Sickels’ Top Yankees’ Prospects List

Bay Area calls some ex-Yankees
Pettitte offer still on the table

John Sickels over at Minor League Ball has posted this year’s list of the Yanks top prospects, and went against the grain by naming Jesus Montero the #1 prospect. Usual caveats with the list: some guys are too high, some too low, and it seems heavy on relievers. I don’t like the Eduardo Sosa ranking at all, Dominican Summer League guys are so far away they might as well be sophomores in high school. Phil Coke & Al Aceves … man who saw this coming a year ago?

Bay Area calls some ex-Yankees
Pettitte offer still on the table
  • Matt M

    “The Yankees don’t have anyone in the system that is a sure-fire superstar right now”

    he doesnt seem too high on the ajax hype machine. which i kind of agree with. people are already giftwrapping CF for ajax in 2010….what if the kid has a few hiccups or puts up a year like 2008. he was solid, but still raw + not quite that mickey mantle fellow

    • monkeypants

      He doesn’t need to be Mickey Mantle–even Sickels says that he projects to be a solid if not not superstar player. All he needs to be is better than Melky/Gardner, which should not be too difficult, hiccups and all.

      The problem is not with Ajax, but with the insane expectations Yankees fans of such prospects (admittedly promoted by the Yankee propaganda machine).

      • Jay CT

        Matt is right. I have been saying this for a while. The problem is not what he needs to be. The problem is that he might not be that good, and to turn CF over to a young unproven kid with no viable backup and the NY pressure is unreasonable. Thats why I would like to see Gardner get a chance as there are no expectations (except from Old Ranger, lol)

        • Old Ranger

          You got that right, and if he fails, I’ll be right there to criticize him all the way back to the bush leagues.
          I just don’t think a lot of you give the guy enough credit, people want him to be something he isn’t…a 15 to 20HR guy, just “ain’t gona be dat way”. 27/09.

          • Jay CT

            I would settle for someone who can not be an automatic out and who can play fantastic defense, two things that I believe Gardner can do.

          • RObC

            what does 27/09 mean?

        • monkeypants

          But indeed Ajax will have viable backups: Melky and/or Gardner and/or whatever one-year patch FA they might sign in 2010.

    • emac2

      I think we can all suffer through with a non superstar in Center for a little while. I for one would be happy with a 280/380/480.

      And if Montero isn’t a superstar as a hitter than Jackson can do a lot while still not reaching that mythical level.

      We don’t see it here often but most teams have their prospects advance each year and pencil them into the lineup as the final stop.

      Some even allow the player to struggle for a few months to get settled.

      • 27 this year

        anyone would be happy with those numbers. Those are pretty much superstar numbers.

        • emac2

          280/380/480 is a superstar number set?

          No wonder everyone gets into the hall of fame every year.

          Maybe we do need Swisher :)

          • tremont

            that’s a .860 OPS in center. That puts him a half step behind Granderson, Sizemore, and Beltran. That is indeed a borderline superstar.

      • MattG

        I would be happy with 340/440 and plus defense.

      • Old Ranger

        Mickey got sent back down. He is one of many good to great players that have had bad starts, but they were given a fair chance after that. That goes for IPK and Phil also. 27/09.

        • pat

          The mick got sent back down and considered quitting baseball altogether. His dad had to come to his hotel room at the time and say go ahead quit everybody was right you can’t hack it in the bigs. He rededicated himself that minute and the rest is history.

  • mustang

    Mike A.
    What do you know about these kids from the Giants Kevin Frandsen, Emmanuel Burriss and Eugenio Velez ?

    • Mike A.

      All three of them suck. Frandsen missed all of ’08 with an injury, and Burriss & Velez are just athletic guys with raw baseball tools. The Giants rushed both of those guys terribly and it hurt them. Frandsen’s the only one with any real value because he might actually be able to hit enough to eventually become league average. He’d be a nice utility guy, but who knows how he comes back after injury.

      None of those guys should be a centerpiece in a Nady/Swisher/Matsui deal.

      • mustang

        Thank you.

      • jb

        I sort of disagree. If they could dump Matsui’s salary for any one of those players and then have them serve as extra IF depth, I think it’d make sense.

      • gg

        What do you think Nady could yield from SF? or ATL?

        • Mike Pop

          Not enough.

  • SpiritofCapnJackSparrow

    Well if Austin Jackson has the same success as Wang/Cano I will be happy. Yet these same experts were not projecting either one of those players to be anything special. I do not put any validity in any expert opinions. You all know the line about opinions right?
    My problem with “opinion” projections is that they never come back & eat crow when a player proves them wrong but when they are right they never shut up. Hypocrites.

