I began working on this column before the unprecedented stop of baseball amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I decided to add to it with predictions if the Minor League Baseball season starts sometime in 2020. If the season does not start in 2020 most of my pre-COVID-19 predictions should, in my opinion, hold true for the 2021 season.
1. The crown jewel of the Yankees system, Jasson Dominguez, ends the 2020 season with either Staten Island or the Charleston RiverDogs. I know this is very aggressive but I did say very bold. If he is as good as advertised, I think the Yankees challenge him and he rises to the occasion. The Yankees have challenged a lot of prospects lately and I don’t think Dominguez is any different. If he can show he can handle stateside pitching it would make it easier to trade other outfield prospects at the trade deadline as well. Now after the shortened season I hope he at least can make it stateside and end up in Pulaski. Losing early at bats in the DSL or GCL will hinder his amount of at bats and chances of moving up the ladder quickly this year.
— J.P. (@Jaypers413) January 29, 2020
2. Kyle Holder makes his major league debut. I think if injuries hit to middle infield the Yankees could put Holder on the 40-man roster and he could hold his own during his time in the bigs. I still believe this to be true even in the shorter season. The Yankees challenged him with a lot of playing time in spring, he went only 6-27, but the Yankees do like his glove enough to give him a call if needed. Only Thairo Estrada, on the 40-man roster, is his real competition for a middle infield job if someone were to go down. Estrada was opted to Triple-A and I expect the same for Holder.
Kyle Holder. Is. A. Wizard.
This ridiculous play ends a scoreless top of the 8th. pic.twitter.com/pqtdrrJjnk
— trentonthunder (@TrentonThunder) July 21, 2019
3. Brooks Kriske gets at least 2 saves for the Yankees. Kriske saved 11 games in 13 chances for Trenton last year while striking out 64 over 48.2 innings well having a 2.59 ERA for the Thunder. He is a bullpen option if someone is ineffective or gets hurt. Before the shortened season this did not feel too impossible. With the shortened season I still feel like he makes his debut at some point. However, I don’t know about getting saves now. In spring he pitched in 6 games striking out 4 while walking one in 5.1 innings also getting 2 holds but blowing a save. He had a 1-0 record with a 3.38 ERA. He was opted to Triple-A to start the season.
4. Chris Gittens makes his MLB debut. If the Yankees go with the Eastern League MVP he will show he is ready to play in New York after starting the season in the minors. This prediction I’m not as sold on now as when I first made it. Gittens had a tough spring going just 3-24 with a solo homer and 17 strikeouts to 4 walks. It also looks like Luke Voit is healthy and the Yankees still have Mike Ford and DJ LeMahieu to play first if need be. Maybe the Yankees move Gittens at the deadline for a piece.
Chris Gittens go ahead and get you some big dog.
First home run of the Yankees 2020 spring
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) February 22, 2020
5. Clarke Schmidt shows he is a true ace. He probably starts the season in Trenton and may end up in New York by the end of the year. I think he dominates both the Eastern League and International League with Scranton Wilkes-Barre and gets a call up in September. Schmidt looked very impressive in Spring Training. In 4 games (1 start) he pitched 7 innings striking out 8 while giving up 3 walks and registering a 2.57 ERA. If someone goes down with injury or a spot starter is needed, he may get the call. His stuff is just plain nasty!
Yankees prospect Clarke Schmidt’s stuff is so nasty that according to his Instagram he broke his brothers thumb on this third pitch 😭 pic.twitter.com/zWgaJWPWsu
— Kyle Kondor ⚾️ (@KyleNYY) April 8, 2020
6. Ezequiel Duran makes a big jump from Staten Island in 2019 and ends the season with Trenton. I think he works to cut his strikeouts down and show his great bat off earning him a few promotions. With the shortened season I still think this could happen if he gets off to a really hot start.
7. Josh Breaux and Anthony Seigler stay healthy and show why they are both highly touted catching prospects. One may get traded for a piece during the season since the Yankees are so deep at catcher in the minor leagues. This should still happen since both now have even more time to get healthy.
8. Canaan Smith continues to rake and becomes one of the Yankees more talked about prospects. Smith has the bat speed, strength and discipline to hit for power and average and he will have a breakout season. I still think there’s a good chance at this. Ending the season in Trenton is not out of the question if he gets off to a hot start even with the shortened season.
9. Josh Stowers runs wild in the minors and ends up with 50 plus steals and breaks out. He has great speed and will learn to take better leads and get better jumps. Towers had 35 steals and was picked off 16 times in 105 games with Charleston last year. I still believe he runs wild in the minors when it restarts. Like Smith he also could end up having a cup of coffee in Trenton. I think he ends up more talked about before the end of the year.
10. Estevan Florial finally stays and shows why he is a top prospect. Florial has had a ton of unfortunate injuries. This season he stays healthy and shows his true potential. Still just 22 he has plenty of time to show the Yankees brass why he is so highly ranked in the system. I still think this is true even in the shortened season.
— Bronx Bombers News (@NewsBronx) February 28, 2020
11. Domingo Acevedo finally stays healthy and he will be a weapon out of the bullpen by the end of 2020. I think this has a chance to happen not necessarily in 2021, but now. Acevedo moved to the bullpen full-time last year after suffering a loss of velocity on his fastball. The velocity seems to have returned with his new role in the bullpen.
BONUS prediction: The New York Yankees win their 28th World Series! This Yankees team finally has a true ace and may be deeper than it has been in years. They also have the minor league depth to trade players if they need to. Now with the chance of everyone being healthy to begin the season I think this can now happen even more.