Top 20 New York Yankees Prospects for 2010
All grades are EXTREMELY PRELIMINARY and subject to change. Don't get too worried about exact rankings at this point, especially once you get beyond the Top 10. Grade C+/C guys are pretty interchangeable depending on what you want to emphasize. Complete reports on these and over 1,000 other players will be in the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, now available for pre-order, shipping on February 2nd!
1) Jesus Montero, C, Grade A: I know that his position is up in the air, but I love this bat so much that I'm going to give him a straight Grade A. This is a Mike Piazza/Manny Ramirez type bat.
2) Austin Romine, C, Grade B: Not in Montero's class as a hitter, but he's not bad, should improve further, and is much better defensively.
3) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline Grade B. Intriguing young lefty, undersized but has a very good arm and has performed quite well thus far.
4) Zach McAllister, RHP, Grade B-: Strike-throwing-ground-ball-generating-inning-gobbler with advanced pitching feel. A fifth starter, long reliever, or trade bait in New York.
5) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B-: Excellent tools, will have to see how his skills develop, and if he overcomes concerns about his makeup from high school.
6) Mark Melancon, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Relief prospects are hard to grade, especially if they aren't going to get a chance to close, but I really like Melancon. Great stats in the minors, with very good stuff.
7) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade C+: Scouting reports point to enormous offensive potential, but would like to see him in game action before ranking higher.
8) John Murphy, C, Grade C+: Scouts like the bat a lot, but raw defensively. As with Sanchez, need to see what balance he finds between tools and skills.
9) Kelvin De Leon, OF, Grade C+: Broken record: great tools, lots of power potential, questions about plate discipline, need more data from higher levels.
10) D.J. Mitchell, RHP, Grade C+: Picks up tons of grounders, throws strikes, very athletic, needs better secondary pitches to reach his full potential.
11) Wilkin De La Rosa, LHP, Grade C+: Live-armed lefty needs sharper command. Great trade bait.
12) David Adams, 2B, Grade C+: Power spiked in the Florida State League. If he maintains that, could be a nice surprise in Double-A in '10.
13) Corban Joseph, 2B-3B, Grade C+: Sleeper prospect, hits for average and controls zone well, might develop some power to go with it.
14) Adam Warren, RHP, Grade C+: Polished college pitcher could develop into another inning-eater type.
15) Neil Medchill, OF, Grade C+: Excellent power from the left side in the New York-Penn League, but batting average/OBP against better pitching are in question.
16) David Phelps, RHP, Grade C+: Looks like a sleeper to me, finished season with brilliant run in the Florida State League. Notre Dame product.
17) Andrew Brackman, RHP, Grade C: He's horrible as a starter, but has a chance to develop in the bullpen.
18) Jose Ramirez, RHP, Grade C: Can hit 95-96 MPH and pitched well in rookie ball; sleeper candidate to emerge in '10.
19) Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Grade C: The Yankees like him a lot more than I do, but I can't rate him higher than this given how badly he pitched in Double-A.
20) Bryan Mitchell, RHP, Grade C: Live arm, cost $800,000 to buy away from North Carolina, will need time but has a high ceiling.
OTHERS (All Grade C): Sean Black, RHP; Gavin Brooks, LHP; Jairo Heredia, RHP; Jamie Hoffman, OF; Brandon Laird, 3B; DeAngelo Mack, OF; Melky Mesa, OF; Juan Miranda, 1B; Hector Noesi, RHP; Ivan Nova, RHP; Eduardo Nunez, SS; Jimmy Paredes, 2B; Kevin Russo, 2B; Romulo Sanchez, RHP; Graham Stoneburner, RHP; Brad Suttle, 3B; Pat Venditte, RHP-LHP; Kevin Whelan, RHP.
The Yankees system is interesting to study. They have one of the best prospects in baseball in Jesus Montero, who has the offensive potential to be a superstar but no clear position. I'm confident enough in his bat to give him a straight Grade A even without a place for him to play. After Montero, things thin out quickly, but there are still a lot of interesting players here.
The upper levels are thin aside from potential role players like Miranda and Russo, but the lower levels are full of toolsy types who may develop into something useful. If Sanchez, Heathcott, Murphy, and De Leon develop their tools into skills, this list will look much stronger next year. College players like Adams, Mack (who I like), Medchill, and Suttle (depending on his injury recovery) could also make some noise in '10.
Pitching-wise, the Yankees lack certain impact arms after the trade of Arodys Vizcaino, but they have a large number of B-/C+ pitching prospects who could develop into useful assets, either as inning-eating starters or solid relievers. The liveliest arms are at the lower levels, and guys like Jose Ramirez and Bryan Mitchell could rate much higher next year if they live up to their potential in full season ball. Several of their Grade C prospects are also intriguing. Hector Noesi is another sleeper: he's got terrific command but needs to prove himself in Double-A. Scouts remain skeptical about Pat Venditte's novelty act, but his performance has been outstanding thus far and he deserves a clear shot in Double-A.
Overall, this system has a lot of questions after Montero, but a large amount of upside as well. 2010 should be a fascinating campaign for Yankee farm system fans to follow.