New York Yankees 2008 Prospect Report

Baseball America has released their top 10 prospect list for the New York Yankees.  The Yankees were reviewed by John Manuel this time around. For those of you were wondering why Phil Hughes was not included Baseball America uses the following criteria for their lists: "All players who haven’t exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible."  Few things of interest here, this year’s list includes only four players from last year’s list.  Dropping out of the top ten was Dellin Betances, Chris Garcia, J. Brent Cox and Mark Melancon.  Other exclusions include Phil Hughes (who no longer qualifies) and Tyler Clippard who is now a member of the Washington Nationals.  Of the ten prospects three figure into the Yankees immediate plans for 2008.  Marquez, Horne and Gardner will most likely start the season at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and could be used in the bigs if the injury bug or necessity do pop up in 2008.  For those of you who love prospects, the Yankees once again have a lot for you to love. 

Note: Enjoy the list, but remember this is not the report in its entirety.  In order to access the entire report you need to be a subscriber to Baseball America 


New York Yankees Top 10 2008 Prospect List (as provided by Baseball America)

1. Joba Chamberlain: "Scouts chuckle with delight discussing Chamberlain’s raw stuff, and several give him 70 or 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for three different pitches. He reached 100 mph with his fastball as a reliever, and more impressively can sit at 96-97 mph when he starts.  If he remains healthy, Chamberlain has multiple all-star appearances in his future."

2. Austin Jackson: "The best athlete in the system, Jackson stopped fighting himself and let the game and his talent flow last season.  He has developed above-average range in center field as his instincts and reactions have improved, and has a plus arm."

3. Jose Tabata: "He has a natural knack for making consistent hard contact. His wrist problem sapped some of his power, but scouts still project Tabata to have at least average pop, and some even see him more as a slugger than hitter. While he flashes plus speed, he projects as an average runner and right fielder with a solid average arm."

4. Ian Kennedy: "Compared to Mike Mussina because of his similar stretch delivery, Kennedy has less pure stuff than Mussina once did. Kennedy fits a No. 3 or No. 4 starter profile and should fulfill such a role in 2008."

5. Alan Horne: "At times, Horne shows four above-average pitches, starting with a fastball that usually sits at 92-93 mph but also can park at 94-95.  While he has frontline stuff, Horne’s command relegates him to a No. 3 or 4 starter profile."

6. Jesus Montero: "Montero has exceptional raw power to all fields, coupling a discerning eye for a young player with brute strength and bat speed. He has plenty of arm strength for his position and natural leadership ability.  If Montero can remain a catcher, he profiles as a future all-star."

7. Jeff Marquez: "Known as a groundball guy, Marquez works off his power 89-93 mph sinker. His fastball has as much life as any in the system, with excellent run to go with its sink. His changeup and curveball have improved to be solid-average pitches.  Marquez has the chance to become a workhorse groundball machine who fills the No. 3 or 4 slot in a rotation."

8. Bret Gardner: "The fastest prospect in the system, Gardner rates as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and is an adept basestealer, succeeding on 84 percent of his 116 attempts the last two seasons. He uses his speed well defensively with above-average range in center field. The Yankees believe Gardner will hit enough to be a regular and some club officials compare him to Jacoby Ellsbury, which is a stretch."

9. Ross Ohlendorf: "Ohlendorf could be the sinkerballing setup man the Yankees haven’t had since Jeff Nelson’s departure as a free agent in 2000."

10. Andrew Brackman: "A premium athlete, Brackman has as high an upside as any player in the ’07 draft class. He has reached 99 mph with his fastball, which generally sits at 94, and uses his size to drive it downhill. His filthy spike curveball can be a strikeout pitch and has the potential to be an 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale.  He had Tommy John surgery immediately after signing in mid-August. He won’t pitch in his first pro game until 2009."

29 comments… add one
  • “above-average range”
    “average pop”
    “fits a No. 3 or No. 4 starter profile”
    “command relegates him to a No. 3 or 4 starter profile”
    “groundball machine who fills the No. 3 or 4 slot”
    “compare him to Jacoby Ellsbury, which is a stretch”
    #10 “won’t pitch in his first pro game until 2009”
    If the rule of thumb for yankee prospects is that they typically amount to 50% of their hype I hope the steinbrenners are putting slot machines into their new stadium to help capture customers.

