2021 New York Yankees Diamonds in the Rough

by Matt Wiener
2021 New York Yankees Diamonds in the Rough

Welcome to the nineteenth installment of my series, 2021 Diamonds in the Rough as we discuss my New York Yankees.

In this article, I will break down four prospects--two hitting and two pitching--from the New York Yankees farm system. The Yankees are my favorite team in baseball, so I have been eagerly awaiting this installment of the seres.

Last time out, I took a look at some of the New York Mets prospects.

In deep dynasty leagues, the ability to spot high-upside lower-ranked prospects before they become household names in the fantasy baseball community can make a big difference to the long-term success of your team.

To qualify as a diamond in the rough for this series, a player must be currently ranked lower than No. 15 on their team's latest MLB Pipeline Prospect Rankings.

Check out our 2021 Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Rankings to help you dominate your leagues.

2021 New York Yankees Diamonds in the Rough

Hitters

Anthony Garcia, OF (Unranked)

Bats: S | Throws: R
Tools: 40 Hit | 65 Power | 40 Run | 50 Field | 55 Arm
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie
ETA: 2024

The Yankees signed Anthony Garcia out of the Dominican Republic during the 2017 international signing period.

According to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, "[i]t's Garcia, not [Jasson] Dominguez, who is the most impressive and imposing physical presence of all the young Yankees hitters. A 6-foot-6 switch-hitting leviathan, if Garcia doesn't have 80 raw power now, he will in the next few years." Further, at only 205 pounds, Garcia possesses significant projection and room to add muscle to his monster frame.

At the ripe age of 17, Garcia played most of his debut season in the Gulf Coast League (GCL). In the GCL, Garcia led the league in homers, despite being nearly three years younger than his average competition. Though Garcia hit only .240, he posted an average .320 OBP and an impressive .513 SLG with ten homers, six doubles, three triples and three steals (in three attempts) over 175 plate appearances. Moreover, Garcia had an excellent .250 Isolated Power and an above average 126 wRC+.

However, Garcia's swing-and-miss issues were on full display, as he posted a dismal 41.7 percent strikeout rate. Despite the strikeout woes, he also compiled an above average 10.3 percent walk rate.

Unfortunately, Garcia was limited to only six games during 2019 after suffering a leg injury. In those six games in the Appalachian League, Garcia hit .294 with an excellent .417 OBP and absurd .706 SLG, featuring a homer, two doubles and a triple in only 24 plate appearances. Despite the hot start, Garcia still struck out in 37.5 percent of his plate appearances.

Garcia features elite bat speed and double-plus raw power from both sides of the plate. In fact, Baseball America rated Garcia as the best power hitter in the Yankees system in 2019. Moreover, Garcia has flashed above-average speed in stride. However, Garcia's speed has lost a tick since signing and he will likely continue to slow some as he grows. Regardless, the fact that Garcia has flashed above-average speed bodes well for his future potential to swipe some bags.

However, Garcia will need to improve his approach and ability to make contact to maximize his double-plus raw power. Per Baseball America, "[Garcia's] long arms and swing holes leave him vulnerable to swing and miss." In addition, Garcia has a very aggressive approach and struggles with pitch recognition. This is evidenced by his alarming 40.25 percent strikeout rate over 241 professional plate appearances. Yet, Garcia has been significantly younger than his competition. Further, after missing most of 2019, some think that he could have a late blooming hit tool.

Garcia has tremendous upside with elite power from both sides of the plate. Yet, there is a good amount of boom-or-bust in Garcia's profile. However, I think that he is currently being criminally underrated and has big time breakout potential. Despite the scary strikeout numbers, Garcia has posted some impressive underlying power numbers. This shows that Garcia is getting to his power in games despite making relatively limited contact.

If Garcia shows improvement with his hit tool when he next hits the field, his stock will skyrocket. He is a long ways away from bashing in the Bronx with the Bombers. But with a ceiling to dream on, Garcia is worth the wait.

Raimfer Salinas, OF (Unranked)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 40 Hit | 50 Power | 45 Run | 50 Field | 55 Arm
Age: 20
Highest Level: Rookie
ETA: 2024

The Yankees signed Raimfer Salinas out of Venezuela during the 2017 international signing period.

Per Ben Badler of Baseball America when the Yankees signed Salinas in 2017, "[a]t 6 feet, 170 pounds, Salinas is an athletic, righthanded-hitting center fielder with promising speed and arm strength. While he has shown some swing-and-miss tendencies, he has represented Venezuela at international tournaments and generally performed well in games."

