So, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have pretty much been given their walking papers and the youth movement has begun. Here are some names to remember, if you’re one of those fans who never paid much attention to the minor league system. These players will probably be in Pinstripes in 2017 (and maybe before this season is over):
Aaron Judge: an outfielder whose power has been compared to Giancarlo Stanton. Remember those moon shots Stanton hit during the Home Run Derby? Check out this Judge blast –
Clint Frazier: another outfielder, he was the lynchpin of the Andrew Miller trade. He’s been compared to Mike Trout in terms of raw ability. Except with more power.
Gary Sanchez: Not only the catcher of the future, but it looks like he’s the catcher of the present. Since his call-up on August 3, he’s hitting .333 with an .813 OPS.
Tyler Austin: The slugging outfielder/first baseman was nearly derailed by injuries in 2014 & 2015, but has recovered in a big way this year, with a .321 average, 17 homers and 76 RBI.
Greg Bird: The first baseman with a sweet left handed swing hurt his should this spring and has spent the year rehabbing. But as an emergency replacement for Teixeira towards the end of last year, the then 22 year old hit .261/11/31 in 46 games.
Bryan Mitchell: The right handed pitcher with the overpowering fastball had made the big club in Spring Training, before a freak broken big toe cost him his season. Still, look for him and Luis Severino to provide major innings in the starting rotation in 2017.
Luis Cessa/Chad Green: the young righties have made a few appearances for the Yankees as part of the “Scranton Shuttle” this season. The return for last year’s Justin Wilson trade, the former Mets and Tiger’s farmhands are both probable swingmen, joining Adam Warren in giving Joe Girardi plenty of options (and potential innings) out of the Yankee middle relief corps.
And in 2018, these kids will probably be ready to see big-league action:
Dustin Fowler: A speedster in the Brett Gardner mold, the outfielder has hit .287 with 8 homers and 20 steals at AA this year.
Billy McKinney: Yet another speedy outfielder, the left handed McKinney was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade.
Ian Clarkin: the former first round pick has recovered from a lost 2015 and become an even better pitcher. The young lefty, once compared to Ron Guidry, now has 3 off speed pitches to compliment his 97mph fastball.
Justus Sheffield: The left hander is another of the players who came back in the Andrew Miller deal.
Ben Heller: the righty reliever with a 99mph fastball was another player in the Miller trade. He has a shot to see action out of the Yankee bullpen next year, if he gets better command of the strike zone. Even so, in his first AAA action this year, he’s posted a 1.60 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP in 28 innings.
Kyle Higashioka: the catcher slugged his way from AA into a AAA promotion, and hasn’t stopped hitting yet. In 17 games at Scranton, the late-blooming Higashioka has hit .359 with 6 homers.
There’s even more talent waiting in the low minors. Kids like Jorge Mateo, Gleyber Torres, Blake Rutherford, James Kaprellian, Miguel Andujar and Kyle Holder are all considered among the 100 best minor league prospects. (Indeed, the Yankees almost have an embarrassment of riches at shortstop and catcher).
And don’t forget, the Yankees are reducing their payroll by almost $70 million by Opening Day in 2018- and that’s before current veterans (see: Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Chase Headley) find themselves on the trade block. You know who hits free agency in 2018? Manny Machado. Bryce Harper. Josh Donaldson. Matt Harvey. Clayton Kershaw. Jose Fernandez. AJ Pollock. Andrew Miller.
To think the Yankees won’t open the checkbook and grab a few of those perennial all-stars and fill in the blanks before Opening Day 2018 is ludicrous. Combine, say, Machado, Harper and Harvey with the upcoming crop of Baby Bombers and that’s why I’m predicting it now:
The New York Yankees will win the World Series in 2018.
Not only that, it’s going to be the start of another dynasty.