2013 Season Preview: The Farm System



The Yankees opened their regular season on Monday afternoon, and the club’s four full season minor league affiliates will do the same tomorrow night. Given the recent increase in long-term contract extensions for star players, the Yankees will need their farm system to start producing more big league players in the very near future. They pump out relievers and complementary players pretty much every year, but the need now is legitimate everyday guys.

On the eve of the minor league season, here is a look at the various affiliates and the dispersal of the team’s top 30 prospects (in my opinion).

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (full roster)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Mark Montgomery (#10), RHP Brett Marshall (#13), IF David Adams (#18), C Austin Romine (#19), IF Corban Joseph (#20), RHP Dellin Betances (#23), OF Melky Mesa (#26)
Other Notables: OF Zoilo Almonte, RHP Preston Claiborne, OF Cody Johnson, OF Thomas Neal, LHP Vidal Nuno

Armed with a newly renovated stadium and a new team nickname/logo, the Triple-A squad will return to Scranton after spending all of last season on the road. Montgomery and Marshall feel like mortal locks to wear pinstripes at some point in the second half while Mesa should be the first outfielder recalled in case of injury. Adams, who was recently released and re-signed, lags behind Joseph as the extra infielder since he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.

Marshall, Betances, and Nuno (the scheduled Opening Day starter) will anchor a rotation that will welcome Adam Warren (#17) back into the fold as soon as Phil Hughes rejoins the big league rotation. The fifth starter figures to be old buddy Chien-Ming Wang, who will spend some time getting himself into pitching shape in Tampa after after signing late. Looking at the roster, I’m not quite sure who the fifth starter in the meantime, maybe Chris Bootcheck or Ryan Pope? Either way, the Triple-A club is basically an extension of the 25-man roster, where the extra depth players reside.

Double-A Trenton Thunder (full roster)
Top 30 Prospects: OF Tyler Austin (#3), OF Slade Heathcott (#4), OF Ramon Flores (#5), LHP Nik Turley (#11), C J.R. Murphy (#15), LHP Matt Tracy (#22)
Other Notables: RHP Dan Burawa, RHP Caleb Cotham, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP Zach Nuding, RHP Branden Pinder, LHP Francisco Rondon, 3B Rob Segedin



The Thunder will be the minor league affiliate to watch in 2013, and it all starts with an outfield that includes three of the organization’s top five prospects. The combination of Austin’s brute mashing ability and Heathcott’s electric tools make it easy to forget that Flores is no hack — he’s a pure all-around hitter from the left side with improving defense. That is an exciting group. Austin, by the way, will officially be our 2013 Prospect Watch player in the wake of last week’s vote.

The pitching staff features three very interesting left-handed starters and a whole bunch of power bullpen arms. I disagree with the decision to put Rondon in the Double-A rotation rather than the Triple-A bullpen, but such is life. Tracy and Opening Day starter Turley are continually improving, the former despite not becoming a full-time pitcher until 2011. Burawa, Kahnle, and Pinder are swing-and-miss relievers with big fastballs and sharp breaking balls. Nuding and Cotham are cut from the same cloth but could wind up in the rotation.

High-A Tampa Yankees
Top 30 Prospects: C Gary Sanchez (#1), OF Mason Williams (#2), 2B Angelo Gumbs (#9), RHP Bryan Mitchell (#16), RHP Nick Goody (#21), RHP Corey Black (#24)
Other Notables: RHP Zach Arneson, OF Ben Gamel, RHP Shane Greene, RHP Phil Wetherell

I have yet to see anything resembling an official roster for Tampa, so I used the process of elimination here. Williams confirmed on Twitter he will start at this level this season, and it makes sense Sanchez would join him since he made a cameo with the club at the end of last year. Any time an organization’s top two prospects are playing for one affiliate, it will be fun to follow.

