2011 Pre-Draft Top 30 ProspectsBy
With the draft scheduled to begin on Monday, it’s time to quickly take stock of the Yankees’ farm system and rank their prospects midway through the 2011 season. Of the three top 30 lists I do each year, this one is easily my least favorite, just because the minor league season is only 50 games old and that’s really not enough to change my opinion one way or the other.
Ivan Nova is the only player from my preseason list to have since graduated to the majors, however I’m also considering Eduardo Nunez graduated for practical reasons. He’s 31 at-bats shy of the rookie cutoff, so he’ll certainly get there this summer, barring injury. The ages listed are as of today, and the fun starts after the jump …
- Jesus Montero, C, 21: Must be nice when a .343 wOBA in Triple-A qualifies as a slow start. Remember, if Montero had been born in the U.S., he’d be a junior in college and getting ready for the draft right now. He’s way ahead of the typical development curve and is the Yankees’ unquestioned top prospect.
- Manny Banuelos, LHP, 20: A blister slowed him down in April, and so far he’s been good if not a touch underwhelming. The walk issues (4.97 BB/9) are a bothersome since his Banuelos’ calling card was command, but it’s still too early to worry about it.
- Dellin Betances, RHP, 23: Another guy that had a blister problem, Betances continues to fight the free pass (3.86 BB/9) while missing bats at an absurd rate (10.21 K/9).
- Gary Sanchez, C, 18: The hype got a little out of control this spring, but you have to remember that he should be a senior in high school right now. A .323 wOBA in Low-A is disappointing as are the nagging injuries, but the upside is still somewhere in orbit.
- J.R. Murphy, C/3B/OF, 20: We all knew he could hit and he’s done exactly that (.390 wOBA), but reports of greatly improved defense behind the plate are why he made the biggest jump in the rankings. Hopefully those reports are true.
- Slade Heathcott, CF, 20: It’s been an eventful season for Heathcott, who tore the cover off the ball before getting suspended for starting a brawl and then slumped upon his return. That said, his strikeout rate has come down and a .359 wOBA is damn fine work.
- Austin Romine, C, 22: Send to Trenton for the second straight year, Romine has been fantastic early on. He owns a .361 wOBA and cut his strikeout rate to three-fourths of last year’s rate while boosting his walk rate by a few percent. He’s ready for Triple-A.
- Andrew Brackman, RHP, 25: More peaks and valleys (mostly valleys) for the 2007 first rounder, who is again fighting basic control and the ability to throw strikes. The upside is still there, but the probability continues to fall.
- Hector Noesi, RHP, 24: We got our first look at Noesi last month, who’s been impressive in sporadic long relief work. Only 30 total innings so far this year though.
- David Phelps, RHP, 24: Probably the only member of the Triple-A staff pitching to expectations, Phelps has been solid and is just moseying along, doing his thing and waiting for the call.
- Adam Warren, RHP, 23: Another guy struggling with his control, Warren has nearly doubled his walk rate from last year and isn’t missing as many bats in Triple-A either.
- Brett Marshall, RHP, 21: My breakout pick isn’t exactly breaking out, but he hasn’t been disappointing either. Would be nice to see Marshall beef up the strikeout rate (6.83 K/9) while keeping the walks (3.49 BB/9) the rest of the way.
- Bryan Mitchell, RHP, 20: A 2009 draftee, Mitchell’s coming out part is scheduled for Short Season Staten Island a little later this month. Reports from Extended Spring Training have been very good, but you have to be careful with those.
- Graham Stoneburner, RHP, 23: Made just three starts before a stiff neck shelved him. Doesn’t sound like he’s close to coming back either, so that neck must be really stiff.
- Ramon Flores, 1B/OF, 19: Showing off that great plate discipline (16.7% walks), but still has a way to go in the field and with his power. No rush though.
- Brandon Laird, 1B/3B/LF, 23: The follow up to last year’s breakout has been decidedly unspectacular (.284 wOBA), with a walk rate (4.3%) and power numbers (.102 ISO) that leave a lot to be desired.
- Corban Joseph, 2B, 22: Holding his own at Double-A (.334 wOBA), but CoJo is in danger of falling into the ‘tweener category of not enough defense for the middle infield and not enough bat for a corner.
- Mason Williams, OF, 19: Last year’s big money draft pick, Williams has been hanging around in Extended Spring Training before the Staten Island season begins.
- Cito Culver, SS, 18: Same deal as Williams, but replace “big money” with “first round.”
- Rob Segedin, 3B/OF, 22: Sporting a .368 wOBA with strong strikeout (17.9%) and walk (10.2%) rates, which is exactly what he should be doing in Low-A. Time to move this man up a level.
- George Kontos, RHP, 25: Came back well from Tommy John surgery and is missing bats (8.88 K/9) out of the bullpen with his fastball-slider combination.
- Ryan Pope, RHP, 25: The start of his season was slowed down by some kind of minor injury, but he’s just a phone call away in the Triple-A bullpen with gaudy peripherals (13 K, 2 BB in 13 IP).
- Chase Whitley, RHP, 21: Running right through High-A hitters with his fastball-changeup combination (2.56 FIP) and putting himself very much on the relief pitcher prospect map.
- Jose Ramirez, RHP, 21: He lasted all of six starts in High-A before having to be demoted for his own good, but he’s still missing bats (9.2 K/9) and the fastball-changeup combo is hard to beat.
- D.J. Mitchell, RHP, 24: Few strikeouts (5.06 K/9), some walks (3.38 BB/9), and a mediocre ground ball rate (49%) in Triple-A all add up to a forgettable performance so far. Mitchell is better than this, but how much?
- Tim Norton, RHP, 28: This year was pretty much his last chance to prove himself, and he’s done that and then some so far (13.50 K/9, 2.08 BB/9).
- Melky Mesa, OF, 24: He’s back to striking out in a third of his at-bats, though at least he’s still showing power (.170 ISO) and discipline (9.1% walks). Still, those breaking balls can be a real bitch.
- Eduardo Sosa, OF, 20: His stupid good ball-hawking skills will always be his calling card, but Sosa’s managed a .365 wOBA despite being jerked around all season, from position to position, bench to the lineup.
- Zach Nuding, RHP, 21: Hard-throwing righty is still learning to harness it, but the early returns (8.21 K/9) have been encouraging.
- David Adams, 2B, 24: He’s played in all of one game over the last calendar year because of the broken ankle from hell, so he’s hanging onto a spot on this list by the skin of his teeth.
Three players fell off the list: Dan Brewer, Craig Heyer, and Tommy Kahnle. Brewer was relegated to bench duty with Triple-A Scranton early this season and simply hasn’t played much this year, telling you all you need to know about what the Yankees think of him. I think I might have fallen in love with Heyer’s ridiculous walk rates a little too much when I did the preseason list, but the ceiling just isn’t there. Kahnle has that ceiling, but he also has big time control issues (6.6 BB/9). He was one of the last two cuts though, along with Mikey O’Brien. Otherwise there wasn’t a ton of movement, just some slight reshuffling.