Even though the Yankees do not have much major-league ready talent at Triple-A Scranton, there is still plenty of reason to look forward to the future with the organization's minor league system. We are certainly not alone in noticing the bright spots of the system--prospect gurus Keith Law and John Sickels have the Yankees at 10th and 14th in baseball, respectively, and Baseball America ranks the Yankees 11th. The consensus ranks are only slightly above the middle of the pack, but that's not bad at all for a team that has consistently picked late in the MLB Draft for the past 20 years.
Below, you will find Pinstripe Alley's Top 10 Prospects, an average of each of the respective Top Tens from Steven Goldman, Andrew Mearns, Tanya Bondurant, and Jason Cohen. Each writer's original rank of a prospect is included at the start of each comment. We each put a few sentences about the prospects we ranked, and for those that missed the cut, the comments will be at the bottom. All statistics of relevant samples are included (i.e. Austin's very brief stint at Trenton is not included.) Enjoy.
Pinstripe Alley's Top 10 Yankees Prospects
1) Gary Sanchez, C
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 20 (born 12/2/1992)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 195 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A+) 48 games, .279/.330/.436, 10 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 4 SB, 0 CS, .351 wOBA, 117 wRC+
(A-) 68 games, .297/.353/.517, 19 2B, 0 3B, 13 HR, 11 SB, 4 CS, .390 wOBA, 136 wRC+
Steve: #2- Can hit, but will he catch? He showed improvement on defense last year after a miserable 2011. I’m curious how his relatively impatient approach will play against more advanced pitching.
Andrew: #1- The young catcher is not quite the Jesus Montero clone some consider him to be. As a 19-year-old, Montero crushed High-A pitching in 48 games (185 wRC+), while Sanchez was merely very good at the same age, although he did lead all minor league catchers in homers with 18. Sanchez has made more strides in his defensive game than Montero though, and with another big step forward in 2013, Sanchez could cement himself as perhaps a better overall prospect than "Baby Jesus." He'll start off at High-A Tampa, but will hopefully not be there for more than half a season.
Tanya: #2- The questions about his defense are beginning to fade from where they were two years ago, so it's possible that he ends up as everything we wanted Jesus Montero to be offensively while actually being able to stick at catcher in the big leagues defensively.
Jason: #1- A power hitting catcher is a hard thing to come by, so when you have one you cling onto it for dear life. He's so young that he has more than enough time to improve his game behind the plate and increase his home run power. If he can do that he can be one of the top catchers in the league.
2) Mason Williams, CF
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 21 (born 8/21/1991)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 150 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A+) 22 games, .277/.302/.422, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 1 SB, 4 CS, .331 wOBA, 104 wRC+
(A-) 69 games, .304/.359/.489, 19 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 19 SB, 9 CS, .381 wOBA, 130 wRC+
Steve: #1- Looks like he might be a Bernie Williams-style all-around threat (perhaps with the same good baserunning/bad basestealing numbers). Like all of the Yankees' top prospects, we have to see what he can do at the higher levels—Trenton has a way of separating the men from the boys.
Andrew: #3- Mason is the Yankees' best centerfield prospect since another great player with the same last name. He has promising potential on both offense and defense, but there are parts of his game that need improvement before I rank him over Sanchez and Austin (better reads on fly balls, power, stealing percentage, and walk rate). He's boxed out of Trenton's starting outfield for now, but he will most likely be there by the end of the season.
Tanya: #1- If his ability to draw a walk improves, it's kind of crazy what Williams has the potential to be. With great defense and the tools to be an above-average hitter, he could be a cornerstone in the Yankee outfield for years to come if he continues to improve.
Jason: #2- The system's best all around hitter. He can be a threat on both sides of the ball. If he can add more power he will truly be an All-Star caliber position player.
3) Tyler Austin, OF
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 21 (born 9/6/1991)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 200 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A+) 36 games, .321/.385/.478, 13 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 SB, 0 CS, .391 wOBA, 144 wRC+
(A-) 70 games, .320/.405/.598, 22 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 17 SB, 2 CS, .442 wOBA, 170 wRC+
Steve: #3- At .331/.406/.563 in 159 career games, he’s done everything right so far. I love the 41-2 stolen base record, too. The difficult hitting environment at Trenton has a way of breaking prospects, so keep your fingers crossed.
Andrew: #2- Until a league out there demonstrates the capacity to control Mr. Austin's hitting abilities, I will be an unabashed believer in him. Trenton's Eastern League is next, and the better pitching/tougher park will prove his biggest test yet; if he succeeds, he should be in Scranton before long. It should not be forgotten that he also has surprising speed for a masher (23/25 successful steals last year).
Tanya: #3- It would have been nice if the Yankees thought his future could have remained at third base, considering the enormous need at that position. All he has done is hit since being drafted, and if he can maintain his production in Trenton and Scranton, he could be the first of the outfield prospects to crack the majors.
Jason: #3- Austin burst onto the prospect scene with a ridiculous 2012 season. He shot up three levels and hit everywhere he went. If he can continue his success he could be a the 'mega prospect' that Brian Cashman said he was.
