Expected to be among the top teams in the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season by publications such as USA Today, the New York Yankees boast a veteran-laden roster. It includes All-Stars like Aroldis Chapman, Gerrit Cole, J.A. Happ, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Judge.
The organization’s farm system, meanwhile, was ranked as the 20th best in MLB by Bleacher Report prior to the start of the 2020 season. Despite being in the bottom-third of the rankings, the Yankees have several prospects who could see time at the Big League level in 2020, including the six players listed below:
1. Michael King
The Yankees starting rotation is in good shape heading into the 2020 MLB season with the signing of prized free agent Gerrit Cole and the return of Jordan Montgomery. However, the team’s bullpen might be an area of weakness following the departures of Nestor Cortes Jr. and Dellin Betances.
Michael King is one prospect who could help out in that regard. A 24-year-old native of Rochester, New York, King allowed two hits over two innings of relief with the Yankees last season, but spent the majority of the season in the minor leagues. He started eight of the 11 games in which he appeared and registered a 5.48 earned run average (ERA) through 46 innings. He allowed 47 hits and struck out 44 batters.
An alumnus of Boston College, King was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 12th round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft and acquired by the Yankees in November 2017 in exchange for Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith. He projects to be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but could excel in a relief role if called upon this season given his impressive accuracy.
2. Deivi Garcia
If not King, Deivi Garcia is a pitcher who could compete for extended playing time out of the bullpen. While he’s expected to begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the 20-year-old could earn a recall to the Yankees if he is able to conquer opposition batters early in the season.
He struggled at the Triple-A level over 40 innings pitched last season, but was dominant with Double-A Trenton and High-A Tampa. He pitched a combined 71.1 innings with those teams and struck out 120 batters.
Signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, Garcia has a career win-loss record of 17-20 in the minor leagues. In addition, he has a 3.37 ERA and has struck out 416 batters through 293.2 innings.
3. Estevan Florial
Like Garcia, Florial was signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic. The 22-year-old outfielder was ranked among the top 70 prospects by the MLB and Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2019 season. Unfortunately, he experienced a wrist injury in spring training that ultimately derailed his season.
He played in only 74 games for the Yankees’ High-A affiliate in Tampa and registered a .237 batting average to go along with 8 home runs and 38 RBI. Given that Aaron Hicks is expected to be sidelined for an extended period of time in 2020 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, Florial could make the Yankees as a bench player if he has a solid showing in spring training.
4. Nick Nelson
Although he isn’t considered a top 10 prospect in the Yankees organization, right-handed pitcher Nick Nelson put up impressive statistics in 2019. The 23-year-old struck out 114 batters in 89.2 innings pitched and registered a 2.81 ERA through 17 starts and one relief appearance.
He made four stats for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre near the end of the season, indicating the Yankees believe he’s close to being capable of contributing at the Big League level. Nelson was selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.
5. Clarke Schmidt
Selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft, Clarke Schmidt began the 2019 season with the Yankees Gulf Coast League affiliate. He rose to Double-A Trenton by the end of the season.
Through 18 starts and one relief appearance across three minor league levels, the 23-year-old allowed 79 hits and struck out 102 batters in 90.2 innings pitched. He had a win-loss record of 6-5 and a 3.47 ERA. He could start some games for the Yankees in 2020 in the event of an injury to one of its starting pitchers.
6. Albert Abreu
Although he struggled in 2019, Albert Abreu is still a highly-regarded pitching prospect who has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his minor league career. The 24-year-old registered a 4.28 ERA and walked just under five batter per nine innings last season at Double-A Trenton.
Notably, however, he was ranked among the top 100 prospects by MLB, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2018 season. Through six seasons in the minor leagues, he has a 3.77 ERA and has struck out 446 batters in 439 innings pitched.