Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2020: Josh Breaux (C, #23)
Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with C Josh Breaux.
Coming into the 2018 Draft, Josh Breaux was seen as potentially the best JuCo player available and became part of a 1-2 punch of catchers that the Yankees selected that year. A mildly disappointing 2018 season and a 2019 season where he missed 3 months due to an elbow injury have slowly dropped his prospect value over the past two years, but his high upside that resembles current Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has helped him maintain favor from prospect evaluators. Improvements are necessary for his future, but with more playing time it could come.
(Screenshot From New York Yankees Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC2eABRxFWg)
Josh Breaux, C (#23):
Age/Date of Birth: 22 Years Old (10/07/1997)
2019 Team(s): Charleston RiverDogs (Class A)
2019 MiLB Statistics: .271/.324/.518 (0.842 OPS), 13 HR, 49 RBIs, 15 Walks, 59 Strikeouts (51 Games, 199 At-Bats)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/220 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted by the New York Yankees with the 61st Pick (2nd Round) of the 2018 MLB Draft
MLB ETA: 2022
Josh Breaux Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
In what went down as one of the most apt-draft announcements in the 10 years of the Live MLB Draft on the MLB Network, when the New York Yankees selected Josh Breaux (pronounced ‘bro’) they had Nick Swisher at the podium. Coming out of McLennan Community College where he was considered one of the top JuCo players in the draft, the Yankees used the 61st Overall pick in the 2nd round to sign the catcher who was ranked #71 on the pre-draft 200. He agreed to nearly a $1.5 million bonus, decently above slot-value of $1.09 million. He did previously turn down an offer to sign in the 36th round with the Houston Astros the year prior, which greatly helped to increase his draft stock as he improved as a catcher. Two weeks after signing, Josh Breaux began his professional career in the Gulf Coast league (Rookie League).
Breaux would go on to spend about a week a half between the Gulf Coast Yankees West and East, where he only played 3 games, recording 1 hit, 1 walk, and a 1 strikeout. As with many college players-turned professional, it isn’t much about their statistics in the Rookie league, but for the team to get a feel for where to promote the player now that they have an all-encompassing view into their game and skill set. For Breaux, he was promoted to the Staten Island Yankees (Class A Short Season).
Breaux would spend the rest of the 2018 season in Staten Island, playing in 27 games and hitting to a triple-slash of .280/.295/.370 (0.665 OPS). While he had shown good power in the Cape Cod league the previous summer with 6 Home Runs, and also in JuCo with 37 Home Runs over 2 seasons, there was no reason for concern with the lack of pop- and thus a lower SLG and OPS- in his limited playing time. There was some concern in his lack of accuracy with his arm however, which is a top tool he has, as he only threw out 9% of baserunners in that first year of professional ball. However, his high ceiling and high draft rankings helped to propel him to #14 in the Yankees system at seasons end.
Starting 2019, Josh Breaux was again promoted up to the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A) where he started to show why he was so highly sought after the year prior. Hitting 7 Home Runs in his first 30 games, Josh Breaux was hitting to a triple-slash of .295/.323/.500 towards the end of May. This showing at the plate was stopped short however, as on May 23rd Josh Breaux was sent to the IL with an elbow injury. This was concerning as he battled elbow issues in college before being drafted, and after returning in mid-August Breaux spent most of his time as a designated hitter. At seasons end, Breaux only totaled 22 games behind the plate. He did show good power with 13 Home Runs over 51 games at the seasons end. This dropped his prospect stock from 15th at the pre-season to 21st after the draft. Since then, it has continued to slowly fall to 23rd.
Overall, Josh Breaux is a very big work in progress but many scouts see a very similar profile to Gary Sanchez in his overall game. He has great potential on offense with 35-40 home run potential in his future if he is able to make better decisions on swinging and increasing his fly ball rate. Defensively, Breaux has one of the best pure arms in the system, but lack of accuracy has led to a 16% caught stealing rate which needs to be improved. He also had a previous fall-back as a potential pitching option, but it seems as though many scouts now see that as a thing of the past with his recent and recurring elbow injury.
What Will the Future Hold?
With a ceiling that could match Gary Sanchez, but a floor that most likely prevents him from ever reaching the big leagues, Josh Breaux is a very interesting prospect. He is very much a work in progress across the board as stated above. Another season with Charleston seems like the most likely option for Breaux as he seems to have started to adapt on offense and would allow a bigger focus into his defensive game. A mid-season jump to the Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced) could also come, but would require vast improvements and health.
As high as some are on Josh Breaux, the most important tool to have is health and being able to be on the field. Some prospects, notably Jonathan Loaisiga in recent history, can hold on to top prospect rankings because of their great true talent even after years of injuries, but that is much harder to do for a catcher. Breaux will stick around on the list come the end of 2020 (barring any major set-backs) but will probably see a bit of a drop to his prospect stock unless he excels tremendously this year.