Cue the Darth Vader music: here comes the evil empire. 

Only problem with that is the current Collective Bargaining Agreement makes the Yankees seem like a force for good in the game. Brian Cashman’s clever management of an enormous budget makes the never-Tankees a sustainable monster. 

Side note: it’s not just greed that keeps owners from spending. Talent-acquisition penalties and revenue sharing connected to the luxury tax keeps owners from spending. 

According to Bryan Hoch of mlb.com: “Since Cole received a qualifying offer, the Astros will receive a pick after Competitive Balance Round B, and the Yankees will lose their second-and fifth-highest selections, as well as $1 million from their international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period. Houston’s pick, at the moment, is No. 74 overall, though that will most likely change with subsequent signings/compensations.”

You won’t see this discussed or even reported very often in the conversation about Cole’s contract. The younger brother of Fernando Tatis Jr., Elijah, just signed with the White Sox for $400,000. Their dad thinks he has the best power in the family. So the Yankees forfeit two-point-five Tatis brothers here, just because they wanted to pay a great player a lot of money. 

They also lose the money associated with those second-and fifth-highest selections, so they lose some wiggle room to go over-slot to land a promising prospect with a college commitment, along with the actual players they’d have picked. 

We may not think much about this stuff, but I guarantee the teams do. The idea of spending money and then winning certainly appeals to these guys, especially the hyper-rich. More winning means more money. That’s what good capitalists want. But the reality of cutting a big check to your rivals along with all the other penny pinchers in the owner’s club has to feel like all the reason needed to treat the luxury tax threshold as a salary cap. I mean just imagine scoring the Astros a free draft pick and sending their owner a million dollars after they knocked you out of the playoffs. There’s really no such thing as a “free” agent in this scenario. Truly incredible stuff. 

 

1. OF Jasson Dominguez | 16 | NA | 2024 

We might be reaching a moment where more will be written about Jasson Dominguez before his first professional at bat than any amateur international signing in baseball history. Some of that is thanks to Acuña, Soto and Wander. Some is thanks to the Yankees. Some to the ever expanding girth of the fantasy echo chamber. But probably the biggest factor is Dominguez himself, an Achilles-level physical elite who’s ceiling is purely hypothetical at this point. He’s building consensus to be the top pick in this winter’s first-year-player drafts. In fact, he went 3rd overall among all prospects in a start-up, 20-team draft I’m doing now. 

 

2. RHP Clarke Schmidt | 24 | AA | Mid 2020

3. RHP Deivi Garcia | 20 | AAA | Mid 2020

Clarke Schmidt seems a bit underrated for fantasy purposes. He’s a first-round pick who’s been excellent since returning from Tommy John surgery, and he finished 2019 with three dominant turns in AA in which he walked one guy and allowed one home run in 19 innings. He’ll probably head back there to begin the season but might not have much use for the minors anymore and will be knocking on New York’s clubhouse door by June. 

We should see Deivi Garcia in the big apple this summer. The Gerrit Cole signing makes it more likely Garcia debuts as a reliever than as a starter, but that shouldn’t necessarily sentence him to a bullpen career path. On the other hand, his pitch mix seems like a great fit for short-burst dominance, and the Yankees love relievers as much as anyone, even Cleveland. 

 

4. RHP Luis Medina | 20 | A+ | Late 2021

5. RHP Miguel Yajure | 22 | AA | Mid 2021

I almost grouped Luis Medina with Schmidt and Garcia because his topside is more enticing than both, but he’s got a long way to go from walking 15.7 percent of the single A batters he faced to finding the command required to thrive against the best bats on the planet. 

Miguel Yajure might have a little less juice, but his command has been impeccable thus far. Not only has he all but eliminated walks, but he also erases the home run ball, having surrendered just five in 138.2 innings last year. In most organizations, he might be in line for some big league starts in 2020. 

 

6. OF Canaan Smith | 21 | A | 2022

7. 2B Ezequiel Duran | 20 | A- | 2023

8. SS Josh Smith | 22 | A- | 2022

9. RHP Luis Gil | 21 | A+ | Late 2021

Canaan Smith is not his brother’s keeper. He’s too busy killing fastballs to all fields. He’s tough to project because he’s a rotund kind of thick, and a few more biscuits for breakfast could cause problems. Flip side, he finds a dynamite health regimen and unlocks unforeseen twitch and speed, pairing athleticism with a strong plate approach to make Smith a top-shelf prospect. 