4) Slade Heathcott, OF
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 22 (born 9/28/1990)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 190 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A+) 60 games, .307/.378/.470, 16 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 17 SB, 4 CS, .389 wOBA, 142 wRC+
(AFL) 18 games, .388/.494/.612, 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 5 SB, 3 CS, .499 wOBA, 192 wRC+
Steve: #4- Yeah, I know he’s got great tools, but this is someone who has trouble staying healthy enough to play. If you’re fragile at 22, what are you going to be like at 30? This being a short-term list (prospects being like a bottle of milk), he’s still a valuable, credible prospect, but injuries have a way of not only keeping a player off the field, but curtailing development as well. Stay tuned.
Andrew: #4- Heathcott might have the finest overall game of all top four prospects. He's hit well at every level with good defense, speed, and patience at the plate. He's just been too chronically injured since being drafted in 2009 for me to feel more confident in him than the other big three prospects. He has to dial it down a notch to not suffer any collisions like he did in Spring Training with Ronnier Mustelier. A full, healthy season this year could change that.
Tanya: #4- Multiple shoulder surgeries is a little concerning, and he's not yet managed to play a full season as a professional. The tools are there to become something fantastic, but he needs to play smarter and more under control if he hopes to get there in one piece.
Jason: #4- Despite never having completed a full season yet, Heathcott has tremendous potential as a high energy outfielder. He needs to actually show the ability to stay on the field, but he could likely contribute at the major league level right now. He needs to calm down with his high intensity style of play so he can stay healthy and actually develop some power.
5) Mark Montgomery, RHP RP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 22 (born 8/30/1990)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 205 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (AA) 15 games, 24.0 IP, 38 K, 1.88 ERA, 1.33 FIP, 4.5 H/9, 14.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
(A+) 31 games, 40.1 IP, 61 K, 1.34 ERA, 1.59 FIP, 5.1 H/9, 13.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
(AFL) 9 games, 10.1 IP, 19 K, 2.61 ERA, 1.26 FIP, 4.4 H/9, 16.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9
Steve: #5- I have him ranked way higher than most prospect purists would, but I respect that strikeout rate: 14.6 per nine and a 1.65 ERA is something special, and this is no Pat Venditte -- he does it with a wicked slider. Maybe he doesn’t have the upside of some other prospects, but if you’re looking for immediate impact, this is your guy.
Andrew: #6- Oh, I do enjoy Montie's potential, even if he's just a reliever. Scouts have described his slider as major-league ready, and I believe it. His strikeout rates in the minors are off-the-charts (14.6 per nine in 92.2 innings so far), and his control improved after a midseason promotion to Trenton last year. Expect him to be on the honorary "David Robertson Relief Prospect Fast Track" to the majors very soon.
Tanya: #6- Nearly major league-ready right now with an unbelievable slider that has kept hitters at every level he's been to guessing. Montgomery has the stuff to be a successful setup man or closer at the big league level in the near future. He'll be starting the year in Scranton, but I have no doubts he'll be in the Bronx before too long
Jason: #6- If it's one thing the Yankees can do, it's develop relief pitchers, and Montgomery has the potential to be a lights out closer. He has shot through the system with his killer slider and could be on the Yankees by midseason.
6) Jose Campos, RHP SP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 20 (born 7/27/1992)
Height: 6'4" Weight: 195 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A-) 5 starts, 24.2 IP, 26 K, 4.01 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 7.3 H/9, 9.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
Steve: #7- Like Michael Pineda, who Campos came over with in the Jesus Montero deal, he got hurt last year, but if healthy, he has excellent stuff and has shown great command for a teenager, with just 2.6 walks per nine so far.
Andrew: #8- Even after an injury-shortened season at Low-A Charleston, I still like what Campos brings to the table with a fine repertoire already in a mid-90s fastball, curveball, and changeup. He's not close to the majors right now, but as long as his elbow doesn't start to hurt him again (no guarantee), then he should return to what he was doing with Seattle's short-season Everett AquaSox in 2011.
Tanya: #8- If he can stay healthy enough to exhibit the immense potential he has, Campos could very well be the prize of the Montero/Pineda trade. Before losing most of last season to injury, Campos looked extremely promising against Sally League hitters. For someone so young, there's plenty of room to improve and that's really exciting.
Jason: #7- He was a top flight pitching talent when he came over from Seattle, but after an elbow injury he's lost some time and the ability to prove his reputation. He still has tremendous potential and he'll be the system's top active pitching prospect for 2013.
7) Ty Hensley, RHP SP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 19 (born 7/30/1993)
Height: 6'4" Weight: 220 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (Rk) 5 G, 4 GS, 12.0 IP, 14 K, 3.00 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 6.0 H/9, 10.5 K/9, 5.2 BB/9
Steve: #6- He hasn’t pitched much yet, but I’m ranking him here over more experienced pitchers based on health and upside.
Andrew: (Not ranked)- I thought that Hensley was a fine first-round selection for the Yankees in last year's draft, and his promising fastball/curveball combination already at age 19 certainly offers some hope. I will need to see some successful pitching in A-ball to have more confidence in him though, given his weird shoulder abnormality. Ideally, it will be nothing, but 2013 will tell the story.
