2013 Top 40 Prospects

Austin jumped all the way to AA Trenton (flickr photo by slgckgc used through (Commons license)

Austin improved his stock more than any other player and isn’t far from N.Y. now in AA Trenton (flickr photo by slgckgc used through (Commons license)

The Yankees Minor league system had an up and down year in 2012.   Several of their older and upper-tier prospects had injuries (Banuelos, Romine, Campos) or setbacks (Betances).  Add to that the trade of #1 prospect Jesus Montero and it left the upper levels of the system without much impact talent ready to help in the Bronx.  However,  it wasn’t all bad news as  the organization saw the continued positive development from a wave of strong young players who began the year at the A-ball level.  What the system loses in not having much in the way of near MLB-ready talent, it makes up for with a deep well of quality players in the lower rungs.  These players, led by M.Williams, Sanchez, Austin & Heathcott, will start in High A or AA this year and could make this a Top 5 system by next year.  Most of the main Prospect Writers have the Yankee system rated in the #10-14 range right now.

As we have seen this offseason, Yankees ownership is serious about cutting payroll to get below the Competitive Balance Tax Threshold in 2014 and beyond.  The only way the team can remain a playoff contender is to start getting major contributions from their Farm System.  Unfortunately, the high-end talent likely won’t be ready to make a major impact until 2015-2016 but some of these guys may get an opportunity to play in the majors sooner rather than later.  And for the first time in years, the team may start to give legitimate opportunities  to their prospects in New York.

Following is a breakdown of the organizations Top 40 prospects as chosen by myself (Jamie or Fish) and fellow-writer Rob (jimmytoucan).  We tried to talk to some minor-lg coaches and writers to get their input on certain players and have included some quotes from those we have spoken to personally.

1) Mason Williams – CF, 21 – AA, 2015

Mason has literally grown into the team’s best prospect.  No one questioned his amazing defense in CF, plus speed or quality hitting & bunting skills but many wondered if he’d ever be more than a slap-hitting singles hitter.  He responded by adding 30 pounds last offseason and delivering 11 HRs with a .474 SLG% in 359 ABs before  shoulder surgery cut his season short in July.

Fish: I ranked him 1st because I think he’ll continue to gain strength and become a solid 2-way CF.  I see his floor as no worse than a Brett Gardner-type player in the majors. He doesn’t walk as much as Gardner but he has great contact skills and could very well develop into a much stronger offensive player.

Rob: Toolsy CF’er with tremendous contact ability. Hits for average with room to add some power. Potential plus defender and 30 SB capability. I had him ranked #2 on my list simply because I value the catcher position a bit more in a system with three outfielders in the top 4.

2) Gary Sanchez – C, 20 – HiA, 2015

Sanchez earned a reputation as an immature kid with questionable work ethic in 2011 and his ability to remain a Catcher was in question as he had 26 Passed Balls in just 60 games. But he was a new man in 2012, showcasing much improved defensive skills and the leadership required to guide a pitching staff.  His ability to crush a baseball was never in question and his plus power to all fields makes him one of the top Catching prospects in the game.

Fish:  2011 was his first full season in the U.S. so I give him a pass for his struggles as an 18 year old kid. I love Sanchez’ bat and I think it will be MLB-ready well before his ability to catch is.  With the Yanks’ preference for defense at the Catcher spot, I wonder if Sanchez will want to make the sacrifices needed to become a Catcher, but worse case scenario I think he’ll hit enough to support a switch to 1B down the road.

Rob: My number one overall pick, due to playing a more difficult position. Defense was in question rolling into 2012 but from various accounts has taken steps forward. Rated best power hitter in the system, plus arm and hit tool. Ranked the #3 catching prospect in baseball.

Kiley McDaniel:  We asked him if Sanchez has the ability to catch for the Yankees with their emphasis on defense, “Could. Will take lots of work, up to him.”

Slade may be the most talented player in the system

Slade may be the most talented player in the system

3) Slade Heathcott – CF 22 – AA, 2014

Slade has the most ability in the entire system and is the closest thing they have to a 5-tool player.  His short career has been filled with shoulder injuries and some character questions but he was finally healthy and put it all together last year. Hit .307/.378/.470 in Tampa and then hit .388 with 10 XBH’s in 18 games in the Arizona Fall Lg where he was ranked as the #6 prospect.

Fish: Slade jumps out at you when you watch a game.  His immense talent is obvious and he plays the game with a fervor and intensity that is a joy to watch.  Because of that zeal and aggressiveness, he may be more prone to injuries but if he can stay healthy, he could be a star and fan favorite in NY. He’ll need to turn it down a notch to withstand the rigors of a 162-game season.

Rob: Had people buzzing after his performance in the AFL this year. Potential five tool player in spite of his second shoulder surgery. Brings a level of intensity to the field that could actually be his downfall. Huge ceiling with a pretty low floor.

Former Charleston Hitting Coach & current Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn : “He has ability to adjust his swing, we call it “Adjustability” with his swing – he can be fooled and still get the bat head to the ball. He definitely has the power, has the bat speed, can run, put the ball in play, get on base…..so he has all the things you look for in a Major League player”

Taken from ESPN.com…..Keith Law: “I do think he has star potential if he stays healthy, which is a huge if. He plays like his hair’s on fire (and) that’s not a great thing for a player who’s injury-prone … the star potential is from the athleticism – plus runner, really good swing, strong hands. Just needs to dial it down one notch.”

4) Tyler Austin – RF, 21 – AA, 2014

No Yankee prospect was more productive in 2012.  He has hit at every level and his .322/.400/.559/.960 season vaulted him from a #13th round pick in 2010 to a Top 100 prospect who was chosen to play in the Futures Game. He changed positions with ease from 3B to RF and shows ability to be an above-average OF.

Fish:  I’ve always admired Austin’s baseball instincts and smarts. He’s solid in all aspects and despite being an average runner, he has stolen 41 of 43 bases the last 2 years by picking the right pitches and situations. He’s a gamer and will rise quickly – don’t be surprised to see him in the Bronx next year.

Rob: Solid defender that whose bat should play well in RF. High baseball IQ, high floor. Solid bet to be a slightly above average everyday player with room for a bit more.

5) Manny Banuelos – LHP, 22, AAA/INJ – 2014

The elbow injury essentially sets Manny back 2 years in his development but it is not a death sentence by any means. He’ll still be only 23 in 2014 and recovered from TJS. He was the #13 prospect in all of MLB this time last year and showed command improvements in May before he was shutdown.  He has great makeup & pitchability to go along with a plus Changeup, plus low to mid-90s FB and average or better Curve.

Fish: I really like Banuelos for his poise and confidence on the mound.  That mound presence from a lefty with 3 plus piches make him an attractive starter.  The big question with him will be his durability.

Rob: Manny is still my top pitching prospect due to him being a left hander that can get into the mid 90’s, the best changeup in the system and two more secondary offerings that give him #2 potential. His size is the biggest knock against him but he has an easy delivery that does not require max effort every pitch.

6) Jose Campos – RHP, 20, HiA – 2015

Was extremley impressive in his first 4 starts at Charleston but missed almost the entire year with elbow problems. It didn’t require surgery and he’s healthy and throwing now. Campos is 6’4″ with long arms and has front of the rotation potential. Could be a very fast mover up the ladder if 100% as he has both the stuff and the pitchability to succeed.

Rob: Tremendous polish for a pitcher his age, he throws in the mid 90’s with solid command. Secondary stuff needs work but he has plenty of time to get it under wraps.  Great projectable frame with upper rotation potential. For me he was a real coup in “The Trade” and could swing it handily in the Yankees’ favor.

Fish:  I agree with Rob, Campos is the guy who could salvage the Montero trade but it will take a few years to see. When I spoke to his pitching coach in Charleston, Danny Borrell,  he raved about him.

Danny Borrell, Charleston RiverDogs Pitching Coach:   “Kid really knows how to pitch and to back it up he has plus stuff across the board. His intangibles are very impressive. He pitches in well, the pace of the game in which he pitches makes hitters uncomfortable, he can pitch his way through a lineup.  For someone his age to know how to do that is impressive.”

“He was 90-95, a Curveball he can throw for a strike in any count and a Change up that is developing – but something that will be a very good pitch for him as he gets older.  He’s been throwing and by all accounts he’s healthy now.”

7) Angelo Gumbs – 2B, 20 – HiA – 2015

Tremendous athlete with incredible bat speed.  Stole 26 bases and hit 7 HRs in just 67 games before his season ended with a triceps injury. He plays hard and has had complements on his work ethic.  Reviews are mixed on his defense but he has a strong arm and great athleticism so could move to the OF down the road if needed.