Goody and Black are a pair of 2012 draftees who should climb the minor league ladder very quickly. Goody is pure reliever and while Black is likely to join him in the bullpen long-term, the Yankees will use him as a starter in an effort to develop his secondary pitches and hopefully get some more value out of him. Greene probably has the best stuff in the system that nobody talks about, but his command lags far behind and it’s probably time for the Yankees to stick him in the bullpen so he can just let if fly.

Stop smiling, start hitting. (The Orlando Sentinel)

Stop smiling, start hitting. (The Orlando Sentinel)

Low-A Charleston River Dogs (full roster)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Jose Campos (#7), 3B Dante Bichette Jr. (#27), SS Cito Culver (#29), LHP Daniel Camarena (#30)
Other Notables: 1B Greg Bird, OF Yeicok Calderon, RHP Rafael DePaula, RHP Gabe Encinas, C Pete O’Brien, IF/OF Rob Refsnyder

Charleston will be the land of misfit prospects this summer. You’ve got guys coming off injuries (Campos and, to a lesser extent, Camarena), guys coming off disappointing years (Bichette and Culver), guys coming off positions changes (Bird and Refsnyder), and a guy who will make his stateside debut after being stuck in visa limbo for nearly two years (DePaula). It’s an interesting group.

Obviously the storyline for the River Dogs this summer will be four high-profile prospects hoping to re-establish their value. Campos missed basically all of last season with an elbow injury while Culver and Bichette have yet to live up their billing after being drafted with New York’s top selections in 2010 and 2011, respectively. DePaula is the fourth member of that group and no one knows what to expect from him.

Bird can really hit but isn’t as interesting at first base, where he will now ply his trade after back trouble forced him to quit catching. I absolutely love Camarena and think he has a chance to emerge as the best prospect from this group by the end of the year.

Extended Spring Training/Injury Rehab
Top 30 Prospects: LHP Manny Banuelos (#6), RHP Ty Hensley (#8), RHP Jose Ramirez (#12), SS Austin Aune (#14), RHP Chase Whitley (#25), RHP Ravel Santana (#28)

Banuelos (elbow), Hensley (having surgery following an abdominal strain today), and Santana (ankle) are all coming off injuries and won’t be ready for the start of the season. Banuelos, the team’s top pitching prospect, will miss the entire season while Hensley should return in a few weeks. No idea what Santana’s status is, but his ankle continues to have some nagging stiffness.

Ramirez impressed in Spring Training but is “dinged up a little bit” according to Josh Norris and will not start the season on time. He’s been throwing in Tampa and should join Double-A Trenton relatively soon. I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with Whitley (he isn’t listed on any rosters), but if healthy he’ll join the Triple-A bullpen. Aune is crazy raw and will open the year in ExST before joining one of the short season leagues in June. Those teams — Short Season Staten Island and the two Rookie Gulf Coast League clubs — will feature a lot of 2013 draftees and young kids signed as international free agents. They’re always fun to watch because you can dream on literally everyone. The upper levels provide a better dose of reality.

Categories : Minors


  1. Hoss says:

    Mustelier not even an “Other Notable”? It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!

  2. phil says:

    Boy do they need a good year from all their prospects! Slade, Austin williams and Sanchez position player wise!

  3. jjyank says:

    On the AAA squad: First of all, I can’t get my mind out of the gutter on the new team name. Makes me chuckle every time. And second of all, Ryan Pope is still both alive and with the organization? Totally forgot he existed.

  4. Jim Is Bored says:

    Great writeup as always. My knowledge of the minor league system is solely because of your work here, Mike.

    Makes the entire season and being a fan in general that much more exciting. And also that much more frustrating when the kids don’t pan out.

    • jjyank says:


      It can surely be frustrating, but the payoff is great when the guy you’ve followed his entire professional comes up and succeeds in the Show. That wouldn’t exist for me without RAB.

