Keith Law’s top 11 Yankees prospects

A super early look at potential midseason trade targets
Ivan Nova needs to the show the Yankees who he really is in 2014
Clarkin and Judge. (AP)
Clarkin and Judge. (AP)

One day after posting his top 100 prospects list and two days after posting his organizational rankings, Keith Law released his top ten prospects lists for each of the 15 AL clubs today (East, Central, West, subs. req’d). The NL will be released tomorrow, if you care. Here are the Yankees’ top 11, according to KLaw:

  1. C Gary Sanchez (68th on the top 100)
  2. OF Tyler Austin (85th)
  3. OF Mason Williams (87th)
  4. C J.R. Murphy
  5. OF Slade Heathcott
  6. OF Aaron Judge
  7. LHP Ian Clarkin
  8. 3B Eric Jagielo
  9. RHP Luis Severino
  10. 1B Greg Bird
  11. RHP Jose Ramirez (Law said he is #11 in the write-up)

Judge is mentioned as a breakout candidate (video link) who could jump not just into the top 100 next year, but into the top 25 with a strong season.

In his write-up, Law says Murphy is “going to be an every-day catcher for somebody” while Bird’s “patience/power game could make him a second-division regular down the road.” Severino might not stick as a starter long-term but his “three-pitch mix might be three pluses out of the pen, and it’s a grade-65 or 70 fastball [on the 20-80 scale] even in the rotation.” Law also quotes a scout who said Heathcott is “legitimately a crazy person,” which is kinda funny. The kid always seems to have his dial set to 11.

“The Yankees have to be excited about Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens, whom they signed for $1.3 million in July 2012,” added Law, picking Torrens as the organization’s sleeper prospect. “A new convert to catching, Torrens took to it extremely well, with plus hands and plus defense overall, with a good swing and feel at the plate, only lacking power but likely hitting for average with good OBP when he develops.”

Sanchez is the clear top prospect in the organization right now. I’m not sure anyone will disagree with that. After him though, there really isn’t much separation between the guys Law has ranked from two through about eight. You can rank those players in almost any order and it would be tough the argue. Either way, the Yankees need better results from their minor league system and that starts with rebound seasons from guys like Austin and Williams. Both will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft next winter, so hopefully that 40-man roster spot serves as a nice carrot this summer.

A super early look at potential midseason trade targets
Ivan Nova needs to the show the Yankees who he really is in 2014
  • DERP

    This nugget was from Houston’s writeup:

    And, because the Astros weren’t loaded enough, they took ex-prospect Ravel Santana from the Yankees in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft (meaning they don’t have to give him back); Santana has missed a ton of time with ankle and arm injuries, but still has enough tools to end up a big leaguer if he can stay on the field.

  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

    Banuelos should still be in a top 11 list.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Top 11 Prospects on the Dr James Andrews All Star team…

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        Dylan Bundy(Orioles) had TJS. He’s still the O’s #3 ranked prospect, and still in the top 100.

        Obviously injuries aren’t the be all end all.

        • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

          In his chat yesterday he implied that the 2 years of lost development may force Banuelos to the ‘pen.

          • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

            In fact…

            Ron (Bham):
            Wasn’t that long ago that Arodys Vizcaino was a top-20 prospect. What is his ceiling now following some significant injuries?

            Reliever, at least for now. Two years gone is a huge hurdle for any pitcher to overcome and return to the rotation.

            Sam (Ohio):
            I read what you wrote about Vizcaino. Would you say the same thing about Manny Banuelos?


            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

              I’m no Klaw, but man, I disagree completely.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            I have no idea why the heck that would be the cast. He’s 22.

            • LK

              I wouldn’t close the book on him starting, but I can see what Law is saying.

              After 2 missed years, I’d have to imagine his innings limit will be pretty strict this year, and we know the Yanks don’t like to have their pitching prospects have big increases in innings year-to-year. He’s very young now, but he might not be by the time he’d actually be built up to 200IP. This was a much bigger setback in development than normal TJS.

              All that said, I’d still have him in my Yankee top 11, and I fully expect him to be a starter in 2014.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                Even if it takes him 2-3 years, he’s what, 24-25 when he’s in the Majors with no real innings limit?

                I mean sure, he has somewhat of a point, but I disagree with him.

              • I’m One

                So, about 3 years to build up to 200 innings (provided everything else goes well)? He’d be 25. I don’t think innings will be the problem. However, I can see the lost development time and his ability to regain his control affecting him.

                I’m still hoping they continue working him as a starter until all hope of that is lost.

