Ranking the 10 Top Prospects in the New York Yankees Farm System
It was a great year to be a hitter in the New York Yankees’ system. However, the same can’t be said regarding the organization’s pitching prospects.
Expected to contribute in the major leagues this past season, top pitching prospects LHP Manny Banuelos (Tommy John surgery) and RHP Dellin Betances (demoted from Triple to Double-A) took step in the wrong direction, while RHP Jose Campos, a potential steal acquired in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero swap, missed nearly all of 2012 with an elbow injury.
They weren't the only players hampered by injuries, as both OF Mason Williams (shoulder) and 2B Angelo Gumbs (elbow) were forced to miss the final months of the minor league regular season.
The good news is that the organization has a slew of high-upside position players steadily working their way up the minor league ladder. If all goes as hoped, the Yankees could feature one of the better homegrown teams in recent memory; C Gary Sanchez, Gumbs, 3B Dante Bichette, Jr., OFs Williams, Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores are all expected to arrive in the major leagues between the 2014-2016 seasons.
Although the Yankees will likely continue to rely on free agency and acquisitions via trade for at least two more seasons, there is an end in sight for their prospect dry-spell. At the same time, it wouldn’t surprise me if Williams, Austin or Heathcott was traded within the next two years.
10. Manny Banuelos, LHP
DOB: 3/13/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 200 lbs
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Mexico
2012 Stats: 0-2, 24 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.625 WHIP, 22/10 K/BB (6 GS, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Season in Review: After nearly reaching the major leagues as a September call-up in 2011, Banuelos was expected to spend a majority of the 2012 season in the big leagues. Instead he spent a majority of the season on the disabled list, as the left-hander made only six starts before at Triple-A before elbow discomfort sidelined him indefinitely. He ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery in October, and is expected to miss the entire 2013 season.
Scouting Report: Consistency of injuries for his age is concerning as is the fact that he won’t pitch in a game until the 2013 Arizona Fall League—maybe; 5’11” left-hander is fearless on the mound and attacks hitters; has struggled to make necessary adjustments since reaching upper minor league levels; command will need substantial refinement upon return to the field.
Fastball has late run in the 90-94 mph range, and he’ll use it to pitch to both sides of the plate; curveball features nice downer movement when released correctly, and his feel for the pitch can be streaky; changeup was developing nicely at time of injury.
2013 Opening Day Level: Out for season.
9. Ramon Flores, OF
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190 lbs
Drafted/Signed: 2008, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: .302/.370/.420, 83 R, 42 XBH (6 HR), 24 SB, 85/54 K/BB (131 G, High-A Tampa); 2-for-5, HR (1 G, Double-A Trenton)
Season in Review: Arguably the best pure hitter in the Yankees’ system, the 20-year-old made big-time strides at the plate despite the more advanced level (High-A) and pitcher-friendly environment of the Florida State League.
Scouting Report: Has been lauded for his hit tool even before the Yankees signed him in 2008; left-handed hitter employs smooth and effortless swing; balanced weight transfer helps him keep bat head in the zone for exceptional amount of time; sacrifices power for a line-to-line approach; plate discipline has always been impressive and continues to improve.
Stolen bases more a product of instincts and on-base skills; speed limits him to a corner outfield position but he lacks the arm strength for right field; has received increased looks at first base, which only hurts his stock.
2012 Opening Day Level: Double-A
8. Mark Montgomery, RHP
DOB: 8/30/1990 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 205 lbs
Drafted/Signed: 11th round, 2011 (Longwood University)
2012 Stats: 4-1, 14 SV, 40 1/3 IP, 1.34 ERA, 0.967 WHIP, 5.1 H/9, 13.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (31 G, High-A Tampa); 3-1, 1 SV, 24 IP, 1.88 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, 4.5 H/9, 14.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (15 G, Double-A Trenton)
Season in Review: In his first full professional season, Montgomery’s obvious knack for missing bats helped him reach Double-A Trenton, and has him on the fast track to the major leagues.
