Where Are They Now: Yankees Top 30 Prospects (2016) – #30-26
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 #30 through #26:
Prospect #30: Trey Amburgey (OF)
2016 Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 65 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? Minor League Free Agent (Elected on November 7th, 2021)
Where Was He Last? Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A, 2021)
This past season, Trey Amburgey made his MLB debut with a start in Right Field on July 16th against the Boston Red Sox. Amburgey played 7 innings, going 0-2 with a strikeout before being subbed out for Greg Allen. Amburgey would also play against the Red Sox on July 18th, also going 0-2 with a strikeout before being subbed out for Brett Gardner after a hamstring injury. He was then placed on the 10-Day IL before being returned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Amburgey spent the rest of the season in Triple-A, hitting to an overall triple-slash of .276/.337/.475 (.812 OPS).
Amburgey was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 13th round of the 2015 MLB Draft from St. Petersburg College. He spent 2015-2021 within the Yankees organization before electing free agency earlier this month.
What Was His Value? Officially, -0.1 bWAR at the MLB level.
Prospect #29: Donny Sands (C)
2016 Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? Philadelphia Phillies Organization (40-Man Roster; Unassigned Level)
Where Was He Last? Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A, 2021)
Donny Sands had spent nearly 4 years in the Yankees minor leagues between Rookie and Class-A Advanced ball, each year showing less and less promise with the bat. As a catching prospect though, it is to be expected for a player out of high school to take a few years to break out of the lower minors as teams work on drilling in the fundamentals of the position. Miraculously, after a year away from game experience in minor league baseball due to the pandemic, Donny Sands came back and put up an excellent combined season at Double and Triple-A (hitting better in Triple-A too) towards a triple-slash of .261/.326/.466 (.793 OPS).
Sands was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 8th round of the 2015 MLB Draft from Salpointe High School in Tucson, AZ. He was looking to be a 3rd catching option for the Yankees going into 2022. After years off the prospect board, he even made it back this season! However, as he was needing Rule 5 draft protection he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with Nick Nelson for INF T.J. Rumfield and LHP Joel Valdez (neither of whom were on the Phillies Top-30 in 2021).
What Was His Value? Trade fodder for two low-level prospects.
Prospect #28: Thairo Estrada (SS)
2016 Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? San Francisco Giants (40-Man Roster; MLB/Triple-A)
Where Was He Last? New York Yankees (MLB/Triple-A, 2019-2020)
Of the 5 players today, Thairo Estrada played the most games for the Yankees at the MLB level. Estrada played in 35 games in 2019 (starting 16) and another 26 in 2020 (starting 15), and while he had some time at the MLB level he was mainly used as a back-up up-and-down infield option. He actually hit pretty well in 2019 to the tune of a .250/.294/.438 triple-slash (.732 OPS), but faltered a ton in 2020 with a .167/.231/.229 triple-slash (.460 OPS). However, the most interesting part about Estrada’s getting to the MLB is how before the 2018 he got shot in a robbery in Venezuela, and he had to leave the bullet in his hip for 6 months until his 2018 season ended early due to a back injury.
A 2012 international signing by the New York Yankees, Estrada spent 10 years in the Yankees organization before being DFA’ed on April 8th, 2021 to make room for Rougned Odor. On April 11th, 2021 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations. In 2021, over 52 games, Estrada hit to a .273/.333/.479 triple-slash (.813 OPS).
What Was His Value? Officially, +0.2 bWAR and cash considerations from the San Francisco Giants.
Prospect #27: Leonardo Molina (OF)
2016 Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 65 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? No longer playing baseball
Where Was He Last? Tampa Tarpons (Class-A Advanced, 2019) and SI Yankees (Short Season, 2019)
Leonardo Molina was the 5th ranked international prospect leading into the 2013 IFA class (he was one spot ahead of Rafael Devers, though below Eloy Jimenez (#1) and Gleyber Torres (#3)) and the Yankees made sure to pay for the talent, signing him to a $1.4M signing bonus. He would start his professional career in 2014 and stay with the Yankees organization through 2019 when he made it to his highest level of play with the Tampa Tarpons. While at Class-A Advanced, Molina hit to a .237/.283/.333 triple-slash (.616 OPS) with 2 Home Runs.
