In my previous article, I compared the top three pitchers within the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox Farm systems.
For this piece, I elected to jump right into it and compare two of the most offensive powerhouses in all of baseball and look at the top 3 positional players within both organizations’ minor leagues.
The Top 3 Positional Players (New York Yankees)
The New York Yankees over the past couple of years have been one of the most offensive-minded teams across baseball. While in the last article, I talked about how talented the Yankees’ pitching is and how they’ve put time and effort into producing quality arms that can translate to the Major Leagues, which is no different for the positional players within the Yankees system. Having produced entire cargo-ships worth of talent in years past, Cashman and Co. know how to invest and spend their time, money, and resources properly, within the minor leagues.
I remember vividly coming off the 2016 season — in which Gary Sanchez single-handedly made the Yankees competitive, after tearing the cover off the baseball during his rookie year — I found myself on the fence about the future of the team. However, despite my doubts, seeing the “Baby Bombers” begin to take form gave me hope for the future. While Aaron Judge and New York Yankee at the time, Tyler Austin, both had lackluster debut seasons, the point was made by Cashman that he was finally beginning to tear down the old guard and allow the new guys to come up and play.
What makes any organization successful is the ability to admit when something isn’t working and changing it. The Yankees struggled in 2016, missing the Postseason, and in 2017 would make one of them — at the time — most shocking moves in New York Yankees history, relieving long-time manager Joe Girardi. The move to dismiss Girardi had come on the heels of a cinderella-Esque postseason run that included coming back from 2-0 down to the Indians, and sweeping them. While at the time it seemed as if the Yankees were going through a crisis, the team that was put out there in 2017 had competed and proved to everyone that you can win with internal options.
Now, a few years after the changing of the guard, the New York Yankees don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Having both Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman focusing on the development of the young guys as well as trying to bring a title back to The Bronx is all you can ask for in a GM/Manager combo. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are two cornerstones any franchise would love to get their hands on, and the offensive talent that’s brewing in the minor leagues gives reason to believe that the foundation is virtually unbreakable.
1. JASSON DOMINGUEZ (POS: CF/OF, BATS: S / THROWS: R, 16, ETA: 2021+, Fangraphs FV: N/A)
Jasson Dominguez has taken the world by storm. The Yankees spent virtually all of their international signing pool money on him, a hefty $5,100,000. Now, spending that kind of money on a 16-year-old may sound outlandish and extremely risky, which of course, it is. However, when analyzing the risk vs. reward in this circumstance, Dominguez is well worth the gamble. At 5’11 and 190 lbs, he’s already reaching exit velocities of Major League players (recorded Exit Velocities of 110+ MPH from both the Right and Left side of the plate), and he is still growing. Dubbed “The Martian” for his other-worldly tools and talent, Dominguez — even with Estevan Florial in the system — is without a doubt the Yankees CF’er of the future.
When the international signing period was over, MLB’s Jesse Sanchez wrote an article describing Jasson Dominguez as the most talented international prospect potentially ever seen and referred to him as a “teenage Mike Trout.” While I think it may be detrimental to the well-being of a young player to set them up to reach such HIGH standards, there is no ceiling for The Martian. His Baseball Prospectus report blew away virtually everybody, from the GM’s to the casual readers.
- At 16 YO, this is what his report looked like on the 20-80 Scale: Hit: 60, Raw Power: 70, Run: 70, Fielding: 60, Arm: 60. Those numbers are STAGGERING, and not to mention his 60 yard dash time (6.30) was just a tick slower than renown speedster Billy Hamilton (6.20).
For Jasson Dominguez, there is no telling what this kid can accomplish during his career. With all the tools, hype, and one of the best developmental systems in the league, there is a very high chance that he excels and does so for years to come. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dominguez, by 18, is pushing for a Major League spot, especially with Hicks’ injury concerns, Florial’s inconsistencies and freak injuries, and general lack of CF depth within the Yankees system. Not to mention he’s named after Yankee great, Jason Giambi.
