Up until 2010, the New York Yankees and the words ‘Farm System’ were rarely used in the same sentence.
Just as the Yankees do with everything and anything, the task of building up a reputable farm system was met with relentless determination to do whatever it took to be deemed one of the best.
As I go through a zillion stats and video clips, some prospects stood out more than others.
Based on all my tireless research and notes from whom I liked down in Tampa, I present my New York Yankees All-Prospect Team.
This list covers all fielding positions and the DH, but not pitching as that talent deserves it’s own article.
**SIDE NOTE: The Yankees looked for certain distinct traits during the 2009-2010 drafts, as they grabbed more overall athletic players with risk, instead of grabbing guys with more definite talent but less upside. This seemed to baffle other teams scouts, as it made no sense when the Yankees could have waited and gotten a majority of these youngsters in later rounds.
Either the Yankees front office is trying to build a young bench, while hoping one or two turn into Brett Gardners’…. OR they will be used as pure trade-bait with no intentions of ever making them the future of the Yankees. Most of these prospects have the potential to be legitimate players, but getting them there is another story. This is purely just my opinion.
CATCHER: Gary Sanchez
The Yankees gave Sanchez $3 million to obtain his talents, but that is a lot of money for a teenager and it can bring distractions. If Sanchez continues to work hard he will be a premier catcher and hitter in the majors.
Sanchez is 6’2″ and 190 pounds, which is a great size to be efficient behind the plate. He has advanced defensive skills, a strong throwing arm but he needs continual practice to perfect using them all together.
He already has above average power offensively and as Sanchez matures physically, so should his bat. Whether Sanchez can mentally stay in check through it all could be his greatest downfall, but my bet is in 2010 he will be one of the top five prospects in baseball.
DH/1B: Jesus Montero
Sorry, but I just don’t see Jesus Montero remaining behind the plate as a catcher. Especially if he stays in pinstripes it just isn’t happening, with all the talent the Yankees have at his position.
This spring did not help the highly coveted Montero’s reputation that he could hit or play defense. It was really ugly and defensively Montero is not a natural catcher, especially standing at 6’5″ and 230 pounds.
Montero has proven himself enough with his bat in the minors to be rated one of the top ten prospects across baseball. I bet some people might have a different vote post-Spring Training.
Montero will be my DH/1B, but that is all. My guess is Montero will never see the Bronx in any other role than as a DH. Montero could possibly, yet highly unlikely be manning first-base down the road too.
There is no other 1B prospect down on the Yankee farm that provides a bat like Montero’s. He can manage first-base just as well as any other youngster because he can hit and this team needs some reliable power.
Should I take that last sentence back??
No, only because these players are all so underdeveloped and this is part of the learning curve to get to the bigs.
Second baseman Corban Joseph is said to have the best bat of all the Yankee prospects, behind Jesus Montero.
Even though the Yankees have another 2B prospect, David Adams, who is better defensively, he has been injury prone. Other then his plus arm, Adams is average or below Joseph in most other categories but not by much. He was the player that hindered the Mariners decision on trading Cliff Lee.
Joseph is not ideal either but with hard work, along with hitting the gym to build strength he could be a good second baseman who can hit.
3B: Brandon Laird
Laird keeps defying odds, as scouts have always wondered if this kid could really make it to the bigs.
Through hard work and constantly improving himself, has shut his naysayers up. The only thing he really needs to improve is his patience at the plate because when he is in the zone Laird can hit for power, as well as average.
Laird won the 2010 Eastern League MVP award and his big brother, Gerald, is currently a MLB catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. I presume as a back up to Molina.
SHORTSTOP: Cito Culver
Most scouts wondered why the Yankees took shortstop Cito Culver in the first round of the 2010 draft. Admittedly, I agreed at the time because Culver’s bat was not even close to being where his defensive abilities were.
The only other shortstop the Yankees ever drafted out of high school was Derek Jeter, so whatever they saw must have been dynamite. Culver, like Jeter is a natural athlete and has baseball instincts. Cito is an above-average defender, with a better than plus arm. But I am sure the fact that he is a switch-hitter got the Yankee scouts dreaming big things.
After reading about Culver, I was in tears. This kid has been literally through hell and back, but baseball remained a constant and an escape from harsh realities.
Culver’s father is in jail for burning down the family’s home on Easter back in 2008. Mr. Culver will remain behind bars for at minimum another six years. Cito, his mother and sisters managed to escape.
Culver is a special kid, who works hard and he wants to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees. Well, I think this young man will go get it.
OF: Slade Heathcott
Outfielder Slade Heathcott is described as Austin Jackson, but with way more potential.
So, that obviously means Heathcott strikes-out a ton, is a naturally incredible athlete and will probably be in another uniform before Yankee fans ever get to see him in the Bronx.
Heathcott really shines defensively and is slated as one of the best defensive outfielders in the minors.
Just like the other OF’s on my list, Heathcott likes playing center and, of the three, he would probably get the job first because of his plus-plus-plus throwing arm.
Heathcott has a thick build and is speedy, like Brett Gardner but a tad taller at 6’1″. Heathcott hits with more power, but doesn’t come near having the same eye at the plate that Gardner retains.
Like so many youngsters, Heathcott is a strikeout machine, which he needs to work on. Look for Heathcott to be a sweet part of a trade package for an arm before the All-Star break.
OF: Mason Williams
Nineteen-year old Yankee prospect Mason Williams weighs only a 150 pounds, but earned the biggest signing bonus of any Yankee prospect in 2010, a check for $1.45 million.
Williams is another terrific athlete who is said to resemble Brett Gardner, as that seemed to be a high priority on the Yankees 2010 drafting list. Williams is fast, or some say will be faster than Gardy, but he has the same approach at the plate, patient and hits a lot of line drives. Williams is also a lefty batter.
Williams is so young still and one big problem is he can’t read signals on the bases, so some scouts have deemed him reckless.
This guy could emerge, a better version of Gardner or not at all, as it is way to early to tell just yet. He needs to utilize getting more experience and adding some muscle to his skinny, 6′”1 frame is a must too.
Williams’ father is an ex-NFL player, I read somewhere that his last stint was with the Patriots, so athletic genes are in this kids blood already.
OF: Melky Mesa
Outfielder Melky Mesa reminds me of a young Brett Gradner. Just shy of being a true five-tool player but has more power with the bat. He plays right field, but, like Gardy, can easily fill in as center and get the job done.
Some say his form is like Alfonso Soriano’s but I think this comparison has more to do with his 6′”1 and 165 pound-frame, which the Yankees are hoping will grow to give him more strength in general. His arm and power are both above average
Mesa is a step away from being a complete five-tool player, and his plate patience causes him to strike out a lot. Hello BJ Upton. Still, Mesa is currently on the team’s 40-man roster, but I don’t think we will see him in the Bronx just yet, unless he improves his offensive dramatically.
This is a big year for Mesa to either make it or break it—and the Yankees are watching closely.
- Youth Movement: Trenton’s Banuelos, Romine Could See Yankee Stardom Soon (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- New York Yankees Rumors: Need A Catcher, Call A Molina (ladylovespinstripes.com)
- Interview with Mark Newman, New York Yankees Vice President for Baseball Operations (minorleagueball.com)
- Some questions face improved Yanks’ farm system (nypost.com)
- New York Yankees: Catching Decisions Based on Trade Value, Not Performance (bleacherreport.com)
- New York Yankees Send Jesus Montero Packing, Then Lie About Why (bleacherreport.com)
- MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing Each Top Yankees Prospect’s Odds of Being Moved (bleacherreport.com)