Scouting Notes: Not very tall (5’11”), but has stocky frame with strong lower half; throws partially across body which aids overall deception; success as closer in minor leagues gives him late-inning potential; highly effective against both right-and left-handed hitters.
Fastball far from overpowering at 91-93 mph with some late movement to the arm side; plus-plus slider that ranks among the best in the minor leagues; big-league-ready pitch; thrown in 83-86 mph range with excellent tilt and draws endless whiffs.
2012 Opening Day Level: MLB (I'm dead serious).
7. Ty Hensley, RHP
DOB: 7/30/1993 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 220 lbs
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Edmond Santa Fe HS, OK)
2012 Stats: 1-2, 12 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 14/7 K/BB (5 G/4 GS, rookie-level Gulf Coast League)
Season in Review: Oklahoma prep standout signed late but made a strong impression in a brief professional debut in the Gulf Coast League.
Scouting Report: 6’4” right-hander has a projectable frame with room to add strength despite current weight of 220 pounds; adding strength to lower half and core should make his delivery more repeatable and allow him to work deeper into games; will need to work on staying on top of pitches and consistently pound lower portion of strike zone.
Fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s and has reportedly scraped as high as 97 mph; pitch flattens out when left up in the zone, usually as a result of an inconsistent arm slot; a hammer breaking ball is his best offering with distinct pace and sharp, downer bite; will try to develop his changeup enough to use it in 2013; needs to learn how to attack hitters laterally and not just vertically.
2012 Opening Day Level: Class-A Short Season
6. Angelo Gumbs, 2B
DOB: 10/13/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’, 175 lbs
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (Torrance HS, CA)
2012 Stats: .272/.320/.432, 24 XBH (7 HR), 26 SB, 60/18 K/BB (67 G, Low-A Charleston)
Season in Review: The top infield prospect in the Yankees’ system showcased an impressive blend of power and speed for Low-A Charleston, but like so many other players on this list, Gumbs’ suffered a season-ending injury when he tore a left elbow ligament in June.
Scouting Notes: Legitimate plus bat speed generates loud contact to all fields; drives through the ball with explosive wrists and weight transfer; showcases impressive pop relative to his size; the excessive movement with his hands needs to be jettisoned for simpler mechanism; employs power-hitter-like front leg lift that makes him vulnerable to both offspeed pitches and velocity on inner half.
Employs decent approach that should improve when he becomes more comfortable attacking breaking balls; made huge strides as a basestealer on top of present plus speed.
Gumbs was a shortstop and outfielder in high school, but converted to second base upon signing with the Yankees; plus speed translates to similar range; more than enough arm strength to handle the position; hands can be fringy but glove has steadily improved since conversion; understands defensive fundamentals of position, now just needs the experience.
2012 Opening Day Level: High-A
5. Jose Campos, RHP
DOB: 7/27/1992 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 195 lbs
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Venezuela
2012 Stats: 3-0, 24 2/3 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 26/8 K/BB (5 GS, Low-A Charleston)
Season in Review: After a lights-out season for Short-Season Everett in 2011, the Mariners traded Campos and Michael Pineda to the Yankees in January 2012. Right-hander was electric in first few starts but landed on the disabled list after five starts with elbow inflammation, which was ultimately a season-long injury.
Scouting Report: Was looking like a high-level pitching prospect until injury; 6’4” right-hander has wiry frame with efficient delivery and quick arm; doesn’t shy away from attacking opposing hitters and demonstrates advanced feel for strike zone.
Fastball jumps out of his hand with downward trajectory and arm-side run; comfortable throwing the pitch in all counts; will use it as strikeout pitch when mixing pitches effectively; snaps off plus breaking ball that’s a legitimate swing-and-miss out pitch; changeup has the potential to be a 50-to-55 offering given the deception relative to arm speed.
2012 Opening Day Level: Rookie (rehab assignment)
4. Slade Heathcott, OF
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190 lbs
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009 (Texas HS, TX)
2012 Stats: .307/.378/.470, 23 XBH (5 HR), 17 SB, 66/20 K/BB (60 G, High-A Tampa)
Season in Review: 2009 bonus baby’s career has been derailed by personal issues, and a slew of injuries, but was impressive in all facets of the game in 60 games for High-A Tampa.