Rob: Incredible bat speed out of Gumbs, he’ll be a bat first second baseman. While Cano has us fans spoiled a guy like Gumbs could make losing Robbie to FA sting a bit less, although he’s a couple of years away yet. His defense isn’t quite as flashy as our current 2B, but it’s plenty good that his bat could bridge some of that gap. Overall he’s got above average potential that’s 3 years away.

Fish: Reminds me a little of Austin Jackson. They were both drafted for their incredible athletic ability knowing it would take them a while to develop their baseball skills. It worked with Jackson and Gumbs is coming along nicely. He gets overshadowed by mason Williams but Gumbs was drafted 2 rounds before him and he is every bit as talented as Mason.

8) Brett Marshall – RHP – 23, AAA -  2014

Marshall doesn’t have the upside of the guys in front of him but falls in the Top 10 because he’s looks like a lock to be a back-end of the rotation MLB starter.  Showed potential in Yankee  Spring Training then went 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA in AA so he’s on the doorstep of NY.  He’s got a big time Changeup and features a hard sinking Fastball that sits 91-93 MPH.  His Slider was more of a show-me pitch last year until something clicked in the 2nd Half and he began unleashing a nasty one. His K per 9 went from 6.0 in the 1st half to 9.0 with the improved Slider.

Fish: Marshall reminds me of David Phelps with his poise and the way he attacks hitters. His Change is a weapon vs LH hitters and if his Slider is for real he now has an equal weapon vs RH hitters. Eats innings because he keeps his pitch counts low by challenging hitters and getting easy outs with his Sinker.

Rob: Steady Eddie. Mentioning his name might not raise too many eyebrows, but he continues to move along at a steady pace and chew up innings. He’s got a heavy sinker/slider combo that may not miss a ton of bats but he induces enough weak contact to make up for it. I like any guy that can keep the ball down, especially pitching in YS3.

Marshall is doorstep to the Bronx (flickr photo by paul.hadsall used through Creative Commons license)

Marshall is doorstep to the Bronx (flickr photo by paul.hadsall used through Creative Commons license)

9) Ramon Flores – OF, 21 HiA/AA -  2015

Flores is overshadowed by the big 3 OF’s in the system but he is a quality prospect in his own right. Has perhaps the sweetest, most natural swing in the system and his strikezone awarness his excellent. Hit .303/.370/.425 in Tampa and homered in his one game in AA. He’s solid defensively and has average speed, the only question mark is will he hit for power. He’s getting stronger each year and many think his power will develop later similar to Cano.

Rob: I had him slightly lower on my list, and I’ll admit it has something to do with the positional plethora in the OF, and his slightly lower ceiling than those that outranked him. He makes great contact, has hit everywhere he goes and can hold his own in the field. Amongst a group filled with the likes of Williams, Heathcott and Austin he looks more like the odd man out/4th outfielder

Fish: His swing is a hitting coach’s dream and has been compared to Cano when he was in the minors. His stroke and great patience/strikezone recognition remind me  more of fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu. Flores hits breaking balls well and may be a guy who hits better against stronger pitching at higher levels.

Former Charleston Hitting Coach & current Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Greg Colbrunn:  “He picks up pitches as well as anyone I’ve seen come through here. He picks up pitches right out of the pitcher’s hands and has real good strike zone discipline and pitch recognition – and he recognizes it real early. The biggest thing with him was getting him to be more aggressive in counts where he could take advantage of it and let some of his natural ability take off more.  He has one of the most natural swings we’ve had come through here. And he does have some power. The difference between 2 years ago when I first saw him and last year when his body filled out and the strength he had was big.”

10) Ty Hensley – RHP, 19 LoA – 2017

2012′s 1st round pick is a big (6’5 215 pounds) kid with a power repertoire and huge ceiling.  He’s been sitting at 92-95 with a knee-buckling 12-6 Curve.  has makings of a good Change too but only has 12 pro innings so far so he has a lon way to go.  MRI after Draft found a shoulder “abnormality” but he continues to pitch without pain or limitations.

Fish:  Difficult to rank a kid just drafted who I’ve never seen but he makes but he has the pedigree, size and arm you look for in the 1st round.

Rob: Like many pitchers his age he’s got work to do on his secondary stuff, but he’s got upper rotation potential and seems very driven to get to the BX as soon as possible.

Ty Hensley in interview with Fish in July: “The picture (MRI) has nothing to do with ability and until something hurts or there are symptoms or until there is instability there is no reason to be concerned.  I’m healthy, I’m gonna be healthy and will keep working to stay healthy.”

11) Rafael DePaula – RHP, 22 – LoA – 2015

DePaula is another hard-throwing, high-ceiling RHP who sits 93-96 with an already nasty Curveball.  The yanks signed him out of the Dominican in November 2010 but he wasn’t cleared by MLB until 16 months later because of age verification issues. He dominated the Domincan Summer Lg then put on a show in the Instructional league this Fall. He should move quickly up through system.

Rob: This is a long time coming, and many of us have been anticipating his arrival stateside for years now. the competition in the DSL was no match for a guy with his kind of fastball and a solid second offering so the numbers are a little deceiving. Like Campos he has a serious FB, good command and some work to do on his offspeed/breaking pitches.

Fish: Even harder to rank than Hensley. We don’t know how old he really is but if we believe his latest birth certificate he’ll be 22 in March.  At that age he should dominate the lower levels.  But his stuff is said to be electric and he was highly coveted coming out of DR.

12) David Adams – 2B/3B, 25 – AAA – 2013

Adams was finally healthy in 2012 after missing 2 years due to the ankle injury.  he was moved to 3B at the end of the season which helps his versatility since he’s already considered an average 2B who turns the pivot very well. But it’s his excellent plate discipline and line drive producing bat that is his greatest strength. Showed increased power with 8 HRs in 86 games and another 3 in 22 Arizona Fall lg games where he had an impressive .912 OPS.

Rob: His bat would certainly play better at second, but positional need at the major league level may have prompted the switch. For me his ranking is more about his proximity to the majors than it is his ceiling, and having guys that are close to stepping in is a bit of a commodity at this point in the farms overall standing.

Fish: I like Adams and think he could play in the majors now if there was an opening.  That opening may come next season if Cano walks or if ARod is a DH only (or worse) and I wouldn’t mind seeing Adams get an opportunity.

13) Mark Montgomery – RHP, 22 AAA – 2013

Montgomery has rocketed through the system since being drafted in 2011.  His Slider is a truly filthy pitch and coupled with his 92-94 MPH moving Fastball give him the tools to pitch a MLB bullpen right now. He dominated in HiA and AA this year allowing just a .157 oppossing BA and striking out 99 in 64 innings.  He then pitched in the Arizona Fall Lg where he K’d 19 in 10 IP with a .143 BA against.

Borrell: “His Slider is a big lg pitch, a plus pitch that gets swing and misses from hitters on both sides (lefties & righties). His slider is something special. an asset for him in the big leagues.”

14) Nik Turley – LHP, 23, AA – 2014

The 6’6 lefty continues to get better and has worked hard to improve his stuff from fringy/average to above average.  His Changeup has always been considered a quality offering and he greatly improved his Fastball and Curve in 2012.  His FB now sits in the 90-92 range  and he started throwing a tighter, harder Curveball that gives him 3 effective offerings. He struck out a batter per IP and went 10-5 with a 3.00 ERA.

Rob:  I like him because he’s not the flashy high 90’s guy that blows barn doors off, he just goes out there and runs his game. Lefties always play up to pitching in YS3 and his size indicates he could be of the workhorse type.

Turley pitched in Trenton during playoffs (flickr photo by slgckgc used thru Creative Commons License)

Turley pitched in Trenton during playoffs (flickr photo by slgckgc used thru Creative Commons License)

15) Austin Romine – C, 24 – AAA – 2013

Romine was on the doorstep of NY after getting his feet wet in the Bronx in September of 2011.  Unfortunately a back injury limited him to just 31 total games and another 18 in the AFL.  Back injuries are not good for Catchers and Romine will have to prove he’s healthy enough to catch every day in AAA.  Defensively he is solid in every aspect which is important since the team favors defensive catchers.  Offensively, he shows some promise with a patient approach and some potential to it for some pop but right now he is a defense-first catcher.

