2012 Pre-Draft Top-20 Prospect Rankings

Its that time again. Three days from now, the Yankees will add 30-40 young baseball players into their organization. Before that happens, it is appropriate that we take stock of the Yankee farm system, so that we may better understand the Yankee draft and signing strategy.

Below are my Top-20 prospect rankings. I usually rank 30 players, but given that we’re a year away from the last draft, I figure there are serious diminishing returns to going all the way to 30 at this time of the year. And it also makes the graphics a little too large. And I irrationally love graphics.

I used my prospect rating system for the ranking. A full explanation of the system is available here. I also copied some helpful graphics explaining the system below the fold to prevent everyone from having to click on the link. I like the system as a way of clearly explaining why I believe that certain players should be ranked where they are. Remember that the final ratings are two combined ordinary variables – a 7.0 is always better than a 6.0, and a B is always better than a C, but you can’t quantify for sure that a, say, 6.0A is better than a 8.5F.

Edit: Just to be clear: I have a longstanding tradition of not rating a prospect until he appears stateside. Rafael DePaula probably wouldn’t be higher than #8, and more likely would end up in the low-teens, if I rated him.

Enough stalling. The ranking:

I feel very comfortable with the top-5. Tyler Austin’s monstrous breakout is a continuation of the success he had last season, and every day that he keeps hitting makes me more confident in his ascent. Jose Campos had a great start to the season, but given Austin’s killer play and Campos’ elbow scare, I’m comfortable with how I placed them. You can see clearly a big drop off after Adam Warren at #12 or so. The prospects between #12 and #20 should be viewed pretty interchangeably.

Just missing the cut were Greg Bird, Rob Segedin, Evan Rutckyj, and Jose Ramirez.

What is your verdict? Did I go too aggressive on Tyler Austin? Should I stop holding out any hope for Betances and relegate him back to the teens? I’m very curious to hear your feedback. An appendix explaining the rating system is located below the read more. 


I apologize for the examples being a little bit out of date. I plan on creating be new graphics when I update the system in the fall. Full definitions (What is ‘Prime WAR’, some assumptions that I make, etc) here.

About EJ Fagan

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

20 thoughts on “2012 Pre-Draft Top-20 Prospect Rankings

  1. I think on upside alone Rafeal DePaula deserves to be top 5 or 6. I don’t think your being too aggressive with Tyler Austin. He isn’t getting a lot of hype because he was a 13th round bonus baby of the Yankees. If he was a first rounder (he did have the talent but signability was a concern I think) than he would be a top 50 prospect in baseball.

    I don’t see what people see in Cito Culver or JR Murphy though.

    • I have a pretty longstanding tradition of waiting for a player to hit stateside before rating him. But I can reasonably say that he’s up there. Probably not higher than #8 or so.

    • Despite the low BA, Culver probably has the best strikezone judgement on the entire team. The guy works the count a lot, and draws a lot of walks. (He has one of the highest OBP’s on the team despite having the lowest average) That is very unusual and because of that its not absurd to predict him hitting better. Just like it isn’t crazy to think Bichette won’t start hitting better.

      • I’m much more concerned about the complete lack of power. But he’s 19, and was raw to begin with, so he gets a pass for now.

        • Culver’s contact tool is subpar, as well, and that may be even more disconcerting than the lack of power. Someone like Jamey Carroll – a fair comp, I think – survives an utter lack of power by consistently working the count and barreling pitches that are left over the plate … Culver has not shown the ability to do that yet. To my eyes, the bat speed isn’t really there, but that could be a mechanical thing – and let’s hope so, as that could be correctable.

      • Strikezone judgment is nice, but as he advances (if he advances) it becomes less of a factor without power or event an average contact tool as nobody is going to be afraid to throw him strikes. At rookie ball and Low A you can get away with that because it’s not necessarily a question of will a pitcher throw strikes, it is can a pitcher throw strikes.

  2. EJ:
    Great writeup, as always. First off, who are you hoping for tonight?

    I think at this time next year Gumbs will be top 7 and Bird top 15. I’d take Turley over Joseph.

    Why doesn’t anyone have any faith in Cave, Rookie Davis or Cote? I don’t see them in any top 30 lists or any “others receiving votes”

    Also – are the yanks a top 15 system or have they fallen off

    • All would be in the 20s. Without any of them signing early enough to do real things in the minor leagues, its tough to rate them. We’ll see. All have tons of potential though. Greg Bird is the best of the bunch.

      The 12-15 range sounds about right.

      No clue on the draft. I try not to pay attention until after the picks start coming in. I find that studying beforehand doesn’t pay off well.

  3. I would drop Betances way down. He has “BUST” written all over him, unless he can harness his stuff as a relief pitcher. I am also not nearly as high on Banuelos as you and many others; his health and inconsistency worry me. In fact, at this point, I do not see a single number one starting pitcher in the entire organization, which is why I hope the Yankees will look for that in the draft.

    • I think he has a very high likelihood of busting. However, I also think that isn’t 100% hopeless yet. Tall man’s disease still applies. If anyone in the Yankee system is going to succeed after the age of 26 or so, its Betances. But you can be sure that if he’s walking 7 per 9 in the 2nd half of the season that he will be knocked way down.

    • A number one? Maybe not but Banuelos can definitely become a number 2. His stuff has gotten better as he is now filling out and hes learning to harness it. His control problems are more that he nibbles at the strike zone.

      Jose Campos and Rafeal DePaula are potential high end rotation guys. Look them up theyre very very talented.

      • Let’s not forgot that he is 21 years old and in Triple-A. He gets a pass. The elbow issues are my only hesitation.

  4. Hopefully the Yankees go after some young high school arms. I would really like to see them take Lance McCullers first pick. Also can we please add Jorge Soler? Yankees do not get a chance to add supreme talent at a young age often

    • Santana has to show something before he can garner that sort of consideration, as such ankle injuries have derailed several careers. It is important to see how he recovers from the injury, both at the plate and in the field. While I suppose an ‘incomplete’ could leave him in top-ten consideration, I tend to err on the side of caution with injuries.

  5. I think you have Betances at about the right spot. I might even put him higher but I realize there’s ample reasons not to. I’m hopeful that the finger nail has a lot to do with his control regression this year and as you said pitchers that tall can take longer to figure it out. I don’t get the sense that the Yankees are in a hurry to convert him to a reliever so I think he’ll continue to get his opportunities. I think I’m actually closer to giving up on Heathcott and Romine than I am on Betances.

    Did you give any consideration to Cody Johnson at the back end? I know that it’s too early to assume he’s really put it together but given the raw power he has there’s a lot of upside there.

  6. I actually am of the opinion that people are a little too low on Betances right now. He is NOT Brackman. He’s been far better than that throughout his career. He’s on the older side and his control sucks right now but he’s still pretty unhittable when he’s on. This is the worst season of his career as far as control goes and I don’t see it continuing. I have him at 4 still in my bronx baseball daily rankings because as recent as last year he was number two in most rankings and I don’t think half a season is enough to drop someone from two to eight, or further in some cases.

    • Problem is control has been an issue with him his entire career and its gotten worse with each level he goes up

  7. But his control has never been this bad, and I don’t think it will continue to be this bad. He has had less than half a season to adjust to this new level, and we all know big guys take a while to adjust. I’ll give him a little bit more time this season before I start dropping him in the rankings. He’s looked much better recently as his ERA is way down because he’s not getting hit. If he brings his walks down to his career level he’ll be back to a top 3 in the system prospect by the end of the season.