Salinas' 2018 debut was limited to 11 games after he suffered a broken ring finger and knee bursitis. He struggled during his brief debut, hitting a measly .108. However, Salinas also flashed his plus speed racking up four steals (though he was also caught three times).

According to Baseball America, "[i]n 2019, the Yankees worked with Salinas to find a swing that got to the strike zone quicker and stayed there longer...they also worked with him to refine his command of the strike zone and get him to unleash on pitches he could drive." The results were evident in Salinas' second stint in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2019.

In 2019, Salinas hit .270/.329/.415 with three homers, ten doubles and eleven steals over 174 plate appearances. Further, Salinas displayed some power with a well above average .356 wOBA and an above average 114 wRC+.

With a solid frame and good bat speed, Salinas could continue to improve his power output as he develops. In the words of the great Eric Cross of Fantrax, "[t]here's also some sneaky-good raw power lurking in that bat as well. With some development, I could see 15-20 homers annually with enough raw speed to match."

However, Salinas has also showed some serious holes in his approach, often being overly aggressive and struggling against off-speed pitches. To that effect, Salinas compiled a brutal 26 percent strikeout rate and an awful four percent walk rate in 2019.

In the field, Salinas stands out for his natural athleticism and above average arm. His defense is also bolstered by his plus speed and efficient route running. Per Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, Salinas is "a plus runner with a plus arm and a chance for plus defense in center field."

Salinas is only 20 years old and has only played 53 professional games, none above the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Given his plus defense, explosive speed, "sneaky-good raw power" and relative inexperience, Salinas is a prime breakout candidate in 2021.

Salinas will need to make some adjustments to his approach and become a more patient hitter. However, his plus contact skills and a lofty ceiling make him worth monitoring in deep dynasty leagues.

Pitchers

Ken Waldichuk, LHP  (#27)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 55 FB | 55 CB | 55 SL | 50 CH | 50 CNTRL
Age: 23
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2022

The Yankees drafted Ken Waldichuk out of Saint Mary's College of California (Moraga, CA) in the 5th round (165 overall) of the 2019 MLB draft.

In his 2019 Rookie-ball debut, Waldichuk posted a solid 3.68 ERA to go along with an excellent 0.886 WHIP over 29.1 innings. Further, Waldichuk displayed an elite combination of strikeout stuff and control. He compiled an excellent 49/7 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 42.6 percent strikeout rate and an above average 6.1 percent walk rate.

One major development during Waldichuk's debut was an uptick in his velocity. Per MLB Pipeline, "[a]fter operating with a 89-92 mph two-seam fastball during his college career, Waldichuk has adopted a four-seamer and repeatedly hit 95-96 during his first taste of pro ball...and hit 98 mph in bullpen workouts on his own last year during the pandemic shutdown."

During the 2021 season, Waldichuk has been one of the biggest breakouts in the minors. In fact, according to Baseball America on June 7, "Waldichuk has been the best performing pitcher in minor league baseball so far."

To start the season, Waldichuk tossed 30.2 scoreless innings at High-A. That was the longest scoreless streak in the minors this season. During that span, Waldichuk compiled an elite 0.82 WHIP and held hitters to a .120 batting average against with a 48.7 percent strikeout rate. Despite the excellent start, Waldichuk also posted an ugly 11.5 percent walk rate.

After being promoted to Double-A, Waldichuk has continued to show excellent strikeout stuff. He has racked up 25 strikeouts and a near 49 percent strikeout rate in only 15 innings (three games). However, continuing the trend from earlier in the season, Waldichuk has also struggled with command, compiling twelve walks.

Overall, Waldichuk has been incredible in 2021. He has posted a perfect 3-0 record with an excellent 1.18 ERA and 0.985 WHIP combo, to go along with 80 strikeouts in 45.2 innings. However, he has also allowed 25 walks (4.9 BB/9) and will need to cut down on the walks to continue finding success against more advanced hitters.

Per Fangraphs, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, "Waldichuk is a loose, lanky lefty who gets way down the mound (he generates nearly seven feet of extension) and has big carry on his fastball." Waldichuk's excellent extension helps shorten the distance to opposing batters and gives the appearance of additional velocity on his fastball.

In addition to Waldichuk's improved fastball, he also sports a pair of solid breaking balls with a developing changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, "[s]couts debate which of his breaking balls is better, but both his upper-80s curveball and low-80s slider show the potential to become solid offerings. He also displays some feel for a changeup with fade, though it still needs some work."

