Yanks place four on KLaw’s top 100 prospects list

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(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Spring prospect season is in full swing, starting yesterday with Keith Law’s organizational rankings. It continued today with his list of the game’s top 100 prospects (1-25, 26-50, 51-75, 76-100) and top ten prospects by team (all Insider req’d). The Yankees placed four in the top 100, which was unsurprisingly topped by Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Matt Moore. Manny Banuelos checks in at #23 (down from #12 last year), Mason Williams at #34, Gary Sanchez at #55, and Dellin Betances at #83. Jesus Montero is ranked ninth, one spot ahead of another old pal, Gerrit Cole.

“When he’s right, he’ll show an above-average fastball at 90-94 mph (but was a tick below that in 2011), an above-average to plus changeup and a solid-average curveball with good two-plane break,” said KLaw about Banuelos, while noting that his trademark command was off last season. “Everything still points to Banuelos commanding the ball in the long term as he did before 2011, and much of the disappointment in his season is a function of our high expectations for him. He still projects as a solid No. 2, assuming his previous level of command returns.”

Williams’ ranking was a bit surprising, but in a good way. I’m pretty sure you won’t see him that high anywhere else this year. “[The] most impressive part of [Williams’] game in 2011 was the quality of his at bats, which improved over the course of the summer,” said Law. “[He’s] barely begun to scratch the surface of his ability.” The biggest thing for Williams going forward is his size, not necessarily his tools. He just needs to bulk up and add some muscle to avoid having the bat knocked out of his hands by high-end fastballs at the upper levels.

The preseason hype machine was out of control with Sanchez last year, which is why it’s easy to think he had a disappointing season with Low-A Charleston. The attitude problems were disappointing, but the power and production certainly weren’t. “Sanchez’s first full year in pro ball had major positives and negatives — the bat is more advanced than anyone thought, and the glove is less so,” Law said. “He can really hit with present above-average power and projects to hit 30 to 35 homers a year down the road, having demonstrated a solid approach for an 18-year-old in full-season ball … He could be a star.”

Last but not least is Betances, who continues to look more and more like a reliever because he hasn’t improved his command at all in five years as a pro. “He’ll pitch in the low 90s but runs it up to 97 mph and would likely sit 94-97, if not better, in relief,” said KLaw, adding that his curveball and delivery are inconsistent. The latter contributes to his strike-throwing problem. “He’s 23 now, still not very experienced, but he has size and velocity you can’t teach. The lack of progress and athleticism make a bullpen role more likely than a spot in the top half of a rotation.”

Those four top Law’s list of the top ten Yankees prospects, followed by a surprising name at number five: Tyler Austin. There’s no write-up, but I have to think he believes in the bat and thinks Austin can stay at third base long-term to warrant a ranking that high. Jose Campos, Dante Bichette Jr., Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy, and Slade Heathcott round out the top ten. Ravel Santana is a top ten guy based on talent, but I have no problem with leaving him out given that devastating ankle injury. Law also published a list of ten prospects who just missed the Top 100 (Insider req’d), but no Yankees farmhands made the list. Just as a heads up, my Top 30 Prospects List is coming out next Friday, so hooray for that.

Update: ESPN NY has the full player comments for Banuelos, Williams, Sanchez, and Betances for free, so head over there to check them out.

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  • CountryClub

    I don’t like going there, but ESPNNY has Law’s full comments on each of the 4 players for free.

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

      Nice catch. I added the link.

    • Mike HC

      ESPN.com is still the best in my opinion when it comes to covering every sport. Sure there are probably better websites that specialize in one sport, or one team, but for everything and just overall entertainment value of the site, I think it is the best. Obviously just my opinion and I would be open to other options. SI.com is good but I just find myself going to ESPN more.

      • CountryClub

        I don’t like going to the ESPN NY site because it’s mostly trash and I don’t like adding to their view count. But out of the bunch, Marchand seems to have gotten away from the sensationalism.

        • Mike HC

          Yea, I find that there is usually about 1 good writer for every sport, or page … I like Hollinger for Hoops. KLaw for Baseball. Shefter for Football, Simmons for overall, Millman for gambling, Kiper for the draft … you get the point.

          • Mike HC

            I haven’t found a writer I like for ESPN NY though. I rarely go to any of the ESPN city pages and only go if I click on an article that ends up linking me there.

