Does Yankee Prospect Bias Actually Exist?

How many of you out there have heard this before?

"(Insert Yankee Prospect Here) sucks! He's only this high because of the Yankee hype machine!" or "Another prospect writer with Yankee bias!".

This infuriates Yankees fans, as it should, especially when considering the recent success of Yankee prospects. Let's take a look at some prospect lists from the past few years and see if this "bias" actually exists.

Here are the Top 10 Yankees prospect lists from Baseball America for 2005-2010. We'll examine each individually in order. (Keep in mind that there will be repeats on these lists, since prospects do develop at different rates)

2005

1. Eric Duncan, 3b
2. Robinson Cano, 2b
3. Phil Hughes, rhp
4. Steven White, rhp
5. Dioner Navarro, c
6. Christian Garcia, rhp
7. Marcos Vechionacci, inf
8. Melky Cabrera, of
9. Bronson Sardinha, 3b/of
10. Chien-Ming Wang, rhp

Sure, Eric Duncan was a monumental bust, but look at the rest of that list. Robinson Cano is a superstar, Phil Hughes has shown glimpses of high level performance, Melky Cabrera had a nice breakout last season, and Chien-Ming Wang pitched at an extremely high level prior to injury. Add in Dioner Navarro, who had a few modest seasons, and that is a pretty successful Top 10 list.

2006

1. Phil Hughes, rhp
2. Eric Duncan, 3b
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. C.J. Henry, ss
5. Austin Jackson, of
6. Eduardo Nunez, ss
7. Marcos Vechionacci,3b
8. Christian Garcia, rhp
9. Jeff Marquez, rhp
10. Tyler Clippard, rhp

Jose Tabata appears on the list for the first time, which was the beginning of the major hype surrounding him. Part of the reason he was so highly regarded was due to his plus-plus bat speed, which hasn't yet translated to power in the majors. That said, he could still be a major piece of the emerging Pirates moving forward. Austin Jackson was part of the package that landed Curtis Granderson, and is an exciting player for the Tigers. Eduardo Nunez is carving out a productive career as a utility man for the Yankees. Tyler Clippard has emerged as one of the most dominant set-up men in baseball, and has a legitimate closer arsenal.


2007

1. Philip Hughes, rhp
2. Jose Tabata, of
3. Dellin Betances, rhp
4. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
5. Ian Kennedy, rhp
6. Chris Garcia, rhp
7. Tyler Clippard, rhp
8. J. Brent Cox, rhp
9. Mark Melancon, rhp
10. Brett Gardner, of

What a great group this looking back. Dellin Betances has been around for ages, and is just now knocking on the door of the major leagues. You all know Joba Chamberlain's story, and many theories can be thrown out as to why he hasn't developed into a more dominant pitcher. He was pretty awesome early in his career, and could still turn out to be a useful arm in the future. Ian Kennedy flopped in his first chance with the Yankees, but has developed into a top flight pitcher for the Diamondbacks, posting a 21-4 record last season. Mark Melancon assumed the closer role for the Astros last season, and was dealt this winter to the hated Red Sox. Brett Gardner just keeps being Brett Gardner, gritty and gutty, as a fan favorite for the Yankees.

2008

1. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
2. Austin Jackson, of
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. Ian Kennedy, rhp
5. Alan Horne, rhp
6. Jesus Montero, c
7. Jeff Marquez, rhp
8. Brett Gardner, of
9. Ross Ohlendorf, rhp
10. Andrew Brackman, rhp

The usual suspects once again. Alan Horne never amounted to anything, and Ross Ohlendorf has done a bit of work in recent years for the Pirates. That Jesus Montero guy is pretty good, and netted the Yankees frontline starter Michael Pineda this winter. Montero should have a nice career, and may even develop into a star. Andrew Brackman has been shipped out of town after a disaster in 2011, but still could carve out a career as a power reliever. It wouldn't be the first time a prospect who didn't make it with the Yankees blossomed in another organization (see Clippard, Tyler).

2009

1. Austin Jackson, of
2. Jesus Montero, c
3. Andrew Brackman, rhp
4. Austin Romine, c
5. Dellin Betances, rhp
6. Zach McAllister, rhp
7. Alfredo Aceves, rhp
8. Phil Coke, lhp
9. Mark Melancon, rhp
10. Bradley Suttle, 3b

Austin Romine could still develop into the Yankees catcher of the future now that Montero has moved on. Alfredo Aceves has had a successful career out of the bullpen, for both the Yankees and Red Sox. Phil Coke has shown an ability to pitch successfully out of the bullpen, and attempted to hack it as a starter last season with the Tigers.

2010

1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Austin Romine, c
3. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
4. Slade Heathcott, of
5. Zach McAllister, rhp
6. Manny Banuelos, lhp
7. Gary Sanchez, c
8. J.R. Murphy, c
9. Jeremy Bleich, lhp
10. Andrew Brackman, rhp

Arodys Vizcaino is one of the top pitching prospects currently in baseball, and emerged as such as a member of the Braves organization. The jury is still out on Slade Heathcott, with injuries slowing his development thus far. Manny Banuelos and Gary Sanchez are current top prospects, but even they started out as merely blips on the Yankees prospect radar. J.R. Murphy is an interesting catching prospect who could eventually turn into a decent backstop.

I don't see any prospect bias here. I see a legitimately solid group of prospects each year, many of which have gone on to have extremely productive major league careers. Reviewing these lists should serve as evidence against any such bias.

There is more to the success of the Yankees than a huge payroll, and that has been the outstanding talent produced by the farm system in recent years. They have developed a superstar in Robinson Cano, a highly productive starting outfielder in Brett Gardner, and an emerging starting pitcher in Phil Hughes. Absent from these lists is Ivan Nova, who has developed into a pretty solid pitcher in his own right. Players the Yankees have drafted and developed have been used in trades to acquire other key pieces on the current team. This is not prospect bias, it's great player development.

What does the future hold for the current crop of talent? Will Banuelos and Betances turn into aces? What about Sanchez and Mason Williams? If the past has taught us anything, it's that these top prospects have a chance to be productive major league players in the future.

To me, the idea of "Yankees prospect hype" is pure rubbish. The results speak for themselves.

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