In old times (well, in the 80s and early 90s, and back again only from 1998-2005), the Yankees traded away prospects to get big-time players who either didn't pan out or didn't help much in the long run. In the mean time, good and great talents such as Fred McGriff, Mike Lowell, and Jake Westbrook have passed through the Yankees system before getting traded. Now, with a young and revitalized owner in Hank Steinbrenner seemingly thought of re-starting an era so carefully started and protected by GM Brian Cashman that has produced many productive drafts and international signings.
Successes both in the minors as prospects and in the majors in the draft include Phil Hughes,(though in 2004), Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson, Alan Horne, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Dellin Betances, and others in the draft. There are also potential late-round finds (that is, relative to being drafted in the lower rounds) in players such as Seth Fortenberry, Justin Snyder, and Mitch Hilligoss the last two years, not to mention 2007 draftees who have high ceilings but have yet to play (Carmen Angelini, Brad Suttle, Andrew Brackman). In the international market, the Yankees have made several great signings in the last years as well, including Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano (both pre-2005, though), Jose Tabata, Jesus Montero, Juan Miranda, Jairo Heredia, Francisco Cervelli, and, to a certain extent, an up-and-coming Angel Reyes. Like in the draft, there are a couple of players who have yet to play pro ball, including Kevin DeLeon and Eduardo Sosa. I must note that in both of these cases, the Yankees used their financial ability to either take a high-pick talent at a lower pick or round, or to sign a pricey international FA. This isn't to mention the trade market, where oldies Randy Johnson and Gary Sheffield fetched Ross Ohlendorf, Kevin Whelan, Alberto Gonzalez, Humberto Sanchez, and the up-and-coming Anthony Claggett.
Do you see the Hank Steinbrenner regime as undoing this to acquire players such as a Johan Santana? Speaking of Santana, Steinbrenner and Stick Michael were convinced by Brian Cashman not to make this deal, but is this good-will for prospects going to last? Of course, not every prospect will pan out, especially not to their fullest potential, but is this team sure enough with these prospects to rebuild, "repent" for earlier mistakes, and continue with these new and young faces to win championships for the decade to come. This good work is proven, as Arizona and Colorado in the NL West succeeded with this approach.
I have a hard time believing that Hank will be able to contain within himself for a long while. Yes, he didn't go through on Santana, but that is after convincing Cashman to do the deal-breaker and deal Hughes, then having to be convinced a long way by Cashman not to deal Hughes or give big money and years to an almost-30 player coming off a bad year for his standards. While Cashman is intent on bringing up the farm and maintaining fiscal responsibility, Hank seems to have obsessions with players (while also being a quote machine). He is like his father in many ways, and, though it may be a bit early, I am afraid this may be one of them.