Baseball America’s Eastern League Top 20 Prospects


Baseball America posted their list of the top 20 prospects in the Double-A Eastern League today, and four Yankee farmhands made the list: Andrew Brackman at #5, Brandon Laird at #11, Hector Noesi at #16, and Austin Romine at #20. Brackman trailed only Domonic Brown (Phillies), Zach Britton (Orioles), Kyle Drabek (Blue Jays), and Brandon Belt (Giants). Manny Banuelos didn’t have enough innings to qualify, and David Adams‘ injury took him out of contention.

In the subscriber only scouting reports, they note that Brackman got better as the season went along, with his fastball going “from 89-92 mph to 93-95 in the middle innings of August starts.” They also say he can drop his curve in for strikes or bury it in the dirt for swings-and-misses, but the changeup needs work. Laird is said to have a knack for getting the fat part of the bat on the ball, an aggressive approach, and good power. He’s “adequate at third, with enough arm and solid hands but below-average range and speed,” and could end up at first.

Noesi’s best pitch is the old number one, a fastball that he manipulates by “adding and subtracting velocity from it, putting it where he wants despite its solid life and showing the ability to pitch to both sides of the plate.” They have his two-seamer at 88-92, and the four seamer up to 96. His changeup is a fringe pitch, but he also throws a slider and curve, with the latter showing more promise. As for Romine, whose stock took a hit after a rough second half, “he still has four average or better tools and the chance to succeed Jorge Posada as the Yankees’ catcher.” He has a strong but slightly inaccurate arm and overall profiles as a strong defender. Offensively, they say his “swing gets long and he’s not selective to fully tap into his plus raw power, but scouts project him as an average home run hitter.” They do note his ability to use the entire field.

The last list Yankee fans have to worry about is the Triple-A International League, which comes out on Tuesday. Jesus Montero is a lock for a top three or four spot, and chances are Ivan Nova will make the cut as well. Personal fave Eduardo Nunez will likely make an appearance as well.

Categories : Asides, Minors


  1. vin says:

    Good to see Brackman at #5. Laird has “trade bait” written all over him.

  2. I wonder if Laird could manage to play a poor corner outfield instead of just being a first baseman. If he can be an offensive plus/defensive minus flexible 1B/3B/RF/LF/DH, like a Jonny Gomes or Xavier Nady.

    That would be nice.

  3. Avi says:

    Betances didn’t qualify either.
    I have a question submitted for the 1:00 BA chat with John Manuel where he and Banuelos would rank had they qualified. I’m pretty certain both would make the cut.

  4. tomaconda says:

    The Yankees have so many prospects with high upside that I just JIMP’d

  5. Captain Jack says:

    I’m worried that Romine won’t make the top 100 this year.

    • vin says:

      It’s fine if he doesn’t. The most important thing is that he was the everyday catcher for the entire year, including post season. In the past he had to split his time with Montero.

      He started off well which tells me he has the tools to be a good hitter. But he started tailing off as the grind of the season wore on. I’d be more concerned if he struggles next year when he repeats AA to start the season.

      • Doug says:

        But wouldn’t the “grind of the season” have been taken into account in BA’s ranking?

        • vin says:

          Not if other players weren’t affected as drastically. As I said, it’s his first year being the everyday catcher.

          • Avi says:

            It’s a great point. Romine was hitting .326 going into June. I think he’ll be an MLB catcher. Weather he’ll be a regular or backup remains to seen.
            If he starts the year hitting well in SWB (I think he’ll be there) his stock will shoot up.
            I’d rather have romine on this team than Cervelli.

            • Avi says:

              You know 41 extra base hits in 455 AB’s is pretty good for a 21 year old catcher in double A. He also has a powerful arm.
              I think #20 is a little too low for him.

        • Gonzo says:

          I think the drop-off was more than expected. That was the reason for the drop in his stock.

          This is why the Yanks stocked up on catcher. If Jesus can’t play C, then Romine will. If Romine can’t be a solid MLB regular, then JR Murphy will be the CoTF. If JR stumbles, then you go to Gary Sanchez. This is why they will keep going after up the middle talent forever, and rightfully so.

          • Doug says:

            that’s what i’m saying. i assume BA factored in the fact that this was his 1st yr being the everyday catcher and wouldn’t have knocked him down so much if his #s dropped only marginally.

            but they dropped a great deal and that’s why he was so low on the list.

    • Avi says:

      I don’t think he will.
      Montero, Betances, Banuelos,Brackman and Sanchez are the top 100 guys for the yanks.
      Nova probably would’ve made it if he didn’t loose his rookie status this season (30 or more innings pitched)

  6. Doug says:

    So Brackman was 5th on the EL list and 20th on the FSL list. How does that happen? Isn’t he still the same prospect? Is it just that the FSL is loaded with talent?

