Yanks place three on Baseball America’s Top 20 Sally League Prospects list

Update: MLB announces new broadcasting deals with FOX and TBS
Derek Lowe pitching his way onto the postseason roster
From left to right: Williams, Austin, Sanchez. (MiLB.com)

After getting shut out of the Gulf Coast League and NY-Penn League lists, the Yankees finally landed some prospects on one of Baseball America’s league top 20 lists. The Low-A South Atlantic League list was released today, with hard-throwing Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez claiming the top spot. OF Tyler Austin and C Gary Sanchez placed fourth and fifth, respectively, behind Fernandez, SS Trevor Story (Rockies), and OF Gregory Polanco (Pirates). OF Mason Williams was a little further down at nine. The list is free for all, no subscription is required.

“(Austin) has a great approach at the plate. He’s a gamer. This is the kind of kid you want on your team. He has the ability and the desire, and that’s a great combination,” said an opposing manager in the subscriber-only scouting report. Baseball America lauds the 21-year-old’s offensive skills — “a balanced approach, terrific hand-eye coordination and good strength … makes hard contact with solid power to all fields” — while noting his improved defensive skills in right field. My Minor League Player of the Year posted a 175 wRC+ with 14 homers in 309 plate appearances for the River Dogs this season.

Sanchez, 19, ranked 14th on the Sally League list a year ago and the offensive scouting report is relatively unchanged. The publication lauds hit ability to square up pitches and hit for big power — “You see the power he possesses and you say, ‘You got to be kidding me,'” said an opposing manager — but knocks him for his defense. Sanchez has a strong arm and can thrown out base-stealers, but he struggles with his receiving and there are concerns about his work ethic. He produced a 137 wRC+ with 13 homers in 289 plate appearances for Charleston this summer.

The 20-year-old Williams was further down the list than I expected, as Baseball America knocked him for his makeup. “He reportedly caused a few headaches for the Charleston staff and turned off observers with the way he carried himself on the field,” they wrote, while one NL scout said he has “got tools but needs to be humbled.” At the same time, he was praised for his “plus-plus speed and center-field defense,” as well as his “quick bat and average power.” Williams hit to a 129 wRC+ with eight homers and 19 steals in 311 plate appearances for the River Dogs before being promoted.

Here is the full top 20 schedule. The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the High-A Florida State League, which will be released next Monday. Sanchez, Austin, and Williams likely did not spend enough time with High-A Tampa to qualify for the list, but OF Ramon Flores, LHP Nik Turley, and RHP Jose Ramirez sure did. I’m not sure that any will make the top 20, but they should have at least garnered consideration. OF Slade Heathcott and RHP Mark Montgomery are right on the playing time bubble and should make it if eligible.

Update: MLB announces new broadcasting deals with FOX and TBS
Derek Lowe pitching his way onto the postseason roster
  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Banuelos, Betances and Campos obviously wiped out the pitching side of things and the draft seemed to be Hensley and a mix of interesting-but-lacking- buzz guys.

    Is our farm system better, worse or about the same compared to last year (relative to the league)?

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

      Definitely worse I believe. Not a ton worse, but worse.

      • Stu H

        BA only has 5 Yankees on any of these lists, and 3 were announced today. The implication is that the Yankees’ farm system will be pretty lowly ranked next year.


        • dp

          How can you rate anything to do with farm systems? To try is foolhardy at best. There are just to many players to see an even if you did see them all they have ebbs and flows to their seasons.

          For Milb players to make the show it’s like they have to run the high hurdles. Every hurdle is a pitfall that knocks guys out. I happen to like the Tampa rotation a lot an if they can continue with good health and produce in Trenton we may have something.

          It’s not about blue chip status but continual growth an improvement. I think the Yankees system is very deep with a lot of talent overall. Now can that talent get too and succeed when they get to NY?

          • Preston

            The ebb and flow of prospect status is really silly, Campos and Banuelos could be right back up as top prospects when they start pitching again. Guys who are perennially considered fringe prospects might make the necessary adjustments to contribute at the big league level (Phelps and Nova). The objective should be to amass as many players who have the ability if things go right to have a MLB impact and hope for the best. I think we will have that up and down our system next season.

