The former Yankee farmhand All-Star team

For your consideration: Gary Sheffield
Yankees sign Marcus Thames

Watching 150 to 160 baseball games per year means I get to see games with dozens of different people. Each one brings something to the table, and the experience is never the same with any two. I enjoy games differently when watching with Ben than I do watching with Mike. The experience really changes as I watch with more casual fans, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. They might not have the hardcore, intricate knowledge of the game, but if they’re watching they’re watching for a reason.

One of my best friends pays particular attention to the commentators. He hates phrases like “late break” and pokes fun when announcers make over-generalized, and usually false, statements. It’s not just the negative he picks out, though. One phrase he always notes is, “former Yankee farmhand.” It seems like one of the commentators says it every time we watch a game. Have the Yankees really sent that much talent through their system?

On LoHud today, Jesse Ghiorzi assembled the all former Yankee team. I want to take that in a different direction, assembling a team of players around the league who played, at one point or another, in the Yankees’ system. It won’t be as good as Jesse’s team, but it’ll be interesting to see who came up with the Yankees.

Catcher: Brad Ausmus

Drafted in the 48th round of the 1987 draft, Ausmus never donned pinstripes in the majors. Before the 1993 season the Rockies selected him with the 54th pick of the expansion draft, and then they flipped him to the Padres mid-season. Ausmus was never much of a hitter, reaching a 100 OPS+ just once as a full-time catcher, during his career year in 1999 for Detroit. He’ll turn 41 this year on the same days I turn 28, and is still kicking around, having just signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers.

Career line: .252/.325/.344

First base: Marcus Thames

In a way it makes sense that the best former Yankee farmhand first baseman is a guy who has logged just 239.1 innings there in his career. For years the Yankees sought a first baseman better in the field than Jason Giambi, and for years they settled for mediocre free agents. I suppose Andy Phillips could fit here, but I’m not even sure he’s still in the game. Thames is teamless currently, after six seasons in Detroit. Might the Yankees look to bring him back on a minor league contract? (Ed. Note: Phillips spent 2009 with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He’ll start 2010 with the Japanese Pacific League’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.)

Career line: .243/.306/.491

Second base: Alberto Gonzalez

He’s technically a shortstop, but the pickings were slim for second basemen. Plus, he has 391 major league innings at second and 475 at short, so it’s close enough. Gonzalez came to the Yankees when they traded Randy Johnson back to Arizona. He wasn’t supposed to amount to much more than a utility infielder, and that’s basically what he’s become. He spent just a year and change in the Yankees system before they traded him for Jhonny Nunez in 2008. (The Yankees included Nunez in the Swisher trade.)

Update: There were two trades with the Nats in 2008, and I mixed them up. Sorry.

Career line: .256/.298/.345

Third base: Mike Lowell

Drafted in the 20th round of the 1995 draft, Lowell wore the pinstripes for just eight games, covering 15 plate appearances. That was the year they acquired Scott Brosius, and he put up the best year of his career. High on Marlins pitching prospect Ed Yarnall, the Yankees traded him south in the off-season of 1998-99 and saw little return on it. Lowell went on to post big numbers for the Marlins, and followed that up with a quality four years in Boston.

Career line: .280/.343/.468

Shortstop: Christian Guzman

Two years after they drafted Derek Jeter, the Yankees signed Christian Guzman as an amateur free agent. He made his stateside debut with the GCL Yankees two years later, posting a respectable .294/.341/.382 line. After an uninspiring 1997 season, spent mostly in Greensboro of the Class-A Sally league, the Yankees traded Guzman to the Twins in the Chuck Knoblauch trade.

Career line: .271/.307/.386

Corner OF: Alfonso Soriano

I’m sure there are people who assume that the Yankees signed Soriano as an amateur free agent, but they actually purchased his contract from a Japanese team in 1998. He spent most of the next two seasons in the Yankees’ system, posting good power numbers, especially for a second baseman. He hit .290/.327/.464 in AAA in 2000 before finally getting the call-up for good in 2001. The Yankees, as we know, then traded him for Alex Rodriguez in 2004.

Career line: .278/.326/.510

Corner OF: Juan Rivera

After the 2003 season, it appeared the Yankees might have something in Rivera. The 24-year-old showed flashes of power, slugging .468 with seven home runs and 14 doubles in 185 plate appearances. He figured to start in right field for the 2004 season, but the Yankees needed pitching after Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, and David Wells all left. They traded him to Montreal in the Javy Vazquez trade, and a year later Montreal flipped him to the Angels, where he continues to play. Last season was the first time he eclipsed 500 plate appearances in his career.

Career line: .285/.331/.470

Center field: Melky Cabrera

He hasn’t played another game for his new franchise yet, but he’s a former Yankee farmhand playing elsewhere. Considering the other former Yankee center fielders out there (read: none), this is an easy choice. Signed as an amateur free agent in 2001, Melky came stateside in 2003 and spent most of the next three seasons in the minors before getting the full-time call in 2006, when both Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield got hurt early in the year.

