Where Are They Now: Yankees Top 30 Prospects (2016) – #20-16
At the end of the 2016 season the #1 prospect in the MLB was Corey Seager. Earlier this week he just got a contract for $325M over 10 years. This got me thinking: Where are the Yankees Top-30 prospects from that 2016 season?
Today we look at 2016 prospects #20 through #16:
Prospect #20: Jordan Montgomery (LHP)
2016 Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? New York Yankees (MLB, Starting Rotation)
Where Was He Last? New York Yankees
Great Yankees teams are built on two things: left-handed pitching and a left-handed hitting. Jordan “Gumby” Montgomery broke into the MLB in 2017 and looked to be a major piece in that puzzle after pitching to a 3.88 ERA over 155.1 innings as a rookie. However, the 2018-2020 seasons were filled with injuries/recovery which limited Montgomery to just 75.1 innings. In 2021, he finally replicated his rookie season statistics with a 3.83 ERA over 157.1 innings and a quiet +3.4 bWAR season. Montgomery again looks to be a solid piece, and needed lefty, for the Yankees rotation for the next few seasons.
Montgomery was selected in the 4th Round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina. The Yankees have two seasons of control left on Gumby through 2022 and 2023 and they are likely to tender him a contract worth about $4.5M for 2022 in his 2nd year of arbitration. This is the Yankees first “hit” on a prospect.
What Was His Value? Officially, 6.8 bWAR at the MLB level with room to continue to grow!
Prospect #19: Brady Lail (RHP)
2016 Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? Minor League Free Agent (Elected October 13th, 2021)
Where Was He Last? Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies: Triple-A, 2021)
Brady Lail played 2.2 innings at the MLB level for the New York Yankees, all during his MLB debut on August 12th, 2019 against the Baltimore Orioles in which he pitched to a 10.13 ERA after giving up a 3-run Home Run to Hanser Alberto, and he still got credited with a hold as the Yankees held on to win 11-8. The next day Lail was optioned back to the minor leagues, and the day following that he was DFA’ed from the Yankees 40-Man Roster. Lail stuck in the Yankees system between Triple and Double-A through the rest of the 2019 season before electing free agency.
Lail was an 18th Round draft pick by the New York Yankees from the 2012 MLB Draft out of Bingham High School in South Jordan, UT. After 9 years in the Yankees organization he elected free agency and signed with the Chicago White Sox. After 1.1 innings of work in Chicago in 2020, the Seattle Mariners claimed him off waivers and he gave them 17.0 innings of work between 2020 (15.0 IP, 4.80 ERA) and 2021 (2.0 IP, 13.50 ERA). The Philadelphia Phillies then selected him off waivers and Lail played out the rest of the 2021 season with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He is now a minor league free agent.
What Was His Value? Officially, -0.2 bWAR.
Prospect #18: Slade Heathcott (OF)
2016 Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? No longer playing baseball
Where Was He Last? Nashville Sounds (Oakland Athletics: Double-A, 2018)
2016 was near the end of the prospect pedigree of Slade Heathcott, who back in 2013 was considered a Top-100 prospect (#63) by Baseball America. His story is a prime example of why prospects are such a hard lottery to play. Slade Heathcott looked to have exactly what the Yankees should want: a left-handed bat with decent pop and a good ability to make contact with an above-average glove. However, he also had the other thing the Yankees love: injury histories. After being very limited through 7 minor league seasons, Heathcott made his MLB debut in 2015, playing 6 games before getting hurt. He would return for another 11 at the end of the season, including a game-winning 3-run HR in his first game back.
Slade Heathcott was the New York Yankees 1st Round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft from Texas High School in Texarkana, TX. He spent 7 years in the Yankees organization before being released early in 2016. Over the next three years Heathcott bounced around the minor leagues between the Chicago White Sox (2016), San Francisco Giants (2017), and Oakland Athletics (2018) organizations. Heathcott retired from professional baseball in January, 2019 to pursue a career in aviation as a commercial pilot.
What Was His Value? Officially, +0.4 bWAR.
