2010 Pre-Draft Top 30 Prospects

The aging catcher conundrum
RAB Live Chat
Tell me this isn't an awesome picture. (Photo Credit: Andy King, AP)

When the season started, the stock line said the Yankees’ farm system had thinned out considerably over the last year because of trades, graduation, and general attrition. It was certainly true, but I think it was still a shock to everyone to see just how weak the rosters of the four full season affiliates were once the season started and DotF returned. There’s certainly some good players on each of the teams, but there’s a lot more filler and a lot fewer gotta-see-how-they-did names.

That’s the price a team pays to not just put together a World Championship club, but to sustain one. Free agent signings prior to the 2009 season robbed the Yanks of three high draft picks, and trades this past winter took away several young and talented players. The good news is that the Yanks do still have some impact prospects, though most of them are further down the ladder. Of my top eight prospects, just two are above A-ball.

This pre-draft list is more of a status update than a re-ranking, just because the season is only seven or eight weeks old and not much can change in that time. Most of the movement at the top of the list is a result of players showing us exactly what we wanted to see coming into the year rather than guys disappointing and taking a step back. Only two players from my preseason top 30 list are ineligible for this one: Frankie Cervelli because he’s eclipsed the 130 at-bat rookie limit, and Jamie Hoffmann because he was returned to the Dodgers at the end of the Spring Training.

The Yanks simply don’t have the depth that they once did, so the bottom third of the list consists of some players coming back from injury and others who project to be little more than marginal big leaguers. Don’t get too caught up in the exact placement, many of these guys are interchangeable. If you think the #29 prospect is better than the #22 prospect, you won’t get much of an argument. There’s just not much of a difference.

The level listed is where the kid is currently playing, but everything else is self-explanatory.

  1. Jesus Montero, C, AAA: no, the numbers are not where we’d like them to be (.293 wOBA), but I’m not going to dock him for struggling during his first two months in Triple-A as a 20-year-old
  2. Austin Romine, C, AA: he just keeps on getting better and better each day … like most Thunder players, he’s performed much better on the road (.380-.418-.576) than at Waterfront Park (.247-.326-.351)
  3. Slade Heathcott, CF, A-: finally promoted to a full season league this past Wednesday, he’s the system’s best combination of athleticism and baseball ability
  4. Jose Ramirez, RHSP, A-: handling his first assignment to a full season league with aplomb … 55-13 K/BB ratio and 47 hits allowed in 56 IP, but the biggest number of all is the zero homers allowed
  5. Manny Banuelos, LHSP, injured: has yet to pitch this year because of an appendectomy
  6. Andrew Brackman, RHSP, A+: he’s gotten better as he’s gotten further away from Tommy John surgery … after 6.4 BB/9 last season, he’s cut that down to 1.3 this year
  7. J.R. Murphy, C, A-: like Heathcott, he was a late add to a full season league, but there’s a case to be made that he’s the best pure hitter in the system after Montero
  8. Graham Stoneburner, RHSP, A+: dominated Low-A hitters just like he was supposed to … I was high on him out of the draft last year, and so far he’s making me look smart
  9. Zach McAllister, RHSP, AAA: solid but unspectacular during his first taste of Triple-A … the strikeouts are down (just 5.8 K/9), ditto the groundballs (40.7%, down about 10% from his career mark)
  10. Hector Noesi, RHSP, AA: seems to get better each time out … you gotta love the 61-9 K/BB ratio in 55 IP
  11. David Adams, 2B, injured: completely destroyed the Eastern League (.392 wOBA) before suffering an ankle injury trying to break up a double play
  12. Mark Melancon, RHRP, AAA: we’ve pretty much said everything that needs to be said over the last few years, just needs a chance
  13. Adam Warren, RHSP, A+: rock solid but I’m kinda surprised he’s still in Tampa … the 6.7 K/9 is low, but the 58.7 GB% is through the roof
  14. Corban Joseph, 2B, A+: we know he can hit, but we’re still not sure what else he has to offer
  15. Kelvin DeLeon, OF, ExST: will report to one of the short season leagues later this month
  16. Bryan Mitchell, RHSP, ExST: ditto DeLeon’s comment
  17. Ivan Nova, RHSP, AAA: got his first taste of the big leagues last month … nice piece of inventory to have stashed away at Triple-A
  18. Brandon Laird, 3B/1B, AA: simply annihilating the Eastern League (.381 wOBA), but he’s going to have to learn to play an outfield corner to be anything more than trade bait for the Yanks
  19. Bradley Suttle, 3B, A+: his bat has been disappointing (.291 wOBA) after missing all of 2009 with a pair of shoulder surgeries, but let’s give him the rest of the season before passing judgment
  20. David Phelps, RHSP, AA: the 440th overall pick in the 2008 continues to surprise … just 59 baserunners allowed in 63.1 IP this year
  21. Jeremy Bleich, LHSP, injured: going to be down for a while after having surgery to repair a torn labrum … has a 86-62 K/BB ratio in 106.1 IP at Double-A over the last two seasons
  22. Kevin Russo, UTIL, MLB: I’m sure he’s much happier riding the bench in the big leagues than he was playing every day in Triple-A
  23. Romulo Sanchez, RHRP, AAA: the walks are definitely too high at 5.0 BB/9, but he can miss bats and provide length out of the bullpen, and there’s value in that
  24. D.J. Mitchell, RHSP, AA: Double-A hasn’t been kind to him, but he still has time to improve the 6.4 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, and 10.5 H/9
  25. Caleb Cotham, RHSP, injured: dealing with yet another knee injury, so you have to start worrying about it becoming a chronic problem for the power pitcher
  26. Greg Golson, OF, AAA: fast, great defense, can’t hit to save his life … an outfield version of Ramiro Pena
  27. Dan Brewer, OF, AA: he’s not hitting for average (.239) or getting on base (.312) like we’ve come to expect, but he’s on pace for 46 steals, more than double his career high of 22
  28. Dellin Betances, RHSP, injured: supposedly he’ll be back with one of the affiliated teams any day now
  29. Chad Huffman, 1B/OF, AAA: his track record suggests on-base skills (career .382 OBP) and decent power (career .182 ISO), so he has value off the bench or as the righty half of a platoon
  30. Wilkin DeLaRosa, LHRP, AA: his progress has stalled since his breakout 2008 season, but he’s still a guy to watch because he’s lefthanded and throws pretty hard

