Top 5 Prospects for 2015: New York Yankees

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshmen contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: New York doesn’t have the deepest system but it continues to produce big league contributors and its Class of 2015 could be one of the best in the Majors — if the rookies are given enough playing time to strut their stuff.

The Top 5 Freshmen for 2015

1. Jacob Lindgren, LHP: The club’s second-round pick in 2014, Lindgren allowed just 12 hits in 25.0 innings of work while pitching at four different levels of affiliated ball. The under-sized lefty also showed his dominance by striking out 48 batters and kept the ball almost solely on the mound when contact was actually made. Lindgren and Luis Severino (see below) could make for a dominating tandem of high-leverage relievers in the years to come.

2. Rob Refsnyder, 2B/OF: I originally had Refsnyder ranked first but the addition of Stephen Drew pushes him down ever so slightly. The rookie may begin his big league career in a utility role with his ability to play both the infield and the outfield (although neither remarkably well). He showed good pop with 58 extra base hits (137 games) in 2014 and also has the ability to hit for average. Drew, and his superior defence, will take a bite out of Refsnyder’s playing time early in the year but look for that to end in the second half.

3. Luis Severino, RHP: Severino started to gain attention in 2013 and then had a full breakout season in 2014 when he pitched at three different levels — and topped out at Double-A. Just 20, he combines swing-and-miss stuff (127 Ks in 113.1 IP) with above-average control (27 walks) for his age. The downside to Severino is that, despite his success, he has a smallish frame and a delivery that suggests he’s headed for (high-leverage) relief work.

4. Aaron Judge, OF: Judge Dredd might be an appropriate nickname for this hulking outfielder who stands 6-7 and weighs in at 230 pounds. He tore through two A-ball levels in 2014 while getting on base at a crazy clip (.419) and flashing his massive raw power (17 homers). Because he has such a long swing path, strikeouts are going to happen even with good bat speed and he whiffed 131 times in as many games. Judge, 22, could help make Carlos Beltran (or dare I say Alex Rodriguez) expendable by the second half of the year.

5. Greg Bird, 1B: Mark Teixeira is not a safe bet to stay healthy (let alone effective) all year, so Bird may see some big league action in 2015 despite having just 27 games of experience above A-ball. The former fifth round pick has massive power from the left side and followed up his 20-homer campaign in 2013 with 36 bombs in ’14 while playing in leagues known for favoring pitchers. He’ll open the year in Double-A where he’ll look to polish his defense, increase his contact rate and get more consistent against southpaw hurlers.

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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Nice to see some names that carry some excitement for the Yankees in a post like this. It’s been a while. Now go get Moncada!!