S2S 2012 Team Prospect Lists: New York Yankees

Manny Banuelos (Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)

With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!

Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.

New York Yankees

The Yankees system is undoubtedly somewhat down from where it was in years past. Their vaunted “Killer B” trio–Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman–all ran into trouble in 2011, and Brackman ended up released while Betances looks like he may be headed for the bullpen. Jesus Montero was traded away to Seattle, further damaging the top talent, although New York did receive the Northwest League’s top prospect, Jose Campos, in that trade.

There’s still plenty to like here, though. This system has an abundance of two things: upper-minors arms and low-minors bats. Banuelos, Campos, and Gary Sanchez could be excellent contributors even by the lofty standards of Yankee fans.

Position Player Upside: B
Position Player Depth: B-
Pitching Upside: B+
Pitching Depth: B+
System Grade: B

Catcher: Gary Sanchez. You don’t come across a whole lot of 18-year-old catchers with ISOs of .229 in full-season ball. Sanchez also boasts a strong arm and a good eye at the plate, and has superstar potential. He has some major problems with blocking pitches, but at his age, that’s not cause for alarm just yet, and neither is his elevated strikeout rate. At some point, those are going to need to come around, but he’s got plenty of time, and his overall potential is enormous. Grade: A-

First base: Kyle Roller. A somewhat generic big first baseman with pop, Roller hit .284/.371/.482 across the two A-ball levels. Much of his OBP is propped up by getting plunked, as his K/BB ratio was just 111/38 in 110 games. He’ll be 24 in March, and while he’s got a decent bat, it’s not up to the standards of the position in the major leagues. Grade: C

Second base: Angelo Gumbs. A second-round pick in 2010, Gumbs hit .264/.332/.406 in the NYPL at age 18. He has a decent approach at the plate and some feel for contact, but he strikes out too much and remains a spotty defender at second. Like Sanchez, he’s very young, so we shouldn’t get too worried yet, but he needs to show more polish before projecting as a starter. Grade: C+

Third base: Tyler Austin. A 13th-round pick in 2010, Austin promptly hit .354/.418/.579 across the two short-season leagues in his first full season. He also was a perfect 18-for-18 on the bases. He’ll have to battle Dante Bichette for playing time at third as he moves up, and he’s not especially fluid at the hot corner yet, but he’s got a prototypical third baseman’s skillset otherwise. While Bichette and Mason Williams get all the attention among Yankees short-season hitters, Austin is right there with them. Grade: B

Shortstop: Cito Culver. Thought to be an overdraft as the 32nd overall pick in 2010, Culver hit .250/.323/.337 in the NYPL in his first full-season at age 18. His best asset right now is his batting eye, and he was an efficient 10-for-10 on the basepaths as well. He’ll need to either cut his somewhat elevated strikeout rate or find more power as he moves up, and like most teenage infielders, he needs to cut down on his throwing errors. Grade: C+

Outfielder #1: Mason Williams. Williams is another product of the 2010 draft class (fourth round) who crushed NYPL pitching, in this case at a .349/.395/.468 clip. He also swiped 28 bases. Like many young players, he could stand to get stronger and improve his batting eye, but with a more discerning approach at the plate, he could be the next Brett Gardner for the Yankees. Grade: B

Outfielder #2: Ravel Santana. Santana is an exciting power hitter who slugged .568 in the GCL in his first season of US ball. He has some athleticism and a decent approach, and could be a prototypical right fielder down the line. Like all of these position players, he’s very far away and has a lot left to prove. Grade: C+

Outfielder #3: Slade Heathcott. Repeating Low-A in 2011, the former first-round pick cut his alarming strikeout rate but also lost much of his impressive walk rate. He also saw his season cut short by injuries for the second time in a row. He’s just 21 for the 2012 season, but he has yet to put multiple skills together at the same time. Grade: C+

Starting Pitcher #1: Manny Banuelos. Banuelos’ walk rates have spiked to disturbing levels ever since he reached the upper minors, which knocks his stock down a bit from 2009-10 in my eyes. Still, he just turns 21 in March and has a solid three-pitch mix headlined by a plus changeup. He’s not physically projectable, so he may not develop as much as most pitchers this age, but should settle in as at least a nice mid-rotation arm. Grade: A-

Starting Pitcher #2: Jose Campos. Campos had an 85/13 K/BB in 81 1/3 innings as an 18-year-old in the Northwest League, and many feel he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. The normal pitcher attrition caveats apply, but this is a very projectable righthander who already boasts an excellent fastball, workable breaking ball, and good command. Grade: B+

Starting Pitcher #3: Dellin Betances. The more I think about Betances, the more he scares me. He’s got a 92-94 mph fastball, a big curveball, and a changeup that shows flashes, but his mechanics don’t really let him harness his potential, and it’s tough to see him gaining enough body control to fix that. If he can somehow regain his 2010 form at age 24, he still has massive upside, but most project him as a power reliever now. Grade: B+

Starting Pitcher #4: David Phelps. I thought this guy should’ve been in the Yankees’ rotation last year (although I can’t deny the solid performances from Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia, so it worked out for them in the end), and he did nothing in 2011 that really ran counter to my claim that he’s ready to be a successful MLB pitcher, with a 3.19 ERA, 7.5 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in Triple-A. He’s got a good fastball and three average offspeed offerings, and he pounds the zone. There’s no reason he can’t be a solid fourth starter in 2012 and beyond. Grade: B-

