Monday, January 2, 2017


Photo: USA Today
Following up last week’s Prospect Watch piece on Dustin Fowler and Wilkerman Garcia, we head for the top 10 with two newly acquired Yankees prospects. 
At #11 comes Dillon Tate acquired from Texas in the Carlos Beltran deal on August 1, and cracking the top 10 is Albert Abreu, the newest member of the top 20 Yankees prospects after being acquired in the Brian McCann deal in which the backstop was shipped out to Houston.

Selected with the number four pick in the 2015 amateur draft out of UC Santa Barbara, RHP Dillon Tate was at the time seen as the top starting pitching prospect in the 2015 draft. Converting from a reliever to a starter his junior year in college and commanding a high 90’s fastball, the Rangers were thrilled to select Tate and signed him for $4.2 million. But after a rocky start to the 2016 season, Texas was willing to part ways with Tate for the veteran Beltran in a buy low move by the Yankees.

After his relatively heavy workload in college in the spring of 2015, the Rangers only allowed Tate to throw nine innings in his first summer of pro ball before letting him open up in the spring of 2016. But 2016 was not a kind year for Tate as he injured his hamstring in April and never was able to succeed in A-ball with Texas. After posting a 5.12 ERA over 17 games (16 starts) and seeing a significant drop in his fastball from the upper 90’s to the high 80’s and low 90’s, Texas sent him to New York.

The Yankees chose to utilize Tate in a relief role in which he would throw multiple innings and he did see some better success posting a 3.12 ERA over seven games in Charleston before heading to the AFL for more work this fall.

While it’s unclear whether Tate will stick in a rotation or be most effective out of the bullpen, some scouts don’t see him as a starter. It’s been noted that he is fastball reliant, has a decent slider and is trying to develop a change up. You typically need at least three good pitches to make it as a starter.

According to an October article, one scout familiar with the Yankees system, who did not want to be named, believes he has a better chance to flop than he does to make it to the big leagues:

'I can't get into too much of why I know this, but if Tate doesn't change his pre-game and if he doesn't change how he goes about his work, he'll never succeed ... period.' He added he doesn’t know how to pitch and although he works hard, 'It's not his work ethic. It's how he works. It's what he does and his stubbornness in it. If he doesn't change that, he won't succeed.'

Tate likely will be seeking redemption this year and as with many other high profile prospects, many eyes will be on him. Even if he has a good season, whether as a starter or a reliever, Tate is still several years away from the Bronx. Keep an eye and ear out for Tate as the return of his velocity will be watched as will what his role will be.

Photo: MLB
Cracking the top ten, newly acquired RHP Albert Abreu is a just 21 years-old with a power fastball that has topped out at 99 and sits in the 93-97 range. Abreu signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 and made his stateside debut in 2015 striking out 51 in 46.2 innings while posting a 2.51 ERA.

In 2016 Abreu made the jump to A-ball where he struck out a 104 in 90.0 innings while posting a 3.50 ERA over 24 games including 14 starts. Abreu was promoted to high-A ball late in the season and made two more starts and added a relief appearance.

Photo: / Ben Sandstrom
For the 2016 season, Abreu combined to strike out 115 over 101.2 innings utilizing his above average fastball, slider, curve and change up. Some scouts really like his slider while others think his change up is his best secondary pitch. Either way, he has multiple pitches and appears to have good enough command of them to stick as a starter as he has a smooth delivery, although he is not polished and needs to work on repeating it.

Abreu’s biggest obstacle will likely be his command as he has just a 2.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio over three professional seasons. He has averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine, including 10.2 in 2016, while also averaging 4.5 walks per nine, including 5.1 in 2016.

Abreu has the upside to be a front of the rotation mainstay in the long-term but does need work on polishing his delivery and minimizing free passes. Although a ways away from the big leagues, Abreu is, again, just 21 years-old and will be for the entire minor league season in 2017.

Photo: / Photo of Justus Sheffield
Abreu was a very good add by Brian Cashman and along with Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian and others, the Yankees are stacking up their high ceiling pitching prospects.
Up next on the Yankees prospect watch are two exciting arms in #9 prospect James Kaprielian and #8 Domingo Acevedo, two RHP who we will be seeing and hearing more about over the next couple of years.

Stay up to date with all the Yankees top prospects all winter here at BYB as we continue our countdown to the top Yankees prospect for the 2017 season.


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

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