It would seem that the New York Yankees are unable to develop a farm system. At least the way they make trades and sign free-agents would make it seem that way. However, a closer look would show that they are just as aggressive when it comes to acquiring minor league talent as they are with major league talent. After all, they would need a lot of talent to pull off as many trades for high profile players as they do. It is also no secret that in order to dominate for as long as they have, developing talent is a must. Several of the current Yankees came up through their farm system as well as many other successful players around the league. The current class of Yankees prospects should prove to be no different.
Other than the constant need for pitching, the Yankees seem to channel the direction of their player development better than most organizations. While most front offices constantly draft “the best player available,” the Yankees have been able to develop exactly what they will need to compliment their major league team. This is shown by the great number of catchers they currently have in their system, which this top ten list does not do justice. They have known that Jorge Posada, the long time Yankee catcher has been wearing down and they filled this need abundantly with prospects. Now they are in the position of having to replace Derek Jeter within the next few seasons. The number of high ceiling short-stops in their system is also no coincidence.
It is highly possible that all ten of the prospects on this list will become useful major league players. Although it would be nice to think otherwise, and many farm directors probably do, this is not a common phenomenon. In most cases, it is likely that at least 2 or 3 of the top ten will never loose rookie status. In other words, the Yankees are not going away any time soon. Not only can they buy Major League All-Star teams, their money also buys them an almost limitless amount of young talent. Here is the 2011 version:
(Click player’s name to view his player profile)
1. C, Jesus Montero: One of the best hitting prospects in baseball, Montero will slug his way into the Yankees line-up. The only question surrounding the 21 year old is where he will play defensively. Although he has gone through the minors as a catcher, no one expects him to stay there long term. He is ready for the majors now and the Yankees will have to answer that question soon.
2. C, Gary Sanchez: With a bat that could be as good as any in the system, the only thing holding Sanchez back is essentially time. Only 18 now, he projects to be an annual gold-glove and silver-slugger catcher.
3. LHP, Manny Banuelos: A true pitcher who has good stuff and, even more importantly, knows how to use it. Banuelos should become a solid middle of the rotation starter in the big leagues.
4. C, Austin Romine: A good catcher behind the plate, Romine will be at least a dependable back-up. If he assumes his full potential with the bat, he will be an every-day big league catcher.
5. SS, Cito Culver: Culver grew up in New York idolizing Derek Jeter and the Yankees. Now, many believe he is the heir in waiting to Jeter. There are many questions as to what he will eventually become, but the Yankees liked him enough to take him in the 1st round pick in 2010, several rounds above his projection.
6. RHP, Andrew Brackman: Despite development of this 6’10” fireballer being slow, last season showed signs of a breakout. He without a doubt has the ability to be a successful pitcher, but how much of his potential will he assume?
7. RHP, Dellin Betances: Although Betances has found success as a starter in the minors, his two pitch repertoire leaves him destined for the bull-pen. He has the ability to become a dangerous set-up man.
8. OF, Slade Heathcott: An upside pick from the 2009 draft, Heathcott is a project for the Yankees. He was just OK in his first full professional season, but at 20, he still has time to grow into his 5-tool potential.
9. SS, Eduardo Nunez: With good tools in the field, Nunez looks like the type of player we will see in the big leagues for years to come. His bat will ultimately determine the amount of play time he will receive. He will be at least a valuable utility player and his numbers during a stint in New York last season showed me enough to believe that he could become a starter. If he does get the chance to start, it will not be in New York however.
10. RHP, Adam Warren: The type of pitcher who will keep the hitters guessing throughout 9 innings, Warren has 5 pitches which grade to be at least average. His fastball will keep hitters honest. With the deception in his delivery, Warren should become a solid starter. His ceiling will be determined by his ability to develop a true out pitch. If he does, he will make professional hitters look silly.
(Click player’s name to view his player profile)