Fangraphs review of top six Yankees prospects fuels excitement with a reality check

Yankees budding stars Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells

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As the New York Yankees frantically scouting outside the organization to reinforce their rebuilding for the 2024 season, it is time to take a look at their farm talents. They have many budding stars refining their craft, nurturing aspirations of gracing the roster of the Bronx Bombers. An analysis by Fangraphs provides an in-depth insight into how they are going to fare.

NameAgeHighest LevelPosition
Spencer Jones22.6AACF
Austin Wells24.4MLBC
Jasson Domínguez20.9MLBCF
Roderick Arias19.3RSS
Chase Hampton22.4AASP
Will Warren24.5AAASP
George Lombard Jr.18.1ASS
Henry Lalane19.6RSP
Brando Mayea18.3RCF
Jorbit Vivas22.8AAA2B
Carlos Lagrange20.6RSP
Agustin Ramirez22.3AAC
Jared Serna21.6A+2B
Edgleen Perez17.6RC
Chalniel Arias19.9RSP
Sabier Marte19.4RSP
Everson Pereira22.7MLBLF
Brock Selvidge21.3A+SP
Clayton Beeter25.2AAASIRP
Luis Gil25.5MLBSIRP
Yoendrys Gómez24.2MLBMIRP
Keiner Delgado19.5R2B
Roc Riggio21.1A2B
Kyle Carr21.2RSP
Antonio Gomez22.1A+C
Brendan Beck25.2A+SP
Luis Serna19.4RSP
Gabriel Terrero18.2R2B
Ben Rice24.4AADH
Angel Benitez20.3RSP
Jordarlin Mendoza20.1RSIRP
Carlos Narvaez25.1AAAC
Alexander Vargas22.1A+SS
Rafael Flores22.7A+C
Jerson Alejandro17.4RSP
Matt Krook29.2MLBMIRP

Spencer Jones: A towering talent under construction

instagram – spencerjones
Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Vanderbilt (NYY)
Age22.6Height6′ 6″Weight235Bat / ThrL / LFV55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
HitRaw PowerGame PowerRunFieldingThrow    

Envision a formidable figure commanding center field, wielding a powerful bat capable of launching colossal home runs. Meet Spencer Jones, the Yankees’ first-round sensation with an immense ceiling and some captivating nuances.

Jones’ journey defies convention. Injuries and a transition from pitching to hitting cast shadows on his high school stardom. However, beneath the surface, raw talent pulsates. Recognizing this, the Yankees secured him late in the first round and unleashed him at Double-A Somerset.

His power is indisputable. A future with 40 home runs is not a mere fantasy, but tempering this potential demands patience. Jones is still fine-tuning his swing, a giant navigating the dance of speed and precision. Expect strikeouts, abundant and bold, each misses echoing the confidence of a behemoth pursuing elusive prey.

Center field calls out, but it’s a dance Jones is only beginning to learn. His two-way background and imposing stature suggest potential awkwardness down the line. Yet, with each repetition, the Yankees prospect moves with increasing grace, the promise of elegance within the towering figure.

Immediate fireworks should not be anticipated. Jones is a project, a masterpiece awaiting sculpting. Picture St. Patrick’s Cathedral, not a swiftly erected summer residence. The years 2024 and probably 2025 will see him refining his craft at Somerset and Scranton, mastering the intricacies of professional baseball.

The Yankees’ quest for a championship will influence his progression. However, barring a sudden surge to a title, a late-2025 call-up is likely, preserving option years. By 2027, when the Yankees prospect fully embraces his power, the Bronx may witness the construction of a cathedral, brick by home run, swing by swing.

Spencer Jones is a work in progress, a raw gem with facets only beginning to catch the light. But the potential is a skyscraper touching the clouds, and in Jones’ hands, even the most colossal home runs might appear routine.

