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New York Yankees Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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July 28, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher David Phelps (41) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Red Sox won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
July 28, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher David Phelps (41) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Red Sox won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

New York Yankees Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Continuing with our mid-season reviews of our pre-season Top 20 Prospect Lists, we return to the American League with a look at the New York Yankees farm system.

Remember, this is the pre-season list. It is NOT a new list.

This list was originally published January 19th, 2012

The Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, and Kansas City Royals are the next teams I intend to do, but the schedule may get changed depending on what is going on with the trade deadline.

1) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Hit .297/.353/.517 with 13 homers, 22 walks, 65 strikeouts in 263 at-bats for Low-A Charleston, followed by a .235/.307/.412 mark in 68 at-bats for High-A Tampa. An impressive offensive year at age 19. Has thrown out 31% of runners, defense needs more polish as shown by excessive error and passed ball rates.

2) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. Hasn't pitched since mid-May due to elbow injury.

3) Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. Ineffective in Triple-A due to command problems, 6.39 ERA with 71/69 K/BB in 75 innings, 71 hits. Sent back to Double-A Trenton, 4.15 ERA with 36/14 K/BB in 35 innings. All a matter of throwing strikes. Commentary from scouts who have seen him in Triple-A now revolves around lack of athleticism and trouble with mechanical repetition.

4) Mason Williams, OF, Grade B: .304/.359/.489 with 19 steals, 21 walks, 33 strikeouts in 276 at-bats for Charleston, then .277/.302/.422 with three walks and 14 strikeouts in 83 at-bats for Tampa. Very strong scouting reports on defense. I thought the Grade B was aggressive but it looks like a good call now, should/could be a B+ for 2013.

5) Dante Bichette, Jr, 3B, Grade B: Hitting .242/.313/.326 with 37 walks, 71 strikeouts in 368 at-bats for Charleston. His hitting has been disappointing, I thought he would be much better than this based on his rookie ball performance and glowing scouting reviews. Error rate at third is a bit high but he's showing the range to stick there. At age 19, I think the bat will come around.

6) Jose Campos, RHP, Grade B: Acquired in the Montero/Pineda deal. On the disabled list since late April with an inflamed elbow.

7) David Phelps, RHP, Grade B-: I caught flak for this ranking but this is one gamble that has worked out: 2.59 ERA with 54/17 K/BB in 49 major league innings, 38 hits. He's been very good and I think he can handle a larger role.

8) Ravel Santana, OF, Grade B-: Borderline C+. .240/.339/.320 with 14 walks, 35 strikeouts in 100 at-bats for short-season Staten Island in the New York-Penn League. Hasn't stolen any bases and doesn't look like the same player that existed before last year's severe ankle injury. At age 20 he still has time.

9) Tyler Austin, 3B, Grade B-: Borderline C+. Hitting .322/.405/.596 with 39 walks, 73 strikeouts, 15 homers, and 17 steals in 19 attempts over 292 at-bats between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. I don't think this is a fluke and Austin has emerged as a legitimately excellent prospect in my view.

10) Adam Warren, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-: 3.69 ERA with 78/37 K/BB in 117 innings for Triple-A Scranton, 130 hits. Got killed in one major league start. Ability to throw strikes will keep him in the picture as a fifth starter or long relief guy, but he is more of a trade bait type than a guy who will push himself into a huge role with the Yankees.

11) Austin Romine, C, Grade C+: Has played just 12 games due to a back injury, just started rehab assignment in High-A.

12) J.R. Murphy, C, Grade C+: .257/.322/.374 with 26 walks, 41 strikeouts in 265 at-bats for Tampa, then .235/.323/.451 with six walks, nine strikeouts in 51 at-bats for Double-A Trenton. Has thrown out 33% of runners, but defense still rather raw in terms of errors and passed balls. However, he's got a decent chance to stick there I think.

13) Cito Culver, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .218/.328/.296 with 56 walks, 81 strikeouts, 19 steals in 348 at-bats for Charleston. Glove at shortstop is very promising. He'll take a walk but hasn't developed power yet and is frequently overmatched. Turns 20 in August, still young enough to improve considerably.

14) Brett Marshall, RHP, Grade C+: 2.90 ERA with 80/37 K/BB in 118 innings for Trenton, 108 hits, 1.21 GO/AO. Pretty ERA with good control, strikeout rate is lower than ideal. Slider and changeup draw good reviews, fastball has plus sink on his best days. Potential back-of-rotation starter or bullpen guy.

15) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade C+: .255/.341/.436 with 12 walks, 32 strikeouts, seven steals in 110 at-bats for Tampa. Batting average doesn't look hot, but his overall performance is above-average for the Florida State League. All the tools are still here, but still needs to prove he can stay healthy.

16) Angelo Gumbs, 2B, Grade C+: .272/.320/.432 with 18 walks, 60 strikeouts, 26 steals in 257 at-bats for Charleston. On the DL since late June with an elbow injury.

17) Nik Turley, LHP, Grade C+ Rated as a breakthrough candidate preseason and he's performed well, 2.83 ERA with 90/28 K/BB in 83 innings for Tampa, 70 hits, 1.61 GO/AO. Ready for Double-A.

18) Daniel Lopez, OF, Grade C+: .220/.312/.280 with 10 walks, 24 strikeouts, five steals in 82 at-bats for Staten Island. Hasn't lived up to the promise he showed in the Gulf Coast League last summer, but still young enough at age 20 to do so.

19) David Adams, 2B, Grade C: Finally healthy enough to play and has played well, .310/.383/.425 with 26 walks, 37 strikeouts in 226 at-bats for Trenton. Nothing special with the glove but not terrible either, and if he keeps hitting well he has a chance to be useful despite being 25 years old already.

20) Ramon Flores, OF, Grade C; Hitting .299/.364/.409 with 40 walks, 71 strikeouts, 17 steals in 408 at-bats for Tampa. Very impressive for age 20 in the Florida State League, and he's outplayed several prospects who received more preseason attention.

Injuries have taken a toll here, another reminder (as if we needed one) about the importance of depth, especially for pitching prospects. Among guys not on the pre-season top 20, Mark Montgomery has had an excellent season as a reliever in High-A and Double-A and should be tracked closely. Lefty Vidal Nuno has quietly had an impressive season in High-A and Double-A and should be considered a sleeper.

Cuban Ronnier Mustelier is about to turn 28 but has performed well enough in Double-A and Triple-A to merit a major league call as a possible utility guy. Venezuelan shortstop Jose Pirela has had a fine year in Double-A, while outfielders Melky Mesa, Abraham Almonte, and Zoilo Almonte have all flashed some ability. None of them qualify as elite prospects, but they all have a shot at being helpful.

The Yankees came in $406,300 under budget for the 2012 draft, but still pulled in a high-ceiling arm in Ty Hensley, toolsy outfielder Austin Aune, and power-hitting enigma catcher Pete O'Brien.