Yankees Prospect Primer: Bronx arms race
Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2019 season approaching, MiLB.com takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.Major League ready: Jonathan Loaisiga, RHPThe
Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2019 season approaching, MiLB.com takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.
Major League ready:
The second-ranked Yankees prospect saw some time in the big leagues last season and enjoyed some early success until he was shut down with shoulder inflammation. Loaisiga was called up to The Show from Double-A Trenton on June 12 and made his Major League debut three days later in a spot start against the Rays. The right-hander earned the win in the Bronx after striking out six over five scoreless frames.
MLB.com's No. 66 overall prospect was putting together an impressive spring until a rough outing inflated his Grapefruit League ERA to 6.75. Loaisiga was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on March 23, though the 24-year-old is not expected to remain there long as he most likely will be called upon to fill a void in the Yankees rotation as Luis Severino and veteran CC Sabathia continue to rehab injuries.
"He's got a big arm and off-speed stuff to go with it. Everyone has high hopes for him," Yankees director of Minor League operations Hadi Raad said. "He's had some injuries, but his ceiling is still pretty high. He's pitched well [in the Majors] already, and we believe he'll do so again. You will see him in the [big league] rotation at some point. He's got the stuff and the poise to get out big league hitters, and we believe there's a lot of upside still."
The top Yankees prospect was in the midst of a breakout spring until he sustained a non-displaced right wrist fracture and dislocation after hitting the center field fence while trying to make a catch in a March 16 game against the Blue Jays. To that point, Florial had posted a .355/.429/.516 slash line with one home run, two doubles, four RBIs and seven runs scored over 13 Grapefruit League games.The 21-year-old will not open the year with a full-season team as he will wear a hard cast on his wrist for several weeks and be reevaluated when it's removed.
Baseball's No. 57 overall prospect has batted .281 with 34 homers in 318 games across six Minor League seasons.
"What he showed this spring was the stuff we've seen from him for years," Raad said. "It wasn't always there last year, but he is a five-tool player that can do it all. He proved he can play center, has a hose from the outfield, steals bases, his swing-and-miss numbers went down, his power is starting to show, he's got as high a ceiling as anyone in our organization and we've got high expectations for him.
"It was devastating to see him go down, but we're going to take this one step at a time and when he's back he'll come ready full-force. He's one of those players that can be a cornerstone of the Yankees one day."
At the crossroads:
Acevedo caught people's attention in 2014 when his heater flashed triple digits as a 20-year-old. However, injuries have kept the 6-foot-7, 250-pound righty out for parts of four of the last five seasons -- including missing six weeks last year with blister issues. And even when he returned healthy last season, Acevedo saw a significant drop in his velocity. After working consistently in the upper-90s with a fastball that was clocked as high as 103 mph, Acevedo saw his heater regularly in the low-to-mid-90s range until late in the year. As a result, his prospect ranking with the team has dropped from fourth to 23rd this season.
Acevedo only tossed two-thirds of a frame in big league camp this spring and allowed five runs on two hits and a pair of walks, while his velocity again lagged. Considered a starter within the organization throughout his professional career, the team may decide to see if a move to the bullpen creates a resurgence for Acevedo.
"You're not seeing the 100 regularly right now like you used to, so of course that's a concern, but the same thing happened last year and then it slowly climbed back up, so we're hoping that's the case again this year," Raad said. "He says he feels fine, so he will start in full-season and see where it goes. There is still a debate about whether he is going to be used as a starter or reliever. We'd like to keep him as a starter, but not many guys who get called up [to the Majors] start right away, so something that we're trying to do with a lot of our Minor Leaguers is get them ready for a relief role. So I think he will come out of the 'pen from time to time, but we'll see where he's at as the season goes on."
Back and healthy:
Abreu was the key return in the deal that sent catcher Brian McCann to the Astros in 2016. The third-ranked Yankees prospect battled injuries the past two seasons, which limited him to 126 innings over that time, but he did wow spectators any time he was on the mound. The 23-year-old possesses a fastball that comes in at 94-98 mph with the ability to top out in triple digits. He also throws a power breaking ball with sharp movement and a changeup that continues to improve.
After returning from his second stint on the injured reserve list last season, Abreu made his Eastern League debut on the final day of the regular season and allowed one walk over five hitless innings with four punchouts -- an outing that included a stretch of 13 consecutive batters retired. The right-hander brought that momentum (and health) with him into the Dominican Winter League during the offseason, posting a 1.80 ERA and whiffing 15 over 20 innings in six appearances. This spring, Abreu allowed four hits and three walks while striking out three over 4 1/3 frames of scoreless relief at Major League camp.
"Albert has front-line starter stuff, and he holds it throughout the game," Raad said. "He's got a real big arm and the offspeed stuff to go with it. He's looked good for the most part this spring. He's healthy and we think he's ready to go -- so this is a big year for him. We've got big expectations, so hopefully he'll show us everything he's got."
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Medina regularly lights up the radar gun as he fires 100 mph with ease. He also has a plus-plus curveball and plus-changeup to go with that heater. The No. 14 Yankees prospect spent last season with Rookie Advanced Pulaski, where he started 12 games and struggled with command as he allowed 32 hits and 46 walks over 36 innings. However, the 19-year-old also flashed an ability to dominate hitters as he fanned 47. The organization will be patient with his development, so he most likely will attend extended spring training before heading to Class A Short Season Staten Island, but it would not be a surprise if he's on the move quickly from there.
"He's got as good a stuff as anybody in the game, I think," Raad said. "He's got the stuff to be a legitimate front-line starter. There's probably only a handful of guys in baseball that have the stuff he has. So the upside is huge, and I think he's matured after getting a year under his belt. He looked really good this spring. He's definitely a kid to keep an eye on."
More to keep an eye on: Right-hander
2019 organization predictions:
Most home runs in the system:
Most stolen bases:
Most strikeouts: Garcia
Current prospect to get most Major League playing time: Loaisiga
Non-Top-100 prospect to end 2019 in the Top 100: Medina
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24.