Former pro scout and friend to PA Frankie Piliere breaks out his top 100 prospects. The highlights:
5. Jesus Montero:
Much debate surrounds Montero's ability to stick behind the plate, but the bat is going to be special. He has a potential 40-homer bat with the offensive upside of Miguel Cabrera. We could see the Venezuelan slugger as early as midseason in 2010 if all goes well in Triple-A.
41. Manny Banuelos:
His command and feel for pitching are his trademarks, but with a 90-93 mph fastball and the potential for two plus secondary pitches, this smallish lefty has the upside of a No. 2 starter. He's extremely young, but he could force the Yankees to advance him quickly.
45. Austin Romine
Romine has always been "the other guy," with the presence of Jesus Montero overshadowing him in the organization. He does not have the offensive upside of Montero (few players do), but his skills behind the plate and developing power make him nearly as interesting a prospect. He's ready to move as fast as Montero from an offensive standpoint, but he has the potential to be a potent offensive threat and an above-average defender behind the plate.
76. Zach McAllister
Former Yankee Austin Jackson ranked 25th.Obviously, Jesus gets most of the attention because he has the potential to be among the best hitters in baseball, and we've waited for someone like that since Jeter and Bernie came up.
But the other players are just as important, especially considering that Romine and McAllister are close to the big leagues. Those guys aren't projections or development projects, they're ready. And major league ready, cheap, talented players are the most valuable players in baseball.
Cashman has done a great job rebuilding the farm while also building a team ready to repeat as Champions.