A Minor Review of 2016: New York Yankees

Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues.

The Graduate: Gary Sanchez (C): The 23-year-old Sanchez needed just 53 games to convince the Yankees to go all in and send veteran catcher Brian McCann packing. The ball absolutely screams off the rookie’ bat and he slugged 20 home runs in his debut — en route to a 1.032 OPS. He struck out a lot (25%) and saw his numbers dip noticeably during his second month of his debut leading to some questions: Was the league beginning to adjust to him, or was he just tiring after never playing into September in the past? Still, he projects as an above-average hitter and has improved his defence significantly — making him a must-have in keeper leagues (and all other leagues, for the matter). Sanchez should open 2017 with some pretty hefty expectations and it will be interesting to see if he can live up to them.

The Riser: Miguel Andujar (3B): Shortstop Gleyber Torres is perhaps enjoying the biggest value spike these days but I’m going to pick someone who was in the Yankees system the entire year. And Andujar is perhaps the biggest sleeper in a system that can’t often shield prospects from the general baseball public (because Yankees prospects often receive excessive hype). The young third baseman has plus raw power and makes impressive contact for a 21 year old — and it should only improve as it becomes more useable in games. He’s still too aggressive but that should improve with time. Andujar has a cannon for an arm and has shown enough aptitude to stick at the hot corner; he might even become better than average with more experience. If Chase Headley continues to underwhelm with the Yankees, Andujar could reach the Majors in the second half of 2017.

The Tumbler: Jacob Lindgren (RHP): When Lindgren was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft, it looked like he might be a quick mover who would secure a role in the Majors no later than 2015. Command issues and injuries threw a wrench in those expectations and the young hurler finally succumbed to Tommy John surgery in August. He’s now thrown just 36 innings in the past two seasons. When fully healthy, Lindgren has two plus pitches in his fastball and slider but the layoff definitely won’t help the command issues.

The ’16 Draft Pick: Blake Rutherford (OF): Selected 18th overall in 2016, Rutherford has the potential to develop five average or better tools. He projects to hit for average (He produced a .351 average in his debut) and could develop 15-20 home run power as he matures. He also runs well but it remains to be seen how much base-stealing acumen he’ll display. Rutherford also shows solid defensive skills and could reach the Majors as either a center- or a right-fielder. He’s a long-term project that won’t sniff the Majors until 2019 at the very earliest.

The Lottery Ticket: Chance Adams (RHP): Adams isn’t the typical raw lottery ticket that I tend to write about because it’s pretty clear he’s going to pitch in the Majors — and quite likely in 2017 — but his role remains up in the air. The 2015 draft pick was a college reliever who also performed that role in his freshman season in pro ball. However, the Yankees moved him into a starting role in 2016 and he dominated minor league hitters by holding them to a .169 batting average with 144 strikeouts in 127.1 innings. There are some questions around how well his stuff will play in the Majors because his command is inconsistent (unlike his control which is very good) and his secondary stuff still needs work. The worst-case scenario likely has Adams applying his trade (and mid-90s heater) in a big league bullpen. But my money is on him developing into a better-than-expected big league starter.

For reference sake, here is the 2015 Review.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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