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Yankees Top 10 Chat

Moderator: Associate editor Josh Boyd compiled the Yankees top 10 prospects list. He'll be here to answer your questions at 3 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Is Drew Henson being the #4 Yankee prospect reflect that their farm system isn't that good, or that he still holds that much potential?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Thanks for joining us today for our third Top 10 chat. I'll see if I can follow up the fine job Will and Jim did last week. I'm guessing this won't be the only Drew Henson question, so this response is for everyone who submitted a Henson question.

Josh Boyd: In theory, there is a little bit of truth to both parts of your question, however, there are more than enough baseball people who still believe in Henson--and the Yankees certainly still have high hopes for him. Almost every scout to a man who I have spoken with recently has said that because of his strength and athleticism, they are not about to give up on him. The 200 words that made up his Top 10 scouting report are not nearly enough to explain everything that has gone on in Drew's world over the last few years. I think you have to look at the rapid rate in which he was rushed through the system. In my opinion, he never should have been moved to Columbus so quickly, and I don't think there would be any harm in holding him in Double-A and let him experience some success again. Maybe Drew Henson won't make it, but his ranking is a reflection of the ceiling he has versus the risk. Both are very high. Some scouts still put very high numbers on him, they just think it will take a few years longer given his history of splitting sports. To compare him to Josh Booty and Chad Hutchinson is foolish and to say that Drew Henson "can't play baseball" is ignorant, especially when you haven't seen him.

 Q:  Daron Johnson from Plymouth, MN asks:
For the last several years the Yankees farm system has ranked in the top five in baseball. With the trading of John Ford-Griffin and Jason Arnold, the Tommy John surgeries of Claussen and Henn, and the disappointment of Hensen, how would the Yankees stack up currently?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They have definitely dropped off from their top five standing, I don't think anyone would argue that. I would still place them in the middle of the pack--maybe in the 15-20 range.

 Q:  Shane from Tommy John, USA asks:
Hey Josh, The Yankees system looks pretty blah to me, Jason Arnold would look nice in here. Do you think his throwing mechanics had anything to do with the Yankees dealing him? Thanks.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I don't really think so because he had the same throwing mechanics when they made him a second-rounder a year earlier and gave him a $400,000 bonus. I think it was more a matter of the A's wanting him and John-Ford Griffin as part of that 3-way deal.

 Q:  keshone alleyne from ny asks:
YANKEES PROSPECTS SEAN HENN & RUDY GUILLEN DO THESE 2 HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE SUPER STAR . 1.) IS SEAN HENN A STARTER AND HOW GOOD CAN HE BE. 2.) RUDY GUILLEN IS HE THAT GOOD I HEARD A GUY COMPARE HIM TO VLAD G. KESHONE ALLEYNE, NY
 A: 

Josh Boyd: 1. YES HE IS A STARTER, AND WITH HIS MID- TO UPPER-90S FASTBALL AND GOOD CHANGEUP HE'LL HAVE A CHANCE TO STAY IN THE ROTATION AS HE MOVES UP. THERE IS A CHANCE--BECAUSE OF HIS INJURY, AND MECHANICS--THAT HE MIGHT PROFILE BETTER AS A RELIEVER DOWN THE ROAD. BUT HIS ROLE FOR NOW IS AS A STARTER. 2. VLADIMIR COMPARISONS FOR RUDY GUILLEN ARE A LITTLE OUT OF CONTROL AT THIS POINT. HE HAD A NICE DEBUT AND SHOWED SOME PROMISING TOOLS AT THE LOWEST LEVEL OF THE MINORS. I THINK HE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO SOAR TO THE TOP END OF THE YANKEES LIST IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS, BUT HE IS A DEEP PROJECTION AT THIS POINT.

 Q:  Thomas from Long Island asks:
Hi Josh. The Yankees have not developed a blue-chip pitching prospect since Eric Milton. With the prospects at the GCL(Brandon Wheeden, Brandon Harmsen, Jose Valdez, Cristian Mendoza, Anderson Garcia) and at higher levels (Henn, Wang, Claussen), are the Yankees making extra efforts to change that? Also, which one of them has the highest ceiling? Thanks!
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Hi Thomas. Of coourse they are making efforts to change that, and I think they have made some strides in that area with the names you mentioned plus Danny Borrell, Julio DePaula, Javier Ortiz, Charlie Manning, etc. Jose Valdez has the highest ceiling, but Brandon Claussen, Sean Henn and Chien-Ming Wang have the stuff to be at least middle of the rotation starters, too.

