Yankees prospects: Pinstripe Alley's post-season Top 10 list

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Jason, Andrew, and I individually rank the Yankees prospects following their 2013 seasons to come up with a master list.

Before the 2013 season began the site editors came up with a collaborative Top 10 prospects list for the site. Andrew Mearns, Jason Cohen, and I have re-evaluated our lists now that the minor league season is over to come up with a similar list with another season of performance to judge.

None of us claim to be experts on the topic of scouting, so our lists are purely based on what we see, read, think, and hear about Yankees prospects. Finding a balance between potential and performance is not always easy and it's unlikely that two prospect lists will ever be the same, even among experts. That being said, here is the list the three of us have come up with for our post-2013 Pinstripe Alley Top 10. Our individual ranks of each player are beside our names in the explanations below.

Pinstripe Alley Top 10 Prospects:

1. Gary Sanchez, C
Pre-season PSA rank: 1
Level at the end of 2013: Double-A Trenton
2013 Statistics: (High-A and Double-A) 117 games, .253/.324/.412, 15 HR, 27 2B, 3 SB

Tanya (#1): Hopes still lie with Sanchez being the Yankees' answer at catcher for the future. He didn't have a fantastic season by any means, but he was solid enough to remain the top prospect in the system, if only for the fact that his main competition really struggled in 2013. Sanchez still has the potential to be a special player if he continues to improve his defense.
Jason (#1): He's proven that he can hit and walk in the upper levels, but it would be nice if he showed some more power and overall offense. Mark Newman basically said they were unhappy with his defense and there have been numerous reports that he's taken a step back behind the plate. If it appears that he can't stay back there his prospect value is going to plummet into oblivion.
Andrew (#1): Still the best prospect in the Yankees' system, Sanchez notched solid but not spectacular numbers between Tampa and Trenton. He still reportedly needs plenty of work on defense, but he has yet to have a sub-100 wRC+ at any level.

2. Greg Bird, 1B
Pre-season PSA rank: Not ranked
Level at the end of 2013: Low-A Charleston
2013 Statistics: (Low-A) 130 games, .288/.428/.511, 20 HR, 36 2B, 1 SB

Tanya (#2): Putting Bird this high after his first 100+ game season is ambitious, but what he did this year was an accomplishment worthy of a lofty ranking in a system that didn't accomplish much this year. His power and walk rates are easy to dream on and his lefty swing could fit perfectly in Yankee Stadium. First base prospects are often overlooked, but another season like '13 from Bird will make it hard for anyone to ignore his potential.
Jason (#2): It's hard to get excited about a first base prospect in the lower levels, but this one was one of the best hitters in the minors and he led everyone in walks. Everyone. The best part about it was that he was young for the level at only 20 years old, so hopefully this is only the beginning for him.
Andrew (#5): Now established at first base, Bird destroyed SAL pitching and won a ton of fans in 2013. His hitting will be what brings him higher in the system, so he just has to continue it at higher levels, though Tampa and Trenton's ballparks will challenge him.

3. Eric Jagielo, 3B
Pre-season PSA rank:
N/A
Level at the end of 2013: Short Season-A Staten Island
2013 Statistics: (Short Season) 51 games, .266/.376/.451, 6 HR, 14 2B, 0 SB

Tanya (#4): Jagielo got the most playing time of the three first round picks this season with good results out of the gate. The Yankees need a third baseman desperately and Jagielo can move through the system quickly if the offense is there. Better still is the fact that most experts believe that he will actually be able to stick at his defensive position.
Jason (#4): He didn't play much, but he had pretty good numbers for his first taste of pro ball. The third base landscape in the Yankees system is wide open, so he represents their best chance at a regular third baseman at some point in the future. If he can expand on what he showed in 2013, he'll be able to easily climb up the system.
Andrew (#2): The star of the 2013 draft's value will depend on whether or not he can stay at third, but the early returns on his NCAA-polished bat were strong in Staten Island. Although he needs to cut down on his strikeouts, Jagielo's impressive start inspires hope that he can quickly rise through the system.

