It’s no state secret that the New York Yankees farm system hasn’t exactly been cranking out top tier talent since around 2000, nor has it slipped everyone’s notice that once they’ve drafted guys a precious few have actually developed into bonafide stars.
Between playing in the post-season virtually every year and ensuring they are drafting at the bottom of every round, sacrificing high draft picks as compensation for free agent signings, injuries to vital prospects and flat out bust the years have not been kind to the Bronx Bombers on this front.
Over the next week I am going to go through the Top 20 or so prospects in the system, offer a little scouting report and try to prognosticate their future.
Without further ado & in no particular order:
Manny Banuelos, LHP, Starter
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Fastball: 6/7| Curveball: 6/7 | Changeup: 5/6 | Control: 5/7 | Overall: 5/7
Banuelos was on the cusp of making the Yankees back in 2011 as one of the most exciting left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, but when he reached Triple-A in 2011, he lost some of his feel for pitching and his command disappeared. It turns out he had lost some feeling in his arm and eventually needed, and had, Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2013 season as a result, but he’s still young enough to bounce back from this as many pitchers have done in the past.
When he’s healthy and around the plate, Banuelos boasts three above-average-to-plus offerings. The left-hander’s fastball registers in the 89-95 mph range and seemingly explodes out of his hand. His breaking ball features late, downward bite and generates a ton of swing-and-misses. He also features a great changeup that maintains its decpetion and features a nice downward break.
One of the things you heard people say about the young man before the injury was “the kid doesn’t just ‘throw’, he ‘knows how to pitch'”. Because of that he has as good a chance as any to come back from this setback and be a solid major league pitcher.
Michael Pineda, RHP, Starter
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Fastball: 7/8 | Slider: 7/8 | Changeup: 4/6 | Control: 4/6 | Overall: 6/7
I know, with a year in MLB already under his belt he isn’t a “true prospect” but with him coming off an injury and some significant time back in the minors rehabbing it’s what he kind of feels like.
He is thick, he is quite the physical specimen at 6’6″/255 pounds and his stuff is good.
His fastball, even after injury is sitting at around 92-93, topping out at 95-96 with a natural cut to it and his slider is just absolutely filthy. It is every bit the “wipeout slider” it was advertised to be.
He needs better feel for his offspeed stuff but everything else is so good we’ve already seen he rack up 170 incredibly solid innings at the MLB level in 2011.
His mechanics were sketchy and unrefined, likely leading to the injury he sustained, but he refined his delivery quite a bit over the course of last season in the minors so now it’s a matter of just being consistent with his motion.
His ceiling is through the roof and the only thing that will hold him back will be his health.
Jose Campos, RHP, Starter/Reliever
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Fastball: 5/6 | Curveball: 5/7 | Changeup: 4/6 | Control: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
When the New York Yankees traded Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda more than a handful of folks, myself included, thought that the best player in the deal might be the “throw in guy” Seattle sprinkled on top, right-hander Jose Campos.
And indeed, for the first six months or so of the deal it appeared so. Montero was the 2d worst catcher in MLB (based on WAR), Noesi was the 3d worst starter in the game and Pineda suffered an injury in spring training, cutting his season short before it even began.
But then, tell me where you heard this before, an injury occurred. He suffred from “elbow irritation” and was shut down for the final four months of 2012.
In 2013 he was able to come back and post a quality season, though the Yankees seemed to keep a close eye on his workload.
His fastball, which once sat around 95 and topped out near 97, now sits comfortably at 91-93, topping out around 94-95 with very good control.
His curveball shows flashes of its former greatness but needs more consistent depth and power, something that will come with an increased workload and the opportunity to use it more often.
He is confident in his changeup but it suffers frm the same inconsistency as his hook. The good news is, he isn’t afraid to throw it which means that given enough innings he can get the feel back for it.
While he’s lost some of his upside Campos remains a very polished young pitcher, as evidenced by the fact he walked on 4% of the batters he faced in 2013. He has a good delivery, keeps his balance and rhythm throughout it and does a great just of repeating his release point.
At 21 he can still regain some of his velocity or polish his other skills even more to reclaim his once lofty status as a top-tier prospect.
Gary Sanchez, Bats: Right/Throws: Right, C
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Hit: 4/6 | Power: 5/7 | Run: 2/3 | Arm: 7/7 | Field: 4/6 | Overall: 5/6
Sanchez has been described as being “from the same forest as Joe Mauer, maybe even the same tree.”