    • Stu H

      …and that is exactly the type of unrealistic hope that we as Yankee fans tend to have. Not everyone’s going to turn into a 20-win starter or a all-star. Austin Jackson should play solid defense, and be a poor man’s Bernie Williams — which means he’ll be a nice player, but not an all-star. He might be better than that, he might be worse. Will that be enough for the Yankees, though?

      • gg

        With A-Rod, Tex and Cano in the fold along with a bunch of great opinions, yea that should be enough.

        • gg

          sorry arms not opinions…my point was they dont need an excellent hitter in center, just a solid role player

    • Reggie C.

      Naw. BA writers and guys like Sickels are there to give us scouting reports and then make educated leaps as to how their tools work out performance wise. I know that Sickels gives us updates and he’s cool with admitting that he was off in his projection in his “Prospect Retro” columns. A players’s prime years are always hard to project.

      Finally, nobody knows where exactly Cano is going to settle. He’s been an above avg. player, but is he a star? Nobody should apologize for not calling Cano a star yet b/c it its still early in his career. If Cano only slightly improves from last year’s performance, i’d be bitterly disappointed.

  • Zebidiah

    I like Sickel’s list. I’d probably bump up a guy like Chris Garcia, and take some of our high-upside guys over 6th innings BP arms, but we’ve got a ton of talent on the mound.

    Interesting that Sickels mentioned guys like Pat Venditte and David Phelps, but nothing on Angelini or Lassiter.

    • emac2

      I wondered about that too.

  • THU

    I’d bump Jackson and Romine each a grade up.

  • AndrewYF

    Sickels gave Dan Bard a B, but Melancon a B-.

    He also admitted he likes “low-ceiling, high-floor” guys a lot more than the other way around, which would explain some of his questionable grades, but not this one.

    • Reggie C.

      I saw that too. Somebody mentioned it in the comments section. To be fair….which is hard b/c Bard is a RS prospect…. Bard is coming off a very good season. His superior FB does make him a closer type, but Melancon pitched more innings against superior competition. Both guys should be solid B grades.

      I think Melancon is a better reliever in the long run b/c he’s got more pitches than just the FB, and command is simply not an issue.

      • Steve H

        Bard’s FB makes him a Farnsworth type. Bard is a thrower, Melancon a pitcher.

        • Reggie C.

          I won’t disagree with that. The thing is Bard could turn out like Farnsworth or he could turn out better. That’s still a good major leaguer.

          Anybody have any ML comparison with Melancon?? There are so many relievers in the game that comparisons are hard to come by. I do hope he joins the ball club sometime in the first half.

          • tomaconda

            ”Anybody have any ML comparison with Melancon?? ”

            Mariano!!!!!!!! Just Kidding, hard to do with Melancon. I actually think he is the most likely to make a contribution to the big league club. I think the two that have star ability are Montero and Betances.

            • tomaconda

              Obviously with the exeption of Brett Gardner because we already know he will make a contribution in 09.

          • AndrewYF

            No, he could turn out like several other flamethrowing busts, or he could turn out like Kyle Farnsworth, and that’s only if he develops a secondary offering.

            Bard has absolutely zero major league secondary offerings. At least Farnsworth had a nasty slider. You simply cannot get by with a straight-as-an-arrow fastball, especially when you have such little knowledge of the strike zone, no matter how fast it is.

            • Ryan S.

              So Bard, one of the Red Sox top reliever prospects, has a straight fastball like good old Farnsworth, but no secondary pitches? I didn’t realize that. How’d he become such a popular prospect if the only thing he can do is throw straight heat? I don’t know much about the guy … can he dial it up to 100 MPH or something?

              • AndrewYF

                Yes, he can hit 100mph. But as Farnsworth has shown us, that means absolutely nothing, especially if you can’t control it. You can get by with that in the minors, because the hitters are generally horrendous, but try it in the majors and you’ll get shelled. I can’t wait for Bard’s major league debut. He’ll make Hansen look like Dennis Eckersley.

                Plus, he’s a Sox prospect. If they think someone is good, how can they not be?

                • Ryan S.

                  Oh I absolutely agree, I’m thrilled to hear that all Bard has is a straight fastball, even if it 100 MPH. He’ll be nothing but a heart breaker if he doesn’t develop at least one other pitch.

        • Reggie C.

          I just read the comment that calls Melancon a “Huston Street type” b/c of the plus FB/CB combo. It also notes how economical Melancon is with his pitches. That likely explains why Melancon threw 95 innings. He finished innings off in so few pitches that he needed an extra inning of work.

          • Old Ranger

            You are right on…
            He puts it in there for you to hit…if you can. Once the batters find out he is throwing strikes (ala, Mo) they swing or go down on strikes. That guy is better then a B grade talent. 27/09.

