Archive for Top 30 Prospects
So here we are again. It seems like just last week that we were watching the Yankees parade down the Canyon of Heroes, and yet pitchers and catchers have already reported to Tampa. I guess that’s one of the many perks of having your favorite team win the World Series; a shorter offseason.
Just like the big league team, both High-A Tampa and Short Season Staten Island were able to capture their league championships in 2009. For the SI Yanks, it was their fifth league title of the decade. Double-A Trenton was unable to win their third consecutive Eastern League Championship, though Triple-A Scranton returned to the International League Championship Series after winning the crown in 2008. Overall, the Yanks’ six minor league affiliates combined for a 381-309 record, good for the second best winning percentage (.552) among the thirty clubs (Giants, .590).
Even with all the winning, the Yanks system took a big hit in all sorts of ways over the last year. Five key prospects graduated to the big leagues in 2009, while attrition knocked six others off my list all together. Five others are no longer with the organization for whatever reason. As a result, this year’s list features a whopping 16 new faces, quite the turnover in just 12 months.
As always, ranking prospects is all about trying to find a balance between performance, projection, and probability. Oodles of talent and great performance is all well and good, but if the player is in A-ball, we have to be careful and remember to temper expectations. There are certainly times that the player’s upside is so great that you can’t ignore it, no matter how far down the ladder they are. Remember, a lot of these guys are very interchangeable. I don’t think there’s much of a difference between this year’s #2 and #5 prospects, or the #15 and #30 prospects. When guys are that close, it comes down to preference.
Here’s my lists from 2007, 2008, and 2009. Hard to believe I’ve been at this for four years already, more if you count past blogging ventures. Anyway, the listed ages are as of April 1st of this year, and the fun starts after the jump.
Now that the draft signing deadline has come and gone, we can take a second to step back and try to figure out where all the new guys fit in. I’ve always believed that if you draft & sign a guy and he instantly becomes your top prospect, you either a) landed an absolute stud, or b) have a bad system. More often then not, it’s the latter. Thankfully the Yanks aren’t in that position, although first rounder Slade Heathcott still slides comfortably into the team’s top five prospects.
For the sake of comparison, you can find my predraft list here and my preseason list here. Phil Coke and David Robertson have since graduated to the majors, hence their exclusion. So without further ado …
- Jesus Montero, C – out for the year with a broken finger, but a .406 wOBP and a .222 IsoP in AA as a 19-yr is as good as it gets
- Austin Jackson, CF – hard to believe he’s still only 22, but more power and/or fewer strikeouts would be nice
- Austin Romine, C – constant improvement in every aspect of the game, there’s a whole lot to like here
- Slade Heathcott, CF – toolsy outfielder has enormous upside, but for now he’s behind Romine because he hasn’t done anything yet
- Zach McAllister, RHP – rock solid, doesn’t wow you … should contribute next year, but also doubles as Grade-B trade bait
- Arodys Vizcaino, RHP – top notch stuff but slowed by a recent back injury … big upside
- Mark Melancon, RHP – everything is there, just needs an extended chance
- Manny Banuelos, LHP – Futures Gamer relies on polish and command rather than sheer stuff
- Ivan Nova, RHP – after what seems like an eternity of waiting, it finally clicked this year
- Andrew Brackman, RHP – well, he made every start and stayed healthy all year … that’s a positive
- Jeremy Bleich, LHP – not performing in AA yet, but polished lefty should be a cheap back-end option sometime next year
- Dellin Betances, RHP – more injuries, more walks … still dreaming on upside here
- Mike Dunn, LHP – super high strikeout lefty just needs to limit his walks … a nastier version of Phil Coke
- Graham Stoneburner, RHP – pounds the zone with three average or better pitches & is allergic to homers
- Kelvin DeLeon, OF – gobs of talent and gobs of strikeouts, but has big time power potential
- JR Murphy, C – raw hitting ability and defensive skills are there; needs experience and refinement, though
- Frankie Cervelli, C – big league ready backup catcher … all that needs to be said
- Jairo Heredia, RHP – missed most of the season with some kind of arm injury, but has rebounded well
- Adam Warren, RHP - polished, pounds the zone, sits low-90′s and has touched 96 with SI … pleasant surprise
- Bradley Suttle, 3B – out all year with a shoulder problem, but he can flat out rake when healthy
- Wilkins DeLaRosa, LHP – similar to Dunn, but less breaking ball
- DJ Mitchell, RHP – annihilates RHB but gets crushed by LHB, needs to improve that changeup to avoid ROOGY status … Gaudin 2.0?
