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.
Hey everybody. I'm sorry we missed last
Friday but with the storm and big BA meetings, we decided to
rescheduled. Glad you're all here. Let's get started.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Last
year Charleston SC was a super prospect team, with true prospects at
almost every position. Is there a super prospect team in the
organization this year?
I can see something similar happening at
Trenton this year. At some point, the Thunder will (hopefully) have a
Williams, Austin & Heathcott outfield, with Ramon Flores squeezing
in there and either Flores or Austin playing some first base. JR Murphy
should be behind the plate and Jose Ramirez, Matt Tracy and Nik Turley
in the rotation. This year's Thunder lacked much of a prospect punch;
the 2013 edition will not.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the Statin Island hurlers progressing to low A Charleston, which is your favorite?
I'm most intrigued by Gabe Encinas, who's
in the Top 30. His velocity has come on quite a bit since signing. Evan
Rutckyj, beyond having a fun name to type, also has some upside, and
then I'd expect Eric Erickson out of Miami to dominate the Sally League.
He's not a prospect per se, having had two Tommy John surgeries and
will be 25 next year, but he knows how to pitch, commands his secondary
stuff and should toy with low A hitters if he can stay healthy.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Hi, John. Thanks for the
chat. As someone who is worried about the state of the Yanks' pitching
down on the farm, what's the latest on Jose Campos' elbow? I didn't like
the use of the word "hopefully" that your source in the organization
used when asked if he'll be ready for spring training. Is there any
inkling he may follow Banuelos as the latest to require TJ surgery?
I was trying to convey the worry in the
Yankees' organization. The hard information that I have on Campos is in
the report—scouts from other teams didn't get to see him pitch in
instructional league because he didn't pitch in instructs. To my
knowledge (i.e., I asked about it and got this as a response), he also
didn't pitch in Dominican instructs either. If rest and rehabilitation
do not get Campos pain-free by spring training, then he'll likely have
some kind of surgery. Whether or not it's Tommy John would be pure
speculation; the Yankees don't even like to say their pitchers have
Tommy John, they like to talk about it in different terms for some
reason. But yeah, I'd be worried. He'll get the Extreme tag in the
Handbook when we do BA Grades for sure.
Ben (Leland Grove): What led you to rank Heathcott above Sanchez and Austin? Is it purely a matter of ceiling, or something more?
There's very little separation among the
Yankees' top four prospects. Several factors that came into play in
ranking them the way I did: 1) Heathcott's tools are very similar to
Williams'. He doesn't have the pure hitting ability, his swing is a bit
choppy as I wrote, but if he adjusts his swing path and improves his
contact ability, he could be a monster. It's more a reflection of how
high Heathcott's ceiling is than a negative on anyone else. 2) I had two
sources indicate they thought Austin's best position is 1B in the
future, which was why I dropped him to 4. One thought that was a
compliment, he'd seen Austin at first in the past and thought he was
very good there and would prefer the plus 1B to the average RF. I still
think that would make him a bit less valuable as a prospect. They all
will have very similar BA Grades in the book.
Frank (Chicago): How far away from the top 10 was Mark Montgomery, and is he a relatively safe bet to reach the Bronx next season?
He was in the top 10 in certain
iterations. He is among the safest best in the entire farm system to get
to the big leagues in 2013. Really like @SnapDragonMonty, ranked him
23rd in last year's book; most 11th-round picks don't make the book.
There's funk in the delivery, he throws strikes and he's got an out
pitch. Lots to like there.
Grant (NYC): How far down your top 30 list did
Dellin Betances fall? He's had some encouraging results in the AFL -
what's he doing differently? Is his future role likely to be a reliever?
Pretty far. I've been high on Betances for
several years, but the Daniel Cabrera comparisons are coming true. He's
just not athletic enough to repeat the delivery for strikes. The other
problem was the changeup, which developed well for him in 2010, just has
regressed the last two years. He's behind some others in the Yankees'
relief pecking order, so he's going to have to stand out in that role or
get passed by, you know, guys that throw strikes.
@Jaypers413 (IL): What was the word on Ravel Santana this year? Is his ceiling still "considerable" as you labeled it last year?
Sadly for him, no. I had several reports
that essentially said, "This is not the same guy." His power and
athleticism were his calling cards; while he still was athletic enough
to play center field this year, I was told he'd lost at least one step
if not more, and his power was nonexistent. The Yankees clearly expected
more; he played CF and hit 4th or 5th most every day for Staten Island.