 Q:  john farve from brooklyn asks:
(SEAN HENN BRANDON CLAUSSEN CHEIN-MANG WANG) CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME DOES BOSTON HAVE ANY PITCHERS BETTER THEN THOSE 3 IN THEIR SYSTEM WHEN EVEREYONES HEALTHY.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I know Jim Callis wouldn't be the first to agree with me, but I'd take those three over any of the Red Sox best arms, with Phil Dumatrait and Manny Delcarmen just behind Henn (when healthy). I think a guy like Jose Valdez is similar to No. 7 Boston prospect Billy Simon.

 Q:  KP from Queens asks:
Would you consider the way the Yankees develop their farm system to be conservative, meaning hold some average players back so that they are dominate younger leagues...enhancing their image as prospects and then trading them off?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I think they are conservative, yes. The exception being Drew Henson's progression. There is some validity to your question on their reasons for doing so, at least according to other team's scouts. But teams dealing with the Yankees--or any other team-- should have scouts who can accurately evaluate talent, regardless of the level and their performance. So, they shouldn't be fooled, if that is the Yankees intention.

 Q:  Chris from Burlington, VT asks:
The Yankees are notorious for bringing along prospects from other countries due to their ability to overpay for them. Also, they seem to have a lot of success with some lesser known players (i.e. Andy Pettitte). Does their system have anybody in the low levels that match these qualities?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: They have done a fine job with draft-and-follows, including Pettitte, Brandon Claussen and Sean Henn, all three who happen to be from Texas (an area the Yankees hit hard in the draft). Charlie Manning has a chance to follow along in the "lesser-known" quantity you are asking about. Ryan Bicondoa also has a chance to sneak up in the next couple years.

 Q:  Tim Walker from Greenwich, CT asks:
Where is Andy Phillips? He broke through in 2002, leading the Eastern League in homers before being promoted to Columbus. Although it took a few years for Phillips to develop, he finally put up great numbers. Why is Robinson Cano ranked higher? Cano made 37 errors, compared to Phillips 10. What does Robinson Cano have that Phillips lacks? Speed? I'm not convinced Cano is a better prospect than Phillips.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Phillips is ranked in the 11-15 range. Cano has a higher ceiling, with at-least average tools in all five categories. He is younger than Phillips by more than five years. Phillips did have a breakthrough after moving to second base this year, and he projects as an offensive second baseman (somewhere, not New York), and his two big league average tools are hitting and now power. Obviously two nice tools to have, but Cano ripped 25 doubles, 10 triples and 15 home runs in his first full season as a teenager. He has room to grow, but already displays an advanced approach for his age and background. He has the ability to play mutilple positions in the infield and the athleticism and plus arm strength to play the outfield, while Phillips is limited defensively. I'm not knocking Phillips, just explaining why Cano ranks ahead. Cano has a chance to make an impact in the majors down the road.

 Q:  Michael Levesque from Trent River, Ontario, Canada asks:
Hey Josh, How are things going? What's the word, is this trade between the Expos and Yankees going down. I was also wondering what the scouting report was on 18-year-old left-hander Abel Gomez. He put up some nice numbers this year going 2-1, 2.04 with 55 strikeouts in 39 23 innings pitched.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: T-River in the house! What's up Michael? The latest I'm hearing is Omar Minaya is denying the talks--I'm not sure that means too much, but I think the Expos are still waiting word from the commish on their 2003 budget. Gomez is a little lefty who has been throwing 89 mph in the Dominican this offseason, touching 93 and showing a good downer curveball.

