New York Yankees: Jesus Montero and the Midseason Prospect Rankings

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2011

New York Yankees: Jesus Montero and the Midseason Prospect Rankings

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    Near the end of February, Baseball America released the highly anticipated 2011 Top 100 Prospects Rankings, where the Yankees found six prospects ranked and four in the Top 50.

    Yesterday afternoon, they released their Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, and while some players jumped up the charts, the news was not great for all of them.

Gary Sanchez

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    Preseason Rank: 30

    Midseason Rank: Out of top 50

    Difference: minus-20 (at least)

    Eighteen-year-old catching prospect Gary Sanchez is struggling in his first season with the Single-A Charleston Riverdogs and falls out of the top 50.

    In 58 games, Sanchez is hitting only .239 with eight HR and 30 RBI. More troubling is his inability to make contact—in 213 AB, Sanchez is striking out almost 32 percent of the time.

    His defense, while still a work in progress, does seem to be improving—Sanchez has a .981 fielding percentage behind the plate and is throwing out 36 percent of would-be base-stealers.

    In only his second professional season, Sanchez still has plenty of time to work out the kinks before the Yankees need to start being concerned.

Dellin Betances

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    Preseason Rank: 43

    Midseason Rank: 26

    Difference: plus-17

    After talking about Dellin Betances just over a week ago, the 23-year-old righty still has outstanding numbers for the Double-A Trenton Thunder—4-3, 2.62 ERA, 75.2 IP, 54 H, 40 BB, 86 K, 1.24 WHIP.

    His control issues are still a concern—of his last 10 starts, five have seen him issue four walks or more.

    Judging by his jump in the rankings, those issues are not expected to be long-lasting and the projections of him as a front-of-the-rotation starter are accurate.

Manuel Banuelos

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    Preseason Rank: 41

    Midseason Rank: 13

    Difference: plus-28

    Manny Banuelos makes the biggest jump amongst Yankee prospects, rising almost 30 spots to a cozy home right outside the Top-10.

    For Double-A Trenton, the 20-year-old lefty has been solid, but not spectacular—3-2, 3.28 ERA, 74 IP, 70 H, 39 BB, 70 K, 1.47 WHIP.

    Allowing nearly a hit per inning and having a WHIP hovering near 1.50 is concerning,  but not enough to keep Banuelos from rising past pitchers previously ranked higher then him, including Mike Montgomery of the Kansas City Royals and Arodys Vizcaino of the Atlanta Braves.

    Like Betances, the future remains bright for the second of the "Killer B's" to make the list and he too still projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter.

Jesus Montero

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    Preseason Rank: 3

    Midseason Rank: 8

    Difference: minus-five

    Still ranked in the Top-10, Jesus Montero finds himself headed the wrong way in the rankings.

    Offensively, Montero does not have much left to show in the minor leagues—Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted back in May that Montero was bored in Triple-A, a topic recently discussed by fellow Bleacher Report columnist Rich Stowe.

    It is not where Montero is having a terrible season—far from it. Montero is batting .289 with seven HR and 33 RBI.

    Unfortunately for Montero, those are not the types of numbers people expect from a player some opined was more prepared to face big-league pitching than any other prospect in the minor leagues.

    His oft-criticized defense has actually been fairly solid—he has a .995 fielding percentage—though his questionable game-calling ability coupled with watching 83 percent of steal attempts on him succeed leaves much to be desired.

    Montero's future is beginning to cloud just a bit, and it may be beneficial for both he and the Yankees if he was to spend time in the Bronx as a DH/emergency catcher, if for no other reason than to prove that he can in fact hit big league pitching while restoring his potentially dwindling trade value.

     



The Remaining Prospects from the Top 100

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    The other two Yankees prospects who we ranked in the Preseason Top 100—catcher Austin Romine and pitcher Andrew Brackman—find themselves going in opposite directions.

    Ranked No. 78 heading into the season, Brackman is having a downright terrible season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

    His numbers: 2-6, 7.96 ERA, 63.1 IP, 66 H, 51 BB, 53 K, 1.85 WHIP.

    It may be time for Brackman to head back to Double-A to have some success and to regain his confidence, which must be shot at this point.

    Without question, Brackman has fallen far out of the Top 100.

    No. 98 heading into the season, the 22-year-old Romine is set to take part in his second consecutive Eastern League All-Star Game as well as the MLB Future's Game at next week's MLB All-Star festivities.

    Recently returned from a concussion, Romine is hitting .294 with four HR and 35 RBI. His defense has improved, shown by a career-best .995 fielding percentage while he is throwing out 26 percent of would-be base stealers.

    Romine surely has risen up the ranks, and I would speculate that he would be ranked in the low 70's or high 60's as we reach the midway point of the 2011 season.