Baseball America’s Top Ten Yankee Prospects


(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The gang at Baseball America is currently in the process of posting their individual top ten prospects lists for each team, and so far they’ve covered the Orioles and Red Sox. The Yankees’ list is scheduled to go live on their website next Wednesday (it was supposed to be this Friday, but they re-arranged the schedule), but the print edition of the magazine already contains the list. I got my hands on it with some help from reader Avi, so here it is with a tiny little snippet from the scouting report…

  1. Jesus Montero, C: “may be the best all-around hitter in the minors, capable of hitting .300 with 30-plus homers annually … best-case scenario is that he develops into the second coming of Mike Piazza”
  2. Gary Sanchez, C: “has a higher ceiling than anyone in the organization, including Jesus Montero”
  3. Dellin Betances, RHP: “If Betances can build on the progress he made last season, he’ll be a frontline starter for New York … he still could wind up in the mix to eventually replace Mariano Rivera
  4. Manny Banuelos, LHP: “has the poise to move quickly, and now he has frontline stuff”
  5. Andrew Brackman, RHP: “For some scouts, Brackman’s whole is less than the sum of his parts, earning comparisons to A.J. Burnett and Kyle Farnsworth”
  6. Austin Romine, C: “Montero has more star potential with his bat, Romine is a more well-rounded player … may become trade bait”
  7. Hector Noesi, RHP: “lacks the breaking ball to pitch near the front of a rotation, but his fastball command should allow him to be a No. 4 or 5 starter”
  8. Eduardo Nunez, SS: “Yankees see him in the Chone Figgins mold as a utility player”
  9. Slade Heathcott, CF: “physically resembles Brett Gardner and has some similarities to New York’s left fielder, but Heathcott should develop  more power and has a stronger arm”
  10. Brandon Laird, 3B: “profiles as a third baseman in the Kevin Kouzmanoff mode … could become trade fodder”

Montero’s a no-brainer at the top spot, and really the next four guys are interchangeable in my eyes. You could have pulled their names out of a hat and ranked them two through four that way and I wouldn’t have made much of an argument. At that point you’re splitting hairs and going by personal preference, and I prefer the three Double-A arms to the kid that has yet to appear in a full season league. That’s just me though.

Romine’s a natural fit at six, and after that you could go in any number of directions. I prefer Heathcott in that spot because of the upside, but there’s nothing wrong with Noesi, who’s a surefire big leaguer in some capacity. You all know how I feel about Nunez, so I don’t think I need to comment on him. Laird had a huge year and made some improvements defensively, so it’s not a surprise to see him jump into the top ten.

Just think, the Yanks have three pitchers in Adam Warren (2.66 FIP), David Phelps (2.65), and Ivan Nova (3.54 in Triple-A) who had great years and are knocking on the door of the big leagues, but couldn’t even crack their top ten. Then there’s Graham Stoneburner (2.73 FIP) and J.R. Murphy (.320 wOBA in Low-A as a 19 year old). The farm system is in very good shape these days;  the Yanks plenty of depth to trade from and use to plug holes at the big league level.

Categories : Minors


  1. CP says:

    Gary Sanchez, C: “has a higher ceiling than anyone in the organization, including Jesus Montero”


  2. dan genovese says:

    just say it…..I hate nunez!

    • Anthony Murillo says:

      I think it pained him to post that picture of Nunez.

      • Avi says:

        Interesting on Nunez..
        The people who defend the Cito Culver pick say he’s a HS kid who’s likely top stay at SS. Well if that’s the qualifier for a good first round pick Nunez is the finished product.
        In my opinion Culver was a DISASTER of a pick considering who was still available (Ranaudo, Castellanos, Allie).
        If Culver turns out as good as Nunez the Yankees would be thrilled.
        AWFUL pick!

    • Steve O. says:

      I’m sure Mike has no problem with Nuñez. His level of talent, yes.

