The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Yankees put three on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list01.30.13

How about some prospect talk at the end of another day that’s been almost all about A-Rod?

Last night on MLB Network, Jonathan Mayo and the crew at MLB.com counted down their Top 100 prospects in baseball. Three Yankees made the list: Gary Sanchez (36), Mason Williams (41) and Tyler Austin (75). The only player who I thought might make it but didn’t is Slade Heathcott, who will almost certainly shoot onto the list — probably pretty high on the list — if he has a full, healthy and productive season in Double-A.

What does a Top 100 list mean exactly? Not much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a decent snapshot of the way players are viewed. There’s more or less no difference between No. 36 and No. 41. It’s mostly just interesting to see which players rank at the very top and which ones make the list at all.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 228 Comments →

State of the organization: Center field01.16.13

Three years ago, the Yankees traded their center fielder of the future (who was basically ready for the big leagues) to acquire a center fielder of the present (who had a team-friendly contract through four more seasons). For the Yankees, the trade looked a lot better at this time last year, before Granderson took a step back and Jackson took a step forward. Now that Curtis Granderson is entering the final year of his contract, attention has shifted to the next wave of center fielders. It’s generally assumed that Granderson won’t be back next year — might not even be in center field this year — there are two players who can legitimately claim to be the Yankees center fielder of the future.

Brett Gardner
Second year of arbitration
I can’t tell you who exactly is going to play center field next season, but because the Yankees have acknowledged considering the idea of Gardner in center, I’m heading into spring training expecting that to happen. It’s not based on concrete facts — I honestly believe the Yankees are open to either option – but we’ve seen Granderson run a little less in recent years, my gut says that Gardner would be a better defensively, and it might make sense to go ahead and use Gardner in center now and go shopping for a left fielder next winter. Either way, the Yankees have options (even Ichiro Suzuki has proven he can still handle center if necessary). Gardner is an elite defensive player with speed. Granderson is, at the very least, one of the top power hitters in the game. The position is not a short-term concern for the Yankees.

On the verge
Speed, power and defense make Melky Mesa a tantalizing young player. Strikeouts make him a player who might never get more than the two Major League at-bats he had last season. In the minors last year, Mesa struck out 118 times, and that was actually his lowest single-season total since he reached full-season leagues. His Triple-A slash line of .230/.271/.524 pretty much tells the story of a guy who can hit the ball out (if he actually makes contact). Mesa can also run, but he is perhaps best known for failing to touch a base during his late-season call-up last year. He might be an all-or-nothing wild card, but Mesa does give the Yankees immediate depth in center. Zoilo Almonte has also played some center field in his career, and speedy Abe Almonte could be another option if he can build on a solid 2012 season in Trenton (and if he can get playing time on a crowded Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster). Another name to watch here is Adonis Garcia. The Cuban outfielder played well in winter ball and could become an option if he hits.

Deeper in the system
I considered listing Slade Heathcott as an “on the verge” option, but I’m just not sure I buy Damon Oppenheimer’s optimism that Heathcott could be in the big leagues this year. Heathcott still hasn’t played above High-A Tampa, and although he was terrific in the Arizona Fall League, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees suddenly pushing Heathcott too hard (not when they’ve previously worked so hard just to keep him healthy). But even if he doesn’t arrive this year, Heathcott is on his way. So is Mason Williams. They are two of the Yankees truly elite prospects, and it seems likely that Heathcott will open this season in Double-A with Williams right behind him in High-A. Both have significant upside, but they still need some development time and some patience. Ravel Santana was a part of this conversation a year ago, but he struggled so badly in Staten Island last season — .216/.304/.289 — that his stock has taken a considerable hit.

