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New York Yankees 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2009)
2009 (15) | 2008 (5) | 2007 (7) | 2006 (17) | 2005 (24) | 2004 (27)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [103 – 59] AL East – World Series Champions
AAA: [81 – 60] International League
AA: [69 – 72] Eastern League
A+: [77 – 56] Florida League
A: [74 – 65] South Atlantic
A(ss): [47 – 29] New York – Pennsylvania League
R: [33 – 27] Gulf League

The Run Down
Not that the Yankees had a down year or anything like that. For all you naysayers that claim the Yankees don’t have a good farm system and don’t develop talent, here is news for you. In the trade to acquire Javier Vazquez, they traded Michael Dunn who posted a 12.2 K/9 in 73 1/3 IP this year across Double and Triple-A (though his walk rate nearly double from 2008, coming in at 5.6 BB/9). Oh, and Arodys Vizcaino isn’t a steroid that Alex Rodriguez used, but a flame throwing righty that may be the steal of the deal (like Neftali Feliz was in the Teixeira trade from Atlanta to Texas). Also, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson were traded for improvements at the major league level. The effing Yankees have talent in their farm system, but it usually doesn’t last long enough to develop out into the majors for their team. However, there are a few players that could come take the league by storm with an aging team (Jeter, Posada, and Mariano Rivera) looking to inject some youth. There may never be a true youth movement in the Bronx like the Tampa Bay Rays used to make the World Series in 2008, but this may be the closest they may come for some time.

Graduating Prospects
#7 – (RHP) Alfredo Aceves; #13 – (OF) Brett Gardner; #15 – (RHP) David Robertson; (SS) Ramiro Pena; (RHP) Jonathan Albaladejo

Arizona Fall League Players – Surprise Rafters
Pitchers – Grant Duff, Micheal Dunn (traded to Atlanta), Ian Kennedy (traded to Arizona), Zach Kroenke
Hitters – (C) Austin Romine, (1B) Brandon Laird, (OF) Colin Curtis

Players of Interest
Hitters
#2 – Jesus Montero | C | A+/AA | 19 | .337/.389/.562 | 347 AB | 25 2B | 17 HR | .225 ISO | 47:28 K:BB | .357 BABIP | 40.6 GB% | 18.8 LD% | 39.9 FB%
Pujols is a hitting machine, Jeter is clutch, and Montero is just another hyped catcher (I am looking at you Wieters, no, check that, J.R. Towles). All right, Jesus Montero may not be Towles, but he isn’t Jesus either, that is reserved for Babe Ruth. Scouts and insiders in the Yankee organization claim that Montero is the best pure hitter developed by the Yankees since Derek Jeter, albeit with much more power. Another thing in common with Jeter – he can’t field. Maybe not quite fair to Jeter who, by UZR standards, had a much better year than anyone could have imagined. I could reference a whole bunch of stats, however, all of them point to him pounding the ‘roids out of the ball and simply raking. His splits between High-A and Double-A were nearly identical. He needs more at-bats in the minors and should provide depth come September. Long term he is a DH, not a catcher, especially with Austin Romine just a step behind Montero. Keep your expectations for 2010 in check. 2011, that’s a different story.

#4 – Austin Romine | C | A+ | 20 | .276/.322/.441 | 441 AB | 28 2B | 13 HR | .165 ISO | 11/5 SB/CS | 78:29 K:BB | .303 BABIP | 42.1 GB% | 12.8 LD% | 45.1 FB%
Speaking of Romine, here is the future back stop of the Yankees. He plays good defense, has a strong arm, but lacks some technique that he is working on. Furthermore, he has good power potential, think 20 to 25 homers, and puts the ball into play. With Jorge Posada’s contract ending in 2011, Romine and Montero both look to be on track to filling that void.

Pitchers
#6 – Zach McAllister | RHP | AA | 21 | 7.1 K/9 | 2.5 BB/9 | 121 IP | 2.23 ERA | 3.22 FIP | 1.08 WHIP | .3 HR/9 | .279 BABIP | 47.5 GB% | 13.3 LD% | 33.3 FB%
The Yankees, um, yanked McAllister around more than Chip Caray lied during the 2009 playoffs. Once he told the Yankees to eff off and let him use his “natural” pitches, McAllister rocked the minor leagues. With a mid 90’s fastball (92 to 94 mph), a two-seam fastball that has hard tailing and sinking action (89 to 91 mph) and a slider. He relies more on ground balls and control than strikeouts and overpowering hitters. Across the board, his ground ball rate was good (47.5%) and he limited hard hit balls (13.3 LD%). Look for McAllister to begin at Triple-A next year and possibly a midseason call up if the Yankees start to have a rash of injuries, or if the Yankees need to trade someone.

#9 – Mark Melancon | RHP | AAA | 24 | 9.2 K/9 | 1.9 BB/9 | 53 IP | 2.89 ERA | 2.69 FIP | .91 WHIP | .5 HR/9 | .258 BABIP | 58.2 GB% | 12.8 LD% | 26.4 FB%
A lot of the articles I read about Melancon say that he will be placed in the bullpen and is the heir to Rivera’s closer job. Touching 95 mph with his fastball (usually sits between 91 and 94 mph), a power curve and a marginal changeup is reminiscent of Joe Nathan. Relying heavily on the ground ball (58.2% this year and 57.6% in 157 career innings), Melancon is the antonym of melancholy. Don’t lie, you were all thinking of that word the whole time! Oh, and for what it’s worth, it’s been said that he has “the closer mentality.”