Safe to say I was a little early on Ezequiel Duran, who I added across my leagues in the Spring of 2018. That season was awful for Duran, whose 48 wRC+ in Rookie ball is among the worst lines I’ve seen for a premium prospect. 2019 brought a 143 wRC+, and though that loses some shine because he was repeating the level, it breathed big dreams back into Duran’s plus power, plus speed profile. 

A second round pick in 2019, Josh Smith hit the ground running in Low A, posting a 177 wRC+ across 33 games—tops in the system. He doesn’t have a ton of power, but his plate approach looks good enough to carry even an average talent, and Smith is better than that. 

Luis Gil has strikeout stuff powered by his fastball and slider, but his command is spotty at best. That and his high-effort delivery give him the look of a back-end bullpen piece—a profile that’s gaining value all the time. 

 

10. SS Alexander Vargas | 18 | R | 2024

10.5 OF Kevin Alcantara | 18 | R | 2024

In a rich 2018 international class, Alexander Vargas was less decorated than the prospect porn that is 6’6” Kevin Alcantara, but Vargas showed a well-rounded skill set and more than enough glove to stay on the dirt. Both kids are more a dream deferred than destined for greatness, but they are great low-cost fliers heading into 2020. 

Thanks for reading! Hope you can meet me and Wander in Tampa Bay this Sunday!

  1. Cris says:
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    How is Florial not in your top prospects for Yankees?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks for reading, Cris!

      And thanks for the question. The inverse of yours is just as interesting to me.

      What would Florial have to do to lose top ten shine in your eyes?

      He just returned to A+ and spent the whole year there—his fourth time playing at the level—where he struck out 32.6 percent of the time and logged a .297 OBP and .383 SLG.

      Full disclosure of confirmation bias: I’ve always thought the swing was too grooved, the hands too stuff, and that’s a really tough issue to fix. Tends to just get worse, in my opinion. Maybe he’ll get it figured out, but I’d rather let him prove it than lean in and assume he’ll learn how to hit someday.

      This is an area I’m really intrigued by, for what it’s worth. Dynasty world seems hesitant to ding prospects for extended poor performance. The logic behind this is sound enough, but it seems incongruous with how young major leaguers’ values are treated, and the minor league pool of options is just so much bigger. While Florial is backsliding, countless prospects are making huge improvements and flying by him in dynasty value. To hang onto a depreciating asset is to miss out in any number of opportunities for huge profit.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        i like this thinking, and if we use your lists and other spots lists it’s not as if we’ll just forget about florial, as they’ll still have him on theirs, but like you say here, for super deep spots we’d rather find the maybe diamonds that don’t make others’ lists at all, due to guys like florial still being on them. 4 times at one low level with no improvement is pretty bad, too.

  2. Malicious Phenoms says:
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    Hey good stuff Itch.

    I’d be surprised in any Yankees prospects actually play in The Bronx.

    Hey could you name me a couple of super deep dynasty SPs. Not the household names, just a couple of three prospects with ace type potential in their future..

    Thanks Itch

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Malicious Phenoms!

      Brailyn Marquez might be my favorite home run swing on the pitching side. The Cubs are making gains on the arm-development front, and Marquez has taken beautifully to the coaching. Cory Abbott has my attention in that organization as well, to a lesser extent.

      I really like Luis Garcia in Houston and Joe Ryan in Tampa Bay.

      Daniel Espino is certainly on the radar, but I think he’s underrated right now.

      Can probably tell I like Yajure in this system quite a bit.

      Brandon Williamson and George Kirby in Seattle and Trevor Rogers in Miami both appeal to me as well.

      A common theme here is targeting organizations with a track record of identifying and developing arms. Also the Cubs because they’re working hard for a sea change there and starting to see some fruits.

      I’ve spoken highly of Reds in these pages for similar reasons. If you can get Hunter Greene, now is a decent time to do so.

