Friday, August 31, 2007

Top 10 Yankee Prospects

Here is my top 10 Yankee prospect list. This list will include people who will be eligible for the 2008 Baseball America list. That being said, I am not trying to predict who they will put, as I would make my picks much differently if that was what I was trying to do. So here we go:

#1 Joba Chamberlain. This is a bit of a no-brainer with Hughes going past the point of eligibility. Not only did Chamberlain,21, manage to go from A-Ball to the Majors in his first full pro season, he's managed to so far surpass the hype at the big league level.

#2 Jose Tabata. By far the Yankees top positional prospect, Tabata, 18, batted .307 this season at High-A ball. Remember, that was in the pitcher-friendly FSL, which puts .307 as the forth highest in the league. He is the only qualifying player in the league to hit above .300 and be under 23 years old. The next highest batting average for somebody under age 21, was his 20-year old teammate, Reggie Corona batting .271. Tabata went on the 7-day DL a couple of time, for what turned out to be a broken bone in his hand. If he can hit that well with a broken bone in his hand, I can't wait to see what he does at Trenton next season.

#3 Ian Kennedy. Like Chamberlain, Kennedy has risen from A-Ball to the Majors in his first pro season. There are a lot of mixed feelings on Kennedy as he tops out at about 93, but is more consistently around 89 or 90 with his fastball. Ironically, they say he compares most with Mike Mussina, even to the way he pitches out of the stretch. He is supposed to be extremely polished, and we'll see soon if he has the guile to fool Major League hitters. His off-speed pitches are all supposed to be plus pitches. Some people think he tops out at a good #4, I think he can top out at a #2, who hopefully ends up a great #4 behind Wang, Hughes, and Chamberlain.

#4 Humberto Sanchez. Sanchez came over as the main peice in the Sheffield deal. The '06 Futures Game starting pitcher was probably only traded by the Tigers because of health reasons, and of course he has since undergone Tommy John surgery. He has the surgery at the beginning of the season, so he'll be back on the mound toward the beginning of next season. There's little question that he's one of the more talented minor league pitchers, but we'll find out how he rebounds from surgery. He'll most likely start the year at A-Ball in Tampa, and when he proves he's healthy and his stuff is back, be moved up to AAA.

#5 David Robertson. I'll be shocked if he makes Baseball America's Top 10 Yankee prospects, but I really like this guy. He was the Yankees' 17th round draft pick last year, and looked like there was no way he was going to sign. The relief pitcher was going to go back to college as the Yankees weren't coming up with the money he wanted. Robertson spent the summer in the Cape Cod League, where he pitched 15 hitless innings, and was their Series MVP. The Yankees then signed him. The 22-year old throws at 93-94, but has a power sinker to go with it. He started the year at low-A ball where he threw 47 innings of 0.77 ERA ball. Moved up to Tampa where he had a 1.07 ERA, and just made his AA debut, pitching 2 shutout innings of 1-hit, 3-K ball. He has already show more control than he did in college, but he still walk over 3 per 9 innings. He'll have to get his control better before he makes the jump to the big leagues, as ML hitters will wait him out, and they hit relievers who fall behind in the count hard.

#6 Austin Jackson. Last season, at age 19, Austin Jackson had a big first half in low-A ball, and a horrible second half. This season he started slowly at low-A, but the Yankees promoted him to High-A anyway. While Tabata is the only qualifying player under age 23 batting over .300 in the FSL, Austin Jackson is a non-qualifying player doing it. In 64 FSL games, Jackson is batting .328 (just one point behind the league leader) with 9 home runs, and a .925 OPS. Jackson, an outfielder, also has 30 stolen bases on the season.

#7 Andrew Brackman. At one point people were sure this 6'10" pitcher would be a top-10 pick in the draft, but arm problems and signability led him drop down the the Yankees. He's right out of the Randy Johnson mold, which also means it could be years for him to develop. Right after signing the Yankees sent him off to have Tommy John surgery. Brackman is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward prospect. The anti-Ian Kennedy.

#8 Jesus Montero. The 17-year old catcher can hit 450 foot home runs, and is built like a truck. He's batting .280 in the Gulf Coast League. He's considered a bit below average behind the plate, but he's a hitter first.

#9 Dellin Betances. One of the Yankees highly touted 2006 pitcher picks, some thought he'd be the best of the group, better than Chamberlain and Kennedy, although much less developed. Less developed is definitely true, as he's struggled in stort-season A-Ball. Control is his big problem as the 6'7" New York native has walked 17 in 25 innings, leading to a 3.60 ERA. There's a very large upside to Betances, but it remains to be seen if he can put his talent together.

#10 Francisco Cervelli. After an amazing first half in the FSL, the 21-year old catcher slumped mightily in the second half. Cervelli still has the fifth highest OBP in the FSL at .387. A lot of Cervelli's drop off could be attributed to a much larger workload than ever before, something that can take a toll on a catcher. It will be interesting to see how he handle's Trenton next season.

Supposedly the Yankees are very close to coming to a record agreement with amateur international free agent Edward Salcedo. Scott Boras is building the 16-year old up to be the next A-Rod. He's a 6'3" shortstop, with power, who throws 93-mph to first base. It looks like it will take between 4.5 million and 5 million to sign him. I'm less excited over him than I thought I'd be, as I am remember the other most hyped Yankee amateur international free agents, Wily Mo Pena and Jackson Melian. Considering Wily Mo had the much better career of the two, I'll wait until I see some A-Rod type numbers before I get overly excited on Salcedo, but I will be watching closely, hoping to get excited if he does in fact sign.

Thinking about Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy, only one time do I ever remember three pitchers so young coming up so close together with anywhere near this much hype. Unfortunately that trio was Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, and Bill Pulsipher. Wilson topped out at #2 on the prospect list with Pulsipher topping out at #12 and Isringhausen at #37.

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