#24 – D.J. Mitchell | RHP | A/A+ | 22 | 8.0 K/9 | 2.8 BB/9 | 140 1/3 IP | 2.63 ERA | 2.85 FIP | 1.20 WHIP | .1 HR/9 | .308 BABIP | 62 GB% | 7.1 LD% | 22.9 FB%
Mitchell wasn’t always a starter, at Clemson he played outfield during his freshman year. It was only during his sophomore year that he began pitching. Consequently, his pitches aren’t as refined as other pitchers. His two-seam fastball has natural tailing action, “the arm speed” for a solid curve, and a changeup that is potentially a plus pitch. Although his ranking seems low, an impressive showing this year, sky rockets his ranking (near the top 10, if not in the top 10). Think Joel Pinero’s 2009 season stats with more strikeouts and you have D.J. Mitchell’s 2009 season. Very few players made solid contact (7.1 LD%) or lifted the ball in the air (22.9 FB%) while keeping the ball sustainably (.308 BABIP) on the ground (62 GB%). Watch for this name to rise to the top of pitching prospect discussions.

Honorable Mentions
Hitters
David Adams | 2B | A/A+ | 22 | .286/.373/.443 | 490 AB | 40 2B | 8 3B | 7 HR | .157 ISO | 11/8 SB/CS | 88:61 K:BB | .340 BABIP | 42.4 GB% | 19.1 LD% | 38.2 FB%
Not that the Yankees lacked top end prospects, but they traded many away that were closer to the majors. Adams isn’t anything more than organizational depth at this time.  Adams laced the ball into the gaps (40 doubles) while providing good plate discipline and adequate defense at second, and occasionally spelling his third base teammate for a few games. Nothing special, but worth noting for those looking DEEP for MI help.

#30 – Abraham Almonte | CF | A | 20 | .280/.333/.391 | 440 AB | 14 2B | 10 3B | 5 HR | .111 ISO | 36/5 SB/CS | 81:35 K:BB | .334 BABIP | 52.8 GB% | 16 LD% | 30.9 FB%
This is all SAGNOF. A plus is that he plays good defense, according to his scouting report.

Pitchers
#14 – Manuel Banuelos | LHP | A/A+ | 18 | 8.8 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 109 IP | 2.64 ERA | 2.93 FIP | .3 HR/9 | .284 BABIP | 43.6 GB% | 14.5 LD% | 33.6 FB%
I contemplated putting him up above in the other section, then I noticed that he only pitched in ONE inning at High-A. Age is on his side and the management claims he is on the fast track.

Pat Venditte | RHP/LHP | A/A+ | 24 | 11.6 K/9 | 1.5 BB/9 | 67 1/3 IP | 1.87 ERA | 2.07 FIP | .3 HR/9 | .353 BABIP | 43.2 GB% | 16.1 LD% | 36.7 FB%
Who doesn’t like a switch pitching reliever? I wrote about Venditte in a Scouting the Unknown back in early September. It’s a good article, you should check it out. Next year at Double-A will be the true test to see if he can turn his gimmick into something for all to see in the media disaster, I mean, media frenzy that is New York City.

From Around The Web

  1. brett says:
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    Where do the ranking numbers come from? Last year’s baseball america rankings?

  2. Stephen says:
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    @brett: Yeah, they are coming from the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. The 2010 edition doesn’t come out until February 23rd.

  3. brett says:
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    Ah, right on. It caught my eye that Montero wasn’t #1.

    And it goes without saying, but just thinking of Pat Vanditte makes me giddy. I don’t usually like complaining about the Yankees but it’s almost unfair that he’s not on a some smaller market team somewhere.

  4. Joe says:
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    I see that you are going by the teams ranking. Can you please tell me the rest of the team ranking?

  5. Stephen says:
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    @Joe: That would take all the fun out of the remaining teams. If you go through all the teams that I have done, you should be left with 14. I will tell you number 14 – Cincinnati Reds. Now you just have 13 more teams to try and find. For a fun game, try to rank the remaining 13.

    @brett: Montero is easily their number one prospect right now. Venditte is one of my favorite prospects right now. But for reasons far beyond fantasy baseball.

  6. Joe says:
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    14- Cincinnati Reds
    13- Minnesota Twins
    12- Los Angeles Angels
    11-Baltimore Orioles
    10-San Francisco
    9- Florida Marlins
    8-Boston Red Sox
    7- St. Louis Cardinals
    6- Atlanta Braves
    5- Cleveland Indians
    4- Oakland Athletics
    3- Seattle Mariners
    2- Tampa Bay Rays
    1- Texas Rangers

  7. Stephen says:
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    @Joe: Very close actualy. There are a few teams that I have already mentioned (Twins, Seattle and LAA) and you got three of the top five correct, but only one in the right slot (Texas is #1, Oakland and Tampa Bay are in the top five too). You also got number six right (Atlanta). Don’t forget about KC, PHI, and MIL. Remember, these are pre-2009 season rankings. Thus, many trades aren’t reflected (Lee to Seattle and Philly), Halladay to Philly, etc.

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