2. ESTEVAN FLORIAL (POS: CF/OF, BATS: L / THROWS: R, 21, ETA: 2020/2021, 2019 Fangraphs FV: 45+)
Everyone that has been a New York Yankees fan for the last four or so seasons should know who Estevan Florial is. Having been a staple in the New York Yankees farm for the past few seasons, Florial was — for a while at least — considered one of the best outfield prospects in all of baseball. What Florial brings to the table is very similar to Dominguez, and that is the belief that he is a legitimate 5-Tool player. For Florial, the most important thing for him is staying healthy and staying on the field. Having suffered a freak wrist fracture when running into the wall in Spring Training of 2019 caused him to miss a lot of time that season. That injury came on the heels of an already shortened 2018 season, where he missed a lot of time with a broken hamate bone in his right hand/wrist.
The upside to Florial is tremendous, and in the 2019 Grapefruit League, he showed out before getting injured, as he knocked an HR, stole four bases, and bat .368 across a small sample of eight games. If he can stay on the field, and put together consistent playtime, Florial should most definitely regain that confidence, and play great baseball.
- His Fangraphs tool grades are extremely reassuring as well (20-80 scale): Hit: 40, Raw Power: 60, Run: 60, Fielding: 50, Arm: 80. For Florial, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to eventually move over to a corner OF spot, as his range, arm strength, and overall health can play a part in his longevity in CF.
What Flo does so well is that he can take walks, as well as hit the baseball with power. A legitimate 20/20 threat throughout his potential MLB career, Florial looks to build back his reputation, and build up his value, after back-to-back injury ruined seasons. In both 2018 and 2019, he failed to bat above .260 (bat above that benchmark for the three seasons prior), and in 2019 he showed less discipline (8.3% BB Rate to a 32.6% K Rate) than he had in any of the years past (13% BB Rate to a 25.6% K Rate in 2018). The worries and caution flags have been raised around Florial, so 2020 is a huge season for him.
3. ANTHONY VOLPE (POS: SS, BATS: R / THROWS: R, 18, ETA: 2022+, 2019 Fangraphs FV: 45)
When drafted by the New York Yankees just last year, Volpe said he was “living a childhood dream.” At only 18 years old, Volpe had one of the most unique seasons last year in the Yankees Pulaski league. In 34 Games, across 150 PA’s, he managed to record a triple slash of .215/.349/.355 (OPS of .704). Now, the triple slash has one glaring discrepancy, and that is the OBP. Despite only managing to get 26 Hits that year, Volpe was still able to walk 15.3% of the time (23 BB’s). Essentially, Volpe was able to get on base at a remarkable amount, despite seeing such a terrible year hitting the ball.
While Volpe practically didn’t hit the ball all year, out of those 26 Hits, 11 of them were for extra bases (7 2B’s, 2 3B’s, 2 HR’s), so there is a reason to believe that Volpe can continue to work and develop that hitting tool. The only way for him to ever get consistent playing time in the future is if he does so, as Fangraphs viewed his current value hitting ability as a 25 on the 20-80 scale. That 25 wasn’t undeserved, for someone who did not hit the ball, but he’s only 18 years old and can work out those kinks within his swing and approach. However, possessing that discipline is one of the most challenging things to master, especially at such a young age.
- Here is what Fangraphs gave Volpe on the 20-80 scale for Future Value: Hit: 55, Raw Power: 45, Run: 50, Fielding: 55, Arm: 55. If Volpe can even bring that average up to the .250 mark, and slap a few more doubles, he would be a fantastic utility player, similar to Ben Zobrist.
Having someone with such a great eye is crucial, as the SS position primarily features low discipline bats (only two players finished with a BB% over 10.0% for SS’s last season).
The Top 3 Positional Players (BRS)
As mentioned in the introduction for this article, Boston has one of the most lethal offensive lineups in all of baseball — or so it seems. While Boston’s top half of their LU is — in a word, destructive, after the number 5 man in the LU sees his AB, the production drops heavily.