4. Tyler Austin, OF/1B
Pre-season PSA rank:
3
Level at the end of 2013: Double-A Trenton
2013 Statistics: (Double-A) 83 games, .257/.351/.378, 6 HR, 17 2B, 4 SB

Tanya (#3): Austin burst onto the scene in 2012 before a mixture of playing half his games at Arm & Hammer Park and a wrist injury really took a toll on his production. Trenton's home ballpark is not friendly to hitters, but even Austin's road numbers were down in the power department from what he saw the year before. The Yankees have been aggressive with him and he likely ranks as the prospect outfielder closest to the majors, but he'll need to be more 2012 than 2013 going forward if there's any real hope of making it as a starter.
Jason (#5): He had an absolutely terrible season, though he did OPS .758 in the first two months of the season. Everything fell apart after that until it ended with a wrist injury. It shouldn't be a problem next season, but he really needs to turn things around or his meteoric rise as a prospect will look like a mistake.
Andrew (#3): He took an understandable step back after a monster 2012, and a wrist injury kept him out of action for a couple months. Nonetheless, he had decent numbers during the season for Trenton and played well upon his return for the Eastern League playoffs. Positional versatility is certainly a plus for prospects, and if Austin can add first base to his repertoire in the Fall League as the instructional league assignment seems to dictate, it could accelerate his rise to the big leagues.

5. Mason Williams, OF
Pre-season PSA rank:
2
Level at the end of 2013: Double-A Trenton
2013 Statistics: (High-A and Double-A) 117 games, .245/.304/.337, 4 HR, 24 2B, 15 Sb

Tanya (#5): Williams has tools for days that make scouts drool, but he has been unable to prove that he can master High-A pitching so far. He finished the 2013 season in Double-A, thanks to injuries to other outfielders, where he struggled even further. Of the Big Three outfield prospects, he's lagging behind. It wouldn't be that much of a shock to see him back in Tampa to start 2014 until he can prove that more advanced pitching doesn't conquer him.
Jason (#6): He finally made it to Double-A this season, but there's no certainty he should start next season with Trenton. He hit for no power, though he was still good on the base paths and hit for average. It was a disappointing season for him, but he did hit .319/.360/.434 in June and July, but still only one home run. It's clear that he'll never be a power hitter, but if he's going to be a speedy, gold glove caliber outfielder, he's going to have to show more. There have been questions about his work ethic this season, so if that continues he could find himself off prospect lists in a hurry.
Andrew (#4): Mason took a huge step backward this year from perhaps the Yankees' best prospect. His power dropped and he couldn't even hit above Florida State League-average. He'll need a big year in 2014 (hopefully in Trenton) to reclaim his top prospect status.

6. Rafael De Paula, RHP
Pre-season PSA rank: Not ranked
Level at the end of 2013: High-A Tampa
2013 Statistics: (Low-A and High-A) 113.1 IP, 4.29 ERA, 146 K, .232 average against

Tanya (#6): De Paula's Yankee career got off to a bumpy start when his arrival was delayed due to identity and visa issues. He got his first taste of pitching in the United States this season, rewarding the Yankees' patience with a strong showing with Charleston. His numbers fell off after his promotion to High-A, but he'll get another crack at adjusting to more selective hitters next season. If he can get back to the dominance he had against Low-A hitters, the sky is the limit.
Jason (#3): He took the Sally League by storm this season with a 13.43 K/9, but when he went up to High-A the strikeouts went down and the walks went up. Hopefully, adjusting to a higher level of competition just proved a little difficult and with more time he'll be able to adjust because he's the Yankees best chance at finding a frontline starter.
Andrew (#8): The excitement of an amazing first half with Charleston was tempered by a return to earth with Tampa. Regardless, De Paula has an electric repertoire, and more experience against the FSL hitters should help him in 2014.

7. Slade Heathcott, OF
Pre-season PSA rank:
4
Level at the end of 2013: Double-A Trenton
2013 Statistics: (Double-A) 103 games, .261/.327/.411, 8 HR, 22 2B, 15 SB

Tanya (#7): Slade managed to play more games than he ever has as a professional this season, but, like his fellow outfield prospects, he struggled a bit in the offensive department. Playing half his games in a pitcher-friendly ballpark certainly didn't help his case, but he is still moving through the system rather slowly because of all his injuries. Hopefully 2013 was the beginning of the end of his trend of being seriously injured.
Jason (#7): He probably ended up having the best season out of the three outfielders. After a very poor April, he OPS'd .771 for the rest of the season. His speed and fielding will get him through to the majors, so hitting for average would make him a star. This is the most he's played in his professional career, so injury could still derail him from here.
Andrew (#6): The tools are still there for excellence from Slade, but he badly needs to shake that injury bug.

