As part of the new rules for the 2020 Major League season, each of the 30 organizations will maintain a 60-man player pool for the duration of the campaign. Some members of the player pool will feature on the active Major League roster while others will work out at an alternate training site in the hopes of staying fresh for a potential callup or getting in much-needed development time.
The MiLB.com staff is rounding up the notable prospects in each organization’s 60-man player pool and analyzing what the new system will mean for their 2020 seasons.
After being ousted in the American League Championship Series for the second time in the past three years at the hands of the Astros, the Yankees are all in this season on their quest to capture that elusive 28th championship title in the organization’s storied history. This became most apparent when New York reeled in the biggest fish on the free-agent market, ace Gerrit Cole, with an historic $324-million deal over the winter.
So it really comes as no surprise that when the Yankees announced their 58-man pool headed to Summer Camp, most of the names on the list were returning or recently signed veterans -- like Matt Duffy, Chris Iannetta and Dan Otero -- and prospects who have either made their debuts in The Show last season or are on the cusp.
This is why you won’t see the team’s top prospect, 17-year-old phenom Jasson Dominguez, who has yet to participate in a professional game stateside, with the club in New York or at its alternate training site at PNC Field in Moosic, Pennsylvania. Or last year’s first-round selection Anthony Volpe. However, 10 of the club’s top 30 prospects will participate -- including six of the top 10.
“There was a lot of speculation of players like a Jasson Dominguez or things of that nature,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters in a conference call last week. “We didn’t do any of that because ultimately the eye is on the prize, which is, we have a 60-game sprint in a COVID environment to qualify for the playoffs and take a shot at a 2020 world championship title.”
Clarke Schmidt, RHP: Coming off of Tommy John surgery that ended his college career at South Carolina prematurely, the Yankees' 2017 first-round selection (No. 16 overall) has been on a rapid rise since his return to the hill. Limited to just 12 appearances in 2018, New York’s second-ranked prospect climbed three levels of the system last season -- when he posted a combined 3.47 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 102 punchouts to 28 walks over 90 2/3 frames -- and played a pivotal role in Double-A Trenton’s postseason run to its fourth Eastern League crown. MLB.com’s No. 88 overall prospect also made his debut at big league camp this spring, when he made four appearances (including one start) and allowed a pair of earned runs on nine hits and three walks while fanning eight over seven innings. He will enter the season as one of the front-runners for a spot start should the injury bug bite the Yankees rotation.
Deivi Garcia, RHP: Another big arm who has made a quick rise through the organization, New York's third-ranked prospect enters Summer Camp as a bit of a wild card. Used mainly as a starter throughout his career, the No. 92 overall prospect played at three different levels of the Minors the past two seasons. He finished last year in the International League, where he made 11 starts but was transitioned into a bullpen role late for a potential callup. But the 5-foot-9, 163-pound righty -- who made five appearances in relief for the RailRiders -- struggled in both roles at the Minors’ highest level as his ERA climbed to 5.40 and WHIP to 1.48 -- both the highest of his career. In his first Grapefruit League action this season, Garcia yielded six earned runs on six hits and a pair of walks with eight whiffs over 7 1/3 frames in three appearances. Still, coming off his first Futures Game appearance and an Organization All-Star nod -- Garcia is armed with a four-pitch mix that includes a 65-grade curveball, a 60-grade fastball with mid-90s life that can touch 97, a plus slider and a developing changeup. The Yankees would love to have the tough-minded 21-year-old stick in the rotation, and he will get every opportunity to prove he belongs this summer.
Luis Gil, RHP: One of the Yankees most sought-after arms in trade discussions the past couple of seasons, the fireballer has been lighting up radar guns since his return from a shoulder injury in 2017. The organization’s No. 5 prospect possesses a 75-grade heater that regularly sits in the mid- to high-90s and can touch triple digits often and late into starts. The 22-year-old pitches off that fastball with a mid-80s power slider as well as a developing changeup that has shown significant strides over the last year. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty -- acquired from the Twins for Jake Cave in 2018 -- made 17 starts at Class A Charleston last year, when he posted a 2.39 ERA and fanned 112 over 83 frames. He was promoted to Class A Advanced Tampa on July 25 and an injury limited him to three FSL starts. Another hurler the Yankees hope will be a part of their Major League rotation for a long time to come, Gil has a fastball-slider combination that can play out of a big league bullpen right now if they need it.
Estevan Florial, OF: The former top Yankees prospect's progress has been slowed by injuries the past two years, resulting in a ranking drop to No. 6. However, with a clean bill of health, the toolsy 22-year-old will be ready to show he's become the impact player the Yankees thought they were getting upon signing him in 2015. With a 65-grade arm, 60 grades in speed and fielding as well as plus-power to all areas of the field, the only thing that has really held back Florial on the field is his aggressive approach at the plate. The lefty-swinging native of the Dominican Republic struck out 98 times in 274 FSL at-bats last year. Still, Florial showed what a threat he could be on the basepaths with nine thefts in 14 attempts and scored 38 runs while stroking 21 extra-base hits over 74 games. He also posted a .973 fielding percentage with four assists from center field in 64 games. This spring, Florial mashed a dinger and a pair of doubles while driving in five runs and scoring four times over 11 games in Major League Spring Training.