 Q:  Diz from Boston asks:
Hi: So is it about time to admit that the Yank's farm system is over rated? I would say that the Yanks system only has maybe two players that have more potential than the O's. In fact, Keith Reed is just as good as Drew Henson, yet Henson has been talked up like he is the Next Mike Schmidt and Reed is placed in the junk yard (rightfully so I might add). Am I crazy or right on? So what is your estimate of the Yanks rankings? Top ten or bottom ten?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: As I mentioned earlier, I would place the Yanks in that 15-20 range. I think they have some depth in the lower levels because of their Dominican program--which they are now trying to grab more players instead of the high-ticketed, high-risk international signs. There is no "Yankee hype" in saying that this system is still far ahead of the Orioles. I don't think they have been overrated in the past--true, they are down this year and our rankings THIS YEAR will reflect that. But in the past with guys like Nick Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Juan Rivera, Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman and their prospects who still remain in high regard like Bronson Sardinha, Claussen and Wang are legitimate quality prospects. They have had their share of prospects not live up to their potential, just like any system. You're not going to get many people agreeing with you on an Orioles vs. Yanks farm system though.

 Q:  Arnie Magana Jr, from New Rochelle N.Y. asks:
[Even Steven Hawkings would have trouble predicting which prospect is the real deal] Rather than asking you who you think will have the biggest impact on the Yankees, from their current minor league system, what I would like to know is, which prospect would they work the hardest to retain should they have too? Thanks.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I would think that prospect would be a healthy Brandon Claussen because of the demand for lefthanded pitching--especially in The Stadium. Had he been healthy, he would have ranked No. 1, but the uncertainty knocked him down a couple slots.

 Q:  Guido from Brooklyn, NY asks:
I always like seeing my Yankees with lots of top 100 prospects. It shuts up those "they jst buy the pennant" yutzes. I'm not sure I'm going to like it this year. Claussesn (#3) of TJ surgery doesn't seem likely and Henson (#4) off a putrid AFL season isn't likely either. It looks like just Rivera and Sardinha and both will be at the back end of the top 100. Is this the worse showing by the Yankees ever?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: As it stands right now, it's their weakest in a while. When you look back at their lists from the past, they have a solid big leaguer, if not an all-star, every year. Jeter, Milton, Guzman, soriano, Posada, Mo Rivera etc... Five years down the road, maybe Bronson Sardinha, Henson, Wang or someone not even on the list will have the same success.

 Q:  A.J. from Winnetka, Ill. asks:
What would you rather have, Drew Henson or a year's supply of House Chicken?
 A: 

Prospect Maven: So, I lied. One more Henson question because I can't resist the House Chicken reference. I really have no response to that question, A.J., but I do like some House Chicken.

 Q:  Joey from Staten Island asks:
The Yankees said that moving Sardinha and Cano down to Staten Island wasn't a demotion, but what in the world else could it have been?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Technically it is a demotion because the short-season New York-Penn League is lower than the South Atlantic League. I think the Yankees want to make it clear that neither player was demoted because of lack of performance, or because they couldn't handle the higher level. Most NY-P people believe it had more to do with beefing up Staten Island for the 'offs.

 Q:  Adam from Richmond, VA asks:
Why isn't a power hitting middle infielder like Robinson Cano thought more highly of?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: We only ranked a handful of Yanks prospects ahead of him, so I'm not sure what you mean. I thought I actually ranked him pretty high, and he is very highly thought of 'round here.

 Q:  Nick from NJ asks:
If John-Ford Griffin and Jason Arnold were still with the Yankees, where would you rank them? Thanks.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Their presence would certainly bulk up the Yankees Top 10, and possibly push Henson out of the top five. I think they would rank side by side, with Griffin still getting the edge, for me. And I could see them in the top six, ahead of Danny Borrell.

 Q:  Chetanna from baltimore asks:
How is Juan Rivera the top prospect when he played so many games in New York
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Rivera only had 83 at-bats in New York during the regular season, which is less than the rookie max of 130, meaning he still qualifies for this list as well as for the Rookie of the Year award in 2003.

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
Hi Josh, Do you see the Yankees changing their draft strategy in light of their much weaker than usual farm system? With no Nick Johnsons or Alfonso Sorianos to hold their hat on, might they look to draft some higher ceiling players instead of opting for so many polished college seniors?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I think you are right on here Ben. They already started to show some of that this year by opting for Oklahoma prep righthander Brandon Weeden in the second round. They were college-heavy after that, but they hope to land some of the high-ceiling prospects you are talking about through their flourishing Latin American program.

