It wasn’t long ago that Thairo Estrada was a name most had ranked near the top of New York Yankees prospect lists, but he was shot in the hip during the off-season heading into 2018 that required surgery. The surgery was unsuccessful and was shut down over the summer to undergo a second surgery that he bounced back in time to head to Arizona for the AFL. Once an elite defensive shortstop, he did not look as smooth or dynamic in Arizona as he had in the past. The Yankees believe it was mostly due to his body getting back into baseball shape and he showed will in Spring Training.
If he is truly back to his previous form, he is a plus defender who can hold down any infield spot and do so at a high level. The arm is plenty strong enough for the left side of the infield and his quickness/fluidity around the bag make him a defensive replacement at worst. With the injury his range and fluid motions were not as great as the season before, although there is still plenty of arm and he would grade out as average defensively up the middle even with the diminished skills if the athleticism never fully bounces back.
At the plate, Estrada never was and never will be a power hitter. He has 18 home runs over 6 pro seasons and has never reached 20 doubles, but he did hit over .300 in his first taste of AA in 2017. There is a leg kick that sees him out on his front foot quite a bit, although he has used it to become a solid right-handed slap hitter and uses his above average wheels to beat out some bunt and infield hits, although that was not as common a season ago as a bullet to the hip can slow a man down. Again he looked better this spring and it appears the wheels may be back. The problem the leg kick does create is the weight gets too far out front and he struggles against good breaking balls and elite velocity.
His ultimate role is that of a solid utility infielder who can come off the bench as a late inning bat when the team needs base-runners, pinch runner, or defensive replacement. That gives him a rather high floor although the ceiling of a quality regular has been significantly reduced, although there is still a chance of him becoming an average shortstop but will likely always be relegated to later in the batting order. Multiple injuries to the left side of the Yankees infield will give him a chance to prove he is all the way back and should be able to carve out enough of a role for himself to stay up even if Troy Tulowitzki comes back in 10 days.
Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: Florial has a traditional right field profile, cannon of an arm and real raw power, but has enough athleticism that he could stick in center. The instincts are not there yet in the field and there is concern he will lose some of his current speed as he fills out, but he should remain an above-average runner even after adding strength. There is concern about his ability to make consistent contact, as he has a leg kick and shoulder dip that leads to a lot of swing and miss. When he does make contact, he can crush the ball, so there is plenty of upside.
Quick Report: Loaisiga has began his minor league career in 2013 with the Giants but missed two full years due to injury and has logged just 184.1 innings over six pro seasons. He did reach the big leagues in 2018, with just 34.1 innings pitched above High A, and put up impressive strikeout numbers. Based on pure stuff, he is one of the better pitching prospects in the game, but his lack of innings and ability to stay healthy leave a ton of questions. His fastball runs into the high 90s with a very good breaking ball and a change that has developed into a solid pitch. There are real concerns with his arm action, showing the ball well behind his back and still managing to bring the ball back in enough to almost be short arming the ball.
Quick Report: Garcia moved across three levels for the second consecutive year in 2018, ending up with five innings of hitless ball in his lone appearance in AA at just 19 years old. At first glance, Garcia screams reliever. He has a busy delivery and falls to the first base side, his arm is whippy and is only 5’10”, but the more I see him throw, the more I think he sticks it out as a starter. His fastball sits in the low-90s but gets on the batter fast and has some run to it. His curve is his best pitch, showing signs of being a plus pitch. His change is lagging far behind his fastball and curve, and he will need it to develop to stick as a starter, but even if it doesn’t, he has the floor of a solid reliever.
Quick Report: Unlike Garcia, Contreras very well be on the path to becoming a reliever rather than a starter, but that ship has not sailed just yet. He has a big fastball, sitting up to 96, with a breaking ball that can be a bit slurvy but has also shown good two-plane depth that allows it to play above average to plus. His change comes with some decrease in arm speed and is easily recognized currently, but it has flashed at least serviceable at times. If he can develop better command and improve the change, he can be a mid-rotation guy, but without that he is a late inning reliver.
Quick Report: Seigler is a catcher with little doubt he will stick there long term. He has soft hands that receive the ball well and blocks the ball better than most catchers his age. He has a plus arm that allows him to control the running game well. His swing has natural loft from both sides of the plate but has plenty of work ahead of him there. The bat can get a little long from the right side, although it is pretty quick to the ball from the left.
Quick Report: If there is a stereotype from international signings that proves to be accurate more often than not, it is that of the solid defensive Venezuelan without flashy tools but a solid all-around game. Pereira fits that stereotype and could have the brightest future of the trio of 2017 July 2 outfielders. He can play center thanks to his athleticism and very good jumps, but he also has enough arm to stick in right if he needs to. The bat has real raw power, although it has yet to present itself in game action. He has a deep stance but gets the bat head down to the zone well, although there are some issues with his ability to stay balanced through the swing that will need to be rectified for him to be a consistent producer.
Quick Report: The second of the 2017 July 2 outfield trio, Raimfer Salinas is the third and did not make the list, Cabello is a bit tough to get a feel for. He was a catcher as an amateur, but has plus speed at any position, so the Yankees have moved him to center. Behind the plate, the arm looked below average, in center it is an above-average arm. His reads in the outfield obviously need some work, but there are those who feel he has a real shot to stick in center. At the plate, his hips open too much and over-extending his stride, sapping the raw power he possesses. He has shown the ability to hit the ball to all fields, but he needs coaching, something he missed out on during Fall Instructs as he was out after having surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.
Quick Report: Acquired from the Marlins in a deal that went basically unnoticed in 2017, King pitched across three levels and was named MiLB’s Pitcher of the Year in 2018. King does not have the biggest upside, but he is all but a lock to be a starter in the back end of a rotation sooner than later. He works low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, and his best secondary offering is his cutter. The cutter can expand into a slider, but when it does it loses its sharpness and effectiveness. His change is solid, although it will never be a plus, and he throws with just enough command to succeed. King will never wow you with stuff, but he has shown he knows how to get batters out, as evidenced by his 1.79 ERA in 161.1 innings last year.
Quick Report: Drafted 16th overall in 2017, Schmidt has only put in 23.1 pro innings after Tommy John surgery delayed his debut. He has four pitches that all rate average to above-average, although the velo difference between his change and fastball aren’t what you want currently. His lower 3/4 slot allows the fastball to really run, and his slider cuts late. It will be interesting to see Schmidt facing batters more in line with his age (he was old for complex and Short A ball last year) and could very well find himself as high as AA sometime during this season.
Quick Report: Medina means my top 10 Yankees prospect list is comprised of six teenagers. The determining factor in Medina’s ceiling will be his command, walking 8.4 per nine in his career thus far, the stuff alone is not a concern. He has hit 101 on the radar gun and has some run to it. His curve is a plus pitch that could pair with his fastball to be an impressive bullpen arm, but he has shown enough feel for the change to believe he has the future repertoire of a starter. He is just 19, so there is plenty of projection left, but the fact you can see many different arm slots and angles in his delivery suggest a mechanical adjustment could improve the command enough to become a viable starter long term.