Career line: .269/.331/.385

SP: Ted Lilly

Lilly is kind of a stretch here, because he spent just one season in the Yankees system. They acquired him from the Expos in the Hideki Irabu deal, and then flipped him two years later to acquire Jeff Weaver from the Tigers. Regardless of time spent in the minors, he’s easily the best pitcher on this list.

Career ERA: 4.25

SP: Ross Ohlendorf

Like Lilly, Ohlendorf spent limited time in the Yankees system after they acquired him from another team. Like Alberto Gonzalez, Ohlendorf came over in the Randy Johnson trade and spent much of the 2007 season in the minors. The Yankees liked him in his limited relief role that year and kept him in the bullpen in 2008, where he was hot and cold before being demoted and eventually traded. He had a pretty good season starting for the Pirates.

Career ERA: 4.54

SP: Jeff Karstens

Also involved in the Nady/Marte trade, Karstens actually spent his younger years in the Yankees’ system, having been drafted in the 19th round of the 2003 draft. He came up in 2006 when the team desperately needed starters and pitched well enough. A line drive off his leg cut short his 2007 season, and he didn’t pitch in the bigs in 2008 until the trade to Pittsburgh.

Career ERA: 5.15

SP: Eric Milton

Another component of the Knoblauch trade, Milton seemed like the one the Yankees would regret. While he did p[itch well in the late 90s and early 2000s, Milton’s production peaked in 2001 and never really returned. Since he signed his first free agent contract in 2004 he’s been basically useless. He did return to the Yankees’ system in 2008 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, but he signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers before the 2009 season.

Career ERA: 4.99

RP: Jose Veras

RP: Manny Acosta

RP: Russ Springer

RP: Ramon Ramirez

RP: Tyler Clippard

Looking back at the list, it seems like the Yankees did a good job of hanging onto the right guys. Lowell is easily the best name the Yankees let go, and while that hurts, it did leave open the door to the Alex Rodriguez acquisition. Especially on the pitching side, it seems like the Yankees did well to trade guys who didn’t come back to bite them.

Am I missing anyone from this list?

Update: From the commenters, players I left off this list: Jake Westbrook, Ian Kennedy. I left off Carlos Pena because he signed a MiL contract when he was out of options, and was just depth, rather than a developing player.

For your consideration: Gary Sheffield
Yankees sign Marcus Thames
  • Rudi


    Yes. You’re missing Jose Rijo that was traded
    on impulse to the Cincinnati Reds and went on to
    have a nice career and be a top of the rotation
    starter for them.

    Have a great day.

    Best regards,


    • DP

      Dear Rudi,

      How have you been? How’s Aunt Jane and the kids? Has it really been 7 years since the family reunion? This list is current major leaguers. Say hello to everyone!



      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Dear DP:




      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Hey, Peter!

          Watch out for your cornhole, buddy.

  • Dan

    Carlos Pena?

    • Mike Bk

      dont consider Pena a farmhand with as much mlb experience he had w detroit and oakland before coming here, but they certainly did let him walk before he broke out.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Youmay have forgotten that the Red Sox signed him after the Yankees let him go, then they released Pena, who then went to Tampa.
        Also, I’m pretty sure that Carlos Pena has credited Long with his turnaround.

        • Mike Bk

          no, not forgetting that, just saying he is not a farmhand.

  • Bo

    It’s a pretty awful pitching staff. Shows how bad the system was this decade.

    • Tom Zig

      Yep. That’s what happens when you let George draft.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      It’s a pretty awful pitching staff. Shows how bad the system was this decade.

      Seeing as how this list is
      A) Not limited to this decade
      B) Limited to players who came up in the Yankee system but then spent the lions share of their careers with big league clubs NOT named “The New York Yankees”,

      … no, it doesn’t remotely “show how bad the system was this decade”. What it shows is that many of the Yankee pitching prospects who were traded away (or cut and claimed by other teams) didn’t pan out. Said pitchers are only a fraction of all the pitchers who passed through our system recently.

      You can’t look at a list of television shows that CBS evaluated and ultimately passed on and then use that information to make a statement that “Shows how good/bad CBS’s show development process has been this decade.” You’d be speaking from ignorance.

      • Accent Shallow

        I’d say that the Yankees having a bad system for the past decade isn’t a particularly controversial statement. The best SP the Yankees have produced since Pettitte is who, Ted Lilly? (Although Hughes and Joba could quickly rectify that)

        As for relievers, Mo is clearly in a class by himself, but again, the system hasn’t produced someone who’s even in a lower category, like K-Rod, Valverde, etc.

        Now, if you’re going to make a case that the system turnaround began with the drafting of Hughes in ’04, I can buy that, but this isn’t a system that’s been churning out value.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Not the point.

          Whether or not the Yankee farm system was bad this decade (or the prior decade, for that matter) is not illustrated, in any way, by this above list of the best Yankee farmhands now playing elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if Cristian Guzman or Eric Milton never amounted to shit, it only matters that they were at one point good enough to be worth Chuck Knoblauch.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            I mean, a list such as this made for ANY of the 30 teams in baseball would generally exclude the very best prospects the teams generated from their farm system, since said players would generally never be traded/released/leave in free agency. They’d be playing prominent roles on that team’s 25-man and 40-man rosters, like Joba, Phil, Robertson, Aceves, Melancon, Edwar, Cervelli, Cano, Nick Johnson, Peña, Miranda, and Gardner.

