Reviewing the farm system’s lean years from 2003-06

Wednesday Night Open Thread
The best prospect the Yankees ever had ... for six weeks
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Wanger. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Over the last … I don’t know … five or ten years, the Yankees have been criticized quite heavily for their player development failures and deservedly so. They haven’t developed many useful homegrown pieces of late, and I don’t just mean stars. They’ve struggled to produce even average players who could fill in on the cheap. Things have been a little better recently but for a long time there the system was barren.

At the turn of the century, the Yankees had a great farm system headlined by Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson. Things really started to thin out by 2003, however, mostly because the team was trading away all their good young players and forfeiting first round draft picks to sign free agents. In 2002, Baseball America ranked New York’s farm system as the 5th best in baseball. Then, from 2003 through 2006, they ranked 17th, 27th, 24th, and 17th. That’s bad. The Yankees shot back up to 7th in 2007 thanks to their outstanding 2006 draft class, which produced ten big leaguers overall and five regulars.

So, since we are now nearly a full decade removed from that 2003-06 farm system dry spell, let’s go back and see who the Yankees had in the system back then, and what happened to those players. Because they’re the best in the business, let’s use Baseball America’s annual top ten prospects lists as the basis of our little trip back in time. I’ve cherry-picked a quote from the scouting reports for each player as well. Some are funny, some are serious. Away we go…

Pre-2003

No. 1: OF Juan Rivera
Select Quote: “On his way to his first game at Yankee Stadium, he got lost on the subway. Then he broke his right kneecap when he ran into a golf cart during pregame drills, which knocked him out for two months.”
What Happened: In 2002, a then-23-year-old Rivera hit .325/.355/.502 with 21 doubles and eight homers in only 65 games with Triple-A Columbus before playing almost everyday in the Bronx as a September call-up. Rivera went up and down a bunch of times in 2003 and was then traded to the Expos in the Javy Vazquez deal after the season. He spent one year in Montreal before being traded to the Angels. Rivera played in parts of 12 MLB seasons and hit .274/.323/.443 (102 OPS+) with 132 homers and 9.5 bWAR. Not a bad outcome at all.

No. 2: OF Bronson Sardinha
Select Quote: “Bronson was named for his mother’s favorite actor, Charles Bronson. His brothers Dane (named after a famous Hawaiian surfer) and Duke (named for John Wayne) play in the minors for the Reds and Rockies.”
What Happened: The Yankees bought Sardinha away from Pepperdine with a $1M bonus as the 34th pick in the 2001 draft. He hit .279/.362/.427 with 16 homers and 19 steals in 129 games spit between Short Season Staten Island and Low-A Greensboro in 2002, then he sorta stopped hitting. Sardinha put up a .239/.333/.353 batting line between Low-A Battle Creek and High-A Tampa in 2003 before stagnating in the minors for a few years. He did reach the big leagues though, going 3-for-9 in ten games with the 2007 Yankees. Sardinha has been out of baseball since 2011. Fun fact: His middle name is Kiheimahanaomauiakeo. Seriously.

Claussen. (Getty)
Claussen. (Getty)

No. 3: LHP Brandon Claussen
Select Quote: “Claussen emerged as one of the game’s top lefthanded pitching prospects by leading the minors with 220 strikeouts in 2001. He also topped the organization with 187 innings, and the workload took a toll on his arm in 2002, as he had Tommy John surgery in June.”
What Happened: Ah the good ol’ draft-and-follow system. Back in the day, teams could draft a player, keep tabs on his progress in junior college the following spring, then decide whether to sign him. Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were both draft-and-follows. The draft-and-follow system died when MLB implemented the signing deadline a few years ago. It was a good run.

Anyway, Claussen returned from Tommy John surgery at midseason in 2003 and was never quite the same, showing less stuff and not missing nearly as many bats (65 strikeouts in 95.2 innings in 2003). The Yankees called him up for a spot start against the Mets in late-June (two runs in 6.1 innings) then traded him to the Reds for Aaron Boone at the deadline the following month. Claussen spent three seasons in Cincinnati (86 ERA+ in 309.2 innings) and bounced around the minors until 2007. Tommy John surgery: not without risk!

No. 4: 3B Drew Henson
Select Quote: “Few prospects can match Henson’s size, strength and athleticism. He can mash fastballs down in the zone and hit mistakes a long way … His take-charge mentality makes him a favorite of Yankees brass.”
What Happened: Henson was my first real head over heels prospect crush. I thought he would be a megastar. He hit .240/.301/.435 with 18 homers in 128 games for Triple-A Columbus in 2002 — the Yankees traded Henson to the Reds for Denny Neagle in July 2000 and reacquired him for Wily Mo Pena in March 2001 — and then hit .234/.291/.412 with 14 homers in 133 games for Columbus in 2003. He went 1-for-9 in two MLB cups of coffee. After the 2003 season, Henson announced his retirement from baseball and decided to go play football, quarterbacking for the Cowboys, Vikings, and Lions from 2004-08. He’s now a hitting coach for one of the Yankees’ two rookie level Gulf Coast League minor league affiliates.

No. 5: RHP Chien-Ming Wang
Select Quote: “There hasn’t been a Taiwanese pitcher who has come to the States and avoided major injury, so his durability remains a question.”
What Happened: Wang missed the entire 2000 season due to a shoulder injury, which prompted that quote in Baseball America’s write-up. He stayed healthy in the minors from 2003-05 and was just okay (4.00 ERA in 308.1 inning) before getting called up to MLB in May 2005. Wang pitched to a 3.79 ERA (117 ERA+) with 15.4 bWAR from 2005-08 for the Yankees. Then he hurt his foot running the bases. Then he blew out his shoulder. CMW is still kicking around in the minors — he signed a minor league deal with the Braves a few weeks ago — but he hasn’t been effective at all since hurting his foot in 2008. For shame.

No. 6: IF Robinson Cano
Select Quote: “He generates plus bat speed and has a knack for making adjustments with his hands to put the barrel of the bat on balls in different zones. He covers the plate well with a good idea of the strike zone, makes consistent hard contact and projects to hit for power.”
What Happened: Cano hit .276/.319/.437 with 15 homers between Short Season Staten Island and Low-A Greensboro in 2002. Then he hit .277/.322/.374 with six homers between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2003. That’s not very good! Cano improved a bit with Trenton and Triple-A Columbus in 2004 (.283/.339/.457 with 13 homers) and, before you knew it, he was hitting .342 in the big leagues by 2006. Robbie was an MVP candidate with the Yankees from 2010-13 before signing a ten-year, $240M contract with the Mariners last offseason. We know nothing about prospects.

No. 7: LHP Danny Borrell
Select Quote: “His arm has relatively low mileage, and Borrell could throw harder with more innings.”
What Happened: Despite that low mileage, Borrell blew out his shoulder in 2003 and continued to battle injuries until he retired following the 2008 season. He threw only 282.1 ineffective minor league innings (4.53 ERA) the rest of his career after being dubbed the team’s seventh best prospect by Baseball America. Borrell has been working as a pitching coach and pitching coordinator in New York’s farm system for several years now.

No. 8: RHP Jorge DePaula
Select Quote: “DePaula was able to channel his intensity to become more efficient on the mound. He must continue to keep his emotions in check to avoid losing control of the game.”
What Happened: The Yankees acquired DePaula from the Rockies for Craig Dingman (Craig Dingman!) back in 2001 and he developed into a quality pitching prospect from 2001-03. He spent most of the 2013 season in Triple-A (4.35 ERA in 167.2 inning) and got a September call-up, allowing one run on three hits and one walk in 11.1 innings. DePaula made the Opening Day roster in 2004 but blew out his elbow that April and needed Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2005 and just kind of sputtered. The Yankees cut him loose after 2006 and he bounced around the minors until 2009. (DePaula pitched in Mexico as recently as 2012.) DePaula retired with a 4.00 ERA (114 ERA+) in 27 big league innings, all with New York from 2003-05.

No. 9: OF Rudy Guillen
Select Quote: “Guillen might have the highest ceiling in the organization … While Guillen has five-tool potential, his ability to hit for average will be tested against more advanced competition.”
What Happened: After hitting .306/.351/.397 with three homers in 59 games for the rookie GCL Yanks in 2002, Guillen hit .260/.311/.414 with 13 homers in 133 games with Low-A Battle Creek in 2003, which was pretty good for a 19-year-old in full season ball. After that though, Guillen hit .259/.302/.359 with 20 homers from 2004-07 and simply didn’t develop. He played a total of 49 games above Single-A ball, all with Double-A Trenton. Guillen has been out of baseball since 2007. Yet another reminder to not get worked up over rookie ball stats.

