2006 New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player’s long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven’t exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2006.

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TOP TEN PROSPECTS
1. Philip Hughes, rhp
2. Eric Duncan, 3b/1b
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. C.J. Henry
5. Austin Jackson, of
6. Eduardo Nunez, ss
7. Marcos Vechionacci, 3b
8. Christian Garcia, rhp
9. Jeff Marquez, rhp
10. Tyler Clippard, rhp
BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Jose Tabata
Best Power Hitter Eric Duncan
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Kevin Reese
Fastest Baserunner Brett Gardner
Best Athlete C.J. Henry
Best Fastball Philip Hughes
Best Curveball Christian Garcia
Best Slider Matt Smith
Best Changeup Matt DeSalvo
Best Control Tyler Clippard
Best Defensive Catcher Omir Santos
Best Defensive Infielder Marcos Vechionacci
Best Infield Arm Eduardo Nunez
Best Defensive Outfielder Brett Gardner
Best Outfield Arm Rudy Guillen
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Ruben Rivera, of Yankees
1997 Ruben Rivera, of Yankees
1998 Eric Milton, lhp Reds
1999 Nick Johnson, 1b Nationals
2000 Nick Johnson, 1b Nationals
2001 Nick Johnson, 1b Nationals
2002 Drew Henson, 3b Out of baseball
2003 Jose Contreras, rhp White Sox
2004 Dioner Navarro, c Dodgers
2005 Eric Duncan, 3b Yankees
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Eric Milton, lhp Reds
1997 Tyrell Godwin, of Nationals
1998 Andy Brown, of Out of baseball
1999 David Walling, rhp Out of baseball
2000 David Parrish, c Yankees
2001 John-Ford Griffin, of Blue Jays
2002 Brandon Weeden, rhp (2nd round) Dodgers
2003 Eric Duncan, 3b Yankees
2004 Philip Hughes, rhp Yankees
2005 C.J. Henry, ss Yankees

* Did not sign.

LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Hideki Irabu, 1997 $8,500,000
Jose Contreras, 2002 $6,000,000
Wily Mo Pena, 1999 $2,440,000
Drew Henson, 1998 $2,000,000
Chien-Ming Wang, 2000 $1,900,000

Robinson Cano proved it can be done. So did Chien-Ming Wang. The Dominican second baseman and Taiwanese righthander showed that the Yankees can develop homegrown talent and give those players a chance to earn roles in the major leagues. That’s still true with a payroll that has soared past $200 million, and with a farm system that hasn’t produced in recent years as it once did.

The homegrown core of the club that has won eight consecutive American League East titles and made nine straight playoff appearances (including four World Series titles) is still effective but aging. Bernie Williams, 37, has declined significantly and will have to make room for Johnny Damon if he wants to stay in New York. Jorge Posada, 34, has shown signs of slipping. While Derek Jeter, 31, and Mariano Rivera, 36, remain star players of the first order, they need more homegrown help, or else the payroll will continue to soar.

The Yankees continue to have the game’s highest revenues—around $335 million in 2005—but their unquenchable thirst to spend appears to have abated. The New York Daily News reported the club lost between $50 million and $85 million, in part due to revenue-sharing and luxury-tax payments. Responding to reality and fan demand (New York drew an AL-record 4.09 million fans in 2005), the Yankees have raised ticket prices, with top seats fetching $110 a game.

General manager Brian Cashman was expected to leave New York when his contract ended after the 2005 season, but he and manager Joe Torre returned, extending a run of stability dating to 1997. Only Atlanta (John Schuerholz, Bobby Cox) and St. Louis (Walt Jocketty, Tony La Russa) have had greater continuity in the GM and manager roles.

Cashman and Torre will try to claim the Yankees’ 27th World Series crown while holding the line on payroll, relatively speaking of course. However, the graduation of Cano and Wang to New York left the system painfully thin at the upper levels, particularly in Triple-A. Eric Duncan, No. 1 on this list a year ago, was rushed to Double-A and struggled, hitting just .235, but he rebounded with a strong effort in the Arizona Fall League while moving from third base to first. Duncan may be a big leaguer soon, and third base, thanks to AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, is taken.

While Duncan remains a good prospect, he was passed by 2004 first-round pick Philip Hughes, who symbolizes the state of the system. In the last two years, New York has added high-end prospects at the lower levels with international signings and a more aggressive approach in the draft. The organization has potential impact bats such as outfielders Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson and infielders C.J. Henry and Eduardo Nunez, as well as intriging arms in Hughes, Christian Garcia and Jeff Marquez. Loaded Yankees affiliates won championships in the short-season New York-Penn and Rookie-level Gulf Coast leagues, but most of their best talent has yet to play above the Class A level.

 


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