Tanya: #5- The consensus seems to be that Hensley will make a lot of teams sorry they let him fall all the way to the Yankees in the first round of last year's draft, even after an asymptomatic shoulder abnormality kept him from getting the money to sign that he might have previously. He's still far away from the majors, but he has a great shot at making a strong impact if everything with his shoulder continues to check out fine.
Jason: #8- He might have a long way yet to go, but Hensley has major upside and if his shoulder anomaly proves to be nothing, he could end up being a big time workhorse and at the very least a solid innings eater.
8) Manny Banuelos, LHP SP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 22 (born 3/13/1991)
Height: 5'10" Weight: 155 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (AAA) 6 starts, 24.0 IP, 22 K, 4.50 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 10.9 H/9, 8.2 K/9, 3.8 BB/9
Steve: (Not ranked)
Andrew: #10- Oh, ManBan. He will be gone all season due to late Tommy John surgery last year, but I still can't take him off a Yankees Top 10 Prospect list. When he finally returns to Triple-A Scranton next year, he'll be a 23-year-old lefty that was once easily the organization's top pitching prospect. It's hard to turn your nose up at that.
Tanya: #7- Yes, he's missing this year recovering from Tommy John surgery, but ManBan is young enough to come out on the other side without too much being lost. He may not be ahead of the game, age-wise, anymore, but he was a top prospect before his injury for a reason and TJS is so successful that I see no reason he can't return to that when he gets back on the mound.
Jason: #5- Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery, ManBan still ranks on top of the Yankee pitching prospects at the moment. He is the pitcher with the highest upside and the closest to major league ready, but he can easily be surpassed while he sits out.
9) Jose Ramirez, RHP SP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 23 (born 1/21/1990)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 155 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A+) 21 G, 18 GS, 98.2 IP, 94 K, 3.19 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 8.4 H/9, 8.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
Steve: (Not ranked)
Andrew: #5- It took Ramirez a couple years to get it together in A-ball, but a 3.19 ERA/3.28 FIP and 2.74 BB/9 there last year showed that he's ready to move on to Trenton at age 23. We got a glimpse at his mid-90s fastball and very nice changeup in Spring Training this year; he will likely need to find another pitch to complement them, like a slider. If Mariano Rivera is impressed by him though, that's high enough praise for me.
Tanya: (Not ranked)
Jason: #9- He has finally made good on his potential and has shown the ability to be an effective major league starter if he can develop a third pitch. He has the confidence to go out there and get things done and the control to be a reliable option in the next year or two.
10) Ramon Flores, OF
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 21 (born 3/26/1992)
Height: 5'10" Weight: 150 lbs.
2012 Statistics: (A+) 131 games, .302/.370/.420, 29 2B, 7 3B, 6 HR, 24 SB, 9 CS, .364 wOBA, 126 wRC+
Steve: (Not ranked)
Andrew: #7- The soon-to-be 21-year-old tends to be overlooked in favor of his fellow top outfield prospects, but make no mistake--Flores can play. Although his speed and defense don't project to be as good as others, he reportedly already looks impressive at prolonging at-bats, and he actually hit A-ball pitching better than Sanchez and Williams. Keep an eye on the young Venezuelan.
Tanya: #9- The plate discipline that Flores has already shown at levels where most kids are always swinging away is very impressive. He has an above-average walk rate and finished last season as one of the best hitters in the Florida State league. He may be the odd man out if dreams come true and all three of Williams, Austin, and Heathcott meet their potential, but playing the odds, Flores has a good shot of working his way into the future outfield conversation.
Jason: #10- Has lots of potential that continues to surprise. He can hit for high average, he gets on base a lot and he has shown the ability to walk. With speed on the bases and some home run power he could be a very good all around player without ever being heralded as a top prospect.
The Best of the Rest
Angelo Gumbs, 2B
Steve: #8- Speed guy with good pop for a middle infielder, but his impatience is troubling. He’s the kind of prospect that vanishes at Trenton.
Tanya: #10- Excels on the base paths and should be able to stick defensively as a second baseman. His hitting isn't going to blow you away, especially if he can't learn to be more patient at the plate. Gumbs has a decent amount of pop that could develop into something, along with being able to hit for average. One of the many prospects who desperately needs to stay on the field in 2013.
Rafael De Paula, RHP SP
Steve: #9- Can’t quibble with the results in the complex league, but he’s also a 21-year-old who was playing against kids, so it’s hard to get too worked up.
Andrew: #9- The 22-year-old has yet to throw a pitch for the Yankees organization, so why do I like DePaula so much? His fastball and hard curveball might be as impressive as anyone in the organization already, and the Yankees probably won't take long to move him up. It looks like he'll face his first test at High-A Tampa, which will help determine if his fans like me are crazy or not.
Brett Marshall, RHP SP
Steve: #10- Not particularly exciting due to so-so results and a lowish strikeout rate, but he could fit somewhere in the Ivan Nova/David Phelps realm of pitchers.
How would you rank these prospects? Did we miss anyone that you would have placed on a Yankees Top 10 Prospects list?