25. Yanquiel Fernandez (134 points, 14 ballots)
Fernandez was signed for $295k out of Cuba in 2019 and the lefty outfielder quickly emerged as a notable signing from that class alongside fellow PuRP Adael Amador. The 19-year-old Fernandez stands out primarily for his plus power projection and good feel for hitting, though his poor speed limits him to the corner outfield positions.
In 2021, Fernandez started off his professional career in the DSL (at a league-average age) with a bang. In 202 plate appearances, he hit .333/.406/.531 with 23 extra-base hits, including six homers. Fernandez finished in the top 10 of the league in homers, slugging, and OPS en route to a 154 wRC+. After that, Fernandez came stateside for fall instructs and really distinguished himself against prospects who are usually a few years older, catching the eye of some national prospect watchers.
Here’s some video of Fernandez hitting in fall instructs, courtesy of FanGraphs:
Keith Law of the Athletic ranked Fernandez 9th in the system in February:
[Fernandez] debuted in the DSL last summer at age 18 and hit .333/.406/.531 with good feel for the zone. He’s all bat, a corner outfielder who doesn’t run and isn’t twitchy, but he already shows a good approach with some hard contact and flashes power in batting practice. He’ll play at 19 this year and should go right to Low-A, where we’ll get a better read on how advanced his bat is now.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs was similarly impressed, ranking Fernandez 10th as a 40+ Future Value prospect:
[Fernandez] came stateside for instructs and hit a bunch of balls much harder than is typical for a player his age, sizzling balls into the outfield gaps. Fernandez also looked over-eager at the plate and offered at too many non-competitive pitches. His DSL line didn’t have any plate discipline red flags, but strike-throwing in the DSL is so poor that it’s hard not to walk at least 10% of the time. We don’t have data for his instructs run and it would probably be too small a sample to matter anyway. Plus, Fernandez was facing a lot of recently-drafted college pitchers who are three and four years older than him. The ball/strike recognition piece of the puzzle is simply not a thing we really know about right now, but because Fernandez is a corner-only prospect, it’s a very important component of his future. He’s a strapping, broad-shouldered young man with considerable thunder in his hands and a more muscular physique than is typical for a hitter this age, and Fernandez can do real damage without taking out-of-control swings, giving him the look of a dangerous lefty stick with a contact and power blend. He has a much more obvious path toward being a 50 FV prospect or better than most of the other young hitters in this system, but his big league timeline and our inability to truly understand the plate discipline piece of Fernandez’s skill set makes him quite volatile at this stage.
Clearly Fernandez is being evaluated as a bat-first prospect, which lowers his floor considerably — especially as far away as he is from The Show. With that said, there’s a ton of offensive upside evident in both the in game production and the scouting reports for Fernandez.
In a system that is short on true potential impact players, someone with Fernandez’s skillset jumps out. I ranked him 15th on my personal ballot with a 40+ FV designation. Hopefully we’ll see Fernandez replicate his DSL stat-line stateside in 2022, possibly in full-season ball.