Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox during their game on September 25 2010. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
New York Yankees Top 20 Prospects for 2011
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too concerned about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get past the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize.
Feel free to critique the list, but use logic and reason rather than polemics to do to. The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Jesus Montero, C, Grade A: No one will care much about the glove in five years.
2) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Could be Montero with a better glove.
3) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B+: Want to see a full year in the high minors but his recovery was very impressive.
4) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B: Smooth as silk delivery with plus stuff, might bump him up to B+.
5) Hector Noesi, RHP, Grade B: Love the control+velocity combo.
6) Andrew Brackman, RHP, Grade B-: Made a lot of progress, could end up as a Grade B by book time.
7) Ivan Nova, RHP, Grade B-: Looks like a competent fourth starter to me.
8) Austin Romine, C, Grade B-: He's a good prospect but I don't see him as a future star.
9) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B-: I respect the tools enough to go with this grade, but he needs a lot of polish.
10) Adam Warren, RHP, Grade B-: One of several interesting pitchers who could be good fourth starters.
11) Graham Stoneburner, RHP, Grade B-: I don't understand why this guy doesn't get more attention. Good stuff, good performance.
12) David Phelps, RHP, Grade B-: Another strike-thrower who should be able to eat innings.
13) Eduardo Nunez, SS, Grade C+: Good speed, makes contact, but looks more like a utility guy to me than a regular.
14) Brandon Laird, 3B, Grade C+: I like the power, but discipline is sketchy and where does he fit?
15) David Adams, 2B, Grade C+: Can hit if healthy.
16) J.R. Murphy, C, Grade C+: More young catching depth but needs a lot of polish with the glove, bat should improve.
17) Corban Joseph, 2B, Grade C+: Another second base option with a nice bat.
18) Cito Culver, SS, Grade C+: I know the Yankees love him, and he has a high ceiling, but a long way off and lots of risk.
19) Brett Marshall, RHP, Grade C+: Tommy John survivor must be watched closely.
20) Jose A. Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+: Live arm with some breakthrough potential.
21) Angelo Gumbs, OF, Grade C+: Great tools, raw.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Sean Black, RHP; Kelvin De Leon, OF; Gabe Encinas, RHP; Robert Fish, LHP; Ramon Flores, OF; Ben Gamel, OF; Shaeffer Hall, LHP; Tommy Kahnle, RHP; Melky Mesa, OF; Bryan Mitchell, RHP; D.J. Mitchell, RHP; Evan Rutckyj, LHP; Rob Segedin, 3B: Dan Turpen, RHP; Chase Whitley, RHP; Mason Williams, OF.
This system has two excellent hitters at the top, but thins out quickly in position players with impact potential after that. The pitching is quite rich; I count eight guys with the ability to hold rotation spots at the major league level, including a couple of potential anchors, and there are more arms behind them.
The system has some toolsy outfielders and some interesting catchers past Montero and Sanchez, but could use additional depth. Overall, though, it is a system that has a lot going for it, and if some of the sleepers from the '10 draft pan out it can look even better next year.