Waldichuk is breaking out before our eyes in 2021. He leads all of the minors with a 44.7 percent strikeout rate. Moreover, he is top three in ERA and batting average against and top six in strikeouts. After previously looking more like a low-ceiling, high-floor option, Waldichuk has kicked his game into another gear in 2021. This could just be the beginning of the ascension up the prospect rankings for Waldichuk.

Glenn Otto, RHP  (#28)

Bats: R | Throws: R
Tools: 60 FB | 60 CB | 45 SL | 40 CH | 45 CNTRL
Age: 25
Highest Level: AA
ETA: 2022

The Yankees drafted Glenn Otto out of Rice University (Houston, TX) in the 5th round (152 overall) of the 2017 MLB draft.

Otto was mostly used as a reliever in college, only starting four of his 82 appearances at Brown. However, per Baseball America "[o]nce Otto got to pro ball, the Yankees used him on a starter's schedule, with five or six days coming between appearances. Those who saw him after he signed saw a potential horse, based on his massive [6-foot-3, 240 pound] size and fastball in the mid-90s with downhill plane."

During Otto's 2017 debut between Rookie-ball and High-A, he started four of his nine appearances. He posted a clean 1.35 ERA and 1.90 WHIP with a handsome 30/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 20 innings.

Though the arrow was pointing straight up for Otto heading into 2018, his season was cut short only two starts in, after having surgery to remove a blood clot from his shoulder. Notably, Otto's second start was a six-inning, one-hit shutout.

After missing most of 2018, 2019 was a big season for Otto. The Yankees eased Otto in with three starts at Rookie-Ball, before promoting him High-A, where he started 12 of his 14 appearances. In 2019, Otto posted an above average 3.23 ERA and racked up 74 strikeouts in 61.1 innings. However, Otto also struggled with his command, with a poor 1.50 WHIP and an awful 13.58 percent walk rate.

Like Waldichuk, Otto has been one of the biggest breakouts of 2021. Let's take a look at his eight starts (in nine games) at Double-A in 2021. First, though Otto has a 3.96 ERA over 52.1 innings, he also sports excellent fielding independent pitching stats, with a .280 FIP and a 2.73 xFIP, which is good for eleventh in all of the minors.

Second, Otto is displaying a combination of career best strikeout stuff and control. He has compiled 83 strikeouts, which ranks fourth in all of the minors and an unbelievable strikeout rate near 40 percent, which is good for seventh in all of the minors, tied with Shane Baz of the Tampa Bay Rays. He also has four games with ten or more strikeouts, including two games with 14 strikeouts.

Moreover, he has posted an above average 6.7 percent walk rate, which is encouraging after his struggles with command in 2019.

With respect to his arsenal, Otto possesses a plus velocity fastball that sits 92-94 mph with solid movement. Per Fangraphs, "[Otto] was up to 98 mph and flashed a 70 curveball in short stints before the injury, then last year was sitting 92-94, albeit with other traits (spin rate and axis) that enabled it to play better than that."

However, Otto's best pitch is his hard power curveball. According to MLB Pipeline, "Otto's out pitch is a spike curveball that ranges from 78-81 mph and also in effectiveness, as it's a hammer with true 12-6 break at times and less sharp and hard to control at others."

While Otto also possesses a low-usage curveball, a major development for him has been the addition of a slider to his arsenal in 2021. In the words of Yankees minor league pitching director Sam Briend, "[Otto has] always had a nasty breaking ball...[a] big, over-the-top curveball. It's a banger. It hasn't played right to righties, but it's been awesome to lefties. So we though the addition of a slider would really given him that swing-and-miss pitch that he's been lacking to right-handers." Briend added, "he's just going after guys and saying, 'Here it is, can you hit it?' That mindset is a big change." Chalk that up under things you love to hear.

Prior to 2021, the primary knocks on Otto were his injury history, his lack of a refined third pitch and his control issues. All of these factors contribute to the argument that Otto may be better served as a dominant bullpen piece in the future. However, Otto has made major strides in 2021, both with incorporating a third pitch in his slider and posting career best control indicators.

With Otto dominating Double-A competition in 2021, already being 25 years old and the Yankees rotation issues, I would not be surprised to see the Yankees be aggressive with Otto and give him a look sooner rather than later. Like Waldichuk, his success simply cannot be ignored.


To uncover more high-upside lower-ranked prospects, you can access all of the articles for other teams in my 2021 Diamonds in the Rough series here.


Make sure you bookmark our Fantasy Baseball page to consume all of our 2021 MLB content!

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