Baseball America’s Top 20 International League Prospects


With the end of their top 20 prospect series in sight, Baseball America posted their Triple-A International League list today. Three Yankee farmhands made the list: Jesus Montero at #4, Ivan Nova at #9, and Eduardo Nunez at #13. Montero was behind three pretty good prospects in Carlos Santana (Indians), Jeremy Hellickson (Rays), and Aroldis Chapman (Reds). Nova was sandwiched between Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) and Dan Hudson (1.69 ERA, 3.22 FIP in 79.2 IP after being traded to Arizona for Edwin Jackson).

As for the subscriber only scouting reports, they say that “Montero may have the highest [offensive] ceiling in the minor leagues. He has tremendous strength and a knack for barreling balls when he gets in rhythm.” There are still doubts about his defense behind the plate, as there always will be, but they did note that his patience at the plate improved this season (career high 44 unintentional walks). Nova came in a bit higher than I expected, but that’s because his velocity shot up into the 92-94 range consistently. They say he’s held back by inconsistent command and secondary pitches. Nunez is projected to be a utility player, “a bottom-of-the-order [hitter] who makes contact but doesn’t draw many walks or hit for much power.”

All told, the Yankees had 14 different prospects featured in the various top 20 lists, the third most in baseball. You can go back and re-live the magic here. It’s so nice to see the Yankees with a top-shelf farm system again.

Categories : Asides, Minors


  1. Plank says:

    Again? When did they last have a top shelf farm system?

  2. vin says:

    Not sure what shockes me more – Nova at #9 or Nunez at #13. You’d figure guys like Nunez are a dime a dozen – good, but not good enough, middle infielders.

    He does a little bit of everything at an OK level, but nothing exceptionally.
    Can hit a few homeruns, but not with any consistency.
    Can steal a few bags, but doesn’t have top-notch speed.
    Can rack up hits, but not at a very high level.
    Can play 2nd and 3rd, but nearly all his experience is at SS.

    Reminds me a little bit of Melky in that regard, and look how that turned out.

    • Melky started out great in 2006 and 2007, totally regressed in 2008, had a great 2009 and regressed even further this year. His career has basically been a downward slope with the exception of 2009.

      • vin says:

        If you replace the word “great” with “slightly below average” the two times you used it, then I’d completely agree.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Part of speaks to the lack of SS in the IL. Still, though, potential starting SS are not “a dime a dozen.” Look at some of the starting SS around the league. Seattle couldn’t get a SS to break a .600 OPS. Izturis couldn’t break .550 OPS for Baltimore and got 500 PAs. Erick Aybar was at .636 for the high-budget “strong” farm Angels. These teams basically could have started 2010 version Ramiro Pena and lost nothing.

      I really can’t even count the # of teams who had a primary SS who didn’t break a .700 OPS this season. Even among playoff teams most starting SS were not breaking .700. I don’t think Nunez will be much better than that, but it still makes him about an average ML starting SS, with a shot at being above average any given season. A quality utility guy.

      “Reminds me a little bit of Melky in that regard, and look how that turned out.”

      It’s tough to compare a light hitting corner OFer to a light hitting SS. I see the comparison, but Nunez is a potential starting SS. That gives him value. Melky can’t hit at a position where it’s a lot easier to find a guy who can hit.

      • vin says:

        Fair points. It all comes down to what we expect Nunez to do in the big leagues.

        For what its worth, his equivalent stat line in the big leagues (per http://minorleaguesplits.com/mlecalc.html):

        .250/.294/.325/3 hr/25 bb/65 k

        I don’t think that converter takes into account a younger player improving with age, but I do think his minor league stats are buoyed by his ability to hit singles.

        You are right, thought, there are some awful SS’s in the big leagues. I think Cesar Izturis was, by far, the worst offensive everyday player in the bigs.

  3. larryf says:

    I am still amazed by what I saw of Montero in 3 games at Scranton this year. Awesome power, good patience at the plate, and he defended well in both games and pitchers hardly ever shook off his signs. He hit a 2 strike homer in the first inning off Pawtucket that had to have been between 450-500 feet. Moon shot to left center. His RF power is incredible as well. 20 years old!

  4. It surprises me that Nunez ranks above Kalish. Kalish has a lot more offensive potential, and is just all around better.

    • larryf says:

      and stole 2 bases in one inning off Sado!


    • Ted Nelson says:

      Kalish only had 160 PAs in the IL, which might hurt him in these rankings. Plus his OPS took a 100 point dip from AA to AAA this season, and this ranking is based only on his AAA performance.

      Still, though, Nunez’s SS status really gives him a lot of value compared to a corner OFer.

  5. Captain Jack says:

    Is Santana still a prospect? Also Chapman over Montero?

    • Thomas says:

      Santana has 130 at bats, which is more than the 130 required to surpass rookie eligibility. Maybe he is allowed to be on these lists (since he was a prospect when he played in the league), but not eligible for the Top 100 lists.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Techincally yes. And I also disagree with the Chapman ranking as well. He’s got awesome upside yes but he doesn’t have the polish as Jesus.

  6. Don W says:

    Turn of the century they had a top if not the top system. Back when Nick Johnson, Mike Lowell & Alphonso Soriano were their crown jewels. Seems to me USA Baseball Weekly had them rated as the best MLB team and had them with a top 5 farm system.
    When you think about if NJ & Soriano were both at least equal prospects to Montero. We certainly didn’t have the pitching we have now.

  7. Sweet N Sour Chicken Pot Pie says:

    Yeah i don’t understand the Chapman over Montero either. The other two i get, but that one baffles me a bit.

