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New York Yankees Top 20 2013 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Preston Claiborne
Preston Claiborne

Here is a review of the 2013 New York Yankees Top 20 Prospects list. THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST. THESE ARE THE PRE-SEASON GRADES.

This list was originally published December 21, 2013 and revised on January 15, 2013.

1) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+: Hitting .267/.328/.453 with 21 doubles and 13 homers for High-A Tampa. Solid production for the league context, and his defense is steadily improving. One of the top catching prospects in baseball.

2) Tyler Austin, OF, Grade B+: Hitting .254/.344/.367 with 41 walks, 76 strikeouts in 311 at-bats for Double-A Trenton. Maintained his plate discipline against better pitching, but power production dropped off. Currently on the DL with a wrist injury. Scouts never liked him as much as the numbers, but I still think he has a chance.

3) Mason Williams, OF, Grade B:
Borderline B+: Hitting .274/.345/.375 for Tampa with 11 steals, hitting better recently after a weak start. Continues to tantalize with his tools, but still has to prove that negative makeup concerns won't hamper him in the long run.

4) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B:
Hitting .260/.322/.386 with 29 walks, 92 strikeouts in 332 at-bats for Trenton. Like his teammate Austin, he's produced less than expected and has weaker plate discipline to boot. He's also a full year older.

5) Brett Marshall, RHP, Grade B-: 5.70 ERA with 81/58 K/BB in 95 innings, 102 hits allowed for Triple-A Scranton. Disappointing season that fails to follow up on his strong 2012 Double-A campaign. Stock down.

6) Jose Campos, RHP, Grade B-:
On limited pitch counts due to 2012 arm problems, but pitching decently for Low-A Charleston with a 3.57 ERA and a 66/13 K/BB in 68 innings. Turns 21 later this week, so he's still very young. Next step is showing he can handle a larger workload.

7) Angelo Gumbs, 2B, Grade B-:
Hit poorly in High-A (.214/.265/.302 in 39 games) resulting in demotion down to Low-A (.269/.322/.481 in 26 games) where he already played last year. Young at 20 but stock is flat.

8) Mark Montgomery, RHP, Grade B-:
3.06 ERA with a 39/20 K/BB in 32 innings in Triple-A, but has been bothered by shoulder problems and is currently on rehab assignment in rookie ball.

9) Ty Hensley, RHP, Grade B-:
2012 first-rounder will miss entire season following hip surgery.

10) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B-:
Recovering from Tommy John. Tough to rank, and he wasn't living up to his press clippings even before he got hurt.

11) Nik Turley, LHP, Grade B-: 4.32 ERA with 100/49 K/BB ratio in 100 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Inconsistent, flashing potential with a good strikeout rate but needs sharper command.

12) Corey Black, RHP, Grade B-:
4.29 ERA with 86/43 K/BB in 78 innings for Tampa, just one homer allowed. Throws very hard, as high as 100 MPH at his best, but command is problematic and he is more likely a reliever in the long run.

13) Rafael DePaula, RHP, Grade C+:
Borderline B-. 2.94 ERA with 96/23 K/BB in 64 innings in Low-A, followed by 7.13 ERA with 15/9 K/BB in 18 innings in High-A. Futures Game attendee throws very hard, but command has wobbled against better competition. I suspect he will adjust in time.

14) JR Murphy, C, Grade C+:
Hitting .280/.359/.439 between Double-A and Triple-A with no loss in performance after moving up; indeed he's actually improved. His defense is sharpening up too, giving the Yankees two fine catching prospects between Murphy and Gary Sanchez.

15) Ramon Flores, OF, Grade C+:
Hitting .241/.336/.329 with 54 walks, 77 strikeouts in 374 at-bats for Trenton. The entire Double-A outfield has been disappointing with a notable lack of power production.

16) Bryan Mitchell, RHP, Grade C+:
4.68 ERA with an 89/43 K/BB in 102 innings for Tampa, 110 hits. Very similar to what he did last year in Low-A, not showing much growth but not collapsing either.

17) Austin Romine, C, Grade C+: Hitting .157/.179/.211 in 35 games, 76 at-bats for the Yankees. Defensive reputation and bloodline will keep him around for awhile, but will he ever hit enough to move beyond a reserve role? There's no real reason to think so based on his track record.

18) Corban Joseph, 2B, Grade C+:
Hit .239/.329/.383 in 47 games for Scranton, got into two major league games. Currently on the disabled list. Utility type if he makes it.

19) Nick Goody, RHP, Grade C+:
Out with Tommy John surgery.

20) Dante Bichette JR, 3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .206/.281/.314 for Charleston. Really weird one here. He was good in high school, tore up rookie ball in 2011, then mysteriously stopped hitting once he arrived in full-season ball in 2012. He's been getting worse, not better, despite playing in Low-A for almost two years.

OTHERS: David Adams, 2B; Zoilo Almonte, OF; Austin Aune, SS; Dellin Betances, RHP; Gregory Bird, 1B; Daniel Camarena, LHP; Jordan Cote, RHP; Cito Culver, SS; Rookie Davis, RHP; Tom Kahnle, RHP; Melky Mesa, OF; Ronnier Mustelier, UT; Vidal Nuno, LHP; Branden Pinder, RHP; Jose Pirela, UT; Jose A. Ramirez, RHP; Rob Refsnyder, OF; Francisco Rondon, LHP; Ravel Santana, OF; Adam Warren, RHP; Chase Whitley, RHP.

Good news/bad news situation in the Yankees farm system this year.

The bad news: promising outfielders Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott, and Ramon Flores have all fizzled in Double-A. Dante Bichette has been awful. Mason Williams remains a talented enigma. There was a lot of hype around this group and they haven't lived up to it at this point. Several pitchers who were expected to take steps forward are injured, have stagnated or outright slumped.

The good news: catchers Gary Sanchez and JR Murphy have hit well and improved their defense. Rafael DePaula looks like the real thing. Gregory Bird has emerged as one of the better first base prospects in the minors. Jose Ramirez has pitched well in the high minors. Adam Warren and unheralded rookie Preston Claiborne bolstered the major league pitching staff. Zoilo Almonte and David Adams got to the majors, Dellin Betances has remade himself as a reliever, and Jose Campos has thrown strikes.

I wouldn't give up on the outfield group just yet, plus the 2013 draft has already shown promise with good debuts from Eric Jagielo and Gosuke Katoh.

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