No. 10: LHP Sean Henn
Select Quote: “The Yankees drafted Henn twice, but it wasn’t until his velocity jumped two grades that they signed him to a $1.701 million bonus, a record for a draft-and-follow. Henn went down with a sore elbow nine games into his pro debut and needed Tommy John surgery that wiped out his entire 2002 season.”
What Happened: Henn returned from elbow reconstruction in 2003 and was pretty rough, striking out 62 and walking 40 in 80.1 innings. The next season he had a 4.41 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 63 walks in 163.1 innings with Double-A Trenton. Henn got to MLB for the first time in 2005 and allowed 16 runs in 11.1 innings. He walked eleven and struck out three. Three! Henn went up and down in both 2006 and 2007 and wasn’t any good — 37 runs allowed with 35 strikeouts and 32 walks in 46 innings. Eventually the Yankees gave up and put Henn on waivers. The Padres claimed him and he’s been bouncing around since. Henn last played with the Mets in 2013. Like, the big league Mets, not their Triple-A team. Classic case of a guy with a big arm who never figured it out but kept getting chances because he’s a lefty.

Pre-2004

Navarro in Trenton. (Mike Ashmore)
Navarro in Trenton. (Mike Ashmore)

No. 1: C Dioner Navarro
Select Quote: “Nagging injuries — including an inner-thigh infection that led to a sty in his eye, and a hand injury from a home-plate collision — weren’t enough to stop him from raking. His combined .321 average ranked fourth among minor league catchers.”
What Happened: After hitting .321/.376/.469 with seven homers in 110 games as a 19-year-old for High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2003, Navarro slipped down to .263/.341/.366 with four homers in 110 games for Trenton and Triple-A Columbus in 2004. The Yankees called him up in September then traded him to the Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson after the season. Arizona flipped him to the Dodgers for Shawn Green and the Dodgers flipped him to the (Devil) Rays for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson. Navarro’s been in the show on and off since 2004 and is a career .255/.313/.375 (85 OPS+) hitter with 7.4 bWAR.

No. 2: 3B Eric Duncan
Select Quote: “Some teams compared Duncan’s lefthanded power potential to Jim Thome’s. As with Thome, Duncan’s defense at third base may force him to move across the diamond to first.”
What Happened: Duncan had a really good year in 2004, hitting .258/.357/.473 with 16 homers in 123 games while climbing from Low-A Battle Creek to Double-A Trenton. He was only 19 too. Duncan hit 19 homers in 2005 but his slash line (.235/.326/.408) was pretty ugly. The Yankees had him in Triple-A by age 21 and he just stopped hitting, putting up a .226/.290/.343 line with in parts of four seasons at the level. Duncan had serious power but not much else. It didn’t help that the team rushed him up the ladder in an effort to boost his trade value.

No. 3: Guillen

No. 4: SS Joaquin Arias
Select Quote: “Nicknamed ‘Spiderman’ because his arms and legs appear to be going in every direction at once, Arias displays good body control in the field.”
What Happened: As you may know, Arias was traded to the Rangers along with Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez in February 2004. Texas selected him from a pool of prospects that also included Cano. Yankees got lucky there, eh? Arias had some nice upside but didn’t develop as hoped. He bounced from the Rangers to the Mets to the Giants, where he’s been since 2012. Arias is a career .269/.298/.354 (82 OPS+) hitter with 0.9 bWAR. Two World Series rings though.

No. 5: RHP Ramon Ramirez
Select Quote: “Ramirez had Japanese-style mechanics with a hip-turn and hesitations, but pitching instructors Billy Connors and Greg Pavlick converted him to a more conventional over-the-top delivery.”
What Happened: Ramirez has a weird back story. He was originally outfielder but converted to pitcher after signing with the Hiroshima Carp in 2002. The Carp posted him in March 2003 after a strong winter ball showing and the Yankees won his rights with a $350,000 bid. They signed him for $175,000 and he pitched to a 4.83 ERA in 284.2 innings at three minor league levels from 2003-04, then was traded to the Rockies for Shawn Chacon in 2005. Ramirez is still active — he pitched in one game for the Orioles last season but spent most of the summer in the minors — and has a 3.42 ERA (125 ERA+) with 6.9 bWAR in 434.2 career innings, all in relief. Not a bad little career.

No. 6: Cano

No. 7: SS Ferdin Tejeda
Select Quote: “A switch-hitter, Tejeda handles the bat well from both sides and uses quick hands and an efficient line-drive swing. He puts the ball in play, though not with the same authority as Joaquin Arias.”
What Happened: So Arias with less bat, got it? Tejeda had some nice defensive skills but man he didn’t hit at all — .220/.288/.247 in 94 games at High-A and Double-A in 2004 — so much so that the Yankees stuck him on the mound in 2005. He had a 1.80 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 15 innings for the GCL Yankees in 2005 and was lost on waivers to the Padres that summer. Tejeda’s been out of baseball since 2008 and only played 30 games above Single-A ball.

N0. 8: DePaula

No. 9: OF Estee Harris
Select Quote: “The Yankees went against the consensus to snag Harris in the second round, but they love his bat … Harris has drawn comparisons to a young Garret Anderson and could produce 30 home runs annually once he matures.”
What Happened: Shockingly, the Yankees went against the grain in the draft and it didn’t work. Harris hit .221/.306/.368 with ten homers and 153 strikeouts in 113 games split between three levels of Single-A in 2004 and was playing in an independent league by 2007. He’s been out of baseball since 2011 and hit .218/.296/.365 with a 30.7% strikeout rate in 327 games with the Yankees, none above Low Class-A.

No. 10: Sardinha

Pre-2005

No. 1: Duncan
No. 2: Cano

Hughes. (Post and Courier)
Hughes. (Post and Courier)

No. 3: RHP Phil Hughes
Select Quote: “The Angels strongly considered him at No. 12 before deciding to take top-rated pitcher Jered Weaver.”
What Happened: We all know what happened, but man, Hughes was the bomb back in the day. He had a 2.19 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 20 walks in 86.1 innings for Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa as a 19-year-old in 2005 then had a 2.16 ERA with 168 walks and 34 strikeouts in 146 innings for Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2006. Baseball America ranked him the top pitching prospect in the game before the 2007 season. Well, top non-Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching prospect. Hughes had a (very) up and down tenure in New York but seems to have found himself with the Twins after leaving as a free agent last winter.

No. 4: RHP Steven White
Select Quote: “White’s development was an important step for the Yankees, who could use an innings-eater as soon as possible. He fits that profile, but needs at least a year to hone his secondary stuff.”
What Happened: White was a four-year college guy with okay stuff who got overrated as a prospect pretty quickly because he dominated Low-A Battle Creek and High-A Tampa as a 23-year-old (!) in 2004 — 2.61 ERA in 117.1 innings. He had a 4.45 ERA with a weak 16.9% strikeout rate from 2005-08, though he did at least reach Triple-A. White’s been out of baseball since 2008. The lesson here: age relative to level is important!

No. 5: Navarro (hadn’t yet been traded when Baseball America released their Yankees top ten)

No. 6: RHP Christian Garcia
Select Quote: “He has easy velocity on his fastball, working at 93-94 mph and topping out at 96 … His curveball, at times a true power hammer, could be a better pitch.”
What Happened: Man, Garcia had nasty, nasty stuff. He just couldn’t stay healthy. Two Tommy John surgeries, an oblique strain, and some other stuff limited him to only 258.1 innings — none above Double-A — from 2005-10 before the Yankees gave up and released him. The Nationals picked him up and he actually made it to the big leagues with them in 2012, allowing three runs with 15 strikeouts in 12.2 relief innings in September 2012. Here’s that “true power hammer” curveball:

Christian Garcia

Garcia got hurt again in 2013 and has thrown only 27.2 innings the last two seasons. Washington released him last June and from what I can tell, he’s still a free agent. Great, great arm. Just couldn’t stay healthy. Pitching prospects, man.

No. 7: 3B Marcos Vechionacci
Select Quote: “Vechionacci can hit. His advanced approach includes plate discipline, smooth swing mechanics and the ability to use the whole field. He shows developing power as well.”
What Happened: Well, no, Vechionacci couldn’t hit. Or at least he didn’t. He followed up his strong 2004 season (.319/.390/.454) with a .252/.314/.348 line and two homers in 128 games for Low-A Charleston in 2005. From 2005-09, Vechionacci put up a .245/.314/.345 batting line before having a nice dead cat bounce season with Double-A Trenton in 2010, hitting .283/.350/.421 with eleven homers in 114 games. People asked if he was regaining prospect status. I said no. They mocked at me. Vechionacci became a minor league free agent after that season, no team bothered to sign him, and he’s been out of baseball since. So no, he didn’t regain prospect status. Jerks.

No. 8: OF Melky Cabrera
Select Quote: “One club official compared his offensive game to Jose Vidro’s.”
What Happened: Melky has turned into a nice little player. His cup of coffee in 2005 was a total disaster, he looked like a deer in the headlights, but in 2006 he hit .280/.360/.391 (95 OPS+) while filling in for the injured Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. Cabrera hit .267/.323/.385 (84 OPS+) from 2007-09, got traded to the Braves for Javy Vazquez, got fat, got released by Atlanta, signed with the Royals, got less fat, and has hit .309/.351/.458 (124 OPS+) since. Melky is a career .286/.339/.415 (103 OPS+) hitter with 17.7 WAR and just signed a three-year, $42M deal with the White Sox. Too bad he didn’t figure it out while in pinstripes. By the way, when he was Melky’s age, Vidro had 17.0 WAR. Freaky.