    • Pretty sure Chapman is being projected as a starter, his stint in the bullpen this year is just a temporary maneuver designed to get him in some big league games without piling up innings, ala Price in 2008.

      Combine that with the questions about Montero sticking behind the plate and I think the ranking is justified.

    • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

      I don’t understand why we signed CHOP and Wynn over investing in Chapman. Not that those three things are mutually exclusive.

      • pete says:

        It’s not that they’re mutually exclusive. It’s that they’re completely unrelated.

        Chapman had a reputation for leaving his breaking stuff up that he still hasn’t shaken off, he had very little command of his fastball, and there was no guarantee he’d stick as a starter. I’d have loved to sign him, but I can understand not wanting to spend $30 million on any minor leaguer, let alone one who is still a bit of a project (i.e. not Strasburg)

        • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

          I was poking fun of chop and wynn. I believe the Yanks should have invested on that kind arm on potential alone. I believe his contract calls for 16 upfront and the rest spread out over the length.

          I take that risk for that kind of upside.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I also wouldn’t have minded them taking the risk, but you also have to remember that the risk was a lot higher before he’d thrown a single minor league inning.

            • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

              See Igawa, that’s when your scouting department comes in.
              Obviously, the Yanks did not see fit in this case.
              The verdict is still out, but considering our operating budget and Cashman’s M.O in drafting high risk and high reward guy.
              That kind of money is not a huge risk.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                There wasn’t a lot of Chapman to scout in the first place and predicting how performance will vary from one level (let alone throwing off a mound) to another is not an exact science. 29 teams apparently did not feel Chapman was worth the money. $5 mill per for a guy who might never make the big leagues is a huge risk, especially for a team that takes it slower with prospects like the Yankees. All of one guy Cashman drafted this season got even $1 mill, let along $30 mill.

          • Zack says:

            Its not upfront.
            He gets a 1.5m signing bonus every Nov 1 and then he gets his regular salary of 1-3m

            • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

              Even better then, why not take risk with his upside ?

              • Zack says:

                Because it was 30m to a guy with zero command.
                Whatever the Yankees had in mind for their limit, the Reds outbid them.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  It’s also a 40 man roster spot, I believe, for a guy the Yankees might have kept in the minors longer (or might not have… but it was a risk).

            • Dream of Electric Sheep/ still haven't register /too lazy says:

              Think of it as a slightly more expensive version of Marte at worst.

      • vin says:

        I’m probably missing the sarcasm, but in the event you’re serious…

        6 years, 30.25 million for Chapman
        1 year, 1.1 million for Winn
        1 year, 1.2 million for CHoP

        Nearly 28 million dollars. That’s probably why. I think Cashman will be willing to break the bank on Chapman when he becomes a FA, after he’s proven himself in the big leagues.

    • pete says:

      The chances of Chapman being unable to contribute to the big league club some moderately significant fashion, and soon, are like, zilch. A lefty who can command (to a degree) the fastest fastball in the major leagues is hard to ignore. He’s essentially Strasburg without the crazy-good command or the third and fourth pitches. At this point he still has the potential to be Randy Johnson. Montero’s got a ton of talent, but he’s not going to be Barry Bonds.

  8. pete says:

    Who is the best comp for Montero in the bigs right now? Somewhere between Cano and Miguel Cabrera? (ceiling, of course)

    • Gary Wallace says:

      If you’re talking pure (offensive) ceiling, it’s probably something along the lines of Miguel Cabrera. Probably with a little less average.

      • pete says:

        Yeah that’s kinda what I was thinking, although while you’re probably right about the less avg. thing, I’d say it’s more likely that he’s just a lower OBP guy. Hence the Cano comp – he should hit for enough average and take enough walks to be consistently around .380 in his prime, but I’d be extremely surprised if he ever became a .420 guy

        • Gary Wallace says:

          He did manage to take the most walks in his career after having an atrocious first half where he could’ve just abandoned his plate approach. Considering he’s just 20 years old, I’d consider that an achievement. There’s nothing to say that his knowledge of the strike zone can’t keep growing (though, there’s nothing to say it will).

          I don’t think you can ever expect a .400+ OBP from any player. Could he do it? Possibly. It’d take him reaching/exceeding most offensive expectations and that’s a very optimistic outlook.

      • larryf says:

        Agree with Miggy Cabrera as best comp. I suspect being a career catcher will drop his offensive #’s. Cervelli has some job security in that regard as Jesus can DH until Tex is ready to be replaced in 6 years.

        • Camilo Gerardo says:

          How is Teixeira relevant?

          • Tex is at 1st base for the next 6 years. Ideally, if Montero doesn’t work out at catcher, he should be at first base, but that position is unavailable. So the Yankees are going to have to deal with him being a catcher for the next 6 years until he can be moved to first base, which would be right at the beginning of his prime.

          • larryf says:

            He is keeping 1B warm for Jesus. Very relevant. Jesus can be our first baseman when he is 27 and Tex, at 37, no longer is.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:


      That’s my guess.

    • All Star Carl says:

      Look at Montero’s stance change.


      Pre All-Star

  9. larryf says:

    There is country strong and baseball strong. Montero is baseball strong. Great torque and wrist strength in his swing. After a winter hitting the weights, he is gonna be ridiculous!

  10. Avi says:

    Avi (New Jersey): Who’s a better hitter. Carlos Santana or Jesus Montero?

    John Wagner: Santana. Santana. Santana.


    I hereby boycott Baseball America and all their products.

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