Over the last three years specifically, Boston has been one of the best offensive teams in baseball. Since 2017, Boston has scored the third-most runs in the entire league (2,562), and having the sixth-highest team WRC+ (103). With that being said, of those 2,562 runs scored, 1,331 of them came from the top of their LU. That may seem like a dead-even split, but when you take into account that JD Martinez has 209 of those runs (good for 5th), despite not even being on the team in 2017, Boston’s biggest offensive problem is getting the “other guys” involved.
Take 2018, for example, the year that Boston won it all and demolished opponents en route. That year they scored the most runs in baseball (876), having three players with over 100 Runs (Mookie – 129, JD- 111, Benintendi- 103), which is good for roughly 39% of all their runs. For reference, the Yankees had 851 runs that year, and they had only one player over 100 runs (Stanton- 103). Any time your team is that reliant on three players, there will be a brutal regression coming — and that’s precisely what happened in 2019. Betts and JD both had great years once again, but Boston as a team struggled far more than in 2018 (despite Devers’ resurgence) and missed the playoffs entirely.
Coming into this season, Boston will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season, and all eyes will be on what they decide to do with Mookie Betts and other current pieces on their team. If they don’t put more focus into their farm system and put genuine effort into developing their players, they could very well find themselves in 4th place in the AL East for years to come. This season is more likely than not going to be featuring one of these guys, as Boston’s depth and uncertainty over their IF may hurt them, and thus lead to them making some call-ups.
1. TRISTON CASAS (POS: 1B/3B, BATS: L / THROWS: R, 19, ETA: 2022+, 2020 Fangraphs FV: 50)
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about what Casas could potentially become. A pure brute when swinging the baseball bat, and a bulky 6’4, 238 lbs, Casas has all the tools to become an anchor in Boston’s lineup in the future. Triston Casas is ahead of his time and developing rapidly, as he was able to reclassify his draft class and get drafted a year earlier than expected. With that, Casas saw pitchers in his same class begin to pitch around him and practically ignore him entirely. He was essentially the Barry Bonds of High School baseball at American Heritage, as he barely got to lift the bat off his shoulder, and instead walked almost exclusively that year.
- His Fangraphs tool grades are as follows: Hit: 55, Raw Power: 70, Run: 20, Fielding: 55, Arm: 60. While Casas can barely round the bases and is about as slow as you can get, he is most definitely an impact bat and has a solid enough glove and arm to play either of the corners IF spots. Boston is set at 3B longterm with Devers, so Casas will likely be playing 1B in his minor league career but could see the split time.
Boston believed in his abilities and drafted him with the highest regards and expectations, and he has delivered thus far. In 2019, across A baseball, Casas clubbed 19 HR and 25 2B’s in 493 PAs. His BB% was 11.5% to his 23.5% K Rate. Essentially, Casas’s 2019 BB and K rates were replicas of JD Martinez’s (11.0% BB rate to a 21.0% K rate). Now, there’s an obvious difference in the level of competition, but Boston believes they have JD Martinez 2.0 in Casas and hope that when he comes up, he can be that anchor in their lineup for the 2020s and beyond.
2. BOBBY DALBEC (POS: 3B/1B, BATS: R / THROWS: R, 24, ETA: 2020, 2020 Fangraphs FV: 45)
Bobby Dalbec is an older version of Triston Casas, but with a lower ceiling. At 6’4, 225 lbs, Dalbec is a towering force when he steps up to the plate. While Dalbec possesses immense power, the rest of his game isn’t as refined — offensively speaking. Across 105 games in AA last year, Dalbec carried a .825 OPS and hit 20 HR. He also managed a 15.5% BB Rate, to a 25.1% K Rate. However, as strikeouts are becoming less and less of a reason to judge or diminish a baseball player, Dalbec could be that number 3 guy in the LU, if needed.
The bad that comes with Dalbec is, well, really bad. A streaky hitter and Chris Davis-Esque uppercut swing may not translate well to the Major Leagues. With that in mind, Dalbec failed to post a K% under 31.0% in both 2017 and 2018, across A, High A, and AA ball. I view Dalbec as an “all-or-nothing” type of player, where it is very likely that he can hit 35+ HR across a full season, he will also likely see his K% in the ’30s, and struggle to find consistency with his swing and high leg kick.