On the move
Overshadowed on a stacked Charleston roster, 2010 10th-round pick Ben Gamel had a so-so first half last season, but after Williams was promoted, Gamel shifted from left field to center field and hit .320/.347/.419 in the second half. He doesn’t stand out in this system — and he might not see a ton of center field time considering the other options — but there’s something to like about him. It’s also worth noting that Ronnier Mustelier has played quite a bit of center field, including some time as a center field regular this winter. The Yankees have never shown signs of making that a go-to position for him, but he does have experience there. Like with shortstop, it’s rare to see a player shift from any other position into center field. It happens occasionally — Abe Almonte moved from second to center when he was extremely young — but for the most part, guys play their way out of center field, not into center field.

What to watch
There’s an fairly immediate decision to make. Are we going to see Gardner getting regular center field reps this spring? Are we going to see Granderson getting most of his time in left? The decision isn’t going to revolutionize the big league roster, but it’s going to be interesting to watch. For those who closely follow the minor leagues, it seems that every full-season team will have a center fielder worth watching. Can Mesa cut down on the strikeouts? Can Heathcott stay healthy? Can Williams carry his success to High-A? Can Santana get back on the prospect map (and will the Yankees make him repeat short-season ball)?

Associated Press photo; headshots of Gardner, Mesa, Heathcott, Williams and Gamel

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 145 Comments →

Yankees at the break: Center field07.13.11

The change started late last season when Curtis Granderson finally had enough and asked Kevin Long for help. He made some minor mechanical changes, and since then he’s been one of the most dangerous hitters in the baseball.

First half
At the all-star break, Granderson is a legitimate MVP candidate. He’s always had good power for a center fielder, but now he’s showing Mark Teixeira-type power. While he’s still better against right-handers, he’s no longer a platoon candidate. He actually has a higher slugging percentage against lefties this season. He moved into the No. 2 spot in the order when the Yankees were experimenting with their lineup, and he hasn’t let it go. He’s been so good that Joe Girardi has found it almost impossible to rest him.

Second half
Because the improvements started last season, it’s hard to label this kind of production a first-half fluke. Granderson has been this good for almost a year now. He likes to say that the home runs have simply come a little earlier than usual, but he’s about to venture into uncharted home run territory. He’s only five away from his single-season career high, and at this rate he could be there by August. Granderson has started 86 games this season, and he’s played in 87 of them. Girardi might have to be careful about overplaying him in the second half, but so far, it’s been hard to take his bat out of the lineup. And it won’t be any easier without Alex Rodriguez.

The minors
Early on, this seemed to be Slade Heathcott’s breakout season. The first-rounder was unbelievably good in April, but he slowed won in May and now he’s on the disabled list with a shoulder problem that reportedly could cost him the rest of the year. Abe Almonte has not had the breakout season the Yankees were hoping for in Tampa, and Eduardo Sosa has been good but not great as Heathcott’s replacement in Charleston. Melky Mesa is hitting .211 in Trenton. The bright spot is Greg Golson, who might be hitting his way into a call-up in Triple-A. Also, keep an eye on Mason Williams in Staten Island. Last year’s fourth-round pick is off to a pretty impressive start.

One question
Do the strikeouts matter?
Before the break, Granderson said he’s been disappointed by his number of multi-strikeout games and by the fact he’s already approaching 100 strikeouts for the season. Obviously it’s not a perfect scenario, but it might simply come with the territory, and as long as it comes with this sort of production, the Yankees might be more than happy with the tradeoff.

The future
Granderson is under contract for next year with a team option for 2013. The Yankees gave up Austin Jackson because they believed Granderson could be their center fielder of the present and the future. Right now, it looks like they were exactly right. Barring something unforeseen, he’ll be around for at least two more years.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 186 Comments →

LoHud Yankees chat tomorrow at noon07.12.11

Just a quick announcement that tomorrow I’ll be hosting a chat at noon. Seems like a good thing to do on the final day of the all-star break. My hope is to spend this afternoon and most of Wednesday taking a position-by-position look at the Yankees as they head into the second half of the season. For now, a few quick links.