Scouting Report: Hard-nosed, high-energy does everything 100 percent; plus defensive center fielder with 70-grade wheels and great range; arm strength has waned since a pair of shoulder surgeries; improvement as a basestealer was good to see after time off.
Leadoff hitter-type who can fly down the line; constant extra-base threat at the plate; tendency to rip open front side and not use hands; lack of fluidity in swing may be result of lack of experience; needs to start making more consistent contact in 2013.
2012 Opening Day Level: High-A
3. Tyler Austin, OF
DOB: 9/6/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200 lbs
Drafted/Signed: 13th round, 2010 (Heritage HS, GA)
2012 Stats: .320/.405/.598, 41 XBH (14 HR), 17 SB, 68/37 K/BB (70 G, Low-A Charleston); .321/.385/.478, 16 XBH, 6 SB, 28/12 K/BB (36 G, High-A Tampa); .286/.375/.286, 2 R (2 G, Double-A Trenton)
Season in Review: Austin enjoyed a breakout season at the plate, batting .322/.400/.559 with 23 stolen bases across three levels while adjusting to a full-time role in the outfield.
Scouting Report: Physically strong player who drives the ball with authority to all fields; encouraging sign that majority of power is to right-center field; excellent plate coverage and bat-to-ball ability; knowledgeable hitter with consistent approach capable of making in-game adjustments.
Actions look natural in right field despite spending 2011 as corner infielder; plus arm is ideal for position; only an average runner but has sneaky speed; instinctual and efficient basestealer; range in outfield was better than expected.
2012 Opening Day Level: Double-A
2. Gary Sanchez, C
DOB: 12/2/1992 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 220 lbs
Drafted/Signed: 2009, Dominican Republic
ETA: 2015 (2014 if 1B/DH)
2012 Stats: .297/.353/.517, 32 XBH (13 HR), 11 SB, 65/22 K/BB (68 G, Low-A Charleston); .279/.330/.436, 16 XBH (5 HR), 4 SB, 41/10 K/BB (48 G, High-A Tampa)
Season in Review: The 19-year-old improved batting average led all minor league backstops with 18 home runs, though his defense remains suspect.
Scouting Notes: Improved his plate discipline and contact rate in second tour of South Atlantic League; above-average power potential from a well-balanced swing; better feel for putting barrel on ball, but that doesn’t mean he needs to chase pitches out of the zone.
Defense and work ethic significantly improved relative to reports from the end of the 2011 season; athletic frame with agility; basestealers repeatedly challenged him (149 attempts), though he did throw out runners at a 30 percent clip; arm is biggest asset behind the plate; lack of experience apparent in game-calling and leadership.
2012 Opening Day Level: High-A
1. Mason Williams, OF
DOB: 8/21/1991 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’, 150 lbs.
Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010 (West Orange HS, GA)
2012 Stats: .304/.359/.489, 31 XBH (8 HR), 19 SB, 33/21 K/BB (69 G, Low-A); .277/.302/.422, 6 XBH (3 HR), 14/7 K/BB (22 G, High-A)
Season in Review: Williams turned in a strong follow-up campaign after batting .349/.395/.468 last season as the New York-Penn League’s top prospect. Suffered a dislocated left shoulder in late July that required season-ending surgery.
Scouting Notes: Excellent defensive center fielder with the plus speed and more than enough range to stick at the position; left-handed hitter who gets out of the box quickly, but is a raw basestealer.
Has more power than frame suggests; arms and wrists loaded with quick-twitch muscles; makes a lot of contact but could stand to be more patient; solid hand-eye coordination and bat speed allow him to barrel the ball to all fields; needs to focus more on his on-base skills than power stroke.
Red flags regarding his maturity popped up all season; developed reputation for an seemingly indifferent attitude when things weren’t going well; common attitude among prospects and almost always corrects itself.
2012 Opening Day Level: High-A