Alexander Vizcaino, RHP: Another hard-throwing righty who began last season in the RiverDogs rotation ahead of a late promotion, New York's seventh-ranked prospect still needs seasoning as a starter, but can be plugged into a big league relief role immediately with a wicked two-pitch combination -- a 65-grade fastball that flashed triple digits last season and a low-90s 60-grade changeup with splitter action. The 6-foot-2, 160-pound righty spent most of his first three professional seasons in Rookie-level ball before making significant strides last season with his velocity and control. Still developing a slider, Vizcaino amassed 101 punchouts over 87 2/3 innings with Charleston and was named a midseason All-Star before heading to the FSL on July 25. He finished the year with five starts for the Tarpons. In his first action at big league camp this spring, the 23-year-old allowed three runs on four hits and a walk while whiffing four over three frames across three appearances.
Luis Medina, RHP: The 10th-ranked Yankees prospect sports arguably the best raw stuff in the organization. New York’s 2018 first-round pick Anthony Seigler once told me his hand usually stings a little more after catching Medina. Armed with a 75-grade fastball, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound righty displays what is often referred to as “easy gas.” Consistently sitting in the upper-90s, Medina can top out at 102 mph. He pitches off that with a plus-plus slider in the low-80s that keeps hitters honest in the low-80s and a plus-changeup continuing to show solid development. The issue that has plagued the 21-year-old since he first flashed triple digits at age 16 is control. Medina posted a 5.51 ERA and walked 144 over 183 innings through his first four pro seasons, but last year, he was able to repeat his delivery on a consistent basis. He allowed nine earned runs and 15 walks over his final 45 2/3 frames. The Dominican Republic native also whiffed 127 over 103 2/3 combined innings between Charleston and Tampa. Medina made his Major League camp debut this spring. In three appearances, he allowed an earned run on two hits and a pair of walks while fanning five over four frames.
Albert Abreu, RHP: Another promising prospect whose progress has been hindered by injuries -- he's logged 222 2/3 innings through his first three seasons while battling shoulder, elbow and biceps issues. New York’s 11th-ranked prospect also underwent an appendectomy in 2018 just before he was set to attend his first big league camp. But anytime the 24-year-old takes the hill, he is a sight to behold with a trio of plus to plus-plus pitches and the pedigree of a front-line Major League starter. The righty sports a mid- to high-90s fastball that has the ability to reach 101 with late life, a 60-grade curveball with tilt and a changeup consistently improving with each outing. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder creates deception through his short-armed delivery, and in his second trip to big league camp this spring, In four games, Abreu posted a 1.00 WHIP, allowing three runs on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out four over five frames. He provides another option for New York’s bullpen immediately, but most likely will stay in a rotation role as long as he can keep himself on the field consistently.
Miguel Yajure, RHP: Everything just seemed to come together for the No. 14 Yankees prospect last year and it resulted in a spot on the club’s 40-man roster over the winter. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound righty put together one of the best campaigns of any FSL starter -- posting a 2.26 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with 122 punchouts and 28 walks over 127 2/3 innings spanning 22 appearances. He limited hitters to a .233 average over that stretch. Yajure was promoted to the Eastern League in August, when he allowed one run on nine hits and a pair of walks while fanning 11 and limiting opponents to a .214 average over 11 frames in two starts for the Thunder. The Venezuela native -- who missed all of 2017 after Tommy John surgery -- led all the club's farmhands with a combined 2.14 ERA last year. The power arms get much of the attention in New York’s system, but Yajure’s display of advanced command and the ability to attack the strike zone without fear make him an interesting player to watch as he faces more advanced hitters at the next level.
Nick Nelson, RHP: Drafted in the fourth round out of Gulf Coast Community College in Florida, where he was a two-way player in 2016, Nelson has proven to be a diamond in the rough since turning his focus to the mound. Having climbed from Charleston to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre over the past two seasons, New York’s 16th-ranked prospect could see his first action in The Show this year. Despite getting off to a delayed start due to shoulder soreness, Nelson made 18 appearances between the International League, Trenton and a rehab start for Tampa last season, and the 24-year-old sported an 8-3 mark with a 2.81 ERA and 114 strikeouts over 89 2/3 frames. In his first Major League Spring Training this year, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-hander made three appearances where he scattered a pair of hits and four walks while whiffing three over five scoreless innings -- limiting the opposition to a .143 average in his three appearances.
The only other prospect in the team's top 30 to make the 58-man squad was right-hander Michael King (No. 25). The 25-year-old out of Boston College made his Major League debut last year in September and yielded an unearned run over two frames in a single appearance. King could be in the mix for New York's final rotation spot when all is said and done. ... Domingo Acevedo is another hurler with a big arm to watch out for this summer. The towering 6-foot-7, 240-pound right-hander may be fitted for a relief role after several attempts to keep him in the rotation resulted in a series of injuries. He's coming off an impressive showing at big league camp after giving up one hit and three walks while whiffing three over four scoreless frames in four outings. ... And righty Daniel Alvarez could be a dark horse to make his debut in The Show this year after the Eastern League All-Star posted a 2.31 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 76 strikeouts over 58 1/3 relief innings for the Thunder last season. The 24-year-old Venezuela native also is coming off his second straight scoreless performance at Major League Spring Training.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.