• Out in Arizona, my friend Mark Feinsand has the story of Robinson Cano’s big night in the Home Run Derby. “It doesn’t matter how much money you make or how long you play, that’s the kind of memory you can always share with your family,” Cano said. “When you retire, you can look over and say, ‘Wow, I was good back in the day.’”

• One of the more bizarre Yankees stories developing out in Arizona is the idea that Derek Jeter has somehow let down Major League Baseball by not attending the all-star game. If he weren’t coming off an injury, it would be a different situation, but if he doesn’t think he should play in the game, I can’t get too worked up about Jeter not attending.

Curtis Granderson is going to be the American League’s leadoff hitter tonight.

• Speaking of Yankees center fielders, Josh Norris reports that Slade Heathcott could be heading for season-ending shoulder surgery.

• Turns out, the fan who caught Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit might have to pay considerable taxes on the gifts he received from the Yankees.

Associated Press photo of Cano, and I’m guessing that one didn’t get out of the yard

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Injury updates: Jeter hits, Colon pitches, Feliciano gets on a mound06.27.11

The latest from The Associated Press down at the Yankees complex in Tampa. Sounds like Barolo Colon might be closer than expected.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter did not let a thunderstorm deter him from increasing his workouts.

The Yankees captain, on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right calf, took batting practice on the field for the first time and started a running program Monday.

Jeter took 30 swings in batting practice. He fielded seven grounders on the grass before rain forced a stop. After a brief delay, Jeter returned to the field for three light sprints and some agility-related drills.

“Everything’s good,” Jeter said. “Steps in the right direction.”

There is no date yet for when Jeter, who turned 37 on Sunday, will rejoin the lineup. He’s six hits shy of 3,000, a chase that’s been on hold since getting hurt June 13.

Other Yankees also continued their rehabilitation.

Infielder Eric Chavez, out with a broken left foot, took batting practice with Jeter.

Right-hander Bartolo Colon, sidelined with a strained right hamstring, threw four innings of 15-pitches each in a simulated game.

Colon struck out three and allowed two hits, including one to injured minor league outfielder Slade Heathcott, who was the Yankees’ first round draft pick in 2009.

There have been discussions on whether Colon will need a minor league outing or if he could be ready to pitch against the New York Mets this weekend.

Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano, on the DL with a left shoulder tear, made 15 soft throws off a bullpen mound,

Converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, is scheduled to throw off a mound for the second time in four days on Tuesday.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 204 Comments →

Minor league notes: Whelan setting himself apart in Scranton06.06.11

Kevin Whelan opened this season as a rather forgettable part of a potentially memorable Triple-A pitching staff. Legitimate prospects filled the rotation, and the bullpen was dotted with returned Rule 5 picks and veterans with big league experience.

Then there was Whelan, the last remaining piece of the 2006 Gary Sheffield trade. He was a fallen prospect, a guy who always walked too many batters and finally reached a new low with a 6.02 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

Whelan’s been a completely different pitcher this year. As Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s closer, he’s cut down on the walks significantly. He has a 1.73 ERA, 17 saves, and he’s allowed just 17 hits and six walks through 26 innings. He’s struck out 28, and his 0.88 WHIP is the lowest on the team.

“It is the command, which translates to confidence,” pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras said in an email.

Contraras was the second person I talked to who mentioned confidence when explaining Whelan’s sudden improvement. He’s always had a good fastball and a big splitfinger — and he’s had some real success from time to time — but it seems that things are just now coming together. If the Yankees find an opening for a one-inning guy, Whelan would surely be the front-runner for the job. It’s worth noting that he’s been especially good against left-handers, holding them to a .178 batting average with 19 strikeouts and only two walks.

It’s also worth noting that Whelan’s not on the 40-man, and the Yankees have found more openings for multi-inning relievers than short relievers this season. Jonathan Albaladejo had even better numbers as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s closer last season — and he actually was on the 40-man — but Albaladejo barely got a look at the Major League level. So Whelan might not be looking for apartments in the city, but he’s surely put himself on the map. It’s impossible to ignore a guy who’s always had the potential and is just now finding the consistent results.

