Post Draft Signing Period Top 30 Prospects

Final draft signing update
Giambi escapes punishment

(Yes, James, that is totally your photo from flickr)

A couple of weeks ago I put together a midseason list of what I believed to be the Yanks’ top 30 prospects, but to be honest with you, I kinda half-assed that one and didn’t spend as much time on it as I should have. So not only did I want to update the list to include all the new additions from the 2007 draft, I also wanted to rectify the previous list by putting more thought into it. I feel this effort is much more representative of the Yanks’ farm system, and puts each prospect where they belong in the pecking order.

Right at the top you’ll notice that I didn’t include Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, even though they are technically still prospects. I feel both have done a nice job of establishing themselves as legit big leaguers, and won’t see the minors again (barring an injury rehab assignment) in the foreseeable future. Obviously, I would have them ranked 1-2, respectively. I also chose not include the “Tommy John Quartet” of Humberto Sanchez, JB Cox, Mark Melancon and Christian Garcia. When healthy, all of those guys are top 15 prospects for me, but I decided to leave them off because they’ll be out until next year. But make no mistake about it, they’re all still very much prospects.

Trying to put these lists together always seems like a piece of cake at first, but after a while it gives you a headache and before you know it, your ranking “philosophy” doesn’t seem to make as much sense as it did 15 minutes ago. As I’ve said many times before, I prefer tools and upside over actual performance, but I try my best to balance the two, as well as other factors like age, level, bloodlines (you’re fooling yourself if you don’t think bloodlines make a difference), handedness (tie goes to the lefty), and makeup. Simple rule of thumb: if you can’t decide between 2 players, ask yourself if you’d trade Player A straight up for Player B. Nine times out of ten, it’ll bail you out.

Enough already, here’s the list (name followed by age as of today, position & level played at this year):

1. Jose Tabata, 19, RF, A+ – flashing everything but consistent power, although nagging injuries have become a bit of a concern
2. Ian Patrick Kennedy, 22, RHP, A+/AA/AAA – he’s been everything the Yanks could have hoped for, and more
3. Dellin Betances, 19, RHP, SS – went down with a minor elbow injury, but still has one of the highest ceilings in all of baseball
4. Andrew Brackman, 21, RHP, N/A – even if he ends up having Tommy John surgery, the risk is substantially outweighed by the potential reward
5. Carmen Angelini, 18, SS, N/A – 5 tooler is the best middle infield prospect the Yanks have had since Jeter, Robbie Cano included
6. Alan Horne, 24, RHP, AA – struggling of late, just as he begins to eclipse his career high IP total
7. Kevin Whelan, 23, RHP, A+/AA – once he got his mechanics straight, he became the beast we all expected him to be
8. Juan Miranda, 24, 1B/DH, A+/AA – M.O.N.S.T.E.R. = Miranda Offers Non-Stop Terror to Every Righthander (lefties…not so much)
9. Ross Ohlendorf, 24, RHP, Rk/AAA – 97 mph sinker out of the ‘pen, are you kiddin’ me???
10. Austin Jackson, 20, CF, A-/A+ – deepest toolshed in the organization, and he’s starting to figure out how to use ’em
11. Zach McAllister, 19, RHP, SS – Phil Hughes lite gets completely overlooked thanks to all the other arms in the system
12. Jesus Montero, 17, C, Rk – may not stay behind the plate, but the bat will play anywhere
13. Brad Suttle, 21, 3B, N/A – sucked with wood bats on the Cape in ’06, but he was one of the best pure hitters in the draft
14. Brett Gardner, 23, CF, AA/AAA – on-base terror, but sheesh, I have more power hitting with a rolled up newspaper
15. Ryan Pope, 22, RHP, SS – not flashy, but his rock solid stuff and easy delivery should help him become an innings eating stalwart
16. Dan McCutchen, 24, RHP, A+/AAA – yes he’s a little old for his league, but they don’t check ID’s on the pitcher’s mound
17. Jeff Marquez, 23, RHP, AA – still has a world of potential, but it’s been 3 years already, when will he start to piece it all together?
18. George Kontos, 22, RHP, A+ – the Greed God of Pitchers continues along the path of <9.00 Hper9 & >9.00 Kper9
19. Mike Dunn, 22, LHP, A- – converted infielder has made the transition to the mound look easy, only fools consider him a sleeper
20. Austin Romine, 18, C, N/A – son of a former big leaguer, he’s gonna be sneaky good very soon
21. Marcos Vechionacci, 21, 3B, A+ – hard to dim the light on the kid, but he’s spent the last 3 yrs in A-ball and is topping out at .263-.326-.363 this year
22. Tyler Clippard, 21, RHP, AA/AAA/MLB – sure he got beat around in the bigs, but what’s his excuse for how he performed the rest of the year?
23. Edwar Ramirez, 26, RHP, AA/AAA/MLB – biggest step forward in all of baseball, no one saw this coming
24. David Robertson, 22, RHP, A-/A+ – does it more with guts and guile than stuff, but I have a feeling he’d find a way to succeed in the bigs right now
25. Frankie Cervelli, 21, C, A+ – he’s not as good as his season opening hot streak, but he’s legit
26. TJ Beam, 26, RHP, Rk/AAA – the forgotten man among the bullpen revolving door just keeps on plugging along
27. Mitch Hilligoss, 22, 3B/SS, A- –nothing special in most phases of the game, but he racks up hits like no one else in the system. Goodness, does he rack up hits.
28. Jairo Heredia, 17, RHP, Rk – the next big thing already flashes low-90s with a nasty changeup
29. Alberto Gonzalez, 24, SS, AA/AAA – awesome at everything…but hitting
30. Steven White, 26, RHP, A+/AAA – hey look at me, I’m a pretty decent pitcher worthy of a shot at long relieving/spot starting