Austin Wells: From rough diamond to Yankees shining star

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Arizona (NYY)
Age24.4Height6′ 0″Weight220Bat / ThrL / RFV50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
HitRaw PowerGame PowerRunFieldingThrow    

Austin Wells, once clouded by uncertainties, has emerged as a prime example of the fusion of innate talent and meticulous development in the Yankees farm. While not without imperfections, his offensive prowess signals a potential end to the Arizona curse that has lingered in Major League Baseball since Scott Kingery’s downturn.

Wells’ swing is a masterpiece, seamlessly combining barrel control and natural lift to produce both consistent contact and formidable power. Even if his catching skills fall short, the Yankees catcher’s offensive capabilities alone ensure significant value. Though peak exit velocities in 2023 didn’t turn heads, a persistent rib injury could explain the temporary dip in explosiveness.

Previous concerns about his susceptibility to high and away fastballs seem assuaged by his late 2023 performance. While his uphill swing makes him prone to dipping under pitches in that zone, his ability to connect and pose a threat alleviates worries. During the Yankees backstop’s brief 2023 debut, a notable challenge was his tendency to chase and miss changeups. Given his consistent 11% minor league walk rate, the struggles in the big leagues likely stem from jitters, and his true skill level is expected to align with his previous consistency.

However, even with assumed average hitting and power, Wells’ success hinges on maintaining his role behind the plate. A high school shoulder injury impacted his ability to throw out runners, resulting in an 82% success rate for baserunners against the Yankees prospect in the pros. While his pop times are reasonable, inconsistent footwork often leads to inaccurate throws.

Despite these challenges, Wells has exhibited commendable progress in receiving and blocking. His below-average hands and limited lateral mobility haven’t hindered his growth, partly owing to his one-knee stance. Skepticism about his future as a catcher has waned, replaced by newfound optimism.

The Yankees’ strategy to carry three catchers could prove advantageous for Wells. It allows him to catch against pitchers skilled at holding runners while securing playing time in left field (a position he dabbled in during college). This approach facilitates his transition to big-league defense while maximizing offensive contributions. Ideally, his throwing skills will improve sufficiently for him to become the primary catcher in the foreseeable future.

Austin Wells’ journey is one of conquering doubts and unlocking potential. While he may not be the finished product, his raw talent is undeniable, and the progress the Yankees prospect has made is promising. The future appears bright for this gem in the rough, and if his current trajectory persists, the Bronx may soon witness a catcher who dazzles with his bat and surprises with his glove.

Jasson Dominguez: The powerhouse on rehab crossroads

Yankees rookie sensation Jasson Dominguez
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age20.9Height5′ 9″Weight220Bat / ThrS / RFV50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
HitRaw PowerGame PowerRunFieldingThrow    

Jasson Domínguez, often hailed as “Baseball’s Zion Williamson,” burst onto the baseball scene in 2019 with an impressive $5.1 million price tag and tools as remarkable as his physique. This switch-hitting Yankees center fielder, blessed with plus speed and prodigious power, resembling a 16-year-old version of Mike Trout, had scouts pondering his physical future, akin to the hype surrounding Zion. The pandemic added an extra layer of uncertainty to his development, a common challenge for high-risk prospects like him.

Despite initial struggles in 2021, particularly with contact, Domínguez’s rise was swift. The Yankees prospect navigated through the minors, making his mark in the big leagues at 20, where he showcased his trademark power in an eight-game stint before encountering an unfortunate setback: a UCL tear necessitating Tommy John surgery in late September. With a nine-to-10-month rehabilitation ahead, his anticipated return is set for June or July of 2024.

The driving force of Domínguez’s prospect status is his formidable power. He possesses exceptional strength and bat speed for his age, potentially enough to overshadow other shortcomings. Nevertheless, lingering questions persist. The Yankees prospect’s outfield defense lacks fluidity and polish, and his ability to consistently make contact, from either side of the plate, requires refinement.

Predicting his future trajectory is a challenge. While it’s common to confidently project power for other 20-year-olds, Domínguez’s fully developed frame gives pause. The bulk suggests a potential near-term decline in foot speed of the Yankees prospect. To evolve into a true impact player, emphasis must be placed on either his center-field instincts or his ability to make consistent contact. Given his limited experience in professional baseball, the former seems to be a more prudent focus.