• Gary Sanchez is back on the Charleston active roster. He returned Saturday after being sent to extended spring training for what appears to be some combination of a bad back and a bad attitude, probably more of one than the other. He had a hit and drew a walk in his first game back.

• Greg Golson has been activated from the Triple-A disabled list, a move came one day after Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s most productive outfielder, Justin Maxwell, went on the disabled list with a jammed shoulder. Maxwell actually has a higher slugging percentage than Jorge Vazquez and homered in three games in a row just before the injury. For the season he’s hitting .260/.358/.588 and might have hit his way into a big league role had Andruw Jones not started hitting lately.

• Speaking of banged-up Triple-A players who might or might not be playing their way into a call-up: Carlos Silva was scratched from a start on Sunday because of tightness in his shoulder. Doesn’t seem too serious. Manager Dave Miley told Donnie Collins, “We’re just pushing him back.”

• If there’s no spot for Whelan as a short reliever in New York, the Yankees certainly have options for long relief out of Triple-A. George Kontos and Buddy Carlyle are still pitching well in long relief for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Kontos is holding right-handers to a .143 average with 24 strikeouts and four walks. Out of the rotation, tonight’s starter D.J. Mitchell has a 2.78 ERA and pitched seven scoreless in his most recent outing.

• After hitting .218/.292/.287 in April, Kevin Russo hit .316/.384/.408 in May. Brandon Laird made a similar turnaround, from .184/.213/.289 in April to .307/.343/.406 in May. Jesus Montero went the other way, from .365/.360/.473 to .269/.333/.413.

Strange stuff in Double-A Trenton where hitting coach Julius Matos was ejected last week, then got into some sort of argument with manager Tony Franklin and has since been removed from his role. Popular roving hitting instructor James Rowson has taken over the job for now. It’s unclear whether Matos will return in any capacity.

• Austin Romine is the only Trenton regular hitting better than .277, and he’s missed a few games with a stiff neck and back after a home plate collision. Romine has certainly been the high point of the Double-A lineup. Melky Mesa is back to being an all-or-nothing hitter, Bradley Suttle is hitting for good power but a .233 average and Corban Joseph has been good but not great.

• I talked about him a little bit in today’s chat: Trenton reliever Tim Norton is starting to get some attention. Injuries have always been the biggest knock on the guy. This year he’s healthy and putting up incredible numbers (44 strikeouts in 29 innings, for example). One scout told Bill Madden that Norton is, “better than (Joba) Chamberlain right now.”

• Manny Banuelos has a 2.12 ERA and Dellin Betances has a 1.99, so those two are doing just fine despite higher-than-you’d-like walk totals. Craig Heyer, a guy the Yankees sent to the Fall League this offseason, has been awfully good since stepping into the rotation to fill in for some injuries.

• Tampa third baseman Rob Lyerly made the Florida State League all-star team, but as expected, the High-A roster is lowest of the four affiliates in terms of prospect buzz. Starters Brett Marshall and Jairo Heredia, though, are starting to do some things. In Heredia’s past three starts he’s allowed one earned run through 21 innings. He’s walked two and struck out 22. He’s another of those “if-things-go-right” prospects.

• J.R. Murphy remains the best all-around hitter in Low-A Charleston, but first baseman Kyle Roller leads the team with a .563 slugging percentage and corner outfielder Ramon Flores leads with a .407 on-base percentage.

• Slade Heathcott in April: .370/.453/.630. — Slade Heathcott in May: .216/.283/.289.

• The amateur draft begins tonight. The Yankees don’t have a pick until the supplemental first round — No. 51 overall — but they’ll almost certainly be part of the story with pick No. 1. The Pirates are reportedly planning to take Gerrit Cole, the former Yankees first-round pick who ultimately signed with UCLA rather than join the Yankees minor league system.