Bleich is the big fall-off because of his very serious injury, but overall the top three is very good. The next tier is solid but not particularly deep, and after that you have a lot of up-and-down pieces that are probably more valuable to the Yankees as trade bait than on the field.  I’ll revisit this list soon after the August 16th signing deadline (the 15th is on a Sunday, so they pushed it back a day) to incorporate all the “new hires,” if you will.

The aging catcher conundrum
RAB Live Chat
  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

    I think it’s time or RAB to get something together to hire a professional scout to watch all of Brackmonster’s starts. We need more information than Kevin Goldstein’ one sentence.

    Or, maybe we can just send Andy In Sunny Daytona.


  • Gil L

    when will everyone wake up and understand that melancon is no where near a stud prospect, or the stud prospect he was once thought as.
    the guy can’t get ML’s out, is getting hit lately in triple A, his stuff is average at best.
    if anyone wants him, he should be traded.

    • Tampa Yankee

      This comment made me LOL. Thanks, I need that.

    • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

      If he sucks, why would anyone trade for him?

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

        Have you seen the D-Backs bullpen? Hell, Kei Igawa would close on that team!

        (Besides, it would finally give him good reason to wear sunglasses at ALL HOURS. Those UV rays can really fuck you up in the desert.)

        What were we talking about again?

        • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

          Melancon and Igawa for Justin Upton?

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

            As long as they don’t take Palabrakemper, I’m cool with it.

          • vin

            They’d need to throw in IPK for me to be interested.

      • Thomas

        Some organizations, mainly ones run by Dayton Moore, value sucking a lot.

      • Poopy Pants

        The White Sox traded for Betemit.
        The Yankees traded for Javy.
        It happens. People are dumb sometimes.

    • Templeton “Brendog” Peck

      and when someone challenges this i predict the “i could’ve been/was a scout” defense. like johnny cochrane’s chewbacca defense

      • Rick in Boston

        Has there ever been a scout on record not doubting the fact that Melancon has a future as a major league reliever? Sure, there were questions if he could close or not, but there’s not been one guy that I’ve read that has said Melancon couldn’t cut it in the show.

    • Accent Shallow

      I’m sure this guy is talking out of his ass (I saw him pitch 3 times! And I read a two week stretch of MiLB numbers! I must be right!), but there’s a non-zero chance that Melancon never amounts to much of anything.