No. 9: Sardinha
No. 10: Wang

Pre-2006

No. 1: Hughes
No. 2: Duncan

No. 3: OF Jose Tabata
Select Quote: “His ceiling is as high as any Yankees minor leaguer since Alfonso Soriano.
What Happened: Tabata was peak Yankees Hype Machine. There were Manny Ramirez comps flying around and they were ridiculous. Tabata did hit though, at least at first. He authored a .298/.377/.420 line in 86 games with Low-A Charleston in 2006, his age 17 season, and Baseball America ranked him as the 27th best prospect in the game after the season. Then he hit .307/.371/.392 in 103 games with High-A Tampa the next season.

Tabata was not without his issues, however. He had been insubordinate — he literally left the stadium in the middle of a game while with Double-A Trenton in 2008 because he didn’t like a strike three call — and there were always whispers he was older than believed. Those whispers still exist too. Anyway, the Yankees got fed up with Tabata’s act and traded him to the Pirates in the Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady deal in 2008. He’s a career .275/.336/.379 (99 OPS+) hitter with 2.5 bWAR in part of five seasons. Tabata never developed any power and the off-the-field issues persist. The Yankees did well to cash him in as a trade chip when they did.

No. 4: SS C.J. Henry
Select Quote: “Henry is a premier athlete, already the best in the system. He has well-above-average raw power and is a plus runner.”
What Happened: Henry was a great athlete who split his time between baseball and basketball in high school, and the lack of experience showed in pro ball. He didn’t hit at all. Henry had a .240/.330/.353 line with a 27.2% strikeout rate in 77 games with Low-A Charleston when the Yankees cut bait and sent him to the Phillies as part of the package for Bobby Abreu in 2006, one year after drafting him. Henry briefly returned to the organization in 2008 but never made it out of Single-A ball. He played college hoops from 2009-11 at Kansas and Southern Nazarene University, tried independent ball in 2003 (.332/.410/.523!) and has been out of sight since. I thought Henry was a great pick at the time (17th overall), he was loaded with tools, it’s just didn’t work out.

No. 5: OF Austin Jackson
Select Quote: “Jackson’s basketball jones threw off many area scouts, who doubted his desire to play baseball. But Mark Batchko realized Jackson wanted to be a Yankee, having written his first scouting report on him when Jackson was 12.
What Happened: The 2006 season at Low-A Charleston was a little rough (.260/.340/.346 with 151 strikeouts) but Jackson broke out in 2007 and was one of the team’s very best prospects before being traded to the Tigers for Curtis Granderson during the 2009-10 offseason. Jackson is a career .274/.336/.402 (101 OPS+) hitter with 19.9 bWAR in five MLB seasons. He’s turned into exactly the player he was projected to be. Sometimes it all makes sense.

No. 6: SS Eduardo Nunez
Select Quote: “Nunez had a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and good hands defensively … Nunez has shaky footwork at shortstop, and some question whether he’ll have the range or mobility to stay there.”
What Happened: Oh Nunie. He didn’t hit at all from 2006-08 (.243/.312/.329), broke out with Double-A Trenton in 2009 (.322/.349/.433), held his own with Triple-A Scranton in 2010 (.289/.340/.381), and saw way too much playing time with the Yankees from 2010-13. With New York, Nunez hit .267/.313/.379 (88 OPS+) with -1.8 bWAR and plenty of hilaribad defense:

Eduardo Nunez

Nunez was traded to the Twins last year and did more of the same in Minnesota (82 OPS+ and 0.3 bWAR) while also playing some outfield. If nothing else, he was a goofy guy good for some comic relief. But geez, Nunie’s defense was gross.

No. 7: Vechionacci
No. 8: Garcia

No. 9 : RHP Jeff Marquez
Select Quote: “Marquez shows three pitches that could be 55 or 60 offerings on the 20-80 scouting scale … If his control and command improve to be major league average, Marquez could top out as a No. 2 or 3 starter.”
What Happened: Marquez was a pretty good pitching prospect who had solid yet unspectacular years in 2006 (3.58 ERA in 98 innings) and 2007 (3.65 ERA in 155.1 innings) while climbing from High-A Tampa to Triple-A Scranton. He struggled in 2008 (4.47 ERA in 102.2 innings) and the team sent him to the White Sox as part of the package for Nick Swisher after the season. Marquez returned to New York on waivers in 2011 and allowed one run in five innings for the team that summer. He’s been out of baseball since 2012.

No. 10: RHP Tyler Clippard
Select Quote: “Clippard combines a knack for pitching with solid-average stuff and a strikeout pitch. He profiles as a No. 3 starter and could move quickly.”
What Happened: Clippard was a pretty polarizing prospect back in the day because he had gaudy minor league numbers but the scouting report was just meh. He manhandled Double-A in 2006, posting a 3.35 ERA with 175 strikeouts in 166.1 innings, and although he sorta stunk with Trenton and Triple-A Scranton the following year (4.50 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 96 innings), the Yankees called Clippard up and he beat the Mets in his MLB debut.

Yankee Clippard

The Yankees traded Clippard to the Nationals for Jonathan Albaladejo after the season and that trade has been a disaster. Albaladejo mostly stunk in pinstripes and Clippard took off when Washington moved him into the bullpen full-time in 2009. He’s been one of baseball’s elite relievers ever since, pitching to a 2.64 ERA (150 ERA+) with 10.1 bWAR in an absurd 453.2 innings from 2009-14. Quite the blunder by the Yankees. Oh well. You win some and you lose some.

* * *

Baseball America ranked 27 different players among New York’s top ten prospects from 2003-06, and, of those 27, there is one superstar (Cano), two above-average players (Wang and Clippard), five solid big leaguers (Jackson, Melky, Rivera, Navarro, Hughes), four spare part big leaguers (Arias, Ramirez, Nunez, Tabata), and 15 others who either flamed out or got hurt or turned into up-and-down guys. Other players ranked among the team’s top 30 prospects in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook from 2003-06 were IF Andy Phillips, OF Marcus Thames, RHP Scott Proctor, OF Brett Gardner, RHP Jeff Karstens, and the late LHP Brad Halsey. Gardner’s the prize there.

More than anything, I think this little exercise shows just how ridiculously difficult it is to project future MLB success. Ranking prospects is a fool’s errand but hey, it’s fun and people love rankings, so everyone does it anyway. Quality MLB players come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of different backgrounds. Jackson was a basketball prospect who became a big league center fielder. Arias was a stud shortstop prospect who now can’t hit his weight. Navarro looked like a monster who turned into a fringe regular. Cano was an okay prospect before turning into a star. Go back and look through the worst ranked farm systems in history and, inevitably, they produced some decent big league ballplayers.

Wednesday Night Open Thread
The best prospect the Yankees ever had ... for six weeks
  • Drew

    This list made my heart hurt so bad. So, so bad.

    • dickylarue

      What makes my heart hurt equally are the actual MLB players we could’ve traded some of the busts for.

      • Drew

        That is always the game. Deciding which prospects are worth hanging on to and which ones aren’t. You can’t keep them all, and not all of them are going to work out. Everyone loves Bird Severino Judge Refsnyder Lindgreen Sanchez and co but if 2 of those 6 stuck and became contributing big leaguers I would be ecstatic. Thinking these guys are going to turn into the next Jeter Posada Pettite Rivera Williams is completely unrealistic. The 90’s were a once in a lifetime thing.

        • dickylarue

          Exactly. That’s why if you can turn Severino, Refs and Sanchez into someone like Hamels, I do it. I would probably even move Judge for Hamels to be honest.

          When you think of the kind of players you could’ve traded Hughes and Joba for at their peak, it makes you wonder about how smart it is to hold onto prospects when another GM is willing to give up a sure thing for the risk of them reaching their potential ceiling.

          And while I understand the 6 years of cost controlled argument, those 6 years are meaningless if the guy is a bust.

          • Drew

            Nobody should be untouchable, but if there are players that end up filling a need then you hold on to them. A certain prospect shouldn’t hold the team back from completing a trade. Cough cough Nunez for Cliff Lee Cough cough.

            • dickylarue

              Drew – if that was accurate that Nunez’s exclusion killed the Cliff Lee deal, it’s awful in retrospect. We win the world series in 2010 with him at the top of our rotation. Easy.

              • Drew

                Well the full story from my memory is that it was suppose to be Montero and David Adams and another lower level guy for Lee and it was agreed upon but then the Mariners looked into Adams ankle in more detail and they didn’t like what they saw and asked for Nunez instead of Adams. Yankees were mad that Jack Z basically reneged on the deal and refused to give up Nunez in the trade.

          • Y’s Guy

            I agree in principle, I’d like them to trade for Hamels, too. But I really haven’t really seen any of these kids play, except for Sanchez. So I have to trust that the Yankees know what they have and will make a good decision.
            But for me…Severino plus Sanchez plus Mateo for Hamels.

