Archive for Prospect Lists
Keith Law released his 2013 farm system rankings today (subs. req’d), which are predictably topped by the Cardinals. They have Oscar Taveras, a ton of MLB-ready power arms, and quality depth coming out of their ears. The Twins and Rays round out the top three while the Angels bring up the rear at #30. The Yankees rank tenth.
“It’s a top-heavy system, but the group of position players who started in low Class A Charleston last year, some of whom finished in high-A Tampa, could produce as many as three above-average or better regulars plus several other guys who’ll have big league value,” wrote Law while also saying they’d rank higher had Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos not gotten hurt. Baseball America had the Yankees ranked 11th while John Sickels had them 14th, so the consensus right now is that 10-15 range. Tampa was the only AL East team ahead of New York, with the Orioles (13th), Red Sox (17th), and Blue Jays (24th) lagging behind.
MLB.com published their always entertaining top 100 prospects list yesterday, which was predictably topped by Rangers SS Jurickson Profar. Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy and Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras round out the top three, Rays OF Wil Myers and Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker the top five.
The Yankees placed three prospects on the list, led by C Gary Sanchez at #36. OF Mason Williams wasn’t far behind him at #41 while OF Tyler Austin lagged at #75. MLB.com’s lists are always eyebrow-raising, and this is likely the only time this spring you’ll see Sanchez ranked ahead of Williams — in fairness, that isn’t completely insane, just a minority opinion — and no OF Slade Heathcott on a top 100 list. Giants OF Gary Brown made the list and Heathcott didn’t. Can’t explain it, but such is life.
Middle of the road, here they come. John Sickels at Minor League Ball released his farm system rankings earlier this week, and he has the Yankees pretty much right in the middle at 14th overall. He says their strength is the collection of potential impact bats on the brink of Double-A, specifically catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielders Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin. The lack of impact arms is their weakness.
Baseball America recently placed the Yankees 11th overall in their preliminary farm system rankings, and there really isn’t a ton of difference between 11th and 14th. The 11-15 range certainly passes the sniff test though, neither ranking seems unrealistic.
There are countless prospect ranking publications out there, but I think we can all agree that Baseball America is among the absolute best. They’ve been doing the prospect ranking thing for 30 years now, long before the internet made everyone an expert. Their editors and contributors do a wonderful job of culling together information from those within the game and presenting it to their readers in a concise and easy to understand way. They’re the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned.
Baseball America recently posted their entire team top ten prospects list catalog online, dating all the way back to 1983. The index can be found here, but you’re going to need a subscription to go see the individual lists. Thirty years of prospect lists are sure to produce some interesting stories, which is what we’re going to look at today. Here’s the link to their 1983-2003 lists for the Yankees, now let’s see what we can dig up.
- John Elway, of
Oh hell yes. Right off the bat we’ve got a gem. The Yankees drafted Elway out of Stanford in the second round of the 1981 draft and signed him for $140k, which was huge dollars back then. He was a star in the outfield and a bigger star at quarterback, but George Steinbrenner wanted him in pinstripes. The Boss handed over the big check and allowed Elway to continue playing football for Stanford while mixing in some professional baseball. As a 22-year-old in 1982, Elway hit .318/.432/.464 with four homers, 13 steals (in 16 attempts), 28 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 185 plate appearances across 42 games for Short Season Oneonta. That was it, he never played baseball again. The Baltimore Colts selected Elway with the first overall pick in 1983 NFL draft, and he used the Yankees as leverage to force a trade to the Broncos. The rest, as they say, is history.
Earlier this week, Baseball America’s Jim Callis published his personal list of baseball’s top ten farm systems. He had the Cardinals in the top spot, following by the Mariners and Marlins. No real surprises there.
In a follow-up question on Twitter, Callis said he and the publication’s other three contributing editors each ranked the Yankees’ system as the 11th best in baseball. I figured they would rank somewhere in the middle-third, but I honestly through it would be closer to 15th or so. Few teams have a quartet on par with OF Mason Williams, OF Slade Heathcott, OF Tyler Austin, and C Gary Sanchez though, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Baseball America’s official organization rankings are released during Spring Training.
John Sickels at Minor League Ball posted his list of the top 20 Yankees prospects on Friday night, and the top spot is occupied by C Gary Sanchez. The three outfielders — Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott — round out the top four with RHP Brett Marshall ranking fifth.
I think Sickels tends to overrate performance but I do like that his lists are always off the beaten path a bit. Always neat to see different opinions with this prospect stuff. I do think it’s interesting that RHP Corey Black, this year’s fourth rounder, cracked the list (#12) while RHP Jose Ramirez did not. Both guys have huge, huge arms with elite velocity, but Ramirez will open next season in Double-A (confirmed by VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman) while Black has yet to play his first full pro season. Oh well, the exact ranking is trivial since both are in the organization.
Following a monster .388/.494/.602 (192 wRC+) effort with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League in recent weeks, Slade Heathcott was named the sixth best prospect in the circuit by Baseball America (subs. req’d). The write-up noted that at least one evaluator considered him the league’s top prospect.