          • MC

            That’s a bunch of bull and fits the usual narrative for speaking about Yankee talent. So Strasburg, Harvey and many other pitchers of similar age should also have been “destined” for the bull pen due to missed time. Bullshit. Banuelos has missed 1.5 years and exactly in the parameters of typical TJ surgery, The guy still has every reason to be a contributor in the rotation. Not yelling at you., but it’s stupid to rule Banuelos out for “missed time”.

            • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

              Take it up with KLaw, but if you do, I’d recommend not throwing out the “usual narrative” line. You’ll get a better response.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      Why? When was the last time he pitched? He needs to show something first.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        It depends on how you’re making your list.

        Potential #1/#2 pitcher talent, to me, even off of an injury, carries more weight than a potential bullpen guy(Jose Ramirez, Severino) who has been healthy.

        I weigh talent over health, generally. If pitchers had less of a history coming back fine from this surgery, I’d be more worried about ManBan.

        • zs190

          I don’t think there was anyone in the industry that thought he had any chance of a #1, he was considered a #3 with decent probability, a borderline #2 if everything went perfect and broke right, which obviously didn’t happen. I don’t mind him not being ranked after out 2 full years, but he could be a top 50 guy if he does recover well this year.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          ManBan was always more of a #2/#3 than a #1/#2. We just thought he was, because he’s our prospect.

    • Radiokev

      I’d slot Banuelos number 5 on that list. He does need to show something, obviously, but he was knocking on the door when he hurt his elbow. I know there’s uncertainty with him, but how do you rate a kid as young as Clarkin higher? Simply out of principle?

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I mean if you weight injuries that highly, then I guess yeah.

        I might not put him 5, but easily top 7-8.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I don’t mind ranking the college kids high, but I do think you put Banuelos over a HS kid who pitched a handful of innings in the lowest level, no matter where he was drafted.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I read this as “Betances” for a second and thought they were passing joints around the office. Not gon lie.

      Yes, ManBan should be there.

    • MC

      Damn right and it’s something that bothers me a great deal. Why others stay on or go through same procedure and still rate high and not Banuelos is a mystery to me. I actually want Law and the rest of these hack writers to give a legitimate reason why. Perhaps Axisa, if he chooses should demand the same from his fellow writers.

  • Angelo

    I shouldn’t be surprised not to see ManBan on this list since he’s been hurt these last two years, but I’m still a little surprised. He could make an impact as soon this summer or more realistically, September or next year.

  • Casa di Papi

    This should be a interesting year for the farm. A lot of these guys have a lot to prove. Especially Heathcotte, Williams and ManBan. if they can right the ship and stay healthy, they have a shot to make the bigs and help the club.

    • Angelo

      You can add Austin to that list. And Pineda (I know he’s not really a prospect, but you get what I’m saying.)

  • lightSABR

    So, as happy as I am to have any baseball news to be thinking about… Anybody else getting sick of all this and really, really ready for spring training to start?

    • The Great Gonzo

      uh huh

    • jjyank

      Of course. The offseason is exciting up until about the New Year. Then most impact FAs have already signed, news gets slow, your favorite football team doesn’t make the playoffs, and all you can do is dream of spring training.

      So, so ready to have baseball back for real.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Dear jjyank,

        Go fuck yourself. I’m just getting started getting teams bidding on me.

        Kendrys Morales

      • The Great Gonzo

        Ubaldo Jiminez takes offense

        • jjyank

          You two can both go eat a bag of dicks :P

      • I’m One

        your favorite football team doesn’t make the playoffs,

        Yes, but my inherited team is in the Superbowl.

        *sigh* Start Spring Training already!!

    • RetroRob

      Yes, ready, although after about a week of spring training I will be tired of it and ready for real baseball!

      Need to think warm thoughts.

  • Dan

    If JR Murphy is a legitimate starting catcher candidate, he’ll have really good trade value. If he has a good year, they shouldn’t be afraid to move him. You figure Romine/Cervelli are good candidates to be McCann’s back up for a few years. And by the time McCann is off of catcher Sanchez will be ready to step in. Murphy is the odd man out and they should trade him.

    • Angelo

      This is assuming Sanchez becomes a solid MLB player. Can never have too many catchers. That depth can disappear very quickly.

      If the Yankees could get a solid MI in return, that’s a different story.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I’m inclined to agree, depending on what the return is.

    • TWTR

      If they are getting a significant player back in a package deal, then yes, but Romine and Cervelli are big question marks with limited ceilings. So I would prefer keeping Murphy and letting him develop. Then, if Sanchez pans out, Murphy would have a lot more trade value. In the interim, they would have a cost controlled young player with upside, something they are lacking right now.

