Kevin Goldstein’s Top 20 Yankees Prospects

2012 Season Preview: Power Sources
Update: Robertson's MRI shows "cause for concern"
That doesn't look like a four-seamer, changeup, or curveball grip to me. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein published his list of the Yankees’ top 20 prospects today, the final mainstream list of the spring. You do need a subscription to read the entire piece, but non-subscribers can see the list as well as the first write-up. Here are Baseball America’s and Keith Law’s top ten lists for comparison, as well as my top 30. Steal of Home compiled a consensus top 33 list that’s worth a click.

The Yankees have two five-star prospects according to KG: Manny Banuelos and Gary Sanchez. Dellin Betances and Mason Williams check in at four starts, and everyone else is three starts or fewer. “Banuelos should become at least a number three starter, but there is upside beyond that,” wrote Goldstein, who also noted that Manny’s command problems come from overthrowing and not some kind of mechanical flaw. The Sanchez write-up is drool-worthy — “special power … works the count well and looks for pitches to drive, and knows how to crush mistakes” — but at the same time he cautions that the kid sells out for power instead of just focusing on hard contact. Plus his defense is terrible.

I thought the most interesting nugget had to do with Jose Campos, who the Yankees acquired from the Mariners along with Michael Pineda. “[His fastball is] plus and more in terms of velocity, sitting in the low 90s with plenty of 95-96 readings every time out,” said KG. “Campos also throws the pitch with the kind of command usually found only in big leaguers; he works both sides of the plate with it, paints the corners and comes at hitters with a strong downward angle.” Campos still has a lot of work to do with his breaking ball and changeup, but 19-year-old kids with command of a huge fastball are just so rare.

Goldstein also listed the top ten talents in the organization under the age of 25, which was unsurprisingly topped by Pineda. Ivan Nova (#3) and Phil Hughes (#6) were the only other big leaguers to make the cut. “Pineda is a potential front line starter who is still three or four years away from his prime,” he wrote. “He needs to improve his command and his changeup, and the American League East isn’t like pitching in Seattle; expect some bumps in the road early, although nobody should be worked up about his early March lack of prime velocity … Hughes remains young and talented, but nobody is quite sure how to harness it.”

The Yankees did lose a serious chunk of prospect star power by trading Montero, but the general consensus seems to be that they still have enough to qualify as a top ten system. Banuelos and Betances are the only real high-upside guys at the upper levels of the minors, so most of their most interesting and super-talented players are way down in Single-A or even lower. Bichette and Campos are two major breakout candidates;, strong years in a full season league would shoot both up the prospect rankings. Ravel Santana could join them if the ankle is healthy and allows him to put all his tools on display.

2012 Season Preview: Power Sources
Update: Robertson's MRI shows "cause for concern"
  • tyrone sharpton

    Why the hype about Sanchez? Fat latino teenager with terrible attitude and above average power. Other than the HR’s though, wats there to like?

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      He had great patience at age 18, he *might* able to stay behind the plate.

      and Sanchez doesn’t have “above-average” power. Russell Martin has above average power. Sanchez has “special” power.

      • Rick in Boston

        As mentioned in the BP comments: Sanchez hit more homers at the same level as Harper, but in fewer games.

    • Jake

      Also, what does his being Latino have to do with anything?

      • CS Yankee

        The unofficial guide to sterotypes goes something like this;

        large Latinos = “Fat…”
        large African-Americans = “Fat and lazy…”
        large Whites = “Fat ass”

        • tyrone sharpton

          fat latino was a joke/reference to the stereotypes that they get… ala Cano

          • Plank

            I find your unique brand of racial humor hilarious. It’s not unfunny at all.

            Tyrone Sharpton. What a hilarious name!

  • jsbrendog

    but in the thinking that minor league systems have prospects, the yankees wouldve “lost” montero by gratuating him anyway so by getting back campos and pineda they replaced him in the majors with a possible ace pitcher and in the minors with a raw pitcher with upside. so if montero was a 5 star prospect and campos a 3 or 4 then they didnt eally lose that much…

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Outside of Law I don’t think anyone has said the Yankees ahve a top 10 system. Middle of the pack sounds right to me.

    • Lime

      BA has the Yankees at #6.

      • viridiana

        Were Yanks #6 in BA Prospect Handbook? Link, if available.

