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Its been a really good season for the Yankees down in the minors. Below is my top-30 Yankee prospects. Though I should say this: there are a lot more guys in the system. I strongly considered expanding the list to 40 or 50 players, which the Yankees could easily justify. I decided to hold back for a number of reasons. As always, I tend to value certainty over uncertainty and performance over raw talent. The level listed after their names is where I project them for next season. The list:

1. C Jesus Montero, AAA/MLB – Really, he should be on the Yankees next year. His second half was as good as it gets. We’ll see.
2. LHP Manuel Banuelos, AA - He went from a polished young lefty to a flame-throwing potential ace.
3. C Austin Romine, AAA – More worried about the lack of defensive growth than his poor hitting season.
4. RHP Hector Noesi AAA – Better than people think. Also pretty close to a sure thing.
5. C Gary Sanchez A- – The next Montero, but with less body-type defensive questions.
6. RHP Graham Stoneburner AA – Blasted on to the scene this year, couldn’t have asked for better.
7. RHP Andrew Brackman AAA/AA – Went from having terrible control to having really good control in 2010. On track for a 2011 MLB appearance.
8. RHP Ivan Nova AAA/MLB – Could start on a lot of teams, maybe the Yankees. At the very least, he should be a good reliever.
9. RHP Dellin Betances AA – Still skeptical, but you can’t argue with his potential ceiling. Frank Piliere’s comments were pretty glowing.
10. OF Slade Heathcott A+ – Held his own. He’s a project, so we shouldn’t expect immediate gains. Next step: power.
11. RHP Adam Warren AA – His reported velocity has been a bit inflated, but his AA numbers were pretty awesome too.
12. 2b David Adams AAA – He’d be higher if not for the injury. Excellent trade bait, since we have Cano.
13. RHP Jose Ramirez A+ – Got leapfrogged by other players in 2010, but he’s still a great prospect.
14. SS Cito Culver A- – Great reviews on defense, held his own on hitting. Now the real work starts.
15. 3b Robert Segedin A+ – Fell to us due to injury concerns. Fell to #15 due to injury concerns. If he’s healthy, he’s top-5.
16. CF Mason Williams A- – Don’t know a lot about him, but he sounds like Brett Gardner with more tools. The bonus justifies this spot.
17. 3b/1b Brandon Laird AAA – Not too confident that he can be a starter in the AL East, but he should be a useful little piece as soon as mid-2011.
18. RHP Bryan Mitchell A- – Lots and lots of raw stuff. The Yankees love him.
19. RHP David Phelps AAA/MLB – Starter for the Pirates?
20. OF Angelo Gumbs A- – Highly rated, but raw. We’ll see.
21. OF Melky Mesa AA – Still skeptical, but if the breakout is real, then he could be a top-flight prospect. Rule V protection?
22. C JR Murphy A+ – Disappointing season.
23. RHP Brett Marshall A+ – Came back looking great. If he stays healthy, he’s a top starter prospect.
24. RHP D.J. Mitchell AAA – Just can’t get lefties out. Reliever?
25. 2b Corban Joseph AA – Underrated, but didn’t do so well in an extended AA audition.
26. RHP Lance Pendleton AAA/MLB – Was my pick for dark horse of the year. 154 2/3 innings, 2.33 K/BB, 3.61 ERA. Rule V protection?
27. LHP Evan Rutckyj A- – Super interesting super project. But he’s both really talented and a lefty.
28. RHP Gabe Encinas A- – Super interesting more polished project. Not left handed.
29. OF Colin Curtis AAA/MLB – MLB 4th/5th outfielder. Just like everyone said when he was drafted. Decent AAA season, deserves a look in spring training.
30. LHP Jeremy Bleich AA – We’ll talk after he recovers from surgery.

Honorable Mentions: George Kontos, Fu-Lin Kuo, Zoilo Almonte, Caleb Cotham, Eduardo Nunez, Eduardo Sosa, Jairo Heredia, Matt Richardson, Manny Barreda, Evan DeLuca, Ryan Pope, Pat Venditte, Anderson Feliz, Brad Suttle

There’s a lot to say about this group of players, and you can rest assured that I will say a lot of things. My current plan (if life allows) is to do a full array of prospect profiles, though I may leave a few of the less interesting players out. Who am I most intrigued by, relative to the buzz out there? Evan Rutckyj, Brett Marshall, Graham Stoneburner, and Rob Segedin really get my brain going.

What do you all think?

23 Responses to “Fall 2010 Top 30 Yankee Prospects Ranking”

  1. Tiers:

    Tier 1: Jesus Montero
    Tier 1a: Manuel Banuelos
    Tier 2: Romine – Brackman
    Tier 3: Nova-Williams
    Tier 4: Laird-Marshall
    Tier 5: Everyone else

    Grades (Sickels system)

    A: Montero
    A-: Banuelos
    B+: Romine, Noesi, Sanchez, maybe Stoneburner
    B: Brackman through Jose Ramirez
    B-: Culver, Segedin, Williams
    C+: Laird through Marshall
    C: Everyone else  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. nice list. i would flip Dellin to 3 and romine to 9. lost faith in romine. I saw 10 trenton games this summer, he didnt wow me.

    i like murphy swing alot. I thought he would at least be in the top 20. but 22 is ok.

    surprise you put Rutckyj in the top 30. i like him alot. beside montero, Sanchez and the killer b’s, Rutckyj is the only other propsect that i would try to follow each start.

    cant wait until next milb season  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    I agree on bumping up Betances if he can stay healthy his stuff will undoubtedly play in the major leagues and his control has grown by leaps and bounds which can only point to the reports of his delivery being more crisp and repeated.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    “If he can stay healthy” is a big if for Betances. He didn’t even pitch a full season in 2010.  (Quote)

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  3. Another nice job EJ. I am looking forward to your prospect profiles. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of these names traded in the off season; the acquisitions of Kearns, Wood and Berkman tell me that Cash still does not want to mess around with youth on the big league roster. Not criticizing Cash for the moves, just observing that he is quick to pick up other teams’ refuse and attempt a reclamation over giving young guys extended looks.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    Berkman is guaranteed to not come back since he doesn’t want his option picked up and reportedly wants to go back to Houston, Kearns probably won’t come back since he can go and be a starting outfielder for another team and Wood would have to turn down closing jobs to come back and take less money probably.