Stuff like that puts you squarely on the radar and once the Yankees gave him $3 million to sign out of the Dominican Republic the kid was sitting squarely in the spotlight.
He has above-average raw power and his approach at the plate has improved, albeit slower than I like, giving him the chance to be an outstanding all-around hitter.
His catcher skills need some work/refinement but his arm and its accuracy have never been a cause for concern. Simply put: He’s got an accurate cannon.
Given time to learn the craft of handling a staff and calling the games there is absolutely no ceiling on this guy, hence his Number 2 ranking among all MLB catching prospects.
Eric Jagielo, Bats: Left/Throws: Right, 3B
Scouting Grades (on 1 to 8 scale, present/future): Hit: 4/6 | Power: 4/6 | Run: 3/3 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
When the one man carnival act known as
A-fraud A-rod is your 3B you just know that everyone will be keeping an eye on your hot corner prospects. Fortunately for the Yankees they’ve got themselves a good one.
Left-handed hitting third basemen are always a hot commodity in the Bronx, so when Jagielo carried over a strong Cape Cod League season into his junior year at Notre Dame, he became a sure-fire first-rounder, one who could eventually man the hot corner for the Yankees in the not-too-distant future.
He has good pop to all fields and should hit for both average and power in the future.
While some thought his limitations with the leather would force a move to 1B, Jagielo showed good defensive improvement in 2013 and answered some of those questions. The Yankees certainly had no plans to move him and he should fit the profile of a run-producing third baseman very well.
Here’s a sample of what others are saying about him.
- Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com: “Another good looking college bat, Jagielo had a very strong Cape League season, finishing second in the summer circuit in home runs. He has legitimate power from the left side of the plate and as he showed with wood bats over the summer and then into his junior year, it should play just fine at the next level.”
- John Sickels, Minor League Ball: “Scouts seem more comfortable with his glove now, but (teams) could still slot him at first base and he’ll have the bat for the position.”
Look for “Evaluating Yankees Prospects: The Good, The (Not So) Bad & The Ugly (Injuries), Part 2 of 4” tomorrow.
Months later, Darvish still hasn’t commented on the matter.
But that hasn’t stopped MLB teams from scouting him and dreaming of how he might fare near the top of a big league starting rotation.
In late June, Rangers GM Jon Daniels headed to Japan to see Darvish for himself. Many other front office executives have done the same. And every major league club is at least keeping some form of tabs on the 6-foot-5 right-hander.
Darvish registered a 1.82 ERA as a rookie in 2007, a 1.88 ERA in 2008, a 1.73 ERA in 2009, and a 1.78 ERA in 2010. This season, he is 13-2 with a miniscule 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Even with Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s failures, Darvish stands to make millions upon millions if he agrees to test out the posting process. He is Japan’s highest-paid player at $6 million annually. In the U.S., he could easily double that.
In fact, I strongly suspect the New York Yankees, despite the nightmare that was Kei Igawa, will move heaven & earth to win the rights to Mr. Darvish’s services.
Simply put, in a market devoid of quality free agent pitching for the next season and change, this is by far the most effective way to upgrade their rotation without having to hand over the keys to their entire farm system.
We have ALL seen the outlandish package the Rockies indicated they wanted for Ubaldo Jimenez and there is rampant speculation about what it would take to pry King Felix away from the Seattle Mariners.
The scenario for either would look something like this:
- The Yankees receive Felix Hernandez or Ubaldo Jimenez…
- The Rockies or Mariners receive Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and/or David Phelps AND Ivan Nova.
I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculously high price to pay for a pitcher, even a top-tier, ace of the staff type guy.
You are giving up 4 or 5 guys who all have the looks of being major league pitchers that range from serviceable/solid to the ace of a staff, while sprinkling a 21 year old with unlimited potential at the dish on top.
Granted, prospects are just prospects until they do something to change that fact, but as a form of currency alone they are worth their weight in gold.
If you make that deal you not only strip your organization of pitching depth, but you also no longer have those trade chips to go out and make other moves that may be necessary down the road.
No, the smart play is to hold onto those young guns and see if one or more of them can be developed into your own ace of the future.
If you are the Yankees especially your best bet is to take the one currency you have in seemingly endless amounts, real currency, and throw great big bags of it at Yu Darvish’s team (and then him) to bolster your rotation should he ever be submitted for the posting process.
It’s a roll of the dice, no doubt about it.
But then again, so is any move you make. Might was well choose the one that would be the least costly should it blow up in your face.