Its been a bad year in the Yankee farm system. The organization saw more massive car wrecks than breakouts, traded away top talent without getting much in return, and were hamstrung at the draft by new rules. The Yankee system had mostly been on an upward trajectory since 2005, but 2012 ended that streak.
Still, there is good news. The Yankee system still contains 3-4 top-100 prospects, several near-MLB pieces, and plenty of ceiling at the low levels. It’s probably about average as far as systems go, which says something about the talent of the Yankee scouting staff.
I ranked the top-30 prospects using my prospect rating system. Click here for a full explanation of what everything means. Immediately below that is my top-30 prospect rating system, and below the fold are some short thoughts on selected players.
Mason Williams - Its amazing how well-rounded Williams is as a prospect. He’s got the tools, a rock-bottom strikeout rate, impressive and improving power, and tons of defensive potential. The Yankees are going to miss those expensive mid-round signings going forward.
Slade Heathcott - The dude has some serious ceiling. We’re going to be worried about his shoulder until he puts together 2 or 3 consecutive healthy seasons, but he showed this season that when he can play, he can play. Ideally, he’s a center fielder, but Brett Gardner demonstrates that defense isn’t wasted in the other outfield spots.
Corban Joseph - He may be my new favorite prospect. Joseph did a lot of things in 2012. Most importantly, he established himself as a guy who has the ability to hit for long, moonshot power while maintaining a very strong K/BB ratio. Before, he looked like a ‘tweener if his poor defense at 2nd base did not improve. Now, even if he has to move to a corner outfield spot, Joseph looks like a hitter who will earn MLB time. If he stays at 2nd, he’s a potential all-star. An Adams-Joseph platoon is my personal favorite Cano plan B.
David Adams - Unlike Joseph, Adams can hold down 2nd base. He can hit too, even if he’s a little more slanted toward getting on base rather than power. We’ll see how he handles Triple-A, but I see no reason why he wouldn’t be ready for the job if Cano leaves for greener pastures.
Austin Romine - Playing only a handful of games due to a recurring (and likely to recur again) back injury is a bad, bad thing. But if healthy, he’s still got a floor of a MLB backup catcher.
Dante Bichette - I didn’t completely trash his rank, because I still have some faith in Bichette. He was arguably rushed, and still possesses all the makeup and tools that people raved about. Still, next year is probably make-or-break for him.
Dellin Betances - I’m done! I’m done with believing that Dellin Betances is going to be a major league player. He was drafted all the way back in 2006, which happens to coincide with the time that I started blogging about Yankee prospects, and at three or four separate moments, flashed some kind of amazing brilliance that fooled all of us into forgetting all of the other moments. I’m convinced that even if he puts enough of himself together for a long enough period of time, he will end up being a Daniel Cabrera type. I don’t know what will go wrong – mechanics, injuries, makeup, whatever – but I’m done rating him as a prospect. Maybe this is just my frustration coming out, and I should have rated him somewhere near the bottom based on ceiling alone, but I’m done.
Rafael DePaula and Ronnier Mustelier - These guys were intentionally left off the list. I think Mustelier could be a great MLB bench option as soon as next year, but as a rule I don’t rate older IFAs and players who have yet to play in the states. They’re just too unpredictable.
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