2012 Pre-Draft Top 30 Prospects

May 2012 Monthly Wrap-Up
RAB Live Chat
(Matt Burton/MiLB.com)

The regular season is only two months old, but it’s already safe to say it’s been a pretty down year for the farm system. Injuries have wreaked havoc on some of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects and a few of the lower level position players have battled extended slumps. The number of disappointments is always greater than the number of surprises, but I feel like it’s been taken to the extreme in 2012.

The pre-draft list is unquestionably my least favorite of the three prospects lists I publish (preseason, pre-draft, post-draft) because not a much has changed this early in the season. There’s always injuries and extreme performances (both good and bad), but most prospects just maintain the status quo. Just three prospects have dropped off the Preseason Top 30 List — Cesar Cabral, Graham Stoneburner, and David Adams — and that’s almost entirely due to injury. None of the preseason list guys have graduated to the big leagues yet, though David Phelps is getting awfully close.

The post-draft list is always a ton of fun though. Figuring out where the new guys fit in is always a challenge and frankly, it’s nice to have new players to write about. There’s only so long you can write about these guys before you start to get prospect fatigue (coughDellinBetancescough). Anyway, so here is an updated look at the 30 best aspiring big leaguers in the Yankees’ organization. Ages are as of today.

  1. LHP Manny Banuelos, 21 — currently on the DL with a sore elbow after missing time with a lat issue, we really haven’t gotten a chance to see the southpaw all that much this season (3.83 FIP in just 24.0 IP)
  2. OF Mason Williams, 20 — the most exciting player in the system got off a scorching hot start but has battling nagging injuries and perhaps relatedly, a prolonged slump over the last two or three weeks (.331 wOBA)
  3. Gary Sanchez, 19 — he’s pounding Low-A pitching (.383 wOBA) as he should be in his second tour of duty, and you have to figure a promotion is coming soon
  4. RHP Jose Campos, 19 — manhandled the competition (3.24 FIP in 24.2 IP) before elbow inflammation put him on the shelf indefinitely
  5. RHP Rafael DePaula, 21 — has yet to appear in a game after finally securing his visa, so this ranking is based on his substantial upside
  6. 3B Dante Bichette Jr., 19 — he got off to a slow start and didn’t hit his first homer until yesterday, but DBJ has come on strong of late (.324 wOBA) and is poised for a big second half
  7. OF Tyler Austin, 20 — the run-away favorite for farm system MVP through the first two months (.477 wOBA), Austin has continued to show his all-around offensive game while adapting well to right field
  8. RHP David Phelps, 25 — has pitched to a 4.49 FIP in 33.1 IP as a swingman for the big league team, and I doubt he’ll be eligible for the post-draft list in mid-July
  9. RHP Dellin Betances, 24 — his control issues have gone from bad to worse (7.69 BB/9 and 18.5 BB%) and his days as a starter appear to be numbered
  10. J.R. Murphy, 21 — having what might be the quietest bad year in Yankees’ prospect history (.297 wOBA), though his walk (9.5%) and strikeout (12.2%) rates remain very strong
  11. OF Ravel Santana, 20 — the ankle is all healed up and he’s slated to join Short Season Staten Island when their season begins later this month
  12. RHP D.J. Mitchell, 25 — got his first taste of the big leagues and is having another solid season with the traveling circus in Triple-A (3.40 FIP)
  13. Austin Romine, 23 — hasn’t played yet this season due to an inflamed disc in his back, but he’s been cleared to resume baseball activities and is expected to return until July
  14. OF Ramon Flores, 20 — he’s been pretty streaky so far (.313 wOBA) but continues to control the strike zone well (8.1 BB% and 16.5 K%)
  15. OF Slade Heathcott, 21 — has yet to play this season due to another left shoulder surgery, but he’s scheduled to debut with High-A Tampa next week
  16. RHP Adam Warren, 24 — hasn’t pitched all that well this year (4.74 FIP) and frankly, has been underwhelming in Triple-A since getting their last season (4.24 FIP in 207.2 IP)
  17. RHP Mark Montgomery, 21 — I’m not going to call him the next David Robertson, but Montgomery is the closest thing we’ve seen to the next D-Rob thanks to his knockout slider and pure dominance (1.21 FIP)
  18. RHP Brett Marshall, 22 — has turned into a steady and reliable workhorse, but he isn’t missing bats in Double-A (5.02 K/9 and 13.7 K%) and that’s a red flag
  19. 2B Angelo Gumbs, 19 — has been sneaky great so far (.355 wOBA) and has done his best work on the bases (19-for-22 in stolen base attempts)
  20. RHP Bryan Mitchell, 21 — the long-term project has been inconsistent from start-to-start but has some of the best stuff in the organization (3.20 FIP) and the strikeout rates to back it up (9.62 K/9 and 26.3 K%)
  21. SS Cito Culver, 19 — another slow starter (.310 wOBA), Culver gets a bit of a pass because his missed time following his grandfather’s death … he’s started to kick it into gear in May and has shown off a great batting eye (14.6 BB%)
  22. LHP Nik Turley, 22 — has battled on-and-off blister issues but has otherwise continued the progress he made last season (2.97 FIP)
  23. OF Zoilo Almonte, 22 — missed several weeks with a hamstring issue but has hit well when on the field (.342 wOBA)
  24. Greg Bird, 19 — power-hitting backstop will try to prove he can stick behind the plate when he joins one of the Short Season clubs later this month
  25. OF Ben Gamel, 20 — Mat’s little brother has been a consistent producer this season (.325 wOBA) but he needs to develop some pop down to road since he’s stuck in the corner outfield
  26. RHP Chase Whitley, 22 — three-pitch reliever has forced his way to Triple-A early this spring (3.61 FIP) and could be in line for a late-season call-up
  27. UTIL Ronnie Mustelier, 27 — is he the position player version of Al Aceves? I don’t know, but you can’t ignore the .412 wOBA he’s put up since signing
  28. UTIL Brandon Laird, 24 — hasn’t hit at all in Triple-A dating back to two years ago (.299 wOBA in 823 plate appearances), but he sneaks into the list because he’s versatile and does have power
  29. LHP Daniel Camarena, 19 — three-pitch command lefty is likely to debut with the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Yankees following his stint in Extended Spring Training
  30. 2B Corban Joseph, 23 — returning to Double-A for a third straight season (.390 wOBA) after starting the year on the DL with a shoulder program is odd, but he was hanging onto the list by the skin of his teeth anyway
May 2012 Monthly Wrap-Up
RAB Live Chat
  • Typical MIT Nerd