          • Mister Delaware

            Simmons for basketball and 90s pop culture, maybe. His baseball stuff is horrific.

            • Mike HC

              I’m a big Simmons fan for his jokes, half baked crappy ideas and shooting the shit style. I don’t read him so I can take his iron clad advice that the “nobody believed in us” theory combined with the “Ewing” theory is an unbeatable formula for success.

  • Mike HC

    I’m just happy to have Pineda in the rotation, not needing to rely on Banuelos to turn into a top rotation starter. If he does, it is just gravy.

  • CJ

    I think Gary Sanchez will be the best of this group.

  • http://www.cerealblogger.com Russ has a last name

    “[Banuelos] still projects as a solid No. 2…”

    I love that that reads “projects as” and not “has a ceiling of”… very sexy.

  • dean

    Here is hoping some of those nice bats in the lower levels turn in to nice bats in the upper levels over the next couple of years…..if they do then the Yanks will be sitting very pretty.

  • Doug

    Hey Mike – care to venture a guess who KLaw’s sleeper prospect will be (coming out tomorrow)?

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

      Don’t need to guess, I know who it is! And no I’m not telling.

      • Doug

        And Tyler Austin it is

        • Doug

          KLaw: “Third baseman Tyler Austin has turned himself into a pretty good defender over there, defying earlier predictions he’d have to move to first; he has a whole-field approach to hitting with pull power right now, and runs well for his size with a perfect stolen-base record in the pros. Also watch right fielder Ben Gamel, younger brother of Mat. Ben shows a lot of promise with the bat, with good ability to square up the baseball and plenty of hip rotation for future power.”

  • Mister Delaware

    I loved the idea of Montero, but I never hugged him. I’m going to be hugging Mason Williams. Hard.

    (I kinda want to change my handle here to Bob Lorenzzzzzzz. Would that be frowned upon?)

  • http://bloodfarm.tumblr.com mattdamonwayans

    But I thought KLaw hates the Yankees

    • Esteban

      Obviously ranking Mason Williams so high was just to cover for his vicious anti-Yankees pro-Red Sox bias.

    • Mister Delaware

      He does. The Yankees deserve atleast 9 guys on the top 100 and he only put 4. Bias!

    • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      This joke just needs some “!!!1!!1!one!!!1!!” action to put it over the top.

      • Mister Delaware

        Your rediculous.

    • Ted Nelson

      Bias can be unfair stemming from a prejudice, but it doesn’t have to be. It is also defined as “a preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.” People are strawmaning the argument by acting as though bias necessarily implies a prejudice.

      You can be bias without hating the other side. You can believe that one organization is better run and give them the benefit of the doubt without “hating” other teams. I believe this was the case when Law ranked the Red Sox the #11 farm system in MLB last year. Saying that he hates the Yankees is a strawman. What people were saying was that in projecting who got the best talent and who would develop it best, he demonstrated a strong preference for the Red Sox compared to the results of their players. And this wasn’t only Law, of course. It was pretty widespread love for the Boy Genius, just like Beane before him, Friedman now, whoever tomorrow.

      • Mister Delaware

        And, again, your point would be a lot more valid if Law didn’t rank Rule IV draft prospects and then have the Sox seemingly pick off his list in the first 3 rounds. Its not bias and its not grading based on admiration, its shared opinions.

        (If anything, a logical person would have to assume that either (1) Law knew who the Red Sox liked ahead of time and based his rankings off that or (2) the Red Sox had a Keith Law bias. Both of those are stupid, but less stupid than insinuating Law has a Red Sox bias.)

  • Raza

    Sanchez has insane offensive talent. He put up a better ISO and BB% last year than any of Montero’s seasons. Montero was obviously a much better pure hitter. I just want Sanchez to make big strides defensively this year.

    • Doug

      any strides would be good off the reports from last year

      • Raza

        I think reports like those are always overblown. Not saying that his defense doesn’t need work, it definitely does.

        • CJ

          An 18 year old catcher’s defense needs work? Needs work to catch in majors or ti catch in High A? How about 300+ games in minors behind the plate?

  • Mike Myers

    Mike,

    Can you start referring Sanchez to ‘The real Sanchize’ just to annoy jets fans?

    • Raza

      I’m a Jets fan and that wouldn’t annoy me. Sanchez has to earn that moniker. So far he’s proven that he’s nothing but consistently mediocre.