Debating hard whether or not to rank him in the Top 30, frankly. As JJ
Cooper and I talked about on the podcast the other day, he's one of the
guys where scouts who had New York-Penn coverage said, "I thought he was
supposed to be a guy but I didn't see anything like what you guys
wrote." So that ankle injury obviously set him back a ways.
Morrie (NJ): Besides power, what else does Pete O'Brien bring to the table? How are his catching skills?
O'Brien has power and a power arm; those
are his best tools. He's huge for a catcher at around 6-4, 225, and he
doesn't have Matt Wieters' or Joe Mauer's athleticism. He's just not
flexible or agile back there. It's all about how he hits, and he didn't
hit in his debut, and the bat looked slow. He had a wrist issue in the
spring as well; maybe that was an issue. We'll see but he didn't do
enough for me to put him in the Top 30. If you want to see for himself,
Conor Glassey had this draft report and video on our Draft Blog in the
Johnny Mo (Tampa, FL): How close to the top 10 was Tampa's Jose Ramirez? What did evaluators have to say about his pitches?
Ramirez had been ranked in previous
Handbooks but fell out last year when he flopped at Tampa. As you can
see from the Best Tools chart, he had a better year because he's listed,
for the first time, with Best Fastball in the organization. Previously
he has won Best Changeup. Those are the good news. The bad news is the
breaking ball remains inconsistent, and he still hasn't gotten out of
A-ball. I found a real mixed bag with him, and some Yanks officials seem
to consider him Top 10 material; I had another scout compare him to
Deolis Guerra. I ranked Deolis with both the Mets and Twins and that
comp didn't endear Ramirez. He's back in the book this year, though, and
will be a key prospect to watch in 2013.
Manny (Baltimore MD): Between Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy, who ranked higher on your top 30 and why? Thanks.
Murphy, because it's about the bat, and
he's a better hitter. Romine's offseason conditioning was called into
question, and for a guy in his fifth or sixth year in pro ball, that
doesn't seem to be a professional thing to do. He paid for it by missing
most of the season, and he's trying to make up for lost time in the
AFL. So far, even though he's tempered his leg kick a bit in his swing,
he's been the same streaky kind of guy. A healthy 2012 might have given
Romine a shot at being the regular or semi-regular catcher in New York
in 2013; now I don't see it. I have to think the Yanks want to see him
do it in Scranton first and stay healthy for a year.
Ben (Leland Grove): What shortcomings does Dante Bichette need to work on? How much did his stock drop this past year?
His stock dropped, not quite as much as
Santana but close. Talked to one scout who saw him last year and this
year and couldn't believe it was the same guy. If you believe in
Bichette, you chalk this year up to (a) seeing more breaking balls in
low A than he did in the GCL, (b) the size of the Charleston ballpark
swallowing up some of his power, and (c) his confidence plummeting as a
result. If you don't buy him, you just think he lacks the power to be
an impact player. I actually received positive reports on his defense;
he didn't let his hitting woes carry over to his glove, to his credit.
Carlos (Bronx): What can you tell us about LHP Nik Turley? Future SP or RP?
Certainly more of a starter profile,
back-of-the-rotation guy, but he needs to pitch more off his fastball.
At times he's pretty cutter-happy. We liked Turley last year and he
moved up quite a bit from 27, and his grade is better (he was a 45-High
last year). No one ever uses the word "loose" to describe him; he kind
of reminds me of Noah Lowry, who had a short-lived career with the
Giants. I like Turley but obviously not enough to rank him in the top
Mike (Utica, NY): Would a perfect world
comparison of Mason Williams be a left handed Andrew McCutchen? Also
what were the reviews on Raval Santana this year as he was a top 10 guy
Answered the Santana part. I wouldn't
throw that on Williams because McCutchen is so dynamic and more physical
than Williams. That said, I do believe in Williams' power. His
immaturity seems to be his biggest shortcoming; scouts and managers in
the SAL were quite down on his demeanor. Eventually, if he hits and
stays healthy, that won't matter.
Brad (Trenton): What does the 2013 outfield
look likein Trenton? With Heathcott, Austin, Flores, and Segedin all
slated to be in Trenton and Williams not far behind, who do you think
the Yankees will push quick to AAA by midseason?
