It’s that time of year again. Time to give this prospect junkie his fix. Last year, I did farm system rankings for all of baseball, and so I wanted to do so again. As I explain with any farm system rankings, this is a completely subjective business. I do watch minor league baseball, I do a lot of research on the players, and I do talk to people who do talent evaluation in baseball. I certainly don’t have the clout in the prospect world that the guys at Baseball America have, nor do I care to. This is meant to be fun for me, and hopefully fun and informative for the reader. At the very least it should allow for some debate from other teams’ fans, as well as allow Tigers fans a glimpse into other organizations farm systems, so when the Tigers make a trade, there may be some knowledge of who they are getting. Last year, the Texas Rangers took the top spot. Who will it be this year?
1. Mason Williams (OF)- A lot of Yankees lists are going to have my #2 on top. I’m a bigger believer in Williams, and I think the main thing is he plays his premium position (CF) defensively at a plus level in the end. With the bat, he should hit for average, some pop, and steal some bases as well.
2. Gary Sanchez (C)- Sanchez is the next in line of the touted Yankees catching prospects. The bat is very intriguing. Sanchez can mash with a bat in his hands. He has plus ability with the bat. Defensively, he may not stick, but he has a better chance than previous ex-uber-prospect Jesus Montero.
3. Slade Heathcott (OF)- Heathcott’s athleticism sticks out. There isn’t much he can’t do on a baseball field, but he needs to stay on the field. His past is checkered with injury. He plays hard, and has some swing and miss in his game, but if he polishes things up, he can be an above average LF.
4. Tyler Austin (OF)- Austin reached AA last year, and it was on the strength of his bat. Austin projects to be a good major league hitter, hitting for a good average and solid power. His arm is a strength defensively, and he should be able to play right field at a solid level.
5. Ty Hensley (SP)- Hensley is a power right hander drafted out of high school in 2012. Hensley works low to mid 90′s with his fastball and also owns a power curve that flashes above average. He is working on developing a change up. Hensley is already a big kid and projects to be a workhorse.
6. Jose Campos (SP)- Campos has the three pitch mix and the command needed to become a top of the line starter, but there is some concern with injury as he had elbow troubles last year. Could easily vault near the top of this list if he proves healthy.
7. Angelo Gumbs (2B)- Gumbs is a premium athlete, as evidenced by his 26 steals in half a season, missing developmental time with injury. Gumbs shows ability to drive the ball with some authority, though his plate discipline will have to get better as he advances.
8. Rafael De Paula (SP)- De Paula has a good arsenal, featuring a mid 90′s fastball that can touch a bit higher. He also throws a curve and a change, but both need a bit of polish that may came with pitching more. Needs to him against better competition.
9. Brett Marshall (SP)- Marshall pairs a solid arsenal with a good ability to mix his pitches. Marshall won’t wow people with velocity, but he has good movement on his pitches. His breaking ball isn’t a swing and miss pitch, which means he projects more as a back of the rotation guy.
Just Missed The List:
Montgomery looks to have a profile as a set up reliever in the future. Bird has the potential for a plus bat from the 1B position. Cote is a big kid that has a chance to be an innings eater.
Ramirez because of his size and lack of quality breaking ball will likely be a reliever, albeit one with a plus fastball and above average change in the mold of Fernando Rodney. Santana may have been the product of too much hype pre-2012, but he still is full of loud tools and could bounce back into the discussion at anytime.
This system is frustrating. There is some real quality at the top, but a ton of question marks to go with it. Injuries have played a role in that, but also so has performance. I like the athleticism of Williams, Heathcott and Gumbs. I like the arms on Campos, Hensley, and DePaula. I like the bat of Austin, Sanchez and Bird. The question becomes, will the Yankees develop all these guys?
At one point, the Yankees become known for just out spending everyone. There is some truth to that, but this is a club that developed Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada. All of which were the cornerstone of championship teams. Beyond Cano though, most of those were 20 years ago.
The truth is, the Yankees system has been more about hype than actual substance. I think a few of these guys have a chance to succeed, but time will tell.