5 Yankees Sleeper Position Prospects to Watch in 2019

Earlier this week we took a look at five sleeper pitching prospects in the Yankees organization and with minor league spring training games just days away it is time to take a look at the position players.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ Zack Zehner at home against the Syracuse Chiefs on Thursday, August 30, 2018. (Photo by Martin Griff)

Zack Zehner – Outfielder

The Yankees drafted outfielder Zack Zehner in the 18th round of the 2015 draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Since being drafted, he has played in 419 games with a .263/.351/.405 slash line.  Last season he appeared in games for both the Double-A Trenton Thunder and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders where he slashed a combined .270/.339/.459 in 119 games.

This past season Zehner was tied for fourth in the system in doubles with 225, sixth in RBIs with 63, eighth in total hits with 113 and 10th in home runs with 14.

Zehner has shown a mature approach at the plate, showing a consistent ability to work deep into counts and drawing walks against.  He is primarily a gap hitter and regularly makes hard contact.  In the field, he gets good reads on the ball and gets average jumps.  He has above average range in the outfield to go along with an average arm.  In the big leagues, he profiles as a fourth outfielder-type and could contribute to a major league as soon as 2019.

Andres Chaparro fields the ball at third base for the Staten Island Yankees in 2018 (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Andres Chaparro – Third Baseman

Infielder Andres Chaparro was initially signed by the Yankees as part of the 2015 international free agent class.  He has played three seasons in the organizations, all in short-season or rookie ball, where he has hit just .220/.293/.366 in 156 games.  He has 14 home runs, 29 doubles and five triples in 558 at-bats.

Chaparro is primarily a third baseman, having played just 11 games at first base with Pulaski in 2017.  He has 129 games at third base in his career with 31 errors over 1,103 2/3 innings at the position.

Chaparro has shown good pitch recognition at the plate, throughout his three-season career the 19-year-old has averaged a walk percentage of 8.70%.  His power has started to develop the last two seasons, each hitting seven home runs, but he had connected for more doubles in 2018 than in years past.  He has good bat speed and has gone on stretches where he will hit .300.

Defensively, Chaparro is below-average-to-average at best right now.  However, he has seen marked improvement at third base from the time he reported to minor league spring training in 2018 to the end of the 2018 season.  He has spent the offseason working on his conditioning and slimming down, which will help him on defense and the base paths.

Diego Castillo has proven to be a solid hitter and a capable defender at multiple positions in the minor leagues. (Bryan Green)

Diego Castillo – Second Baseman

Infielder Diego Castillo was signed as part of the Yankees big 2014 international free agent spending spree.  He went on to make his professional debut in 2015 with the DSL Yankees.  In 56 games, 239 at-bats, he hit .331/.373/.444 with 11 doubles, eight triples, and 40 RBIs while walking 16 times.

He came stateside in 2016 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees, appearing in 44 games.  He hit .267/.332/.327 with seven doubles, a home runs, and eight RBIs over 165 at-bats.

The 2017 season was Castillo’s first full season in the minors, and he spent it with the Charleston RiverDogs.  In the South Atlantic League, he hit .263/.310/.315 in 118 games with 15 doubles, three triples, a home run, and 42 RBIs.

He played 120 games for the Tarpons this season, hitting .260/.307/.324 with 20 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 51 runs batted in.  He also walked 30 times and stole 11 bases for Tampa.

Castillo is an all-around solid player; he doesn’t have one skill that sticks out as he does everything well.  He has shown to be a competent player on both sides of the game, batting and fielding.  He understands he isn’t a power hitter and gets results.  His arm is good and has good agility making him a threat on the bases.

Brandon Lockridge has shown to be a threat with his plus speed.(Robert M. Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects)

Brandon Lockridge – Outfielder

The speedy outfielder Brandon Lockridge was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2018 major league draft.  He made his professional debut in 2018 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees where he hit .367/.459/.567 in 10 games, with three stolen bases.

He was promoted to the Staten Island Yankees on July 9, where he appeared in another 16 games before being shut down for a hand injury.  With Staten Island, he hit .216/.328/.373 with three doubles, a triple and a home run.

In his first season, he has shown a strong approach at the plate, being able to draw walks at an elite rate of 12.24%.  If it wasn’t for an injury to his hand, he suffered in one of his early games with the Staten Island Yankees he would likely have hit for a high average ultimately though it was decided that his season was to end after July 31.  He went on to have surgery to repair a torn UCL in his left thumb.  He returned to action in the instructional league.

Lockridge has plus speed that makes him a threat on the base paths and an above-average defender in centerfield.   He was prolific doubles hitter in college, but many projects him to be able to develop more power as a professional.  He has drawn comparisons to how current Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner was at the same point in his professional career.

Mandy Alvarez had the lone run for the Tarpons tonight when he hit a solo home run (1) in the bottom of the eighth. He went 2-for-3 (Photo by Martin Griff)

Mandy Alvarez – Infielder

Mandy Alvarez was drafted by the Yankees in the 17th round of the 2016 draft. The right-handed hitting third baseman went on to make his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees where he hit .339/.364/.407 in 13 games. He was quickly promoted to the Charleston RiverDogs where he hit .274/.289/.404 with 12 doubles and five home runs in 53 games.

Alvarez started the 2017 season back with the RiverDogs where he hit .261/.310/.328 in 35 games with eight doubles and 11 RBIs.  He was promoted to High-A Tampa where he hit .228/.248/.275 in 41 games with five doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs.

He spent the majority of the 2018 season with the Trenton Thunder, where he hit .262/.314/.440 with 25 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, and 54 RBIs.  He had a brief nine-game cameo with the Tampa Tarpons where he had just five hits in 27 at-bats.  He also got his first all-star nod, representing the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League All-Star Game.

Mandy Alvarez is an all-around solid player, he has a good arm and is a solid contact hitter. He doesn’t have one overwhelming tool but does a lot of things well to be considered a good all-around player in the organization.  He is a natural third baseman, spending most of his time at the hot corner but also playing some first base and even 10 innings at second base.


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