At the beginning of the season, I wrote that the top-30 prospects that I rated were the worst set of young players that I’ve rated since I started in 2006. This year, the Yankees have shown a marked improvement thanks to three factors:
- Super-young Latin American prospects stepping up and becoming real prospects
- College draft picks playing up to their potential
- Long-term projects coming to fruition.
The Yankees saw some of their top, expensive prospects (Brad Suttle, Jairo Heredia) miss virtually the whole season due to mysterious injury. Brett Marshall, George Kontos, Christian Garcia, Dellin Betances and others got injured at the beginning of the season. Still, the Yankee list is deeper than last year. While they lack the high-end talent of the Hughes-Kennedy-Chamberlain days, they have Jesus Montero to make up for some of that. Damon Oppenheimer is also starting to hit on later-round college picks like David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell, Lance Pendleton, My further thoughts on individual prospects will be coming during this off-season, but for now here is the top-30 with minimum commentary.
- Jesus Montero – No doubt #1. He was a big prospect last year, but Montero is on another level today.
- Austin Jackson – Slightly disappointing season, but Jackson is still pretty young and relatively inexperienced.
- Zach McAllister – Underrate him at your own risk. McAllister is the real deal.
- Austin Romine – He has his batting flaws, but he combines strong defense with offensive skills that few big league catchers have.
- Slade Heathcott – Probably a bang or bust guy. But the bang could be quite good.
- Mark Melancon – Big league jitters are common for relievers and their small sample sizes. I bet he breaks camp with the Yankees next year.
- Arodys Vizcaino – Still very young, but has the potential to become a front-line pitcher.
- Andrew Brackman – He stayed healthy, which is great, but he got hammered in the middle of the season.
- Manuel Banuelos – Draws praise for polish, stuff, and throwing with the best arm.
- Ivan Nova – Ok, I was wrong to dismiss Nova over the past 2 seasons. He finally translated stuff into performance. He’ll be on the 40-man, so look for him in the bigs soon.
- Jairo Heredia – We still don’t know the full extent of his injury, but he’s young enough for the lost season to be absorbed.
- Jeremy Bleich – Got hit pretty hard in Double-A, but the peripherals were still there. Probably a little light on stuff, but he’s still a future big-leaguer.
- Francisco Cervelli – Meet your new backup catcher.
- Wilkins De La Rosa – Appeared to get tired late in the season. His K/BB suffered a lot. I’m still betting on him becoming a pretty good reliever.
- J.R. Murphy – About as good of a prospect from the late 2nd round that we could hope for.
- Kelvin De Leon – Lots of hitting potential, but not on level of a young Montero/Tabata.
- Brad Suttle – Mysterious Injury, but he can hit.
- Michael Dunn – Walk rate is still too high. He’ll be the first lefty called up after Marte or Coke go down.
- Kevin Russo – Carried over his AFL breakout into the regular season. Spent some time injured, but proved he can hit and play good defense.
- Juan Miranda – Deserves a major league bench spot somewhere. Made strides in hitting left-handed pitching in 2009.
- David Adams – Underrated. He’s a solid 2nd baseman defensively, and it looks like he remembered how to hit.
- Corban Joseph – Another middle infielder with a strong debut.
- Dellin Betances – I toyed with not including Betances at all. Hopefully his 2009 troubles were the result of injury.
- D.J. Mitchell – He’s rising fast. Mitchell is a ground ball machine with solid stuff and good peripherals.
- Ryan Pope – Pope is still an intriguing prospect. He got better as the season went on, and still has great control.
- Lance Pendleton – Came back from injury and reminded us that he’s a Rice grad. Underdog for a major league call up next season.
- David Phelps – John Sickels called this one. Control, durability, strikeout rates, and polish.
- Caleb Cotham – Intriguing pick for the Yankees. I’m ready to wait and see.
- Zach Kroenke – Suddenly the Yankees and plenty of lefty relief sitting around. Kroenke may be the odd man out, and taken in the Rule V draft.
- Brandon Laird – Came back after a poor 1st half to show his 2008 talent. If he can handle Double-A, he’ll shoot up the list.
Honorable Mentions (no particular order): Pat Venditte, Reegie Corona, Hector Noesi, Tim Norton, Neil Medchill, Garrison Lassiter, Graham Stoneburner, Josh Schmidt, Manny Barreda, Eduardo Nunez, Jorge Vazquez, Adam Warren
I’ll be posting on individual prospects out of order. On the docket before the playoffs start: Jesus Montero.