          • Y’s Guy

            Sandy Alderson seems to be falling too in love with his prospects now, even going so far as to say that teams going after Moncado are doing so because they have to. He also said he couldnt do anything at SS this offseason because he won’t trade Syndergaard. We’ll see if that was a wise play, all prospects and no proven commodities rarely make a team that challenges for a title.

            • Drew

              If the Yankees had as much starting pitching depth as the Mets did and didn’t turn them into something that could help the team, I am pretty sure Yankee stadium would have burnt to the ground at this point.

              • Chip

                um…the Yankees had six highly regarded starting pitching prospects in Hughes, Joba, IPK, Man Ban, Betances and Brackman. That’s not counting highly thought of second level guys like Al Horne and James Jones.

                • Drew

                  I am talking about today.

                  • Jorge Steinbrenner

                    They don’t today. The pendulum has swung in the other direction, which is somewhat strange for the franchise.

                    • Chip

                      That’s partially because the Yankees had visions of having Hughes, Joba, Kennedy, Banuelos and Betances in the rotation and so they shifted focus to position players. Also, with all the bullpen specialization it is actually harder to find legitimate offensive players than it is to find pitching.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      Wanting to balance things more towards the position player side was a specific complaint 5-6 years ago. You’re correct.

                    • Chip

                      The good news is, now they have both – a bunch of highly touted position players and pitchers all coming through the system at/about the same time.

                • Scott

                  I loved me some Alan Horne, I thought he was going to be good.

                  • Jorge Steinbrenner

                    We all did. *sniff*

                • 86w183

                  Four of those six have to be considered successes in player development. The jury is still out on Man-Ban and Brackman was damaged goods when drafted ridiculously high and had one decent minor league season

          • Chip

            I think it’s also harder to snow other teams and pump up medicore guys than it was back then. So much more is dedicated to minor league cross checking and scouting than there was back in the Ruben Rivera days.

            Guys like an Aaron Judge are more likely to be the real deal then they are a product of an organization’s spin machine.

  • Chip

    5 Things:

    1. Thanks – this was a tremendously fun article.
    2. My two major prospect crushes were Vechionacci and Garcia :-(
    3. Worst part about Henson’s flop was that a) the Yankees traded another guy I loved in Wily Mo Pena to get him back and b) the Yankees were so sold on him that they gave away another 3b in their system – Mike Lowell!!!!
    Think how much different things would have been if the Yankees had Lowell all those years.
    4. This article should serve as a reminder for all posters (myself included) who are salivating about the idea of all these prospects we’re reading about today reaching their potential in pinstripes.
    5. If you want to take heart in one thing it’s that the return rate on the prospects has gotten better as the years have progressed.

    • dickylarue

      4. No, Chip. They’re all can’t miss. It’s the Yankees who screw them up, not unrealistic expectations of every single one of them reaching some mythical ceiling based off nothing more than some writer’s opinion that becomes gospel to a certain sect of fans. The insta-core is there! Just play them! All you have to do is play every single one of them, get rid of all the high priced free agents and after a few losing years where our owners suddenly show patience and don’t care about attendance, profits and ratings, this plucky young band of misfits become a new dynasty beloved by all. Why, oh why, don’t the Yankees just do it! It’s so easy! Play Teh Kids!

      • Stan

        Yankees, when winning, don’t give rookies a lot of playing time. They are focused on winning not getting the kids feet wet.
        Yankees have not had a losing season in 2 decades. Yes they missed the playoffs but they were in the hunt both of those years.

        Also during this 2 decade long run they had 2 top 20 picks (13 and 17) and no top 10 picks. The less risky/better prospects were already mostly gone, making it less likely to have players make and impact in the majors

        Yankees were also trading many of thier prospects for veterans during this run also. (as the article shows Vazquez A-Rod etc)

        Another thing that people tend to forget… when considering the Core Four, only Pettitte and Jeter started right away, Rivera was a setup man for a season after a so so year of splitting time in the rotation and the pen and Posada was a backup to Girardi for 2 years then split time for another.

        • Chip

          Stan….

          Yankees made the playoffs in 1995 (first time in a long time) with a rookie making 30+ starts (Andy Pettitte)
          Won the World Series the next year with a rookie as their starting SS (Derek Jeter) and another guy with only 19 games of ML experience playing a key role out of the pen (Rivera)

          • Stan

            I mentioned that Pettitte and Jeter Started right away. I’m just saying that Rivera had a so so year in split time his rookie year and it was only when he started playing with the cutter that he finally became the broken bat machine that we knew and loved otherwise he may have never made it. And Posada was a backup to Girardi. Also when the Yankees started Jeter and Pettitte they weren’t in the midst of all the winning yet. It more or less started there.

        • dickylarue

          I think the more interesting thing about the core guys was Jeter was the only high 1st round pick. Everyone wetting themselves over 1st round picks should look at history and see that a lot of the greats aren’t the highest regarded guys in the draft. It’s why I’d always give up a 1st round pick for a guy like Shields or Scherzer.

          • Chip

            While that’s true I also think that the draft rates have changed a lot in the last 20 years.

            • dickylarue

              I don’t think they’ve changed as much as you think. I saw something recently that said between 60-70% of the guys drafted in the first round don’t pan out.

              • Chip

                I just pulled up a random year (2007) on wikipedia. Of 30 first round selections 8 have yet to play in the majors. 5 are All-Stars. The other 17 are (in draft order):

                Mike Moustokis
                Josh Vitters
                Daniel Moskos
                Ross Detwiler
                Matt LaPorta
                Jarrod Parker
                Phillippe Aumont
                Matt Dominguez
                Blake Beavan
                Pete Kozma
                Joe Savery
                Chris Winthrow
                JP Arencibia
                Aaron Poreda
                Rick Porcello
                Ben Revere
                Andrew Brackman

                So I would say of that group I would say more than half are major leaguers. Maybe not ever to the level they were supposed to be, but hey, being one of the best what – 800 ish players in the game ain’t bad.

          • Stan

            I’m not saying that ONLY 1st round picks make it. They have better odds but its not foolproof. Still to build a great farm you need to have some top picks. Thats why teams like the Royals, Rays Pirates etc were almost always near the top in farm systems until they made it up and they started winning.
            In the Rays case they raided thier system to keep up with the rest of the AL East for a few years and now thier farm is no longer as good as it used to be.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      My first crush was Eric Duncan, so convinced that he was going to be the next Yankee star. Yet another slugger who fell off the map due to an inability to hit the breaking ball.

      • Chip

        I would still bring Christian Garcia back on a minor league deal :-)

  • SweetSpot

    Wow! What an informative and comprehensive article. Kudos Mike, really enjoyed it and reading it again.

    • dickylarue

      Agree 100%. This was a great feature Mike! I’m loving this week.

  • Stan

    Is there a comprehensive list of prospects that Yankees traded away in this time that shows who has made the majors with other teams? And who the Yankees received in those trades?

    • Chip

      I don’t know how comprehensive it is but I’m sure some of us could remember the major ones:

      Claussen for Neagle
      Rivera, Johnson and Choate for Javy
      Dioneer Navarro, Javy and what’s his name for Randy Johnson
      Arias and Sori for Alex
      Henson, Yarnell and Jackson Melian for Boone
      Henry, Jesus Sanchez and Carlos Monasterios for Abreu and Lidle

      Austin Jackson (and IPK) for Granderson
      Melky and Mike Dunn for Javy and Boone Logan

      Going back a little more you have
      Ledee and Westbrook for David Justice
      Rafael Medina and Ruben Rivera for Hideki Irabu and Homer Bush
      Hideki Irabu for Westbrook, Ted Lilly and Christian Parker
      Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnell worse than Buhner for Ken Phelps

      • dickylarue

        Ed “The Original next Andy Pettite” Yarnall for Lowell always kills me.

        • Chip

          They don’t make that trade then odds are they don’t make the Alex trade either.
          Boston won’t get Beckett because the Marlins wouldn’t have been looking to shed Lowell’s contract.

          • The Great Gonzo

            What if is a dangerous game. Maybe they still trade Beckett but the Red Sox have to give up something more… like Pedroia!

      • Stan

        Thanks Chip, I have to be honest that until very recently I never really paid much attention to what minor leaguers went in trades. In fact I probably could not name you Top Yankee Prospects until maybe 3 years ago.

  • Kenthadley

    Great job, Mike. I’d still sign Garcia to a minor league contract. If he’s healthy, he can be a hammer in the pen.

  • michaelNYCUSA

    and honestly – the yanks roster was jammed full of regulars at that point, and the only real opening was 4th OF/Backup 1B and 2B. the rest of the team was loaded with all-stars, and although the pitching was really suspectthe Yanks were still a 95+ win team

    • dickylarue

      I kind of loved the 4th OF being the minor league hero – guys like Ledee and Rivera (and Shane Spencer to an extent) coming up and getting time was always fun to see during the course of those seasons. That said, I preferred having 95 win teams built to destroy.

  • TheEvilUmpire

    Don’t discount growing prospects to use as trade chips- Mathematically, they can’t all make the MLB roster and there’s always a need to fill areas of weakness. If anything, the team has struggled with prospect evaluation and projection over the years, but then again I think most teams struggle with that.