            • canadian tuxedo

              Hows scot sheilds for a comparison for melancon?

    • greg

      Sickels releases changes every week, I’m sure he’ll bump Melancon up when he does.

    • emac2

      Bard should be a C+ while Melancon is an A-

      Montero should also be an A- on his hitting alone. The fact that he might be able to pay catcher should add to the grade not subtract.

      • K.B.D.

        He hasn’t hit above A ball, so I think the ranking is rather fair. Yes, he did it at a young age, but its just A ball. Lots of guys have raked down there and flamed out after.

  • 27 this year

    the funny thing is, Jeremy Bleich is a high floor, low ceiling type pitcher (never going to be a #1 or probably not a #2) but has the ability to make it to the majors. He is just an honorable mention which is something I truly disagree with. It can’t be sample size because Brackman has fewer pro innings then Bleich.

    • Reggie C.

      I would’ve put Bleich in that Top 10 list above guys like Sanchez, Albie (wtf), and Robertson. Yeah….Bleich is probably #10/#11 on that list imo. I can’t ignore his HWL success.

  • Old Ranger

    Last year he had; 1 tru 5…Joba, Tabata, IPK, Horne, A-Jax, what does that tell one?
    I tend to take these prospects with a little salt. I like to use them as sort of a guide on what to look for in a player as I see them in the minors. Then I look to see anything else that could have been missed by a (so called) expert.
    I try to see these guys about 3 to 5 times a year. This is why I like Brett and Cervelli, I’ve seen them play not just read a report from someone else. 27/09.

    • Tony S



    • tomaconda

      Besides Horne I think he was dead on. Tabata still has a ton of talent and he showed it with Pittsburg. Kennedy has been a great pitcher in the minors and should not be written off yet and Ajax is still there.

  • tomaconda

    The only one i can really question is Sosa. Sometimes I think these writers pick one guy that has such low odds of making the majors so they can say “see I picked him” if he makes it. Deleon has more raw talent at the same age.

  • Justin

    I would have given a few guys higher grades…Yankee bias? Perhaps, but at least I think I’m being relatively objective. I would give Melancon a B or a B+. In his first full season since TF surgery, Mark came back strong, blazing through the minors until SWB, posting 89 K’s in 94 innings with ERA’s of 2.84, 1.81, and 2.70 respectively. He showed a talent for shutting down teams when he needs too and the ability to pitch multiple innings to close a game out…something that some ML closers (*cough*K-Rod*cough*) can’t even do.

    I would bump Romine up a bit as well…he plays a premium position (and is likely to actually stay there), his defense is improving, and his bat is becoming a threat. Catchers with a healthy balance of offense and defense are one of the most valuable prospects in the game, behind only top-tier starters and maybe top-tier center fielders or shortstops.

    My biggest problem with Sickles’ list is the back end. I would have for sure put Cervelli on the list. I made my own top-prospect list a while back, I was wondering what some of your thoughts on it were:

    • Old Ranger

      I think I could nit pick your evaluations a bit but why, it’s not bad. I like to grade on how close a guy is to big show, along with everything else. For example; I would have Cervelli over Romine, even though Romine is a bit better hitter (maybe), just because Romine is farther away then Cervelli. Both are good defensively but, Cervelli calls a better game. See what I mean, there are so many things that make one stand out over another?Your picks are as good as any others, maybe a bit better…for me anyway. 27/09.

  • LeftyLarry

    I think Brandon Laird is a better prospect than a lot of those other guys.
    Bret Gardner too.

    • Old Ranger

      But he plays 1st and DH, not CF. 27/09.

  • David

    I don’t trust anything Sickels says when it comes to Yankees prospects.

  • Paulie

    Does anyone know more about Martin Prado of the Braves. On the surface it looks like he would make a nice utility guy. If so, is he available?

    • Mike Pop

      They wont trade him to us anyways after we stole Burnett and Swisher from them.

      • Paulie

        Oh yeah….

  • Frankbtxt

    I’m tired of hearing about the “Yankee hype machine” talk about Brackman.

    Is he not 6’10 and an amazing athlete? Does he not throw 98 mph? My point is that any organization would love to have a prospect like this. There would be plenty of hype revolving around Brackman wherever he played.

    Cashman and Co. are very high on this kid which makes me confident about his abilities. To me, the hype is well deserved. There’s a lot to be excited about with Brackman.

    • Mike Pop

      Numero Uno baby.

  • r.w.g.

    a bit surprising to see brandon laird not even make the honorable mentions. i fully understand he only has one tool and has some contact issues.. but his batting average fluctuated pretty wildly throughout his season, he’s still very young, comes from a major league family, and has light-tower power.

    i just think he should be allowed to actually flame out instead of analysts just assuming he will.

