Frankie Piliere’s second paragraph started:
…in terms of organizational health New York is just about as strong and as flush with talent in its minor league system as any team in the game.
No matter what we think of the Yankee farm system or prospects, this is an incredibly encouraging statement. In fact, it’s something I can’t recall hearing ever before; granted, that could be from lack of attention in the earlier part of the century, but in the last few years, that statement was certainly a rarity.
The first person we think of when we hear “youth movement” in regard to the Yankees is Jesus Montero. Appropriately, he’s the first prospect mentioned in this piece:
I’ve had the pleasure of scouting Montero at each level of the minor-league ladder during his development, and the worries about his defense aren’t unwarranted. But, they were much more warranted two years ago, and even more so the year before. As he’s matured, especially physically, his defense has improved, not declined as some predicted. With Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010, I still saw a lot of inconsistencies in Montero’s game behind the plate, but it was nothing that I don’t see from time to time from mediocre defensive catchers at the major league level.
While that last sentence is a bit of a backhanded compliment, hearing “mediocre defensive catcher” in the same sentence as “Jesus Montero” is fantastic. The best case scenario, we’ve been told, is that Montero can hit a ton while faking it behind the plate for a while before moving to first base or DH. If he can improve to mediocrity, that means Montero will be able to stick behind the plate, making his bat that much more valuable.
Piliere then touches on the Russell Martin. Pay attention to the bolded words:
With all that said, the Yankees have just signed Russell Martin. For most any other club, Montero would likely be given a very real shot at the catching job in 2011. Given the Yankees’ financial might, you can’t blame them for going out and buying a safety net for their young catcher, but this is going to be an interesting case study in just how willing they are to let this next wave of young talent infuse itself into their roster.
There it is. That’s what I think the Yankees plan to do with Russell Martin and Jesus Montero. Martin will get the bulk of the catching duties in the Majors until it’s clear that Montero cannot be kept down any longer. At that point, it’s likely they’ll shift Montero into the starting job, Russell to the back up job, and Francisco Cervelli…well, wherever.
The last thing I’ll touch on is a fair question that Pilere raises:
When the time comes can New York be patient enough to work guys like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or perhaps even Andrew Brackman into its rotation?
I desperately want to say yes to this question. But at the same time, given what happened with Joba Chamberlain, I’m not going to put any confidence in that answer. Obviously, though, the situations will not necessarily be analogous. We have no idea if there will be rotation spots open. We have no idea if the latter two will stay healthy.
What does give me confidence, though, is that in many ways, Manny Banuelos has taken great strides this year. The fact that he throws with his left hand also helps immeasurably. If any of the Killer B’s is going to make it as a starter for the Yankees, it’s going to be Banuelos.