#4 Jesus Montero: “He still has critics who like to point to his defense but there is just about no one who will criticize Montero’s bat. Will he be a good defensive catcher? No, but he has shown enough improvement to be an adequate defender. That combined with a potentially special bat make for an impressive total package.”
#13 Manuel Banuelos: “Some like to pretend Banuelos came from nowhere in 2010. Well, he didn’t. He picked up a couple ticks on his fastball and lives at 93-95 now, but even before the spike he was armed with two good secondary offerings and plus command.”
#34 Gary Sanchez: “Most organizations would sign up for having Sanchez as their top prospect, but he doesn’t even get the title of top catching prospect in his organization. That may soon change, however, as Sanchez’s bat rivals Montero’s at the same age and he looks like he’ll be a better defender.”
#44 Dellin Betances: “If not for his injury history, Betances would likely be toward the top 20 in this list. The owner of a 93-96 mph fastball, a plus curveball and a rapidly improving changeup, the towering right-hander has all the components you look for in a frontline starter.”
#60 Andrew Brackman (No Commentary)
And in his online chat, every other question was about Yankee prospects. On Banuelos:
[Comment From Jay CT]
What is Banuelos’s ceiling, and what ML pitcher could you compare him to?
Frankie Piliere: You know I get this question a lot. I use to not agree with the Johan Santana stuff but it’s probably the most accurate one if you have to pick a current big leaguer. He’s similar in size, velocity, and command to the Santana of a few years ago. The changeup is not as unhittable as Santana’s and he isn’t the pure strikeout machine Santana was. But there’s definitely some comparable aspects. I think Banuelos is a number one in the making. Not to say I told you so but I screamed about him last year at this time. People like to just talk about the new velocity but A. his velocity didn’t spike as much as people say. He went from 90-92, 93 to 92-95. and B. his game goes far beyond just raw stuff
[Comment From T-Dubs]
Assuming both had perfect health, is Betances a better prospect than Banuelos?
Frankie Piliere: Lots of Yankee questions. That’s difficult. I might be in the minority but I still think I take Banuelos. I absolutely love Betances’ stuff but the more bust proof guys are the guys with a great feel for pitching and that’s definitely Banuelos.
[Comment From Kim Last]
Would you take Banuelos or Hellickson?
Frankie Piliere: There’s a battle of two guys I absolutely love. Long term give me the lefty with the power stuff. Banuelos
On Jesus Montero:
[Comment From Ben Kabak]
How overrated is Montero? He won’t even catch.
Frankie Piliere: I’ll go with….not overrated. Let’s say for argument’s sake he doesn’t catch. He’s still an elite bat. And, I think he will catch so that’s why he’s up there on the list.
[Comment From Trevorlon]
Do you think the Yankees will move Montero to the outfield in the future or is he a dh?
Frankie Piliere: I’m sticking with him as a catcher. I know I’m in the minority but I’ve seen him enough to see improvement and enough to be an adequate defender.
On Gary Sanchez:
[Comment From Zak]
Gary Sanchez was 25th on your list midway through the season and he was bumped back, even though he finished strong, IMO. Was that due to overrating him on your previous list or something else?
Frankie Piliere: Just a mild adjustment. Now there are 2010 draftees to consider, and I saw more of the new players in instructs and the AFL. Certain no drop in stock for Sanchez. He’s as good as ever.
On Austin Romine:
[Comment From Zak]
Thanks for doing a chat! Austin Romine was 15th midseason on your list and no where to be found, unless my eyes are bad on your top 100 list. I got to see him and it just looked like he was flat out exhausted to me. Is there another reason why he was bumped off so badly?
Frankie Piliere: Lots of things can change huh? Yeah, with all the new draftees considered now and seeing guys more, I just started slowly sliding Romine back. He was one of the final few cuts. He definitely wore down I think. The 15 ranking could have been reactionary on my part because I don’t feel he’s dropped THAT much in status. But he’s slipped a bit, no doubt.
On Dellin Betances:
[Comment From jake h]
You are super high on Dellin. Do you see him as a starting pitcher?
Frankie Piliere: I definitely see him starting. Three average or better offerings and improving command.
On Adam Warren:
[Comment From Zak]
Adam Warren is one of my personal favorite from the Yankees farm system, seems like he doesn’t get too much love as he’s always grouped with Phelps, DJ Mitchell, etc as a backend of the rotation starter. I’m not saying he’s front line, but isn’t he at least worthy of a middle of the rotation type? He’s got good stuff!
Frankie Piliere: I like Warren better than the two others you mentioned. You’re right that he probably doesn’t get quite enough love. He’s not a finesse guy. He runs up into the mid 90s at times and relies on that fastball. But his secondary stuff continues to improve. He’s a middle of the rotation starter.
On Andrew Brackman:
Comment From Trevorlon]
What’s the ceiling of Andrew Brackman and where does he project as a starter?
Frankie Piliere: Let this serve as another opportunity for me to say i was wrong about Brackman. I was very down on him going into the season and he really resurrected himself. He’s a tough guy to project though. Still a bit inconsistent and at that size I think repeating his delivery will always be a challenge. I’d say he’s a #3 just because his command will never be completely consistent.
He offers a strong defense of Montero’s defense, plus great words about Betances, Banuelos, and even Adam Warren.
This is already a long post, so I won’t say much more, except one thing. I know that a lot of readers get a little worried that the powerful optimism about the Yankee farm system is just the product of some collective Yankee blogger Zeitgeist. Piliere is both one of the smartest guys out there publishing about prospects and has no vested interest for or against the Yankees. And he just compared Manuel Banuelos to Johan Santana. Think about that one.