            • Laz

              Banuelos is having TJ surgery, hopefully he will come back from it, but he won’t pitch again till 2014.

              • Ted Nelson

                The point made didn’t seem to be contingent on when he starts pitching again…

                • Preston

                  Yeah, I know that Banuelos is having Tommy John, but if he sits all of 2013 and then stays in extended spring training in 2014 how many quality innings at AAA would it take for him to regain top prospect status, 75? He’d only be 23, basically a college senior. Rating players before they are finished products is inherently meaningless. Some players will reach beyond the ceiling of their staunchest supporter and others will be nothing regardless of how high their floors were alleged to be.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            Very deep with tons of talent??? I’m not saying it’s a barren wasteland but you honestly think it’s deep.

            • Ted Nelson

              I would call their farm system deep, yes. They aren’t hotshots to a lot of people, but there are tons of prospects throughout the system. Guys like CoJo, Adams, Romine, Murphy, Slade, Zoilo, Warren, Marshall, Montgomery, Goody, Mesa, Flores, even Betances… could make an impact on the MLB team very soon. Guys like Gumbs, Bird, Campos, Cote, Hensley, Aune, Ravel, Turley, Bryan Mitchell, Camarena, Bichette, Culver, Jose Ramirez… all have a lot of talent and anyone of them could gain “top 100” or close buzz if they have a big year. Then there are several top 100 prospects: Austin, Sanchez, Mason, and Manny assuming his recovery goes well.

              The year could have gone a whole lot better, but that’s a deep system. Overall having 3 top prospects emerge and some other less touted guys emerge wasn’t a terrible year. Though a lot of people seem to think it was.

              • dp

                I firmly agree with you. There are even more players that you didn’t list. To many fans get caught up in named guys but they don’t always make it.

      • Laz

        I think it has to take a hit, because alot of their high level impact players took a step back. Last year the ranking was higher because banuelos and betances really seemed to be frontline pitchers. Now they have taken a step back, and austin, williams, flores, heathcott have started to shine, but they are all at lower levels of the minors, and are less likely to make it. Also didn’t help that campos and bichette took a big step backwards this year. They aren’t done, but they need to prove alot next year.

  • Mike HC

    Might RAB be partly responsible for Williams attitude problem? Making him the prospect watch guy … there could be some blood on our hands

  • Yankees Win

    Kind of reminds me of situation in the movie “Trouble with the Curve” I have to imagine that many well playing minor leaguers go through this touting process. It’s never good to hear, however. The good news is, that unlike in the movie, since I chose to reference it in the first place, that Williams actually has talent. I guess my question is, who or which manager/individual is able to correct this in the minors?

    Opposite that however, very encouraging words on Austin.

    Weird, Sanchez sounds like Montero 2.0 at the moment. I mean, even Posey is being looked at for 1st going forward. I mean is it really even possible to really grow a solid defending catcher anymore? It’s a serious question. Are the days of of a Tony Pena, even Girardi and many others really over for catcher? It takes a lot of mental strength and I just wonder if the way society is in general today has an impact on the maturity of potential catching prospects. I mean really, out of Posey, who is the really that prototypical catcher everyone wants? Matt Wieters is perhaps the best model in recent years, but it’s taken him about 4 years at the MLB level to fully mature. This is yet again, why I say, that Gary Sanchez should be on the MLB roster next season (after AS break). It just maybe better to have him around the right people as he grows. I don’t know. But having him in the minors for 4 years and labeled as a top prospect probably isn’t a good idea. It’s better to get him here and show him what’s up, learn on the job and if it’s that bad, send him back down at that point. What, we’re going to hurt his feelings if he fails? Please, the best success comes from failure and being told you’re a top prospect for 4 years isn’t a good thing.

