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New York Yankees: 10 Most Highly-Touted Prospects Since 1990

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IINovember 25, 2011

New York Yankees: 10 Most Highly-Touted Prospects Since 1990

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    The New York Yankees have been known for buying all of their players via free agency instead of bringing up young talent from their farm system. And while the Yankees have been very active in free agency and trades, they have brought up some very good players, with some of their prospects becoming stars while some have not.

    International players who spent less than one season in the minor leagues, such as Hideki Matsui, will not be listed.

    Lets see who the are Yankees' 10 most highly touted prospects since 1990.

Honorable Mention: Alfonso Soriano

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 16

    Career Stats:
    .274/.323/.506, .829 OPS, 340 HR, 927 RBI, 264 SB

    Accolades:
    Seven-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, 40/40 Club

    Alfonso Soriano was signed out of Japan by the Yankees in 1998, becoming one of the best players in the majors by hitting .300 with 39 home runs, 102 runs batted in and 41 stolen bases in 2002.

    After five seasons with the Yankees, though, he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.

    Alfonso Soriano will always be known for not living up to his eight-year $136 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, but in the end he had a very successful career.

10. Bernie Williams

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 11

    Career Stats:
    .297/.381/.477, .858 OPS, 287 HR, 1,257 RBI, 147 SB

    Accolades:
    Four-time World Series champ, five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove, one-time Silver Slugger

    Bernie Williams was a great center fielder for the Yankees. Not only was he a great defender, but he was also excellent at the plate.

    Bernie Williams was a part of a core of players—including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada—that led the Yankees to the dynasty of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    Was Bernie Williams a bust? Absolutely not.

9. Drew Henson

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 9

    Career Stats:
    .111/.111/.111, .222OPS, 0HR, 0RBI, 0SB

    Accolades:
    None

    Drew Henson was drafted in the third round of the 1998 MLB Draft by the Yankees.

    In 2000 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Danny Neagle and then in 2001 he was traded back to the Yankees for Wily Mo Pena.

    Henson played 2 games in New York and recored one hit in three at-bats before he retired and went to the NFL.

    He never really got a chance to prove his skill but he was definitely a bust.

8. Jose Contreras

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 6

    Career Stats:
    1154.1 IP, 77-67, 3.86 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 869 K, 418 BB

    Accolades:
    One-time World Series champ, one-time All-Star

    Jose Contreras was a Cuban defector that signed with the Yankees in 2002. Contreras only spent one-and-a-half seasons with the Yankees before being traded to the Chicago White Sox for Esteban Loaiza.

    While Contreras has had a decent career, he did not live up to the hype that surrounded him when he signed with the Yankees.

7. Nick Johnson

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 5

    Career Stats:
    .270/.401/.443, .844 OPS, 91 HR, 387 RBI, 27 SB

    Accolades:
    None 

    Nick Johnson had a promising 2003 season by hitting .284/.422/.472, .894 OPS in 324 plate appearances, but he was traded in 2004—along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate—for Javier Vazquez.

    Nick Johnson later came back to New York in 2010 for one season.

    Nick Johnson did not fulfill his lofty expectations, but I would rather have Johnson than Javier Vazquez.

6. Derek Jeter

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 4

    Career Stats:
    .313/.383/.449, .832 OPS, 240 HR, 1196 RBI, 339 SB

    Accolades:
    Five-time World Series champ, 12-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove, four-time Silver Slugger, two-time Hank Aaron Award, one-time All-Star MVP, one-time World Series MVP, Rookie of the Year, 3,000-Hit Club

    There isn't much to say about Derek Jeter that you do not already know.

    He is one of the best shortstops of all-time and, in my opinion, one of the top 10 Yankees of all-time.

    Derek Jeter more than fulfilled his high expectations and, luckily, was not traded like some of the Yankees' other top prospects.

5. Phil Hughes

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 4

    Career Stats:
    443.2 IP, 36-23, 4.46 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 370 K, 157 BB

    Accolades:
    One-time World Series champ, one-time All-Star

    Phil Hughes has had a very complicated yet short major-league career, being shuffled back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen.

    Phil Hughes had an injury-riddled 2011 season, but he showed his potential during the season.

    Phil Hughes is only 25 years old, so he has time to improve and I will not label him as a bust just yet—but as of now, Hughes has not lived up to the hype.

4. Joba Chamberlain

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 3

    Career Stats:
    382 IP, 20-13, 65 HLD, 3.70 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 386 K, 150 BB 

    Accolades:
    One-time World Series champ 

    Just like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain has been shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen, which some people believe ruined his vast potential.

    Chamberlain showed his potential by posting a 2.60 ERA in 100.1 innings in 2008 and a 2.83 ERA in 2011 before he tore his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery.

    If Chamberlain can come back from Tommy John surgery and the Yankees give him stability in either the rotation or the bullpen, Chamberlain can become a very good major league pitcher.

3. Jesus Montero

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 3

    Career Stats:
    .328/.406/.590, .996 OPS, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB

    Accolades:
    None

    Is Jesus Montero really a prospect? Even though he looked like the superstar we all hoped he would be in September and October, Montero should hit for power the other way and put the ball in play on a consistent basis.

    There is no way to know how Montero will perform in his first full season in the majors, but watch out, because Montero has the upside to be a .320, 40 HR, 120 RBI hitter.


2. Ruben Rivera

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 2

    Career Stats:
    .216/.307/.393, .700 OPS, 64 HR, 203 RBI, 50 SB 

    Accolades:
    One-time World Series champ

    Ruben Rivera was supposed to be a star in the majors when the Yankees signed him out of Panama in 1990, but he only lasted 46 games as a Yankee before being traded to the San Diego Padres—along with Rafael Medina and $3 million—for Homer Bush, Gordon Amerson, Vernon Maxwell and Hideki Irabu.

    Ruben Rivera never lived up to his hype in the majors.

1. Brien Taylor

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    Highest Baseball America Ranking: 1

    Career Stats:
    Never reached the majors.

    Accolades:
    None

    There is not much to say about Brien Taylor. He was picked by the Yankees first overall in 1991 and considered the best prospect in all of baseball before dislocating his shoulder and tearing the labrum in his throwing arm when he tried to protect his brother during a fight.

    Is it fair to call Taylor a bust when it was a fluke injury that ended his career? No, but I will always wonder what could have been.

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