New York Yankees: Top 10 Prospects

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1. Austin Jackson, of
2. Jesus Montero, c
3. Andrew Brackman, rhp
4. Austin Romine, c
5. Dellin Betances, rhp
6. Zach McAllister, rhp
7. Alfredo Aceves, rhp
8. Phil Coke, lhp
9. Mark Melancon, rhp
10. Bradley Suttle, 3b
Best Hitter for Average Bradley Suttle
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Chris Malec
Fastest Baserunner Brett Gardner
Best Athlete Austin Jackson
Best Fastball Andrew Brackman
Best Curveball Christian Garcia
Best Slider Anthony Claggett
Best Changeup Alfredo Aceves
Best Control Zach McAllister
Best Defensive Catcher Francisco Cervelli
Best Defensive Infielder Ramiro Pena
Best Infield Arm Marcos Vechionacci
Best Defensive Outfielder Austin Jackson
Best Outfield Arm Seth Fortenberry
Catcher Austin Romine
First Base Alex Rodriguez
Second Base Robinson Cano
Third Base Bradley Suttle
Shortstop Derek Jeter
Left Field Xavier Nady
Center Field Brett Gardner
Right Field Austin Jackson
Designated Hitter Jesus Montero
No. 1 Starter Joba Chamberlain
No. 2 Starter Chien-Ming Wang
No. 3 Starter Andrew Brackman
No. 4 Starter Dellin Betances
No. 5 Starter Phil Hughes
Closer Mark Melancon
Year Player, Position 2008
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 Rays
2005 Eric Duncan, 3b Yankees
2006 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2007 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2008 Joba Chamberlain, rhp Yankees
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 David Walling, lhp Out of baseball
2000 David Parrish, c Padres
2001 John Ford-Griffin, of Dodgers
2002 Brandon Weeden, rhp (2nd) Out of baseball
2003 Eric Duncan, 3b Yankees
2004 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2005 C.J. Henry, ss Yankees
2006 Ian Kennedy, rhp Yankees
2007 Andrew Brackman, rhp Yankees
2008 *Gerrit Cole None
*Did not sign
Hideki Irabu, 1997 $8,500,000
Jose Contreras, 2002 $6,000,000
Andrew Brackman, 2007 $3,350,000
Willy Mo Pena, 1999 $2,440,000
Ian Kennedy, 2006 $2,250,000
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New York Yankees

The last season of Yankee Stadium II figured to end in October. After all, since Major League Baseball added wild cards, there never had been a postseason party that didn’t include the Yankees.

Yet when New York played host to the Orioles on Sept. 21, that was it for The House That Ruth Built. In their first season under manager Joe Girardi, the Yankees got within three games of first place in late July, just as they bolstered their roster by acquiring Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte from the Pirates. But New York never got any closer and finished in third place at 89-73, eight games back.

Nothing went as planned, starting with a shoulder injury that limited Jorge Posada to just 51 games. Righthander Chien-Ming Wang went down with a season-ending foot injury in mid-June, Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano regressed (with Cabrera sent down to the minors), Joba Chamberlain broke down after moving into the rotation, and young pitchers Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy flopped.

The failure of the Yankees’ top young players was especially galling as the Rays and Red Sox rode theirs to the postseason. That subject was a focus of the organization’s postseason meetings—trying to figure out why New York’s young players haven’t translated minor league success to the majors while those on rival teams have.

New York nevertheless re-signed general manager Brian Cashman to a three-year contract shortly after the season ended. Cashman has several significant decisions to make, such as what to do with Chamberlain. The contracts of veterans Bob Abreu, Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina come off the books—they made a combined $48 million in 2008—and the Yankees had more resources than any organization to begin with. That will be even more true with the opening of a new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium, and they can outspend any club for the services of top free agents such as C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, both of whom would be ideal fits.

The Yankees haven’t leveraged their financial advantages well this decade, however. They have spent more than $1.3 billion on player salaries since winning the 2000 World Series, and have seen Boston and now Tampa Bay surpass them. New York’s only titles this year came at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton.

Despite their willingness to spend on draft and international talent, the Yankees have not developed any recent impact players beyond Chamberlain. (Cano would have counted before he regressed offensively and defensively in 2008.) They failed to sign two of their top three picks in the 2008 draft, including first-rounder Gerrit Cole—considered the most electric arm in the class of prep pitchers.

The Yankees did see significant progress from high-dollar investments such as Austin Jackson, who could claim their center-field job at some point in 2009, and catcher Jesus Montero, a $1.65 million bonus baby who had an all-star season in low Class A. Righthander Andrew Brackman, who got the largest draft bonus in club history ($3.35 million) as part of a big league contract that could reach $13 million with incentives, finally got on the mound in Hawaii Winter Baseball. He had Tommy John surgery shortly after signing in 2007 and an appendectomy this July.

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