      • dan genovese says:

        its seems to go beyond that………….

        • Steve O. says:

          Mike Axisa has reportedly taken extreme measures to show his displeasure on Nuñez. He has reportedly made up several stories of Nuñez doing shady things outside of baseball. Why Axisa does these things? Nobody knows. What we do know is that Axisa has a vendetta against Nuñez and has taken great measures to ruin him. Will he stop? We don’t know, but we can say that he has yet to let up, and he might never give up on his ill-will towards Nuñez.


          • Ted Nelson says:

            I think it’s pretty clear that Mike is well below the consensus opinion on Nunez as a prospect. There’s plenty of room for interpretation and speculation with prospects, so he has every right to his opinion. As far as prospects go, though, I think you can pretty much say he hates him…

            • Ted Nelson says:

              And I think he pretty much implied that in his piece…

              • Steve O. says:

                He implied that Nuñez’s hacker tendency and no power will be his downfall. Nothing Mike has said would lead you to believe that he ‘hates’ Nuñez, or any Yankee for that matter. I don’t see why people insinuate that Mike ‘hates’ a player. He just thinks that he has no future as a starter, and is overrated. Nothing more, nothing less.

                • Tom Zig says:

                  He just hates Nunez.

                  Nunez told me so.

                • OldYanksFan says:

                  “He implied that (his) hacker tendency and no power will be his downfall.”

                  Who said it: Everybody
                  When was it said: After the 2008 season
                  Who was it said about: Robinson Cano

                  Now… there is NO comparison between Cano and Nunez (.278 .331 .425 756 mIlb vs .274 .318 .369 687)… just saying that some players do address their hacktackerness and do develop more power with age.

                  Nunez will never be a star, but he could be a UINF that rests Jeter, ARod and Cano, and posts a .725+/- OPS.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  I think you need to re-read my comment. I specifically said that ****as far as prospects go**** it would be fair to say Mike hate Nunez. BA is a pretty mainstream prospect rater and they have him at #8 for the Yankees. Mike didn’t have him in the top 25 if I remember correctly… that’s a huge disparity. I think it’s fair to say Mike “hates” Nunez’s *prospects of being a good MLB player*… Not in or barely in the top 25 is a lot more fringe prospect/system guy if he’s already in AAA, while #8 implies a decent shot at a solid-ish ML career. (Personally I think #8 is fair when you look at the crap playing SS in the ML these days… He could have an OPS under .700 and start for a few teams.)

                  I also specifically said ****There’s plenty of room for interpretation and speculation with prospects, so he has every right to his opinion.****

                  I think you perceived an insult to Mike that was never actually made you should read my comment.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    I would also point out that BA has a larger scope than Mike. This could come into play in 2 ways.
                    1. Mike is mostly concentrating on Yankees prospects as far as I know (that is an assumption on my part). He might see a lot of non-SS prospects in the org that are better players than Nunez. He may be absolutely right in that sense. BA, on the other hand, is looking at every team. They might look at all high minors SS prospects, see that Nunez is among the best out there, and have to rate him higher because of the lack of quality SS out there. That is also a valid way to look at things, relative to the whole.
                    2. I would assume more opinions that one go into their ratings and the consensus is used… Maybe I’m wrong there, I’m not a subscriber. Mike may or may not be on the low end or even an outlier in terms of opinions on Nunez… In a group his opinion would matter, but as part of a larger picture. By himself it’s the only opinion.

                    • Avi says:

                      Yes. It’s a personal thing with Mike. He admits it.
                      Almost everyone believes Nunez is has above average hands and range and one of the BEST IF arms around.
                      On offense he makes consistent contact and is a 70 runner on the scouting scale of 20-80.
                      Those two factors should keep his average up to at least respectable levels.
                      His biggest negatives are his inability to draw walks so far and his questionable power.
                      But i don’t think it takes a lot of dreaming with Nunez to see a strong fielding SS batting .280 with 40 steals. Sort of like Julio Lugo was when he was younger.

