Class A: The Down Low on Yankee Prospects

Baseball America has been presenting its top 10 prospects for each team over the past month or so, and today our Yankees are featured. The good news: the system seems to be stocked with potential impact players, including 2004 top draftee Philip Hughes and two gems from 2005, CJ Henry and Austin Jackson. (The three are ranked 1, 4, and 5, respectively, on the BA list, with Eric Duncan and Jose Tabata in between.) The bad news: most of the Yankee talent is at the lower levels of the system. If this means finding talent ready to step in mid-season is somewhat lacking, at least there are a few chits for the team to work with on the market. And with the aging Yankee lineup, those young guns might just be reaching maturity when they’re most needed.

For the record, the Sox system is replete with players closer the the majors (though we’ve been reading some less than inspiring reports about new top prospect Andy Marte.)

20 comments… add one
  • Any of the Yank prospects pitchers?

    walein January 9, 2006, 6:03 pm
  • yf, the yankee link is odd. maybe it’s a joke I don’t get?

    Nick January 9, 2006, 6:18 pm
  • Okay. Link fixed. And yes there are a few pitchers in there (Hughes is one), as is Chritian Garcia, who’s on Bryan Smith’s top prospects list at Baseball Analysts.

    YF January 9, 2006, 6:34 pm
  • The Pinstripe tide is rising!

    walein January 9, 2006, 6:37 pm
  • organizational ethos change? Nah, couldn’t be.

    Nick January 9, 2006, 6:52 pm
  • Maybe that magical little pixie Theo Epstein is pulling our strings too!

    walein January 9, 2006, 7:13 pm
  • Serious question, and regarding “close to the majors” talent: why did they Yankees pass on Craig Hansen? Seems like a (potentially) major oversight or a piece of shortsighted stubbornness (no Boras clients was the call at the time, I think).

    SF January 10, 2006, 7:14 am
  • yeah, sf, I think that was a real mess-up. They did get CJ Henry with the pick though, who is supposed to have a lot of upside. Maybe they had Henry rated higher.

    Nick January 10, 2006, 7:57 am
  • That could be, Nick. But I recall (and commenter Sam had mentioned this) that the Yankees didn’t want to get tied up with Boras over Hansen, and that was the major reason they passed. The Sox ended up paying Hansen $4M, but he may be 2 years closer to the majors than Henry (he even pitched briefly last year). Or, his arm could fall off.

    SF January 10, 2006, 9:08 am
  • Adding two more of my own cents, the BA assessment of the Sox’ system is glowing. YF did a nice job of turning a rave review into a matter-of-factual description. Somehow “the Red Sox system is percolating with its most talent in years”, “The Red Sox had the prospect depth to not have to think twice about including shortstop Hanley Ramirez, righthander Anibal Sanchez and two power arms in a November blockbuster that landed them Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota from the Marlins”, and “Boston also added plenty of talent in 2005” becomes a system that is simply “replete with players closer to the majors”.
    Also, Phillip Hughes is tagged as “Mark Prior Light”. So I guess he’ll make an average of 14 starts a year, but really gas it out when he does?

    SF January 10, 2006, 9:21 am
  • I liked the idea of Hansen as well, but does anyone here really know enough about the Yankee scouting operation, or about the pool of talent they were drawing from at the time and the various economic issues at play, to evaluate this fairly? Major League moves are a lot more transparent. Unless you’re a SERIOUS gearhead–see, for example, the last few threads on the RLYW—it’s hard to know just what the realities are. And please don’t take this as a defense of the Hansen non-draft. The point is that I’m not qualified, and I’m not sure anyone else on this site is qualified, to evaluate the move. That said, looking more broadly at the minor league system seems fair. Last year it produced two solid Major Leaguers, but was otherwise dry, and had been languishing for some time. The Sox are now reaping the rewards of several smart years of development.

    YF January 10, 2006, 9:32 am
  • Well, i wrote that last comment before I saw the second of SF’s double posting, so obviously I’m not discounting the Sox achievement. (My post was about the Yankees, if he wanted a report on the glowing Sox system, he should have written it.) And if SF wants to disparage Hughes, he might note how top Sox prospect Andy Marte’s numbers have been in something close to free fall over the last 6 months. (If he was really the best prospect in baseball, the next Scott Rolen, would the Braves have parted with him?)
    And by the way, Pryor, like Hughes, was also a Yankee draftee. He didn’t sign. (Whoops.) So maybe that played some part in the Hansen thinking. Who the heck knows.

    YF January 10, 2006, 9:47 am
  • in any case, as a yanks fan I’m encouraged by the reports. It seems that for the next two years this team has enough talent to compete for the world series, and, perhaps, in 2009 we’ll begin to see these guys.
    In retrospect, I think YF might be right about the Marte for Renteria trade. No offense to Edgah, but Marte seemed like a whole lot to give for him, considering his status as BP’s #1 prospect. Maybe something’s not right with Andy.

