A little over a week ago, Jim Callis of Baseball America released his personal top 10 list of best MiL systems in baseball, with the Yankees just missing the cut and coming in 11th place. It was confirmed at that time that Callis' 3 fellow BA rankers also had the Yankees 11th, painting a pretty encouraging picture, to me at least, about the state of the Yankee system after a very uneven 2012. Recently, Chad Jennings of LoHud caught up with Callis and spoke to him in greater detail about his thoughts on the Yankee system, where he felt their strengths and weaknesses were, and what their next step should be. Some quotes from Callis and my personal takes on what he had to say after the jump.
“There’s some obvious talent in the system... "
It'd be hard to be on the fringe of the top 10 without some talent. Keep that in mind when you think the Yankee system is getting ranked too low.
“But I think the thing they lack that prevents them from ranking higher is they don’t have that (high-end) talent that’s ready to step in at the big league level.”
Also not a surprise to hear. That's been the defining characteristic of the Yankee system for the last 2-3 years now, and the trading away of Montero plus the collective struggles of the 2012 Triple-A rotation didn't help to address it at all. If Betances doesn't flame out and ManBan doesn't get hurt last year, it'd be interesting to see how much higher the Yankees would have been ranked.
“(Williams) has a chance to be a star. I really think you could say that about all their top guys. … If they do it in Double-A, then all of a sudden they’re knocking on the door.”
Williams, Sanchez, and Austin will all probably start the season in Tampa, with Heathcott just ahead of them in Trenton. It's not a stretch to think that those first 3 could make the jump to Trenton halfway through 2013 and that Heathcott, if he stays healthy, could get the bump up to SWB. Heading into 2014 with their top 5 prospects (including ManBan) at Double-A or higher would have to boost the Yankee system somewhere in the top 5-8.
“They have some intriguing arms, but a lot of them come with question marks.”
Guys that fall into this category: ManBan, Betances, Hensley, Campos, Bryan Mitchell, Ramirez. Basically the top group of starting pitcher prospects are all question marks to some degree, minus Adam Warren and Brett Marshall, who are both already pegged as back-of-the-rotation-type guys.
“(The Yankees) should shoot for the moon. You’re not asking your farm system to fill your whole big league team. You’re looking for some talented players to build around.”
That's an important thing to remember here. Even with the Yankees' advancing age and even with the payroll crunch making it more critical than ever that they get some useful production from their prospects, it's not like they have to field an entire 25-man roster from their top prospects. And even with the talent gap they have in their MiL system right now, it's still set up in a way that can benefit them in the short and long-term. They've got enough guys who can be plugged into smaller roles on this and next year's teams to help balance things out with the aging core of the roster, and they've got another core of young, high-ceiling guys to build around working their way through the system to hopefully take over when some of the old guys hang it up in the next few years. Add in the 3 draft picks in this year's draft and some guys returning from injury, and there's a lot to be optimistic and excited about with the state of the Yankee system.