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New York Yankees 2010 Minor League Review
Overall farm rankings via Baseball America (2010)
2010 (18) | 2009 (15) | 2008 (5) | 2007 (7) | 2006 (17) | 2005 (24) | 2004 (27)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [95 – 67] AL East
AAA: [85 – 56] International League – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
AA: [83 – 59] Eastern League – Trenton
A+: [78 – 57] Florida League – Tampa
A: [65 – 74] South Atlantic – Charleston
A(ss): [34 – 40] New York – Pennsylvania League – Staten Island
R: [24 – 32] Gulf League

The Run Down
For as much as the media lambasts the Yankees receive for trading their prospects, they have a wealth of talent that is often ignored. The Yankees didn’t make too many trades during the season, it was the preseason trade of Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson that shook the 2009-2010 offseason. In July, the Yankees received Lance Berkman for Mark Melancon and Jimmy Peradas – this was the most talent lost in a trade during the season. Zach McAllister to the Indians in the Austin Kearns deal was about getting the most value for McAllister who has a declining a strikeout rate, and it wasn’t great in the beginning (7.0 K/9 for career, but 6.0 K/9 in 139 innings at Double-A). The Yankees have one of the best hitting prospects in the game with Jesus Montero, who, despite having a good year, was pushed off the prospect-hype scene as he struggled out of the gate. There are also a few intriguing arms in the higher minors, and some young arms that will most likely be good trade bait in the upcoming year(s). With an aging squad and questions about pitching, the infusion of young talents, such as Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova, Hector Noesi, David Phelps, and Andrew Brackman may see extensive major league time this year.

Graduating Prospects
(2B/3B) Ramiro Pena

Arizona Fall League Players – Phoenix Desert Dogs
Pitchers: (RHP) Craig Heyer; (RHP) George Kontos; (RHP) Aaron Pribanic; (RHP) Brian Leach
Hiiters: #2 (C) Austin Romine; #13 (2B) Corban Joseph; (1B/OF) Brandon Laird;

Players of Interest
#1 Jesus Montero | C | D.o.B: 11-28-89 | Stats (AAA): .289/.353/.517 | 453 AB | 58 XBH | 21 Hr | .228 ISO | 0/0 SB/CS | 91:46 K:BB | .319 BABIP
What else is there to say that you haven’t heard. From the 2009 Minor League Review, “Scouts and insiders in the Yankee organization claim that Montero is the best pure hitter since Derek Jeter … [but with] much more power … [defensively] he can’t field … [l]ong 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.” Well, the upcoming year is 2011 and Montero finished the year strong, much like Mark Texiera is known to do. With an ISO of .228, a decent strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a great slash line (.289/.353/.517), Montero didn’t just survive Triple-A at the ripe age of 20 (turned 21 in November), he excelled. Read Grey’s excellent Fantasy Outlook on Montero. (Note from Grey:  That Montero post was from before Russell Martin ended up in the South Bronx.)

#2 Austin Romine | C | D.o.B: 11-22-89 | Stats (AA): 268/.324/.402 | 455 AB | 41 XBH | 10 Hr | .136 ISO | 2/0 SB/CS | 94:37 K:BB | .316 BABIP
Baseball America states he has the “tools to be an average or plus defender.” What are those tools? Good defense, an above-average arm and a “good athlete.” Scouts say he has good raw power but struggles handling velocity, lacks patience at the plate and swing gets long while he needs to add polish. Sounds like another year until Romine sees extensive time at the major leagues. He is still considered the Yankees backstop of the future. Expect a .250 to .270 average in the majors with high strikeouts but 17 to 20 home runs in his prime.

Pitchers
#10 Andrew Brackman | RHP | D.o.B: 12-4-85 | Stats (A+/AA): 8.1 K/9 | 2.5 BB/9 | 140 2/3 IP | 3.90 ERA | 3.12 FIP (A+); 3.32 FIP (AA) | 1.30 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 9.2 H/9 | .354 BABIP (A+); .320 BABIP (AA)
His fastball has been clocked at 99 MPH, but usually sits between 92 to 96 MPH, flashes a plus-plus curveball and his changeup is harder to find than a unicorn. He has great arm strength and is physically what a pitcher should look like. However, as John Sickels says, “[He's] wild … inconsistent … has awkward mechanics.” That might explain his elbow reconstruction surgery. Brackman’s 2010 season was the opposite of his career norm. He had control, he thrived in the mid-minors (Double-A) where he threw 80 2/3 innings, and his lucky was unlucky. I wouldn’t expect Brackman to be a starter in the majors, unless his mechanics have changed drastically. There is power reliever written all over Brackman.