    • Yankees Win

      …and as evidenced by the Banuelos and Betances debacles. Even throw Brackman and many others into that pot. Now they need to live up to that hype and well, they all couldn’t be any further away from their potential at the moment. I’ve never been fond of how the whole minor league system is run throughout the league. The Yankees, for as many strengths they have, for Cashman, who I regard highly has made many brilliant moves, they way they work their minors is not a pretty picture. But, they are not alone, by a long shot. Look at Machado on the O’s. Dude is playing fine. An error here or there (and moved to 3rd, from his natural SS) and he’s just 19. Bryce Harper is doing great (well sometimes not so much), but he is really maturing quickly with his time on the Nat’s. I think these are bold, shrewd and very positive moves for their teams and baseball.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      I fully agree with you. Learning on site is the way to go. Not all l9 y/o catchers are ready but some can be coached in the big leagues. Ivan Rodriguez came up at 19 an inmediately took over. Certainly an offensive catcher is worth his weight in gold.

    • jjyank

      I get what you’re saying, but in no way do I want Sanchez on the team next year. It’s got nothing to do with his confidence (okay, maybe some), but his development. You can learn from failure, but he would likely be so over matched every single day that you wouldn’t be accomplishing anything.

    • Preston

      The idea that we should bring Sanchez up is monumentally stupid. First, we should not bring him up to learn how to block and frame pitches better, MLB is not an instructional league. Second he has not even gotten a single AB at AA, AA is usually considered the biggest leap in talent from one league to the next. It is the first time that every pitcher is a polished guy who has the ability to throw secondary pitches for strikes. Sanchez probably shouldn’t even start at AA next season, he should return to A+ excel and then face AA in the second half. He’s way to young to rush.

      • Laz

        Right, He hasn’t even gotten to AA yet and should be brought up next year. It is best for his development if he is starting every day and praciticing his defense. What good is it going to do him if he is sitting on the bench for 5-6 days a week. Baseball is something you have to practice, there is only so much instruction you can do. Sure maybe have him spend a good amount of time with the mlb club in ST, just have him see what it is like, and maybe work with martin and the coaches to improve, but after that have him starting back down in tampa or trenton.

  • Preston

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard a negative about Mason Williams’s attitude. They don’t really cite anything either, I’m not willing to think poorly of a kid that young because of his body language.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      Yea, this is the first I’ve heard anything about this. Hopefully we don’t have another Tabata on our hands.

      • Bo Knows

        Not even the same situation. Mason’s “issues” are that when he is in a slump or not playing well he tends to let the issue eat away at him and dwell…tabata was and still is just an ass

      • Bo Knows

        Not even the same situation. Mason’s “issues” are that when he is in a slump or not playing well he tends to let the issue eat away at him and dwell…tabata was and still is just an ass

    • JohnnyC

      Because we believe everything an anonymous NL scout says about a Yankees prospect (that they might want to trade for at some point)? It’s the baseball equivalent of a political attack ad.

    • Ted Nelson

      This has been said for a while now. Some have said it’s just competitiveness. Whatever it is, it is widely cited and not something that they made up.

  • CountryClub

    He’s young, so he can obviously mature. But if Williams does actually have an attitude problem, and it doesnt get better over the next couple of seasons, there’s a good chance he never plays for the Yanks. They’ll trade him.

  • http://pinstripedbible.com YankeeOutsider

    I guess Ian Kennedy, Doug Drabek, Bob Tewksbury, Al Leiter to name a few were the exceptions to the rule…

  • Wayne

    Austin will be the only one that comes up next year if anyone. Even though we took a hit with banuelos and betances I am looking forward to how Rafael de Paula does next year. He has the most potential out of our starting pitching prospects but will probably take the longest to develop. Perfect height and weight at 6ft 3 in 210 lbs. Smooth delivery. Plus he throws it at 93-96 miles per hour. I see him as a late developing Dwight Gooden! Plus Jose Ramirez is our best most current starting pitcher who could be big league ready by 2014. Hopefully David phelps can help us in rotation next year and we can milk Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova for all they are worth next year. The. One thing I fear is that we trade a potential star in our starting rotation either this or next offseason or 2014 offseason which seems far from now. But I think by or in 2015 regular season we have to see some sort of result in our starting rotation. But we gotta milk phelps Hughes and nova for next season. Hopefully Jose Ramirez is ready by 2014 after Hughes is gone and David phelps should replace Ivan Nova in rotation next season!