8. Manny Banuelos, LHP
Pre-season PSA rank:
8
Level at the end of 2013: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
2013 Statistics: Did not pitch

Tanya (#8): ManBan didn't pitch at all in 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but the fact that he'd already made it to Triple-A as one of the Yankees' best prospects before his injury at a young age for the level means that he didn't derail his prospect status beyond repair. He won't be young for his level anymore but he still has the potential to be a solid starter for the Yankees in the near future if all goes well in his recovery process.
Jason (Not ranked)
Andrew (#7): He hasn't pitched since early 2012, but ManBan's talent as a southpaw continues to inspire hope. He's still young; as long as he can recover from Tommy John surgery, he will be on the doorstep to the majors.

9. JR Murphy, C
Pre-season PSA rank:
Not ranked
Level at the end of 2013: MLB
2013 Statistics: (Double-A and Triple-A) 108 games, .269/.347/.426, 12 HR, 29 2B, 1 SB (MLB) 16 games .154/.185/.192, 0 HR, 1 2B, 0 SB

Tanya (#9): Murphy put together a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A before finally getting the call to the majors in September. The Yankees have little in the way of a catcher with strong offensive potential in the system aside from Sanchez, who isn't quite yet ready for the majors. Murphy could get a shot to be the starter in 2014 if he can be less terrible than the alternatives, which shouldn't be difficult at all.
Jason (#9): He got his first taste of the majors this season after having a very solid season between Double-A and Triple-A. The Yankees need catchers, and he gives them the best, and cheapest, bet at the position moving forward. He has a shot to make the team in 2014, but that's more to do with the lack of alternatives. He could easily leap over Austin Romine to become the future backup catcher, or more.
Andrew (Not ranked)

10. Jose Ramirez, RHP
Pre-season PSA rank:
9
Level at the end of 2013: Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
2013 Statistics: (Double-A and Triple-A) 72.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, 78 K, .221 average against

Tanya (Not ranked)
Jason (#8): His season ended in July, but he blew hitters away in Double-A. It appears he might have been brought up to Triple-A a little too early because he was beat up pretty bad, but the potential is still there. Scouts say he's fated for the bullpen, but he showed what he could do as a starter. As long as he's healthy there's a good chance he could be up in the majors at some point in 2014.
Andrew (#10): Like De Paula, Ramirez had a terrific first half in one league, then struggled upon his promotion. Ramirez has some work to do in Scranton before he's ready for the pros, mostly on his shaky control and his ability to stay healthy.

Also receiving votes:

Ian Clarkin, LHP
Pre-season PSA rank:
N/A
Level at the end of 2013: Rookie ball
2013 Statistics: (Rookie) 5 IP, 10.80 ERA, 4 K, .263 average against

Tanya (#10): Clarkin's debut was delayed a bit by injury and the results weren't immediately there, but the potential he possesses as one of the best left-handed prep arms in the 2013 draft is worth dreaming on. He's a ways off still, but it will be exciting to see what he can do in a full season of professional ball next year.
Andrew (#9): An ankle injury limited Clarkin's time in the minors after the draft, but lofty pre-draft praise about the lefty prep star makes him the Yankees' best high school pitching prospect in years.

Peter O'Brien, C/3B
Pre-season PSA rank:
Not ranked
Level at the end of 2013: High-A Tampa
2013 Statistics: (Low-A and High-A) 119 games, .291/.350/.544, 22 HR, 39 2B, 0 SB

Jason (#10): He had a great season, OPSing over 1.000 for Charleston before going up to Tampa and continuing to hit. The reason he's not ranked higher is that, though he's a catcher, he isn't expected to stay there going forward. He was given a chance to play third, but he made 18 errors, showing that he doesn't really have a position. On top of that, he's already 23, so he's not young for the levels he's seen. Time will tell what value he can actually bring, and where he can play.

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