    • FLYER7

      Cervelli, Cervelli, Cervelli…I’ve had enough…Romine or JR should be #2 and Cervelli swapped.

      • vicki

        i think brains is actually the ideal buc for this season. mccann can rest against lhp. and/or on cc’s starts, as it’s been noted that the big man favors cervelli.

        • Matt DiBari

          I’d prefer a buc that has shown some aptitude for the position.

          • vicki

            your opinion of cervelli’s catching skills is outdated.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    This can’t be a Keith Law list. Everyone isn’t complaining about Law not knowing dick.

    Other than that, fine list. Can’t imagine any list not looking like a slightly reshuffled version of this. Would have still put Manny on there.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Where’s Ted/OhioYanks when we need him?!

      • The Big City of Dreams

        He was over at Lohud for a while

  • The Other Mister D

    Heathcott being a legitimately crazy person just makes me anticipate his arrival that much more.

    • The Great Gonzo

      so much this. Fast track the crazy person. Bronx Zoo FTW!

  • PunkPitch

    Good to see Culver, Bichette, and Hensley make the list. Of the three first rounders from 2013, seems to me none have a can’t miss label on them. The injury excuse is wearing thin.

    • Angelo

      Culver and Bichette weren’t really consensus guys. Not really surprised by their lack of success at all. Hensley is just coming back from injury and has barely started his career. How about we give him a chance to perform since he’s considered to be a very good pitching prospect and was a consensus top pick.

    • LK

      Culver and Bichette looked like bad picks at the time, and have turned out even worse, but it’s really not news when a guy picked at the back end of the first round busts.

      Also, how is the injury excuse wearing thin for Hensley? He’s been in pro ball for exactly one full season, and he was injured for that year. He might be one of those guys that can’t stay healthy or just isn’t good enough, but we don’t know that yet.

      • RetroRob

        Hensley is a legit prospect. Can’t say that about the first two, so agree.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      I’m not even sure why people even mention DBJ. He was the 51st pick in the draft, not exactly a Top 5 selection.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        I guess to highlight how poor they were when it came to scouting him.

  • Lukaszek

    Holy sh-t man, Aaron Judge looks like a tank. I think he can bench press my whole family

    • vicki

      looks like hellboy.

  • RetroRob

    Heathcott legitimately crazy? Hmmm. I smiled when I read that, but then keep thinking more about it. Maybe the scout really does think he’s insane!

    • Kentucky Ed

      I saw Heathcott in person when he was with Charleston. Had that “slightly less crazy than Manson” look in his eye. Before game started all his teammates were high fiving and all that stuff. They basically all stayed away from him, like he’d pull a knife on them. That said, he had a monster game that night, led off the game with a stand up triple, homer, couple of other hits, big time catch in the outfield. Love to see him get a shot.

    • vicki

      just don’t talk about his mamma.

  • Matt DiBari

    The real fun starts as we wait for the Yankees minor league development team to turn all these guys into middle relievers and utility guys, and then pretend that its perfectly normal.

    • Delbert Grady


    • lightSABR

      Just curious: do you know what percentage of first-round draft picks never play a single game in the Majors? Or what percentage of people who’ve been on a top-100 prospects list never become more than a middle reliever or a utility guy?

      I’m not saying that the Yankees’ development hasn’t sucked – it has – but if you stuck those eleven players in the best farm system in the country, I’d be shocked if more than three of them turn into average big leaguers, to say nothing of All-Stars.

  • Darren

    A couple of questions.

    1. Does anyone ever go back and grade Keith Law to see how is rankings bear out over time?

    2. Do you think GMs ever use these rankings, either internally, or externally in trade talks? For example, will Law’s assessment of Murphy ever come up in conversations Cashman has with other teams? Or in the Yankees’ own evaluations and decision making process?

    • Delbert Grady

      From what I understand, GM’s use Law’s and BA’s rankings to show owners how great they are doing their jobs. They actually use these rankings on job interviews. Some teams aren’t open with Law and BA about their prospects and they don’t get the love that teams like Chicago, Boston, Houston do. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer both used Law and Baseball America to their advantage and give the editors/writers what they need in return for rankings. Cashman has been notorious for not playing footsie with these guys so the fact that there’s 3 Yankees on the list is surprising. It’s why you see some systems have a ton of players on the list and some systems have none. You can tell which one’s are playing footsie with Law/BA because there’s no way he sees and evaluates all these players. He relies on scouts and GM’s as anonymous sources and I do think he rewards information with rankings.