  3. pat says:

    I’d be fine with Jose Ramirez or Brett Marshall instead of Laird in the 10 spot. Youg guys with plus fastballs and plus changeups don’t grow on trees. Otherwise, it’s a good list.

    • Laird is much closer, though, and profiles to at least be a decent backup 1B/3B/LF/OF in the bigs (and soon). That’s value, and it must be weighed against Ramirez and Marshall’s distance from the bigs.

      • pat says:

        Very true. I was going to put in the caveat that I’m a sucker for high upsides vs high floors. Either way it’s not a bad choice to have to make between all the guys who could have slotted in at the 10 spot.

    • Avi says:

      From what I’ve read Ramirez has a fringe average FB. The changeup is his best pitch. He doesn’t seem to have a high ceiling.
      Marshal has a Plus FB, a two seamer and a four seamer that reachers the upper 90′s.
      Baseball America calls Marshal the number one breakout candidate for the organization in 2011.

  4. Total Dominication says:

    So if Montero has a Piazza ceiling, and Sanchez;s is higher, what is his cieling? Babe Ruth at catcher?

  5. Andrew says:

    Imagine the system if gerrit cole signed a couple years ago…..scary good

    • Total Dominication says:

      Imagine the system if gerrit cole signed a couple of years ago… scary good

      • Ted Nelson says:

        It would be even scarier if Cole signed, I think that’s a pretty fair point. I don’t know, but he might be as high as 3 or even 2/1… Then you knock everyone else down one till Slade. And even Slade might have still been on the board at 76 if other teams were that concerned about his personality, though it’s somewhat unlikely and nothing more than speculation.

        Anyway, top hitting prospect in minors, most likely one of the top pitching prospects in minors, and a bunch of quality behind that… yeah… that’s a lot scarier.

    • Tom Zig says:

      We wouldn’t have Sladerunner then.

  6. steve (different one) says:

    I don’t think Eduardo Nunez’s impact on the organization can be overstated

  7. The summaries are puzzling

    Higher ceiling than Montero yet second on the list.

    Brett Gardner with a better arm and more power would probably be one of the best players in baseball

    • CP says:

      Sanchez and Heathcott are both very far from the majors. Their ceilings are quite high, but the likelihood of reaching those ceilings is low. It becomes a subjective decision on the relative value of ceiling vs certainty.

    • Steve O. says:

      Montero’s number one because of his proximity to the majors. Slade Heathcott’s potential is just that, Brett Gardner with more power. A five tool player. Gardner’s arm has improved over the last couple years though.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Well one guy hasn’t reached the Low A’s yet while the othe ris mashing AAA as a 20 year old.

      The difference in ceilings between the two are minimal at best. Montero’s much more likely at this point to reach it however.

    • jramey says:

      Sanchez hasn’t played a full season yet.

      and they profile Slade to be 40+sb and 20+ hr – probably Carl Crawford, should he reach his ceiling

    • Mike HC says:

      Agreed. The descriptions seem just like some guy spitballin with his friends. You can’t take them seriously.

  8. Chip says:

    I hope next year is the year the Brett Marshall shoots up the ladder. He’ll be another year away from surgery and should have all his stuff back. Also, I believe they started allowing him to throw the 2-seamer again toward the end of the year with amazing results.

  9. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Meh I’d take out Laird and put in Jose Ramirez. But it’s a different look at the system and it’s pretty good.

  10. NextYankeeDynasty says:

    The Sanchez ranking was pretty shocking….I though he had the chance to crack the top 10 but second?…

  11. Johnny O says:

    Any speculation on where the Yanks system fits in overall? I think the consensus is in the 8-12 range.

    Also, I love how Casey Kelly is still the Sawx #1 prospect. And their 2014 projection is great….Beckett as 4th starter and John Lackey not in the rotation in the last year of his contract at $15,250,000.