Rob: I actually had Romine ranked a few spots higher, mostly due to the Yankees looking to give him a chance to play in the BX to open the season as well as a bit of a positional bump for being a catcher. He doesn’t have the ceiling of Sanchez, but he plays solid D and handles the staff well. His bat leaves a bit to be desired and it’s hard to go all in on a kid that missed much of the previous season but I think he could be good for ~50 games behind the dish this year.

Fish: I knocked Romine down a few slots on my list because of the Back injuries.  Back problems are chronic and can be a killer for a catcher. I still think he has the skills to be a MLB catcher but his offensive numbers have been in decline and I wonder if he’ll ever be a good MLB hitter.

16) Corban Joseph – 2B, 24 – AAA – 2014

Joseph has always had a nice line drive stroke that produced Singles and Doubles but he never had more than 6 HRs in a season.  This year he started to get more lift and backspin on those liners and hit 15 HRs at AAA.  What’s even more impressive is the new found HR-power also coincided with less strikeouts and more Walks. Joseph’s always good strikezone recognition was excellent and he looks like he’s ready to hit MLB pitching.  His defense will never be a strength but it’s considered adequate.

Rob: While no one is going to replace Cano, having Joseph and Adams able to hold down the position until Gumbs is ready to step in full time is somewhat relieving. Jospeh mashed righties last year so he’d be on the heavy end of a platoon if that’s the direction they had to go. His D is nothing to write home about, but he plays the spot well enough that his bat can close that gap and make it worth having him there.

Fish:  Love his 68 to 70 Walk to Strikeout ratio AND his improved power. He crushed RHP with a .961 OPS and I’d like to see hi get an opportunity in NY.  If they didn’t sign Hafner, they could have give him a look at DH vs RHP.  I definitely think he’ll hit enough to be a starting 2B in the majors – whether that’s with the Yanks or not, we’ll see.

Greg Colbrunn: “Corban is natural, gets bigger & stronger every year, ball comes off the bat a little crisper. He has an uncanny ability to get the barrel to the ball. He can be fooled, he can be beaten by a fastball and still be able to get the barrel to the ball. Great set of hands on him, he can go out and flick some things or jump on some things. Corban’s going to hit wherever he goes.”

17) JR Murphy – C, 21 – AA 2015

Murphy is often forgotten in the Yankee system because of the attention Romine, Sanchez and previously, Montero received as Catchers.  But Murphy is a fine prospect who keeps getting better.  He has a nice short stroke that rips line drives from gap to gap and like Joseph, he also has excellent contact skills and strikezone recognition.  He’ll develop more power as he develops.  Defensively, he took big strides in 2012 and he looks like a strong all-around Catcher.

Rob: His work behind the plate is worth talking about, and if he can catch up to his level with the bat he’ll be a nice commodity to have. He’s similar to Romine but with a bit more pop in his bat. He fills out the top three levels in the system with a guy that could spend time at the position in the majors and that gives us some strength of depth at a premium position.

Fish: I like Murph a lot and think he could develop into a better pro than Romine.  He’s a good leader who has become a strong defender in every category.  His offensive numbers lagged in 2012 but he was a 21-yr old catcher in AA. I think he’ll have a strong year in 2013.

18) Bryan Mitchell – 21, RHP – HiA – 2016

Mitchell’s first year in full-season ball produced a 9-11, 4.58 ERA.  He struck out 121 in 120ip and allowed just 7 HRs and a .240 BA against but he also walked 72 hitters. What the numbers don’t show is that Mitchell has perhaps the best natural stuff in the entire system.  His fastball sits 94-96 and can push up into the upper 90s.  His Curveball is a Plus pitch and the Changeup has that ability also.

Rob: He still struggles to throw strikes, but some of his runs allowed fall on the lack of defense behind him at times. Overall he has some of the better stuff in the system but if he’s going to succeed he’s going to have to be more consistent and cut down on the walks. This was one pick where Fish and I were pretty far apart; I’d love to dream on him more and if he can get his stuff together he’ll climb quickly up my rankings.

Fish:  Yes, I ranked Mitchell a lot higher than Rob.  The adjective “Electric” is thrown around a lot to describe pitcher’s stuff but in Mitchell’s case it truly applies.  He just needs to harness his amazing stuff and find the best way to command his pitches.  I asked Danny Borrell, who has been his pitching Coach the last 2 seasons in Staten Island and Charleston, how he has improved…..

Borrell: ” He’s going through the typical maturation process, just growing into his body. His last 3 starts in Charleston were what all of us envision he should look like,…he pitched under control but still had his mid-90s velocity, was able to throw his Curveball for a strike and his Changeup for a strike. Whenever you are able to do that with the power stuff that he has…. he has a chance to be special.”

Borrell on if he’s concerned with Mitchell’s high Walk totals, “You see a track record  with a lot of these power pitchers, it just take some time to grow into their velocity, grow into their body. His last 3 starts are really what’s in store for him as he moves up,  just a mentality of pitching within himself …understanding that its OK to go at 80% because 80% is gonna be mid to upper 90s anyway.

19) Dante Bichette, Jr. – 3B, 20 – LoA – 2017

Dante had a tough year adjusting to his first season away from home and in his first full season league.  He hit just .248 with 3 HRs after an impressive debut in the Gulf Coast Lg in 2011.  He still has the hitting and power tools that made him a 2nd round pick along with the great work ethich and makeup that the Yankees covet.  He could easily fly back up these rankings with a solid 2013.

Rob: Normally I’d be a bit more concerned than I am, but after reading that he spent much of the season tinkering around with his swing I thought it would be wise to give him a mulligan. He went on to say he got locked into something comfortable at the ned of the year, which was when he started hitting again so hopefully that carries through to 2013. He seems like a really bright kid with excellent makeup and a mature approach to the game; I’m looking for Dante to be my comeback player of the year.

20) Jose Ramirez – RHP, 23 – AA – 2015

After a poor 2011, things clicked for Ramirez in 2012.  He’s always had amazing stuff, a moving Fastball in the 93-96 range and a plus-plus Changeup with excellent fade that is a swing and miss pitch.  He also commands both pitches well for a young pitcher.  This year he finally began throwing a consistent breaking pitch – a Slider that gives him a weapon against RH hitters.  His stuff is now big-league caliber but he must improve his maturity, confidence and aggressiveness.

Rob: The more I think about it the more I wonder why I don’t have this guy ranked a bit higher. I guess I need to see if his breaking ball is for real or not. He’s got mid rotation potential if his third pitch stays with him and if it doesn’t he could always make a nice living as a late inning reliever.

Fish: We’ve long heard about his amazing stuff and this year he finally backed it up in competition.  He always seems to impress in Instructs and ST but  falls apart too much in actual games.  Adding the Slider may finally give him the “intestinal fortitude” to compete more and toughen up a bit in games.

21)  Dellin Betances – RHP, 25 – AAA – 2013

Quite a drop for Betances who’s days as a starting pitcher may be over.  His control totally fell apart in AAA this year that he had to be demoted to Trenton where he didn’t walk as many but gave up even more hits.  Overall he walked 99 and gave up 144 hits in 131 innings.  he pitched out of the pen in the AFL and showed better control so perhaps he can carve a niche in the pen.

Rob: If this is the end of the Dellin to the rotation experiment then he might just be able to contribute to the big club as soon as this coming season. At this point they need to figure it out since he’s taking up a spot on the 40 man, which are a valuable commodity these days.

Fish: He seems overwhelmed on the mound and perhaps giving him just an inning to worry about at a time will take some pressure off him and allow him to concentrate on getting an out at a time.  He still has quality stuff so it’s worth trying to salvage him in the pen.

22) Zoilo Almonte – OF, 23 – AAA – 2013

Zoilo had a strong 2012 hitting .277 – 21 – 70 with 15 SBs at AA Trenton.  He plays quality defense and has been improving his power the last 2 years.  His downfall is his strikout to walk ratio isn’t good and, although a switch-hitter, has struggled vs LHP. He’ll start in AAA and could be the first OF called up in case of injury.

Rob: A switch hitter that has 20-20 potential is worthy of some attention, and Zoilo garnered comments from Girardi last year during ST. He can play all three OF positions and if his power is for real and he can keep his K’s under control he could go from 4th outfielder to having a starting job on a major league team.

Fish: I like Zoilo and always rate him higher than most….. at worst he could be a platoon candidate in the majors as he crushes RHP.  LH power is always in demand at YS and Zoilo could see a lot of playing time in 2014 or even this year if Travis Hafner gets hurt or fails.