    • ALZ

      Probably the Yankees own evaluations. They are all probably around the same, everyone knows that Buxton is an elite prospect. Keith Law probably has not seen a substantial number of these guys play, but rather is running on their stats. Compare that to a mlb team who is often scouting prospects all over. You send your scouts out to watch the players you are interested in.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        If a kid’s on Law’s list, Law has seen him play.

  • Paco Dooley

    demonstrates how successful their draft was last year, at least from the perspective of generating some prospects. Makes you wonder if their approach this year will turn out to be smart with them letting go of a few picks to sign middle quality free agents.

  • Jeremy

    Wow, what’s Greg Bird gotta’ do? Shouldn’t be lower than 6th on any Yankees prospect list.
    20 homers and a sick walk rate in his first season in pro ball (for all intents and purposes.)
    Imagine if he played his home games in Greenville, ‘where legends are born.’ 30 HR’s & 1.000+ OPS?

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Too bad Bird’s first name isn’t “Mookie”

    • CS Yankee

      I’m somewhat surprised he is in the top 10. I know he raked last year but this farm has like 15 upper (just not elite) players that one thinks that one will shine bright in the bigs soon.

      Montero was what 4-7 in the top 100 at peak…hopefully bird does another great year and moves up versus what happened to DBich after his one great year, however 1B, 2B and RP are rare in the top of any teams list.

      • Bryan

        Unfair to prediict Bird to Bich. Very different players. The problem with Bird is that he is not at a premium position and his overall power is questionable. If you are to be a big time 1b, you better be one of the best with the bat. Bird’s OPS last season was something like the 9th highest in all of MiLB. Compared to other top 1b prospects over the past few seasons, if you had an OPS near his, you made the Show at some point.

        He deserves to be in the Yanks 5-10 range but nowhere near the top 100 in general.

  • CS Yankee

    Having three in the top 100 seems decent…the farm sucked last year in almost every possible way (health, preformance, wins) and yet still they have players towards the top, just not very top (1-25 range).

    For a team that will make the big trade and is almost always in the playoffs and therefore drafting (or giving up top rounds) towards the bottom it seems to have more upside than most. When ManBan isn’t in the mention and isn’t listed in the top 10-12 and he is starting AAA…well things could develop real nice.

  • mick taylor

    how highly ranked were mike piazza, robinson cano, albert pujois, pedro martinez and the greatest relief pitcher of all time mariano . there is a lot of talent in minor leagues yanks do not know how to develop players and help them maximize their talents. i predict joba will do a lot better in motown. a lot of it is mental. if you are in yankee minor leagues and told you are shit by keith law, how you gonna do well in the bronx if you are called up. the pressure on these guys playing in new york is tough.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      ….but two of the five examples you gave….and he’s not…even….trolling….my godz.

  • Wayne

    Why is jose Ramirez not a spring training invitee?

    • vicki

      he’s on the forty-man; automatic invitation.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Your greatest fears were realized and his arm fell off.

  • OldYanksFan

    I enjoy this site.
    Here is their initial scouting report (offense) on Montero vs Gary Sanchez vs …. Matt Weiters

    ————- JM – GS …. MW
    Speed::: 13 – 26 …. 20
    Contact:: 58 – 34 …. 59
    Patience: 44 – 45 …. 75
    Batting::: 79 – 68 …. 70
    Power:::: 65 – 90 …. 74

  • Bryan

    Call me crazy but Judge looks like he could be the next Terminator. Dude is huuuuuuge and scary.

    • Reggie C.

      Would be pretty cool if Judge became our Adam Dunn.


  • Wayne

    Does anyone see Bryan Mitchell making the top ten by June this year. If he has a good spring training and minors time in aa he could be a dark horse in the rotation by August with all the injuries that happen through the year in the rotation. I honestly like phelps as a reliever and warren as long man. Nuno as fourth starter and Bryan Mitchell as a fifth starter. Keep Jose Ramirez in the minors as a starter till August then bring him into the bullpen. If you bring Jose Ramirez into the bullpen right away you might need him to start if rotation wears down by August so then you continue to start him in the majors after starting him in the minors from the beginning of this season to August. Shane Greene bring up as a reliever at the beginning of season and you are set!

  • nycsportzfan

    What kinda player will Heathcott be if he in fact makes it to and does what hes good at, at the pro level? Darrin Erstad type?

  • Rafael DePaula

    KLAW can go kick rocks , dat littol geek lef me out, i peech heater on his face like nolan ryan + roger clemens baby shot op with steroidz