    • dickylarue

      It feels like, to me, they’re in a mandated overvalue the prospects mode right now because Hal wants cheap alternatives to free agents. The risk with that is if they don’t pan out, you eliminate the opportunity to turn them into something above average if their hype merits that in the trade market. I think the whole league (and fans) are so overvaluing these guys right now. I think it’s a bubble that will burst at some point when the data about bust rates during this phase is reviewed.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I think its hard for a sizeable part of the fanbase to find balance.

        No, not every prospect is going to reach half of their ceiling. No, not every single aspect of that can be blamed on player, organization, the weather, etc. No, that doesn’t mean you trade all of them.

        Developing a farm system, no matter who you are, no matter what goes wrong, and no matter how much of a fool’s errand it may seem sometimes, is something that an organization should really pay attention to doing in the strongest manner possible.

        • dickylarue

          Without a doubt. I just grow weary of the all or nothing-ness in the message boards. The whole point is the middle ground. Trade some. Keep some. Dump some. It’s just one part of team building. It’s not the only way to build a winner.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            You just keep on trudging. This class sucked? There’ll be another one.

    • Scott

      That is true. Fans get upset when the Yanks trade away prospects (and George and company traded away some decent ones back in the day) but lately, the Yanks have come out on the positive end of most trades. A prospect’s value isn’t always to the big league club, and may in fact be more valuable to another team, bringing back major league ready talent.

  • HoopDreams

    What happened to Wang still breaks my heart, his sinker was frigging nasty. Damn you to hell NL rules, damn you to hell

  • SweetSpot

    International market helps that’s for sure.

  • Y’s Guy

    Happy 81st the The Hammer Henry Aaron, the real Home Run King!

    • TheEvilUmpire

      Until the machines rise up… and you know they will!

  • SweetSpot

    The line that really stands out for me in Mike’s article is this one. “More than anything, I think this little exercise shows just how ridiculously difficult it is to project future MLB success. Ranking prospects is a fool’s errand.” If one accepts this as a truism than I think it warrants the following discussion.

    If a prospect’s success is that difficult to predict, meaning success is only able to be evaluated in hindsight, then what does the generic criticism of a team’s drafting and development really mean – and is it fair. Or is success or failure more a reflection of luck more than anything else?

    After all these years of trying, one would think the formula for drafting and development would be known, baseball ops people switch teams and there are no secrets in baseball. But that clearly isn’t the case as the following shows. Baseball America analyzed drafts from 1987 through 2008 and concluded that only roughly one in six or 17.2 percent of signed draft picks play in the major leagues for at least one game.

    So how valid is criticism of the Yankees in this context? If one evaluates the Yankee’s drafting and development based only on results which is certainly valid to many who care about the what and not the why, it’s not been very good lately. Or is it more a combination of other factors, draft position and just bad luck. I personally think it skews more towards the latter and not the former.

    • Jim Is Bored

      “Baseball America analyzed drafts from 1987 through 2008 and concluded that only roughly one in six or 17.2 percent of signed draft picks play in the major leagues for at least one game. Based on this, no one team does it very well”

      That’s not a valid conclusion from that stat. That’s not to say it’s not true, but that’s just an average. You can say that the league as a whole doesn’t do it very well, but you’d have to go in and see the percentages for each team and check if they skew above random variation to really know for sure if any individual team is good at it.

      Cue cardinalsfanboys.

      • Stan

        What people forget is that for the most part for a prospect to *make it* they essentially have to outplay an existing player ahead of them, show enough potential that a team trades the incumbent to make room, or hope that the player ahead of them leaves via free agency or gets hurt.

        People also forget that the players in the majors were that prospect all those years ago and are hard to dislodge.

      • SweetSpot

        OK. The league as a whole, meaning all of baseball doesn’t do it well then. It’s a twenty year period which is not insignificant and all thirty teams are taken into account. There will be teams that do better and teams that do worse but the point is it’s not predictable. If it were, if there was a Cardinal methodology that was known; the other 29 teams would do it. If the Cardinals had better success I would say that is mostly luck.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      That’s why the Yankees strategy of taking a shovel load of top international prospects this year makes so much sense! Law of averages states that a few of them have to pan out.

    • Scott

      Excellent analysis Sweetspot. It really is a crapshoot, and few teams do it well. I think the cards do a good job of development. The Rays draft well too but that is because for a decade they drafted top 10 every year. Now that they have sustained success their minor leagues aren’t quite as good.
      It is still fun to dream though on the Yanks prospects.

      • SweetSpot

        It is fun, . . . because you never know if the next Mantle or Guidry is in the mix somewhere.

  • Andrew_Jackson_Pollock

    Love these posts Mike!

    They’re all great reads, some bring back a lot of memories, and they are a great bridge over the dead zone between the active Hot Stove period and start of Spring Training.

  • Farewell Mo and Jeet

    Lean years from 2003-2006?
    Seems like it’s been pretty lean from 2003-2015.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I’d have pushed the window in the other direction, frankly.

  • pat

    Miss you CMW.

  • Y’s Guy

    Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports just said on WFAN that he thinks Moncado will end up with the Yankees. If so, that would really put an end to the ‘barren’ farm system days.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      The system’s looking up even without Moncada… but yes, he would make it even more awesome.

      • Y’s Guy

        Until some of these newer products start producing at the MLB level, I will refrain from declaring that we’re out of the dark ages. The last crop produced Betances, Warren, JR and Phelps which is ok, but that’s about it so far. Austin, Banuelos, Bichette, Williams, Romine were all considered top prospects who now don’t look to be worth much.

        • TheEvilUmpire

          Austin’s still got a shot, especially since he is another season removed from his wrist injury. At least Banuelos netted us 2 relievers.

        • Y’s Guy

          To be fair, I should add Generational Jesus to the last crop and we got Big Mike out of that!

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Nice to see a specific rumormongerer throw something our way, I guess.

      • Y’s Guy

        As my dad used to say, ‘his prediction plus a token will get you on the subway’

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Predictions only count if they involve the Dodgers.

          • Scott

            Or Red Sox from ESPN staffers.

          • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

            Predictions only count if Bigdan makes them*

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              If they involve both him and the Dodgers, they automatically get added as an addendum to the bible.

    • Rick

      Not sure that’s entirely accurate. It will certainly give a boost to our farm, but one player does not drastically alter rankings like that. For example, if the Yanks sign MoncadA, Keith Law would likely bump them from 20 to 15. Of course other sites have them rated differently, but as Mike has said numerous times – variation is good. I think the Yanks should be somewhere between 10-16 without Moncada and maybe 7-13 with him.

      • Y’s Guy

        I couldn’t care less about ‘system rankings’ they have no meaning. Thats just offseason internet filler imo.

      • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

        I thought he meant that the general fan will stop saying “Yankees farm system sucks” all the time.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Until Moncada doesn’t hit AAA by the 2nd half of 2015.

          • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

            There will probably be some misinformed people who will be like “Why is Moncada at single A to start the 2015 season? Ha, Yankees sure signed themselves a terrible prospect for such a high amount. Not even good enough to start in the Majors yet! Such idiots!”

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              TEH PUIG PLAYED HIS FIRST GAME AT THE ALL-STAH GAME!

              • dickylarue

                If Moncada doesn’t lead the team onto the field opening day this was all for naught.

    • Posada_20

      Let the Dodgers have Andy Ibanez. Moncada is ours!!

    • Havok9120

      If more people don’t learn how to spell his name, we’ll never land him.

  • Literally Figurative

    Even for our terrible farm system, look at the amount of mlb regulars we created.

    I think the issue is the fanbase/media in ny only count all star, hof players as successes. And if you dont dominate right away, you are trade fodder.

    Every cardinal prospect isnt a star, but they develop decent players who cost little and produce enough to avoid having to regularly dip into free agency. And they win! That is the way a system should work, not crying that we dont have mvps at every position

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Or that the issue with the fanbase is that they start at “The farm system stinks,” and begin to fill in the blanks from there.

      • Literally Figurative

        Well, yeah, that too

  • TheEvilUmpire

    It would be a fun exercise to rank farm systems retrospectively 5-10 years out based on the big league talent they produced.

    • Y’s Guy

      BA’s top 10 Yankees prospects 2010:1.Jesus Montero, 2.Manny Banuelos, 3.Dellin Betances, 4.Gary Sanchez, 5.Mason Williams, 6.Dante Bichette, 7.Ravel Santana, 8.Austin Romine, 9.J.R. Murphy, 10.Slade Heathcott.

      • Mayan Brickann

        Yikes! Could end up being Betances and Murphy as only true big league contributors, though Sanchez still may end up being something.

        • Stan

          Singing it like Meatloaf… Cause two out of ten ain’t bad

        • TheEvilUmpire

          We did cash in Montero and Banuelos. I’m sure Romine will bounce around as a MLB backup/AAA 3rd catcher for awhile. But yeah, you said it in terms of the Yankees’ direct haul from that list.