Almonte has shown good left-handed power (flickr photo used through Creative Commons license)

Almonte has shown good left-handed power (flickr photo used through Creative Commons license)

23) Adam Warren – RHP, 25 – AAA – 2013

Warren repeated AAA in 2012 and had a nearly identical season.  He had 1 start in NY and was roughed up in 2 innings but not much can be learned from that.  He’s good depth to have in AAA as back-end rotation depth and would have an opportunity to start on a lesser team.  Right now he’s behind Nova and Phelps and essentially 7th on the team’s rotation depth chart.

24) Matt Tracy – LHP, 24 – AA – 2014

Tracy skipped Charleston and started straight off in HiA Tampa and had an impressive season, even getting a late season start in AAA.  For a late bloomer, he has a lot of pitching smarts (pitchability) and is still improving.  He has a solid Fastball at 91-94 that he consistently keeps around the knees to generate groundballs (impressive 2.18 GO to Air Out rate) .  he also features 2 above-average secondary pitchers, a sinking Changeup and still improving Curveball.

Fish: When you have a big, athletic Lefty who has great mechanics, a winning demeanor, great command down in the zone and the ability to throw 3 big-league pitches for strikes….you have to be impressed.  he’s going to pitch in the Majors.

Rob: His age had him ranked a bit lower on my list, and I’d like to see him pitch his way to Trenton and have some success in order for him to maintain or move up on his ranking.

Borrell: “He’s a very athletic kid, able to repeat his delivery, ability to throw 3 pitches for strikes”

25) Ravel Santana – OF, 20 – LoA – 2017

Impressed everyone with his amazing tools after his impressive 2011 season in the Gulf Coast Lg.  But he had a devastating ankle injury at the end of the year which was similar to the one that set Davis Adams back for 2 years.  Although Sanatan is playing, it looks like it will take time for him to get  back to form. Reports were that he wasn’t 100% and there was some tentativeness in his game that was holding him back as well.  Hopefully he regains his form as he could be one of the most exciting players in the system. A successful 2013 campaign could see him shoot up to the top 10 or 15 on next years list.

26) Austin Aune – SS, 19 – LoA – 2017

Aune is a good athlete who was signed to play QB at TCU before signing with the Yanks as a 2nd round pick.  Although he hasn’t played much baseball, he has a natural swing and the Yanks drafted him high mostly because they believe in his ability to hit.  He’s not strong defensively and may need to move to the OF but for now, they will take a look at him as a SS.  He has a strong arm and good agility but he needs experience.

Rob: I had Austin ranked a bit higher, but only a couple of spots. Part of me is dreaming on his ability to stick at short, which looks like it’s going to be a bit of a long shot at this point. His hit tool is there, so if he has to move to the OF it won’t mean the end of his pro career

27) Greg Bird – 1B, 20 – LoA – 2017

Drafted for his strong hitting and power potential, Bird gave Catching a try but had back issues and was switched to 1B. He hit very well in a brief 28 game cameo between the Gulf and Staten Island. He was even more impressive in Instructs after the season showcasing his excellent strikezone judgement, sweet lefty swing and some major power potential.  Bird has excellent offensive potential and could be the biggest riser in the system in 2013.

Fish:  I had Bird rated ahead of Aune and in my top 20 for his tremendous hitting ability. He’s my #1 pick to break out in 2013 and climb the ladder.  His strikezone recognition coupled with his smooth swing and power bat have me very excited to see him play in full-season ball.

28) Zach Nuding – RHP, 23 – AA – 2015

Nuding is a big, strong (6’4 245) righty who had a strong year in Tampa that has him in line to start in AA this year. He throws a heavy, moving 92-95 MPH Fastball that is very difficult for hitters to barrel up.  His Slider and Changeup are nothing to get excited about though and may eventually force him into a relief role in the future.

Fish: I saw him pitch in 2011 and he tended to throw across his body a bit which will make it difficult to throw a consistent breaking pitch.  He’s shown the ability to throw as hard as 98 MPH and I think he’d be best suited to a relief role where he could dial up that bowling ball fastball to knock the bats out of hitter’s hands.

29) Corey Black – RHP, 21 – HiA – 2016

A 4th round pick this year, Black can bring the heat.  Though just 5’11, 180 pounds he can throw the ball from 96-99 MPH with some movement. He made 12 starts across 3 levels, limiting hitters to a .222 BA and struck out 50 in 52 ip.  His breaking pitches lack consistency but he has a nice Changeup which is his #2 pitch.  He could rocket up the system with his FB/Change combo as a reliever but the Yanks will likely try to develop him as a starter since they are flush with RH relievers.

Borrell:  “We had him at 96-99 in Charleston, although reports were he got up to 100 mph, I didn’t see it  he has a special arm and for our scouts to get a guy like him in that round (4th) is impressive.”

30) Cito Culver – SS, 20 – HiA – 2017

Cito had a disapointing season hitting just .215 with a scary-bad .283 SLG%.  But it’s not all bad news.  He shows very good defensive abilities and will be able to develop into a good defensive MLB Shortstop.  Given the dearth of quality SS’s that is a good commodity to have.  While he hasn’t hit yet, he has maintained a strong awareness of the strikezone as he drew 71 Walks. He’s still only 20 so there is time for his bat to develop.

31) Nick Goody – RHP, 21 – HiA – 2014

Drafted in the 6th round this year, Goody has drawn comparisons to Montgomery and David Robertson for his repertoire and aggressive demeanor on the mound.  He attacks hitter with a Fastball that sits in the 91-94 range but plays up due to his extension and follow-through. His Slider can be a nasty strikeout pitch when it’s on.  He K’d 52 in 32 innings and should fly through the system right behind Montgomery.

Borrell: “He;s the kind of guywho came up to Charleston after a few innings in Staten Island and looked like he belonged at the end of the game since Day 1.  he looks like he wants the ball in the 8th, 9th inning to get the Save.  Gets real good life and deception on his Fastball…90-95, nice Slider that he can expand when he’s ahead in the count to get swing and misses. Our track record getting these relievers in the Draft is very impresive.”

32) Brandon Pinder – RHP, 24 – AA – 2014

Pinder is another quality relief prospect with a power arm.  Pinder gets good late pop on his 93-95 MPH Fastball and throws a biting  Slider which is a solid 2nd pitch.  Like Montgomery, he’s a reliever who could be in NY very quickly.

33) Chase Whitley – RHP, 23 – AAA – 2013

Whitley threw 80 innings in AAA in 2012 and limited hitters to a .207 BA. He doesn’t have the upside of some of the previously mentioned relievers but he’s a phone call away from the majors. His best pitch is a plus Change Up, he has decent sink on his 2-seamer and he sits 90-93.  he also throws an average Slider.

34) Evan Rutckyj – LHP, 21 – LoA – 2016

The big lefty saw an uptick in his stuff in 2012 as his Fastball is now in the 91-94 range.  The added velocity has made it more difficult to control which has become his primary goal – to improve his control/command. He has a solid Change and developing but inconsistent Slider. One of Rutckyj’s strengths is his ultra competitive streak and good work ethic. He was a good hockey player growing up and takes that mentality to the mound.

Borrell: ” He got much stronger this year and added some velocity.  He was in the 88-94 range. He was working on slowing the game down.”

We asked Evan what he did during this off-season and he told us, “Off -season was mostly just working out 2 times a day putting some muscle on gained 15 lbs and refined my mechanics.”

35) Tommy Kahnle – RHP, 23 – AA – 2014

Yet another power, right-handed reliever with great ability.   Kahnle has had issues with his command but things clicked for him this year and he was more consistent with his mechanics.  He has a big league heavy fastball that sits in the 94-96 range ad can flash even higher. He gets strikeouts with his Plus-Plus Changeup that is a weapon vs lefties and righties.  If his new-found command is for real his FB-Change arsenal is good enough to get him to the Majors and he could really develop into something special if he can refine his Slider which is average at best right now.

36) Jose Pirela – 2B/SS/LF, 23 – AAA – 2014

Pirela took a big step forward offensively in 2012 and showed  good versatility defensively. He puts the bat on the ball, takes walks and has some gap to gap line drive power. Doesn’t look like he’s good enough to stick at SS but he could find a niche as a bench player in the majors as someone who can play IF and OF.

37)  Robert Refsnyder – 2B/OF, 22 – HiA – 2015

The Yanks drafted the College World series MVP with the idea of moving him from RF to 2B.  His real assets are his strike zone discipline and ability to make hard contact and his intangibles.  He has an all-out style of play that is infectous and his attitude and work ethic are his calling cards.  As an OF his offense may not be enough but if he can stick at 2B he may have a bright future.