      Of course, I’d like to see him get an extended shot (a la Robertson last year) before we write him off, and perhaps not even then.

  • bigdog5123


    What is the ceiling on Phelps? His stats look phenominal at Double-A, what makes you not rank him higher?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He doesn’t really have an out pitch. Three good ones, but none that he can use to get a big strikeout or just put guys away with in general. That’s also McAllister’s problem.

      • bigdog5123

        so more of a back-end of the rotation type? or in the Yankees world probably more of a trading chip?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Yes, and probably.

      • crawdaddie

        In fairness to Phelps, I think his other offerings are better than McAllister’s.

  • bigdog5123

    So based on the Org depth as we sit here pre-draft. Should we be hoping for high-risk high-reward type players slipping to us in the draft. Or would we be better off increasing the organizational depth and having some lower ceiling, but higher projectable players falling to us at 32?

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

      A team like the Yankees (I feel) is better served by going the upside route rather than depth. Depth has lower ceilings (obviously), and thus have a smaller likelihood of contributing to the big club since they largely can fill holes using their large payroll.

      One Slade panning out is more valuable than 4 much lesser prospects.

  • A.D.

    I’m sure he’s much happier riding the bench in the big leagues than he was playing every day in Triple-A

    His bank account is a lot happier

  • UWS

    So does Carmen Angelini sleep with the fishes these days?

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

      Seems that way though I haven’t seen any official report that he’s been let go.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He’s in Extended ST. This is probably his last chance.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

        Wow, that’s good to hear. He’s obviously a non-prospect now, but it would be great to see a glimmer of hope.

        • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

          Poor kid :(

          He was the third youngest kid on SI last year and going the opposite direction from the rest of his teammates.

  • YankeesJunkie

    With the Yankees system being so thin how does it get better. Obviously, a lot of talent in the lower levels so they should improve the system as they age, but what type of drafting and IFA signings do the Yankees need to do to improve their system?

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ JMK’s Mystique and Aura

      Few high-upside arms in the system, so that would be a huge help. Outside of catcher, not a lot of impact position players. In fact, Slade’s the only one that immediately comes to mind. DeLeon has a chance at some point, but he has huge flaws that need a lot of work. He’s young and very skilled, but he may end up like Melky Mesa if he can’t work on his batting eye. 2nd base has some fairly good prospects in Adams, Russo and Joseph, but none of them are real impact players.

      Look around – a lot of areas need replenishment.

      • YankeeGrunt

        Adams could be an impact player. He has the frame to be a power bat, he was one of the better prospects in the college ranks after his soph season and regressed a bit as a junior. Down the road I could see him as a quality #2 hitter; patient, maybe a 15 HR ceiling and a lot of doubles, fast enough. I don’t see how he gets that chance for us with Cano at 2B, but he could be a centerpiece of a deal.

  • kenthadley

    doesn’t it seem like we’ve been losing out on a lot of international free agents over the past year or two?….maybe that’s contributing to the lack of depth……I realize these are all long shots, and you cant sign everyone, but apparently other teams are jumping all over them…..if we want to shore up the minors, this seems like one place we could be more aggressive….maybe it means increasing the IFA budget….

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I don’t think so, I just think it’s been more publicized the last year or two.

      • kenthadley

        does anyone keep track of what NYY spend on IFA vs. other teams? I love the list you created, but when I look at it, it really does look thin….I mean, we have guys in the top ten that have barely played professional ball, and a few others who are as much hope as performance…..I think in a good system, these would be 15-30 slots……anyway, I am concerned that we are squeezing the budget at IFA levels…..would like to see some comparisons…..we should be ahead of most teams in this, but I doubt we are…..

        • Ted Nelson

          When you consider that the Yankees have graduated Hughes, Joba, Austin Jackson, Cervelli, IPK, Gardner, Robertson, Pena, Russo… over the past few years and still have Montero, Romine, and co left over… I find it VERY hard to say this is not a “good system.”

          3 years and you graduate an ace and another rotation arm, a closer, 2 starting CFs, a ML catcher, a good reliever, and a couple of good utility guys… If other teams could produce that kind of talent they would be thrilled (and win more games than they do). Had they signed Cole we might be talking about another frontline starter waiting in the wings.

    • Gonzo

      I think price inflation for IFA has led to the Yanks losing out on some of them. The only factual piece of info I have to go by is them losing Inoa. They had a deal with him in place and the A’s came in with a record IFA offer. The Yanks didn’t get involved in a bidding war.

