This piece is the first of a two part series looking at the New York Yankees hitting prospects
Mason Williams, OF
Williams was only drafted in the fourth round in 2010, but his great play in low-A ball the next year quickly put him on the radar as one of the top prospects in the Yankees organization, eventually reaching #32 in Baseball America’s Top 100. Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill since then. Williams’s numbers have been on the decline ever since his torn labrum in 2012. He hit a measly .153 in 73 at bats in AA Trenton, with a 23.7% strikeout ratio. His draft position is a good indicator that his quality play was just a fluke. Furthermore, his .399 BABIP that season is almost 100 points higher than his .304 career BABIP. Unless he puts on some weight, he doesn’t seem to have the size to be an impact hitter at the professional level. Williams is a solid fielder who has plus speed, but with no power potential whatsoever, stay far away from Williams on draft day.
Slade Heathcott, OF
With plus power and plus speed, former first-round draft pick Slade Heathcott has the potential to become a 20-20 player in the big leagues, though early comparisons to Josh Hamilton are probably unrealistic. His consistently high BABIP, coupled with his surprisingly low batting average, suggests two things: 1) he strikes out a lot!, and 2) when he makes contact, he is getting on base. In fact his strikeout ratio is so consistently high, usually in the upper twenties, that FanGraphs predicts it will land somewhere in the low thirties next season, which is just awful. Unless Heathcott seriously improves his approach at the plate, he will probably be no more than a .250 hitter, at best. Still, he is only 22 years old, and plate discipline is definitely something that can be taught. For now, avoid Heathcott in drafts, since the Yankees already crowded outfield won't be opening up anytime soon.
Eric Jagielo, 3B
A former Big East Player of the Year, Eric Jagielo finished up his final season at Notre Dame hitting .388/.500/.633 with 19 doubles and nine homers. After being drafted in the first round, Jagielo performed very solidly for the Single-A Staten Island Yankees. He has very good plate discipline, walking at an 11.9% rate, which he complements with very good home run and extra base power. His ISO, or isolated power, which measures raw power by dividing extra-base hits by plate appearances, was .185, which falls in between the above average and great categories according to FanGraphs. Even though he does seem to strikeout at an above-average rate, we can expect a slight decrease in that number due to his age and the tendency for first-year hitters to get swing happy. So take a flier on Jagielo in the middle-to-late rounds of keeper or dynasty leagues. He has the tools and size of a big league hitter, and the Yankees need to fill a hole at third base. He just may have the opportunity in the next two or three years to land a starting job.