Over the past few seasons, the blueprint for the New York Yankees franchise has been a predictable one: assemble an aging, overpriced roster, finish a few games over .500, rinse, repeat. Reload rather than rebuild. However, those days appear to be coming to an end. 41-year-old Alex Rodriguez and 39-year-old Carlos Beltran are gone. 36-year-old Mark Teixeira has been reduced to a part-time role. High priced relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller have been traded away for a boatload of prospects to restock the farm system. The youth movement is officially underway. One of the newest youngsters on the Yankee roster is this week’s most added player in ESPN leagues, 24-year-old outfielder Aaron Judge (34.8% owned; +31.1% over the past week). Judge’s 6-foot-7, 275 pound frame and impressive raw power have drawn comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton, but I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. Stanton already had 154 homers on his MLB resumé by the end of his age-24 season while Judge is just getting started. I think that more reasonable comps would be along the lines of players such as Richie Sexson and Mark Trumbo – big, powerful righties who have racked up some impressive home run totals throughout their careers. Another trait that Judge shares with those sluggers is his propensity to strike out, as he’s whiffed in 24% of his plate appearances this season after doing so in 26% of his PAs last year. The homers could come in bunches at times, but there could be some cold streaks as well. A .250ish average with plus power is a reasonable projection for Judge moving forward. He’s worth an add in all leagues for his power upside alone.
Here are a couple of other recent Yankee call-ups who have drawn the attention of fantasy owners over the past week:
Gary Sanchez: 10.9% owned; +4.6%
The Yankee youth movement continues with Sanchez, yet another power hitting prospect in the Judge mold. However, two big differences between Sanchez and Judge are that Sanchez plays a more scarce position (catcher, though he might not be eligible there yet depending on your format) and isn’t quite as prone to the strikeout. Unlike Judge, Sanchez has had a sub-20% K-rate at each minor league stop since 2013, including a career-low 14.4% K% in Triple-A this season. The aforementioned departures of A-Rod and Beltran mean that everyday at-bats are available for Sanchez, and he’s taken advantage of his opportunities early on (.302/.333/.512 with 2 home runs in 45 PA). If he’s still sitting on your waiver wire, grab him now. TREASURE.
Tyler Austin: 10.2% owned; +10.2%
Austin is one of those players who’s difficult to evaluate. The soon-to-be 25-year-old suffered a wrist injury which affected his 2013 and 2014 production, before falling off of the prospect map after producing a .235/.309/.311 line with a 27% strikeout rate at Triple-A last season. After a pedestrian showing at Double-A this season, Austin destroyed Triple-A pitching to the tune of .323/.415/.637 with 13 homers and 49 RBI in just 234 plate appearances. He kept the good times rolling with a home run in his first MLB at-bat last weekend as well. Is Austin a late bloomer, can his mediocre minor league production be attributed to injuries, or are his numbers this season just a small sample size fluke? It’s hard to say at this point, but for the remainder of this season, Austin is worth the gamble to see if things have finally clicked for him. TREASURE.