Baseball America names decade’s top prospects

Friday Night Open Thread
Adjusting PECOTA's Projected Standings

Baseball America might be a few weeks late on this one. After all, the decade’s been over for almost a month now, and we covered the the Yankees’ decade a few weeks ago. But the prospect publication just released their decade retrospective, and as you can see, the Yanks’ list is as expected. In fact, it looks awfully similar to Mike’s list.

The biggest omission in the BA list, in my opinion, is Phil Hughes. At no point in the decade would I have taken Marcus Thames over Phil Hughes, and I’d probably opt for Hughes over Melky — a BA prospect just once all decade — and Dioner Navarro who never lived up to the hype.

As Mike noted in December, after the ten guys listed here, the Yanks system didn’t produce much of lasting value this decade. Phil Coke is a useful, if average, player, and David Robertson stands to be a key cog in the bullpen in 2010. Ian Kennedy could still emerge as an adequate Major Leaguer.

The misses are nearly as compelling as the hits though. Amongst David Parrish, Jon Poterson — the comp pick for Andy Pettitte in 2004 — Drew Henson, C.J. Henry and Eric Duncan, the Yanks had some spectacularly hyped prospects and high draft picks who just didn’t come through. Such were the way of things mid-decade.

In the end, the Yanks had a pretty unbalanced decade prospect-wise. They started the 2000’s at the top of the list and stayed in the top 10 until an epic mid-decade collapse. Only recently have their rebounded, but with a few trades this winter, the system has been depleted. Right now, the Yanks have a solid Major League club, some high-ceiling young kids and Jesus Montero. If all goes according to plan, he’ll front this list when it comes around again in ten years.

Added to by Mike: I completely forgot about Westbrook, which is why he was omitted from my list. I would have placed him third, behind Soriano and Cano. As I explained in my post, Joba is far and away the team’s best draft pick of the last ten years, and frankly it’s not even close. He has more than double the WAR of the next closest player despite spending just over two years in the bigs.

As for the worst pick, yeah Henry flamed out in glorious fashion, but a guy with his athleticism and raw skills at a premium position is a legit first round pick. It didn’t work out, but that doesn’t make it a bad pick in my book. Poterson, on the other hand, was awful because he was such an overdraft. In all seriousness, they could have gotten him in the 5th or 6th round if they hadn’t taken him in the first.

As you can see from BA’s fancy little chart, the system was completely in the dumps for a good chunk of the decade. You can’t have a system that bad for one particular reason, it takes a group effort; the team forfeited so many picks over the years to sign free agents, and for quite some time they adhered to slot and drafted low-ceiling college players with their top picks. They weren’t always willing to pay for premium young talent, and it wasn’t until Brian Cashman fired scouting director Lin Garrett and put Damon Oppenheimer and his people in place in 2005 that things started to turn around.

Friday Night Open Thread
Adjusting PECOTA's Projected Standings
  • JSquared

    Poterson… Please, don’t remind us.

    • W.W.J.M.D.

      I’m a young’n, any guy that he could be compared to the last 3 years?

  • pat

    We would be flipping our shit if Nick Johnson was a prospect nowadays.

    1999 20 years old @ AA Norwich
    .345!!!/.525!!!!!!/.548!!! 1.073 OPS!!!

    14 hr
    88 k
    123 bb

    • Salty Buggah

      Yea, he was beastly.

    • Ivan

      Just sick.

    • RollingWave

      he would be a very very good MLB player too, if not for the little injury problem he has…

    • Mike Axisa

      30-something HBP too, I believe.

  • Do Not Feed The Trolls!

    The Yanks had the number one farm in 2000
    holy sh*t

    • bexarama

      and that was while we were winning four World Series in five years… that’s ridiculous.

    • GG2000

      Found this list of names from 2000:

      Interesting crop of names … I recall a few of them having passed through Columbus/Scranton over the past decade, some finding more success elsewhere (Pena) than others (Broussard, Lombard, Colome).

  • AndrewYF

    Just goes to show how futile system ranking systems are. Who were the awesome group of Yankees prospects in 2000? Nick Johnson, Jake Westbrook, and Alfonso Soriano? That was the best group of prospects in baseball? And who the hell did they have in the system before 2002 to make it to number 5?

    It’s why rating GMs based on drafts and rankings that happened less than 5 years ago is completely idiotic. It also goes to show that major league success probably has a lot to do with coloring the glasses of those doing the prospect rankings. Before 2000, the Yankees had just won 3 out of 4 World Series. They must be doing something right, yeah?

    • Do Not Feed The Trolls!

      Nick Johnson, Westbrook and Soriano were an excellent group of players. If a team had a young version of each they would be salivating.

      I dont care what you think of them now but Soriano was a former 40/40 guy. He has averaged 3.4 WAR for the 8 season in the bigs(even with a negative year last year.

      NJ although injury prone is a one base machine and Jake Westbrook has been slightly better than league average.

      • radnom

        I dont care what you think of them now but Soriano was a former 40/40 guy

        At 2B. You can’t find that kind of power at the position in ALL of baseball these days. He was rare as a youngster.

    • Slugger27

      Who were the awesome group of Yankees prospects in 2000? Nick Johnson, Jake Westbrook, and Alfonso Soriano? That was the best group of prospects in baseball?

      i have no idea what this means. u imply thats not a stacked list of prospects… those 3 guys in the system at the same time is BEAST

      prospect wise, soriano and nick johnson would be like having both jennings and smoak in the system now

  • AndrewYF

    Also, look at the ridiculous awfulness of the Red Sox system rankings. In the early-to-mid 2000s, they had in their system: Hanley Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, just to name a few. And BA ranked them near to dead-last. Do they really have any clue whatsoever?