38) Jordan Cote – RHP, 20 – LoA

A 3rd round pick in 2011, he was dominant in the Gulf Coast Lg but his season was halted after 27 innings due to elbow tendinitis.  He was healthy by the end of the year and showcased a nasty Change/Palm Ball in Instructs that he uses as a strikeout pitch.  Shows potential to have a nice downhill plane on his pitches with his 6’5″ frame.

39) Gabe Encinas – RHP, 21 – LoA – 2017

Encinas had a mediocre year in Staten Island this season but he went through a physical maturation at the end of the season that has everyone excited about his future. His Fastball jumped from 91-92 all the way up to the 95-96 range.  It took him a while to control it but he impressed a lot of people in the Fall in Yankee camp.  He’s always had a great Changeup so he’s one to watch in 2013.

40) Abe Almonte – CF, 23 – AAA – 2014

Almonte is a guy with definite big-league ability. A switch-hitter with plus speed, plus defense and a solid ability to rip line drives and recognize pitches.  He’s not only fast but a gifted base stealer and a true CF.  The only thing that has held him back are his injuries.  He’s yet to put together back to back healthy seasons which has hurt his development and leaves evaluators skeptical whether he can hold up to the rigors of a MLB season. He could be a starting CF and leadoff hitter in the bigs if he puts it all together and he’ll do no worse than a reserve OF, pinch runner, defensive replacement.

Honorable Mentions: The system is very deep and there are another 20-30 guys who could have easily made this list.  One player both Fish & Rob like a lot and want to give a shout out to is Vidal Nuno. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff or an incredible ceiling, he just pitches. At one point he was bounced out of the pros and caught on with an indy league before getting recruited to come to NY. During an interview he admitted he let the life get the better of him, partied a bit too much and didn’t realize his potential in his time in the Cleveland system. After a wake-up call he re-dedicated himself to his craft, mastered an offspeed pitch and since then has been a strike throwing machine that takes the ball every five days and gets the job done. He lives in the high 80’s and gets into 90-91, but has an excellent array of secondary stuff combined with his ability to put the ball where he wants. Maybe I just have a soft spot for junkballing underdogs, but I hope he gets his shot somewhere in the majors. Left handed swing man in the BX maybe? I’d also like to give a quick mention to Ronnier Mustelier, a Cuban defector that tore through the system in two years, hitting everywhere he went and ended 2012 in Scranton. Neither one of these guys really qualify for prospect status, as their advanced age runs them out of the race, and neither one is destined to be an all star but they’ve seen some really solid results at the upper levels. Even if they don’t end up getting major playing time for a contender either one of these cats could still make a nice career for themselves on a lower tier team or in a minor bench/pen role.

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About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on February 5, 2013, in Minor League Updates, Personal Opinion, Player Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 126 Comments.

  1. Guys great work. My top 5 to watch this year for me are Tyler Austin, Slade, Turley, Tracey and Rutckyj.

    Always great following the prospects.

    • thanks matt. i’ll have a hard time narrowing it down to five…. after really getting into following the farm system there’s so many players that catch my attention. our relief core looks really solid, withj 5 or 6 guys ready to step up in the next 2 years or so. starting pitching has some really hig ceiling arms but have levels to go. still lots of potential. i’m looking forward to seeing DePaula face better bats, Ramirez to repeat and shoot up the ladder, (he was mentioned by keith law as just missing the top 100) as well as our top 5 to stay on track. could be a really exciting year.

    • Great article, my top five are Williams, Heathcott, Montgomery, Austin, and Campos.

      • Two other great talents are Robert Ryfsnyder and Cory Black, Ryfsnyder has Jeter like qualities as intangibles as show in the college world series, while Black has that blazing fastball- 100 mph, with his small stature like Billy Wagner.

      • I really hope Campos remains 100% healthy all year because I think he has major potential….he has everything you look for in a starter and his pitching coach raved about his smarts and ability to set hitters up, work quickly and control the pace of the game. Impressive traits in a 20yr old.

        In terms of breakout players, I predict Greg Bird will be this year’s Tyler Austin. He signed for $1Million as a 5th rd pick but missed most of the yr with back problems. he moved from C to 1B to take pressure off his back and should start to mash. He’s big and strong (6’3 220) and has a nice compact swing with a wide base. Uses the whole field and has power to all fields.

        Bryan Mitchell could be the breakout pitcher. Has tremendous stuff and turned a corner at the end of last yr with his nw found Slider.

  2. Great work guys. I’m not much of a prospect guy so I can’t really add much to what you’re saying. One question is why is Montgomery at 12? Seems like he is a guy people are excited about and is higher on most lists I have seen. Also, what do you guys think of the system as a whole? Most of the rankings I have seen have it in the 10-15 range. Would you agree?

    • I have Montgomery down there simply because he’s a reliever and his impact is more limited than guys that put up ~200 ininngs or take the field every day. if we were to do a top 10 bullpen arms he’d stand alone at the top.

      as far as overall rankings, it depends on how heavily you weight each category. K Law seems to have gone a bit heavier on upside whereas Sickels is about “now” talent. either assessment is fair IMO, and strong cases could be made either way. moving forward this group has the potential to be a top 5 in the next year or two. with the core position players and a possibility of campos and banuelos returning from injury as well as potential high ceiling guys like henseley, depaula, ramirez and mitchell trying to make their way up, there’s a very real chance that the NY farm is one of the best in the game. with that said, a lot can happen both good and bad but it should be a hell of a ride.

      • You two guys did a heck of a job on this, thank you Fish and Jimmy.

        I hate the way Cashman treats the prospects with kid gloves. Other teams speed the arrival of young talent to MLB all the time, especially when that position is in need. Worked out fine for SF with Posey and the Angels with Trout.
        Catcher is obviously FUBAR with this team and Sanchez should be fast tracked with an eye on getting him ready for 2014. Any other team in baseball who had a tragic catching situation would be doing exactly that. Sanchez will turn 22 in 2014, that is NOT too young to attempt to have him ready with bat that he has.
        The thought of Cervelli and then Romine the next two years gives me acid reflux

    • Montgomery is a stud but relief pitchers don’t usually break top 10s unless they are clearly big-time closers. Montgomery has closing potential but I think he’s more likely to be a David Robertson-type…..high strikeout 8th inning guy.

      The Yankee system is absolutely loaded with Relief prospects. Not every organization drafts college relief pitchers high thinking they can develop relievers from their failed starters. but the Yanks clearly put an emphasis on power college relievers and it pays off. These guys move up the ladder fast as they only need to master 2 pitches. Montgomery, Goody, Whitley, Kahnle, Pinder to name a few all look like major-lg relievers. Add in failed starters like Betances and the yanks have a pipeline of solid arms to stock their pen for the next decade.

  3. Awesome job. I’m not much of a prospect junkie so I can’t really ad much to what you are saying but two questions. Why is Montgomery at 12? Seems like he is a guy people are excited about and has been higher on the lists I have seen. Also what do you think of the system as a whole? I have seen it ranked around the 10-15 range in most rankings would you agree with that?

    • As for the ranking of the system….I totally agree they belong in the 10-15 range. I like the Yankee system a lot and think they could be in the top 5-8 for the next 2 years if a few things go right. But they aren’t there yet for the following reasons:

      1) their 4 top guys are in A-ball and prospects don’t usually get taken seriously until they have success at the AA level

      2) They don’t have a clear-cut top of the rotation starter. Banuelos, Betances & Campos had that ability last spring but betances shit the bed and Manny & Campos missed almost the whole yr with injuries. This year, Campos, DePaula, Mitchell, Hensley & Jose Ramirez all have the tools so if they could help the team’s ranking if they progress

      3) lack of MLB-ready talent. Adams & Joseph are nice players but not elite and won’t get opportunities this yr…..Montgomery is the only impact pitcher and he’s a reliever

      • Brett Marshall “Steady Eddie”, if this guy lives up to his Name sake, the one and only…”Steady Eddie” LoPat…the man that showed me how to make more out of my pitches, how to turn 1 pitch into 3 etc.
        Brett is right-handed and about like CMW and Nova. My hope is someone doesn’t try to make him into a strike out pitcher, like Nova did to himself, as did CMW.

        Very fine writing guys, there could be an argument for moving a player up or down but, I’m not the guy to try it…a few of them are interchangeable. I say you guys done, done great. :)

  4. For some reason I thought my original post didn’t post my bad lol

  5. Great article guys! The one player that I’m looking out for is Mark Montgomery. I watched him in the rising stars game and his stuff is absolutely filthy!! He could be the next David Robertson.

