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New York Yankees 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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New York Yankees 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, continuing today with the New York Yankees. This list was originally published December 15, 2010. We will look at the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, and the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.

This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.

The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.

1) Jesus Montero, C, Grade A:  Hitting .288/.345/.441 for Triple-A Scranton, 27 walks, 79 strikeouts in 340 at-bats. Passed ball and error rates have improved dramatically, but has thrown out just 19% of runners. A weaker season than last year with the bat, the theory is that he's frustrated. They need to play him or trade him.

2) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Hitting .251/.327/.463 with 14 homers, 32 walks, 88 strikeouts in 283 at-bats for Low-A Charleston. 31% of runners caught, but has given up 26 passed balls in 55 defensive games. Just 18 years old.

3) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B+:  3.57 ERA with 103/53 K/BB in 93 innings for Double-A Trenton, 75 hits, 1.32 GO/AO. Looks fine to me with a few more control adjustments.

4) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B:  3.59 ERA with 102/55 K/BB in 100 innings between 20 starts for Trenton and one for Scranton, 101 hits allowed. Like Betances, he could use more Triple-A time to refine his command but his stock remains high with me.

5) Hector Noesi, RHP, Grade B:   3.28 ERA with 25/10 K/BB in 36 major league innings, 39 hits allowed. Has done OK in limited action.

6) Andrew "The Scranton Horror" Brackman, RHP, Grade B-:   7.26 ERA with 58/69 K/BB in 76 innings for Scranton, 71 hits allowed. He is hounded by abominable, eldritch control problems, like insane flute music pulsating with a mind-bending disharmony of universal, ultimate chaos. Those who ruminate overmuch on the chthonic mysteries of Andrew Brackman's career put their sanity at risk, as their mental boundaries melt under the hideous assault of such an unspeakable waste of talent and money. Ia! Shub-Niggurath! Ia! Ia! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Walks!

7) Ivan Nova, RHP, Grade B-:  4.01 ERA in the majors, 57/38 K/BB in 99 innings, 104 hits, 1.64 GO/AO. I think he is capable of better in the medium and long runs.

8) Austin Romine, C, Grade B-:  Hitting .283/.351/.381 with 28 walks, 49 strikeouts in 286 at-bats for Double-A Trenton. 25% of runners caught, other defensive numbers solid.

9) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B-:   .271/.342/.419 with 19 walks, 57 strikeouts in 210 at-bats for Charleston. Excellent defense, some progress with the bat. Questions about makeup revived after he assaulted a catcher. Hasn't played since early July due to shoulder injury.

10) Adam Warren, RHP, Grade B-:  3.34 ERA with 82/44 K/BB in 127 innings for Scranton, 123 hits. Ratios have slipped, particularly K/IP and GO/AO, but still has a shot as an inning-eater.

11) Graham Stoneburner, RHP, Grade B-:  2.90 ERA with 41/14 K/BB in 62 innings, 55 hits, combined from three levels, including GCL injury rehab for a neck problem, 19 innings at High-A Tampa, and 29 innings at Trenton. 1.76 GO/AO. Still interesting to me if healthy.

12) David Phelps, RHP, Grade B-:  3.38 ERA with 74/22 K/BB in 85 innings for Scranton, 92 hits, 0.93 GO/AO. Missed time with shoulder injury, just started rehab assignment in GCL.

13) Eduardo Nunez, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .271/.318/.394 with 15 steals, 13 walks, 20 strikeouts in 188 at-bats for the Yankees. Should have a long career as a utility guy.

14) Brandon Laird, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .274/.303/.429 with 11 homers, 13 walks, 60 strikeouts in 368 at-bats for Scranton. Solid glove. Lack of patience is an issue that holds his bat back.

15) David Adams, 2B, Grade C+:  Injured most of the year, hit .429 in 17-game rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. Hitting .316/.366/.395 in eight games for Tampa. We need more data here.

16) J.R. Murphy, C, Grade C+:  .297/.343/.457 with 19 walks, 38 strikeouts in 256 at-bats for Charleston, .259/.270/.365 in 85 at-bats for Tampa, two walks, nine strikeouts. Doing OK. 24% of runners caught, has also spent some time at third base.

17) Corban Joseph, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .274/.357/.425 with 51 walks, 79 strikeouts in 391 at-bats for Trenton. Error-prone at secod base. Interesting on-base skills with gap power.

18) Cito Culver, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .284/.360/.392 with 22 walks, 34 strikeouts in 176 at-bats for short-season Staten Island. Pretty decent numbers for a raw guy, not much power yet.

19) Brett Marshall, RHP, Grade C+:  3.98 ERA with 95/44 K/BB in 115 innings for Tampa, 119 hits, 1.73 GO/AO. Fully recovered from injury troubles, like the grounders, transition to Double-A next year will be interesting.

20) Jose A. Ramirez, RHP, Grade C+:  Awful at Tampa (8.14 ERA, 25/11 K/BB, 35 hits in 24 innings), sent back to Charleston, where he has a 4.24 mark with a 68/29 K/BB in 70 innings, 71 hits. Combined GO/AO is 0.81. Not a lot to be excited about here.

21) Angelo Gumbs, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .279/.358/.442 with 11 steals, 19 walks, 43 strikeouts for Staten Island. Strikes out a lot, but good pop with speed, very interesting double play combo with Culver.

I'm not worried about Montero, he just needs to play. The big failure on the list is Brackman, but I'm wondering if Heathcott's propensity for shoulder issues is going to end up hampering him just as much as his makeup issues. Gumbs and Culver will be an intriguing combo up the middle in full-season A-ball next year.