#24 Hector Noesi | RHP | D.o.B: 1-26-87 | Stats (A+/AA/AAA): 8.6 K/9 | 1.6 BB/9 | 160 1/3 IP | 3.20 ERA | 2.20 FIP (A+); 2.99 FIP (AA) | 1.10 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 8.3 H/9 | .319 BABIP (A+); .302 BABIP (AA)
Although Noesi struggled at Triple-A in 18 2/3 innings, this Tommy John survivor has some intriguing potential. Sickels “loves [his] control and velocity combo.” Scouts believe he can add velocity with his easy delivery. Noesie throws a 88 to 92 MPH fastball with good life up in the zone, has a deceptive changeup but his curveball needs to be tighter. I like Noesi as a possible filler, end of the rotation option if Ivan Nova struggles.

#16 Ivan Nova | RHP | D.o.B: 1-12-87 | Stats (AAA): 7.1 K/9 | 3.0 BB/9 | 145 IP | 2.86 ERA | 3.54 FIP | 1.26 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 8.4 H/9 | .298 BABIP
Speaking of Nova, his strong 42 innings in the majors during the 2010 season have people excited about his fantasy sleeper potential. However, a 5.6 K/9 combined with a 3.6 BB/9 and a 4.36 FIP in those innings at the major league level don’t inspire hope, not when they are combined with boring numbers like 7.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 at Triple-A, a 89 to 93 MPH fastball, command that Baseball America states is fringe-average and a changeup that is fringe at best. His ceiling is a number four starter.

#25 David Phelps | LHP | D.o.B: 10-9-86 | Stats (AA/AAA): 8.0 K/9 | 2.0 BB/9 | 158 2/3 IP | 2.50 ERA | 2.44 FIP (AA); 2.92 FIP (AAA) | 1.10 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 7.9 H/9 | .267 BABIP (AA); .337 BABIP (AAA)
Phelps is poised to be a Jon Garland or Joe Saunders at his best. Possessed with a 91 to 95 MPH fastball and good control, a changeup that is below average and a fringe slider; I’m not too excited about Phelps. He is definitely a more valuable real world pitcher than fantasy. He did split his 2010 season at Double-A and Triple-A (88 1/3 IP at AA and 70 1/3 IP at Triple-A). He is a back end starter.

Honorable Mentions
Hitters
Brandon Laird | 1B/3B/OF | D.o.B: 9-11-87 | Stats (AA/AAA): .281/.336/.482 | 531 AB | 55 XBH | 25 Hr | .201 ISO | 2/2 SB/CS | 111:42 K:BB | .315 BABIP (AA); .298 BABIP (AAA)
Laird has a quick bat according to John Sickels. Defensively, he’s average at best when playing third base, above-average at first base with good mobility, and he has a strong, or slightly above-average arm. Sickels states he could be a “surprise success.” That’s what I’m hoping for. Although Laird smashed Double-A pitching, he struggled at Triple-A hitting .246/.268/.344 in 122 at bats. He needs more seasoning.

Pitchers
#6 Manuel Banuelos | LHP | D.o.B: 3-13-91 | Stats (A+/AA): 11.8 K/9 | 3.5 BB/9 | 64 2/3 IP | 2.51 ERA | 1.71 FIP (A+) | 1.22 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 7.5 H/9 | .370 BABIP (A+)
From the archives of Baseball America, “Throws an 88 to 92 MPH fastball and can touch 94 mph in relief, changeup rates as solid-average and curveball is fringy. Good mound presence, poise and makeup. A number three starter who can eat innings.” Made three starts at Double-A in which he lost some control (4.7 BB/9) but strikeouts remained (10.0 K/9).

#28 Dellin Betances | RHP | D.o.B: 3-23-88 | Stats (A+/AA): 11.4 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 85 1/3 IP | 2.11 ERA | 1.83 FIP (A+); 3.97 FIP (AA) | .88 WHIP | .4 Hr/9 | 5.6 H/9 | .272 BABIP (A+); .255 BABIP (AA)
Benefited by great luck (.272 BABIP (A+); .255 BABIP (AA)) during his 17 starts (14 at A+), Betances throws a 93 to 94 MPH fastball that peaks at 97 MPH, a plus-curveball but lacks command – at least in the past. A fair warning: he has also had Tommy John surgery in the past. Also, he has been compared to Daniel Cabrera due to having plus-stuff but not learning how to pitch.

#26 Adam Warren | RHP | D.o.B: 10-25-87 | Stats (A+/AA): 8.4 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 135 1/3 IP | 2.59 ERA | 2.72 FIP (A+); 2.56 FIP (AA) | 1.14 WHIP | .3 Hr/9 | 8.0 H/9 | .302 BABIP (A+); .333 BABIP (AA)
Here is another shout out to a back-end rotation starter, middle reliever, or possible trade bait. Warren throws a 90 to 92 MPH fastball with good command and sinking action, a cutter, solid-average changeup, a slow curveball.

