This year’s Baseball America list of Top 10 Yankees prospects has been revealed. The top of the list looks pretty familiar. Here’s a look back at Baseball America’s Top 10 Yankees prospects from last season.
1. Jesus Montero
This year: No. 1
One of the top young hitters in baseball is back at the top of this year’s Yankees list after a strong second-half in Triple-A led to a big league call-up and an impressive debut.
2. Gary Sanchez
This year: No. 4
Slight drop for Sanchez, but nothing too significant. In his first full season, Sanchez showed some immaturity and inconsistency, but he still hit for power and remains a highly touted young catcher. Some of his drop can be attributed to strong seasons from the next two players on last season’s list.
3. Dellin Betances
This year: No. 3
I’d honestly forgotten that Baseball America had Betances ranked ahead of Manny Banuelos at this time last year. He had a strong showing in Double-A. The walks were a little high, but Betances proved capable of overpowering and overwhelming hitters at that level. Big picture: Not much has changed about his overall prospect status.
4. Manny Banuelos
This year: No. 2
Beginning with a terrific first impression in big league camp, Banuelos very quickly established himself as the Yankees top pitching prospect. Not that Betances was bad, Banuelos simply jumped to the top by showing tremendous potential as a three-pitch starter with command. Like Betances, his walk totals were a little high, but he’s shown flashes of potential dominance.
5. Andrew Brackman
This year: Not in the organization
After a breakout 2010 during which everything seemed to finally come together, Brackman took a giant step backward in 2011. Control issues returned and he went from being one of the Killer Bs to dumped into bullpen duty for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. When it came time to pickup an option for 2012, the Yankees instead let their former first-round pick become a free agent. Hard to have a bigger fall than that.
6. Austin Romine
This year: No. 8
Repeating Double-A didn’t do much to help or hurt Romine’s stock. He’s still seen as the Yankees best defensive catching prospect, and he’s proven to be a solid but not particularly powerful hitter. He still could develop into the Yankees starter, or he could develop into defense-first backup. Either way, he’s still one of the better young catchers in baseball, just doesn’t carry the same superstar label as Montero or Sanchez.
7. Hector Noesi
This year: Graduated to the big leagues
Noesi really emerged as a prospect after a strong and fully healthy 2010 season. He was one of many upper level pitching prospects at the start of the season, but he set himself apart after an unexpected opening in the bullpen gave him a chance to prove himself against big league hitters. Noesi will get a chance to work again as a stater this season, and his prospect stock has probably gone up in the past year.
8. Eduardo Nunez
This year: Graduated to the big leagues
Unlike Noesi, Nunez was given a big league job out of spring training. Seen as a more dynamic player than Ramiro Pena, Nunez won the utility job and showed — at times — why he’s considered a potential everyday shortstop in some circles. His defense was erratic, but he showed plenty of tools and remains the best young shortstop in the system.
9. Slade Heathcott
This year: No. 10
A second shoulder surgery cost Heathcott most of the 2011 season, and now the Yankees have to hope for a full recovery and a fast return onto the prospect track. Still incredibly fast and athletic, Heathcott could be a dynamic center fielder, but Mason Williams and Ravel Santana are rising quickly from the lower levels and surpassed Heathcott on this year’s list.
10. Brandon Laird
This year: Out of the Top 10
Laird will almost surely rank somewhere in the Yankees top 30 prospects when the Prospect Handbook is released, but a so-so Triple-A season — coupled with some standout seasons by players behind him in the system — left Laird out of the Top 10 this time around. A .260/.288/.422 Triple-A slash line was pretty far below the norm for Laird, though he did get his feet wet in New York and could still play a role as a corner utility man.
Associated Press photo