Headshots of Whelan, Sanchez, Golson, Romine and Norton

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Notes from Newman: Brackman, Sanchez, Heathcott and more05.27.11

At the very top of the Yankees minor league system, two Triple-A starters — Andrew Brackman and Adam Warren — are top five in the International League in walks. Down in Low-A, one of the Yankees best young catchers — Gary Sanchez — is hitting just .238 with 37 strikeouts in 32 games.

“It’s like somebody trying to lose weight and looking at the scale every day,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “It’ll drive you nuts.”

Less than two months into the minor league season, the big picture is nowhere near coming into focus, and Newman said this part of the season is still about making initial adjustments to a new level. The Yankees focus more on the second-half results for most of their minor leaguers, curious to see how they adjust and adapt.

Right now, Warren is eight walks away from his total for last season. Brackman is 12 away from his 2010 total. From the outside, the Brackman number is more glaring because, 1. His ERA is three runs higher than Warren’s, and 2. He had similar control issues in 2009.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue long term, because he’s showing he can throw strikes,” Newman said. “He’s just got to get back (to last year’s command). His mark right now is well above where we want it to be, but I don’t think it’s going to stay there.”

As for Sanchez, he was hitting .314 with three home runs in his previous 10 games before going on the disabled list a week ago. More importantly, he’s 18 years old.

“He’s swinging it good now,” Newman said. “He’s like a high school senior playing in that league. He’s doing well.”

• Speaking of letting the big picture come into focus… Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy were the Yankees first- and second-round picks in the 2009 draft, and both are off to eye-opening starts in Charleston. Newman called it little more than the natural progression of two talented kids who had very little little experience when they put up pedestrian numbers in Charleston last season. “That was a helluva challenge,” Newman said. “Now they’re getting a little experience, and we’re seeing what kind of players they are. There’s nothing particularly surprising about it.”

• As you might expect, Newman said both Heathcott and Murphy will “probably” jump to Tampa midseason.

• As previously reported, Newman said Sanchez has a “stiff lower back” that he’s trying to work through in extended spring training. Once he’s through that, Sanchez will return to Charleston.

• In the wake of the Buster Posey injury, Newman said the Yankees have not discussed moving any of their catchers from behind the plate just to avoid injury. “Not because of health concerns,” he said. “All of our catchers do work at first base. We have a lot of young catching prospects. Who knows who’s going to catch, who’s going to play first base and who’s going to DH?” Newman once again stressed that the Yankees believe Jesus Montero can catch.

• Other injury updates:

Greg Golson: About a week away from playing in games.
Mark Prior: “Not throwing (off a mound),” Newman said. “He’s really struggling with this kind of hip, abdominal thing. Hard to nail it down.
Alan Horne:
Throwing in extended spring and building arm strength.
Graham Stoneburner, Steve Garrison, Jeremy Bleich: “Still a ways to go,” Newman said.
David Adams:
Having some leg problems that the Yankees believe to be related to the ankle injury that forced him to miss most of last season. He was back and playing, but then the leg started bothering him. Not sure how close he is to returning.

• Carlos Silva can opt out in mid-June and pitched well last night. “This is a contingency plan,” Newman said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

• Veteran Brad Halsey, signed to a minor league deal earlier this month, is throwing in Tampa, basically going through his own spring training.

• Outfielder Damon Sublett has been throwing some bullpens in Double-A. He was a closer in college and hasn’t been getting a ton of playing time as a position player, so he asked the Yankees if he could start working out on the mound. “We’re just checking it out, getting his arm in shape,” Newman said.

• Newman said there’s no one in extended spring training who’s “setting any world records or anything,” but the name-to-know that jumped to his mind was starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell. “He’s got electric stuff,” Newman said. “He’s got the stuff to be the next Banuelos, Betances. The high-end guy. That’s Mitchell.”

Brackman photo from my friends at the Scranton Times-Tribune

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 190 Comments →

A few short minor league notes05.04.11

A few quick minor league notes this late morning. Don’t forget, we’re doing a chat at 2:30 this afternoon.

