We interrupt this 24-hour outfield news cycle because we also happen to be in the thick of the prospect ranking season.
Back when I began covering the Yankees Triple-A team, I posted my own prospect rankings, but I hated the process and the result. The process is all about opinion, and often about personal preference. I generally prefer a minor leaguer who’s almost ready for the big leagues, even if his ceiling is slightly lower than a guy who’s still in A ball. The result is nothing but frustration because everyone thinks differently about these things, and it seems to be taken personally when we disagree.
MLB.com’s Top 50 prospects
Jesus Montero ranked 19th
This list has Montero out of the top 10 and ranked behind two other catchers, Buster Posey (4) and Carlos Santana (11). MLB.com wrote that Posey has the “best, and most advanced, hitting approach” in the minors. He also throws out a lot of runners and got to Triple-A last season. Santana led the Double-A Eastern League in slugging and was second in on-base percentage. Montero is younger than both, but MLB.com noted the usual concerns about his ability to stay behind the plate. To me, it’s personal preference which of these you’d want. I’d put Montero ahead of Santana, but I have no real problem with Posey being ranked higher.
ESPN.com’s Top 100 prospects
Jesus Montero ranked 10th
Manny Banuelos ranked 96th
On this list, Montero is in the Top 10, but he’s still ranked behind both Santana (3) and Posey (4). Like MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Keith Law notes concerns about Montero’s ability to stay behind the plate. For lists like this, those defensive concerns are a slight downside. It’s not often that a player hits well enough to be ranked this high on his bat alone. As for Banuelos, Law conceded that he could easily have gone with Zach McAllister instead, but he’d rather have the Banuelos upside. Again, personal preference.
AOL Fanhouse Top 100 prospects
Jesus Montero ranked 5th
Manny Banuelos ranked 41st
Austin Romine ranked 45th
Zach McAllister ranked 76th
This list puts Montero ahead of everyone except Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, Michael Stanton and Desmond Jennings. Posey ranked seventh and Santana ranked 16th. I’ll say it again, personal preference and opinion. That’s what these lists are providing. This time, Romine makes the list ahead of what I generally consider to be bigger names like Aaron Crow, Mike Moustakas and Tim Beckham.
Baseball America’s Top 10 (Jim Callis version)
Jesus Montero ranked 4th
Scroll down to 2:45 in the linked chat and you’ll see that Callis announced his personal top 10 prospects. He has Montero ranked fourth behind Strasburg, Heyward and Stanton (I actually thought those might be almost universal as the game’s top three prospects). More Baseball America writers will announce a full top 50 ranking in the prospect handbook.
Bottom line, opinions vary. I think it’s good to read and see various sources, if only to get a feel for the other players who are out there. None of this — whether Montero is ranked fourth or 19th — changes the fact that the Yankees have one of the top hitters in minor league baseball. Whether the Yankees system as a whole is ranked directly in the middle of the pack or among the bottom third doesn’t change the status of the organization as system with a lot of high-ceiling, high-risk talent. Take the lists for what they are, a series of opinions.