    • Baseballnation

      I rememeber back in those days when Either Callis or Manuel (can’t quit recall) stated in a chat that he believed Jon Lester Was the better prospect than Hughes and would be a better major leaguer (mind you this was Hughes was tearing minor league hitters a new @#$hole) and I remember him catching alot of heat by Yankee fans…Whichever one when out on a limb on that one has been pretty dead on at least so far.

      • radnom

        Lester’s got 3 years on Hughes. Obviously Phil’s next three years probably won’t come close to Lester’s last three, but Lester didn’t establish himself until two years ago. Phil could struggle this year and still be on the same track as Lester at the same age.

  • Baseballnation

    Clearly the farm lacks a Ruben Rivera type of talent *Cough*

    • bexarama

      whenever someone mentions Ruben Rivera, I have to post this: (sfw)

      • Nostra-Artist

        Classic. That’s Ruben in a nutshell. All the talent in the world, but horrendously stupid.

      • vin

        That kind of reminds me of the ’09 postseason Twins.

  • Drew

    Sometimes I wish my boy Melky wasn’t rushed… It’s a shame major league need got in the way of minor league development.

    • Nostra-Artist

      Ummm . . . isn’t that what the farm system is there for? To fill needs on the MLB club?

  • kenthadley

    didn’t we get Westbrook in a trade from Montreal, or am i thinking of someone else?

    • Delajoops

      Nope, you are correct, we got him for the fat puffy toad:
      December 22, 1999 Traded Hideki Irabu to the Montreal Expos. Received players to be named later and Jake Westbrook. The Montreal Expos sent Ted Lilly (March 17, 2000) and Christian Parker (March 22, 2000) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

      • Accent Shallow

        It’s “fat pussy toad.” And that’s “pussy” as in “filled with pus”, not “pussy” as in “cat”.

        • Delajoops

          I stand corrected.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I am boldly predicting that the 10’s will be a better prospect decade than the 00’s. Call me insane if you like, but I’m sticking with it.

    • Steve H

      Easy. Melvin wasn’t in the states in the 00’s.

      Though you are still insance, just not for that comment.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Am I insane to think Jesus Montero will be the greatest catcher in Yankee history, who will then be backed up by the second greatest catcher in Yankee history in Austin Romine, who will be supplanted by the next 2nd best Yankee catcher in JR Murphy, who will then be overtaken by the next greatest catcher of all time, Gary Sanchez, a.k.a. Jestin Romtero?

        Am I?

        • Steve H

          No. Yes. Yes. Yes.

          Big Yes.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Time to get on board the Crazy Train, Steve.

            • Steve H

              I’m going off the rails.

              • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                Mental wounds still screaming?

                • Steve H

                  Driving me insane.

        • Scooter

          “Am I crazy? Or am I so sane that I just blew your mind?”

          You’re crazy… but in a good way

        • Angelo

          Not at all.

    • Lanny

      Cant get much worse. Montero alone makes the new decade better.

  • Accent Shallow

    Seriously, how is Phil Hughes not on this list? He was ranked as high as #4 in all of the minors, not just the Yankees’ system.

    Additionally, for all the criticism the Yankees got for their system prior to Oppenheimer, they sure lucked into Hughes . . . he was drafted in 2004.

    • Lanny

      Has to be an oversight. He was BA’s top prospect for 2 yrs.

  • Nick

    Marcus Thames hardly played for us. Hughes was the key set-up man completing the bridge to Mariano and he was dominant in that role the whole regular season. How come all of our starting pitcher prospects are always better in the bullpen? (Hughes, Chamberlain, Coke, Robertson, Aceves)

    • Lanny

      Dont forget Mo.

    • billbybob

      Robertson was never a starter.

  • Lanny

    Shows why the Yankees were titleless til 2009. The system was neglected and producing nothing. With the money and resources they have their system should always be in the top half.

  • Peter

    “It didn’t work out, but that doesn’t make it a bad pick in my book.”

    i completely disagree. Because it didn’t work out is the exact reason it was a bad pick for me (and i guess for BA aswell).

    But there is a clear difference in thinking here that i can respect.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      That’s a tautology and a prime example of revisionist history. Picks aren’t good five years later if they work out. Plus, Henry got them Abreu, and that was a win.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      i completely disagree. Because it didn’t work out is the exact reason it was a bad pick for me

      While you are entitled to your opinion, that doesn’t make it right.

      Sometimes a good decision produces a bad result, just as sometimes a poor decision produces a good or neutral result.

      Let’s say you’re at a party and even though you’re pretty drunk, you decide to drive yourself home. Let’s further assume that you get home okay. The fact that that horrendously stupid decision produces a good result (you got home without killing anyone) doesn’t change the fact that it was a horrendously stupid decision. It was a stupid decision the moment it was made.

      If you continue to make stupid decisions, they will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.

      Conversely, if you make good decisions, you will come out on top MOST of the time. But sometimes, you get screwed even when yhou make a good decision. That’s life. Shit happens.

      So, if the Yankees (or any team, for that matter) consistently draft athletic players with raw skills who play premium positions, they will be rewarded MOST of the time. The few times they aren’t does not make it a bad pick.

    • Jack
  • chriso

    Have the guys over at BP or BA ever done a simple study of the relationship between these organizational rankings and the performances of the individual players five years on?
    Certainly, every player on a top prospect list is expected to be a major leaguer within a five year period after the rankings.
    On the other hand, how many of the guys not ranked highly by BP and BA do go on to have good major league careers?
    I realize that prospect rankings are, by their very nature, predictions. But how many of them come true and/or are consistent?