Friday, December 9, 2016


(Photo Credit: Ryan "Moose" Morris - Freelance Photographer)
This week on the Yankees Prospect Watch we continue our countdown of the top 20 Yankees prospects according to with #16 OF Billy McKinney and #15 SS/2B Tyler Wade.

The Yankees acquired the A’s former first rounder, Billy McKinney, from the Cubs in July as part of the deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to Chicago. While Gleyber Torres was the prize of the trade, McKinney is a former first rounder and is just 22 years-old.

Photo by Martin Griff/Pinstriped Prospects
Billy McKinney made it up to Double-A in 2015 after being drafted in the 2013 amateur draft. McKinney totaled 113 hits, including 31 doubles, seven homers while adding 64 RBI between High-A ball and Double-A in 2015. Known for his quick hands and discipline at the plate, albeit with limited power, McKinney regressed in 2016 while still playing in Double-A Tennessee and then Trenton.

His stock fell some last year, but McKinney is still a first rounder who did make quick work of the lower levels of the minors from 2013-2015. He is not a speedster and has limited abilities on the base paths, as shown by his 18 career stolen bases in 410 professional games, and his defensive limitations of a mediocre arm and speed, make him best suited for left field even though he was drafted as a center fielder.

Gregg Slaboda — Trentonian Photo
People around baseball say that Double-A can be a make or break test and while he succeeded in 2015, his combined .246/.342/.338 slash line in 2016 with just 27 extra base hits in 123 games doesn’t create a lot of excitement. He does draw plenty of walks as shown by his OBP, but he will have to produce more at the plate since his other attributes are middle of the road.

McKinney is still young and could be a Big League contributor with some more improvement, added power and a bounce back year, but his 2015 season did bring up some question marks as evidenced by the Cubs willingness to include him with Torres in the Chapman deal. With a good start to the season though, McKinney could find his way up to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre in 2017 making the big leagues just a phone call away over the next two years.

(Photo: Associated Press)
SS/2B Tyler Wade, the Yankees fourth round selection in the 2013 amateur draft has taken a similar track to McKinney reaching Double-A Trenton in 2015, just his third year in pro ball. Wade is known for his glove and although he is a short stop by trade, the Yankees have a ton of depth at short and Wade could be moved over to second permanently as he appeared in 38 games, about 30% of his playing time, at second base in 2016.

Wade has made quite a few errors, as many youngsters do, but his error totals dropped from 35 to 26 from 2015 to 2016 as he showed continued development. The Yankees love his baseball intelligence and leadership skills and compared his makeup to former All-Star Walt Weiss.

(Photo Courtesy:
At the plate, Wade is a lefty contact hitter who understands he is not much of a power threat and does his job by making solid contact and getting on base. In 2016 Wade slashed .259/.352/.349 in Trenton while adding five home runs, 66 walks and 27 stolen bases. Wade is a Brett Gardner type offensive player with the chance to be a number two hitter or more likely be a pesky contributor from the bottom of the lineup.

Like McKinney, Wade could find his way up to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre in 2017, whether it be out of camp or as a promotion, with a chance to be in the Bronx something next summer or in 2018. The Yankees are flush with short stop talent and Wade will have a target on his back by the likes of Gleyber Torres, Wilkerman Garcia and Jorge Mateo, although he is ahead of them (especially Garcia who is just 18) in terms of development as of this winter.

(Photo: Mark LoMoglio/Yankees)
On the next Yankees Prospect Watch, we will profile one the most exciting young arms in the system who made a huge splash in 2015; #15 RHP Chance Adams.
As the winter continues we will continue our countdown and it only gets more exciting from here.

--Dan Lucia,  
BYB 'Series' Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia

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