Segedin is the odd-man out there in terms
of if he's still at Trenton, he's going to lose playing time and play DH
or first base. I know he was a third-round pick but he is more in the
Kyle Roller style of org player who will help make the other prospects
look better. I heard good things about Roller, by the way; I've never
been a big believer in him as a pro, but he apparently has as good a BP
as anyone in the system. Always knew he had raw power but I'm impressed
at how he's translated his strike-zone judgement more into hitting his
pitches rather than just taking walks. Always will swing & miss but
he's got a chance. Segedin did stay healthy all year and that's a plus.
Roller & Segedin will get squeezed a bit; I also could see Flores
pushed because the bat is polished.
richard (spokane): How do you think Austin's
bat will profile in the majors? Do you think the high averages and obp
will translate? What's your take on how his power will progress?
That's part of the question, he's the
righthanded-hitting corner bat, and the guys who do that in the majors
are either real mashers like Konerko or Pujols or are quite athletic
like the Brauns or Ryan Zimmermans or David Wrights. He's not at third
anymore obviously; will he mash? Is he a bit of a tweener? It's a bit of
a tough profile, that's another reason why he's at No. 4. But he has no
major flaws either. The guys in front of him each as a 70 on the
scouting report and Austin does not. so ceiling-wise, he's a bit behind
them. But he's more of a sure bet than Williams, Sanchez or certainly
Heathcott, who has been so injury prone. Very nice season for Tyler
Austin, best in the Yanks system easily.
stubbs (trenton): Do you think Brett Gardner is
a good comp for Heathcott? (on a side note, who do you think plays
with more intensity and reckless abandon, Heathcott or Lawrie?)
I used to but it sounds like Heathcott has
much more raw power than Gardner, power he has started to tap into as
he improves his swing. He's gotten some Pete Reiser comparisons for his
playing style, but that's an old comp. I compared him to Chris Snelling,
who Jim Callis used to call the "Australian Pete Reiser." But as for
contemporary guys, yeah, similar playing style to Lawrie or even Bryce
Harper in terms of playing hard all the time. He doesn't have Harper's
tools, not trying to say that, just saying he runs that hard and plays
with that intensity.
Terry (Atlanta, GA): Two questions, John - how
many of the top 10 do you believe will make the BA top 100, and if you
stacked this list against last year's, which one has the higher ceiling?
Pretty cut and dried that the top 4 guys
make the Top 100, perhaps all four in the top 50 or 60 prospects, but
then there's a dropoff. Last year's list had a bit more upside because
it had Montero, and I really believe that guy will hit and hit for a lot
of power when it's all said and done. Pretty sure I've written it
before but to me Montero will have a Konerko type of career. Also, last
year's top 10 had a healthy Banuelos and higher hopes for Betances ...
the healthy Banuelos is a big difference. I would give last year the
edge on Montero & Banuelos alone.
Mike (Utica, NY): Call me crazy but could Heathcott's upside be Paul Oneil with a touch less of a hit tool but more speed?
O'Neill won a batting title and was a
three-hole hitter. Heathcott is a completely different kind of player,
where his pure hitting ability is the biggest question, so I wouldn't
make that comparison.
Steven Alengakis (NYC): How far was Nik Turley
from being in the top 10 and is he someone the Yankees have high hopes
for? Though the Yankees do have some guys with high ceilings, has their
system finally fallen to the lower 1/3 of ML teams at this point?
No, I don't think it's a bottom-third farm
system, more middle of the pack. I just finished the Twins system and
see them as similar in that the Yankees have a lot of hitters they like,
like Minnesota, but not as much pitching. I'd take the Twins' hitters
over the Yankees and I'd take Kyle Gibson and J.O. Berrios over Brett
Marshall and Jose Campos, so I'd give the Twins an edge. The Yanks have
more depth, though, still think it's a middle-of-the-pack system.
Darryl (Toronto): You list David Robertson as
the closer in your projected 2016 line-up. How realistic is this? When
do you see him assuming the ninth inning duties? Not that you wish
injury on any player, but when Mo went down, I was excited to see what
Robertson would do with the potential opportunity - only to be
disappointed due to his own injury issues, and Soriano.
