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?