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 1:42 pm
  • Ellsbury = singles hitter , No Power at all
    Masterson labeled as bullpen guy in future
    Kalish? White Version of Coco Crisp? hehe
    Bowden = back to end rotation -#4 and #5 January 7, 2008, 2:09 pm
  • “If the rule of thumb for yankee prospects is that they typically amount to 50% of their hype I hope the steinbrenners are putting slot machines into their new stadium to help capture customers.”
    I love how this a yankee specific thing. Prospects flame out everywhere. Furthermore, the article that is being quoted isnt written by a yankee fan rather a well-respected site that covers minor league players exclusively. They have no reason to hype them beyond what the believe them to be. Also, why did you bother to pull out all of the negatives in this article, there are plenty of positives too and the article is directly above your comment.

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 2:28 pm
  • I wouldn’t even know about masterson, kalish and bowden if I did not occasionally read this blog. Since most farmhands, even the rated ones, never get to sniff the majors I don’t see the point in getting emotionally involved with their progress.
    But that said, why are the RS willing to dump 5 of their probably-will-never-be’s for santana, but the yankees will only sacrifice hughes and a known anti-commodity, in cabrera? Why not toss another “3-4 starter”, in kennedy, into the pot, which reportedly would seal the deal? Is this another example of the yankees buying into their own hype, or is baseball america dead wrong by not being overly impressed with him?

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 2:38 pm
  • The first two posts in this thread aren’t worth dignifying. This is the type of stuff we should be avoiding, they add nothing to the site.

    SF January 7, 2008, 2:39 pm
  • 1) Melky is hardly and “anti-commodity”
    2) A number 3-4 starter making the league minimum for the 5 years is nothing to sneeze at. If kennedy develops into a 3-4 starter the yankees will be thrilled, they arent over hyping them its prob. exactly what they expect from him…

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 2:46 pm
  • Why is it everytime I post something I find interesting you decide it isn’t worth “dignifying”? What are you, a blog snob or something?
    The point I thought of, but admittedly posted randomly about, is what happened to the blue chip status of tabata and kennedy? I thought these two were, like, can’t miss kids. Any particular reason for the BA downgrades?

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 2:50 pm
  • “Melky is hardly and “anti-commodity”
    Maybe not but he is a break in the yankee lineup, and I would take coco in CF over him in an instant.

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 2:57 pm
  • “Interesting” and “instructive” don’t need to be mutually exclusive, RSF. Sadly, you seem to think so.
    The ratings for Horne and Ohlendorf surprised me. As I know nothing about the Yanks’ system, I basically just go by what I read here and what I come across when I’m visiting other Yankee-related blogs (mostly during the Santana debates), and my impression of those two pitchers was much higher as a result. It sounds like they might be overvalued by many Yankee fans, much like I think Masterseon is generally overvalued by Sox fans…

    Paul SF January 7, 2008, 2:57 pm
  • Again, if you read the FULL description of those two players I think you will find that they are quite positive and hardly a downgrade. From the yankees perspective, players like this have lots of value. Developing even a league average player out of your own system and nothing in these descriptions say they dont have a high ceiling. The 3 lines just give a summary of what we may expect. Finally, the yankees know all of these players better than anyone else. Say what you want about them, the yankees know how to run a business and have some the best scouts around working for them. There is absolutely no reason to assume they are overvaluing anyone.

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 2:59 pm
  • There is really no reason to rehash the Melky vs Coco argument. Im glad you like your guy but there is not a clear cut winner between these two guys. If you feel that Coco is a commodity its aweful hard to argue that melky is not. I personally like that Melky is 23, has more pop in his bat, and could easily improve in the coming years.