    • The Real Me (Formerly Cris Pengiucci) says:

      Agree with all of this. I like that I now have some idea of what a player’s strengths/weaknesses are if they are called up from the minors to the majors during the season and what potential the Yankees have to fill from within should there be an injury at the MLB level.

  5. phil says:

    Almonte and Flores will provide depth in the outfield along with JR murphy and Austin Romaine providing depth at catcher. For infield propspects, they need a rebound year from Donte Bichette Jr and need to move Gumbo out of second if Cano is signed long term….

  6. Johnny O says:

    I get the feeling I will enjoy reading DoTF much more than the game recaps this year. Great work Mike, this is why I like RAB.

  7. Travis L. says:

    Where the hell are Chase Whitley and Ronnier Mustelier???

  8. Vern Sneaker says:

    For a million years I relied for my minor league fix on Baseball America (starting way way back with the print version; I’m old and there were no computers or Internet, imagine that) and miscellaneous articles, etc., and then RAB appeared and life got much better! It’s the best there is — thanks, Mike.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      The funny thing is I’m only 25 and I can easily remember the days before computers, then the days where computers were a luxury even when you had to use floppy disks, then the day when I first saw a cable modem, and somewhere along the line everything just exploded.

      I remember thinking my old, old old game boy was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

      Back then I didn’t even read baseball-ref, I got my updates through box scores. Thank God for RAB.

      • jsbrendog says:

        fun fact – i still have my original old box like gameboy in my desk drawer at work. sometimes if i get bored and the boss is away i’ll bust out bo jackson baseball/football (yes it still works, it looks like shit and has no business working but it does, huzzah!)

      • jjyank says:

        I’m 24, so right there with ya. I remember having sleep overs at my buddies house and getting in trouble for disconnecting the cable from the phone and connecting it to the modem while his mom was in mid-phone conversation.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I remember Compuserve actually having some sort of dial-up component and not even being able to comprehend what that was about.

          Anyone remember games coming on CASSETTES for the C-64? Where are my 30 and 40-something? Paging RetroRob….

          • Jim Is Bored says:

            My friend uses the infamous dial-up modem tone as his ringtone.

          • jsbrendog says:

            i had an atari what was it, 2600? as a kid….and a commodore haha

            used to play a football game on 5 1/4 floppy called 4th and inches

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              4th and Inches was the football version of “Hardball,” IIRC. It was pretty good.

              There was a text-based (!) stat-heavy football sim called “Lance Hafner Football,” or something like that, which included EVERY Division 1A college team that season, as well as about 500 current and past pro rosters. I would sit there and have other teams play Columbia, computer versus computer, to see if Columbia would actually win a game.

              I had the 2600 and 5200. I actually had the Odyssey 2 before the 2600, which began a streak of always picking the less successful system which grew to include the TurboGrafx 16 and Sega Dreamcast over time.

          • emac2 says:


            Bored jim considers this to be pre historic computing given his 25 year memory which makes it even cooler.

          • I'm not the droids you're looking for... says:

            Here I am big boy, all 43 years of me.

            Definitely remember the tape drive on the C64. Also remember the TI99-4A, Atari 400 and 800, TRS-80 (LOGO FTW!) and of course my original Apple ][+ with 48K (!) on which I played more Wizardy than humanly possible (though I had to purchase the 16K expansion card to up my ram to 64K. Wow).

            • Robinson Tilapia says:


              My wife had me dl a TI99-4A emulator so she could play “Hunt the Wumpus.” That lasted all of about a minute.

              I used to love the “Apshai” series on the C-64. Earliest version of a dungeon crawler. Cool stuff.

              • I'm not the droids you're looking for... says:

                The TI-99 also had an AWESOME version of Pitfall.

                Also loved Cave/Adventure (xyxxy!), the original Zork and some of the other text adventures. And then graphics, sound, and Leisure Suit Larry came along and it was all straight into the gutter for this boy.

