The Right and Wrong Ways to Think About Prospect Hugging

I’m a prospect guy. I’ve always been most passionate about baseball when I’m reading about or watching some guy in High-A who might make the major leagues some day. Last week, I advocated trading four young Yankee players, including top outfield prospects Mason Williams or Slade Heathcott, in a package for Padres star Chase Headley

Reacting to my post, several readers dug in their heels against the idea of trading prospects in general. Their reaction is probably best summarized by OldYankeeFan’s comment:

I would NOT give up any prime meat for a 2 year rental.
You never know who is going to make it large.
We dangled Mo, Cano and others in the past. Fortunately, they weren’t taken. AJax was!

Remember. THE DYNASTY WAS BUILD ON THE BACKS OF FIVE HOMEGROWN PLAYERS!!!
That will NEVER happen again if we keep trading our better/best prospect for ONE shiney object.

I share some of this instinct, but I think it is misguided.… Click here to read the rest

IIATMS Top 30 Prospects 2013

With Spring Training underway and the Yankees gearing up for their first “game,” it seems like a good time to look at the Yankees of the future. The bulk of the Yankees’ strongest prospects still have at least a couple years to go, but they are getting closer. Some of these guys may find their way to the Bronx at during the next seven or eight months, others are still a few years away from the majors and – of course – some may never get the chance to run out onto a big league field. Regardless, here are some names to keep an eye on during this year’s Farm Reports.

1. Gary Sanchez (C):
We had Sanchez at the top of our list all last season and see no real reason to move him out of that top spot, though some of the other young guys make this a bit of a harder decision – but more about them later.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees have four players on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects List

Baseball America released its 100 Top Prospects list and four Yankees make an appearance on the list. None of the names are surprising but their postions in the list might be. None of them are in the Top 30 – the highest prospect appears at #32. The number one prospect on BA’s list is Jurickson Profar, a highly touted SS/2B in the Texas Rangers organization.

The Yankees on the list are:

OF Mason Williams at #32
C Gary Sanchez at #57
OF Slade Heathcott at #63
OF Tyler Austin at #77

Last year, the Yankees had four players on the list as well, with Manny Banuelos named the highest ranked Yankee prospect, appearing at #29 on the list. Banuelos is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. Another player not appearing on this year’s list is Dellin Betances who was slotted into #63 on 2012’s list.

Betances was also the victim of a very disappointing 2012. His problems were not injury-related like Banuelos, they were mainly were performance related.… Click here to read the rest

Campos ready for Spring Training

The last ten months or so have been downright brutal for the Yankees’ farm system in the pitching department, but perhaps they’re getting off to a good start in 2013. Via George King, Yankees’ player development chief Mark Newman confirms that Jose Campos has completed his throwing program and is ready to return to the field this spring. Campos, 20, got off to a scorching start with Charleston last April before being sidelined with a mysterious elbow injury. He went on to miss the rest of the season. I would imagine that he’s ticketed for a return to the Riverdogs this year, but the main goal will have to be keeping him healthy over a year of full season ball.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees 10th in Law’s organization rankings

The Yankees’ farm system isn’t quite as impressive at first blush as they were at this time last year, but they still have a lot of talent (albeit towards the bottom of the system), and they still stack up pretty well against the rest of the league. In fact, Keith Law thinks they have a top ten system, putting them in the tenth spot in his just released organizational rankings. That corresponds pretty closely with the rankings of Baseball America (11th) and John Sickels (14th), putting the Yankees squarely in the top half of the league. After trading away Jesus Montero and having Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos go down with injuries in 2012, that’s a real testament to the work Brian Cashman and the front office has done in investing in player development recently.

On a quick programming note: You should probably expect light blogging from me over the next two days. I have a small parade to attend tomorrow that will occupy most of my day, and as for today, well frankly I’m far too distracted/exhausted to find many interesting things about baseball.… Click here to read the rest

Sanchez is Mayo’s third best catching prospect

It’s never a bad time for prospect hype, so here’s the latest such bit for the Yankees’ organization: MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has ranked Gary Sanchez as the third best catching prospect in the game, behind the Mets’ Travis d’Arnaud and Seattle’s Mike Zunino. Those are a couple of stud prospects and the consensus top two prospects at the position, so in effect, Mayo is calling Sanchez the leader of the rest of the pack in the minor leagues, which is really something. That said, though I’m fairly bullish on Sanchez myself, I think Mayo might be a little bit overly optimistic in his evaluation of Sanchez, especially his defense. Sanchez has made gains there, but most of the people who give him better than average reviews for his defense still see him as an adequate at best backstop, while Mayo seems to be saying that he could be an asset behind the plate as well as in the batter’s box.… Click here to read the rest

Austin gets invite to big league camp

I’m not sure if this already broke and I just missed it, but via this interview with MILB.com, the Yankees have invited Tyler Austin to big league camp in Tampa. Austin, of course, had a breakout season last year and even got the direct attention of Brian Cashman, so the invitation is well deserved. He only topped out with a cup of coffee at Double-A, however, so don’t mistake this as him getting a serious chance to make the major league roster by any means (though there are worse way to address the current DH hole, amirite?), but more as a chance for the major league coaches to get a good look at him, and for Austin to learn from the big league coaches and players, and maybe even as a bit of an acknowledgement of the tremendous year he had in 2012. Most of all, it means there’s a good chance we’ll get to see Austin take at least a few at bats in the early schedule games, which I’m legitimately excited about.… Click here to read the rest

Thames to become Tampa hitting coach

Former Yankee Marcus Thames is retiring from MLB to become the hitting coach for the Tampa Yankees, the club’s High-A affiliate. The team announced the move on their Twitter page. Thames was mostly known for his ability to hit left-handed pitching, and finishes his major league career with 115 home runs and a .246/.309/.485 slash line. He spent one season with the Yankees, 2010, a year in which he hit .288/.350/.491 with 12 home runs and served as a key part of the team’s bench as they advanced to the ALCS before losing to Texas. He also hit a memorable walk off home run against the Red Sox in May of that year for his defining moment in pinstripes. Congratulations to Thames on a very nice big league career, and good luck in his new job.… Click here to read the rest

Sickels’ top Yankees’ prospects

It doesn’t get the same amount of attention that the lists put out by Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus do, but John Sickels’ annual prospect rankings may well be the most unique of all of the prospect rankings that come out annually. That’s because, in addition to his own unique perspective and preferences on prospects, Sickels assigns a traditional letter grade to prospects, adding an additional level of depth and context above a simple stacked list of players. He put his list of the Yankees’ top twenty prospects out back before Christmas and, as always, it’s worth a once-over if you’re into the prospecting thing. The top of his list is fairly non-controversial, but there’s some interesting selections in the 8-15 range.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Sickels will be joining Stacey and I on On the Money tonight to talk about his rankings, as will our own minor league editor Tamar Chalker. The show goes live at 9:00 P.M. EST, and can be listened to here.Click here to read the rest