    If Austin rakes like this through the season and into Hi-A (yes, a big if) is he suddenly the best prospect in the system?

    • Donny

      In some eyes, that may be the case. However, his power is really his only plus tool that he possesses. I would hope the best prospect in any organization would have at least 2 plus tools – with everything else projected to be major league average.

      It never ceases to amaze me the way the prospects are viewed from year to year. At this point, Williams, Tyler, Sanchez and maybe Banuelos are the consesus “hot” prospects. Meanwhile, Heathcott, David Adams, and Betances are on the cusp of being no longer considered as “hot” prospects.

      • Gonzo

        Yeah, we have to keep in mind that we would be lucky if one of these guys is a “star” and that most of these guys will not make it the Yankees’ MLB roster.

        That said, it’s so much fun to follow these guys.

      • Ted Nelson

        Not sure that the number of “plus” tools is all that great a way to judge a prospect. Someone like Greg Golson, for example, has three plus tools and is still a AAAA player. Austin has a good all-around game even if no other tool sticks out as amazing.

        How else would you view these guys?

  • A.D.

    Really surprised Joseph isn’t in AAA at this point

    • RetroRob

      Yeah, really. Who’s manning second in AAA this year?

      I know there are varying opinions on CoJo’s upside, but they’re not learning anything by having him repeat AA yet again at age 23.

      Move him up.

      • nick

        sounds like he will

    • YankeeGrunt

      Perfect timing. Promoted and homered in his first AAA AB.

  • Reggie C.

    Cito Culver’s slugging is barely over .270; yeah, these past ten games has seen improvements across the board, but he’s got a while to go. On a squad as solid as what Charleston has assembled, Culver hopefully keeps trending the right way.

    Betances should be lower than DJ Mitchell. I would cut “prospect” ties to Betances and drop him out the top ten. Can’t wait to see how Heathcott and Santana look upon their respective returns. Banuelos can still come back and deliver another 100 starter innings to give the FO an idea of what he can do next season.

    There’s stuff to like about the farm that’s not Charleston related. I’m liking what DJ Mitchell has done … Could spell Nova shortly if there’s further regression.

