Mood Music - Burden in my Hand by Soundgarden
At the beginning of the season, I compiled a list of the top ten prospects in the New York Yankees system. Like every prospect ranking, it's subjective, debatable, and fluid. If I had to make a list now, it would certainly look a little bit different. But, for the sake of continuity, here's a rundown of how my pre-season top 10 have fared in the first half:
Jesus Montero (C) - AAA - .289/.346/.418, 108 wRC+, 7 HR. Heading an impressive catching corps, Montero's biggest strides this season have been defensively. Where once there were very few of the opinion that he could stick behind the plate in the major leagues, it now seems a near certainty that his career will at least begin behind the plate. If he can find his power stroke like he did in the second half of last season, he is the complete package and a star in the making.
Manny Banuelos (SP) - AA - 79.0 IP 3-3, 3.53 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.49 WHIP, 9.11 K/9, 4.56 BB/9. While already well advanced for his age (AA at 20), Banuelos has struggled with allowing base runners (read: walks) this season. While in the lower levels of the minors, control was one of his biggest calling cards, a spike in velocity has resulted in some serious issues with walks. If he can learn to reign in his command, thus allowing him to pitch deeper into ballgames, his potential is through the roof.
Gary Sanchez (C) - A - .245/.331/.431, 109 wRC+, 9 HR. After getting off to a slow start, Sanchez has picked it up as of late. Still only 18 years old, Sanchez has a lot of growing to do, but the talent is there. Sanchez has homered in two of his last three games.
Dellin Betances (SP) - AA - 75.2 IP - 4-3 - 2.62 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 10.23 K/9, 4.76 BB/9. Dellin's season has been very similar to Man-Ban's: Gross stuff, lots of strikeouts, too many walks. With Betances 6'8 frame, consistency in release point has always been what has led to huge walk totals. It can sometimes take taller pitchers longer to put it all together, but with mid-to-high 90s gas and sharp off-speed stuff, Betances could have a very exciting future.
Austin Romine (C) - AA - .293/.352/.396, 4 HR, 110 wRC+. Romine, after getting off to a hot start, has somewhat cooled of late, possibly due to missing some time with a concussion. Concussions can have a lingering impact, so we will have to see if he can maintain the productivity at the plate to compliment his solid defense.
Hector Noesi (SP) - AAA - 20.2 IP - 1-1 - 3.92 ERA - 3.73 FIP - 1.65 WHIP - 4.79 K/9, 3.92 BB/9. MLB - 25.1 IP - 1-0 - 3.20 ERA - 3.94 FIP - 1.34 WHIP - 4.97 K/9, 2.84 BB/9. Being used as a starting pitcher in AAA and in long relief in the majors, Noesi has shown that his sharp command and mix of pitches can translate to the big leagues. While he has often languished in the bullpen for weeks at a time, he has, more often than not, looked strong when called upon. If he doesn't get another chance to crack the rotation, I am confident that he can be a contributor in any role.
Andrew Brackman (SP) - AAA - 65.1 IP - 2-6 - 7.71 ERA - 6.22 FIP - 1.82 WIHP - 7.30 K/9, 7.16 BB/9. Yuck. The off-and-on control for Brackman has been stuck at "off" in 2011. Hopefully a switch to the bullpen can help to straighten him out like it did in 2009, but the early results have not been promising.
Graham Stoneburner (SP) - AA - 16.0 IP - 1-1 - 1.69 ERA - 3.26 FIP - 1.19 WHIP - 3.94 K/9, 2.25 BB/9. R - 14.1 IP - 0-0 - 3.77 ERA - 2.85 FIP - 1.05 WHIP - 6.28 K/9 - 1.88 BB/9. After getting off to a solid start at AA, Stoneburner has missed a large chunk of the season with a neck injury. He has just begun rehabbing in Rookie ball, and can hopefully move back to AA soon. Having shown tremendous control and the ability to induce tons of ground balls, Stoneburner was one of the prospects that I was most excited for in 2011. Hopefully he comes back strong.
Adam Warren (SP) - AAA - 104.0 IP - 6-3 - 3.20 ERA - 3.91 FIP - 1.31 WHIP - 5.80 K/9, 3.29 BB/9. Along with David Phelps, Warren has continued his solid performance in AAA, and remains a few injuries from the big leagues. Of all pitchers in the Yankee system, a case could be made for Warren being the most ready for the majors.
Slade Heathcott (CF) - A - .271/.342/.419 - 103 wRC +, 4 HR, 6 SB. Heathcott had a scorching April, but still has a long ways to go in limiting his strikeouts and boosting his OBP. Recently called up to High-A Tampa, Heathcott hit a home run in his first game there. (I have heard murmers on Twitter today that Heathcott is injured, but I haven't heard anything official).