      Oh and Joey Cantillo. I think he’s got a very fantasy friendly skill set and is unlikely to ever catch the heat of a top prospect.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Oh I’m really liking Blake Walston in Arizona, too.

        Have kind of a thing for tall lefties with good extension and command of off-speed.

        • Malicious Phenoms says:
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          Thanks Itch, great list and Thanks for taking the time to do it!

          • The Itch

            The Itch says:
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            Thanks! Anytime!

  3. Philip says:
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    Itch, talk me down (or don’t) from dumping Willy Adames and picking up a prospect, assuming I can’t find a taker. Does he have worthwhile upside? Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Awesome question, Philip, thanks!

      Adames is a tricky player in dynasty right now.

      He’s too valuable to dump in most leagues, but I’d be hoping to identify someone in need of a shortstop and build a multi-piece deal if necessary to max out his current value.

      Easier said than done, of course.

      I’m with you on wanting to be free of Adames shares, but he is a value on defense to a team with a track record for helping hitters. He may never be a great fantasy shortstop, and the specter of Wander looms, but it’s going to be hard for Tampa to get him off the field, and that adds value. As does the fact that it’s Tampa, and if they’re not going to play or pay him, they’ll just let him go, either by asking for very little in trade or deeming him too expensive for a bench role.

  4. goodfold2 says:
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    i’m just having to restart baseball knowledge, catching up on back posts. VERY glad to see you are already at 18 teams finished here as starting like jan 2nd my 30 team fantrax super sized dynasty (max 30 prospects slots), and we’d be MUCH better off just waiting till feb as so little team prospect lists at the better places are even much out by then, and here you are 18/30ths of the way done already, which is just awesome. i’ll have very deep level prospect questions upcoming.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks for the kind words, goodfold2!

      Glad to be of use!

      I’m looking forward to the questions! I love the leagues with huge prospect rosters!

      • goodfold2 says:
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        oops, it’s actually 40 max prospects (for the first 3 or so years i was in this league it went up 5 max per year, i think it started at 25 when i joined). this year i have less total active players kept, a bunch of contracts ran out. our preseason goes:
        – restricted FA are bid on and matched or picks given out if not matched
        – draft (jan 2nd till it’s done, usually takes about 3.5-5 weeks)
        – 5 weeks of FA bids and a 6th week to clean up anybody left not won
        – 4-6 weeks of dead time (which is bad since by this point all the best prospect stuff has finally come out, could’ve used that stuff but we had to draft jan 2nd- early feb, but is good since by march i’m now very well versed on prospects for ANY other sized league easily and this very involved league doesn’t hamstring my time for all other leagues of mine). for now i gotta figure out which 3 guys to tag (we get 1 franchise, 1 restricted, then 1 of either type on top) in 6 days.

  5. andrew says:
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    “Just because they wanted to pay a great player a lot of money” ?
    Did you watch Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium today ?
    Did you listen to him speak ?
    Ask any knowledgeable Yankee fan; ask any Yankee executive; ask anyone on mlb.com if they thought signing Cole for the rest of his career, and forfeiting “2.5 Tatis brothers” and lose 2 draft picks and $1 million International money, wasn’t the best move by the Yankees since they signed Catfish Hunter, and anyone old enough will say yes.
    Yankees thought “about that stuff” for about 2 seconds…..maybe 1.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks for reading, Andrew!

      Perhaps I didn’t make the case I’d intended.

      I think the signing is a huge win for the Yankees.

      That doesn’t absolve this CBA from making owners feel like the smart business play is to hoard money and ignore non-elite free agents.

      And no. I did not watch the press conference.

  6. andrew edenbaum says:
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    Deivi Garcia is the best Yankee prospect ! Should see him up sometime this year. Let’s see if they move Happ, before relegating Deivi to the pen just yet.
    Yankees still like Kyle Schwarber. Should trade Stanton for him. Unfortunately they’d have to wait at least 1/2 of that contract. Schwarber would love to hit in Yankee Stadium, in the middle of that lineup, no less.
    I just turned 72, and my chances of seeing 1 or more World Championships in my lifetime have gone up immeasurably, because of the Cole acquisition.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Agreed: they’re incredibly deep and talented. Scary.

  7. Simps says:
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    Thanks for the read. Enjoyed the breakdown.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Simps!

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