TYA Fall 2012 Top-30 Prospect List

Its been a bad year in the Yankee farm system. The organization saw more massive car wrecks than breakouts, traded away top talent without getting much in return, and were hamstrung at the draft by new rules. The Yankee system had mostly been on an upward trajectory since 2005, but 2012 ended that streak.

Still, there is good news. The Yankee system still contains 3-4 top-100 prospects, several near-MLB pieces, and plenty of ceiling at the low levels. It’s probably about average as far as systems go, which says something about the talent of the Yankee scouting staff.

I ranked the top-30 prospects using my prospect rating system. Click here for a full explanation of what everything means. Immediately below that is my top-30 prospect rating system, and below the fold are some short thoughts on selected players.


Mason Williams – Its amazing how well-rounded Williams is as a prospect. He’s got the tools, a rock-bottom strikeout rate, impressive and improving power, and tons of defensive potential. The Yankees are going to miss those expensive mid-round signings going forward.

Slade Heathcott – The dude has some serious ceiling. We’re going to be worried about his shoulder until he puts together 2 or 3 consecutive healthy seasons, but he showed this season that when he can play, he can play. Ideally, he’s a center fielder, but Brett Gardner demonstrates that defense isn’t wasted in the other outfield spots.

Corban Joseph – He may be my new favorite prospect. Joseph did a lot of things in 2012. Most importantly, he established himself as a guy who has the ability to hit for long, moonshot power while maintaining a very strong K/BB ratio. Before, he looked like a ‘tweener if his poor defense at 2nd base did not improve. Now, even if he has to move to a corner outfield spot, Joseph looks like a hitter who will earn MLB time. If he stays at 2nd, he’s a potential all-star. An Adams-Joseph platoon is my personal favorite Cano plan B.

David Adams – Unlike Joseph, Adams can hold down 2nd base. He can hit too, even if he’s a little more slanted toward getting on base rather than power. We’ll see how he handles Triple-A, but I see no reason why he wouldn’t be ready for the job if Cano leaves for greener pastures.

Austin Romine – Playing only a handful of games due to a recurring (and likely to recur again) back injury is a bad, bad thing. But if healthy, he’s still got a floor of a MLB backup catcher.

Dante Bichette – I didn’t completely trash his rank, because I still have some faith in Bichette. He was arguably rushed, and still possesses all the makeup and tools that people raved about. Still, next year is probably make-or-break for him.

Dellin Betances – I’m done! I’m done with believing that Dellin Betances is going to be a major league player. He was drafted all the way back in 2006, which happens to coincide with the time that I started blogging about Yankee prospects, and at three or four separate moments, flashed some kind of amazing brilliance that fooled all of us into forgetting all of the other moments. I’m convinced that even if he puts enough of himself together for a long enough period of time, he will end up being a Daniel Cabrera type. I don’t know what will go wrong – mechanics, injuries, makeup, whatever – but I’m done rating him as a prospect. Maybe this is just my frustration coming out, and I should have rated him somewhere near the bottom based on ceiling alone, but I’m done.

Rafael DePaula and Ronnier Mustelier – These guys were intentionally left off the list. I think Mustelier could be a great MLB bench option as soon as next year, but as a rule I don’t rate older IFAs and players who have yet to play in the states. They’re just too unpredictable.

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.

13 thoughts on “TYA Fall 2012 Top-30 Prospect List

  1. Interesting to see your point of view. I like how your rating system incorporates talent level and risk. It gets confusing though when you see 2 players with an 8F at 6-7 and then 4 more players with the same rating much lower. I thought it was due to your weighting different types of risks differently but then I saw you give Ty Hensley and Jose Campos high risk ratings across the board so I’m not sure how to interpret the numbers.

    I could quibble here and there with some rankings but we all see things a little differently. I think Betances still belongs in the top half of the list but I understand why a lot of people are ready to give up on him.

    • So, the problem with a graded rating like is that there’s a floor, which may be something that I need to redesign. One ‘F’ is less equivalent to another ‘F’ than one ‘C’ is to another ‘C’. I think that Ty Hensley is a lot less risky in a lot of senses than Evan Rutckyj, mostly by virtue of being a consensus top-20 pick. An 8.0 ceiling is probably fair for him, but he’s risky because we don’t know a lot about him. He could turn out to be a Phil Hughes 2-3 win pitcher despite promising high-round stuff, or he could be an ace, or he could burn out at Double-A.

      Another problem with the risk rating: It doesn’t account for partial return. Slade Heathcott is probably an all-or-nothing type guy: if he’s healthy, he’ll produce, but if he’s not healthy, he won’t make the majors. Melky Mesa is a guy who probably won’t hit his 6.0 ceiling, but may contribute even if he strikes out 200 times per 160 games. Both are ‘D’ ratings.

      • I suspected your answer would be along those lines but appreciate the clarification. Five levels of risk at first glance seemed like enough to differentiate players but I guess given the inherent riskiness of prospects, your scale is going to be much more heavily weighted toward the back end. I noticed when I went back and looked again that no one earned an A level risk and there weren’t that many B’s. I guess that’s to be expected, especially since so many of the best prospects are years away. I think you are probably being a bit aggressive with the 8B rating for Tyler Austin. That would seem to suggest a ceiling higher than Swisher with relatively low risk of obtaining it. I’ve read a lot of mixed reports about whether he’ll be a starter in the majors or just a good role player. That said, it would be boring if every list/rating was alike.

      • The best relief pitcher in the majors (Craig Kimbrel) was worth 3.4 WAR. Given that a 6.0 was someone worth 1.5-3.0 WAR, I think that’s pretty optimistic.

  2. Just curious, is the 7.0 grade for rookies like Cote and Bird more “wait and see” because neither played very long (especially Cote) to be able to make a true judgement one way or the other for the potential ceiling?

    Also I’m surprised that Ramirez is only a Moderate in Injury category, he had a lot of issues with injuries in his past. Banuelos has just had this one year

    • Pretty much. Remember that a 7.0 ceiling is actually pretty good – that’s basically all-star level. For later round picks, I think its prudent to stop there. Jordan Cote really can throw, but a lot of guys can. Ty Hensley, on the other hand, has a little bit more potential.

      I’m defining ceiling as, “How good can he be if pretty much everything goes reasonable well.” rather than a more traditionally, “If the baseball Gods rolled two sixes for him and everything physically in his ability clicked.” I think its an important distinction–otherwise Melky Mesa would be an 8.5+–that makes the list more useful.

      • Thanks, been really curious on Cote because there is practically zero info on him. The only thing I’ve been able to find was a brief write up saying that he was a fast riser in the draft (and that of course was dated two years ago) because both his projectable frame his then ability to sit in the low 90’s in frigid temps since he’s from a coldweather state.

        Hell maybe you could do a profile on him during the offseason?

        • Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all I can say about him, in addition to a question that a fellow TYA writer had on our internal email group:

          Cote was sidelined from July through the end of the season with a few minor bouts of elbow tendinitis. Just super-safe stuff. While it didn’t show up in a stat sheet, he was throwing through EST and did put some load on his arm this season. He’ll be fine for next year.

  3. Brett Marshall isnt in Rookie, Romine isnt MLB, and Warren is 25. But my biggest question is why doesnt David Adams have a High Injury rating? That ankle cost him two whole years