• Two injuries to players on the 40-man roster: Greg Golson is on the Triple-A disabled list with a hamstring injury, and Steve Garrison could be headed for the Double-A disabled list after groin pull.

Two other Triple-A injuries that seem fairly minor: Chris Dickerson has missed three straight games with a neck injury. He would have missed a fourth if not for a rain out last night. Ramiro Pena was out of last night’s lineup with a sore foot.

• Three non-40-man pitchers to keep an eye on: George Kontos (two runs in his past 15.1 innings as Scranton’s long man), Kevin Whelan (much improved control to go with only two hits allowed in past 10.2 innings as Scranton’s closer) and Andy Sisco (still no earned runs with four hits allowed through 10.1 innings as Scranton’s bullpen lefty).

• The Associated Press reports that the Yankees have signed Brad Halsey to a minor league deal and sent him to extended spring.

• He’s still a long, long way from the big leagues, but Slade Heathcott is hitting .351/.436/.574 through 94 at-bats in Charleston. Have to think he’ll be in Tampa around mid-season or so, maybe sooner if he keeps this up. JR Murphy is also really hitting in Charleston (.316/.340/.490) but Gary Sanchez is not (.200/.238/.293).

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 71 Comments →

The Yankees 1-2 punch in Triple-A04.18.11

Of all the young hitters in big league camp this spring, Jorge Vazquez was the greatest surprise. Jesus Montero was the greatest disappointment.

Nine games into the Triple-A season, Vazquez is still hitting, and Montero has finally started.

This afternoon, Vazquez was named the International League Player of the Week. All he did was hit .423 with five home runs and 11 RBI through six games. For the season he’s hitting .325/.333/.775 with a team-high 15 RBI (more than twice as many as any one of his teammates). Vazquez is always going to strike out a bunch, and he’s not going to walk much, but that’s a big bat to have in reserve behind Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Eric Chavez.

Montero has played in eight games this season, and he has three hits in half of them. He has one home run and three doubles, and my line earlier about him finally hitting was kind of a lie. Reports were positive about Montero from the moment he was assigned to minor league camp. He showed this spring that there might still be room to grow, but he’s shown this season that his bat is still one of the elite tools in minor league baseball.

Some other off day notes from the minor leagues:

• The early standout from the deep Triple-A outfield has been Jordan Parraz, the guy who was claimed this winter and designated for assignment just before spring training. Parraz has two homers, two triples and a .395 average. Ramiro Pena and Justin Maxwell are also off to strong starts in Triple-A. Off to surprisingly slow starts: Brandon Laird, Kevin Russo and Chris Dickerson.

Kevin Millwood was mostly 86-87 mph in his Double-A start on Sunday. Freddy Garcia showed on Saturday that a veteran pitcher can have success at that velocity, but it’s still hard to see a place for Millwood in New York. He’s going to have to prove he’s not only worth a call-up, but worth taking someone off the 40-man roster. For what it’s worth, Millwood’s line on Sunday was impressive: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB and 3 K.

• Ten games into the Eastern League season, Trenton has two home runs as a team, one by Cody Johnson and one by Melky Mesa. Only Johnson and Ray Kruml are hitting better than .265.

• Stats from a name you might not know: Tampa starter Josh Romanski is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA through two stats. He’s allowed five hits and two walks through 11 innings. The only run he’s allowed came on a homer.

• Speaking of Tampa, the High-A corner infielders are off to strong starts. Third baseman Rob Lyerly is hitting .364 with two doubles, two triples, two homers and 14 RBI. First baseman Luke Murton is hitting .341 with two homers, a triple and four doubles.