    • Rick in Philly

      I could see Culver repeating A- next year: if I’m correct, he doesn’t turn 20 until August. I’d also be interested in seeing if the Yankees decide to have him scrap switch-hitting.

    • viridiana

      Betances-bashers out in force these days. And he’s brought it on himself. Still, worth noting he’s had two excellent recent starts, he remains hard to hit and how do you control off-speed pitches with a cracked fingernail?

      • Ted Nelson

        Agree. His stock is justifiably down, but there’s still a ton of potential. I would probably keep him in the top 10 like Mike did.

  • RichYF

    Mike, as in the past, can you also put in parentheses the previous location?

  • Mike

    Gumbs and Turley are too low. My top ten:
    1. Banuelos
    2. Williams
    3. Sanchez
    4. Campos
    5. Austin
    6. Bichette
    7. Phelps
    8. Mithchell
    9. Gumbs
    10. Turley

  • Robert

    Gumps Williams Sanchez and Tyler start new core 4 in 2014… But in 2010 I thought our starting 5 would be CC, Brackman,Betances Banuelos and AJ Burnett.

  • JonS

    What about Jake Cave?

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

      I’m not a big fan.

      • JohnC

        why not? Got tools across the board

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

          Hasn’t hit for much power yet and I’m not a fan of corner outfielders who can’t hit the ball over the fence. He’ll make the top 30 if he performs like Gamel, but right now we have literally 0 PA to go on.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Good point on Cave not showing any power yet, but then again we are, as you stated, working on 0 PA right now.

      • MannyGeee

        I thought one of you RAB guys were a Jake Cave fan. Was it Joe?

  • Kosmo

    I´m a little surprised Michael O´Brien and Rob Segedin didn´t make the cut.

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

      I had Segedin at 30 until I remembered that Rafael DePaula exists.

      • jjyank

        Speaking of which, when/where is he supposed to make his debut? Is he in extended spring training now, then Staten Island once that starts?

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

          I assume so. He might go right to Charleston.

  • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

    I still find it funny that Betances has a higher ranking than Montgomery, considering it’s 80% likely that the latter will have a both a better near-term impact and long-term career. I think people are still holding on to the idea that Betances has a .1% chance of being Randy Johnson-like.

    • jjyank

      Well yeah, and also Betances has the possibility of being a shutdown reliever like Montgomery if he fails as a starter. So Betances best case scenario is Randy Johnson, and his fall back is the same thing that Montgomery is now. Therefore, he’s ranked higher. Makes sense to me.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Agreed. Things may look mighty different for Betances if the switch to bullpen happens.

        • Ted Nelson

          I agree with the rankings because of Betances’ potential, but I also don’t think moving to the bullpen solves his problems.

  • Brian S.

    Matt Tracy? Evan Rutckyj?

  • Voice of Reason

    Don’t know how Austin hasn’t jumped Bichette, but whatevs.

    Bullish on DePaula. What happens in Extended Spring Training anyway? I can only assume they’re playing baseball, but there’s never any news of it.

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

      It’s exactly like regular Spring Training. They train and play games against other ExST teams daily.

  • Duzzi23

    Dellin Betances by far is the biggest disappointment on that list in my opinion. He has almost 8 walks per 9 in AAA. Looks like he is following in the footsteps of Andrew Brackman. He also looked awful mechanically the few times I saw him pitch in spring training in a small sample size.

  • Ted Nelson

    Looks like a solid list.

    Big difference between Aceves and Mustelier is that one was trapped in a country he couldn’t leave. They haven’t come in droves, but plenty of Cuban vets have come over and succeeded. I think that Mustelier was underrated as a free agent because of his body type. Doesn’t look like a baseball player. I’d probably have Mustelier closer to 15 due to probability. Could be a regular or strong UTL almost immediately.

    I’d probably drop Laird off at this point, but that’s really just nitpicking.

    • Ted Nelson

      I would drop Campos and DePaula pretty substantially as well.

  • YankeeGrunt

    Nice list, where I’d really quibble is with Bryan Mitchell. As much potential as DePaula and he is doing it in full-season ball, more than a K an inning. Control could still stand to improve, but everything else is there.

  • JaketheSnake

    What’s the word on Gumbs’ defense this season? That’s a pretty encouraging line for a 19yr old 2B.