    We traded for reinforcements but none of them are long term players and we only traded mediocre talent for them, prospects get traded that’s what you use them for but I would suspect that a lot of the guys at the top of this list will at least be given the opportunity to be Yankees especially the pitchers.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    There’s definitely some room for trades here. Hopefully, Montero stays.  (Quote)

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  4. To call Murphy’s season a disappointment is too harsh. He is similar to Heathcott in that he is a raw prospect with a high ceiling that the Yankees will move slowly through the system. If we can be encouraged by Heathcott’s showing in his first shot at full season ball, we can certainly be encouraged by Murphy’s performance as well – especially considering the second half improvements he made in BA, power and strike-zone command (BB/K).  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    I agree. If I ould change one thing about this list I would move Murphy up. Otherwise, the list is not exactly the way I would rank it, but close enough, and is internally consistent.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    EJ Fagan Reply:

    Two things:

    1) Murphy’s season has been a bit worse than Heathcott’s.
    2) Murphy started from a lower point.

    And its a really, really deep list.  (Quote)

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    Craig Reply:

    Rankings aside, I think you can pretty much call it a wash between Heathcott and Murphy. OPS was .712 vs. .703, respectively – splitting hairs. Heathcott showed more speed while Murphy bested him power wise. You’re never going to find a list of anything – especially prospects – that everyone agrees on, so I’m not even referring to Murphy’s ranking. I just think it should be recognized that his season was as encouraging as Heathcott’s.  (Quote)

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  5. I think Stoneburner makes me wish the Yankees had names on their jerseys. Rutckyj makes me glad that they don’t.

    Seriously, I’m a shitty evaluator and I can fall in love with kids too easily. But I’m glad to see so much promise. Some of this shit will stick to the wall.

    Short term we should have Jesus on the team in 2011. In 2012, pull the band aid off and let Jorge go. Make ARod a part time DH and put Laird on 3rd (if they think he can handle it).

    And all the hurlers makes me that much more wary of adding any more long-term starters. We’ve got CC forever. AJ will be on his way out by the time the single A guys are ready.But I’d like to leave at least one open spot for the kids that are close (and that includes Joba).  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris H Reply:

    I think Joba’s days as a starter for the Yankees are clearly behind him… If they had any faith in him in that role they wouldn’t have fixed the “competition” for starter in Hughes favor and since he has been in the pen he hasn’t exactly wowed us or shown the velocity he had in 07 but it has ticked up some and even then they seem to be losing faith in him even in the role of middle relief.

    If they aren’t handing him the 8th inning over Robertson and they bring in Wood to setup over both it tells me they slowly have lost all faith in Joba and his once golden arm, I think if someone were to inquire in a serious manner about Joba as a starter they may trade him just to be done with it.

    In my opinion he should still be tried to be salvaged as a starter even if that includes the minor leagues but they clearly have no intent of that.  (Quote)

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    Tabata Daycare Reply:

    How the hell did the yanks fix the competition? Hughes came into camp in shape, focused and out pitched Joba. How is that a fix?

    He could earn a spot in the rotation but I don’t see the drive.  (Quote)

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  6. I really like Noesi he definitely be a good 3-4 starter for years in the bronx and with his abiltity to locate and keep the ball low he fits Yankee stadium perfectly.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    Yeah, he’s definitely underrated. He’s a pretty sure bet too.  (Quote)

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  7. 26. RHP Lance Pendleton AAA/MLB – Was my pick for dark horse of the year. 154 2/3 innings, 2.33 K/BB, 3.61 ERA. Rule V protection?

    Good to see someone from my highschool on the Yankees… Really never thought I would see the day when someone from Kingwood High School would do something… besides that one porn star.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  8. Generally agree with the list. No way Mesa should be on there. His stats were boosted by a BABIP bump. He strikes out way too much and at 23 is facing an uphill battle to improve enough to be a useful hitter in the majors.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    EJ Fagan Reply:

    Good thing that the first prospect profile I plan on writing is Melky’s :)   (Quote)

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    Matcohen Reply:

    If you normalize his BABIP to .300, he’s a sub 250 hitter. Also, guys with high strikeout rates and not super high walk rates don’t have the chance to be an Adam Dunn type guy who can hit 250 and be productive because of walks and power. Melky is 23 at High A and you haven’t seen the kind of improvement to get the sense that he can or will develop the kind of strike zone discipline to make it in the majors.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    But, imagine if Adam Dunn could play a gold glove center field? All of the sudden, standards change.  (Quote)

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    Matcohen Reply:

    Yes but my point was that Melky doesn’t walk enough to be even close to Dunn. Nor does he have as much power. I’m interested to read your report.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  9. I’m a bit more high on some guys, but I love upside. My top 10 was

    Montero
    Banuelos
    Betances
    Romine
    Brackman
    Sanchez
    Heathcott
    Stoneburner
    Jospeh
    Marshall.

    Where is Ramon Flores too. Did I miss him?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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