    Mason Williams could be the next Brett Gardner but with more pop in his bat. I’ll be watching Williams closely this Spring.

  6. SORRY TO INTERRUPT…the pep rally boys, but this Long Island scribe
    has to air his views also.
    I have survived a seventh Polar Bear Sunday. Yet to meet Jesus, but this one
    was very hard to do. Going under the water in February is a task, but they raised, a
    half million for the ‘Make A Wish Foundation.’
    I have some time to share tonight, with my blue collar bloggers.
    Not for nothin’…what are we? Authors? Sports journalists? Reporters? Hemingways?
    Nah….just simple unwashed tent show folks. Not the snake oil kind.

  7. BOBBY NUNEZ…going to AAA? Maybe, according to LoHud today. Let him hone
    his skills at SS, they report…..”Look-out, duck!…is she still alive?…medic, medic!”
    Where does he play on this team? After DH, it’s a mystery.
    I have always felt him packaged in a trade…with Cano?

  8. DAN L…REMEMBER HIM?… Long time icon with many of you. Charming guy.
    He posted a comment at a favorite site of mine recently. Stating he can come back, but
    has reservations. Show him your support. The more the merrier.

    • Dan? why not have him around, isn’t everyone welcome! I sure don’t have anything against him, not that I know of anyhow. Heck, a lot of the old guys are here, it should be fun, for him and us! :)

      • Yes Ken…bring back the Rooster!

      • oldyankee-seven. You are right, life is too short,
        Can we/you reach out to the old icon’s, and bring them back? You liked Rooster?
        I will help.

        • Heck, I liked them all but, if they want to join this group they have to be nice….like twasp and I.
          There is room for only one war at a time and I got this one!

          Really, they should know they are welcome, this isn’t a club…?well?…it’s a blog! Besides, I don’t know anything about them other than on the blog, you guys are the glad handers and know each other.

  9. IF I MAY?…The funniest line at YFU, the other night.
    Twasp being challenged …on him being Amish, and still using a computer.
    He responds..”it’s a mechanical computer, no electricity.”
    Pure humor, great stuff.

  10. I liked your prospect article, it gives me an up feeling on the organization. I saw Heathcott and Montgomery in the Arizona fall league and both looked capible of making a big league team. I also think Whitley has a good shot of making the team this year as a reliever.

  11. twasp, was one the show Banshee, he is the guy that wears the dark rimmed glasses.

  12. FARM REPORT: Scranton/Wilkes Barre..”Rail Riders” (Porcupines)
    Pitching, I like what I see, help is on the way. Check these 2012 stats out.
    Nelson Figueroa…115 ing…12-5…3.89 ERA…..under the radar.
    Justin Thomas…62 ing…2-1…3.45….look at that ERA!
    Kelvin Perez…14 ing…1-2…3.77….slow starter, this is your year!

    Sometimes you have to dig deeper, down on ‘The Farm.”

    • 38 YEAR OLD Nelson Figueroa was released by the Yankees in July.
      Justin Thomas is a 29 yr old LOOGY and no longer with the team.

      Kelvin Perez actually has a great arm and saved his carer last year. He’s always had big-league stuff but hasn’t done much with it. The knocks on him is he gets rattled and is not smart or confident on the mound.

      Now 27, he’s no kid but after a couple of years as just organizational filler, he opened some eyes in Trenton this yr by maintaining his velocity in the mid 90′s (95-96) and controlling his nice Curve and Change. He was invited to big league Spring Training this yr and will get a look but the Yanks are soooo deep in RH relievers, he’ll have to really impress.

  13. The key prospects that are most important to the Yanks success in the future are Pineda, Campos, Banuelos, Williams, Austin, and Heathcott. If these guys reach there potential the Yanks will continue there dominace.

  14. doug….were you not a BBNY member? These are lifetime things.
    Like the ‘Skull & Bones Society.”
    No hello, to a brother brotherhood member?

  15. Patrick – who is this guy Figueroa? Any relation to the 70 Yankees Ed Figueroa? Good stats good find well done

    • Twasp…Ed Figueroa..good guess, but no.
      He is the son of Nardy Figueroa, a tour bus driver.
      Nelson’s uncle, Peter, taught him the change-up. Peter, later died in a drive-by incident.

  16. Cervelli is on the same list Arod is. Geez the PEDs really didn’t work for him lol. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ryan-braun-s-name-listed-in-biogenesis-clinic-records-235650670.html

  17. CERVELLI? …did I miss something today?
    I see Sanchez, and Cervelli….going forward. What ever order, both the same.

  18. Matt b. Barroom Colon was suspended by mlb last season. He also was on the Bosch list. Coincidence I doubt it. Doesn’t bode well for Aroid.

  19. Matt b…I liked Colon, also. His third wife was actually larger than him. Imagine that.
    But, the guy could pitch. Wish we had him back.

  20. Lots of Yankees on Bosch list…….maybe Aroid was a leader after all. Milky, barroom,Cisco who is next
    John Sterling?

  21. TWASP…spoke with Ernie, last night. Living the good life in Boston.
    He asked about you, Ken, and Rooster. The good old days.

  22. Or that old lady who sits next to him?

  23. Ask him again to come back……for a post or 2.

  24. QUESTION…please don’t laugh. The Yankees had that one armed pitcher. The
    one that threw the no-hitter.
    Was there ever a one armed catcher? He played in the minors, for like 12 years?

  25. CERVELLI has many good attributes. But some serious flaws. He handles pitchers well and frames pitches well. He has shown a propensity to get key hits

    But he makes bad decisions defensively and has zero power. ( needs more butt time with Yuri)

  26. HERE WE GO!!!!!…Buster Olney tweets now…ESPN MLB.
    “Yankees, and Dodgers having a discussions regarding a trade.”
    Get this….”Robinson Cano, and others…..for Matt Kemp, Brandon League, and
    a blue chip prospect.”

  27. Interesting. _ fish…forgetting contracts…who is a better player Kemp or Cano
    ?

  28. I hope its not ….true. I want to watch the remainder of Canos career.

  29. KEMP-GARDNER-ICHIRO…that could be awesome!
    Package Granderson, Nunez for a top flight, affordable 2nd baseman.

  30. ROBINSON CANO…revisited, again.
    “There will be no hometown discount. Scott Boras is my agent.”
    Robinson, don’t let the door hit you in the….on the way out.

    • On this I agree Patrick. I am also very nervous on the 2013 season now that there will be in season BLOOD testing for HGH and elevated Testosterone.
      On a “completely unrelated matter” did you know Cano hit 64 home runs in his first 4 years and then hit 118 home runs in his next 4 years.
      He’s too lazy to run from from first to third on a single against the wall, so I find it hard to believe he spends a lot of time lifting weights and working out.
      Does anyone see where I’m going with this?
      I wish they’d trade him NOW.

  31. If Cabrera and Aroid were juicing you can bet Aroid introduced it to Cano also.

    Alex has done so much damage to this team in so many ways it’s incredible.

  32. Mike p…….. Is Cano a BUM too?

    • Cano is my favorite Yankee and has been for a long time. He’s been spectacular and has neve ventured near bum territory.
      There is only one Yankee bum.
      I define someone as a bum when they fail to produce near their God given talent level due to lack of focus, work ethic, or addictions/off the field distractions, especially in the postseason

      • Mike P – Failure to produce to their God given talent especially in the post season. ssounds like Arod is a BUM in 10 of the 11 Yankee playoffs. agree?

  33. long time reader with a first time comment. I loved this post and was wondering if you could update this after st and at the trade deadline so we can follow how these players have moved as the year advances. with the new budget next year these players will be more important than any time in the recent past.

    • Papa – Thanks for the kind words and welcome to the site. We will have plenty of stories on the minors during the season including player and coaches interviews. We’ll take your suggestion and be sure to update our Top 40 during and after the season.

      What do you think of the the Yanks this season? Are you satisfied with the team or do you think they should have made more upgrades over the winter?

      • I am pretty happy with the team right now. I think Jetter ( and than Alex) can help by being our right handed outfields if we need one on, enough speed and arm strength for right field. and this will let them ease into there regular positions.

  34. THREE SHOTS OF THE TRUTH….barkeep.
    a) I feel Sanchez, and Cervelli are interchangeable. Until proven differently.
    b) Matthew P….you were born to be a Cowgirl. This bum thing is dumb.
    c) I may, might have, by accident, had sun spots on the TV….misread Buster Olney’s tweet last night.

