Ever since I’ve been able to follow the Yankees’ farm system closely, I’ve been interested in what happens to players once they leave the system. Will they find success with another team, or are they just products of the supposed Yankee hype machine? Yesterday I happen to catch updates on three former Yankees’ farmhands, and Mike caught another.
Drafted with the 17th pick of the 2005 draft, Henry got off to a slow start with the Yankees. After hitting .249/.333/.381 in 181 at-bats in the GCL after being drafted, Henry moved on to Charleston in 2006, where he hit .240/.330/.353 in 275 at-bats before the Yankees traded him to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu. He had a horrible year in 2007, hitting .184/.238/.322 in 342 at-bats while repeating the Sally league. He asked for his release after the season, and the Phillies granted it, only to watch him return to the Yankees. In 2008 he appeared in 20 games for Tampa, but his hitting skills were still poor.
Henry then left the Yankees to play basketball at Memphis. Coach John Calipari brought him him to help recruit his brother, Xavier Henry, but once Calipari left for Kentucky the deal was off. Both Henry brothers signed with Kansas, where they’re currently playing hoops for the Jayhawks. He has played in nine of the team’s 15 games, averaging just 7.1 minutes. His greatest asset, it seems, is the long shot. He’s 11 for 18 on three point attempts. Kansas is ranked #3 as of this writing.
Like Henry, Weeden plays college ball — football, that is. The Yankees drafted him in the second round of the 2002 draft, though he was their first pick. A $565,000 convinced him to pass up a football scholarship to Oklahoma State. He had a decent showing on the mound in 2002 and 2003, but eventually went to the Dodgers as part of the Kevin Brown trade. His lack of control hurt him as he reached A-ball in 2005, and after 77.2 innings as an Advanced-A player in the Royals system in 2006 he left baseball.
Afterward he want back to school, and he’ll be a 27-year-old junior next year at Oklahoma State. He is the favorite to win the starting quarterback job. Sounds like he should have taken that path initially. Hopefully he has more success with the transition than Drew Henson.
For the 1,207th overall pick in the 2000 draft, Kennard performed pretty well in the minor leagues. Other than his injury-shortened 2004 season, he kept his ERA under 4.00, even as he moved up to AA. He was suspended for 15 games in the 2005 season for violating baseball’s minor league steroid policy. In 2007 the Yankees traded him to the Angels mid-season for Jose Molina.
Kennard pitched well at AAA last year for the Reds, striking out 48, walking 21, and allowing 17 earned runs in 54 IP. The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.
We close the list with a name familiar to us all. A first-round pick of the Rockies in the 1996 draft, the Yankees were Westbrook’s third team. They acquired him, along with Ted Lilly, from the Expos for Hideki Irabu. Just over six months later, after Westbrook had thrown a whole 6.2 innings in the majors, the Yankees sent him, Zach Day, and Ricky Ledee to the Indians for David Justice in a move that would save their 2000 season.
Westbrook established himself as a solid middle of the rotation arm in Cleveland, posting average to above average ERA marks from 2003 through 2007. In 2008 he underwent Tommy John surgery that June. He recovered slowly, missing the entire 2009 season. He pitched well this winter in Puerto Rico, and appears ready to face the 2010 season as the Indians No. 1 starter. Slated to hit free agency after this season, Westbrook could end up being the third straight Indians No. 1 traded mid-season.