Florial shines as Yankees flourish on the farm
This offseason, MiLB.com is taking a look at the most outstanding campaigns by players in each system across Minor League Baseball and honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization.After years of fielding rosters filled with more free-agent superstars
This offseason, MiLB.com is taking a look at the most outstanding campaigns by players in each system across Minor League Baseball and honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization.
After years of fielding rosters filled with more free-agent superstars than homegrown talent, the Yankees have put their focus back on the farm system. And it's starting to pay off.
Led by the likes of
"I really think we've turned the corner here," managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told MLB.com at the Owners Meetings earlier this month. "Part of it was by not trading away the Judges and the [Greg] Birds and the Sanchezes of the world, and the [Luis] Severinos year after year when people were asking for them, being patient with the system, getting some new leadership a couple of years ago in player development. I think we're on the right track."
Yankees Organization All-Stars
He hit .269 in 76 games with Class A Charleston and earned a bump to Class A Advanced Tampa. The Arizona native successfully competed in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League in early August, posting a .306/.353/.484 slash line in 17 contests.
First baseman --
Ford also showed a lot of patience at the plate, working a career-high 94 walks across the two levels. The Princeton product led the Eastern League with 76 free passes and a .410 on-base percentage with Double-A Trenton.
Second baseman --
Skipping Class A, Solak began the year with Tampa and posted a .310 average in the pitcher-friendly FSL. The University of Louisville product was bumped to Double-A on Aug. 1 and finished the season with 12 long balls, 26 doubles and 53 RBIs. He also swiped 14 bases in 19 chances.
"Nick has shown the ability to hit throughout his college career and continued during his first season in the organization," said Eric Schmitt, the Yankees' director of Minor League operations. "His maturity, attitude, and work ethic led us to believe he would be prepared to start in the Florida State League this season. He has continued to perform and as a result earned the opportunity to advance."
Third baseman --
"One of the possibilities in my mind somewhere in the infield is Andujar," Steinbrenner told MLB.com. "He had a really good August in [Triple-A] Scranton offensively, and even defensively, [he was] much improved."
The 22-year-old displays an above-average arm at the hot corner and continued to show improvement defensively with 17 errors this year - his lowest tally since 2013.
Estrada played mostly shortstop this season but continued to show off his versatility with the Thunder as he once again saw time at second base and third.
"Thairo continues to impress. He always has a smile on his face and continues to answer the challenges that have been put in front of him," Schmitt said. "He comes back faster and stronger each year and continues to hit at every level, including the Arizona Fall League this year, along with being able to play multiple positions in the infield."
"He still has some work to do on the development side," Yankees' vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring told MLB.com. "But when you look at the interesting dynamic of this young man, he has a chance to be an above-average defender that has speed, arm strength, raw power to all parts of the field and intangibles like a sense of urgency with his work ethic that is unparalleled. It's exciting."
Florial continued to grow in the Arizona Fall League, where he showed off his bat as well as his above-average arm.
"Jake has always had tremendous work ethic on the field, in the cages and in the weight room since he joined the organization in 2011," Schmitt said. "We were very happy to see it translate into such a successful season for him this year."
Cave also played mistake-free in the outfield, making zero errors this season.
"Billy is not only a great player but also an outstanding person and teammate," Schmitt said. "He was an immediate fit into the Trenton club last year and had a great season this year in Trenton and Scranton, and he continued to play well in the Arizona Fall League. "
Spending all of his time professionally in the outfield, McKinney tried his glove at first base during the Fall League. The left-hander made just one error in 19 games in Arizona.
Wade, who turned 23 on Thanksgiving, became even more versatile this season when he moved to the outfield for several games at both levels. While the majority of his games were spent at short, the California native also spent some time at second and third, giving the Yankees plenty of options.
Left-handed starting pitcher --
Although he didn't fare so well in the big league bullpen -- a 7.71 ERA in 18 2/3 innings -- Smith's Minor League numbers put him on the Marlins' radar. New York dealt the southpaw to Miami on Nov. 20, and he will look to continue his development in South Beach.
Right-handed starting pitcher --
Adams utilized his above-average fastball and slider to post a 2.45 ERA with 135 strikeouts and 58 walks in 150 1/3 innings. The 23-year-old continues to improve his changeup as he works it into his mix.
Relief pitcher --
Gomez notched a 1.92 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings and converted nine of 10 save situations. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic cut his walks down from 42 in 2016 to 21 this year. And Gomez continued the dominance in the postseason with four scoreless appearances for the RailRiders.
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.