- David Adams, 2B – bat control guy with gap power & good on-base skills … I’m a fan
- Brett Marshall, RHP – out with TJ surgery, but a big arm that was holding his own as a teenager in full season ball
- Dan Brewer, RF – he’s a hitting savant … mashes lefties, righties, fastballs, breaking balls, pitches down, pitches up, you name it
- George Kontos, RHP – out with TJ surgery, but was doing well in AAA prior to the injury and on the cusp of the big leagues
- Kyle Higashioka, C – impressive all-around package behind the plate, but a million miles away
- Kevin Russo, IF – super high OBP guy can play a ton of positions, he’ll be the backup infielder’s backup next year
- Gavin Brooks, LHP – huge arm from the left side could move fast as a reliever, but might get another crack at starting
- Corban Joseph, 2B – he can hit, but he can’t do much more than that
Damon Sublett, Matt Richardson, and Nik Turley were pushed out when Heathcott, Murphy, and Stoneburner signed. I’m generally hard on international signees (I want to see them do something, anything, in the States before I buy into the hype), so Gary Sanchez fell well short of the list. I’m a big Graham Stoneburner fan, but I’ll admit I was aggressive in ranking him. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt me like Carmen Angelini did back in 2007.
Obviously major injuries to George Kontos, Chris Garcia, Bradley Suttle, and Brett Marshall affected their rankings greatly. Ivan Nova always had the stuff and projection, but never the polish to earn a high ranking. His breakout with Double-A Trenton vaults him up the list. Remember that the middle of the list is very fungible, I could have easily had someone like DJ Mitchell sitting just outside the top ten. It’s just preference, and this is how it shook out given my mood at the time.
So go ahead, file your complaints in the comments.
I post three personal prospect lists a year, but the pre-draft list is by far my least favorite. There hasn’t been enough time for anything to really change from my Preseason Top 30, except maybe for a few injuries and a graduation or two. However, I do like this list because it shows me how much my opinion of some players have changed in a relatively short amount of time. Obviously most of that is performance driven, but we also have to consider other factors like health and consistency. Joe Morgan would be proud.
Anyway, the top five prospects are the same as the preseason list, but you’ll notice they’ve been shuffled around a bit. Unlike most instances when players drop because they’ve been disappointing, this movement is due to a few players making improvements and having tremendous seasons. Two players have graduated to the bigs from my preseason list early in the season (Brett Gardner & Al Aceves), and four others have dropped off the list entirely for various reasons (Carmen Angelini, Humberto Sanchez, Brandon Laird & Steven Jackson).
Keep in mind that there’s really not much difference between prospect #3 and prospect #6, or prospect #11 and prospect #22. It’s just a matter of preference, so don’t get too worked up if one of your favorite prospects is lower than you expected. Anywho, let’s get to it…
- Jesus Montero, C: destroyed the pitcher friendly Florida State League, and he’s now playing in AA as a teenager
- Austin Jackson, CF: hasn’t shown much power yet and he’ll always be prone to the strikeout, but his walk rate just keeps getting better
- Zach McAllister, RHP: more than holding his own as a 21-yr old in AA, and it’s not just because of the pitcher haven known as Waterfront Park (1.40 ERA on the road)
- Andrew Brackman, RHP: he’s passed the “just stay healthy” portion of the season, now he needs to start fufilling some of that promise
- Mark Melancon, RHP: low walks, high strikeouts, high groundballs, lots to like, he just needs to be challenged now
- Dellin Betances, RHP: struggled to maintain the impovements he made in the second half last year, then he went down with a forearm injury
- Phil Coke, LHP: he is what he is, a legit ML reliever that’ll make you nervous in big spots from time to time
- Austin Romine, C: rock solid, and he’ll finally get a chance to get out from under Montero’s shadow
- Jeremy Bleich, LHP: good K/BB, but I’m a bit worried because he doesn’t miss many bats
- David Robertson, RHP: he’s done all he can in the minors, now he just has to take advantage of his big league opportunities
- Manny Banuelos, LHP: tremendous strikeout rate (9.78 Kper9) and good walk rate (2.77 BBper9), lots to like here
- Wilkins DeLaRosa, LHP: ditto Banuelos’ comment, except with a 9.70 Kper9 & 3.42 BBper9
- Jairo Heredia, RHP: hasn’t pitched this year because of “soreness and tightness,” but all the tools are there for him to be very successful
- George Kontos, RHP: stuff is finally translating into consistent results, he’s pitched his way into big league consideration
- Mike Dunn, LHP: a two-outing hiccup in early May skewed his numbers, but he’s dominating both RHB & LHB with a super high K rate (11.53 Kper9)
- Chris Garcia, RHP: flashing the same outstanding stuff, but as usual it’s just a question of health
- Bradley Suttle, 3B: hasn’t played this year because of offseason shoulder surgery, doesn’t sound like he’ll be back anytime soon
- Brett Marshall, RHP: holding his own in his first full professional season, needs to do a better job against RHB though
- Arodys Vizcaino, RHP: big time stuff will be unleashed on the short season NY-Penn League later this month
- Frankie Cervelli, C: filled in admirably while Jorge Posada was out, but he really needs regular at-bats in the minors