Starting Pitcher #5: Nik Turley. Turley is a gigantic lefthander who’s moved slowly since being the Yankees’ final selection in 2008, but he had an 82/21 K/BB in 82 1/3 innings as a 21-year-old in Low-A. A broken hand ended his season just two starts into his promotion to High-A. Turley throws a low 90′s fastball and a very good overhand curveball, and he seems to have an easier time coordinating his huge frame than Betances does. There’s a very legitimate chance he has the better career. Grade: B-

Relief Pitcher #1: Mark Montgomery. The Yankees’ 11th-round pick in 2011, Montgomery struck out 51 of the 124 batters he faced in his pro debut. He’s a college pitcher, and isn’t especially dazzling stuff-wise as a short righthander relying on a plus slider and a low-90′s fastball. There’s some Michael Wuertz potential here. Grade: C+

Relief Pitcher #2: Pat Venditte. The famous switch-pitcher has been moved at a glacial pace by the Yankees, but he’s succeeded at every stop. He wasn’t quite as dominant in Double-A as he was in the lower minors, and he’ll be 27 in June, but he does have the potential to become a middle reliever in the majors thanks to the advantages his switch-pitching gives him. Grade: C

Best of the Rest 

#1.) Dante Bichette, 3B. The 51st pick in the 2011 draft, Bichette is more polished than Austin on both sides of the ball, but he also has less athletic upside. He also crushed short-season pitching, hitting .342/.446/.505 in the GCL. The two are very close in terms of prospect status, and give the Yankees a fallback if the other fails. Grade: B

#2.) Austin Romine, C. For all the buzz Romine gets, we should remember he hasn’t put up a .330 OBP and .400 SLG in the same year since 2008. He’s also caught just 24% of basestealers in his career. He has solid receiving skills and isn’t completely punchless, but Romine doesn’t figure to be more than a solid backup or second-division starter. Grade: B-

#3.) Jairo Heredia, RHP. Heredia put up a 68/16 K/BB in 68 2/3 High-A innings at age 21. A deceptive pitcher with good command and a polished three-pitch arsenal, he could be a solid fourth starter if he can get past his persistent shoulder woes. Grade: B-

#4.) Adam Warren, RHP. Often mentioned along with Phelps, Warren was demonstrably worse in Triple-A, although he is a year younger. He could fit as a back-of-the-rotation starter quickly. Grade: C+

#5.) J.R. Murphy, C. Another guy who’s never played 100 games in a season, thanks to injury problems. Murphy hit .297/.343/.457 in Low-A at age 20, then struggled in High-A. Like Romine, he’s a good receiver who doesn’t throw particularly well, and he doesn’t really have a plus offensive skill. That puts him in line to be a solid backup. Grade: C+

#6.) Brett Marshall, RHP. Often tossed around as the biggest sleeper in the system, Marshall is on the Phelps/Warren path, as he throws strikes and gets grounders but lacks the exceptional stuff or strikeout ability to be more than a fourth starter. He’s not a big guy, and he has a Tommy John surgery on his record, so he may move to relief if he doesn’t transition well to the upper minors. Grade: C+

#7.) Brad Meyers, RHP. The Yankees’ Rule 5 pick this year, Meyers started off 2011 by striking out 38 and walking zero in 36 1/3 Double-A innings. He then put up a 74/15 K/BB in 95 1/3 frames in Triple-A. A bit of a Doug Fister type, Meyers is a tall, thin righthander who pounds the zone with average stuff. An intriguing sleeper, he was one of my favorite Rule 5 selections. Grade: C+

#8.) D.J. Mitchell, RHP. While he’s not a big guy, Mitchell has proven to be durable, throwing 161 innings in Triple-A in 2011. He posted a 3.18 ERA despite a mediocre 112/63 K/BB ratio, partially due to luck, but also due to his strong groundball ability. Like Warren, he’s a potential back-end starter or mid-to-late reliever. Grade: C+

#9.) Vidal Nuno, LHP. A former 48th-round pick of the Indians, Nuno started 2011 in independent ball despite having a 94/14 K/BB in Low-A in 2010. The Yankees signed him in June, and he racked up a 37/2 K/BB in 40 innings in Low-A with his new organization. He’s already 24, and he’s a little lefthander that relies on a plus changeup and sparkling command, but you can’t help but fall in love with his results thus far. Grade: C+

#10.) Zoilo Almonte, OF. Almonte hit .293/.365/.514 in High-A, and while he scuffled somewhat after a promotion to Double-A, he’s just 22 and has some nice potential. He doesn’t have a standout tool, as he is athletic for a corner outfielder but can’t play center, he has gap power but has never hit over 15 homers in a season, and his approach is okay but not great. He’s a potential fourth outfielder. Grade: C+

The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.

For more on the Yankees, check out Yanks Go Yard.

Follow S2S on Twitter @Seedlings2Stars and yours truly @stoltz_baseball. Also, like our Facebook page!

Topics: Adam Warren, Angelo Gumbs, Austin Romine, Brad Meyers, Brett Marshall, Cito Culver, D.J. Mitchell, Dante Bichette, David Phelps, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, J.R. Murphy, Jairo Heredia, Jose Campos, Kyle Roller, Manny Banuelos, Mark Montgomery, Mason Williams, New York Yankees, Nik Turley, Pat Venditte, Ravel Santana, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, Vidal Nuno, Zoilo Almonte

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