After the 2020 season was cancelled, after the MLB season ended Molina elected free agency. He has yet to sign with another organization involved with the MLB. His latest photo on Getty Images is from 2014, his latest news on MLBTR is from 2013, and the latest on Twitter about him from the Yankees was when he signed. Needless to say, I think his days in the MiLB are done.
What Was His Value? -$1.4 Million Dollars.
Prospect #26: Bryan Mitchell (RHP)
2016 Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 60 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Where Is He Now? Major League Free Agent
Where Was He Last? Miami Marlins Organization (MLB/Triple-A, 2021)
Bryan Mitchell may not have played the most games for the Yankees of the players on this list, though that’s because he is a pitcher. Instead, he does have the most time at the MLB level with the Yankees, spending some time with the team between 2014 and 2017. In total, Mitchell pitched in 48 games for the Yankees, starting 9 games and finishing 17 others, totaling 98.1 innings with a 4.91 ERA. (Let’s also not forget that Mitchell also played an inning at first base in 2017.)
Mitchell was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB Draft from Rockingham County High School in Reidsville, NC. After spending 8 years in the organization, he was traded in a salary dump move with 3B Chase Headley to the San Diego Padres for OF Jabari Blash. After the 2018 season, Mitchell spent the 2019 season in the minor leagues with the Padres before becoming a free agent. He signed on with the Chicago White Sox in January, 2020 but was released before being used in August, 2020. Mitchell then signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in January 2021, was released in July, 2021 after spending time in Triple-A and was signed by the Miami Marlins before finishing out the year splitting time between the MLB and Triple-A. After the 2021, Mitchell elected free agency again. I look forward to finding out what team he signs with this upcoming January.
What Was His Value? Officially, -0.2 bWAR, though also release from Chase Headley and $13M left on a contract
What’ve We Learned So Far?
So far, the collective value 5-years out from the 2016 Yankees #26-30 prospects is- well- at the Major League Level they’re combined for -0.1 bWAR over a collective 111 games (63 from position players, 48 from pitchers). While 3 of these 5 players have now made the MLB, only Estrada has a clear path to more playing time, coming as a back-up infielder on a cheap contract. Outlook: Easily Replaceable
Collectively when it comes to signing bonuses, the Yankees spent a combined $2,449,000 to sign the five players above ($1.4M for Molina, $800K for Mitchell, $100K each for Amburgey and Sands, and $49K for Estrada). Even though we do not know how much money the Yankees got from the San Francisco Giants in their trade for Estrada, the Yankees are actually in the green overall as the Bryan Mitchell trade saved them from a $13 Million commitment. Outlook: Positive (And about $10,551,000 worth of net positivity)
As for players the Yankees have received in return in trades, Jabari Blash never cracked the MLB roster with the Yankees (and was later traded to the Angels before the 2018 season for cash considerations). Blash played just 24 games with the Angels and is now retired. Rumfield and Valdez are low-level prospects with very little upside. Outlook: Not even considered
Now, these are the bottom-tier of the Yankees Top-30 prospects. You wouldn’t really expect them to have delivered much value to the team at the MLB level. However, that is exactly the point I am trying to make with this weeks series of posts. Look at the Yankees current bottom 5 prospects out of their Top-30. If I told you that you could trade all 5 of them with Zack Britton to remove his $14 Million commitment from the books would you do it?
Of course you would. That’s what the Yankees (in effect) got out of the 5 players above. The best moves they made with these prospects was to trade them away.
Prospects should not keep a team from making deals for good players. That is the point of this experiment. The Yankees should be willing to trade their top prospects if it means they get established big league talent back.