                I stopped coding after pascal. Got a 4 on my AP but somehow did that without ever really nailing the syntax. Always had a very good feel for program design which is I guess how I got by. I’d like to pick it up again but don’t really know where to start. I guess somewhere in iTunes U is the perfect course for me to learn to develop iPad apps :)

              • I'm not the droids you're looking for... says:

                Also, sometimes my wife and I play Hunt The Wumpus. Heh.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Logo was also my first computer language. FW 10, RT 90. Circle 5.

          • Pat D says:

            I didn’t have a C-64. The oldest system I had was an Atari 7800. It was the same as a 2600 just that there were a few additional games it could also play.

            And, yes, I had the infamously bad E.T. game.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I don’t mean to one-up you but, man, I actually remember my little back-of-the-TV Pong unit I had when I was about three, as well as using Logo on an Apple II in elementary school, which was really my first exposure to computers.

        We’ve all come a long way. I loved my first Gameboy as well.

        dalelama remembers the invention of the abacus, of course.

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          I’m sure that 85-90% of the readership here could one-up me.

          dalelama invented the abacus.

        • jsbrendog says:

          dude, remember a game on those early macs called scarab or ra?! played the shit outta that game in grade school homeroom haha

      • TomH says:

        I can remember…listening to the radio in the bedroom closet where, for some reason, I was able to pick up the Yanks from NY, and hearing Mantle hit for the cycle.

        I remember…seeing, on a teenie-weenie tv screen, Dimag hit a home run against some Phillies pitcher.

        I remember the Gillette jingle from the 1950s World Series.

        I can remember Billy Loes picking the Yanks to win the 1952 series.

        I can remember the day my father had to start my aunt’s Model A by cranking it.

  9. Tyler says:

    Awesome prospect work as usual Mike.

    Anyone know when Hensley is supposed to be back in action?

  10. greg says:

    the one thing im jealous of when it comes to met fans is that SNY shows aaa games when the mets arent playing. meanwhile if the yankees arent on im stuck watching center stage reruns. Does anyone know if YES might get on this at some point? I cant remember when I wanted to watch 5 position players for scarnton cause they might actually help the team this year. (musty/dh/3b/OF,almonte/RF,romine/C,joesph/2B,adams/3B)

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’d actually love that. What’s the reason why we don’t get that?

    • Bavarian Yankee says:

      just subscribe to MiLB.tv, I think it’s around $40 a year and only $20 a year if you’re already subscribed to MLB.tv.
      You can even watch AA and Single A games.

      • greg says:

        seriously? I might have to do that. you have any idea if i can get it on my ps3 so i can watch on tv

        • jsbrendog says:

          i would do some research first because in my completely uninformed opinion i would doubt hat a majority of MiLB stadiums have the capability or equipment to record/broadcast games…

          • I'm not the droids you're looking for... says:

            I’ve heard that it’s usually like a single fixed camera (or two) for lower level games. No direct experien though.

    • In Like Flint says:

      YES aired several minor league games a season about a decade ago when they had a smaller library of programs. Short answer: the ratings sucked. Few Yankees fans showed any interest in watching minor league games featuring players they’ve never heard of. SNY airs minor league games because they have little else to show…and hashmarks are a familiar rating for them. YES is trying to make money. Disappointing but reality often is.

  11. Dilon says:

    Compare the amount of good players that have come from the Red Sox system over the last decade to the yankee system and it makes me sick as a yankee fan. Pedroia, lester, bucholtz, ellsbury, middlebrooks, Reddick, Masterson. Compared to Kennedy, Hughes, Clippard, Robertson. That’s not even close.

  12. LarryM Fl says:

    Mike, I do like your reporting on the minor league players. This year it will be very important. There will be injuries with players on the big team placed on the DL. The fellows on the AAA and maybe AA might get a chance to shine. Also, Jeter and Teix.’s injuries can be problematic with the healing process. So this could be the year of the train running from Scranton and Trenton on a regular basis especially with the 2014 mandate.

