As many of our readers know, we here at TYA tend to follow the Yankee farm system very closely, since it is often the source of the next generation of great Yankees (or trade bait to acquire great Yankees). In the past few years, the farm has been the source of a number of exciting young Yankees, including David Robertson, Jesus Montero, and Ivan Nova, and the next wave is coming. EJ put together an excellent top prospects list earlier, and I will probably put one together at some point when I have enough time to sit down and do a little extra research.
It’s definitely easy to develop a bit of an echo chamber within the Yankee blogosphere, so it is always nice to read assessments of the Yankee farm system that come from outsiders. I enjoy the reading the work of the mainstream prospecting community (such as Baseball America, Keith Law, John Sickels and Kevin Goldstein), but there are also plenty of writers and bloggers who do excellent research and analysis of prospects. One such site is Bullpen Banter, a collaborative project involving 4 bloggers from across the country who do a great job covering the minor leagues and the draft.
Bullpen Banter recently came out with a list for the top 15 prospects in the Yankee system, so I thought it would be nice to take a look and see what they thought about the Yankee farm. The full post is definitely a must-read, but I’ll provide the list and some comments here. There were two lists here (by Jeff Reese and friend of the blog Al Skorupa, each of whom have their own take on the system), so we get some idea of where there is some consensus regarding the rankings.
Both see the Yankee system as somewhat down compared to last season, which I think is a fair assessment. It’s still a very strong and deep system, but regression from a bunch of the guys who were near the top last season (the B’s, Gary Sanchez, etc.) prevented the top end from being truly elite. There is no question that there is definitely a lot of talent at the back of the list, which is evident in the lack of consensus Jeff and Al had at the second half of the list.
As you can see, Al and Jeff are in strong agreement about the top 7 names on the list, and for the most part, I agree. I might consider flip-flopping Montero and Banuelos since Montero looked so strong in his short stint in the majors this season, while Banuelos’ control regressed somewhat this year. However, I understand their rationale. I know both of them are pretty bearish on Montero’s defense, and consequently, the value of his bat is somewhat limited by his future position. Gary Sanchez not surprisingly gets a Montero comp due to his powerful bat and questionable defense, but there is more optimism about his ability to stick behind the plate. They are both fairly bullish on Ravel Santana and Dante Bichette considering they were both only in rookie ball last year, and neither of them were expected to be so good so quickly. Al mentioned that the scouting reports on Bichette seemed to have changed very quickly after the draft, which makes sense given his less exciting reports at the time of the draft and his dynamite debut.
In the 2nd half of the list, the only spot where Jeff and Al made the same pick was Cito Culver at #9, which seems like a reasonable slot. They vary significantly on a number of guys including Slade Heathcott (not on Al’s list, #10 on Jeff’s), Jake Cave, and JR Murphy, to name a few. I was a little surprised that Heathcott was left off Al’s list given his first-round pedigree and solid pre-injury performance, so I asked Al about it in the comment section. His answer:
Heathcott just missed my list. Its not a reflection of one major flaw, but rather a number of minor ones. Overall, I’ve gotten the impression from people I’ve talked to that his tools are more good than great despite his impressive physique. He’s had knee problems and his defense is pretty raw… I see him most likely ending up in a corner OF spot. He needs to make some big adjustments to his swing and approach, too. So those are the negatives, but don’t read too much into it… as I said, he just missed and its more a reflection of the list only going to 15 than it is anything else. He’s certainly the same quality of prospect as the guys above him going as high as even Romine… It was basically a toss up between him and Cave.
Sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation, though I would probably lean Heathcott over Cave because Slade has a track record of minor league performance, and was more highly touted as an amateur (in terms of scouting reports, draft stock, and signing bonus). Slade certainly has more risk than the average first-rounder due to his injury history and personal issues, but I still consider him less risky than a guy who has never played a season of pro ball. Both guys are very high on Cave, especially Jeff, who was impressed with his performance this summer in the Coastal Plain League against collegiate competition.
There’s more good discussion in the post and comment section, so feel free to take a look at that for further information.
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