          • Mayan Brickann

            Now especially jazzed about 2 RP’s for Banuelos, but the score on Montero seems likely to work out well assuming good health.

          • dickylarue

            We definitely didn’t cash in Banuelos at his peak value though.

            • Mayan Brickann

              Yep.

            • Stan

              Can’t foresee injuries otherwise I am sure they would have

              • dickylarue

                Imagine what they could’ve traded him for after he mowed down the Red Sox that spring training long ago? Ugh. Can’t go there.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  I think wanting to trade him was the last thing that went through my mind that day.

            • TheEvilUmpire

              Agreed, but if they org feels that his future is as a reliever, then they just doubled their money.

    • terry

      Off the top of my head, I’d go with teams like the Padres (unbiased), Diamondbacks, Athletics, Rays, Astros, several others and not particularly in that order, of course. Just based on developmental reputation, and surprising the Majors with talent from the middling and late draft orders.

      It’s important to note that many draftees will let their agents know about their preferences of whom to be drafted by, and their agents or families will communicate this. It won’t prevent or guarantee them from being drafted by a particular team, of course, but it’s easy back-channel information that is regarded as part of their profiles for scouts.

      Needless to say, some teams are black-balled by talent based on their farm reputations.

      The above that I listed have very good reputations, so they have fewer problems signing talent, although it should be noted that it has as much to do with the necessity of these teams to play and get the most out of their talent, as opposed to bringing in developed players. Even when they trade their drafted players, those players know that someone wants them, and often it’s for a job in the Majors.

      The surest path to a Large-Market ballclub is not necessarily through said ball-club’s farm-system, but through a small-market’s farm system.

  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek/ Roadgeek Adam
    • Posada_20

      The guy I’m really rooting for this year is Heathcott. Would love to see him actually play a full season to see what he can do and if he has a future with the Yanks.

      • Scott

        Me too. I like his back story, hope he can stay healthy.

      • dickylarue

        I agree. I like that he came back after the org gave up his 40 man spot. The motivation is there. He just needs health.

    • Billy

      They have Jose Campos listed as Vicente Campos. I was so confused LOL After Googling Vicente Campos only to realize it’s Jose’s middle name….

  • Scott

    This is an awesome post Mike. Just goes to show how most prospects don’t make it. We all want to believe we have the next Core 4 at every level just waiting to bust out in the show, but history proves quite the opposite. It won’t stop us from prospect hugging, but we would all be smart to save this link and look at when Refsnyder, Bird and Severino flame out (ducks!)

    • TheEvilUmpire

      Someone sold his soul to the devil for Jeter, Rivera, Posada, and Pettitte to develop at the same time. If you want to throw in Bernie, then someone signed away generations of their descendants to enjoy the dynasty years.

      • Scott

        Those five guys are such a once in a lifetime happening. We don’t realize how lucky we were. Yet we still have people complaining the Yanks aren’t developing the next Core 4 (or Fab 5) and Cashman failed.
        BTW, Jeter’s girlfriend made the cover of SI’s swimsuit issue. Uhhh, yum!

      • Deep Thoughts

        I like to think of 2001 and 2004 as the trade-off.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          ietc

        • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

          And 2003

          • TheEvilUmpire

            Guys, you’re complaining about a stretch of play in which Pirate fans were preying that their team wouldn’t lose 100 games in a particular season! We’re all spoiled around here!

            • Scott

              We all have affluency, that “disease” that got that rich Texas kid off when he killed 4 people by drinking and driving. The judge ruled he didn’t know any better.

            • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

              Can’t hear you from the sound of my 5 WS rings hitting each other.

            • Stan

              If you look at teams who have great farm systems through the years MOST of them have suffered through being terrible for a long stretch of time stockpiling high picks. Rays, Pirates, Royals, Astros, Twins, Padres etc.

  • Stan

    BTW Mike… Great job with the article and all the others you have written (I’ve only been here for about a month). The sheer numbers of articles you crank out is amazing.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I think this has been the best Retro Week I can remember. I always enjoy digging a bit deeper into the not-so-obvious places. Great job, Axisa.

      • Moncada’s Codpiece

        TWSS?

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Sure.

  • lightSABR

    “Not a bad outcome at all” on Juan Rivera. Really? Did you miss the “traded for Javy Vazquez” part of your write-up? ;)

    • Stan

      Vazquez didnt have a great year for us but he did win 14 games and pitched 198 innings.

    • Tom_hamsandwich

      Rivera was a “7pm” hitter; he fattened up on fastballs early in the game, but once the pitcher needed to get him out he was done for.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I may like “7PM Hitter” more than I like ‘worm burner,” even.

        • Scott

          Beat me to it, first time I heard the term. I like it. Going to put it in my back pocket.
          Of course sitting on it too long will hurt my psiatic nerve.

          • 86w183

            The phrase that’s been around for years is a “Five O’Clock Hitter”. It refers to a guy who hits bombs in batting practice, but when the game starts (at 7:00) he’s useless.

            I have never heard of a seven O’Clock hitter before this thread.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Which would make Nick Swisher a 9:57 hitter, amirite, folks?

              • 86w183

                good one!

              • Havok9120

                Garbage Time(TM)!!

            • Tom_hamsandwich

              I guess I coined a new phrase. A batter that goes 1-4 and the 1 is off the 1st fastball he sees of the night.

              • Tom_hamsandwich

                I didn’t take into account his numbers during BP.

    • Y’s Guy

      ? there were others in that trade, so it’s hard to work out the equation but Vazquez put of 24 bWAR after that trade, Rivera put up a 5.2 fWAR, Nick Johnson and 11 and Randy Choate a 3 fWAR for a total of 19.2.

    • Chip

      I think he meant his career wasn’t a bad outcome given his prospect status.

      • terry

        What would have improved this article a bit would have been a note on how these prospects were acquired and at what age. That, more than anything would help ascertain the strength of a farm system.

        It’s one thing to draft a player in the 1st Round, have him go through your system, and field an average player.

        It’s another thing to draft a player in the 8th round, develop him in your elite farm system, and field an All Star.

        • Chip

          I think where you draft them is less important than where they rank overall due to the different ways players can be added to your system. By that I mean, Luis Severino might have been a first round talent in the draft but we don’t know because he wasn’t draft eligible.

          • terry

            The point is that, in order to ascertain how a “black-box” – the farm system – affects an “output” – developed Major League Players – you need to know the “input”, in this case what you spent to acquire the talent. It doesn’t matter if that “input” was money spent on travel and accomodations (and bribes) for scouts sent to Japan or the Dom to profile foreign players, a train ticket to the College World Series, or draft picks.

            Granted, that information can be gleaned easily on the net, but it would be useful (required, really) information in this article if you want to know how effective the Yankee farm system has been in the past few years.

            To see what you’re getting out of it, you need to know what you’re putting into it.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Thank you, LittleDan.

              • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

                He’s multiplying? Oh lord, help us.

      • lightSABR

        Yes, that’s what he meant. Hence the wink. It’s just… Javy Vazquez.

        Average Javy non-Yankees season: 207 IP, 4.09 ERA, 3.73 FIP.
        Average Javy Yankees season: 178 IP, 5.09 ERA, 5.13 FIP.

        • Tom_hamsandwich

          2013: Juan Rivera gets beat out for the last roster spot by Ben Fransisco….

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Game. Set. Match.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    What I take from this is a confirmation that getting to the current improved depth of our system is not a smokescreen. There have been setbacks, but what this franchise wanted to get to close to a decade ago is something that is currently much closer to being that than it ever has been.

    There was one sick day in which I went back on BRef and looked at Yankee draft classes back to, at least, 1980. It’s never been great. What we see now is a bit of a sea change, but it’s one that fits with the current game and that, perhaps, was long overdue if we don’t want to keep falling into the same traps every few years.

    Also, I never knew Rudy Guillen was Spanish for “Mason Williams.” You learn something new every day.

  • Kenneth Celelli

    Of our current prospect pipeline I fully expect Sanchez to be traded, I don’t think Judge is going to pan out, Ref probably won’t be much sadly, Lindgren will be fine provided injuries stay away, I think Bird will be a decent player, and I really hope Severino can become a top line starter and not another bullpen piece.

    Now for the post, I remember Eric Duncan as my first prospect hug, and still remember Tyler Clippard and his first start (I believe he hit a double as well in that game) and being so mad when we traded him for a guy whose name I couldn’t pronounce.

    • Scott

      I think you are right on Sanchez getting traded, Judge not panning out, and Lindgren. I will disagree with you on Refs. I don’t think he will be an All-Star, but I think he will be a serviceable major leaguer for a while, it just might not be with the Yanks.
      I think Bird too will be decent, but I think Severino will be the biggest bust of this group. For one, he has some of the highest expectations but two, I don’t think his success will translate in AAA and the majors. I hope I’m wrong.

      • Kenneth Celelli

        I hope Severino becomes something but I think you’re probably right about him honestly. I like Refs and I like what I saw from him this summer when I watched him in person. I think the bat is MLB Caliber but his defense definitely needed work and maybe that’s just more reps at the position but I just have a nagging feeling that he isn’t going to turn into much.