    • Dumb is defending bums who give interviews backing up those who call them bums.
      You really shouldn’t post misinformation without a joke in the post making it clear you are kidding too. Read the tweets of Buster a bit better.
      Oh, and if you think Cervelli and Sanchez are the same, you need real help or another shot of whatever you are drinking.

      • MICHAEL P….re: The bullying of patrick.
        Let me break down / critique this bully-boy post, of yours…
        a) I’ve read the first sentence, over and over, and have no idea of what you mean.
        b) Sentence # 2…I responded to Mr. Fishjam, that I had sun spots on my TV, and
        may have read Olney’s tweet incorrectly. Are you one of those complainers?
        c) Sentence # 3…Cervelli is better, than the the guy with his name written on
        his arm. Cervelli is a MLB player, not a farm team hopeful. Do you have your
        name written on your arm? And, why would one do that?
        You end you rant on me, by saying I need another drink.
        I don’t drink, but if I did, it would be Dolecki. Stay thirsty, my friend.

        • Patrick it’s foolish to say Cervelli is better than Sanchez. Just cause Cervelli has some MLB at bats doesn’t make him better than Sanchez. Have you taken the time to looks up Sanchez and read his story. How long how he is been in the Yankee organization. etc etc.

          Age 17 he has been with the club. That’s how much they saw in this kid. he is only 20 now.

          Here is his baseball reference page. http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=sanche001gar

          • MLB.com has him ranked as the number 1 prospect in the Yankee organization. Here is what they say about him.

            Scouting Grades (present/future): Hit: 3/5 | Power: 5/7 | Run: 2/2 | Arm: 7/7 | Field: 3/5 | Overall: 4/6

            Sanchez has been on radars since the Yankees gave him $3 million to sign out of the Dominican Republic. Hitting .353 in his United States debut didn’t hurt and he’s tantalized with his skills since. Sanchez appears to have put some of the attitude issues he had during his full-season debut in 2011 behind him and it should be noted he’ll still be just 20 years old for all of the 2013 season. Sanchez earned a promotion in 2012 and his bat should help him continue to move up the ladder. He has above-average raw power and his approach at the plate has improved, giving him the chance to be an outstanding all-around hitter. He’s always had a plus arm behind the plate, but there had been questions about his ability to handle the defensive rigors of the position in the past. He did seem to make some strides with the glove, though he needs to continue to work on his receiving skills, and the Yankees hope that can continue.

            • Matthew…you state your case very well. Point made.
              Something nice has come out of this….we are speaking. Very pleased, a long
              time coming. You take care…..patrick.

          • Matthew..good evening. Yes, I read the stories. Yes, I know he is young. Yes, I know
            he was signed at 16-17. No, I will not look at that reference page. I know stuff.
            That is why when I say Cervelli is better then Sanchez, it is because he is.
            Cervelli “IS” a major league ball player. Maybe a bit flawed, but he made it.
            Young Sanchez, with his name on his arm..duh?..may flame out by Friday.
            The only other people with their names on their arms, are selling heated chestnuts,
            on 57th street.

  35. Slade sounds like Bryce Harper .. It’d be great if he plays with the zeal that Harper does, it would be a exciting to have someone who came up with the yankees to root for.

    • Hi Monica. That’s an interesting comparison. Slade does possess some of the qualities that Harper and Trout do. His bat isn’t as good right now but the way he plays the game is similar. He’s often compared to Josh Hamilton. However, although Slade plays with a football player’s mentality and goes all out, he doesn’t have the baseball instincts or IQ that a player like Trout does or even Tyler Austin. Slade is just bursting with physical abilities but he has to refine it a bit and work on the finer things in the game like reading pitchers and getting good jumps on stolen bases.

      I look forward to watching him play this year to see how he’s improved. I recommend you go see Slade play in person in Trenton this Spring……I know I will. By the way, good to see you on the site….are you a Doctor yet?

  36. Monica…Welcome to Yankee Fans Unite…aka..’YFU’. Please join us.
    Yes, Slade is a dynamic, up and coming star. I agree with your Harper comparison.
    Can you play that piano?….Take care.

  37. WE ALL FORGET THINGS….right? So, we get in the habit of writing things down, right?
    Gary Sanchez, catcher…has his name written on his arm. Why?
    Not….Franciso Cervelli.
    Not even…Celerino Sanchez.

  38. For anyone who has not seen Slade play yet, I HIGHLY recommend you watch this 7-minute video of him from a game in the Arizona Fall Lg this Fall. In just 1 game he shows you the type of player he is. Note the following:

    1) Note the body……dude is chiseled. Like BallPark and I said when we first saw him play 2 years ago, he looked like Brett Gardner on steroids….not a good joke now but it is tru…he’s a taller and bigger Gardner with a better bat.

    2) drew 2 walks and had 2 hits….stole 2 bases and forced 2 errors with his baserunning. He’s a disturbing force on the field.

    3) Showed his intensity and football mentality by running over the Catcher on a routine play and by wiping out the 2nd baseman on a force out….both plays could have totally been avoided and he’s going to have to learn to turn it down a notch or 2 to stay injury-free for 162 games.

    4) Watch him hustle and fly out of the batter’s box….looking to turn singles into doubles and beat out routine groundballs

    5) He pulled in his hands to rip a low-inside breaking ball for a Double in 1 at bat and in another AB extended his hands to rip an outside breaking ball into CF

    6) Defensively he gets great jumps and takes good routes, made a great running catch on the warning track

  39. BALLPARK – What do you think of his swing? To my untrained eye, he seems like he can be short and quick to the ball. He sometimes gets out on his front foot a bit but does a great job keeping his hands back. Maybe he’d be better off with a wider base?

    • fishjam…
      I hope Ballpark can put his 25 cents in but, watching the tape and trying to remember what I saw of him a while back is;
      I see great balance and good hand control, I like his hitting off his right leg as he does, it gives him a split second going down the line and cuts down on an upper cut swing that a lot of lefties want in Yankee Land. It looks like he has gone to a more upright stance but, I could be wrong! What do you think, is it a bit different from a couple of years ago?
      I really like the way he plays, tough and full speed all the time but, knocking a 2nd baseman into right field is one thing, running down a 220+lb catcher is stupid.
      Thanks for the tape! :)

      • Thanks for the input Ken. Hitting isn’t my specialty but I can pick up a thing or 2 here and there. His hitting coach last yr told me about his “Adjustibility” at the plate and watching the 1st tape I see what he means. On 2 occassions he adjusted to breaking pitches to move his hands and get the barrell to the ball on pitches that were probably off the plate – one low and in and one down and away.

        As you mentioned he hits off the stiff front leg but since he keeps his hands back he is capable of ripping off-speed pitches he looks fooled on with his strong hands. This is one of Cano’s greatest strengths too and it bodes well for Slade’s hitting ability in the Majors that he can do that at his age.

        • fishjam…
          We both know that Ballpark has made hitting his job and life’s work. I don’t believe in a “one way fits all hitters”, the only way I ever tried to help hitters is if they came to me.
          Being a pitcher back in the day, you had to learn little things about hitters so you could adjust to them. You picked up very quickly on some of his good points, my eyes have always looked for the underbelly.
          Your way is much more excepted as the right way to approach hitting or pitching. My way isn’t but, it was my job to find the weakness of any situation and take advantage of it, for way to many years.

          Have you ever seen some of the old players (very few) holding the bat with the hands apart about 6″. Well, I learn how to switch hit with a big bottle neck bat until I retired. My Mom taught me, there were whispers that she played on a women’s team back in the 30′s, I’ll say one thing, she was tougher than a junk yard dog and a lot meaner but, could play baseball with the guys and did many times.

          Sorry about that but, I’m impressed with the way you picked up on Slade’s ability to adjust on the fly, if he were setting on his back leg he wouldn’t have a chance to make a mid-flight adjustment…my opinion!
          I did see he had a foot timer one for the FB and a double for the braking ball, I think that 2nd tap keeps his hands back and his body from getting out in front of his hands.