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 3:02 pm
  • Jeez, Paul, a guy pegged to be a #3 or #4 ML starter is a pretty damn good prospect. Not everyone can be Joba or Clay.
    I think the issue is making a guy who projects that (at his highest) an “untouchable”, as we’ve heard bandied about the internets and the sports media. But that’s subjective and all part of posturing, who knows what the truth really is…

    SF January 7, 2008, 3:04 pm
  • The reason some players dropped or dropped out was more a testament to the state of the Yankees FS. That according to the author via his 2 pm live chat.

    John - YF January 7, 2008, 3:11 pm
  • The point I thought of, but admittedly posted randomly about, is what happened to the blue chip status of tabata and kennedy? I thought these two were, like, can’t miss kids. Any particular reason for the BA downgrades?
    That’s not what you typed, remotely. If that’s what you were thinking of, why didn’t you just type that exactly as I have quoted above? It’s a reasonable question (answered by John immediately above) that is nothing like the first post you put up in this thread.

    SF January 7, 2008, 3:15 pm
  • Because I am a rs fan, and as such it is imperative that I take a jab at the yankees whenever possible.

    RS Fanbase January 7, 2008, 3:17 pm
  • I hope to do a post which collects the various top ten lists (BA, K. Goldstein, No Maas, Sickels, Minor League Baseball, etc) that I’ve seen around. There is some consensus (Joba, of course) and quite a bit of variation.
    Looking at the BA list, I’m surprised that Gardner cracks it (it seems a lot of the toolsy prospect people aren’t usually this high on him). Oldendorff seems also high to me as well. I wonder where Dellin Betances, a prospect I’m very excited about, ranks. This list also makes me even more excited about Austin Jackson.

    Nick-YF January 7, 2008, 3:21 pm
  • Like I said, just my impressions based on the way people were talking about them. Ohlendorf being compared to Jeff Nelson doesn’t jive with the way some have been talking about him.

    Paul SF January 7, 2008, 3:25 pm
  • Some explainatiions can be found here in the Q & A. Again this is only part of the Q & A and direct from Baseball America.
    Q: Hi John How is it possible that Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Marquez are more highly regarded than Dellin Betances and Jairo Heredia? The Top 10 really surprised me.
    A: John Manuel: Steven, read the report on Ohlendorf—he’s got 2 pitches that graded as 60s or 70s as a reliever, his stuff really jumped up, and that was not from the Yankees, that info was from scouts with other orgs. He’s ready to set up in ’08, so closeness to the majors had something to do with it. Same with Marquez—he had a good year in Double-A and seems ready to be a big league starter in 2009. Betances and Heredia are high-ceiling RHPs who have yet to pitch 100 pro innings, and while Heredia has some polish and could move quickly, his stuff is good, not great. Ranking players is always going to be inexact and marrying ceiling with likelihood to reach it is difficult, so in those cases I went for the guys who have talent but also have proved it at higher levels.
    Q: If Melky Cabrera is traded, do the Yankees have any minor leaguers ready to take over center field or do they have to settle for Damon returning to that position?
    A: John Manuel: Um, that’s why we ranked Austin Jackson second and also Brett Gardner in the top 10 (guess I ranked him 8th). Gardner’s closer, Jackson has the higher ceiling, both can play CF better than Damon right now.
    Q: Let me guess the 11-15(not in order): Frank Cervelli, Mark Melancon, Dan McCutchen, Humberto Sanchez, Dellin Betances. How correct am I?
    A: John Manuel: You nailed it except for Cervelli, the scouts outside the org that I talked to were not sanguine on his ability as a hitter and forecast him as a backup C in the Jose Molina mode (maybe a good bit better than that offensively), rather than as a regular.
    Q: If they’re both stricly relievers, who’s better Ross Ohlendorf or Justin Masterson?
    A: John Manuel: Ohlendorf’s stuff is a grade or two better, as Masterson doesn’t have a plus secondary pitch. However, Masterson has much, much better command. Would you rather have Timlin or Jeff Nelson? That’s the question, not one someone in a Yankees chat will likely answer dispassionately. I actually think Masterson will be a starter, just not in Boston, so I’d give him the edge as a pitching prospect, and I’d take him as a reliever because relief pitching is less about stuff and more about throwing strikes, for me.
    Q: It seems to me brett gardener would fit the yankee lineup perfectly as a bottom of the order hitter. I feel like brett gets hated on for his lack of power but he is what he is, no one ever expected him to hit 15+ homers. Seems like the big league club could use more brett gardeners. Thoughts?
    A: John Manuel: Gardner would have to beat out Melky Cabrera but I think I like Gardner’s ceiling better. I haven’t seen Cabrera ever touted as a guy who would develop power and he has yet to slug over .400 in two big league seasons; it was a .432 slugging percentage in the minors, pretty similar if I recall to Jacoby Ellsbury, only he’s not the defender Ellsbury is, nor the basestealer. Melky brings energy but to me, Gardner’s ceiling is higher and he’s also an energy guy. So I’m with you, as long as Gardner hits with enough authority to keep pitchers honest. If he doesn’t, then he’s Jason Tyner.
    Q: Edwar Ramirez in the Yanks top 15? What is a reasonable projection for him in ’08? He wasn’t very good with the Yankees, but you can’t argue with his MILB stats.
    A: John Manuel: In the 30, not top 15, the minor numbers are great, he has one 80 pitch, and then the fastball’s fringy and nothing else is even that good. I think he’s a sixth- or seventh-inning reliever, not a guy who is an integral part of a big league championship roster. Hope I’m wrong; it’s a great story. I saw him pitch extremely well in person and his changeup was ridiculous, but the lack of life on his fastball concerned the scouts I talked to.
    Q: How does the Yankees’ top 10 stack up against Boston ?
    A: John Manuel: I’ve ranked the Yanks system for three or four books now and this is the best shape the system has been in in that span. The same is true for Boston, however. I’d take Joba over Clay Buchholz, though Jim Callis would not. I’m with Jim in that I really think highly of Ellsbury, Anderson, Masterson, Lowrie . . . I think Boston’s top 10 is safer than New York’s and Boston has more big bats and more strength in the infield (just by having Lowrie, who I like). New York has more pitching depth but less variety; I like Boston’s top 10 by a hair and Boston’s system by a little bit just because it has more hitters who have a chance to be big league regulars.