      • Mister Delaware

        More like consistently gorgeous. And mediocre.

      • Mike Myers

        Clearly you are a rational and educated Jets fan. It cant be said for a lot of the fan base. You are the rare yanks/jets combo.

        • Mike HC

          I’m Jets, Yanks too. I don’t think any Jets fan has a problem criticizing Sanchez. So far, he deserves a lot of it just looking at his play. On the other hand, he had one season of starting in college and his first 3 years in the league were obviously going to be choppy. It is next year that is the true sink or swim test in my opinion.

          • Raza

            He should get about 8 games next season to show his worth. If it looks like he still has shown no progression, we have to head in a new direction.

            • Mike HC

              I think you have to give him the entire year. But if after 8 games it looks like the same thing, it will be tough to keep hoping for improvement that might never come. It is likely that Sanchez will still be the best QB on the roster for the next couple of years and surely next year even if he does keep playing mediocre (Peyton Manning obviously changes that).

              Anyway, back to Yankees stuff … I give Hughes one more year, ha. Maybe 2.

              • Mister Delaware

                Agreed. A full year away from the “don’t throw unless the defense puts us down 10 or more” Schottenheimer offense to see if he can be reasonably productive is fair.

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          a) I don’t know any Jets fans (myself included) who have a problem with people criticizing Sanchez. Lately, Jets fans are actually his most vocal critics.

          ii) Mike’s a Jets fan.

          • MattG

            I’m a pretty sizable Jets fan, at least when not considered to my Yankee fandom, and I have no problem with anyone criticizing Sanchez either. Except, I am pretty sure this is all Rex Ryan’s fault. What’s scarier, that he “doesn’t have the pulse of the team,” or that he thinks not having the pulse of the team is the actual problem?

            Sanchez will probably end up being great…for a different team.

            Gary, on the other hand, must take up the Posada mantle.

            • JobaWockeeZ

              It’s more with a lack of effort into putting out a better offense. Ryan’s a defensive guy through and through. Shotty is a terrible coordinator and Ryan won’t really draft offense.

              So basically Sanchez has to deal with everything himself but apparently he hasn’t cared to try and get better.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Re Mason Williams: “He just needs to bulk up and add some muscle to avoid having the bat knocked out of his hands by high-end fastballs at the upper levels.”

    We heard this ad nauseum regarding Brett Gardner too. If this is all he “just needs” woo hoo hoo!

    • Mister Delaware

      Especially given he’ll add some bulk simply by aging. Gardner is what Gardner will be. Mason is going to be the best CF ever.

  • Guns of Navarone

    HOW MANY RED SOX’S WER IN TEH TOP 100!!11!

  • sheepmeister

    So I go my question answered by KLaw on his chat this afternoon.

    Nathan (PA)
    What is the ceiling for Mason Williams. You seem high on him. Is Curtis Granderson the best case scenario or could he be better?

    Klaw (2:17 PM)
    I think you’re in the ballpark.

    I like it.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      What a terrible comparison. I mean maybe Williams can match Grandy’s value but those two aren’t similar at all.

      • Ted Nelson

        Give Mason Williams a metal bat against UI-C competition and he might hit 7 HRs (Granderson’s total as a freshman). Williams had 3 HRs, 6 3B, and 11 2B in 68 games… Granderson had 7 HRs and 10 2Bs. Mason is faster, but Granderson wasn’t/isn’t slow. Both were fairly patient for their ages… Granderson has twice the walks, but was also facing some questionable competition as the best bat in his line-up. I don’t know that it’s the best comparison, but I certainly don’t think it’s the worst.

        Care to elaborate on why they aren’t similar? Or do you just prefer to make snarky remarks with no substance whatsoever?

        • G

          He just doesn’t have the power to project as Grandy-esque. You can say his numbers at lower levels are similar to Grandy’s, but I doubt anyone expected Granderson to have the power he’s developed.

          • Ted Nelson

            My point was more that JobaWockeeZ never does anything besides grump at other people without actually making any points.

            Bernie Williams was a pretty powerful CF himself. Not Granderson, but good power for a CF. I mean your comparison is basically “he’s sort of like Bernie Williams, except different from Bernie in every single way besides both being CFs.” Bernie had an AWFUL arm and was a very bad CF defensively for most of his career, while Mason’s arm is a big plus and he looks like a solid CF at least. Bernie was slow as molasses for a CF, and Mason is fast. A Granderson comparison is not perfect… but it’s hard to compare a 19 year old kid to MLB veterans. About all Bernie does the same is hit for contact and have a good approach at the plate.

