2020 Prospect Opportunities — Yankees

Today, we complete the American League East teams in our 2020 Prospect Opportunities series as I finish the division with the Yankees.

1B
At Risk: Luke Voit
Replacement: Mike Ford & Chris Gittens

Luke Voit came to the Yankees in 2018 with a bang, posting a .458 wOBA over a small sample. It was enough to win him the starting job in 2019, and although he predictably regressed, he still managed to post a solid .360 wOBA. But with no defensive value, the offensive bar is high. I like Voit, but he’s clearly at risk of losing his job.

Injuries opened up an opportunity for Mike Ford last year, and he took advantage, showing immense power en route to a .372 wOBA. He makes excellent contact and hits tons of fly balls, with the only real wart coming from a low BABIP. I’m not sure why a player with this skill set hasn’t gotten more of a chance in the past. He’s already 27, but he could easily hold his own with a starting job and he gains fantasy value in OBP leagues.

Chris Gittens is the only prospect in baseball earning a present Raw Power grade of 80! Sure, he’s old for a prospect (26 now), and he strikes out at a rate in the upper 20% range, but 80 grade raw power! It’s led to several minor league stints of 20%+ HR/FB rates, though his ISO marks have only barely been above .200. I’d love to see what he could do in Yankee Stadium.

3B
At Risk: Gio Urshela
Replacement: No one

Gio Urshela’s underlying skills suggest 2019’s breakout was real, but given his weak history, there’s certainly a chance it wasn’t and he loses his job.

Luckily, the Yankees don’t have any real prospects in the upper minors that could threaten to take Urshela’s job. Don’t forget that Miguel Andujar still exists. If Urshela fails, it’ll likely be him or some combination of infielders rotating over there.

LF
At Risk: Mike Tauchman
Replacement: Clint Frazier

Mike Tauchman was yet another castoff from another team that the Yankees picked up and performed admirably. Tauchman posted a .364 wOBA with strong plate discipline and power. He was even an elite defender by UZR/150. I think he’s good enough to keep his job, but like Voit and Urshela above, he’s at risk solely because of the limited sample of strong performance we have.

Seemingly every year, there’s a “FREE CLINT FRAZIER” chant, and yet he’s recorded just 429 plate appearances with the Yankees over the last three seasons. He’s shown good power, but his walk rate has been all over the map and he’ll need to raise it to offset all the strikeouts.

SP
At Risk: Jordan Montgomery
Replacement: Deivi Garcia

Jordan Montgomery returned from TJ surgery last year, ultimately throwing 7.2 innings between the Majors and minors. His velocity was good, which is a great sign. But we won’t know how his command is until we see him for a more extended period of time. There’s a chance he’s less effective, opening up an opportunity for another prospect.

Deivi Garcia is the team’s best prospect, armed with a 70 grade curveball and low-to-mid 90s fastball. Amazingly, he had posted a strikeout rate over 30% and SwStk% of at least 12% at every single stop prior to his Triple-A debut last year. At that level, his strikeout rate fell all the way to 25.3%, which is still fine, but nowhere near as dominant. He was still inducing whiffs though, which is a good sign. We don’t know what the Yankees have in mind for him in the near-term given he pitched as a starter and reliever at Triple-A, but he’s someone to keep an eye on.





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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These articles are very helpful, thanks.