    • AndrewYF says:

      They said he got better as the season went on. A Brackman throwing 88-92 (like he was in Tampa) is not as good as a Brackman throwing 93-95 (as he did in Trenton).

      • Doug says:

        but like i said, isn’t he still the same prospect long-term. isn’t that ultimately what we want to know.

        • What Mike said below, but also please note that BA doesn’t do the league rankings the same way they do the Top 100, team top 10s, etc. These are a lot like the tools list where they ask scouts and managers for their opinions and compile that.

          Baseball America’s League Top 20 lists are generated from consultations with scouts and league managers.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      They’re two different leagues, the talent levels aren’t static.

    • Gonzo says:

      Do you know about Britton, Dom Brown, and Drabek? Those guys are serious, very serious, prospects. Brandon Belt has been been an offensive monster in his first full season. That’s very good company to be in, and I would trade Brackman for the first 3. Yes, I said it, so what.

    • vin says:

      I think how the prospects performed at that level plays a part in their ranking. His early season numbers weren’t pretty, and just as he was turning it on, he got promoted.

    • Avi says:

      I’m reading the John Manuel live chat on BA.com and someone asked this exact question. His answer? Brackman improved as the season went on.

      • Doug says:

        thanks, avi.

        still that this improvement should be factored into his FSL ranking. isn’t it a list of the prospect’s value long-term?

        • Gonzo says:

          I think most scouts would prefer, at the least, 3 of those prospects long-term to Brackman. It was a very deep AA. I think Dom Brown, Britton, and Drabek made top 20 mid-season propect lists. I imagine they will be top 20 in off-season lists too. I don’t think Brackman will be a top 20 prospect this offseason.

        • Avi says:

          It’s a list of a prospect’s long-term value based on their performance in that specific league only.
          I know it’s a weird way to rank prospects but BA staggers their rankings. First comes their League top 20′s when the Minor League season ends. Then top 10 for each team; one division at a time, every two weeks. Then finally they’re top 100 in Feb.
          Gotta keep the fan’s interest and sell copies!

    • hello9 says:

      I’m willing to bet the major factor was age. Regardless of how well Brackman did he was still a 24 yr old in FSL, which is looked at pretty critically. 24 in AA on the other hand, isn’t that bad.

      Add to that the improvement in his stuff and I think that’s why you see that ranking (though even I think they’re being slightly aggressive w/that EL ranking).

  7. Avi says:

    That gives the Yanks 14 prospects ranked in BA’s league’s top 20 lists:
    E Nunez
    Melky Mesa
    Adam Warren
    Brandon Laird
    Austin Romine
    Ramon Flores

    And this doesn’t include Banuelos (didn’t qualify) who’s definitely one of their top 3 pitching prospects.
    Throw in solid B to B- prospects like David Phelps, Graham Stoneburnner, Brett Marshal and Craig Heyer and we have about TWENTY pieces that can either play for the yanks or be used as valuble trade bait. VERY DEEP!

  8. Doug says:

    Speaking of Banuelos, in his ESPN chat yesterday he had this glowing thing to say:

    Q: What is a realistic path for Banuelos to the majors? He is still young for AA right?

    KLaw: Yes, but I’ve talked to multiple scouts about him (and I think he’ll be here next week) and it sounds like he’s not very far off.

  9. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Casey Kelly #10 ………. lol whatevs

    • Gonzo says:

      People still love his stuff and he added some juice to his fastball. You gotta give a 20 year old in AA a mulligan I suppose.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

        You know who really loved his stuff? AA hitters. ZZZZZZZIIIIINNNNNGGGGGGG

        • Avi says:

          Yes. I’ve NEVER seen a guy with a 88-93 MPH fastball with an average curve and poor control get sooo much hype.
          Ridiculous. He’ll stink just like his dad.
          Sorry for the venomous remarks – can’t help myself with the Red Stockings.

    • Avi says:

      From today’s live chat with John Manuel:

      JAYPERS (IL): How would you rank Casey Kelly’s progress throughout this season, from 1 to 10? Is there any discussion whatsoever about putting him back at SS?


      • Camilo Gerardo says:

        nice, did he not answser?

        • Avi says:

          I loved the question so much i didn’t even read the answer. Here it is:

          AYPERS (IL): How would you rank Casey Kelly’s progress throughout this season, from 1 to 10? Is there any discussion whatsoever about putting him back at SS?

          John Manuel: He made progress with his velocity; I’m not sure he made a ton of other progress other than getting innings, so I’d go with a completely arbitrary 3. He was a one step up, two steps back guy in a lot of ways this year. But no, no way he’s going back to SS.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I know, how is he not #1?

  10. Avi says:

    My question on John Manuel’s BA Chat (not sure why they chopped the A off my name):

    vi (New Jersey): Better prospect, Noesi or Nova?

    John Manuel: Asked that question to one scout specifically, and he said Noesi.

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