What To Expect When You’re Expecting
Prospects are like a high school flame…the anticipation of seeing them is almost too much to bear. Some will move away to be coveted by another, once in a while they will turn out to be all that you hoped they would be, and in the end most of them will break your heart. Yankee fans are no stranger to this, having loved and lost a pair of highly touted young players in the last couple of years, watching some fail to reach their potential, and a few that are the object of our new found affection.
What we need to keep in mind is that this isn’t exclusive to the New York Yankees; not every season is going to be like 2010 where there were few injuries and the big names all seemed to take leaps forward. This doesn’t mean that our farm system is without its flaws, its merely a reminder to take a little perspective when viewing our next crop of young players. I recently had a discussion with someone that was unhappy about NY’s first round picks the last ten years or so, which at first thought seemed reasonable. That was, until I pulled up some other teams who by and large are looked at as having great success drafting and developing. What I came up with was a bunch of lists fairly similar to what we’ve seen in the Bronx; aside from the “can’t miss” players that get taken in the first five to ten picks it was a mish mash of reasonable success, outright failures and a whole lot of “what should have beens” that failed to live up to their hype. Again, when taking a look at the big picture and not using Yankee tunnel vision I didn’t see a stark difference between the Yanks’ 1st rounders and the rest of baseball. It’s great to see a players ceiling and start projecting their stat lines their rookie year and beyond, but a ceiling is in now way a guarantee, and in most cases is not likely to be realized.
One notion that seems to surface often when discussing the current state of our farm system is that it hasn’t produced like the one that fed the glorious dynasty years. There’s no doubt that the system headed by Gene Michael and company turned out some of the greatest Yankees of all time, namely Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera who will likely stroll into the Hall of Fame with much fanfare and little to no doubt that they belong there. Along with two first ballot players that system churned out some others that proved to be the backbone of those teams. Names like Williams, Posada and Pettitte may never see the likes of Cooperstown, but they have certainly made their mark in Yankee lore and cannot go unmentioned. You could argue that one of, if not all three have earned their ticket to the Hall, or maybe have their numbers retired, but that’s a discussion for another day. The point of all this is, while it was fantastic to grow up a Yankee fan watching all of these guys hit the scene and come together to march to victory so many times it has spoiled us a bit and heightened our expectations to unrealistic proportions.
It comes to no surprise that this next round of prospects, some of which who are climbing the ranks of Baseball America’s top prospect sheets, will be subject to the same lofty and in some cases obscene standards that were set back in the 90’s. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing better than witnessing the birth of so many illustrious careers, but a little levity needs to be exercised when projecting those same hopes and dreams on the upcoming group of players. With all that said, there are some similarities between the two groups. We have a power hitting offense-first catcher in Sanchez, a pair of lefties in Turley and Banuelos, the former of which has certain comps to Pettitte, a late inning closer with a devastating out pitch in Montgomery, some slick fielding outfielders in Williams and Heathcott and a bat first guy (Austin) that could end up manning a corner spot anywhere on the field. There’s even some serious potential a bit further back in Gumbs who has the potential to shore up another up the middle spot in Yankee Stadium.
Despite the lack of players chomping at the bit in Scranton the Yankee farm system has plenty of names to look forward to, but try to gauge your expectations and remember the one that broke your heart back in your grade school days, because it’s bound to happen again….and again, but will inevitably lead to another love affair. This is what makes following these players as they try and make their way to greatness so exciting, and what makes all the heartache worth it in the end.