Guys I considered, but ended up on the cutting room floor (in alphabetical order): Abe Almonte, Manny Barreda, Josue Calzado, Reegie Corona, Prilys Cuello, Colin Curtis, Matt DeSalvo, Eric Duncan, Seth Fortenberry, Taylor Grote, Steven Jackson, Jason Jones, Ivan Nova, Adam O., Bronson Sardinha, Brett Smith, Justin Snyder, Damon Sublett, Chase Weems & Chase Wright. Phew.

Final draft signing update
Giambi escapes punishment
  • Adam

    I’ve got to be honest with you, and I’m taking into account Edwar’s age and lack of a great fastball. There is no way on earth I would take Marcos V. over him…at a certain point, all tools, no performance can’t be rated above a guy with limited tools and all performance (especially when loaded with a 70-80 changeup). In your heart of hearts, would you really let Edwar walk out the door before Vech?

  • Pettitte’s stare

    How the Mighty Eric Duncan has fallen, I remember when he was often listed as one of our best prospects and we wouldn’t trade him. I have to say i’m surprised Bronson didn’t make the cut, maybe that is just my wishful thinking. It still amazes me what lack of depth we have as position prospects. Only 10 of the top 30 use a bat and two of them can’t even really hit.

  • Bill

    I am pumped about Whelan. He’s been awesome since he went down to Tampa to work with Nardi.

  • Mike A.

    RE: Vech v Edwar
    I’d take Vech over Edwar, there’s a better chance of Vech figuring it all out than there was of Edwar putting it together like he did. Vech is still so young and so talented, you can’t give up on him yet. In retrospect, I wish I ranked Edwar ahead of Clippard.

    RE: Duncan
    It was weird, as I was putting the list together and going through the names, it was like “I like this guy better than Duncan, and this guy, and this guy…” and before I knew it, he was off the list with quite a number of guys still ahead of him.

    RE: Lack of bats
    It’s not like it’s a total lack of hitters, 4 of the top 10 and 7 of the top 15 are position players. Having as many arms as the Yanks do is never a bad thing.

  • Bill

    I know he’s too old to be a prospect, but any thoughts on Scott Patterson? Do you think he could contribute to the Yanks?

  • dan

    i agree with this list much more than the last one. you really do love tools; theres no way i’d have vech over edwar, or angelini over horne. take a look at how much has changed since the last list less than 2 months ago…. my favorite comment

    “# Brett Smith, RHP, AA: if he sustains his .218 BABIP all year, i’ll eat my shoe, live, via webcast”

    (how do you make those XL quotation marks?)

  • Mike A.

    I’m the chairman of the Scott Patterson fan club. 6’7″, 230 lb Indy ball refugee that comes straight over the top with a low-90s fastball. The pitch looks like it’s dropping right out the sky. Unfortunately, his secondary pitches are almost non-existant, which is his bane.

    He can help the Yanks, but not as the same kind of late inning guy he is for Trenton. Nice middle-man though.

    I love how the Yanks have mined the Indy leagues for talent, and dug themselves up some gems. That’s the kind of thing a team like the Royals or D-Rays should be doing, but instead it’s the Yanks who reap the rewards.

  • Kevin

    The fact that the Yanks built a farm system that is arguably in the top five in baseball so quickly is pretty special. Drafting Brackman knowing that he’d need Tommy John surgery and signing him to the pact they did is a strong statement about the pitching depth they have. Hopefully, Cash’s work with restocking the farm system is taken into account when deciding if he’s back in 2008.

  • RollingWave

    Mike, I think you take potential over performance a bit too far. I agree that tools matter, but I also think that there’s just not enough reason to justify putting guys who’s putting up abosalutely no good results over a relatively long stretch anywhere close to the top of a prospect list .