    John - YF January 7, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • The whole ‘untouchable’ business has to be taken in context. Guys like Jackson, Tabata, Kennedy, Horne are untouchable as long as Hughes, a huge value (and one I wouldn’t trade for one of the entire Red Sox packages), is in the picture. If two of them could be in the place of Hughes, I am sure Cashman would be greatly amenable to that.

    AndrewYF January 7, 2008, 5:05 pm
  • Furthermore, untouchable needs to be in the context of for what player. These guys (and combinations of them) are untouchable for Santana given his unique demands for a contract etc. For example, Im sure if there were a comparable pitcher locked up for a good contract long term, less players would be “untouchable”

    sam-YF January 7, 2008, 5:14 pm
  • Distilled they are effectively saying that our two really rich teams also have really two really strong farm systems and picking a leader is splitting hairs.
    We are two very lucky fanbases.

    SF January 7, 2008, 5:15 pm
  • Roger and Brian’s phone conversation being aired on WNBC right now.

    AndrewYF January 7, 2008, 5:29 pm
  • Now he’s going to do a Q&A. People should really watch.

    AndrewYF January 7, 2008, 5:38 pm
  • In the Ohlendorf/Masterson comparison, who is Timlin and who is Nelson?

    Tyrel SF January 8, 2008, 12:07 am
  • Jayson NYC January 8, 2008, 2:27 am
  • Really Tyrel? Mike Timlin, RP for the sox. Jeff Nelson former RP for the Yankees

    sam-YF January 8, 2008, 8:16 am
  • sam, I think Tyrel was asking which pitcher is Timlin, which one is Nelson, i.e, “is Masterson the Timlin clone or the Nelson clone”. I imagine he knows who those guys are.

    SF January 8, 2008, 8:47 am
  • hahah sorry. good point. It was the first thing I read this morning when i got up, I guess my brain wasnt functioning full speed yet. I would have assumed he knew those guys too…

    sam-YF January 8, 2008, 8:55 am
  • Ross is Jeff Nelson in the comparison. Materson is Timlin.

    John - YF January 8, 2008, 9:39 am

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