Prospect #17: Mason Williams (OF)
2016 Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? Minor League Free Agent (Elected November 7th, 2021)
Where Was He Last? New York Mets (MLB/Triple-A, 2021)
Like Slade Heathcott (above, #18) the 2016 season was near the end of Mason Williams’ run as a top prospect in the MLB, however even more so than Heathcott. Ranked on BA for 2 years, MLB.com for 3 years, and Baseball Prospectus for 2 years as a prospect, Williams ranked best in 2013 as the 31st/41st/51st prospect across the three boards respectively. Another left-handed hitting outfielder, Williams looked at one point to be the Yankees future at center field. He made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2015- two years into the disastrous Jacoby Ellsbury contract- getting an important milestone out of the way with his 1st career Home Run (in a game the Yankees lost 11-2 to the Orioles). Williams wouldn’t stick at the level, though, spending short stints over 2015, 2016, and 2017 while totaling 25 MLB games.
Mason Williams was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 4th Round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of West Orange High School in Winter Garden, FL. After 8 years in the organization- and 3 years making short stints in the MLB- Williams became a free agent after 2017. Williams has yet to find stability at the MLB level and has been a journeyman outfielder for years. In 2018, Williams signed on with the Cincinnati Reds (playing in 51 games) and signed with them again in 2019, before being released halfway through the season. Williams then signed with the Baltimore Orioles for the rest of 2019 (11 games) and then re-signed for 2020 (10 games). In 2021, Williams signed with the New York Mets (17 games), and he is now a free agent again.
What Was His Value? Officially, -0.2 bWAR.
Prospect #16: Drew Finley (RHP)
2016 Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? Likely out of professional baseball
Where Was He Last? Tri-City Valley Cats (Independent Ball, Frontier League)
Drew Finley’s minor league career is, unfortunately, the case of many minor leaguers. A promising right-handed arm out of high school, scouts across the board were saying that Finley was one of the most polished pitchers available. Coming out of the same high school that produced Cole Hamels years earlier, Drew Finley also had some baseball pedigree through his father- the vice president of international and amateur scouting with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Could it have been some nepotism that helped Finley get drafted early? He did get traded to the Dodgers as soon as the Yankees started to give up on him.
Drew Finely was the third-round pick from the New York Yankees in the 2015 MLB Draft out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, CA. Finely spent 4 seasons in the New York Yankees organization, his final three at Class-A Short Season with increasing yearly ERA’s. After the 2018 season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Tim Locastro (who was then DFA’ed) and Finley spent the 2019 season with the Dodgers and was released from the Dodgers organization early in 2021. He last pitched 2.1 innings in the Frontier League, and his future as a professional baseball player looks bleak.
What Was His Value? -$950,000 signing bonus and Tim Locasto’s first Yankee ‘stint’ in 2019
What’ve We Learned So Far? (Part III)
For the first time in this series we’ve arrive at a prospect who has had a solid output at the MLB level, with (hopefully) much more to give after showing he is a 3+ bWAR pitcher when healthy over a full season. These 5 players combined for 120 MLB games (77 from Montgomery) and +6.8 bWAR (+6.8 from Montgomery) for the Yankees. Outlook: Not replaceable, but not favorable
Collectively when it comes to signing bonuses, the Yankees spent a combined $5,249,000 to sign the five players above ($2.2M for Heathcott, $1.45M for Williams, $950K for Finley, and $424K for Montgomery and $225K for Lail). While Montgomery has been a good- though inconsistent- contributor. If Montgomery was healthy this would be a great group, but the constant working around his injuries has been another obstacle. Outlook: Meh
Only one player in this group was traded, that being Drew Finley for Tim Locastro. The Yankees then DFA’ed him before that next season began. Outlook: At least they tried?
We’re entering into a crop of prospects who should be making MLB appearances, as have these 5 players today. Combined from prospects 30-16, these 15 players have played 265 games in pinstripes/road grays. Together they’ve combined for +5.9 bWAR. Together they’ve cost the Yankees $10,678,000 in signing bonuses (not counting MLB or MiLB salaries), and they have still helped relieve the Yankees of $13,000,000 in contractual obligations (thanks to Bryan Mitchell). Overall, they’re beating the league average bWAR/Millions salary thanks a lot to Jordan Montgomery and they’re still in the green on money thanks to Bryan Mitchell.
Let’s see if this changes at all again tomorrow.