New York Yankees: Comparing the Yankees Top Prospects to Major League Players
Last week I ranked the Yankees top 10 prospects. I explained what I thought about each of them but it is difficult to explain how good somebody is and what their strengths and weakness are without a comparison. It one thing to hear that a player has an electric fastball but if I was to say his fastball is like Justin Verlander's it would be much more descriptive.
Lets compare the Yankees top 10 prospects to current major leaguers.
10. Dante Bichette, Jr
.342/.446/.505, .951 OPS, 3 HR, 47 RBI, 30 BB, 41 K, 3 SB
Good third basemen are very difficult to come across. Good third basemen that can hit .330 without 30 home run potential are even more difficult. Think about it, who are the best third basemen in the majors? Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman come to mind, but all them have hit 30 home runs and none of them have high batting averages.
I might have stretched the rules a bit seeing that Michael Young plays first base and DH now, but in his prime Young played third base and has hit at least .313 six times in his career, including hitting .330 twice.
9. Cito Culver
.250/.323/.337, .660 OPS, 2 HR, 33 RBI, 30 BB, 57 K, 10 SB
Erick Aybar won't wow you with his power or with his batting average, he won't steal 50 bases in a season and doesn't have a great OPS but his defense is impeccable.
That is how I see Cito Culver. I see Culver as a player who can hit leadoff for the Yankees due to his speed and plate discipline have a high on-base percentage, like Brett Gardner.
Many people bash Derek Jeter for having no defense, only a good bat, but when Culver takes over at shortstop for the Yankees he will have an elite glove but not much bat. It may be difficult to transition to life without Jeter in pinstripes, but Culver should make the switch a little easier because Culver looks like the real deal.
8. Adam Warren
152.1 IP, 6-8, 3.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 53 BB, 111 K
If you look at Vogelsong's peripherals you'd wonder how he had a 2.71ERA in 2011. He did not strike many batters out (139, 6.96K/9), walked a lot of batters (61, 3.05BB/9) and had a mediocre 1.25WHIP, yet he became one of the game's elite pitchers of 2011.
If you look at Warren's stats above you'd see the same story, not many strikeouts, a lot of walks and a high WHIP yet his 3.60ERA is very respectable. Both Vogelsong and Warren rely on command of their pitches rather than velocity and "stuff", nether has an atypical "out-pitch" of a starter nor do they hit 95mph on the radar gun, but pinpoint placement allows them to thrive every time they step on the mound.
7. David Phelps
114.1 IP, 7-7, 2.99 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 27 BB, 99 K
I chose Doug Fister, because neither Fister nor Phelps has elite stuff and yet they both find a way to get the job done.
Fister has never struckout more than 146 batters in a season, but he also has never walked more than 37 batters in a season. Phelps is the same way, they both thrive on control of their pitches, not brute force and strikeouts.
6. Slade Heathcott
.279/.347/.437, .784 OPS, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 19 BB, 58 K, 6 SB in 53 games due to injury
Is seems like only yesterday that Melky Cabrera was shipped off to Atlanta for Javier Vazquez. What a mistake. This season Cabrera exploded in Kansas City hitting .305 with 18 home runs and 87 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases.
This is the type of season I can see Slade Heathcott having. He won't wow you with home run after home run, but he will consistently make pitchers pay. In New York he will be overshadowed by Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero, but he will still be a very good outfielder, quite but very good.
5. Austin Romine
.279/.343/.368, .710 OPS, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 32 BB, 63 K, 2 SB
This comparison is a stretch but I did not know who else to compare him to. You would be surprised how difficult it is to find a catcher that is excellent behind the plate but lacking at it. In the end, I decided to pick Weiters because of his Gold Glove defense and his lack of ability to hit for contact.
Austin Romine will win multiple Gold Gloves behind the plate but lets just say he won't win a batting title. I still have hope that he can develop 20 home run power, but unless he works with Kevin Long for a very long time, he will struggle to hit .280 in the majors.
4. Gary Sanchez
.256/.335/.485, .820 OPS, 17 HR, 52 RBI, 36 BB, 93 K, 2 SB
Try to think of a catcher with an excellent bat and Gold Glove defense and Yadier Molina comes to mind first. Both Molina and Sanchez are the complete package, they are just as dynamic behind the plate as they are at it.
While Gary Sanchez is extremely young and raw, he has the potential to not only pass Jesus Montero as the Yankees best catching prospect, but to also become one of the best catchers in all of baseball. He does not have the best plate discipline but as he matures as a hitter he will strikeout less, walk more and drive more fastballs into the stands.
Gary Sanchez has the potential to be a special player, lets just hope his development goes smoothly.
3. Dellin Betances
126.1 IP, 4-9, 3.70 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 70 BB, 142 K
For Betances I tried to stick to right handers only. When I think of Betances I think of a tall right-handed workhorse power pitcher who has some control and consistency issues. That made me think of James Shields straight away.
Shields is 6'5", a righty and has pitched at least 200 innings in five straight seasons. Shields can also has a fastball in the mid-90s that tops out at 97mph but that is not where the similarities end. Shields has also walked at least 50 batters in three straight seasons and has seen his ERA waver, going from 4.84 to 3.56 to 5.18 and then to 2.82 in just six seasons in the majors.
2. Manny Banuelos
129.2 IP, 6-7, 3.75 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 71 BB, 125 K
I looked only at lefty pitchers to compare to Banuelos. Manny Banuelos, like Betances, has dominant stuff but has serious control issues and lets a lot of batters on base. If you thought Shields walked a lot of batters. you should see Gonzalez's stat sheet, he has walked at least 90 batters in his only two full seasons in the majors and has a 1.41 career WHIP.
Despite these issues that Gonzalez shares with Banuelos, they both have electric stuff and have the potential to become premier lefties in the majors. Banuelos, 20, and Gonzalez, 26, are both very young and when they become more mature pitchers look out, because they will be hitter's biggest nightmares.
1. Jesus Montero
2011 Minor League Stats:
.288/.348/.467, .814 OPS, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 36 BB, 98 K, 0 SB
2011 Major League Stats:
.349/.426/.603, 1.029 OPS, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 7 BB, 17 K, 0 SB in 20 games
It wasn't tough to find a power hitting player that can also hit for average to compare to Jesus Montero; Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Matt Kemp could have fit the bill, but to find a player with those skills that also had subpar defensive skills that was destined for first base or DH was much more difficult.
In the end it came down to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, but I decided to pick Cabrera because Fielder has not hit .300 yet in his career and has too much power. I just don't see Montero hitting 50 home runs, even in Yankee Stadium but I do see him hitting up to .320.