Top 20 Prospects for 2011

1. Jesus Montero (20/AAA) C- He’s the youngest player in AAA at age 20 and completely mashed. Overall batting line is .289/.353/.517 (.870 OPS). That may not be the sexiest line ever but he’s only 20. Oh and he was a complete black for the first couple months adjusting for AAA pitching. I think his line after the ASB better speaks of his abilities. .351/.386/.684 (1.080 OPS). But his bat was never a question. And as you all heard ad nauseum is that is glove is bad. Personally I think he can do fine being a C/DH for the future. He’ll be below average but the bat is worth it. Even if he doesn’t catch the majority of games in his career I believe his bat will still make him quite a valuable player.

2. Manny Banuelos (19/ A+/AA) SP – The best prospect out of the Killer B’s in my opinion (Killer B’s being Banuelos, Betances and Brackman) Out of all three ManBan may even have the lowest ceiling but the highest floor. Not to his discredit though because the ceilings of Brackman and Betances are quite huge. But Banuelos has two plus pitches in his changeup and curve. What limited Banuelos prior to the 2010 season was his fastball. He has great control with all of his pitches including his fastball but it lacked velocity. Some days Banuelos would sit in the 88-90 range where others he could stay at 90-91. This year he seems he has improved it greatly where he had starts sitting at 93-95 touching 97 on a couple occasions. He’s a small dude being at 5’11 but he’s still only 19 years old. He may still grow a bit more getting a better frame. But if he maintains this spike in velocity he could be a force to be reckoned with.

3. Austin Romine (21/AA) C – Perhaps the reason why the Yankees were willing to give up Jesus for Cliff Lee instead of waiting 3 months in FA. He’s got an average glove that can let him stick at catcher long term. His bat ain’t no Jesus but then again not much are. As a 21 year old in AA he posted a .268/.324/.402 batting line; respectable for a catcher. However last year he pulled the completely opposite of Jesus Montero, mashing early in the season and wearing down. His wOBA by month are as follows:

April: .395
May: .365
June: .318
July: .276
August: .243
September: .406

He made insane production early on. It’s his first year of fully starting at catcher so he must have gotten tired. It’s no excuse but he’s got potential. And FWIW he played in a huge pitcher’s park with a wOBA of .269 home and .366 away in AA. For perspective Jesus Montero’s wOBA in the same park is .278. I believe in Romine. His bat can be above average for a catcher but with average defense. Lots to like.

4. Gary Sanchez C (17/GCL/SI) – You can never have too many catching prospects. Sanchez has been described as Jesus Montero 2.0. Great bat (.353/.419/.597 in the GCL) and susceptible defense. It’s too early to project his defense since it’s 17 and could possible grow a lot more. FWIW his defense at this point compared to Jesus when he was at this age is a little bit better. Might not mean much but we’ll see how Sanchez grows. A potential Jesus Montero bat with the ability to stick at catcher is amazing. Let’s see how close he comes.

5. Dellin Betances (22/A+/AA) SP – Betances remains somewhat as a lottery ticket. High upside and high risk. Much of that comes from injuries prior to 2010 with his large frame being 6’8’’. He’s got a plus pitch in his fastball which he sits at 93-95 and can ramp it up to 96-97. It has ‘plus life’ with it as well. He’s got a very good curve as well at 81-83 MPH with a good 12-6 break. Command is decent but needs work. He was able to cut his walk rate in half this year being a 2.4 BB/9. He’s also got a sexy 6.67 SO/9. His ceiling is a true number one guy but his floor is relatively low. His injury concerns and his shaky mechanics keep him below Banuelos in my opinion.

6. Slade Heathcott (19/A-) CF – The 2009 first round pick of the Yankees truly has 5 tools though his power was absent. Regardless he had a decent year with a .258/.359/.352 line. He has a good batting eye with a 12% BB rate. He strikeouts a lot but should cut them down with improvements on his swing. The power or lack of it isn’t concerning just yet and he could provide some decent pop down the road. His defense reportedly looks great. Swiped 15 bags in 76 games but needs to improve his baserunning as he got picked off/caught stealing 10 times.

7. Andrew Brackman (24/A+/AA) SP -Brackman took a huge jump this year. He was terrible last year but mostly due to him coming back fully healthy from TJ surgery. He was able to cut his walk rate nearly one thirds of what it was last year(6.4 BB/9 to 2.5 BB/9) and retained a high strikeout rate (8.1 K/9). A lot of groundballs for him too with a . Very similar to Betances with a good fastball and curve with a decent change. Fastball sits at around 94 and peaks at 97. Curve varies from time to time due to mechanics from his also large frame (6’10’’). Still has ace potential.

8. Hector Noesi (23/A+/AA/AAA) SP – Doesn’t share the upside of other Yankee prospects but he still has a chance of being a mid to back end starter. He’s got a plus fastball in the 90-94 range with a curve that’s getting there. Decent change as well. He’s very close to being major league ready and there’s always value In these guys despite not having an ace ceiling.

