Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the New York Yankees. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not New York’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Yankees system who are most ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they’re likely to receive the opportunity to do so). No attempt has been made, in other words, to account for future value.
Below are the top-five prospects in the Yankees system by projected WAR. To assemble this brief list, what I’ve done is to locate the Steamer 600 projections for all the prospects to whom McDaniel assessed a Future Value grade of 40 or greater. Hitters’ numbers are normalized to 550 plate appearances; starting pitchers’, to 150 innings — i.e. the playing-time thresholds at which a league-average player would produce a 2.0 WAR. Catcher projections are prorated to 415 plate appearances to account for their reduced playing time.
Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts — which is to say, there has been no attempt to account for the runs a player is likely to save in the field. As a result, players with an impressive offensive profile relative to their position are sometimes perhaps overvalued — that is, in such cases where their actual defensive skills are sub-par.
5. Ramon Flores, OF (Profile)
McDaniel notes with regard to Flores that, despite entering just his age-23 season, that he’s nearly a finished product. It’s not surprising, then, to see Flores’ name appear here among the Yankees’ top rookie-eligible players. What it also means is that, unlike with other prospects at the same point on the age curve, it’s probably not correct to assume that Flores will improve considerably over the next three or so years. Defensively, Flores receives a projection of about -3 runs — that is, roughly half way between a league-average center fielder and corner outfielder. This, too, supports McDaniel’s assertion that Flores is capable of playing (if not necessarily excelling at) all three outfield spots.