. The right kind of lefty pitcher can thrive for the Yankees. Sikkema could be that pitcher.
Canaan Smith – I also like lefty bats who should hit for power and know the strike zone. Smith’s path to the big leagues hasn’t been smooth, his 2018 was a disaster, but he has the tools to succeed. He has a plus arm. He can steal bases. He needs another year to demonstrate if he is the player who hit under .200 in 2018 or over .300 in 2019, but is he puts it all together and keeps his patience at the plate, he would be a star, or at least an above average player for the Yankees. I hope so. I really like this player!
Both of my honorable mentions are very similar: two power pitchers with great upside. I left both players off my list because they have been in the minors for several years now and have yet to show the progress necessary to warrant still being in my top-15.
Medina has a plus fastball with a solid curveball and he has struck hitters out at every level. The problem? Medina has yet to put everything together. He only made 22 appearances across 2017-2018, and he allowed 70 walks in 74.2 innings. He turned things around at the end of last year (15 walks and 63 strikeouts in 42.2 innings). Also, Medina is only 21 and is a great talent. I still need more time to see Medina truly blossom over the course of a full season before I move him up.
Abreu also comes with a great fastball and a ton of potential. My main issue with Abreu is his control. In his career, Abreu has 211 walks in 439 innings (4.3 BB/9). Las year, he walked 53 batters in 96.2 innings after walking 32 in 72.2 innings the year before. Also, unlike Medina, Abreu’s strikeout rates have plateaued around 9 K/9. That is fine but not superstar worthy. Again, he still has the potential, but the clock is ticking on Abreu.
Anthony Garcia OF
Garcia is a crapshoot but a crapshoot with power. He hit 10 home runs in only 175 plate appearances as an 18 year old in rookie ball in 2018. That’s demonstrated 40 home run power as a 17 year old. He walked 10.3% of the time. The problem is that he struck out 41.7% of the time. He needs to learn at least some plate discipline to be useful. He missed almost all of 2019 and will miss most of 2020 along with everyone else.
Raimfer Salinas OF
Salinas got a $1.85 million signing bonus. He supposedly has the potential for plus defense in center. In 173 plate appearances in rookie ball, he hit 3 home runs and had a .145 ISO as an 18 year old. Both quite nice. Alas, he struck out 26% of the time and walked only 4% of the time. You don’t have to be a great hitter if you can defend in center. And if you have 15-20 home run power, you don’t have to even hit for much average. So there’s a chance he turns into something.
Anthony Seigler’s Yankee career was documented very well by Andy’s article this past Monday. The Yanks’ 2018 first-round pick came advertised as having great tools behind the plate with the potential for growth at the bat. What has caused him to drop from my Top 15? Well he’s been bad, really bad at bat.
The wild card in this has been his health, as injuries have stolen much of his early professional baseball career. He gets honorable mention from me as I’m optimistic that if he gets some sustained playing time his bat will come around to at least a serviceable level.
Brandon Lockridge was drafted in the fifth round of that same 2018 draft. The Yanks knew they were getting elite speed, but per MLB.com, his power bat has also come around after a mechanical fix upon joining the Yankee orgaization. He now projects as a power/speed 20-20 player who can handle center and left fields defensively. He’s 23 and just finished a full season of A-ball, so a “hot prospect” he is not, but the potential looks to be there to contribute to a major league team within the next few years.
Matt Sauer P
Matt Sauer is a seemingly forgotten prospect in the Yankee Universe. Sauer was a 2nd round draft pick by the Yankees in 2017, and while his numbers don’t jump off the page, he was relatively successful at Staten Island in 2019 despite being 2.5 years younger than the average player at that level of the minors. Injuries have plagued Sauer throughout his time with the Yankees, culminating with Tommy John Surgery in 2019. However, Sauer has the potential for an above-average fastball and a good curveball. Sauer’s delivery is all over the place, but when he repeats it, the delivery is capable of throwing off hitters’ timing. Sauer reminds me a bit of Clarke Schmidt, but with a tick less stuff. There’s enough here to make Sauer a good reliever, but if the change-up and command comes around, Sauer could be a mid-rotation type arm.
Gomez was included in the SSTN Top 15 Prospects, but I wasn’t able to squeeze him in to my list. Like many Yankee prospects, Gomez added significant velocity in the Yankees’ program. Between the velocity and long levers in all four limbs, Gomez has tantalizing potential, but I don’t see a ton of evidence that Gomez can really pitch yet. Right now, the curveball comes and goes, and Gomez’s feel for a change-up is non-existent. Gomez absolutely has potential if he puts it all together, but I don’t see enough pieces yet to elevate him above some of the mid-high minors guys who have solid big league floors in my personal prospect rankings. I gave him an Honorable Mention because further progression in 2020 may force me to change my tune.