Every year, numerous outlets rank the top prospects in baseball and project the greatest players of the next generation. As often as not, however, these prospects do not reach their projected ceiling, although many do find a way to carve out some sort of major league career.
MLB.com has prospect ranking archives that go back 10 seasons, with the earliest ranking coming in 2011. With that, let’s take a look at the Yankees top prospects from that time, and see where they are now.
10. Cito Culver
The surprise thirty-second overall pick of the 2010 draft currently plays for the Sussex County Miners of the independent Can-Am League. He eventually reached Scranton in 2017, but he never seemed to push himself into the conversation for a job on the Yankees roster, even before the team’s acquisition of Gleyber Torres in 2016.
9. David Phelps
Originally serving as the Yankees’ swingman at the start of the decade after making the 2012 Opening Day roster, Phelps settled into a setup/middle-relief role with the Miami Marlins in 2016. He missed 2018 due to a torn UCL before returning to post a 3.41 ERA in 34.1 innings with the Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs in 2019. At the moment, he remains a free agent.
8. Adam Warren
As Ken Rosenthal reported on December 16, Adam Warren is back with the Yankees for his third stint in pinstripes, interspersed with periods playing for the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, and the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately, although he has only truly played well for the Yankees, he likely won’t see action until 2021, as he had Tommy John surgery in September. Here’s hoping that he got a no-trade clause this time around, for his own sake.
7. Slade Heathcott
The former top prospect only had one small cup of coffee in the majors, when he posted a 208 OPS+ with 2 home runs in 17 games back in 2015. Since then, he spent some time in the minor league systems of the Chicago White Sox Oakland Athletics, and San Francisco Giants, and played in 2018 for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters. On January 14, 2019, he announced that he would be retiring from baseball to pursue a career as a commercial pilot.
He has not left the game of baseball completely, however, as a quick glance at his Twitter account (@heathcott_slade) reveals his interest in trying to stop the proposed consolidation of Minor League Baseball by the MLB.
6. Austin Romine
Yankees fans have become incredibly familiar with the longtime backup catcher Austin Romine, who recently signed a one-year, $4.1M contract with the Detroit Tigers. A successful reserve with OPS+ figures of 93 and 97 in the last two seasons, Romine might now have his first opportunity to be a starting catcher.
5. Jose Campos
Technically speaking, at the time of the original rankings, Jose Campos — now known as Vincente Campos — would not have found his way on this list, but rather that of the Seattle Mariners; however, as he was traded to the Yankees in the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade before the 2012 rankings came out, he can be found here (and likewise, Montero is not). He would later be traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Tyler Clippard, with whom he would make his only major league start. Since 2018, he has bounced around the independent and Mexican baseball leagues.
4. Mason Williams
After 25 games with the Yankees over the course of three seasons (2015-2017), Williams was designated for assignment and picked up by the Cincinnati Reds, with whom he would play one season. He spent last year with the Baltimore Orioles organization, posting a very nice 69 OPS+ in 11 games. He re-signed with them back in November on a minor league contract.
3. Gary Sanchez
It’s hard to believe just how long the Kraken has been in the Yankees organization. Now entering his fifth season, Sanchez signed as an international amateur back in 2009. Since then, he has become one of the best backstops in the league, and is already a two-time All-Star.
2. Dellin Betances
Back in 2011, Betances remained a starting pitching prospect, and was viewed as one of two potential top-of-the-rotation pieces in the Yankees’ system. That did not happen, but instead Betances emerged as one of the best relievers in all of baseball. Following an injury-filled season that saw him face only two batters, however, he was allowed to depart in free agency, as the crosstown rival Mets signed him to a one-year deal with two player options.
1. Manny Banuelos
It’s easy to forget, but back in 2011, Manny Banuelos was what Deivi Garcia is now: a young pitching prospect with electric stuff at the upper levels of the minors. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Banuelos struggled with injuries, including a torn UCL, before ultimately being traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2015 for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve.
Later that year, he had his first taste of the majors, posting a 5.13 ERA in seven appearances (six starts). He would bounce around the minors for the next few years, before re-emerging with the Chicago White Sox this past year, although to less-than-satisfactory results (6.93 ERA, 6.57 FIP in 50.2 IP). His disastrous stretch can be best exemplified by a less-than-stellar performance against the Boston Red Sox on May 4, when he could not get out of the third inning, giving up nine runs on ten hits, including three home runs.