On Monday, we learned that the Yankees and Cubs had agreed to a five-player trade sending closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago in exchange for Adam Warren and three prospects. With due respect to Warren, who prior to this season had spent his entire pro career with the Yankees, most people are more interested in learning about the prospects headed to New York: shortstop Gleyber Torres and outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.
To assist in the education process, we reached out to Christopher Crawford to get his thoughts. You might remember him from our draft-week coverage. If not, Crawford covers prospects and draftees for Baseball Prospectus and ESPN. Here's some of what he had to say about the three youngsters.
On Gleyber Torres
Everyone seems to consider Torres the crown jewel of the trade. He entered Monday hitting .275/.359/.433 with 19 steals at High-A, where, at 19 years old, he's three years younger than the league's average hitter. Add Crawford to the list of Torres fans. "There's a lot to like about Torres," he said. "There's no real weakness here -- he can make hard contact to all parts of the field, and there's deceptive power in his slim frame.
"He's not the perfect defensive shortstop, but he should be at least above-average thanks to his speed, solid hands and strong throwing arm. He's also a guy who can make a difference on the bases. He's a player with a chance for three plus tools, and because he's essentially a lock to stick at shortstop, he's a high-floor, high-ceiling player."
Yankees fans might wonder if and how Torres compares with Jorge Mateo. Crawford gave Torres the nod, saying that Torres is now the top middle-infield prospect in the system, and that he's Aaron Judge's stiffest competition for the title of the best Yankees prospect.
On Billy McKinney
A top-100 prospect entering the spring, McKinney's stock has taken a hit due to a rough season. He's hitting just .252/.355/.322 during his second stint at Double-A. Crawford warned against getting too down on McKinney, however. "There's still things to like here. He has a quality approach at the plate from the left side, and his line-drive swing and quick hands allow him to hit the ball hard to all parts of the field."
"The issue here is that the flat plane of the swing means that there's only fringe-average power -- at best -- and he's not a great defender in the outfield and is stuck in left. Still, there are on-base skills here, and it wouldn't be surprising if he became an everyday player, albeit a flawed one."
It's worth noting that McKinney is also three years younger than the average hitter in his league. Crawford also said that the main difference between McKinney and your stereotypical high-minor-league-OBP, up-and-down type is a better feel for the barrel -- or, in non-scouty terms: he makes harder contact more often than they do.
On Rashad Crawford
The least famous player involved in the trade, this Crawford was the Cubs' 12th-round pick in 2012. He's now 22 years old and hitting .255/.327/.386 in High-A.
According to the writer Crawford, the ballplayer Crawford is a burner who could conceivably steal 40 bases a season if his bat merited the playing time. Alas that's not the case. "You're likely looking at a fourth outfielder," writer Crawford said. "But if he takes another step forward, maybe you get something a little more."
On the Yankees' system as a whole
Before we let Crawford go, we asked him to evaluate the Yankees' system as a whole -- one that could improve further with more trades over the coming week. "I'd say it ranks somewhere in the middle, closer to the top ten than the bottom 20," Crawford said. "It doesn't have an elite prospect, but their quantity and quality compete with all but a few systems."