    My hope is the Yankee FO will embrace the farm system.

  13. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Great write-up, Mike.

    I know that some of us regulars give our more, shall we say, “spoiled” cohorts here a ton of grief but, honestly, really immersing yourself in the farm system this next year or so is a great way of expanding the experience of the franchise and focusing a bit less on Ben Francisco hitting sixth. I know that I plan on driving down to Trenton for a game, at least, and will probably head to either SI or Coney Island to watch the short season team. I think it’ll make things go down a lot easier for some fans.

    Barring collapse, it really looks like at least some of the guys entering AA are going to get a chance to make it all the way to the big team. Should be cool to watch them now. Hell, buy a shirt. You can say you knew them when.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      The last time I saw a yankees minor league game was…1992, when I was visiting family in Buffalo. The bison were playing whoever was the Yankees…something affiliate at the time, and I remember seeing Jorge Posada.

      I think Trenton would be a fun trip this summer.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i used to go to ft lauderdale yanks games all the time and it was awesome.

      if you go to SI you should go to Adobe Blues, a mexican restaurant not too far from the stadium. best salsa and great food along with a beer list 80-100 beers deep.

      also, the SI yankee stadium is really nice.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I’ve only been to the Cyclones stadium as of yet, but it was to watch the Cyclones take on the Yanks once. I definitely remember Adams, Mesa, and Grote in the lineup…..maybe CoJo? Don’t remember who pitched that night, as they didn’t even bother telling you half the time.

  14. Almost Never Coments says:

    Your left out Cano, Gardner,Cervelli and even Melky. Although to be fair I’m sure there are more players omitted from each that are playing for other teams.

  15. Kosmo says:

    Betances, Romine, Adams, Joseph, Almonte, and Mesa all have alot to prove this season. Of course you can say that about every year but I think this season the writing is on the wall probably for everyone of them with the possible exception of Almonte.
    I´m also curious to see what Murphy and Heathcott do. Can Heathcott get thru a season intact ?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Agreed. Everyone except Almonte could go from prospect to DFA fodder in a hurry.

    • Travis L says:

      True. Heathcott and Murphy both have to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid the next rule 5 draft. They need to have big years.

      Another question…this has never been answered. Why is a 25 year old durable lefty, who put up “decent” numbers in AA, not considered a prospect? And yes, I’m talking about Shaeffer Hall.

  16. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I’m having so much fun with this thread that I haven’t even LEFT to work yet. Need to get off chair.

  17. Hoss says:

    Wow, over 2 hours and no one has addressed the Mustelier mystery. Maybe he is part of that monster package that’s going to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton…

  18. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Where’s Jordan Cote?! He’s at least on the level of Camarena.

    Also, something would have to go very, very wrong with Campos for Camarena to jump him next year.

  19. TheBadOwl says:

    I remember hearing something from scouts that Corey Black has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation kinda guy if he can develop the secondary pitches. Mike, what are your thoughts on that? Do you think he’s destined to be in the bullpen?

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      The issue is that he’s a tiny dude so people aren’t sure if he can hold up if he’s starting full time.

  20. Govin says:

    I’m really excited about watching the Thunder this year. Thats some outfield they have.

  21. Rainbow Pinstripes says:

    I was thinking about getting a Rail Riders jersey as my way of coming out to people. Good idea, right?

  22. Chucky Yips says:

    What’s up with Sanchez??? Season #4 and still in A Ball???? At this rate he won’t see the pinstripes for 8 more years…..

  23. Stephen says:

    I think Wetherell is actually in Charleston, right?

    Do you know where Mikey O’Brien is at?

  24. Wayne says:

    I think I should look forward to Rafael depaula and gabe encinas in charlestón. I also look forward to seeing hayden sharp later on in staten island. Why did we pitch José Ramírez on three days rest in spring training that makes no freaking sense! When is the earliest he will be back? I am also looking forward to nik turley in trenton.

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