Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects. This week, we will wrap up team coverage with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which was the lone team remaining in the playoff picture at the time of last week's report. We will also examine seasonal results and outlooks for 2018 with the club's Nos. 5 through 1 prospects.
Triple-A - International League North Division - Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Record: 86-55, 1st place, 6.5 GA
After winning the International League North Division regular season title and the division series, the RailRiders lost to the Durham Bulls in the International League finals 3-1 in the best-of-five series. The Bulls went on to beat the Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds 5-3 in the Triple-A championship game.
Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played Sept. 14, 2017, unless otherwise noted.
No. 5: LHP Justus Sheffield
Preseason No. 7; No. 83 overall; No. 7 LHP prospect
Sheffield, who turns 22 in May, joined the Yankees from the Cleveland Indians in last year's Andrew Miller trade. Sheffield, the No. 31 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, was off to a fine start to the season, being named a Double-A All-Star. Unfortunately, Sheffield dealt with an oblique injury, which wiped away a good deal of this season. In 93 1/3 innings (17 starts) with Trenton, Sheffield posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with 82 strikeouts.
Sheffield managed to come back for the last couple of weeks of the season, including some work in the Eastern League playoffs, and is scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League to make up for some of the lost time. Sheffield might start the 2018 season in Triple-A, but a chance of reaching the big leagues could take until call-ups in September.
No. 4: OF Estevan Florial
Preseason No. 17; No. 81 overall
Florial made huge strides in 2017, dominating at two levels. Florial spent much of the season with Low-A Charleston, but received a late-season promotion to High-A Tampa and continued to flourish. Florial even received a start in one of Double-A Trenton's playoff games once Tampa was eliminated. Florial slashed .298/.372/.479 in 476 combined plate appearances in 2017. He ripped 23 doubles, seven triples and 13 home runs, and also showed off his speed this season with 23 stolen bases in 31 attempts.
Though he turns 20 in November, Florial will head to Arizona with Sheffield in an effort to see where the outfielder stands against stronger competition. Florial's performance could determine his starting assignment for 2018, with at least a quick stop in Tampa most likely.
No. 3: RHP Chance Adams
Preseason No. 8; No. 55 overall
Adams, 23, followed a dominant 2016 campaign with a very strong effort in 2017. Adams jumped to Triple-A to stay after six starts with Trenton, where which he was virtually unhittable. With Scranton, Adams made 21 starts (115 1/3 innings), registering a 2.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .197 BAA and 103 strikeouts. Adams' biggest knock remains his control (3.4 BB/9 in Triple-A), which might have kept him from making his big league debut this summer, when the Yankees needed the arm.
Adams was a hot commodity during the trade deadline period, and if the Yankees are looking to make deals for experienced upper-tier pitchers, he will be among those desired. If Adams remains in the organization, he will likely be among a handful of hurlers vying for a rotation spot with the big league club in 2018.
No. 2: OF Clint Frazier
Preseason No. 2; No. 23 overall; No. 8 OF prospect
Frazier remains on the prospect list as he narrowly maintains rookie eligibility. Frazier, the main prize in the Miller deal, had an impressive 33 extra-base hits among his 70 knocks for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Frazier hit just .256, but had a .344 on-base percentage and .473 slugging per-centage in 320 plate appearances. Frazier added nine stolen bases to his baseball card for the RailRiders.
Frazier, 23, received a promotion as the injuries mounted for the Yankees during the summer and he brought some energy to a then-sluggish team. However, he quieted down and then suffered an oblique injury that kept him out for several weeks. Frazier has a .751 OPS (91 OPS+) with New York, including 17 extra-base hits in 131 plate appearances.
No. 1: INF Gleyber Torres
Preseason No. 1; No. 1 overall
The excitement surrounding Torres grew with an incredibly strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, and he didn't let up in the regular season. Things were going quite well for the prized prospect in the organization (and now in all of the minor leagues) until he suffered an elbow injury while sliding into home, which forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery in mid-June.
Torres flew through Double-A, posting an .863 OPS in just 32 games (139 plate appearances) for the Thunder. In 23 games and 96 plate appearances for Scranton, Torres finished with exactly the same OPS. All combined, Torres slashed .287/.383/.480 with 14 doubles, two triples and seven home runs. The important aspect to Torres' season was his movement around the infield in an effort to provide versatility and a potentially quicker entry to the big leagues.
With so few plate appearances at Triple-A in 2017, it would seem Torres would begin there in 2018 (barring a major roster shift). However, if Torres continues to progress at the speed he has to date, he could be up with the Yankees no later than midseason in his age-21 season.