Tuesday, August 17, 2010

RAB's Updated Top 30 Yankee Prospects And 5 Interesting Questions To Ask About Them

(Photo of Cito Culver used courtesy of RAB)

Everybody who reads this site (assuming there is anybody that actually reads it in the first place) knows I'm a sucker for prospects and Minor League evaluations.  I love looking at stats and updates on all the players and planning out in my head how they can all help contribute to the future success of the Yanks.  Now that the rookie draft pick signing period has ended, Mike A. at RAB has updated his Top 30 Yankee Prospects List and it proved to be the perfect reading material to kill time and come up with ideas while I recover from my insane sunburn here at the beach house instead of having my brain melted by the endless drivel on ESPN and ESPN 2.

The quick highlights of the list, in case you don't have time to read it:

- The Yankee catching prospects, The Jesus, Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy, and Gary Sanchez, are all either currently raking or have been raking at some point this season.  With each guy spread across every level of the Minors, there is no shortage of potential replacements for Jorge.

- The Yankee pitching prospect pool has filled up this year thanks to continued improvement by guys like Nova and Hector Noesi, excellent performances in the early stages of pro ball by guys like Manny Banuelos, Graham Stoneburner, and Jose Ramirez, and big-time bouncenbacks from injury by Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances.

- Postionally, the Yankees are a little light, especially in the outfield, where only Slade Heathcott has done anything noteworthy to date.  There are some solid infield prospects like David Adams and Brandon Laird, but with the current situation in the Yankee infield, these guys aren't going to putting on the pinstripes anytime soon.

So after I got done drooling over everybody in the article like a lush couger mom at her son's college grad party, I got to thinking about what this rebirth of the Yankee farm system means for the future and how the Yankees plan to maximize this talent.  Here are 5 questions that I asked:

1) How will the Yankees use this growing stable of pitching talent to help the team?

In the past, it was a solid bet that none of these guys would end up ever seeing the Yankee 25-man roster, but with the Yanks' commitment to rebuilding their farm system over the last 5 years and their propensity this year and last for adding undervalued guys for lower or no prospects at the trade deadline, the chances are much brighter.  I'm sure one or two will get moved in a trade, but since Cash has shown he's willing to hold onto his high-ceiling prospects (Hughes, Joba, Cano, Jesus), it's a good bet that we'll be seeing almost all of these guys on the mound for the Yankees in one way or another.

2) How many out of that stable will actually end up wearing the pinstripes?

Again, it's impossible to know for sure, but I would say Ivan Nova is a sure bet since they've already used him this year.  Brackman and Betances have to be considered locks since big guys with stuff like theirs' don't come along often and they project as higher-end of the rotation pitchers.  I would say Noesi, Stoneburner, and Banuelos also have a good shot because of their young age and upside, and then its guys like Ramirez, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Brett Marshall who are more likely to become trade pieces.

3) How do the Yankees use all the catching prospects to help the team?

At this point, it's looking more and more likely that The Jesus will be on the 25-man next season.  That move should start the rotation that pushes Romine up to Triple-A, Murphy up to Double-A, and Sanchez up to some level of A-ball next year.  The problem is there are only so many catchers you can have and these guys aren't going to stay in the Minors forever, so if Montero turns out to be able to catch full-time in the Majors I would bet 2 out of the other 3 get traded for starting pitching or bullpen help during future trade deadlines.

4) Is there any potential for a few infield guys to replace Jeter a/o A-Rod?

Not likely, given the money those 2 make and their standing with the team, but I think there is potential for an Adams or a Laird to become a Luis Sojo/Mariano Duncan-type utility bench guy since both of their bats are far superior to Ramiro Pena's.  And with Jeter covering less and less ground, there is room for opportunity.  Who knows?  Maybe Adams shows enough at Triple-A for the Yankees to give him a shot at 2nd?  Robbie Cano has showed great range at 2nd this year, could he transition to SS?...

5) What impact will the draft class of 2010 have?

The 2010 draft was a high-risk, hopefully high-reward draft for the Yanks.  Cito Culver ditched on his commitment to Maryland almost immediately and is already making a good showing in rookie ball.  Rob Segedin has a big bat, and Mason Williams has all the tools to become a great player.  Most of these guys were projects, though, so it's going to be at least a few years before anything can definitively be said about them.  But the "high potential" tags that many of them have give the Yankees more flexibility when it comes to keeping and developing or using as trade bait, which is exactly what the Yankees like to have.


Lenny Neslin said...

Nice follow-up! I think the Yankees catching prospects are really intriguing. They potentially have four major-league quality catchers. With Posada in decline, I'd love to see the Yankees replace him within. The tough part is, who will be the best of the four?

Unknown said...

I'd love to see them replace Jorge from within next year.

Jesus will definitely get the first shot because he's the furthest along, but it will be interesting to see if he can do it long-term or if one of the others turns out to be better.

Best-case scenario would be to find a way to morph all 4 of those guys into one supercatcher. Then we wouldn't have to worry about who to play and who to trade.