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.