    Nick January 10, 2006, 9:58 am
  • So are you guys saying the Braves traded damaged goods? Or are you saying the Sox knowingly took on damaged goods? Or are you guys saying that Marte just isn’t as good as everyone says? I am not sure what you guys are implying – I’ll respond accordingly, if appropriate or warranted, once you guys clarify what you mean.

    SF January 10, 2006, 10:21 am
  • It’s a bit frustrating, because I can’t now find the report to which I was referring, and I don’t have time to do the research, but my recollection was that Marte’s numbers dropped considerably in the second half of last season (power and plate discipline and defense), and have shown no improvement in winter ball. The implication was not that he’s damaged, or even that the deal to get him was a bad one (because it’s been pretty much universally considered a good move for the Sox, and Marte does have a big upside). But it appears he is not a super-duper impact player just waiting to step into the bigs–another David Wright, say.

    YF January 10, 2006, 10:34 am
  • I guess I’m implying there’s an injury, based on rumors about his elbow. You have to admit that the Sox were quasi-dumping Renteria and his relatively large contract. And the Braves are a well-run organization, which seems to assess its young talent very well. Maybe they thought the elbow injury was really hurting his growth. And maybe the Sox were fine with that because of his history as a top prospect and the fact that they were getting rid of a player who seemingly couldn’t handle Boston.

    Nick January 10, 2006, 10:36 am
  • OK. I think that YF’s speculations are more tolerable, and reasonable. I can’t imagine (and look, I’m no serious gearhead, no expert, probably not qualified to assess the move har har) that the Sox would have knowingly taken a guy who was seriously damaged, even knowing Renteria’s contract figures. Nor is it likely that the Braves dumped damaged goods on another team without their knowledge (that’s a heavy charge). This “elbow injury” that has been mentioned has been denied by both parties involved in the deal (in their interests, of course, but what else do we have to go on?), and rumored only by people tangentially involved. It may be that he’s injured. It may come out, at some point, that he has a bad wing. For now, though, there is no medical evidence, only amateur speculation. That he’s not doing particularly well in the Dominican Winter League isn’t proof of anything being physically damaged; it could be ascribed to simple fatigue, that he’s playing a ton more games in a calendar year than he ever has. And one could argue that even if he is injured, it was still a decent move for the Red Sox, long-term, to get out from under Renteria’s deal. Not many teams would have given anything like Marte for Renteria, except those with deep farm systems and a roadblock at a blue-chipper’s position.
    As for the Braves being well-run, that goes without saying. But they aren’t perfect. They let Jason Schmidt go. Jermaine Dye. They traded Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada, who has already moved on. And they traded for Dan Kolb last year, a terrible move that really backfired. So they do make mistakes with talent assessment, even as they make fewer of them than the rest of the league.

    SF January 10, 2006, 11:02 am
  • I gotta side with SF on this one, guys. First off, the Sox farm system is light years ahead of the Yanks’, and everyone knows it. Yes, the Yanks have some good Class A prospects, but that’s about it.
    Secondly, passing on Craig Hansen was the Boss being the Boss, ie thinking he’s smarter than everyone else and that he’ll be the one to teach that uppity Boras a lesson. The same sort of attitude that led him to refuse to sign Prior. Far better to take on Kevin Brown, eh?
    And, finally, please don’t besmirch the name of smart Yanks fans (which you guys are) by questioning the Marte deal. He has long been rated as an outstanding prospect and just because the Sox got him doesn’t mean he sucks or that he’s injured. Just means that the Braves are stacked at third base and needed a good SS.

    Sam January 10, 2006, 1:10 pm
  • Sam, who said the Yanks’ minor league system was close to the Sox? It isn’t, but the signs from the lower levels are encouraging.
    Also, regarding the Sox trade, it’s obviously speculation on my part, but the thing that makes me suspicious of Marte’s status as a prospect is that he only netted Rent-a-wreck in a trade. That and the following passage from a Dec. 19th Bryan Smith article:
    “Suddenly, Marte is staring across from a lot more people in the other corner, the non-believers. There have to be doubts in the minds of the Atlanta Braves, who wonder if Marte’s Major League debut was a sign of things to come. There are obviously doubts within the Tampa Bay organization, who might be among those who wonder about Andy’s elbow, about a torn UCL. Many are wondering why, for nearly a fourth of his season from July 22 to August 20, Marte hit just .196/.304/.340. Or why he is, again, struggling in the Dominican Winter League so much.”
    It’s not because I don’t credit the Sox front office with being smart. Heck, the trade is probably positive given that it brought about Renteria’s departure. And I’ve credited the Sox this whole off-season. As SF has pointed out, no reports have confirmed any injury problems (although, the only thing I have read to counter the rumor was a statement from Marte’s agent, not the most reliable source), but then why did the rumors about his elbow start?

    Nick January 10, 2006, 1:35 pm
  • If the Braves had judged Tom Glavine and John Smoltz on their ML debuts who knows what the NL East would have been like these last 12 years…

    SF January 10, 2006, 2:06 pm

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