The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.
All three players have been receiving a considerable amount of praise as their professional careers begin. Sanchez is listed third among the game's catching prospects, behind only Travis d'Arnaud of the Mets and Mike Zunino of the Mariners.
Williams is ranked ninth among the game's outfield prospects, a group headed by Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals (No. 3) and Wil Myers of the Rays (No. 4), while Austin has earned rave reviews from general manager Brian Cashman as a "mega-prospect."
Sanchez, 20, batted .290 with 18 home runs -- tops among all Minor League catchers -- and 85 RBIs in 116 games last season for Class A Charleston and Class A Tampa, earning selection as a South Atlantic League All-Star.
The Yankees signed Sanchez to a club-record $3 million signing bonus as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2009. He projects to begin this year in the Florida State League, with a summer promotion to Double-A Trenton possible.
Williams, 21, batted .298 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs in 91 games for Charleston and Tampa in 2012, also earning selection as a South Atlantic League All-Star before his season was cut short by a dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder in July.
A fourth-round selection by the Yanks out of high school in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Williams also projects to play this season at Tampa and Trenton.
Austin, 21, batted .322 with 17 homers and 80 RBIs in 110 games at four levels in New York's system, spending most of the season at Class A Charleston and moving as high as Trenton.
A 13th-round selection of the Yankees in 2010, Austin has seen most of his professional time in right field after being drafted as a catcher, though he has also played first and third base.
All three players are expected to have the opportunity to be seen up close by the Yanks and their fans at Spring Training next month.