        No secret tat Yanks lack upper level position prospects. Th

        • Mike Axisa

          They were #6 in the Handbook, which was before the Montero trade. Their updated rankings will be out this month sometime.

          • viridiana


        • viridiana

          Post swallowed:

          No secret that Yanks lack upper level position prosects. Today’s lneup — featuring the unsavory likes of Justin Maxwell and Jayson Nix — is the consequence. Can’t remember a spring where the Yanks had so little in interesting prospects getting playing time. At least guys like Adams and Murphy did enter game late.

          • OldYanksFan

            True about the upper levels, but 6 of the 8 starters are set for at least 2012 and 2013, and 2014 if Jeter can still walk. So the fact that our talent is 3 years away doesn’t really hurt us. And we do have a number of pitchers who could be up by 2014.

  • Monterowasdinero

    It is a little disappointing that we have no position players other than Sanchez and Williams on the list. Our AAA infield and outfield is unexciting.

    • Dan

      are you forgetting Dante Jr, Gumbs, and Murphy are on the list as well? I agree the position players arent as exciting as the pitchers, but Angelo Gumbs makes me tingly in special places. Dude could be a beast in 3 years

      • Monterowasdinero

        Yes-these guys have been great against pitching that is 5 years away from the majors.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Unfortunately, there are no top IF or OF prospects in AAA. However, with the wealth of young pitching the Yankees have high in the system, they may be able to trade for some excitement.

  • CS Yankee

    Not sure if I’m missing the joke in the caption?

    He has a four-seamer fastball grip, if the stitches were 90 degrees off his top fingers it would be a two-seamer. When he snaps the top two fingers to release (or finish), the stiches will rotate evenly in a backspin rotation.

    • Bryan G

      Uh, that’s definitely not a 4-seam grip.

    • G

      That’s a 2-seamer… Not a 4.

  • Spiff

    With all the “graduating” talents not really giving a good indication of teams’ young talents, why don’t they ever just rank the players who are not arbitration-eligible yet? Isn’t that what we care about anyway when we look at prospect lists, who has the most cost-controlled talent?

    • thenamestsam

      KG does a top 10 25 and under at the bottom of every team’s list.

      • Havok9120

        I love that list of his. Very informative beyond the technical definitions of “prospect.”

  • VCR1111

    I’ve been thinking about the Yankees pitcher player development, and it really frustrates me. For example, Pineda is one year YOUNGER than Betances. Yet, he’s light years ahead of him as far as development. Betances started 25 games last year in the minors and went more than 5 innings in only 8 of them!


    I agrue that with the majority of other ball clubs, Betances would have been in the majors contributing to the big club. Yet we, as fans, have to go through another year of Banuelos and Betances in the minors, pitching 4 innings, facing weak hitters, walking the ball park, and not being challenged to get out of their own mess. Challenge your pitchers!

    I wonder how the careers of Hughes, and Joba would have looked if they weren’t dealt the Nardi Contreras hand. Maybe Hughes would be a confident STARTING pitcher who wouldn’t have to worry if the bullpen is actually the best place for him, and Joba wouldn’t be recovering from Tommy John Surgery. “Joba Rules” Ha!

    Maybe our young pitchers are better off not being classified as top prospects. Maybe Nardi Contreras and the Yankee “Young Pitcher Development” nonsense can be avoided if a young pitcher isn’t on their list. Ask Ivan Nova, who thankfully wasn’t considered a top prospect and didn’t have to deal with this absurdity of inning limits, and handling with kid gloves.

    • thenamestsam

      You really can’t compare prospects like that. Pineda was signed at 16, Betances was signed at 18. That’s a 2 year difference right there. And not all guys advance in the same way. Pineda has good control and while he’s a big kid he hasn’t had trouble repeating his mechanics. Those two factors have played a huge role in slowing down Betances. Betances (in my opinion) would have been rightfully treated as a project in any organization. Tampa (who everyone considers the model for player development) is an organization that is incredibly patient with young players and doesn’t seem to rush anyone.

      Also your points are a bit contradictory. The reason Nova didn’t deal with innings limits at the big league level is precisely because they were very patient with him in the minors and he had already thrown over 200 AAA innings when he came up. Simultaneously calling for the Yankees to challenge their pitchers and claiming Nova as the model for development doesn’t make much sense to me.