          Thanks for the video, good stuff! :)

  40. From NJ.com here is the full list of the invites to spring training at the big league camp.

    Here’s the full list:

    OF Abraham Almonte
    C Francisco Arcia
    OF Tyler Austin
    INF Greg Bird
    RHP Corey Black
    LHP Juan Cedeno
    RHP Preston Claiborne
    INF Cito Culver
    RHP Matt Daley
    OF Matt Diaz
    OF Adonis Garcia
    RHP Shane Greene
    RHP Nick Goody
    OF Slade Heathcott
    RHP David Herndon
    C Kyle Higashioka
    INF Walter Ibarra
    INF Dan Johnson
    RHP Tom Kahnle
    INF Addison Maruszak
    RHP Jim Miller
    RHP Bryan Mitchell
    RHP Mark Montgomery
    INF Luke Murton
    OF Ronnier Mustelier
    C J.R. Murphy
    OF Thomas Neal
    INF Jayson Nix
    RHP Zach Nuding
    LHP Vidal Nuno
    RHP Mike O’Brien
    RHP Kelvin Perez
    RHP Branden Pinder
    INF Jose Pirela
    RHP Ryan Pope
    OF Juan Rivera
    INF Kyle Roller
    C Gary Sanchez
    OF Rob Segedin
    LHP Josh Spence
    LHP Matt Tracy
    INF Gil Velazquez
    RHP Chase Whitley
    C Bobby Wilson

  41. Awesome job Fish and Rob – thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

  42. Been awhile. Was invited to come give some personal insight on the prospect list. I will only talk on players I have personally seen play.
    My List of players before I head into my comments:
    Position Players

    Abraham Almonte (8), Tyler Austin (1), Ramon Flores (5), Slade Heathcott (3), JR Murphy(7), Austin Romine (6), Gary Sanchez (2), Mason Williams (4)

    This is how I view these guys among each others. Stated before can only compare what I have seen before me. I really see top four of Austin, Heathcott, Sanchez and Williams as interchangable within the rankings and wouldn’t argue where they sit. I view Austin and Sanchez a toss up and Heathcott and Williams a toss up at this point. The bats for these guys are really good and can see all of them at the big league level as starters. I see Flores just a notch below not to far. I see him as a platoon type player if mixed in with the players mentioned above. Romines skills behind the plate are league ready but has to show the back can hold up. Murphy has great qualities behind the plate the bat is not a big one but with focus on defense any numbers is a bonus. Almonte is a servicable bench guy. Caught some of his AB when he went on a hitting streak.

    I like the character make up for these guys as well.

    On the pitching side… Never really kept eyes on pitchers. But guys like Pinder and Montgomery stuck out rather quickly in the situations they faced. Kahnle didnt stick out as much but after time i looked at his body of work and was rather pleased. It was a nice little 3 headed beast to see in the bullpens in tampa last season. Will gladly take these three in the bullpen in years to come.

    Really excited to see these guys in spring training and more guys during the season here in Tampa.

    • Kevin…good morning. Nice work. Appreciate your time, and effort.
      You should apply for Ken Davidoff’s job….over at the N.Y. Post. You would get it.
      When was the last time you posted here?…..Take care.

      • I stop by often but never really drop anything might have been since end of season last year. Thanks for the comments. Dont know who Ken Davidoff is but sure he has that job for a reason.

    • Kevin. Thanks for the thoughts. I know how much you are into the prospects. About how many games do you get to at Tampa?

      Of the Four guys Williams, Slade, Austin, Sanchez who do you like the most?

      Can I have a couple of guys that aren’t big names who you will be watching this season?

      Thanks.

      • Off the top of my head I would say 20-30 games in all last year. What holds me back is that Tampa is a 2.5 hour drive from me. So I look at a 5 hour round trip to watch these guys. Closest team is Daytona cubs which is 30 mins from work and my house. My goal is to catch at least 50 games this year for the Tampa Yankees. Not including other minor league games, Spring Training, or NYY games in Tampa. Oh and another thing until Mid june I can only watch games during weekends. I teach at the Pre-k level but over the summer I leave early 1 day of the week to take my sons to a game in tampa. Guys I am watching other the the top guys are name like Kyle Roller, Neil Medchill and Ben Gamel. Heard nothing but good things of Gamel and like that is kinda off the radars. Gets nothing but praises from someone familiar with the charleston core last year. Excited to see him in Tampa this year. Starting outfield of williams gamel and refsnyder looks good. With roller want to see how he adjust in AA seems like he has played for tampa for a long time lol. He can mash but see if he can bring in up to another level. Medchill with whats looking to be a clog in the outfield in trenton would like to see whats in line for medchill. Guys like heathcott, flores, as they move up and segedin, garcia, almonte as maybe hold overs as AAA has a clog as well with all the additions. As for my pick in the top 4 I would say Tyler Austin but its not a hands down pick. But I see him progressing everytime I see him. Am withholding my pick on where he starts the season and want to see how they use him in spring training. Last years second half we should of made a push for playoffs with williams heathcott flores austin and sanchez but austin went down for couple weeks after gettin hit in the head then mason gets hurt and some guys were still making adjustments. I hope trenton gets to see same things with these guys should all end up in trenton together at some point thus year. If romine gets called up to the show murphy will get work at AAA. lets get to camp and see how this all plays out

        • Wow that’s alot of games you get to see. Good for you and very dedicated to be driving that far for it. You soak in all the stuff about the guys because your reporting is great. Thanks for the comments. We really like when you share your thoughts about the prospects on our blog.

          • My pleasure to share any insight I may have. Always like to take time and expose people to something they might not be able to. Seems like most here do not live around my area and may not be able to watch these guys grow only sample size is stats. Never been a stat first kind of fan. But seeing those little things. Slad and tyler digging for it on grounders. You dont see it often in the big. Slade seems to take it personally in a way if he doesnt beat out a grounder to the left side. And firat day I saw tyler austin make a play on a ball in tampa it made me step back. Was fielding a ball that just dropped fair in right and had to play it off chain link blocking bullpen and between innings he walked to guys in bullpen and asked h do the balls play off the fence and padding. Mind you early innings and didnt cause a run or error but was looking to make adjustments as early as first play on a ball. Its the little things that put guys over the edge. Looking forward to more post during camp and spring training and single a season

            • Thanks for sharing Kevin. Those are the little things you can only see by going to the game in person. Everyone can read about a players skills and see the stats but those little things are often what sets apart guys that flame out and guys that make it big. At the pro level everyone has talent but who will put in the work and has those intangible things usually make it.

              Austin’s baseball IQ and attention to details with a real desire to improve are what will propel him.

              And Slade plays the game with a chip on his shoulder and a fire that is rare. It helps him stand out but it may make it hard to stay healthy for a full season.

  43. LATE NIGHT POSTING…it’s been awhile. Saw this article at the N.Y. Post today:

    By KEN DAVIDOFF
    Posted: 12:00 PM, February 7, 2013
    How the Yankees can make up for players who left. ( All In Capital Letters )
    *******************************
    What junk. Nothing. Worthless reading. He got paid for that?

  44. MICHAEL D…you hung up your mouse too early. You have too much to say, and
    too much talent. Twasp, and I, work tent shows. We could use a guy like you.

  45. Michael P. …GOOD NEWS…for Cowgirls with half empty glasses.
    Michael Pineda, throws off a full mound next week. His arm is still attached also.
    Look for Frankie Cervelli to make a resurgence, this spring.
    Why do some people write their last names, on their arms.

  46. other news: Mark Texiera was not seen in the Bowery with a tin cup and cane.

  47. EARLY TENT SHOW… today. Nor’easters in February will do that.
    Unlike RobbinsDynasty, I saw no games in person, during the last six years.
    But, I listen to all the games. Every year. To drive five hours round trip, to watch, a
    minor league game…20-30 times, is commendable. But, who does that?

    Michael P….the first drink, is on you. You can have the half empty one.

    • A 26 year old father of 2 boys ages 2 and 3 thats ask nothing more then to be taken to watch baseball games. Since I have the tme money and the ability to do it then WHY THE HELL NOT. Also since most of these guys are 2 to 3 years out after this level they can say hey I seen him before he made it. Imagine the stories that people have when jeter and mo were young guys playing in tampa before they these bigger than life ball players.

      • RobbinsDynasty…glad you have the time, money, and ability to do it.
        You are fortunate, most folks can not do that. Go for it.
        Re: Ken Davidoff, and my comment to Kevin………I was praising Kevin, that
        his talent was at a higher level, than some others. If you had read Mr. Davidoff’s
        article, then maybe you also would question the reason he has that job.
        Kevin’s fact, and words were superior.

  48. TATTOO PARLOR…just got home fro the local ink parlor.
    Unlike Sanchez, with his name and arm tattoo, I had my Debit Card PIN number
    tattooed across my forehead. In block letters.
    I know, time for new material. Next time.

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