Robertson certainly struggled a bit in
that role this year, but with Rivera's age and Soriano's contract
situation, he was the natural guy to list there. The lineup is merely
intended to show readers, "Hey, if your team had to fill out a future
lineup entirely from within, here's how it would look." It gives you an
idea of where the system is strong and where it's weak. To me, Robertson
is still the best young reliever in the organization either in the
majors or the minors, hence he's designated the future closer.
Steve (Trenton): Was Zoilo Almonte in consideration? Do you see him as an everyday player or a 4th outfielder??
Extra guy, and he's not defensive enough
to be a fourth outfielder. Borderline top 30 guy, not a real
consideration for the top 10.
Marcus (Endicott, NY): Is Nick Turley the Yankees' best healthy left-handed pitching prospect?
Time for some lightning-round answers late
on a Friday afternoon ... Yes, Turley is the top LHP who is healthy.
Not much competition there. Keep an eye out deep in the system for
6-foot-8 LHP Rony Bautista, who had a good instructional league and
should see time in Staten Island's rotation in 2013.
Marcus (Endicott): Did the outlook on Cito Culver or Dante Bichette change after their first experience in a long-season league?
Yes, for the worse. Both are very young,
still teenagers, but they didn't show much with the bat. As one of my
favorite scouts once told me, no one gets promoted for making
spectacular defensive plays. You get promoted when you hit. They need to
Marcus (Endicott): The Yankees have a lot of interesting bullpen arms beyond Montgomery. Who do you see as the most likely Major Leaguers?
One more from Marcus ... they do have a
lot of bullpen arms. Betances, Tommy Kahnle, Nick Goody and Chase
Whitley are all guys that have a chance to contribute in New York,
sooner than later. I'm not as high on guys like Zach Nuding, Branden
Pinder or Daniel Burawa long-term, but they all throw hard and could
catch lightning in a bottle. Whitley's more of a personal cheeseball
than anything else, always liked his feel for pitching and slider.
Francisco Done (Atlanta, GA): Hi! Do you see Gary Sanchez reaching AAA in 2013?
Not really; I think if he reaches Double-A
it will be a good year. He's likely to start in Tampa and earn a
promotion. Dude is still really young, and catching is hard.
Al (NYC): How close was it for the top spot? I
imagine the top 4 were all in consideration? In the end what seperated
Williams from the rest? Thanks!
Definitely very close. In the end,
Williams just has more plus tools; he's the fastest runner, he's as good
a hitter for average as Austin, his power's as good or better than
Austin's (though behind Sanchez), and he's got a chance to be an Austin
Jackson-caliber CF. Nothing below a 60 on one scout's report that I
talked to, including the power. He has a real chance to be a special
player if he grows up a bit.
Jim H. (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada): Last
year's top two pitching prospects, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances,
took big steps backwards, one with Tommy John surgery, and the other
with poor performance. Are there any other prospects with the kind of
stuff to project as possible front-of-the-rotation-type starters
somewhere down the road ?
Banuelos, Campos, Hensley and DePaula all
made the top 10 based on possibly being future 1, 2 or 3 starters.
DePaula is the biggest x-factor obviously. If there's a deep sleeper
frontline starter in teh system, I'd say it's Corey Black, who has a
quick, special arm and big-time fastball. Almost gave him best FB over
Ramirez, it was very close.
JR (Gilgo Beach, Long Island): Suprised not to see Pineda on your rotation of the future. Why is that?
He didn't pitch all year and he is not
projected to be ready even by spring training, according to Brian
Cashman, so I thought it best to be cautious with him. That said, it
does look odd to have Campos in and not Pineda, but that's a function of
how we do the lineups; I couldn't list Marshall without listing Campos,
so I listed both.
Mike (Baltimore): Hey John, thanks for the chat. How close was Austin Aune to the top 10? Do people still think he lacks the hands for SS?
Not too close because he's pretty raw, but
he's in the 11-20 range. Sounds like a guy with a real chance to make
an impact offensively with a lean, athletic body. I do not think anyone
in Texas who saw him as an amateur saw him as a shortstop. The Yankees
have the luxury of letting Aune prove himself as a SS to them in the low
levels of the minors and can always move him later.