            Curtis Granderson does things besides hit for power. He is not Russell Branyan. He’s a pretty good defender, fast (has led the league in triples twice and stolen 25 bases twice), and has a good approach at the plate. The contact is different and the power certainly might be. It’s not a perfect comparison, and I said as much… I just don’t think it warranted JobaWockeeZ’ response. Keith Law says it’s in the ballpark, but JobaWockeeZ jumps on the guy who brings it up with no explanation.

            The point is that Mason is one year removed from HS. He will develop some power, it’s a matter of how much. It’s pretty speculative. Not a lot of up-the-middle guys are Bryce Harper right out of HS. Power isn’t all about bulk. Mason can bulk up to 200 and possibly develop power.

            • G

              Well I was talking approach at the plate with ability to hit for contact.

              I’m talking offensive ceiling, not defensive. Defensively I honestly think he could be in Gardner territory.

              Of course projecting a teenager doesn’t mean anything, it’s just something to discuss.

          • thenamestsam

            “You can say his numbers at lower levels are similar to Grandy’s, but I doubt anyone expected Granderson to have the power he’s developed.”

            Noone is expecting Mason to have that kind of power, but it is possible, which is why KLaw said it’s his ceiling. I actually mostly agree with the comp as far as ceiling goes. From seeing him in person I seriously doubt he ever bulks up that much as he doesn’t look like that body type to me, but I think his upside looks roughly like 2007 Curtis Granderson with a bit less power – .300/.360/.500 with 20 HR and 25 SB, and a bunch of speed-based doubles and triples. That would obviously be an MVP candidate, but I think he has the talent.

            • G

              Of course it could happen, it’s just in projections it seems better not to account for possibilities that have not yet shown any sign of being realistic.

              That’s a great way to put it actually. 2007 Grandy with a bit less power is the best idea I’ve heard for his ceiling.

        • Monterowasdinero

          Cocoa Crisp lives! In our system.

      • G

        Bernie with a better arm, more stolen bases, and less power (unless he pulls an Ellsbury and suddenly discovers it) seems good to me as a ceiling. Brett Gardner seems like a good projection, but his ceiling is what makes him more exciting than Brett.

        Good to see I’m not the only one ranking Williams as our #2 prospect. Over at Bleeding Yankee Blue I have it as Banuelos, Williams, Betances, Sanchez, and Campos.

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

          Bernie with a better arm, more stolen bases, and less power (unless he pulls an Ellsbury and suddenly discovers it) seems good to me as a ceiling.

          So in other words, nothing like Bernie Williams.

          • Paul VuvuZuvella

            yeah, but not quite as tall

          • Mike HC

            hahaha

          • Mister Delaware

            Does he play the guitar?

          • G

            Pretty much, I just liked using Bernie as an arbitrary starting point. Could’ve said Ellsbury with less power and not quite as fast, or Granderson with a better average and defense but much less power. A better hitting Gardner could also be a comparison. I just start with a guy then add and subtract until its about what I think.

      • pat

        I’ll take 2011 Jacoby Ellsbury. Thankyouverymuch

        • G

          Hahaha I’d sacrifice the blood of a virgin for 2011 Jacoby :P.

          I’m hoping Mason can add power. He’s 6′ and 150 pounds, I’m 6′ and 175. I’m not exactly a huge guy, so he must be an absolute shrimp. Work him out, get him up to 170-180, and maybe he can develop 15-20 homer power. 30 seems like a longshot but I’ll hold out hope.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Williams told me on twitter that he’s gained 20 lbs, since being drafted.

  • thenamestsam

    Might be too late to get this seen, but this is a question for anyone with information. In his chat today KLaw said he didn’t put Ravel in the top-10 because he’s “out of action for much of the year”. On the other hand a recent RAB post mentioned that he should be ready in time for camp. That’s a pretty large discrepancy. Does anyone have any hard info on this?

    • crawdaddie

      It’s been reported by other Yankee prospects on twitter like Dante Jr that Santana is moving around well so far in early camp.

      • thenamestsam

        Thanks for the response. That’s good news.