C – Jason Lopez – I might be getting ahead of myself here, but in his short four year career, and aside from his defensive woes, All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez is posting Hall-of-Fame worthy offense so far, and he’ll be only 26 years old for the entire 2019 season. So, it’s safe to say that the organization has more than plenty of time to develop their next catching prospect. The 5’10”-160 lb. Venezuelan Lopez, registered his best batting average to date for LoA Charleston last season, hitting .286 before an early-August promotion to HiA Tampa, where in 13 games, he tanked, batting a putrid .196 with only four extra-base hits in 46 at-bats. Lopez has room to grow, but Sanchez is safe for the near, possibly distant future. All eyes are on 2018 – 1st rounder, switch-hitting and throwing Anthony Seiglerhowever, but for this list, we’ll go with Lopez.
1B – Brandon Wagner – After hitting 27 homers in his first three seasons, Wagner blasted 21 over two levels in 2018 (20 for HiA Tampa and one for AA Trenton). Some may look at his home run split and wonder where his power went. But upon his promotion, he actually maintained a steady batting average, nearly doubled his walk rate and logged a higher on-base percentage.
2B – Oswaldo Cabrera – Generally we don’t worry about age as a factor when we make our choices unless someone reaches the 25-year-old plateau, but we acknowledge that it has to be something we consider. Thus is the case with Cabrera, a switch-hitting 19-year-old, who saw his first full year in full-season ball with LoA Charleston in 2018. The rail thin Venezuelan not only led the River Dogs with 155 total bases, but 24 doubles, which also led the entire organization HiA down through the DSL.
3B – Nelson Gomez – With former top hitting prospect Miguel Andujar firmly planted at third, the 23-year-old doesn’t have to worry about looking over his should much for now. Nelson Gomez played all season at for Rookie Pulaski as a 20 year old leading the team in doubles, home runs and total bases. However, he’s a 20-year-old in rookie ball, so despite his solid 2018 season, I’ll take a “let’s see what he does in 2019” approach.
SS – Diego Castillo – As a huge fantasy game player, it’s hard for your mouth not to water when you see both Yankee shortstops Gleyber Torres and Didi Gregorius. Had Gregorius not gotten injured last season, the Yankees could have manned one of the best middle-infields in all the game. But this is UTR and we strive in trying to close the gap by giving you the best underground names we can. After toiling in the DSL and GCL his first two seasons, the 6’1″- 170 lb. Castillo received a organizational leap-frog of both Rookie Pulaski and SS Staten Island all the way to LoA Charleston in 2017, and didn’t disappoint batting .263 with 15 doubles and 9 stolen bases in 118 games. In 2018, he saw a promotion to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League and didn’t miss a[nother] beat, posting a .260 batting average while upping his doubles total to 20.
LF – Antonio Cabello – The first time I mentioned Yankees outfield prospect Estevan Florial was back in 2015 when the young outfielder dominated the Dominican Summer League, was a five-time UTR HOD, then ranked third on my modified Organizational All-Star list that season. Florial went on to become a household name here and now sits at #1 on the 2019 New York Yankees Top Prospect list. Cabello could be next. The righty-swinging Venezuelan played his debut season as a 17-year-old with six games in the DSL before being shipped state side to the Gulf Coast League. There, he pounded GCL pitching batting .321 with 18 of his 44 hits going for extra bases. His 76 total bases ranked within the GCL top 10 and he only committed one error in 38 games.
CF – Estevan Florial – I could say more about the Yankees #1 prospect than I did above, but there’s no need. He’s the best hitting prospect they have, bar none.
RF – Madison Santos – The 19-year-old Dominican made his pro debut in for the DSL squad batting .314 and ranking behind only 17-year-old middle infielder Angel Rojas (who was next on my list of OAS second basemen behind the aforementioned Oswaldo Cabrera) in hits and total bases, while tying with Rojas for the team lead in triples.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Garrett Whitlock – (20.5) / Double-A Trenton
** Breakout season for the 18th round pick from 2017. The sturdy 6’5″ 190 lb. right-hander cruised through LoA Charleston where he proved to be almost un-hittable (23 hits over 40 IP in 7 starts). The 22 year-old has alot to offer that projects long term. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, topping out at 95 mph. That fastball features a decent sink that consistently finds the lower strike zone. He also adds an above average change-up in the mid 80’s, and a breaking ball which is more of a slurve. He does a good job of mixing the two pitches that often produces swinging strikes, and generating lots of groundballs.
2. RHP Nick Nelson – (18) / Double-A Trenton
3. LHP Dalton Lehnen– (18) / HiA Tampa
4. RHP Deivi Garcia– (16) / Double-A Trenton
** My “One to Watch” from last season has reached several watch lists for 2019. Most recently, ESPN baseball-savant Keith Law named the 19-year old right-hander to his Top 100 prospects list for the upcoming season. Law mentioned that Garcia’s arm is special and could possibly see the Bronx by the end of the season. See Fansided’s “Yanks Go Yard” writer Mike Calendrillo’s write-up on Garcia.
5. RHP Trevor Stephan – (15) / Double-A TrentonTop 3 Relief Pitcher – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP Phillip Diehl – (23) / Double-A Trenton
2. RHP Matt Wivinis – (14) / Double-A Trenton
3. RHP Greg Weissert – (12) / HiA Tampa