  12. YankeesJunkie says:

    Surprised not to see a guy like Ramirez crack the list. He pretty much did everything he could at the Low A level. I expect him and Marshall to raise some eyebrows next year.

  13. Sam says:

    Although, you have to think that Graham Stoneburner will have to appear in the top ten awesome names in the Yankees’ system.

  14. Preston says:

    I’m surprised Nova wasn’t on the list. Not because I think he is unequivocably one of the ten best Yankee prospects but because BA just named him to the AAA all star team. Which means although he was one of the four best pitchers at the highest level of the minors last year he doesn’t crack the top ten. I guess that means the guys at the lower levels have lots of upside.

  15. Shaun says:

    I think we know what Gary Sanchez is….the genetic clone of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Rod Carew and Alex Rodriguez created by the late George Steinbrenner in a secret lab in latin america in order to make the entire MLB shit themselves in fear of this unstoppable monster.

    by the way

    Jesus was created from Ted Williams, Barry Bonds (pre-roids), Mike Piazza, and Edgar Martinez.

  16. ABS says:

    I know this has been discussed, but Mike failed to put Nunez on his top 30, and Baseball America, the premier prospect rating source on the web, had him at #8. It is time for Mike to fess up and say he undervalued Nunez. People are entitled to their opinion, but when you expect to be taken seriously as an evaluator of talent, and you don’t put a consensus top ten talent in your top 30, something is up. Admit it Mike, Nunez should have at least been in the top 30.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Every man has their own rating system.

    • Mike HC says:

      To be fair, you are not going to be considered a serious talent evaluator if you just copy and paste baseball america’s list and say it is yours. I respect that he has his own opinions and won’t just cave because an overwhelming amount of people disagree with him. Time will tell who is right.

      • Mike HC says:

        Just as an aside, I also disagree with Mike about Nunez. He seems like a typical weak hitting, good athlete shortstop. He should have a spot somewhere in MLB.

        • I don’t think Mike’s ever said that Nuñez doesn’t have a spot somewhere in major league baseball. He simply said that he’s not good enough to have that spot for the Yankees for more than a brief moment of irrelevance (Ramiro Peña-style) before moving on to a lesser team, and thus, he shouldn’t be ranked above better and more significant prospects of greater upside and team importance.

          Nuñez is cannon fodder. Cannon fodder has usefulness, yes, but I can see the logic of an argument that says cannon fodder doesn’t deserve a top-30 ranking.

          • Mike HC says:

            I’m not a prospect expert. I just like having some general knowledge, so I have no idea where I would rank him. But since I have seen Nunez play a bunch this year, to me, he seems like a definite major league shortstop, starter on a bad team and bench guy on a good team. I would not call that useless. And at least has trade value.

            • Zack says:

              No offense, but how can you say he’s a definite ML SS, then say he’s a bench player on a good team?

              Saying he’s a starter on a bad team isn’t a definite ML player IMO, it means he’s a bench player and he’s a stop gap for a 90-loss ball club so they don’t have to pay Orlando Cabrera 5m to be their SS.

              • Mike HC says:

                That is a Major League SS in my opinion. I didn’t say he is going to have a 15 year starting career.

                My prediction is that Nunez will get plenty of Major League playing time in his athletic prime, probably until about 33ish. I can’t predict the future and know exactly how his career is going to play out. Just that he will be a player in the league basically.

                • Zack says:

                  So that means what, he’s Cesar Izturis? Yuniesky Betancourt? Ronny Cedeno?

                  Saying he’s a starter on a bad team doesn’t make him a legit prospect in my eyes, so I understand why Mike & others rank him lower.

                  • Mike HC says:

                    Definitely in the Izturis, Cedeno type mold.

                    I think we are on the same page here. And like I said earlier, I am completely ignorant about ranking prospects and all that so I can’t comment there.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            A. Comparing him to Pena when he is clearly a better hitter is useless. He had 100 points higher OPS in both AA and AAA, but hey they are exactly the same… no difference.