9. Graham Stoneburner (22/A-/A+) SP – Another 2009 draftee. Stoneburner has two plus pitches in his fastball and slider which he made a huge jump in. He had an average slider last year but this year it has been described as a true plus pitch from Kevin Goldstein. Good job at limiting walks and getting those strikeouts. Worst case scenario is that he becomes a reliever but should move up the ranks fast regardless.

10. Jose Ramirez (20/A-) SP – The Yankees top sleeper took huge strides this year in becoming a top prospect for the Yanks. He was able to get a 3.33 FIP in 115 IP last year. Uses a fastball changeup combination both of them being plus pitches. Strikesout a lot of batters (8.2 K/9) but has a decent walk rate (3.3 BB/9) He’s one of my fave prospects in the org.

11. JR Murphy (19/A-) C – JR Murphy is a fairly new catcher starting in his senior year of high school. He’s raw defensively but has a strong arm. He needs to work on is catcher mechanics in order to stay. He might not stick at catcher but he has played a corner outfield position before and has the athleticism to play third base if needed. He has a good swing that lets him get line drives easily allowing him to hit for average. Power should develop as he comes along the system. Had a rough year at low-A but was able to get stronger as the season progressed. .253, .293, .323, .389 wOBA by month.

12. David Adams (23/AA) 2B – Only played 39 games due to an ankle injury for being ‘gritty’ and trying to break up a double play. But he was wrecking with a .309/.393/.507 line. Also has a lot of patience with a 10% BB rate. He was able to improve his defense to stay as a middle infielder and should be a solid second baseman in the bigs.

13. Adam Warren (23/AA) SP – Doesn’t have the highest ceiling but he could be a mind to back end starter as well. However he had great performances in 2010 with a 2.72 FIP. He has great command but n overpowering stuff. I think he’ll be a nice starter even if he’s not on the Yanks.

14. Brandon Laird (22/AA/AAA) 3B/OF – Laird’s got some nice power which is arguably his best tool. Plate discipline skills are suspect but he’ll take his fair share of walks. He probably won’t stick at third long term which made the Yankees try him out in the outfield in the AzFL. Hasn’t looked good in early reports thanks to Keith Law. His bat has always been his best tool and it’ll stay that way. He was promoted after killing AA but struggled in AAA. He’s still young and it’s a short sample so we can’t say it indicates anything just yet.

15. Cito Culver (18/GCL) SS – Unlike the trend we’ve been seeing above Culver has the opportunity to have a decent bat but already has good defense. I won’t lie, I disliked the pick. There were better players on the board in my opinion and an organization like the Yankees should go on upside instead of probability for a first rounder. But they see something in him and there’s a reason they are professionals. Cito did a decent job in rookie ball with a .670 OPS. Not bad as his power was developing as the season was going on. He’s got a chance of being a good contact bat with gap power and being a good defender at short.

16. David Phelps (23/AAA) SP- One of the best pitchers performance-wise being a ground ball machine. He’s only got one plus pitch in his fastball with decent secondary pitches. His lack of a true final blow pitch lowers his ceiling but Phelps could still be an effective reliever. He’s a decent prospect.

17. Bryan Mitchell (19/GCL/A-) SP – Mitchell has a good fastball with life but what’s exciting about him is his curveball which may be the best in the system. Had a decent year in rookie ball with a 4.10 FIP but the upside is very exciting. He made one appearance in low A and was decent. He could emerge as another top pitching prospect if he takes strides next year.

18. Brett Marshall (20/A-/A+) SP – Uses a fastball slider combination which are near being plus pitches if they aren’t already. Came back from major surgery and has actually performed better since. He was able to significantly reduce his walk rate and put up some good strikeout numbers. 3.32 FIP last year. Also has some good upside.

19. Angelo Gumbs (19) CF – Another true 5 tool player gotten from the 2010 draft. He has played shortstop in the past and since he didn’t play a game yet we don’t know what the Yankees intend of him being but he’s been announced as a centerfielder. He has said he is more comfortable there as well. BaseballBeginnings actually have Gumbs as one of the best pure athletes in the draft last year. His defense is great with a goof arm and good range. He’ll be a project with the bat but has the chance to hit for a decent average but with good power. Think of Austin Jackson with power and hopefully with a less lucky BABIP.

20. Robert Segedin (21) 3B/OF – Another 2010 draftee. Segedin has a great bat with a .434/.516/.788 batting line in the Cape Cod league. Has good power potential and a can get on base at a good rate. His true position is unknown as of now but has a good arm to do a decent job at 3rd. He even pitched and topped out at 94.
21-30 in no particular order: Kevin DeLeon, Eduardo Nunez, Evan Rutckyj, Gabe Encinas, Taylor Morton, Corban Joesph, Kevin Russo, Eduardo Sosa, DJ Mitchell, Melky Mesa

Sleeper pick:
Caleb Cotham –Described as a poor man’s Joba Chamberlain back in the 2009 draft. Missed entire last year due to surgery.

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