      • VCR1111

        Your first paragraph has valid points, your last does not. Let me explain further. I used Nova as an example of how a pitcher develops when he is not considered a “top prospect”.

        My points in the original post were that at the rate Betances is throwing he is still at least a couple of years away from throwing 200 AAA innings. Later this month Betances will turn 24. Nova turned 25 in January. There is a significant difference in how they were treated in the minors. I go back to this quote and it baffles me: “Betances started 25 games last year in the minors and went more than 5 innings in only 8 of them!”

        Betances is being treated with kid gloves, and in my opinion his growth is being stumped. Nova was NOT handled with kid gloves, and was able to throw more innings and develop as a pitcher.

        While you bring up Tampa as a team “who everyone considers the model for player development”, Jeremy Hellickson (24), Matt Moore (22), and David Price (26) are and were light years ahead of both Banuelos and Betances at their respective ages. Now I understand that talent determines progression, my original argument was that the techniques the Yankees and Nardi Contreras use for young pitchers may be detrimental to their development.

        • CS Yankee

          When your pitch count goes thru the roof in a inning, they pull them. This is no different than any other club. You can’t keep let them throw 35-40 and send them back out for another.

          Also, get a flipping clue, they have 4-5 legit AAA starters and six starters going for five slots…the times are good in the pitching dept these days.

          • VCR1111

            “Get a flipping clue”…coming from someone who wrote “You can’t keep let them throw”…yeah, good job.


            I think Betances is having trouble getting out the 4th inning in AAA not necessarily because of high pitch count, but rather inning limitations. Which circles back to my original point on how the Yankees have been handling Betances with kid gloves.

            Hopefully this year, they begin to stretch Betances out and have him pitch into the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Of course he needs to work on his control but that comes with pitching. You have to pitch to get better control. At his age, the time for production and ML ready stuff is now.

            You know, now that I think of it maybe the Yankees fear what happened with Hughes and Joba may happen to Betances. So they’re taking their time, maybe too much time. But again, who’s fault is that? Starter or reliever, starter or reliever, starter or reliever??? Ugh.

    • RetroRob

      You’re also not giving credit to the Yankees organization. Pineda was considered a better talent at the point he was signed. The Yankees scouted, found and developed Banuelos well past where he was expected to be at this point in time.

      • VCR1111

        Good point on talent. Understood. Banuelos is just 20…and I understand how anyone would be cautious.

        Betances is getting to an age where he should be on the cusp of joining the team. His progression is not at that level yet. My argument is the handling with kid gloves may be delaying Betances progression.

  • Cdibs

    Is it me or does it seem as though most people who have rated Banuelos have pegged him to be around mid-rotation? His stuff seems to have improved, yet his expectations are seemingly tempered (yes, I know he couldn’t find his command, but still). He’s about one of the few prospects we really have to look forward to being in the majors anytime soon. It’s only a matter of time before the Yanks start dealing some of their lesser AAA pitching. Hopefully they return something to look forward to in the near future.

    • thenamestsam

      It’s important to note that KG is quite stingy with his numerical ratings of pitchers. If I am remembering correctly he has said in the past that there are about 10 guys in the majors he would rate as true #1 ace types. If there are only 10 #1 guys then him calling someone a #2 is clearly high praise – guys like Hamels, Shields, Haren etc. would be considered #2s by him. So saying that Banuelos should be “at least a number three” is more complimentary than we would probably view it on first glance.

      • RetroRob

        Correct. And he pretty much said that mid-rotation is the floor for Banuelos and could be much better.

  • RetroRob

    I might have missed him, but David Phelps in not listed anywhere in Goldstein’s top 20, and considering some of the names near the bottom, this does not seem possible.

    • RetroRob

      Answering my own question here. I just took a flip through BP’s comments and found:

      Shaun P.: I was surprised to see Warren and Mitchell, but not Phelps, in the 12-20 list. I thought Phelps was ahead of them in terms of big league readiness, but I’m obviously not a scout. Where would Phelps be if you went to 30, and why wasn’t he higher?

      Kevin Goldstein: I think Warren is just as big league ready and better, and I think Mitchell is more likely to have a career.


      So Goldstein is bigger of Warren and Mitchell. I still believe think that Phelps is the most consistently underrated pitcher in the Yankees organization.