    • Mayan Brickann

      I’d have to see Judge in AA before even considering him as a potential washout. Kinda wish he hadn’t wasted half a season in the Sally. He really didn’t belong there. He hit quite well in the FSL, a league known for being unkind to hitters. This is a big year though. He needs to shine to at the upper levels.

    • Stan

      I dont know if Judge is going to have 30-40 home run power but I can see him topping the 20 mark year to year. while not superstar status it would still be very solid production

  • mattpat11

    I didn’t realize the farm system dry spell was over, let alone had been over since 2007. I must have been blinded by the meteoric success of Andrew Brackman and Mason Wlliams.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      • mattpat11

        The post specifically says that we’re “nearly a full decade removed from the farm system dry spell”

        I legitimately hadn’t noticed that the good times were rolling again.

        • Stan

          Many have ranked the Yankee Farm 10-15. So by that measure the dry spell is over. Its no longer considered a bad system. Not that I believe it was ever that bad to begin with

  • Chien Ming The Merciless

    Drafting successful prospects is definitely a crap shoot. Seems like the best thing you can do is stockpile a ton of talent and hope that you get maybe 1 star, a starter or two and some guys that can contribute off the bench.

    Out of Judge, Severino, Bird, Sanchez, Refsnyder and the rest of the kids, chances are they will probably crap out. This makes me sad but I love reading about prospects.

    When reading about the old prospects, I start comparing them to some of the newer ones and it’s pretty sobering. They could put up nice numbers in the minors like Ricky Ledee and the odds are still not in their favor to do well in the Show.

    • Scott

      That’s why, IMO, the Yanks loaded up on the IFA market, and have added two GSL teams and the second A team in Pulaski. That is one way for the Yanks to use their money to their advantage. Have more roster spots for more minor leaguers. Some of them will pan out.

      • Chien Ming The Merciless

        Yep definitely makes sense. Having the extra teams/money advantage that way gives you more lottery tickets.

  • Scott

    BTW, forgot to mention this in my earlier post. The Nunez video of him throwing the ball into the dirt is a classic. Everytime someone mentions Nunie getting traded for that MiLB pitcher from the Twins, and complains the Yanks could have used him, I will show them this.

    • HoopDreams

      Anyone know who was playing 3rd in that gif?

      • TheEvilUmpire

        The immortal Ramiro Pena. I remember that (lack of) play well!

      • Scott

        I was wondering the same. Empire has us covered though.

    • bernbabybern

      Nunie was just playing to the scoreboard.

  • pfoj

    I always wonder what could have been with Juan Rivera had he not stolen Derek Jeter’s glove.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      That was Ruben Rivera, Mariano’s cousin.

      • Y’s Guy

        I thought that was Geraldo…

        • Scott

          No, he’s on Fox News now. Or is that Geraldine Ferraro?

          • Moncada’s Codpiece

            She’s dead, but Geraldo is still there. Until the end of time.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              I regret not finding a gif of his his nose getting broken.

              • Moncada’s Codpiece

                I also regret that.

              • Scott

                That was some fine reporting.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I can’t believe Mariano Rivera stole Derek Jeter’s glove like that.

      • Moncada’s Codpiece

        Jobber was right!

  • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

    I’ll admit it, Sir Didi “DJ3k 2.0 but Better” Gregorius is my current prospect crush.

    • Scott

      I’m hoping he plays well, for all kinds of reasons. For one, the Yanks desparately need him to man that position, play great defense and be serviceable with the bat.
      But also if he plays well, they will have a good cost controlled SS for a few years and can worry about other positions, and if one of their SS prospects takes off (Mateo) they can trade either him or Didi in a few years.

      • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

        I’m just hoping for good defense and average hitting SS whether it be realistic or not.

  • TheresNoAudience

    Ummm..we still are in the lean years? who has come through the system and made a solid contribution outside of Gardner the last 6 or so years?

    • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

      I don’t think you can ever really be in lean years in the present because the prospects haven’t failed yet.

      • TheresNoAudience

        I mean, from say, 07-12. Besides Gardner…nothing

        • bernbabybern

          Robertson, and now Betances, Nova…

          • Scott

            Not to mention prospects the Yanks traded that are now playing in the majors for other teams. Not all prospects have to make it to your team. If they get you a useful major leaguer in return, that’s a win.

        • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

          Seems like it, yes. But they’ve done better than the lean years that Mike highlighted in this page. Obviously Cano was huge, but 2007-2012 was definitely better. Like the guy below me said, Robertson, Betances, Nova, Gardner, definitely better. Not really lean years, just “okay” maybe.

        • Stan

          I’ve said it many times already Nova is the best player either team has produced since Gardner/Ellsbury

    • dickylarue

      Shhhh. Don’t you know Judge, Bird, Jagielo, Refs, Sanchez, Clarkin, Severino, Lindgren are all going to pan out huge?

      • TheresNoAudience

        Personally I hope they all do. To be honest? I think Ref can be a fine 2B, kinda like the infield Gardner if you will. I don’t see Judge panning out, hes around 22? and hasn’t even reach Tampa yet. Out of that group I see Bird, Lindgren and Ref becoming good regulars. Maybe Severino

        • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

          Infield Gardner would mean elite defense and decent hitting. Can he hit? Sure he could. Fielding? His ceiling is probably average at best.

        • Stan

          I think Refsnyder should be a utility guy. He started off as an OF now learning some 2B.. I think it would suit him better. Judge was drafted in 2013 (college player) hence the age and his 1 season in the minors. he is still at least 2 years away.

        • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

          Judge played 66 games in Tampa. In his first season in the minors. Could it be you’re not really a troll, but an actual idiot?

    • Tom_hamsandwich

      Robertson, Betances, Warren, Phelps, Cervelli.

      • TheresNoAudience

        Two great relievers, an above average one, a swingman and a BUC. Outstanding

        • Stan

          a few good middle relievers also

        • Tom_hamsandwich

          Just answering your question, Its not a golden age, but there have been solid contributions

          • TheresNoAudience

            Not compared to say the Red Sox. Pedrioa, the guy whos currently our centerfielder, Ortiz, Holt, Nava, Tazawa, Bard, Dubront, Vasquez, Betts, Bradley etc.

            • Tom_hamsandwich

              Ortiz? David? From the Twins?

            • Stan

              ortiz and holt were not red sox prospects dubront and bradley are failed experiments to date. Bard flamed out, vazquez and betts have done nothing at the major league level

              • TheresNoAudience

                Betts raked in his brief tenure last year, Ortiz and Holt developed their craft with Boston so they count imo

                • Stan

                  No they do not count as they both came in as major leaguers not minor leaguers Ortiz was a twin for 6 years including a 20 home run season. Holt had 1 year with the Pirates where he already posted excellent minor league numbers. So boston farm system did not *produce* them
                  And as far as Betts.. Remember Kevin Maas? anyone can have a hot start. Bogaerts is in the same boat he was supposed to be a sure thing what did he hit last year? .240. after a hot 2013 postseason

                  • Scott

                    I joined the discussion late, so you definitely answered the way I was going to. Nothing like a strawman argument for trying to prove your point “Ortiz and Holt developed their craft with Boston..” Seriously.

                • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

                  If you’re just trying to be a troll, ok. If you’re actually trying to make a point with Ortiz, then HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, LOSER!

            • Stan

              If you consider that the Red Sox farm system was rated as one of the best for a few years they have not noticably produced major leaguers that have been steady contributors. Yankees have produced roughly the same amount of viable major leaguers while being much lower in ranking

              • Too Many Idiots

                You’re trying to use logic on troll incarnation #3,489 of BGT.

            • Moncada’s Codpiece

              Lawls.

            • http://shhhorsie.com Cheval Anonyme

              Going back to Pedroia? OK, then add Gardner. Add Cano, Wang and Melky for that matter, since you went back to 2003 for Ortiz. Not to mention guys they traded out of the minors.

              • calripyankee

                Ortiz came from Minn..

        • Stan

          Ivan Nova, and now Murphy

      • Stan

        Nova also

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Shut up, BGT.

      • TheresNoAudience

        Oh yeah, because Im right. Got it

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          That’s a new one. It’s usually “I DONT KNOW WHAT YOURE TALKING ABOUT WHO IS BGT I NEVER HEARD OF HIM LET ME GO REPLY AS DUDE NOW.”:

          Diversifying the repertoire is always good, Andrew.

          • TheresNoAudience

            Actually my name is Charles, go to ebay and buy yourself a clue

            • Scott

              Thanks Chuck. Thanks for the witty comeback and sky is falling post.

        • Stan

          Nova alone tilts the scale in the Yankees favor as he is the best player produced by either system after Ellsbury/Gardner who effectively cancel each other out

  • ropeadope1

    Bronson (Sardinha) was named for his mother’s favorite actor, Charles Bronson.

    Was (Brandon) Claussen named for his mother’s favorite pickle?

    I won’t even ask about Chien-Ming Wang.

