I thought about how I would lead into this, the ranking of teams’ farm systems, but don’t have a good way to do it, other than say it is something that I like to tackle every year. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things my rankings aren’t going to make waves with Keith Law, John Sickels, or the staff at Baseball America. However, these rankings by any outlet are rather arbitrary in nature, and I like any of them, will try to give everybody some reasoning behind them. Scouting and prospects are a big part of the game. We can see that by how teams are clinging onto them in a lot of cases this year, instead of dealing them away for proven players. A lower ranked system doesn’t necessarily correlate to a bad team, and a highly ranked system doesn’t mean it’s a good major league team. It just gives us all a look at organizations who might get healthy in a few years, and which ones are going to have to find other means.
Anyway, this is supposed to be fun, so if you want to discuss, let’s do so….
The Yankees recent trade of top prospect of Jesus Montero would probably drop them a little lower than 13 in my rankings, but at this point a couple spots doesn’t make much of a difference. The trade does reorganize the list, and while it does weaken the Yankees system a little bit, getting Jose Campos in return helps offset the loss of Montero.
Top 10 Prospects:
1. Manny Banuelos (SP)- Banuelos is a left-handed starter who impressed the Yankees in spring training last year, and almost earned himself a roster spot. He has good stuff, but can struggle with command at times. If he sharpens his command and consistency, Banuelos could at least be a mid-rotation starter.
2. Dellin Betances (SP)- Betances is a big right handed pitcher with a tremendous arm. He has top of the rotation stuff, but he does struggle with throwing strikes. There has been some injury issue as well, and even if Betances doesn’t start, he would fit nicely as a late inning guy who could dominate.
3. Gary Sanchez (C)- Sanchez now replaces Montero as the best position prospect in the Yankees system. At just 19 years old, Sanchez is likely to start in high A ball in 2012. Like Montero, the bat is going to carry him. He has a chance to hit for average and above average power. He still needs work as a catcher though, and like Montero could wind up elsewhere on a diamond.
4. Jose Campos (SP)- Campos, who was just acquired from Seattle, has top of the rotation stuff. A right-hander with a power repertoire, Campos is still working on refining secondaries, but he has the fastball, frame, and command to be a top of the rotation starter.
5. Mason Williams (OF)- Williams has the tools to become a prototypical CF, and got his career off to a fantastic start in 2011 after just 18 at-bats in 2010. Williams has very good speed, ability to hit for average, and some see power developing as time goes on as well.
6. Ravel Santana (OF)- Santana is just behind Williams in terms of ability, and positionally might end up in RF. He has above average speed, a great arm, and has potential to hit for a lot of power. He has to get better at pitch recognition, and if he cuts down on the strikeouts, he could surpass Williams.
7. Dante Bichette Jr. (3B)- Bichette, like his father, is a pure hitter. He has the ability to hit for average, power, and shows pretty good athleticism. Had a tremendous start to his career, and looks like a guy who might move fast.
8. Cito Culver (SS)- Culver is an athletic kid that has some improvement to do in the batter’s box, but has already done so enough to be intriguing. There isn’t going to be a ton of power, but he does have a pretty good frame to add strength.
9. Austin Romine (C)- Romine isn’t like the departed Montero, or highly rated Sanchez, in that he projects to be a plus offensive player. He is however, a catcher that should stick at the position defensively, and hits enough to potentially be a starter.
10. Tyler Austin (3B)- I haven’t found much about Austin defensively at this point, though he is pretty athletic. He can hit though, and with Bichette at 3B, he may have to move to LF. There is good power potential here.
Sleepers: Nic Turley (SP) and Jordan Cote (SP). Turley is a quality left-hander who shows good strike out rates. Cote is a big bodied 2011 draftee who could end up as a mid-rotation workhorse.
Rebound Candidate: Slade Heathcott (OF). Heathcott has battled injury and personal demons, but has a lot of talent, and is still young enough to bounce back. 2012 is a big year for Heathcott.
Verdict: The Yankees system is interesting in that there is quite a bit of depth. Where they lack a little talent is on the pitching side, but they do have a good amount of mid to back of the rotation potential. Their position prospects have quite a bit of potential and talent though. While Banuelos, Betances, and Sanchez are going to be potential top 50 guys, I don’t like them as much as other prospect rankers do, so I might have the Yankees a little lower than some others.