- David Adams, 2B: showing good contact skills and plate discipline, in line for a midseason promotion
- DJ Mitchell, RHP: burst on the scene in a big way, but has to do better against LHB to keep it up
- Ramiro Pena, IF: big league defense, but another guy who should be getting regular at-bats in the minors
- Juan Miranda, 1B: big time improvements against LHP bode well for his future as a trade bait
- Kevin Russo, IF: struggling with some various leg injuries, but he’s flashed the same offensive skills he showed during his breakout year last year
- Ivan Nova, RHP: save for one bad outing in early May, it looks like he’s finally having that breakout year we’ve all been waiting for
- Ryan Pope, RHP: having an okay year in AA, but a move to the pen may be in order
- Garrison Lassiter, 3B: keeping his head above water in full season ball, but he’s been on the DL for over a month now with a mystery injury
- Jorge Vazquez, 1B: has tremendous power, but he’s got an odd reverse platoon split that needs fixin’
- Jon Albaladejo, RHP: I still believe he can become a solid ML middle reliever
In my opinion, there are only two players in this draft class that would unquestionably become the Yanks’ top prospect if the team managed to draft and sign them: Stephen Strasburg & Dustin Ackley. Obviously, there’s basically no chance either player makes it out of the top three picks. There’s about three or four others that would garner consideration for the top spot, but I’d have to think long and hard about it. Not to mention do more research.
The second half of this midseason prospect ranking update comes after the August 15th signing period, when we know who exactly the Yanks have added to the organization.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
Over the years I’ve gone through phases when it comes to these lists. A few years ago I was all about upside; if you had a significant ceiling you were making my list, regardless if you struck out 195 times in 134 games (coughTimBattlecough). These days I find myself favoring probability and closeness to the majors. Don’t get me wrong, upside is still a huge part of prospect rankings, but I’m definitely starting to weigh readiness more in my rankings. It just makes sense considering the shift towards younger players in today’s game.
The Yankees’ system was definitely in the red this year. The losses sustained due to graduation, trades, injuries and ineffectiveness outweigh the gains brought on by breakouts and player acquisitions. Three players from last year’s top ten are no longer with the organization, and just one player from the top five makes a repeat showing there this year. On top of that the Yanks failed to sign their first and second round draft picks. While they’ll reap the benefits of the compensation picks this year, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to match the potential of Gerrit Cole, nevermind Scott Bittle. Forfeiting their first, second and third round picks in next year’s draft for signing free agents means they’ll be working at a disadvantage as they try to rebuild the system.
Despite all that, the Yanks’ affiliates did a whole lotta winning this year. Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton (pictured) each won their league titles this year, and it was Trenton’s second consecutive championship. All told the minor league affiliates combined for a 406-287 record (.586 winning percentage), far and away the best in baseball. They were the only club to eclipsed the 400 win mark, and the next best organization (Rangers) had a .556 winning percentage. Winning obviously takes a back seat to development in the minor leagues, but it’s always nice to give your young players a taste of success.
As I was putting this list together, I didn’t have to put too much thought into figuring out who the organization’s top three prospects were. Barring a trade I knew exactly who numbers one, two and three were going to be basically since September. Numbers four through seven are pretty interchangeable in my eyes, eight through nineteen even more so. Don’t get too worked up if I ranked your favorite prospect lower than you would have liked, quite often the difference between a set of two, three or ten prospects is smaller than you may think.
So the August 15th signing deadline came and went, but sadly a whole bunch of nothing went on in Yankeeland. The Yanks didn’t sign their first or second round pick, and made up for it only by signing their sandwich pick, a LHP who may or may not have elbow issues. It takes about five years before you can accurately judge a draft class, but so far this looks like the weakest crop of Damon Oppenheimer’s impressive tenure as Scouting Director.
That said, the Yanks did add some nice talent and solid organizational depth, with six players jumping right into my Top 30. Overall the system is down quite a bit from this time last year, partly due to the graduation of Joba & IPK, but mostly because of trades, injury and general ineffectiveness. Here’s my pre-draft list, and keep in mind that the prospects I ranked 16 through like, 28 are pretty interchangeable. Fun starts after the jump.
The third point of the season isn’t the best time to take stock and assess how the prospects in the minors are doing, but that’s not going to stop me. There’s been a decent amount of movement at the top, which is the result of just about everything: graduation, injuries, ineffectiveness, hissy fits and domination.
Here’s my updated look at the Yanks’ top 30 prospects, as they stand the day before some fresh blood is infused into the system. You can check out my preseason list for comparisons sake.
