If you were paying attention to the Yankees in the mid-2010’s you remember the 2016 trade deadline. The club shipped relief pitchers, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller to the Cubs and Indians respectively. They also sent outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros. While the Yankees’ main goal was to shed veteran talent and salary in order to reset the luxury tax, they also were able to load up their farm system with fresh and exciting prospects. As soon as those veterans were traded away the baby bomber era began.
Sanchez was the first of the Yankees’ top prospects to break down the door and debut in the big leagues and he set the world on fire. He hit .299 with 20 home runs and driving in 42 runs. He also posted a career-high 1.032 OPS. Sanchez has been everything but consistent since his rookie campaign that saw him finish second in rookie of the year voting. His 2018 and 2020 seasons were very similar in the sense that he hit under .200 and was quite frankly terrible in all parts of the game. While he is inconsistent and struggles with groin injuries there is no other catcher in the league that can provide the kind of power that Sanchez can. With that said, Sanchez has tenured a contract before the leagues’ tenure deadline for arbitration-eligible players. By the looks of things, Sanchez will be back in pinstripes for 2021.
While he has seen a good bit of major league experience he really is the only one of the main prospect group that really hasn’t worked out. Austin is a power-hitting first baseman with decent defense. He came up along with Gary Sanchez in 2016 and hit a home run in his first at-bat. Austin’s future was a little murky with first baseman Greg Bird showing promise. Austin spent time with the Yankees, Twins, Giants, and Brewers since his debut and hasn’t seen any success or consistent playing time since 2018 where he was the Yankees’ opening day first basemen. Austin is now a first baseman for the Yokohama Daystars of the NBP. He hasn’t seen major league action since 2019.
Drafted as a college prospect in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft Aaron Judge has turned into a true superstar. Ask around baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike will know who Aaron Judge is. He has one if not the most recognizable faces in the entire league. The 6″7′ Right Fielder came up the same exact day as Tyler Austin and was part of the two back to back home runs hit by the pair of youngsters. Judge’s official rookie season came in 2017 where he and the team broke out. Judge hit .284 with a .422 on-base percentage with 52 home runs and 114 RBIs. Judge also plays am an elite right field with a cannon of an arm. He has turned himself into arguably a top-five player in the game and is slated for a big payday in the near future.
Acquired in the trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland Frazier, also known as Red Thunder, has been awesome for the Yankees in his time in the show. He was also very successful in the minors as a prospect While he has been up and down due to various reasons his ability to hit was never in question. Frazier left something to be desired on the defensive side of the ball but most of those problems were fixed in 2020 where he was a finalist for the gold glove award. From what I can tell Frazier also is one of the players that shows some personality on the field. While Frazier has played the majority of his career as a 4th outfielder he should see increased playing time. Look for Frazier to take a major step up as he sees his first full season.
Another player acquired at the 2016 deadline was shortstop Gleyber Torres. Torres was one of the Cubs’ top prospects at the time of the trade and was projected to be one of the game’s top players. The Cubs sold out to get closer Aroldis Chapman in order to chase a world series title. While it worked out in the long run they had to mortgage the farm to get it. While Torres had a hiccup in the minors, suffering an elbow injury on his non-throwing elbow. This injury required season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Since coming up to the majors, however, Torres has been an awesome player and some may say he has been better than advertised. In his first two seasons, he played a majority of second base as his natural position of shortstop was filled by Didi Gregorius. After Gregorius’ departure, Torres moved back to short where he struggled defensively at least. While Torres is a good regular season player his game seems to hit another level in October. In three postseason runs, Torres has posted a 1.037 OPS. The only true question with Torres is his defense. The good thing about this problem is Torres is he is still young with room to grow as a defender. Otherwise, Torres will be a cornerstone of the Yankees franchise for years to come.
Out of all of the prospects listed in this article, Andujar probably had the most interesting journey to the majors. He struggled in spring training and did not make the opening night roster. Starting 3rd baseman Brandon Drury suffered a form of vertigo and apparently struggled to see the ball. Drury would return before the end of the season however, Andujar highly outperformed expectation. As a result, Andujar took Drury’s job. Andujar’s rookie season was so good that he set a franchise record for doubles from a rookie with 47. However, Andujar tore his labrum after just two games in 2019 and struggled badly in 2020. With the emergence of Gio Urshela in 2019, Andujar had his job taken from him because of an injury. Sound familiar?
It is clear that the Yankees organization is good at scouting talent as many of their prospects made an impact at the major league level at some point. While not all of those prospects worked out they still did debut with the organization. This wave of Yankee prospects was a very fruitful one producing two-time all-stars Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Gleyber Torres. This wave also produced serviceable role player Miguel Andujar. The future is certainly bright as the baby bombers continue to get better.