As per the norm when spring training inches closer and closer each year, top baseball publications will unveil their respective rankings for the top-rated prospects in the game. Last week, MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo released his Top 100 Prospects list entering 2013, and yesterday, ESPN.com Insider Keith Law unveiled his list.
Showing a similar regard that others show to a certain duo, Law gave his highest rankings in regards to Yankees prospects to catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Mason Williams, ranking them 18 and 35 respectively. Moreover, outfielder Tyler Austin, who like Sanchez and Williams, was also on the aforementioned MLB.com list, came in at 52 on Law's list. Finally. highly-regarded outfielder Slade Heathcott came in at 57 to round out the Yankees representation on ESPN's Top 100.
Sanchez, similar to MLB.com, checked out as the highest rated prospect in the organization. At 20 years old, Sanchez might be a couple of years away from making his impact on the Bronx, however had a strong showing last year in stints between Class-A Charleston and Advanced Class-A Tampa. In between those stops, Sanchez totaled 18 home runs and 85 runs-batted-in in 435 total at-bats. Additionally, Sanchez has shown improvement from the crouch, as his rate of throwing out runners increased and also saw an impressive drop in past balls.
Williams followed a similar route to Sanchez, splitting time between Charleston and Tampa. At 21 years old, while he is lauded for his speed and defensive work, showed flashes of offensive brilliance last season. The left-hander, drafted in 2010, batted .304 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs, additionally stealing 19 bases. However, upon moving on to Tampa, his time would be cut short after 22 games, ending his season with a .277 batting average during that stint.
The 21-year-old Austin had impressive results in three different clubs of the organization and could be considered the more polished hitter of the Yankees prospects rated by both Mayo and Law. Austin batted over .300 in each stint with the exception of his stay in Double-A Trenton, however still managed a respectable .286 in seven at-bats. In Austin's most extensive stay in Charleston, Austin carried a .320 batting average with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs, while clipping 17 bases.
The oldest prospect (if you consider 22 to be old) of the quartet in Law's Top 100 is Heathcott, and he also might be the most interesting. Notorious for a reckless abandon in the field, Heathcott has taken on a penchant for getting injured, even going as far as running over catchers in Arizona Fall League. Needless to say, despite an aforementioned reckless abandon that the Yankees should closely monitor, Heathcott performs well on the base paths, shown with 17 stolen bases last season in Tampa, and also carried a .307 batting average and drove in 27 runs in 215 at-bats. He might not have the long ball capability of Austin, however Heathcott can get on base. Hopefully the organization can reel in the youngster's "dare-devil" antics.
Moreover, ESPNNewYork.com senior writer Andrew Marchand unveiled a separate list, again provided by Law, that broke down the Top 10 prospects in the Yankees organization alone, including an overall breakdown by Law of the Yankees system,
“The Yankees' system is top-heavy, with several elite prospects but not a ton of depth, led by the group of position players who started in low-Class A Charleston last year that could produce as many as three above-average or better regulars plus several other guys who'll have big-league value. The loss of Jose Campos for most of 2012 and for Manny Banuelos until 2014 hurts their pitching depth significantly, although the oft-injured Jose Ramirez was extremely effective when healthy this year.”
Here is some video of the aforementioned Williams, courtesy of MLB.com.
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