During his Tommy John rehabilitation, maintaining a lean and agile physique will be crucial. Preserving the Yankees prospect’s athleticism provides a better chance of retaining a premium defensive position, where his “power-over-hit” skill set can truly shine. Domínguez’s path may be strewn with potential challenges, but his undeniable talent remains. The rehabilitation journey ahead will be his crucible, determining the trajectory of this power-packed prospect toward potential stardom in Major League Baseball.

Roderick Arias: A power-packing puzzle

Yankees prospect Roderick Arias is touted as the next phenom.
Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age19.3Height6′ 0″Weight190Bat / ThrS / RFV50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
HitRaw PowerGame PowerRunFieldingThrow    

In 2022, Roderick Arias experienced a nightmarish debut in the Dominican Summer League. As a January signee with a $4 million contract, the Yankees prospect struggled, managing only a .194 average with a strikeout rate surpassing 30%, plagued by a persistent hand injury. Fast forward to 2023, and the narrative took a turn. Before a broken finger interrupted his progress, Arias showcased a transformed performance, boasting a remarkable .267/.423/.505 line in 27 games.

The Arias of that period emerged as a power-hitting shortstop prospect, revealing a hit tool in need of refinement. He swung with the intensity of a batter driven by revenge, each healthy swing targeting grand slam territory. This aggressive approach fueled his impressive bat speed, making him a constant threat to launch powerful hits whenever he made contact.

Defensively, the Yankees prospect demonstrated wizardry at shortstop, exhibiting acrobatic skills paired with a cannon-like arm. These attributes, coupled with his raw power, position him as a candidate for stardom, even though his contact-averse approach may result in a notable number of strikeouts.

His swing reflects the typical characteristics of a left-handed batter who favors low pitches (with minimal excursions into right-handed territory in 2023). This exposes him to the challenges of rising fastballs in the top half of the zone. However, given his limited professional experience and injury setbacks, there is room for adjustments. With time and game repetitions, his hit tool can be refined, potentially smoothing out the rough edges in his game.

Anticipate Arias’ trajectory to mirror that of Ronny Mauricio, another sizable, switch-hitting shortstop with power and a penchant for strikeouts. Yet, Arias brings an additional layer of intrigue to the puzzle with his potential for defensive brilliance. The looming question is whether he can enhance his bat control and translate his defensive prowess to the Major Leagues. Only time will reveal the answers, but one certainty remains: Roderick Arias stands as a power-packed prospect, poised to script an enthralling chapter in the Yankees’ future.

Chase Hampton: From sleepy speedster to velocity Voltron

Yankees pitching prospect Chase Hampton at their training ground in Tampa in 2023.
Drafted: 6th Round, 2022 from Texas Tech (NYY)
Age22.4Height6′ 2″Weight225Bat / ThrR / RFV50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
55/6055/6055/6030/3040/4540/4592-96 / 97   

Remember Chase Hampton, the sophomore sensation from Lubbock, whose triple-digit fastball struck out batters with an almost supernatural fervor? The same individual who seemingly disappeared after the draft, only to reemerge in big league spring training, continuing to throw scorching heat? Yes, that’s him, and the exciting news is that the Yankees prospect hasn’t lost a step.

In the recent season, Hampton unleashed a 93-96 mph fastball that left Sally League hitters utterly perplexed (a staggering 40.5% K rate, to be exact). It was as if the Yankees prospect had accumulated his previous career innings in one go, solidifying the fact that his newfound velocity wasn’t a fleeting illusion. However, his journey wasn’t without challenges. The second half at Double-A Somerset witnessed occasional hiccups: his command wavered, arm action became erratic, and walks started accumulating. Yet, for a pitcher essentially throwing blindfolded with a relatively lengthy delivery, maintaining such heat over 106.2 innings is undeniably impressive.