• Ten games into the Low-A season, former first-round pick Slade Heathcott is hitting .364/.396/.705, though he has struck out 15 times. Another name to keep in mind on that Charleston roster is corner outfielder/first baseman Ramon Flores. He popped onto the radar with an impressive turn in the Gulf Coast League last year, and now he’s hitting .353/.522/.471 in Low-A. He’s played in 10 games and drawn 10 walks with seven strikeouts.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 377 Comments →

Yankees scattered among top positional prospects01.25.11

I didn’t intentionally time it this way, but Ed’s guest post about the construction of the Yankees minor league system happened to come on the same day MLB Network and MLB.com are revealing their Top 50 Prospects. The list will be announced at 9 p.m., broadcast on the television network and on the website. You can bet that Jesus Montero will be near the top.

Leading up to the Top 50, MLB.com has already ranked the top 10 prospects at each position.

Catcher
Yankees on the list: Jesus Montero (1), Gary Sanchez (3), Austin Romine (8)
Yankees top prospect: Montero
The top catcher on last year’s MLB.com list was National League Rookie of the Year Buster Posey, who opened 2010 in the minor leagues before hitting his way to San Francisco. There’s obviously a chance Montero could do the same thing for New York this season.

First base
Yankees on the list:
None
Yankees top prospect: Luke Murton
The Yankees really don’t have a standout first base prospect, which isn’t a significant issue with Mark Teixeira in New York. The Yankees best long-term first base prospect is probably someone currently playing a different position, maybe third baseman Brandon Laird or catcher J.R. Murphy. Of the guys primarily playing first right now, I’ll give the nod to Murton, but you could just as easily make a case for Jorge Vazquez (more advanced), Kyle Roller (higher draft pick) or Reymond Nunez (more raw talent).

Second base
Yankees on the list:
Eduardo Nunez (9)
Yankees top prospect: Corban Joseph
MLB.com put Nunez, a natural shortstop, on its list of second basemen and cited the probability that he’ll be cast in a utility role with the Yankees. Makes perfect sense, and I agree. Of the guys currently playing second base for the Yankees, I’ll go with Joseph as the top prospect, barely ahead of likely Trenton teammate David Adams. Both are interesting young players, but Nunez is more advanced.

Shortstop
Yankees on the list: None
Yankees top prospect:
Eduardo Nunez
Nunez made MLB.com’s list at second base but not at shortstop. What stands out about the shortstop ranking is how many of the Top 10 are low-level players who are still extremely raw and young. It’s tough to stick at shortstop, which is part of the reason Nunez has real value (he’s made it this far). The Yankees have their own young, raw shortstop in first-round pick Cito Culver.

Third base
Yankees on the list: None
Yankees top prospect:
Brandon Laird
Frankly, I think Laird has a chance to make the same sort of impact as some of the guys on MLB.com’s list. I might not have said that two years ago, but Laird has steadily produced, and now he’s one level away from the big leagues. Might not be a superstar, but he’s a good bet to help at the Major League level.

Outfield
Yankees on the list: None
Yankees top prospect:
Slade Heathcott
MLB.com’s list of outfielders starts with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Domonic Brown. The Yankees don’t have anyone with that kind of hype or perceived potential, but Heathcott is a good young athlete, and the Yankees have quite a few interesting center fielders in their lower levels. On the whole, though, the outfield is a bit of an organizational weakness.

Right-handed pitcher
Yankees on the list: None
Yankees top prospect:
Dellin Betances
Predictably, there are a lot of talented right-handers in minor league baseball, and listing the top 10 would be a matter of extreme preference. Betances is a legitimate prospect who belongs in the same sentence as some of the guys listed by MLB.com. He could pitch his way into the middle of the rotation, if not higher, and he could do it within the next year or two.

Left-handed pitcher
Yankees on the list: Manny Banuelos (10)
Yankees top prospect:
Banuelos
This is a pretty impressive list of lefties, and MLB.com notes that Banuelos showed improved velocity in 2010, leading to projection as a “front-line starter in the not-too-distant future.” I consider him the top pitching prospect in the system, though Baseball American ranked him one spot behind Betances.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 158 Comments →

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