- The Fangraphs tool grades for Dalbec: Hit: 35, Raw Power: 70, Run: 40, Fielding: 55, Arm: 70. Dalbec will more than likely start the year with Boston’s AAA affiliate the Pawtucket Red Sox, but there is an excellent chance that he gets called up as soon as Boston can call him up without having to lose a full season’s worth of control on him. Similar to Casas, Dalbec can play either of the corners IF spots.
3. GILBERTO JIMENEZ (POS: CF/OF, BATS: R / THROWS: R, 19, ETA: 2022, 2020 Fangraphs FV: 45)
Gilberto Jimenez is one of the quickest prospects in all of baseball, and his 80 Run tool is a testament to that. Having stolen 30 bases over 126 Games last season (comes out to roughly 39 SB’s across 162), Jimenez possesses the speed and talent on the base paths that Boston may be looking for come 2022 when he is expected to come up. Boston, as of now, is one of the more interesting teams on the base paths, as they have quick players with the ability to steal, but don’t have that Trea Turner type. Over the last three seasons, Boston stole 299 bases. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, however, are the only two players with over 50 SB’s total across those three years.
What Gimenez would bring to Boston, when they do decide to call him up, is a potentially game-changing leadoff hitter. In 59 Games last year across Low A baseball, Gimenez slashed: .359/.393/.470 and only struck out 15.0% of the time. When it comes to Gimenez, he is one of the best at getting good contact on the ball and using his speed and excellent base-running mentality, to leg out extra-base hits. Think of Gimenez like Ichiro Suzuki, where a single could very easily turn into a double in the blink of an eye.
- Gimenez’s tools’ FV according to Fangraphs: Hit: 55, Raw Power: 45, Run: 80, Fielding: 60, Arm: 60. While he certainly won’t light up the scoreboard or crush jaw-dropping homers like Dalbec and Casas, Gimenez could very easily make a more significant impact long-term. A consistent hitter that can bat leadoff, or even last in the LU to flip it around, is one of the most essential roles in all of baseball.
Gimenez needs to show that his hit tool is the real deal when it comes time to play in higher levels of competition, but the overall lack of power will drastically hurt him if he cannot figure something out. The difference between him and a career potentially like that of Johnny Damon’s, vs. that of Mallex Smith or Delino DeShields Jr, is separated by a very thin line.
The End Verdict
There is no denying that the three specific prospects talked about for Boston are all three potential game-changing players. However, the same can be said about the New York Yankees’ array of talent as well. When it comes down to it, there are so many factors to take into account that it is challenging to gauge which team will have better output in the future. With that being said, the most crucial thing for Yankees prospects this season (especially Florial) is staying on the field, and putting together consistent playing time.
I believe that from a pure talent perspective, the 3 New York Yankees prospects outweigh the 3 Red Sox prospects, as the way I look at it is the New York Yankees have two potential 5-tool players, whereas the Red Sox have none in the three covered today. While Dalbec and Casas both have immense power and scream 40 HR potential, the power hitters within the MLB come and go, and with the uncertainty to how the juiced balls could affect hitters come 2020 and later, the list of players with 30+ HR potential may keep expanding.
In 2018 26 players hit at least 30 HR (down from 37 in 2017), but in 2019 there were 53. If the league keeps changing, and the balls stay juiced, the value for a boom-or-bust power hitter may continue falling. For Dominguez and Florial, I genuinely believe both have 30+ HR potential, but both could also add to that a + triple slash, fantastic plate discipline, quality speed, and great defense. I view Volpe and Gimenez on a similar playing field, with Gimenez being more proven and having extraordinary Trea Turner like speed, but with Volpe showing the signs of being a very disciplined big-league hitter.
It is difficult to judge a team’s Farm System on just their Top 3 players alone, but in this case — as much as it may taste like vinegar to admit it — Boston has a solid top of their crop. The Yankees, however, to me, edge out their Northeastern counterparts, as I believe that both Dominguez and Florial have superstar potential written all over them.