- Joba Chamberlain, RHP – right at 50 IP for his career, so he hasn’t passed the rookie limit yet … i think we’re all looking forward to seeing him in the rotation for the rest of the year (or at the least the smart ones are)
- Jesus Montero, C – surpassed all expectations for this year, there’s no one in the draft class that can knock him from this spot
- Austin Jackson, CF – improved his plate discipline, hitting for power, playing good D … there’s a lot to like here
- JB Cox, RHP – came back from TJ like a champ, much better than I expected
- Mark Melancon, RHP – see above
- Zach McAllister, RHP – went from sleeper to stud thanks to his lights out first half
- Dellin Betances, RHP – the walks are high, and the tired shoulder is a minor concern, but he’s doing about all you could ask him to do in his first attempt at full-season ball
- Ross Ohlendorf, RHP – yep, he’s technically still a prospect, and he’s better than his numbers suggest
- Alan Horne, RHP - if it wasn’t for the biceps injury, he would probably be in the bigs
- Andrew Brackman, RHP – too much talent to ignore, TJ or not
- Jose Tabata, RF – if you want to act like a baby I’ll rank you like one … lucky for him he’s just 19
- Brett Gardner, CF – hitting for enough power to keep pitchers honest, and that’s all he needs
- Jeff Marquez, RHP – finding out that Triple-A hitters make you pay when you don’t get the ball down
- Carmen Angelini, SS – not the best start to the year, but he’s young for his league and has loads of ability
- David Robertson, RHP – just keeps mowing guys down
- Dan McCutchen, RHP – is he the guy that dominated Double-A, or the guy that’s scuffling in Triple-A?
- Abe Almonte, CF – flashing all 5 tools and putting up the numbers … stud
- Austin Romine, C – having an impressive year at the dish and behind it, which is more than you can ask from a teenage catcher in full season ball
- Chris Garcia, RHP – getting back into game action was step 1, step 2 is putting in the work needed to be great, because he’s got all the talent he’d ever need
- Colin Curtis, LF – not flashy, but he does everything just good enough
- Jairo Heredia, RHP – too bad I don’t know what the “upper body injury” was
- Humberto Sanchez, RHP – still MIA
- Bradley Suttle, 3B – mashed his way into the top 20 between injuries this year after a brutal debut last year
- Juan Miranda, 1B – shoulder issues have sapped his power, but it was already clear that he’s a classic platoon first baseman/DH
- Kevin Whelan, RHP – almost a forgotten man in the system
- Ryan Pope, RHP – enigmatic isn’t the right word, but he’s … unique
- Frankie Cervelli, C – holding down a spot based on reputation after the injury
- Mike Dunn, LHP – hopefully he won’t be the top ranked lefty when I do the post-draft list, no offense to Mike
- Edwar Ramirez, RHP – still prospect eligible, and still striking out almost 2 batters an inning
- Justin Snyder, 2B – all he does is get on base and score runs
No fancy intro today, I gave you the schpeel yesterday. The Yanks have a pretty obvious top 4 prospects, and an even more obvious #1. After that though, opinions vary because everybody has their own preferences, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m hear to tell you what mine are. One thing we can all agree on is that it’s a great time to be fan of the farm system, because the system hasn’t been this stacked since the law firm of Johnson, Soriano & Henson roamed the upper levels.
Yesterday I gave you the guys who just missed the cut, today you get the rest of the list. I find the last 8 guys on the list (plus the 5 just misses) to be very interchangeable, which is a good thing because they’re all #23 caliber prospects, not #30 types. Lemme know what you think in the comments. The good stuff is comes after the jump.
I wasn’t planning on putting together a midseason list, but once I saw that everyone else doing it, I figured I might as well join the party. You can catch Fabian’s Top 30 List hereÂ and EJ’s here. I’m not going to go into too much detail because not all that much has changed as far as individual scouting reports and stuff like that. You can find my Preseason Top 30 list here, for comparisons sake. List after the jump.
The landscape of the Yanks’ farm system has changed pretty dramatically since last season, thanks to some crafty wheeling and dealing on Cash Money‘s part. Â The Sheff and Unit deals landed the Yanks a total ofÂ 6 prospects (5 pitchers), all but one of whom jump right into my Top 30. It’s not all good news though, as elbow troubles have set back the careers of 3 of the Yanks’ most promising young arms: Christian Garcia,Â Mark Melancon, and most recently, JB Cox.
I had planned on giving a scouting report for each player, but Fabian of RLYW and EJ of Pending Pinstripes/Pinstripes Potentials have already done that this offseason, so I’m not going to regurgitate that info. Instead, I’m just going to tell you what I think about the kid. Even though he technically is a rookie and a prospect, I didn’t include Kei Igawa because of his experience in Japan. In case you’re wondering, I would have ranked him #9.Â
So here it is: