Continuing The Times-Tribune’s annual countdown of the top 15 Yankees prospects. I rank 20 prospects, Donnie Collins ranks 20 prospects, and then we average them together. The list takes into account ETA for the big leagues. You’re going to find some guys who might not have ceilings as high as others, but who instead could be in a position to help the Yankees sooner. Since they’re so new to pro baseball, 2018 draftees are not included on the list.
Best stuff in the system. 100+ mph fastball. Above average curveball and changeup. If he can ever learn to harness the stuff, Luis Medina could be the next great Yankees starter.
Position: Starting pitcher
Acquired: Signed as a nondrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 8, 2015.
SWB ETA: 2021
Joined short-season Pulaski for 12 starts in the second half of the season. He had a 6.25 ERA in 36 innings, walked 46 (11.5 BB/9) and struck out 47 (11.8 K/9). It was his second trip through the circuit, as he made six starts with Pulaski in 2017.
Here’s some video of Medina:
Below, Donnie and I discuss why Medina lands at No. 10 on the list, what’s good about him and what might need work.
CF: I don’t think there’s any question as to how talented Medina is. He’s got a 100-mph fastball, a reportedly high-spin rate curveball and a change that’s supposed to be above average, too. Oh, and he’s 19 years old. The bad: he walked 11.5 batters per nine innings last year.
DC: I’ll be honest: I ranked him strictly on the say-so of a few scouts I talk to. They all say to ignore the numbers, because he’s so young, and the stuff is so electric. And I do get the feeling he’ll move quickly if he starts to harness what he’s doing, because forget getting Double-A and Triple-A hitters out with that kind of stuff; he can get big league hitters out with it. The thing for me, though, is exactly what you said. I can’t ignore that number. He has to get a lot better, and that might be a real project for the player development guys.
CF: It’s funny, I showed a scout I know our rankings and one of the first things he said before even seeing the whole list was something like, “You’ve got to have Medina on there.” I think the fact that he is so young is such a positive for him. It could take him five years to harness his stuff and he’d still reach the majors as a 24-year-old. Here’s something Kevin Reese told MiLB.com last week about Medina and fellow uber talented (but wild) pitcher Luis Gil: “Our pitching department is banging their heads daily on what they can do to improve those guys. There’s a ton of hope. They’re doing a ton of drills and things to help find their command and get them to where they can be. We’ve seen flashes. That’s the thing that gives you that hope. It’s not like this guy, especially Medina, is going to be always all over the place. He’s showing places where he can land all three pitches and make people look silly. I know it’s in there. There was some stuff where maybe he wasn’t the most mature kid last year handling some of the things, but we’re hoping it’s a clean slate this year. He’s been throwing a lot of strikes, and hopefully he gets off to a good start.”
DC: Those are interesting comments, for a few reasons. One is the maturity thing, because that’s probably a factor. But it’s a big difference between battling that in A-ball when you’re 19 and battling it in AAA. The other thing is, they see command from time to time. It’s important to remember he’s 19. How many high school kids do you see who throw 90-92 and have trouble commanding it? That’s basically where he is in his career.
15: Phillip Diehl
14: Stephen Tarpley
13: Garrett Whitlock
12: Nick Nelson
11: Albert Abreu
10: Luis Medina
7: March 24
6: March 25
5: March 26
4: March 27
3: March 28
2: March 29
1: March 30
Photo: New York Yankees