            B. A potential SS is could have pretty good trade value. If the Yankees didn’t want to trade him for Lee, it’s probably not because they think he’s useless. They may have some idea of his trade value. If a guy has top 8 trade value, you don’t rank him #30. This is where I think Mike’s thing with Nunez gets a little extreme. Mike is the one who constantly saying that prospects aren’t only for promoting, but also for trading. Nunez could conceivably start for a bunch of teams in the majors at SS, a premium defensive position. To say that trade value is not worth a spot in the top 30…

    • dan says:

      there is that overt bias.mike wont admit it,making it worse.

  17. AndrewYF says:

    It wouldn’t be potential good news about the Yankees without Steve Lombardi’s input (paraphrasing, but not by much):

    “Only three of these guys have excelled at AA or above, therefore the rest of these guys are pretty much useless. The Yankees are going to have to hold out for a few years, because there ain’t much help coming any time soon. Boy it would be nice to have a good farm system.”

  18. cano is the bro says:

    where do you guys see jose ramirez within a year or two? think he could become a top 3 prospect?

  19. Joe says:

    i disagree with warren not being on the top 10.

  20. yankees1717 says:

    i would go
    1) montero
    2) banuelos
    3) betances
    4) brackman
    5) sanchez
    6) romine
    7) heathcott
    8) noesi
    9) stoneburner
    10) ramirez

    love me some high upside pitchers.. but you could argue for really any ranking

    • yankees1717 says:

      dunno wat happened with the 8 next to noesi

    • Avi says:

      Where’s all this love for Jose Ramirez coming from??
      Everything I’ve read on him has his FB in the upper 80′s.
      Nova, Warren, Phelps, Marshall, Stoneburner, and even Ramon Flores all rank ahead of him.
      Ramirez probably doesn’t make the top TWENTY.

      • sleepykarl says:


        “Sitting at 80-83 miles per hour, Ramirez’s changeup is as advanced as any pitcher’s I’ve ever seen, at any minor league level. With his motion, you can’t tell the difference between his fastball, which ranges from from 89-93 and routinely touches 94, and his changeup. At this level, the batters are completely overpowered, overmatched, and overwhelmed.”

  21. Avi says:

    Wow. No one sums it up better than AX.
    As Yankee fans we’re truly lucky to have the top quality, in depth analysis that Mike and his buddies provide.
    Thank you! – Avi

  22. icebird753 says:

    ^avi bash

  23. thurman's stach says:

    Clearly Sanchez’ long term upside is Melvin Crousset. How quickly we forget :-)

  24. IE says:

    According to Baseball America, Jose Ramirez’s fastball tops out in the mid 90s.

    • Avi says:

      where/when did you see that?

      • Avi says:

        I read everything BA publishes (print and online) and have never seen that. I’ve seen high 80′s multiple times.
        If he reached the mid 90′s he’d be as good of a prospect or better than the killer B’s. He’s only 20 years old.

        • sleepykarl says:

          Sickels had this last December;
          “Jose Ramirez, RHP, Grade C: Can hit 95-96 MPH and pitched well in rookie ball; sleeper candidate to emerge in ’10.”

          • Avi says:

            In the BA chat with John Manuel (the guy who put together the top ten) I’m gonna ask him about Ramirez amongst others.
            The lack of a decent breaking ball prob hurts him. But a 20 year old with a low to mis 90′s FB and a plus changeup should at least profile as an effective reliver.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          BA’s 2010 Prospect Handbook had him at “92-95 on a consistent basis.”

          • Avi says:

            Pretty solid. Didn’t get the handbook this year. If his VELO hasn’t regressed you’d think he’s a solid prospect no?

  25. Gonzo says:

    Curious. I’ve tried to ask. Is Feuntes a better prospect than Heathcott?

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.