      I mean $4 million for Inoa or the flexibility to sign lower profile IFA is a big decision. Who knows when a Manny Banuelos or some other guy can turn into a valuable trade chip vs. putting all the eggs in one basket. At least, that’s my logic.

      • kenthadley

        agreed, if we are actually doing that…..but I have my doubts……

      • YankeeGrunt

        They signed Gary Sanchez to one of the richest contracts last year and landed Cristofer Cabrera, one of the best available pitching prospects. They’ll make the occasional big-ticket splash, but I’m just as comfortable with them making a lot of high-six figure “bets” as opposed to overspending for a single guy who could just as easily take his place alongside Jackson Melian and some of the other overhyped duds of yore.

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

      The Yankees don’t, can’t and won’t ever sign every big IFA. They generally sign one guy to a big deal, then a few in the 500-800k range. That’s a good way to do things, spread the money around.

      Teams like the A’s or Pirates often come in and blow their wad on one player (think Ynoa), the Yankees don’t do that.

  • kevin

    How does a top 30 list not contain Gary Sanchez on it?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I don’t rank guys until they actually show up in the States. I refuse to get burned by DSL kids again.

      • Gonzo

        When’s the time you got burned? Just curious.

        • pat

          When he worked a summer as a famrhand on Ugeth Urbina’s ranch.

          • Rick in Boston

            well played

          • Thomas

            That was one of the greatest comments of all-time.

          • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

            Wow. This is the best comment. Ever.

          • Angelo

            Bravo sir, bravo. IETCVM

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          There’s literally too many count. The early-00’s are just a blur…

          • YankeeGrunt

            Although in fairness there probably weren’t 30 actual prospects playing for the Yankees in America in the early part of the last decade.

  • vin

    Any idea when ManBan is scheduled to return?

    The Tampa rotation can be very interesting:

    • vin

      If Warren is still in Tampa by the time Baneulos returns, that is.

  • Bryan

    Would you consider Mr. “I can pitch with both arms and my left big toe” a prospect? Or just an org filler?

  • Ted H

    What’s the word on Brett Marshall’s recovery? Is he going to see time in SS ball this year?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Hopefully at the end of the year, they’ll take it slow. As always.

      • kenthadley

        good stuff, as always….when I started following the Yanks minors, the top 5 were Deron Johnson, Marv Throneberry, Ken Hunt, John Gabler, and Johnny James…….I guess we at least rival that….

  • Ted Nelson

    I realize you’re trying to project these guys based on what they might do as major leaguers, but I have a hard time with ranking McAllister so low.

    “solid but unspectacular during his first taste of Triple-A”

    He is the youngest pitcher in the system above A ball and is 2nd in WHIP and 1st in K/BB among starters in Scranton… Montero gets a free pass, but McAllister is “unspectacular?”
    I have a very hard time putting him behind a 24 year old who has had a couple of good starts in A ball.

    And the only thing Melancon “just needs a chance” to do is actually pitch well in AAA. The guy is pitching like crap in AAA, but he just needs a chance in the majors?

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

      Do you know anything at all about Mark Melancon except his last two weeks of struggle because he has pitched more than simply “well” in AAA

      • Ted Nelson

        1.681 WHIP, 2.64 k/bb… pitching real well.

        How much do you know, smartass? His last month of stats is fairly in line with his season stats. So, I don’t know what the last two weeks matter.

        You also missed the point of my comment re: Melancon. I said nothing about his long-term prospects and was commenting on his short-term prospects as is relates to “just needs a chance.” Mike’s description of Melancon left the impression that he’s on fire right now and needs a chance to get some ML innings. That doesn’t seem to be the case. For whatever reason he’s struggling right now. His last two outings he’s given up 5 runs in 3.1 innings… is now really the time to use him on the Yankees?

  • Eddy for SS

    You HATE, HATE, HATE Eduardo don’t you? 22 year old shortstop hitting .308 in AAA with 12 SBs, a guy who as a 21 year old in AA hit .322/.349/.433, and he is somehow behind waiver pickup bums like Chad Huffman and Greg Golson? Meanwhile you continue to dream that Bradley Suttle, a 24 year old hitting .250 in A ball is a top twenty prospect? Huffman has the potential (arguably) to be future as a platoon bench guy – you’re telling me a 22 year old SS hitting over .300 in AAA’s upside isn’t higher than that?!?!?!? Ricockulous.