Another One Bites the Dust: Ty Hensley Out Until Spring Training 2014

Originally, Ty Hensley was going to miss 2-3 months following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Given that he was 19 years old, the missed time wasn't a big deal. He was likely ticketed for EST anyway. But bad news broke today: Hensley won't pitch until Spring Training 2014. Its way too early to label him a bust, but its not too early to place him into a larger pattern of terrible Yankee minor league pitching prospect management. The Yankees need to stop sucking at keeping their minor league pitchers healthy. You can't blame them for any individual case, but a strong pattern is emerging for the team: they just aren't good at developing minor league pitching. Their success rate at taking promising young arms and turning them into big league 25-man roster players is almost zero. Over the past five years, you balance the successes of David Robertson, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova (kinda-sorta), and David Phelps against the brutal, injury/trade/terribleness graveyard of their top prospects.

When the team gave Zach McAllister away as a player to be named later a few years ago, I don't think they expected him to become much. At that point, they were suffering through their second consecutive year of McAllister being ineffective at Triple-A, and were ready to give up. He had always shown a lot of talent, but got consistently clobbered against more advanced hitters. After the trade, a funny thing happened: the Indians fixed McAllister, and all of the sudden he became a good MLB pitcher.

Ditto for Christian Garcia. Garcia was always the most talented thrower in the Yankee system, but got stuck in a cycle of permanent unhealthiness from 2006-2009. The Nationals picked him up, fixed him, and he became an effective reliever for them. Granted, he's injured right now, but he has been an electric presence in their bullpen since being called up.

Tyler Clippard is an even worse example. Clippard led the minor leagues in strikeouts (and I think innings pitched) from his age 19-21 seasons. He was pretty terrible in his age 22 season, with a failed MLB short stint and mechanics all out of funk. The Yankees gave him away to the Nationals for, of all people, Jon Albaladejo. Since then, Clippard has been one of the more effective MLB relief pitchers, and Albaladejo barely pitched at all in the majors.

These are just a few examples of players who got better after the Yankees took their hands off them. There are other examples as well: Ian Kennedy comes to mind. One thing is clear though: between crappy high-round drafting (Sam Stafford, Gerrit Cole, Scott Biddle, anyone?), keeping players healthy, and turning good arms into effective MLB players, the Yankees have a terrible success record over the last decade. If the Yankees are going to survive in a post payroll hegemony world, they need to right this ship fast.