“Heathcott displays an aggressive approach and smooth left-handed swing with above-average raw power,” wrote Baseball America. “His plus speed makes him an extra-base hit machine, although he is still improving his stolen base ability … Heathcott’s intensity made him one of the most exciting players to watch this fall, and it showed itself in his laying out for flyballs, frequently taking the extra base and once even bulldozing the catcher.” That all-out style of play has been his downfall so far, leading to three left shoulder injuries including two that required surgery. Heathcott could be a star if healthy, but so far that’s been a challenge.
Baseball America published their list of the top ten Yankees prospects today, and the list is free for all. The scouting reports, however, are not. You need a subscription for them. The four names atop the list shouldn’t be a surprise (the order might), but things do get a little wacky after that. Let’s break it down…
- OF Mason Williams
- OF Slade Heathcott
- C Gary Sanchez
- OF Tyler Austin
- RHP Jose Campos
- RHP Brett Marshall
- 2B Angelo Gumbs
- LHP Manny Banuelos
- RHP Ty Hensley
- RHP Rafael DePaula
Two things stand out about the list. First, the Yankees are suddenly very top heavy with position player prospects, particularly outfielders. Outside of Jesus Montero, their recent top tens were mostly dominated by upper level arms. The Yankees are going to need that infusion of young bats and relatively soon, but Heathcott is only position player on the list who I think will open next year at Double-A. Austin has a chance, but it would surprise me a bit.
Secondly, everyone’s hurt. Five of those ten guys missed significant time this season due to injury, and that doesn’t include Hensley’s shoulder “abnormality” or the month Austin missed with a mild concussion. Heathcott (shoulder) obviously came back healthy and Gumbs (elbow) has as well (based on the fact that he’s playing winter ball), plus Williams (shoulder) was just cleared to resume workouts. Banuelos will miss all of next season with Tommy John surgery though, and a club official said Campos (elbow) will “hopefully” be ready for Spring Training in the subscriber-only write-up. That doesn’t sound promising, but what can you do.
The write-ups include scouting grades (on the 20-80 scale) for each team’s top prospect and the grades for Williams are just insane — 60 hit, 60 power, 70 speed, 70 defense, 50 arm. That’s four above-average tools and one average one. Those are future grades and not present — they think he’ll grow into a 60 hitter, not that he is one today — but they still seem a little optimistic, particularly the power. A 60/60 bat is a .290-.300 hitter with 25 or so homers. Add the 70 speed and 70 defense and you’ve got 30+ steals and near Gold Glove defense. That’s a star player, it’s Grady Sizemore in his prime, but again the grades strike me as optimistic based on everything we’ve heard about Williams to this point.
Elsewhere in the write-up they note that Heathcott offers “explosive tools” — yesterday Keith Law said Heathcott has louder tools than Williams, though Mason is more refined — and that while Sanchez doesn’t stack up to Montero offensively, he has a much better chance of sticking behind the plate. Campos was “electric” before getting hurt while Banuelos was still struggling to command his fastball. They call DePaula the biggest x-factor in the system and say his “ceiling is as high as any Yankees minor league pitcher.” He’ll make the big jump to High-A Tampa next year.
With Banuelos essentially out for the season, the only top ten prospect who figures to spend significant time at Triple-A next year will be Marshall. The Yankees will have Adam Warren and maybe a veteran signing or two ahead of him on the call-up depth chart, possibly even Dellin Betances if things break right. The talent gap that has been slowly climbing the ladder in recent years has hit Triple-A, meaning the Bombers will have to make sure they bring in some depth pieces via free agency to shore up potential holes on the big league roster. The team’s top prospects just aren’t in a position to help next year, and maybe not in 2014 as well.
As expected, the Yankees did not place any players on Baseball America’s top 20 Triple-A International League prospects list, which was topped by RHP Matt Harvey of the Mets. LHP Manny Banuelos missed basically the entire season with an elbow injury while RHP Dellin Betances just stunk, and they were the squad’s best hope to make the list. In the subscriber-only chat, John Manuel said UTIL Ronnie Mustelier “does have bat speed and he can hit a good fastball,” but otherwise has nothing to offer while dropping Barbaro Canizares and Leslie Anderson as comparables.
The Yankees had five different players crack the various top 20 lists, and all were in the High-A Florida State League or Low-A South Atlantic League. They didn’t have any prospects in the Double-A Eastern League, Short Season NY-Penn League, and Rookie Gulf Coast League. It was a very down year for the farm system and the rankings reflect that.
Just like the Short Season NY-Penn League and the Rookie Gulf Coast League, the Yankees did not place anyone on Baseball America’s top 20 Double-A Eastern League prospects list. In the subscriber-only chat, Matt Eddy said RHP Brett Marshall was one of the final cuts. He also singled out OF Zoilo Almonte for his power and OF Abe Almonte for his ability to be a speed-oriented fourth outfielder down the road. The Yankees placed five total prospects on the Low-A South Atlantic League and High-A Florida State League lists.
The next and final list of interest to Yankees fans is the Triple-A International League, which will be released Friday. That will be another shutout because Empire State was a very veteran team this year once LHP Manny Banuelos got hurt and RHP Dellin Betances crashed. IF Corban Joseph and RHP Chase Whitley are interesting but hardly top 20 material. Ditto RHP Adam Warren.