BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 28: Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees pitches during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Rookies on the 2011 Playoff Teams: New York Yankees
Rookies were a big part of New York's success this year, and more prospects are on the way up for next year, especially on the pitching side. Let's take a look.
Dellin Betances, RHP: Huge 6-8, 260 pound right-hander, posted a 3.70 ERA with a 142/70 K/BB in 126 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Walked six in 2.2 major league innings. He has the stuff to be a fine major league pitcher as either a starter or reliever, but has to demonstrate he has sufficient control. I expect him to begin 2012 in Triple-A. Was a eighth round pick in 2006 from high school in New York.
Andrew Brackman, RHP: Another huge right-hander with a big arm, 6-10, 230 pounds. He has an extremely erratic track record and posted a 6.00 ERA with a 75/75 K/BB in 96 Triple-A innings. He threw 2.1 scoreless major league innings, while walking three. He has a great arm but his command is so poor it is hard to project any immediate success. Drafted in the first round in 2007 from North Carolina State.
Greg Golson, OF: Extremely toolsy outfielder began his career in Phillies system but has struggled to hit advanced pitching. Went 2-for-11 with a stolen base off the bench. Hit .263/.330/.385 with 15 steals in Triple-A. His speed and raw power will always attract scouts, but without better plate discipline he's destined to move on and off rosters as a reserve.
George Kontos, RHP: Drafted in the fifth round from Northwestern in 2006, posted a 2.62 ERA with a 91/26 K/BB in 89 innings for Triple-A Scranton. Gave up two runs in six major league innings, fanning six. He has a live arm, doesn't have much left to prove in the minors, and should get an opportunity at a middle relief job in 2012. He could easily outperform some pitchers who get more frequent press.
Brandon Laird, 3B-1B: Hit .260/.288/.422 with 16 homers in Triple-A, then went 4-for-21 in the majors. A 27th round pick in 2007 from Cypress Community College in California, Laird has raw power but significant strike zone issues (he drew just 17 walks in 123 Triple-A games) have kept him from being a big run producer against advanced pitching. It is hard to see how he fits in New York except as an emergency backup.
Jeff Marquez, RHP: Veteran prospect at age 27, but his power sinker could work in bullpen. Posted a 3.71 ERA with a 59/24 K/BB and 2.14 GO/AO at four levels, missing much of the season with a shoulder problem. He allowed one run in four major league innings. Like Kontos, he could sneak into relief work next year and surprise people.
Jesus Montero, C: Venezuelan phenom seemed to stagnate in second Triple-A season (.288/.348/.467) but came alive late in the year and hit .328/.406/.590 in 18 games for the Yankees. He's clearly ready for a full-time job in 2012, at least with the bat. Even if poor defense behind the plate limits him to a DH role, he has the talent and offensive polish to be the next great Yankee slugger. Even with his bad glove, he's a pure Grade A prospect.
Hector Noesi, RHP: Posted a 4.47 ERA in 56 major league innings, mostly in the bullpen, with a 45/22 K/BB and 63 hits allowed. The 24-year-old fastball/changeup specialist should fill a similar long relief/emergency starter role next year and further progress with his breaking pitches could make him a full-time starter in the long run. He was signed from the Dominican Republic back in 2004.
Ivan Nova, RHP: Another Dominican signed by the Yankees in 2004, Nova had a very successful rookie season, going 16-4, 3.70 in 27 starts with a 98/57 K/BB in 163 innings and a 1.50 GO/AO. His won-loss record is due to a lot of support from his teammates, and his control can be inconsistent, but he certainly held his own overall and will be heavily-relied on in the playoffs.
Eduardo Nunez, INF: Another Dominican signed in 2004; Yankee scouts in Latin America had a good haul that year. Hit .265/.313/.385 with 22 steals in 309 at-bats for the Yankees. Speed and versatility are his best attributes, with second base his best position overall. Expect to see him in the majors for a long time as a utility player.
Austin Romine, C: A second-round pick in 2007 from high school in California, Romine hit .279/.343/.368 between Double-A and Triple-A, then went 3-for-19 in the majors. He isn't within spitting distance of Montero as a hitter, but is much better defensively and more capable of holding down the job with the glove. He could use a year of Triple-A to work on his hitting.
Kevin Whelan, RHP: Posted a 2.75 ERA with a 54/14 K/BB in 52 innings in Triple-A, allowing just 38 hits and collecting 23 saves. He walked five guys in two major league outings in June and didn't receive another opportunity. A fourth-round pick in 2005 by the Tigers from Texas A&M, he's always posted excellent K/IP ratios but showed poor control until this year. He might get a shot in someone else's bullpen next year.