It feels like the Yankees can do no wrong. They went out and stole Giancarlo Stanton… their club is littered with high-ceiling talent… and the minor league system still has a of gems, including underrated players like Matt Sauer and Miguel Andujar.
The Graduate: Aaron Judge, OF: He’s good. Really good.
First Taste of The Show: Miguel Andujar, 3B: I wrote a glowing report for Andujar in last year’s version of this series, and all those things continue to be true. The young third baseman showed very well in both double-A and triple-A, and even received a brief taste of The Show. He has a chance to be a .300 hitter with 20+ homers given his ability to make consistent, hard contact. Andujar is still too aggressive for his own good so his ability to produce a solid on-base average will rely heavily on the hit tool. I don’t think it’s out of line to expect an all-star caliber season or two from this prospect and I wouldn’t blame the Yankees if they decided to give Andujar a shot at the third base job in 2018 in an effort to save some money.
The Stud: Gleyber Torres, 3B: Throughout this report you’ll see I’ve hyped up Matt Sauer and Miguel Andujar but I’m going to throw some cold water on Torres. He’s a solid prospect but I don’t think he’s worthy of Top 10 in the Majors. That’s the New York Yankees hype train. Torres will be an average to above-average hitter (second, third or shortstop) capable of hitting .280-.300 with 15 home runs (or more if the juiced ball is here to stay). And the defence will be excellent (but not necessarily flashy). Depending on how he looks in the spring — after lost development time in 2017 due to injury — I could easily see the Yankees trotting out Miguel Andujar at third base and Torres at second base by early June (saving the club a lot of money from chasing after the likes of Mike Moustakas and/or Neil Walker).
The Draft Pick: Matt Sauer, RHP: I wasn’t a huge fan of the Yankees’ first pick of the 2017 draft (Clarke Schmidt) but they got a steal with Sauer. He already throws in the low-to-mid 90s and I expect there is more to come given his strong pitcher’s frame. And he could eventually have four average-or-better offerings — and possibly three plus offerings. His athleticism and the Yankees’ strong development staff should help him address any concerns with his delivery. I could see Sauer being the Yankees’ top pitching prospect by the end of 2018 with No. 2 starter potential if he develops as hoped (and avoids injury).
The Riser: Freicer Perez, RHP: I’m starting to think the Yankees are quietly infiltrating pro ball will rocket-armed cyborgs. They seemingly pull pitchers capable of throwing 95-100 mph out of thin air. Perez is the latest interesting arm and he stands 6-8 with more strength possibly to come on his frame. The 21-year-old pitcher has good control and is working to polish his control. If the secondary stuff doesn’t fully develop then he has high-leverage potential in the ‘pen. If he gets one of two plus secondary offerings, he could be a No. 3 starter.
The Sleeper: Jonathan Loaisiga, RHP: Signed way back in 2012 (by the Giants), injuries have decimated Loasiga’s career to date with just 35 innings thrown in the last four years. However, he has outstanding control and a mid-90s fastball with two secondary offerings that project as better than average down the line. I can’t see him being a starter long-term given the injury history and his slight frame but he could make an excellent (and quick-moving) reliever for the Yankees.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.