    Let’s just ask it this way, Clay Buchhloz throws low to mid 90s , Daniel Bard throws nothing but upper 90s heat and goes over 100, so Bard > Buchloz? despite the fact that he’s walked almost twice as many guys as he struck out and putting up a ERA over 6 at every level?

    Russ Ohlendorf to the pen make sense, except that he’s getting hammered there, he’s not getting it together yet. and even if he does, it’s hard to think he’s going to be more effective than Edwar Rameriez. I just can’t see how you could put him over Rameriez or Kevin Whelan at this point. it’s like saying Kyle Farnsworth throws 100, thus he’s ranked higher than Trevor Hoffman, who is hovering in the low 90s these days.

    My personal if we include ALL Yankees unde the age of 26 ish and not including the current drafties (cause i actually want at least a little sample of pro ball to base something on) would be like.

    1.Cano (Roberto Alomar or Carlos Baerga? he put up one more season where he improves and i’ll say the former)
    4.Melky (turning into legitmate CF, at that age, very impressive)
    7.Tabata (i’m taking Jackson over Tabata for now, injury concern, not much secondary skills showing, striking out a lot for a high average hitter. )
    8.Horne (very legit results )
    20.Chase Wright
    21.Alberto Gonzalez
    24.Steve Jackson
    25.TJ Beam
    26.Eric Duncan

  • b/c

    Kontos is way too low

  • RollingWave

    maybe, but he’s a little old for the level, and struggling lately.

  • ShawnT

    Any new updates on Betances, last i heard he was throwing off a mound

  • James Varghese

    Hey – I’m glad those pictures came in handy for someone.

    It was actually pretty cool to see all three guys. Henn is tall, Joba is wide but honestly from all these reports, I expected him to be bigger (both height and width) and MAN, Edwar is skinny.

    He and Daniel Cabrera seemed to know each other pretty well though – seeing the two side by side was like seeing David and Goliath. Another interesting thing to see was seeing Mo continuing to hang out with Luiz Vizcaino and the two of the bringing Edwar into the mix.

  • RollingWave

    by the sway, why in the world is Torre not thinking about usnig Betemit / Duncan to play first . Phillips is hitting a Cairoian number lately. if anyone shouldnt’ be overexposed, it’s him.

  • JS

    Good work Mr. Mike.

  • Joseph P.

    RollinvWave, the problem with basing ranking on results is that some guys have the talent to get minor league guys out, but can’t translate that to big league success for some reason or another.

    And your example with Buch and Bard is flawed. Buch is a prospect based on his exemplary secondary stuff. Bard has a fastball, no secondary pitches, and no control/command. So even before looking at results, Buch is easily the better prospect.

  • CB

    If you went only on results than last year Justin Upton would have been a huge bust and no longer one of the games best prospects.

    I think he hit .263 and his overall power numbers were very mediocre.

    This year…. not so much. “Tools” turned into numbers and major league performance in a big way. Would it have made sense to significantly downgrade Upton as a prospect based on his numbers last year? That’s an extreme example but it illustrates the point.

    Cano was similar in that his minor league numbers weren’t that great. The first thing Torre said about Cano when he saw him play after getting called up was that Cano reminded him of Rod Carew. Looking at the numbers Cano put up in the minors that comparison wouldn’t make any sense. Even looking at his overall tools you wouldn’t think he’d be this good. Torre saw something in his quick wrists right away.

    It’s an endless debate with prospects but an interesting one. I don’t think there’s a lot of generalizations you can stick to.

  • The Scout

    We could debate the list endlessly, which is fun. I see that Eric Duncan has fallen off the list, a view I have expressed in the past. My strongest reaction is how much better the talent here is than it would have been, say, three or four years back. My second reaction is that I’m not convinced that Tabata, A-Jax, and Gardner are as good as some of the pitchers ranked behind them. (To use the trade standard, I would trade Tabata for Ian Kennedy.) I’ll need to see some power from Tabata and a lot more consistency from Jackson before I’m a believer. Gardner simply doesn’t have the punch to be a significant player in the majors — maybe the weight room would help?

  • Jeteupthemiddle

    I’d take Vech over Edwar, there’s a better chance of Vech figuring it all out than there was of Edwar putting it together like he did.


    Yes, but since the beginning of the year, Edwar HAS figured it all out.

    If that is your reasoning for ranking the Yankee prospects, then you would have Vech over Ramirez.

    The odds at the beginning of the year, shouldn’t bear any interest to what is going on right now.

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  • E-ROC

    Justin Snyder doesn’t get any love?? I thought Seth Fortenberry would crack the list, too.

    Poor Eric Duncan. I hope he figures it out. The potential is still there.



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  • Jon

    Wherle? Claggett?

  • Jon

    Many thanks (belated, sadly) for another great post, Mike.

    Wherle? Claggett? Thoughts?

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