    • bernbabybern

      If you mean his father, then probably yes.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      And his grandpa was holding a can of sardines when they came through Ellis Island. Yes.

  • Moncada’s Codpiece

    Just another reminder to anyone projecting the 2018 Yankees lineup that things can and do happen.

    • Wave Your Hat

      That’s deep.

      • Moncada’s Codpiece

        Indeed. Lots of things.

    • pfoj

      Yup. Moncada could either be the #2 or #3 hitter in the lineup on his way to the MVP. There’s no way of knowing.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        The only question is where they build the new Monument Park dedicated to just him.

        • pfoj

          Will Cooperstown waive the five year waiting period and ten year career requirements and put him in this summer?

          • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

            I think the safest and most time conscious decision would be to begin building his monument tomorrow.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Where do I get the tattoo on his face superimposed on an outline of Cuba?

              • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

                The question is not where, but when and how many.

      • Moncada’s Codpiece

        Dare to dream. He will be the number 2 AND number 3 hitters.

      • TheresNoAudience

        If we don’t sign Moncada, Cash deserves to be whipped

        • Stan

          You can’t blame Cashman for a player who wants to sign elsewhere.

          • Moncada’s Codpiece

            Sure you can. It’s Cashman’s fault the Yankees are not playing in Los Angeles.

            • Stan

              Thank god for that… I couldnt handle 10:30PM games

        • Moncada’s Codpiece

          Why, he might even be good as Boston’s “guy who plays centerfield,” whatever his name is.

      • Scott

        He could also flame out and never make it to the bigs.

    • Sir Didi Odell Nakamura Jr

      Will you be joining the 2018 lineup?

      • Moncada’s Codpiece

        What’s under the codpiece is the cleanup hitter.

  • UnKnown

    So this is why I think it’s pointless to get so worked up about signing someone that was given a QO because you’re worried about giving up a pick. It is beyond hit and miss.

    • bernbabybern

      Right, but to get the hits you have to accumulate as many likely misses as possible.

      • UnKnown

        Not at the cost of signing a definite player that is actually MLB caliber.

  • just_add_bacon7

    I had to skip right over the Cano write-up. That’s still like an open wound.

  • Posada_20

    The left out Jon Potterson, power hitting catcher

  • Chip

    So with this post in mind – let’s play the “All Home Grown Team”

    Rules are simple, the players must have major league service time and have spent at least 1 year in the Yankee farm system (so Yangervis Solarte doesn’t count but Justin Maxwell does)

    C – John Ryan Murphy
    1b – Jesus Montero
    2b – Duh
    SS – Ramiro Pena
    3b – Eduardo Nunez
    LF – Brett Gardner
    CF – Austin Jackson
    RF – Melky Cabrera
    DH – Dioneer Navarro

    Bench: Zoilo Almonte, Jose Pirela, Joaquin Arias, Frankie Cervelli

    Thanks to Stan for pointing out that I forgot Navarro

    Rotation:
    Hughes
    Quintana
    Ian Kennedy
    Shane Greene
    Ivan Nova

    Bullpen: Closer – Robertson
    RHP: Betances, Clippard, Joba, Christian Garcia, David Phelps
    LHP: Mike Dunn

    (I could have gone with Adam Warren instead of Garcia – but Garcia’s my prospect crush and until he officially retires there’s room for him in the organization. Also could have gone with Randy Choate over Mike Dunn)

    • Stan

      Navarro over Cervelli then Cervelli over Romine. Would Pineda count under this system? if he does then I take him over Greene and put Greene in Phelps place.

      • Chip

        Forgot Navarro – I would actually put him at DH, Murphy at C and Cervelli on the bench. No, Big Mike doesn’t count – only reason he was in the Yankee minors was rehabbing injury.

        • Stan

          Fair enough, both on where to play Navarro and Pineda

          • Chip

            so you’re looking at a batting order of:

            Gardner
            Jackson
            Melky
            Cano
            Navarro
            Murphy
            Montero
            Nunez
            Pena

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Can Soriano get an exception? :)

              • Chip

                Nope – sadly he announced his retirement.

                • Stan

                  How about Tabata over Almonte on the bench?

                  • Chip

                    works for me. I picked Almonte because he’s a switch hitter…but I think they’re about even.

                    • Stan

                      Melancon over Clippard in the pen

                    • Chip

                      No way. Clippard is one of the best in the game. You can put Melancon in over Phelps or Garcia, but not Clippard.

                    • Stan

                      Ok over garcia then

                    • HoopDreams

                      Add warren too. Sweet ass pen

              • Chip

                You can put Wily Mo Pena on there though…

            • Stan

              Montero and Navarro would probably be switched to keep the power hitters bunched together,

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Pineda shouldn’t count here.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      What are your parameters around when they were in the system? I mean…..you could get Guidry, Mattingly, the Core Four, etc., in there as well.

      • Chip

        Active players only.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          IPK for the rotation, obviously. You may wind up either using a lot of current Yankee names, or dipping into Zach McAllister/Shane Greene territory quickly there.

          • Chip

            Kennedy is in the rotation…

            I have Hughes, Quintana, IPK, Greene and Nova as the starters.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Quintana was drafted by the Mets. I wouldn’t include him.

              Axford could be a bullpen piece for you as well. Don’t forget.

              • Stan

                The criteria was at least 1 year development in the minors.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  AWRIGHT AWRIGHT AWRIGHT :)

              • Chip

                Why not – he was a Yankee farm hand.

    • terry

      Interesting exercise.

      For some perspective, it would be ever more interesting to conduct this exercise with other teams such as the Rays for comparison’s sake.

  • Frittoman626

    I know this is a weird question, but what does BGT mean???

    • Stan

      I think its the initials of someone’s usename.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        The first time we noticed this one commenter, who is pretty much changing their handle on a daily basis and attempting to threadjack everything, they were going by “Big Game Thames,” which a couple of us shortened to “BGT.”

        At this point, I’ve lost count of the screennames, but several us do believe this same person has also been:

        Andrew DeClerk
        Andy (not AndyinSunnyDB, who is a loooooong-timer here)
        Dude
        Fenway Cheats
        Whatever the hell he is below today
        ….and a few others.

        I do think they were around beforehand, but it just was going beneath the radar a bit.

        Apologies if I sounded like a crazy person with that but, as a crazy person, I can’t help it sometimes. :)

        • Frittoman626

          Thanks for breaking it down.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            No problem.

            Honestly, and I don’t expect anyone but a crazy diehard reader of this forum to notice this sort of stuff, if you see a new screenname suddenly show up and argue just about every comment on here, usually with an overly-simplistic negative POV on the topic, it’s probably them.

            My assumption is that they’re smart enough to use different Disqus accounts and hide their IP address.

  • Stan

    In keeping with the post and Chip’s all prospect team.. who is the best prospect the Yankees have traded away (as a prospect) that is still playing today? Clippard, Quintana or someone else? I’m voting Quintana.

    • HoopDreams

      Hitter, probably Melky. Pitcher I suppose Clippard or Melancon.

      • Stan

        Melky doesnt count he was with the Yankees for 4 years when he was traded.

        • HoopDreams

          I guess AJax then along with Clippard

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Probably all in one trade: Jackson and Kennedy.

            The Yankees didn’t trade away Quintana.

            • HoopDreams

              I thought the Mets drafted him?

              • Stan

                yes but then he signed with the yankees in 2008 after sitting out 2007 on a drug suspension

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                That too, but their criteria is a year spent in the farm system.

            • Stan

              Thank you… I guess i’ll say Clippard then

  • hrbomber1113

    The Subway Series in June of 2007 are the only games I’ve ever seen the Yankees play in NY. The night before Clippard’s debut was Clemens vs Oliver Perez who had one of those Oliver Perez games that made you wonder wtf was going on the rest of the time. The Yankees lost by one after Miguel Cairo was robbed of a HR in LF. I was sitting in the very first row behind the radar gun for that game. The next game was Clippard vs Tom Glavine and they were both iffy. There was also a massive 2:30+ rain delay I believe and I sat in the RF upper deck seats for that game. ARod and Jeter both hit bombs and Rivera threatened to blow the game after he was rushed in when everyone’s favorite pitcher Kyle Farnsworth sucked. I think Rivera got Beltran to strike out. El Duque was on the Mets then and I was desperately trying for an autograph. Also, all my dad and I could talk about was how fast Carlos Gomez was. He and Reyes were DEVASTATING on the basepaths against Posada. Two of the best days of my life and I dreamed of playing there. I went back home to my college career and 7 years and 2 days ago, after the first series of my college season, I became permanently disabled with a brain injury and a virus that blew up a POTS illness that I fought ever since mono in jr high. One days you’re hitting cleanup and you’re bedridden forever the next. My dad was drafted by the Yankees in 1966 and signed by Tom Greenwade and had to end his career after blowing out his shoulder, which today is bad and back then was game over. I still have the Yankees magazine and Yearbook from the games we went to and they list all the prospects on the way up and they list like 20 of them in 2007 and almost every one was awful and if they reached MLB it was like TJ Beam etc.