His OPS actually improved when he jumped from Double-A to Triple-A, and it improved again when he jumped from Triple-A to the big leagues. For the sake of argument: Several young shortstops played pretty well in more of a utility role this season, and Thairo Estrada stayed on the prospect radar with a solid year as a regular second baseman in Staten Island. For the sake of argument: In the Dominican, Nelson Gomez hit 11 home runs, and rookie-ball third basemen Donny Sands and Allen Valerio had pretty good years. For the sake of argument: Could make a case for Tyler Wade, but Mateo is still the stronger choice. I think there are some similarities in Fowler and Gamel, each of whom is a kind of across-the-board left-handed hitter who can play all three outfield positions without having one tool in particular that stands out.
For the sake of argument: If this is just a way to get another hitter in the mix, then surely Jose Pirela is worth mentioning after another big year playing all over the field in Triple-A. For the sake of argument: The first name that jumps out is Rookie Davis, who pitched his way onto the 40-man roster while finishing second in the organization in strikeouts (behind Montgomery). Once seen as the top relief prospect in the organization, Montgomery has fallen to the edges of the radar. Not only did Sanchez put up big numbers, he also advanced to Triple-A, thrived in the Arizona Fall League, and earned raved reviews for his improved defense and maturity.


Bird started the season by playing his way out of Trenton, then he played his way onto the big league roster, and he provided an impact bat down the stretch after Mark Teixeira got hurt. If the Yankees are comfortable with Refsnyder’s defense, he seems to have a real chance of playing at least a platoon role in the big league next season. Former second-round pick Gosuke Katoh was awful opening the year in Charleston, but he finished strong after a demotion back to rookie ball. Even though he was hurt, I probably would have gone with Eric Jagielo, who had an .842 OPS in 58 games.
He also managed to play shortstop everyday in Low-A and High-A, first as a 19-year-old, then as a 20-year-old. Wade and Mateo, though, headline a fairly deep group of young shortstops including Kyle Holder, Hoy Jun Park and Wilkerman Garcia. His stuff and his numbers just weren’t as good when he got into the upper levels, but he had a really nice year in Double-A with a system-leading 17 saves. In some ways, this was a perfect minor league season: lived up to expectation, moved up the ladder and in the end helped out in the big leagues. Several interesting possibilities down the road, but Mateo and Wade were the standouts this season.


Triple-A finally challenged him, but Judge still put up big numbers, leading the organization in home runs and RBI. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams might be in this conversation if not for their first-half injuries. A little love for Cole Figueroa as well, who had a nice year primarily playing third base in Triple-A. Severino put up huge numbers in Double-A and Triple-A, and it’s impossible to overlook his contributions in the big leagues during those final two months of the season. From the left side, Chaz Hebert deserves consideration for a really nice year in Tampa, plus three good starts in Triple-A. Even with good numbers in Trenton, Montgomery didn’t get much of a look in Triple-A and was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft this winter.



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