  • gg

    I understand Aceves came in under the radar but in a stellar debut season he pitched 30 innings of 2.40 era ball with a 1.17 whip and looked very comfortable in the bigs…Just b/c people didnt know about his talent before that, can u really say he hit his ceiling? Seems a little ignorant to me, I think the kid could have a nice career ahead of him but I’m not going to claim to be an expert on pitching prospects.

    • greg

      I think he could have a league average career, which is useful, but 30 innings in the majors doesn’t tell you much.

      • gg

        I dont know what a “league avg” career means, can you elaborate that?

        • leo

          A career similar to Paul Byrd–and then an example of someone a bit above average is Andy Pettitte.

  • Ivan

    Yankee system isn’t great but isn’t bad either.

    It’s middle in the pack overall which is still cool and the potential in the yanks system is quite huge especially with Montero, Romine, Brackman and Marshall.

    • Ryan S.

      Its pretty weak with position prospects, but what organization has better pitching in the minor leagues?

      • jb

        The A’s, Rangers, and Orioles have all have a much better combination of high upside/close to the majors starting pitching prospects compared to the Yankees.

  • X-Man(Angel)

    No love for Jairo Heredia?

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      In what regard, Charlie?

      Sickels has him 7 and says: “Looks like a major sleeper to me…” That’s some love, no?

  • ortforshort

    One nice affect of the Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira signings is that it took a lot of pressure off the minor league system. For example, with Teixeira and A-Rod in the middle of the lineup for the next several years, you don’t need AJax or Montero to be a monster hitter to be a valuable contributor to the Yankee lineup. AJax probably won’t be a monster, but he’s got a lot of tools and should add value. I see Montero as the future right fielder and right now there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a monster. Out of the catchers, you figure that one will probably turn out pretty good – Romine had a terrific debut. As far as the pitchers, you can now let Hughes, Kennedy and Aceves develop at their own pace and work them in rather than force them in. Brackman, Betances and McAllister all look like high ceiling guys to me. The point is that the minor league system looks positive again now that the immediate holes have been filled.

    • Ryan S.

      Out of Hughes, Kennedy, and Aceves, I only see one of them sticking as a permanent fixture in the rotation; most likely Hughes. Going on the basis that Joba is going to do great and that we eventually sign Wang to a long term deal, there’s only room for one more.

      • Steve H

        Hopefully enough of these guys will show promise and we can trade some of them to get close to the majors position prospects, we need to get younger in the field.

        • Reggie C.

          True that… but a couple of ’em will have to turn out REAL GOOD in order to flip ’em for a new starting SS. Clearly a future need for this team will be at SS once DJ can’t man it anymore. That time isn’t too far off.

          That’s why I hope in a couple seasons, the baseball community recognizes Betances and McAllister as top tier talents. Both guys could front a package for somebody like Stephen Drew.

          • Ryan S.

            Indeed. Inevitably we’ll be trading some of our young arms for young position players. SS would be on the top of my list for what we need.

  • Old Ranger

    It seems to me the so called “Yankee Hype” has been generated by blogs and sports writers…not the Yanks. 27/09.

  • Jamal G.

    How the fuck Brandon Laird and Jeremy Bleich failed to make this list is beyond me. Not only that, but the fact that Eduardo fucking Sosa and Erick Hacker made the list above those two is equally perplexing. I am losing respect for this dude more and more.

  • LeftyLarry

    I don’t think McAllister will be traded.He’s exactly what the farm system should be producing.
    If anything I could see YANKS replacing Wang with him if Wang gets too expensive and Joba makes it big.

    • Reggie C.

      DJ’s contract runs till 2010. If Stephen Drew is available, which is a possibility given that he’s a Boras client and he’s primed for a big contract as a SS, then I can see a scenario where we offer our best young pitching for Drew.

      Obviously alot can change and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Drew for whom we trade our best chips. But it could be him. A new SS is key at that point. Ideally we’d have two seasoned kids in Joba and Hughes in the rotation along with the obvious 3.

      I really believe that a big move for a SS lies in this team’s future.

  • Adrian-Retire21

    Brackman is great but he has alot to prove.The guy just two years ago was a basketball player.He can be great or horrible.

  • Brandon Laird

    What about me? No one ever mentions me.

  • Yanksfan4ever

    I think the Yankees should trade romine and some others for a top ss prospect to replace meter although we have someone in our farm system called Marcos vechianossi I’m not sure how to spell the last name,that is unbelivable with a glove and is starting to hit slot better ,he apparently,is the heir to derek at short

    • Dwnflfan

      Except Marco is a 3rd baseman and has never hit for a full season. He has a career .700 OPS in the minors.

      He’s also never played SS in the minors.