While Hampton’s arm action might suggest a future as a relief pitcher, his fastball operates with a mind of its own. It ascends the ladder with a life of its own, diminishing the necessity for pinpoint accuracy crucial for a starter’s survival. The Yankees prospect can consistently target the top half of the zone, reinforcing his projection as a starter. However, the fastball is just one element of Hampton’s three-pitch arsenal. Alongside it is his 12-to-6 curveball, a devastating weapon with immense potential, and a mid-80s two-plane slider that moves gracefully, metaphorically dancing like a sugarplum fairy. When combined, these three pitches not only trouble hitters during subsequent encounters but also strategically set them up for the high-velocity finisher that leaves them swinging into the next week.

Of course, a trace of risk lingers. Hampton’s consistent strike-throwing has been a relatively recent development in his career, akin to a Clarke Schmidt-esque journey of finding his footing in the rotation. However, the Yankees prospect’s fastball acts as a magician, capable of concealing occasional command hiccups. It’s akin to invisible tape for wobbly mechanics.

This velocity virtuoso is poised to become a mid-rotation starter for a contender, with a potential debut expected in the latter half of 2024. So, keep a close watch on Chase Hampton—the prodigious speedster who awakened his inner inferno and is blazing a trail straight to the Bronx.

Will Warren: From unselected underdog to top slot contender

Drafted: 8th Round, 2021 from Southeastern Louisiana (NYY)
Age24.5Height6′ 2″Weight200Bat / ThrR / RFV50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
55/5570/7040/4040/5050/5045/5092-95 / 97   

Will Warren‘s journey to the Bronx has been far from a linear path. During his college years, he oscillated between the bullpen and rotation, and the 2020 draft came and went without his name being called. Yet, Warren possessed an insatiable hunger for success. In 2021, he claimed the starting role, impressing skeptics with an outstanding season, despite wielding a relatively modest fastball. Much like a pitcher refining his curveball, Warren’s trajectory took an upward curve of its own.

After the 2021 draft, the Yankees temporarily sidelined him, and when he returned in 2022, he had undergone a remarkable transformation. A new addition to his arsenal—a wicked breaking ball—accompanied a revamped fastball, now reaching speeds of around 90-91 mph. This wasn’t a fleeting surge; Warren sustained this enhanced performance over two seasons at Somerset and Scranton.

This prompts a crucial question: who deserves a shot at the 2024 Yankees rotation? While players like Luis Gil and Clayton Beeter occupy coveted 40-man roster spots, there’s a growing murmur suggesting, “Don’t underestimate Warren.” His track record of consistent strikes and recent good health positions him as a potential surprise for Opening Day.

Granted, Warren’s mechanics might resemble more of a chaotic rock concert than an elegant ballet. His cross-body delivery and head movement may lack textbook finesse. However, they undeniably work. For three years, spanning innings from 90 to 130, Warren has flourished, demonstrating that his unorthodox style can yield poetic results on the mound.

His arsenal features five pitches, each a formidable weapon in its own right. The standout offerings include his heavy sinker, occasionally flirting with 95 mph, and his sweeping slider, boasting movement reminiscent of Blake Treinen’s. These pitches paint diverse corners of the strike zone, leaving batters frustrated and off-balance. In 2023, Warren’s slider generated an impressive 20% swinging-strike rate, while his sinker induced a groundball rate of 67%.

Additionally, the Yankees prospect deploys a four-seam fastball, a climbing chase pitch, and an upper-80s cutter, which has become his preferred weapon against left-handed hitters, replacing the less effective changeup. While the changeup shows promise, with some cutters resembling splitter-like shapes, there is room for further refinement. The addition of a true splitter, a swing-and-miss weapon against lefties, could potentially complete his arsenal.

Even without it, Warren already exhibits versatility with his pitches. His repertoire draws parallels to Joe Musgrove’s (albeit with slightly less pinpoint command), and akin to Musgrove, the Yankees prospect carries the profile of a major-league-ready, mid-rotation starter.

Will Warren’s narrative is one of unwavering improvement, showcasing grit and adaptability. Don’t be surprised if this underdog unveils his inner ace on Opening Day, proving that sometimes, the most beautiful melodies emanate from the most unexpected instruments.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

Source: Fangraphs

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