The New York Yankees are known across baseball as having one of the lesser-ranked farm systems in the sport. Now we have an exact number to put on that belief.
ESPN's Keith Law released his annual farm system rankings on Tuesday, Jan. 28 (insider required), and the Yankees rank 20th in all of baseball. The Houston Astros come in at No. 1, while the Milwaukee Brewers bring up the rear at No. 30.
Last season, the Yankees came in at No. 10 on Law's list (insider required).
A drop of 10 spots is worth noting.
Given the fact that the Yankees received no major contributions from any of their top prospects in 2013, the drop can likely be attributed to the fact that the team's best prospects faltered down the stretch last season.
Also, the fact that catcher Gary Sanchez is the only Yankees farmhand to rank within the top 101 prospects according to Baseball Prospectus is cause for concern. Sanchez ranks No. 85 on the list.
In previous years, names like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Mason Williams cracked the list.
Injuries to Banuelos have seemingly derailed his once promising career. Betances' conversion to a reliever diminishes his value significantly. Williams failed to progress much in 2013, and the lack of power he generates is worrisome.
The Yankees lack big-time talent at the top of the farm system. Sanchez figures to be the best impact prospect the team offers at this point, but who's next?
Williams' drop doesn't make him a lock for the bigs any longer.
Remember when he was supposed to be the center fielder of the future? That's Jacoby Ellsbury's job now. Williams might never turn into anything but a fourth outfielder.
The lower levels of the system have decent talent, but it's hard to judge those players based on limited sample size and lesser competition.
Jose Campos, Rafael De Paula, Greg Bird and several others appear to have promising careers ahead of them—especially Bird.
He took the system by storm in his first year at Single-A Charleston, crushing 20 home runs and driving in 84 while producing a line of .288/.428/.511. He also recorded 36 doubles and three triples.
The first baseman might be in luck, too.
Mark Teixeira is signed through the 2016 season, and that should give Bird enough time to hone his skills at the plate and in the field. The Yankees don't often give rookies a shot right out of spring training, but Bird seems like a special talent. Plus, his left-handed swing would be a perfect fit in Yankee Stadium.
Regardless, the fact remains that the Yankees have very few "can't-miss" prospects. In fact, it can be argued that they have none. Sanchez might not even turn into the player that everyone is expecting.
As this team continues to get older, they'll need to find ways to trade off veterans and re-stock the farm system. At the very least, they'll need to start doing a better job with scouting and analyzing draft prospects.