John Sickels recently spoke to Mark Newman, and Newman said some things about the organizational philosophy that were encouraging:

When I look at it from the perspective of player development and scouting, our mandate to win yearly in the majors gives us two main challenges: our draft slot and the fact that we often trade prospects. Where we pick in the draft is always an issue, at least if we’re doing our job by winning at the major league level. We almost always have lower picks in the draft, and that makes it harder to get players with high upsides in the draft process, especially for the hitters. At times we need to trade prospects to build a major league roster that can achieve our goals, the (Javier) Vazquez and (Curtis) Granderson trades are examples.

That’s the problem for a team with the goals and expectations that the Yankees have. So how do they deal with this issue?

Because of those two factors, especially the draft slot issue, we will take risks on some players to get a high-ceiling guy in the system……

There has to be a solid reason or really outstanding tools to give a Latin player a large bonus, but if we think the risk is worth it, we will take it. It would be fairly rare for a guy with a Montero or Gary Sanchez or Arodys Vizcaino-like upside to fall to us in the draft, so we look hard to find guys with that kind of talent internationally. This is especially true for the position players, since few guys with genuine impact bats will get to us at the bottom of the first round. We have to take the risk to get guys like that somewhere, so we’ll look in Latin America. We can find tools there that are hard for us to acquire in the draft……

We have no particular bias towards high school or college players, although we do look for impact guys who might drop to us for reasons not related to their talent. The pitcher we drafted a couple of years ago, Gerrit Cole. We knew that was a risk because he had the UCLA commitment, his family is wealthy, and we knew that he had aggressive bonus demands. Because of his upside, we took the chance that we could make it work, but he went to college instead. That was one risk that didn’t pan out. But to be extraordinary involves risk, and our goal is to be extraordinary.

(The final sentence is bolded because it is pure awesomeness. That should be the official Yankee slogan.)

Basically, the Yankees address their inability to grab premium top of the draft talent in two ways. The first is to focus on injury and signability risks in the draft in order to get premium talents in the system. While this precludes getting slightly more predictable players early, the Yankees can always pick up such players later in the draft by going above slot. The second method that the Yankees use to fill the system with premium talents is to be major players on the international markets, where there are no constraints on the Yankees signing any players that interest them. The combination of these two strategies should help the Yankees keep pace with most teams in the area of talent procurement.

5 Responses to “Yankees Building The Farm The Right Way”

  1. “SICKELS: Can Jesus Montero catch?

    NEWMAN: When we signed him we knew that was going to be an issue. But I asked our scouts, “is the bat good enough for him to play in the majors if he can’t catch?” All of our scouts said “yes.” The bat has turned out to be excellent, but the glove has improved a lot over the last year. He is a better defender and in better physical condition now than he’s ever been. His throwing has improved dramatically. He has plus arm strength, which has never been an issue, but his footwork is better now. The main thing we are focusing on with Montero is improving his lower body flexibility. He is a very bright guy and can run a game. The jury is still out, but by both objective and subjective measures he’s made great progress.”

    I thought this exchange stood out. He’s made progress, but the jury is still very much out on his future position. He’s much more non-committal on Jesus catching than some pundits and bloggers are.  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Agreed. I wonder if he’s talking about the ability to catch at all, or the ability to catch adequately. There is a distinction.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    I took it as ‘adequately’, and I always think there is a higher standard for the Yanks than there would be for other teams. The Yanks want to be able to attract top flight free agent pitchers, compete for the WS every year, and have a number of high priced starters on the staff already. NY is an issue for some, the ballpark may be an issue for others, the last thing you need is to have a bad defensive Catcher to boot. He has to be acceptable defensively, meaning that he can’t be a significant liability.

    Let me throw something else into the mix. You may have noticed during the playoffs with the Angels the exchanges between Mike Napoli and the Home plate umpire. Napoli’s a pretty big guy (6’1″) who sits fairly upright behind the plate. Early in the game, the umpire kept missing the low strikes, you could see the two of them talking and Napoli kept trying to crouch down further. McCarver picked up on this and went on ad nauseum (surprise) about it. Napoli kept sitting lower and lower as the inning progressed, eventually extending one leg to get his body down a bit. Those are the kinds of issues you can have with a Catcher Montero’s size. For a pitcher who needs to keep the ball down in the zone (D-Rob come to mind) that can be a big problem if you get the wrong ump or he doesn’t learn to be more flexible. Of course, crouching down too far makes it take longer for you to lean back, unwind and throw when there are men on base. That’s why many doubt that he’ll even be any good defensively. It’s just a function of size, and his lack of athleticism. Some big Catchers can overcome this (Mauer) because they’re such tremendous athletes, but by all accounts Montero is pretty stiff.  (Quote)

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  2. If Jesus bat turns out to be solid as some believe, he could be in RF or LF in the future. You look at potential and if you trade players to make a great team.  (Quote)

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