Pat Venditte | RHP/LHP | D.o.B: 6-30-85 | Stats (A+): 10.5 K/9 | 1.7 BB/9 | 72 2/3 IP | 1.73 ERA | 1.88 FIP | .87 WHIP | .2 Hr/9 | 6.1 H/9 | .277 BABIP
The switch-pitcher. He has been kept in the low minors, but not because he hasn’t pitched well. Receiving only two innings of work at Double-A, I’m starting to question if Venditte will ever get a chance to reach the majors. I wrote a Scouting the Unknown back in early September of 2009. It’s a good article, you should check it out. He still needs to prove himself at Double-A. Still an intriguing prospect to watch.

  1. For all the obvious hard work put into an excellent & concise report, it is utter nonsense the W/L record of these pitchers is not included. As long as wins & losses determine which teams make the playoffs at every level of baseball, the discounting of their value is the hubris of numbers nerds whose best strokes are on a calculator & have obviously never played past T-ball.

    Of course -IF one of you genii find a way to have MLB declare the Yankees of the 1960 World Series prove they won, because their stats buried those @#%&*! Pirates. Then, I’m on your side. Forever.

  2. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @JB Early: I ignore the W/L record of minor league pitching prospects because we should be more worried about how they pitch, not if they can win a game. In the low minors where most players games are still developing, what good would stating a 5-5 W/L record help us determine how good of a pitcher he was. Same can be said about all the minor levels, for the top prospects, we are worried about how they perform. Would you rather have a prospect that went 20-6 but with extended metrics of 5.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 with an ERA of 4.25 and a FIP of 5.25 or a prospect that went 8-10 with extended metrics of 9.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, ERA of 3.25 and a FIP of 3.30 at the same level and league? I know who I want. Then again, I also don’t consider myself a numbers nerd, I call myself an interest fan who uses all relevant information available.

  3. I saw Venditte pitch twice at AA, but I feel like one of those times may have been in the playoffs. I’m pretty sure it was September either way. From my recollection, I think they just used him as a LOOGY, or at the very least they only used him for one batter. It was disappointing, but I like his gigantic, freakish glove. They should sell those at the gift shop.

  4. Earl Battey says:
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    @JB Early:

    It is certainly true that some pitchers have earned their reputations by their abilities to win games. Jack Morris comes to mind. He topped several GM/manager surveys in the 80s as the guy they would want to pitch a big game for their teams. He didn’t have the best extended metrics of the era, but he had the makeup to pitch up to the competition and the situation. His 10 shutout innings in game 7 of the ’91 World Series seem to bear that out.

    That said, wins can be a misleading statistic even at the major league level. What do Brett Cecil, Derek Lowe, Clayton Richard and Fausto Carmona have in common? They all won as many or more games than Felix Hernandez last year. That’s at the major league level, where priority one is to win games.

    At the minor league level, priority one is to develop players. If the ace starting pitcher is locked in a scoreless tie after 6 and he’s at his pitch count, he’s getting pulled. If they had a couple of rainouts and they need to get some guys work, he might only go 4. Their managers have no interest in seeing that they get the W if it compromises the overall organizational strategy of developing players so they can contribute at the big league level.

    I’m not a “numbers nerd,” but I realize that minor league wins and losses are only slightly more relevant than the guy’s uniform number.

    Regarding the 1960 World Series, your issue is with Casey Stengel’s game management, not the stats of wins and losses.

  5. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @ChrisV82: If it was in September, it was the playoffs.

    @Earl Battey: Concur.

  6. Bruce says:
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    The Yankees’ catcher of the future is more likely to be Gary Sanchez than Austin Romine. Sanchez (Baseball America’s #2 prospect in the system) is better defensively than Montero (though probably not as good as Romine) but has a MUCH better bat than Romine (again, not as good as Montero’s). Either way, not mentioning him here is a crime, unless you’re specifically excluding him because he has virtually no chance to appear at the Stadium in 2011.

  7. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Bruce: That is essentially the reason I left him out, even in the Honorable Mentions section. Sanchez is 17 and basically played Rookie Ball this past year. I’ve only heard good things about him though.

  8. barker says:
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    JB early = murray chass

    good article stephen

    wins and losses are virtually irrelevant at any level i think felix proved that this year — some people just can’t let go

  9. Brede says:
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    My keeper league is currently having its 1st year player draft. How would you rank Montero, Jennings, Hellickson, Trout, and Ackley now (I looked at the prospect rankings but not sure when that is from)? Thanks!

  10. Stephen

    Stephen says:
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    @Brede: The rankings are as of August 2010. I will be posting a new list shortly. The players you want me to rank depend on what you have or want. I personally would go Montero, Hellickson, Ackley, Jennings, Trout. Trout is low because he is the furthest from the show.

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