  • A.D.

    Jake Westbrook might fit in better as a starting pitcher than some of the other guys

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      Dammit. Forgot Westbrook.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        (pours a cold refreshing Pinstripe DFA IPA into a boversimplification mug and hands it to Joseph)

    • Tags1

      That was the name I thought of when I saw the list also Joseph!

  • Ed

    Jake Westbrook and Dioner Navarro are the best I can think of not mentioned. Westbrook barely counts though, as he came with Lilly and was traded half a year later.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      I considered Navarro, but Ausmus has had an obviously longer and pretty much better career.

      • whozat

        He’s also the last remaining major leaguer from my alma mater. I’ll always pay attention a little extra when I see a blurb about Ausmus :-)

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Cheshire HS, or Dartmouth?

          I’ll assume it’s Cheshire, because it would thus make sense that he’s the “last remaining”. Because I can only assume after you went to Cheshire, they had to close and then burn the school due to the numerous code violations and illegal/immoral acts that left the area permanently scarred/haunted/defiled.

          • whozat

            nope, other one. Been a few years since I checked, but ausmus and mike remlinger were the our only big leaguers back then. I suppose there could be a kid, but I feel like I’d have heard if one of my rough contemporaries was in the bigs now.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Nice. One of my best friends went to Dartmouth from ’95-’99. If that’s around the time you were there, you probably knew her, she was like one of the two or three black women on campus.

              • Steve H

                Two or three?

                You really need to work on your hyperbole, that’s way too high.

            • Steve H

              Remlinger had a nice grit beard.

      • Ed

        Agreed, Ausmus had a better career than Navarro. I mentioned him because he’s the only position player I can think of not on your list that amounted to anything. I think it’s a pretty big drop off from Navarro to the next best player on the list.

  • Hey Yo

    That team looks worse then the Nationals.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    “I enjoy games differently when watching with Ben than I do watching with Mike.”

    Mike: less Jewish

    • Moshe Mandel

      Less Jewish=less awesome.

  • DP

    Is Wang disqualified because he hasn’t signed yet?

  • JGS

    What about IPK

    • A.D.

      True, I’d rather have him starting than Karstens.

      • whozat

        Me too, but as of right now, isn’t Karstens’ big-league resume actually better?

        And, also, IPK hasn’t played a game for anyone else, so he might not really qualify. Same with Wang.

        • JGS

          neither has Melky, but he is on the list. And IPK is probably going to be Arizona’s 4th starter

          • whozat

            touche on Melky. But the other point still stands…IPK’s big league resume is actually work than Karstens’

        • DP

          Well, Melky hasn’t either. In IPK’s case, I’d say it’s cause he hasn’t done jack shit in the majors.

          • JGS

            and I guess if we were going on potential alone with the guys that are still prospects, then Ajax would be here too

  • SM

    Did Karstens just beat out McCutchen?

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    RP: Ramon Ramirez

    Is that one of the two Ramon Ramirezes in the 2010 Boston bullpen? And if so, is it the Dominican one or the Venezuelan one?

  • A.D.

    Only 4 starters?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      They’re so good, this All Star team doesn’t need a fifth starter.

      They’re just going 4 deep with top notch talent, just like Palmer-McNally-Cuellar-Dobson with the ’71 Orioles. Domination, holmes.

  • Rose

    Outfielder: Ruben Rivera

    Rivera was signed by the Yankees in 1990. He made his MLB debut on September 3, 1995. Ruben’s highlight of his career came at an early age when he found out he was cousins with the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. After a 2002 spring training game, Rivera took his teammate Derek Jeter’s glove and bat and sold them to a sports memorabilia dealer for $2500. The team then voted him off of the team. The very next year, Ruben committed what Giants broadcaster Jon Miller would say as “the worst baserunning in the history of the game!” when he ran back and forth misjudging plays while managing to miss touching second base on several ocassions only to be thrown out by a full step at home plate. Had he scored, the Giants would have won the game.

    Career line: .216/.307/.393

    Trivia: Claude from “Along Came Polly” calls him “Luben”

  • ARX

    Any way we can plug these guys into some sort of spreadsheet/projection system and estimate how they would do as a team? Anywhere other than maybe the NL Central, they might lose 100 games…

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Any way we can plug these guys into some sort of spreadsheet/projection system and estimate how they would do as a team?

      We’ll whip that right up for you. Done right the first time, or your money back.


      • bexarama

        Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.

      • Big Juan

        Well played sir.

  • Dave

    I guess Marcus Thames can be taken off that list.

  • Big Juan

    Well played sir.
    Oops, should have added great post! Can’t wait for your next one!

  • http://DannyBaseball Dan

    Why include Melky on this list but exclude Nick Johnson?

    • http://DannyBaseball Dan

      And Wang for that matter?

  • Lennin Reyes

    You forgot to mention Doug Drabek, who was traded to Pittsburgh in 1987 for Rick Rhoden as well as future MVP Willie McGee and 1st baseman Fred McGriff.