 Q:  Peter from Los Angeles asks:
Hello Josh, how are you? Always enjoy your articles and takes very much. Can you tell me more about Yankees minor leage RHP Chien-Ming Wang? Looking at his stats, he had an excellent season in short season this past year. I was surprised that the Yankees did not move him up the ladder during the season since he was pitching so well and was pitching 6 or 7 innings each time out. Do you happen to know why? And is he projected to be a #1 starter or middle of the rotation guy? When do you think he will reach MLB? With the Yankees or will get traded? Thank you so much for taking my questions. Have a great day. Thx.
 A: 

Josh Boyd: Good Peter, thanks. They were bringing him along slowly after having shoulder surgery and also didn't want to take him out of the Staten rotation during their stretch run. Please read the complete scouting report on Wang in our Top 10, as it will have the answers to all of your questions. you can access that from the home page today.

 Q:  Chris from Allentown, PA asks:
I know they are probably still in high school, but have their been any reports on Don Mattingly's sons and whether they inherited the baseball genes?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: You know, I haven't heard, but I sure hope so. It will be great to see a Mattingly back in uniform.

 Q:  bill anderson from norwood ,ma asks:
Josh, Jim said he would take Boston's farm over the Yankee's right now but that you would disagree.Care to comment?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: It must be very, very cold up there in Chicago where Jim is...

 Q:  Turn2 from Calif asks:
Josh, What is the status of LHP Alex Graman and OF Jason Grove? Both appeared to have ML futures ... is that still a good possibility?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I think both have ML futures, maybe in a somwhat lesser role than was thought just a couple years ago. Graman's stuff just hasn't advanced as projected, though it is still steady for a lefty. He has a good mix of pitches with a splitter and an average velo fastball. If things click for him, he could find a role as a swingman or a middle reliever. Grove has such a nice stroke, if he could only avoid the injuries which have plagued him during his young career. He is limited to left field by his arm and speed and doesn't hit for above-average power, so I think he may be limited to an extra outfielder role down the road.

 Q:  Jim Harmon from New Paltz, New York asks:
Lhp Brandon Claussen -- In some long ago chat, you indicated your opinion that Claussen pre-injury was only a Number 3 starter type. Is that still how you judge his future ? That also does not seem to speak very highly of the Yankees pitching depth if their highest ranked pitcher is at best a middle of the rotation guy...
 A: 

Josh Boyd: I think there is a misconception out there that a No. 3 starter on a championship team is a bad thing... just because we don't throw the "frontline" starter label on a guy doesn't mean he isn't a bona fide prospect. The middle of the rotation (Andy Pettitte in his prime for example) on a championship club could be at the top of the rotation on a second-division club. Claussen's ceiling might in fact be higher than that of a No. 3, but I think it is more likely that's where he'll fit in.

 Q:  Tony from the Bronx asks:
You say that you can't criticize Drew Henson without having seen him, but in fact a number of respected analysts who watched him in the AFL did see him and described him as an awful baseball player. Why does BA differ so much from these other scouting reports?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: There are some scouts who don't believe he will hit in the big leagues. There are some scouts who think he will be a major league star. Most I've talked with, which is several good talent evaluators say they aren't going to give up on him yet. We have reported his weaknesses several times. I wrote about the holes in his swing last year in the Fall League, and again this year in their Top 10. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, I just think there is a lot more to the story than Henson's numbers will tell you.

 Q:  Chester from Chicago asks:
There's a common perception that Baseball America has a pro-Yankees bias, and has been part and parcel of hyping a number of Yankee prospects. Proof of this is seen in the poor results of the system over the last few years, even as it has been continuously ranked by Baseball America as among the best in baseball. How do you respond to this criticism?
 A: 

Josh Boyd: We've heard that. We have no bias. I can tell you that. And I strongly disagree with you that their system has had poor results over the last few years. They have had depth and quality prospects. This was not a good year for them, and we have been reporting that throughout the year.

 Q:  Tucker Fredrickson: from New Iberia. Louisiana asks:
Hey Josh: Are you doing a chat on each oranization. If so when will the Blue Jays be on tap?? Tucker
 A: 

Josh Boyd: This is going to do it for today guys. Thanks a lot for everyone's participation.

John Manuel will be by to talk about the Jays on Friday. Bill Ballew is scheduled to stop by to chat Devil Rays prospects on Wednesday.

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