John (Baltimore): Hey John, is it time to
write-off Cito Culver? He hit .215/.321/.283 this year at Low-A with
nearly a K a game and seemingly his lone bright spot, 22 SBs, is
countered by 11 caught stealings. Thanks
His other bright spot is his walks; he
does know the strike zone. He's got to get stronger; that's part one. I
would not write him off because he can defend at short but he's a
project offensively, particularly from the left side, even though his
numbers are better from that side. Our reports are that the lefthanded
swing is not a good one.
Jimmy (White Plains): Do the Yankees have any sleepers in the farm system
Sure. I already gave you one in Bautista. I
like Rob Refsnyder, the College World Series MOP; not sure if he should
play 2b or stay in the outfield or what, but the guy can hit. I also
have to give it up to Addison Maruszak, whom Damon Oppenheimer always
has liked. He had a nice season, might get there as a Brandon Laird type
of utility guy. Not as much thump as Laird but a better athlete and
defender. And Abe Almonte is still kicking around, always thought he
could hit a bit and steal a base, and he still can. Not sure he's a
regular but could see him as a second-division regular in another
Sean (NJ): Have you ever heard Mikeson
Oliberto's name come up from anyone inside or outside the organization
as a potential sleeper prospect down the road?
Yes, another potential sleeper, maybe a 70
runner, wiry strength and decent swing mechanics. He may have been the
best prospect after Aune on the GCL team, at least in the lineup. 3B
Miguel Andujar also gets some support in that regard after really
turning the corner in instructs, but after going ga-ga over Santana and
Bichette last year, I tempered my enthusiasm for the GCL guys this year.
Nate (Oberlin, OH): Any reports on Matt Bashoure being a real prospect again?
Yeah, he's probably not. Never say never
but the velocity has not returned to the 90 mph level. Still has a good
changeup and is still lefthanded so you never know.
Merv (NJ): Will Luis Torrens and/or Alexander Palma make the top 30? Any word on how they looked at the Dominican instructional camp?
I did not rank them in the top 30, and
when I made my calls and did the writeup, Dominican instructs had just
started. I like Torrens and wrote about him last winter when he was in
the Panamanian winter league; he can really hit, mature body, we'll see
where he winds up defensively. Palma sounds intriguing as well, but the
only guys that age I can recall running way up a list were guys like
Montero, Sanchez, Sano ... doesn't sound like Palma or Torrens are of
Fred (New York): Is Williams' immaturity
getting the way of his development? he not listening to coaching? Or is
this more like, it's annoying but not an onfield issue?
At times it's both. Annoying to teammates
and opponents, inconsistent effort ... those are trouble signs. Easier
to make a care tone it down than to make him care more. Yankees insist
it was a matter of being too hard on himself. I gave a 20-year-old the
benefit of the doubt.
jbo29j (Brooklyn, NY): Does Stoneburner deserve
a spot on the 40 man roster, or is it safe to assume he wont stick with
a club even if he's taken in the rule 5 draft?
Never been a huge Stoneburner guy, I would not spend a 40-man spot on him.
Marcus (Endicott): Is David Adams a big-league regular?
He could be, as a kind of place-holder,
which isn't the Yankees' style. I see him as a second-division regular,
but he is a righthanded bat, which the Yankees could use. If they don't
protect him I could definitely see him getting Rule 5'd. He is kind of a
righthanded Ryan Flaherty, though a bit less athletic. Similar in that
the bat profiles better at 2B but the defense fits better at third or LF
or 1B. Problem for Adams is he doesn't run well at all, so LF may not
even be an option.
Marcus (Endicott): Nathan Mikolas' numbers indicate that he may have been overmatched in his debut. What is your opinion on him?
He was quite overmatched. The Yankees
tried to salvage his season by sending him to Dominican instructs, but
he and Matt Duran are a pair of power-hitting 1Bs the Yankees have
signed and will have to be patient on. Neither has shown much of late.
Greg Bird is their top 1B prospect by a large margin, they really like
Bird's feel for hitting.
Marcus (Endicott): What keeps Ramon Flores out of the top ten?
More of a lot of 50 grades with no true
plus tool. Even guys who like him give him 55 grades for the bat. Last
player I ran into like that was Jason Pridie, one of my more infamous
misses as a prospect ranking person. I can't quit you Jason Pridie!!
Judging by that last answer, it's time for
me to go. Thanks, lots of Yankees questions today as usual. Hope you
all have power soon if you don't already up in New York & New
Jersey, thanks for being patient with the top 10 and check out the
podcasts we did on the AL East on our iTunes page: