New York Yankees: Top 10 Prospects

New York Yankees

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, 2009.

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1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Austin Romine, c
3. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
4. Slade Heathcott, of
5. Zach McAllister, rhp
6. Manny Banuelos, lhp
7. Gary Sanchez, c
8. J.R. Murphy, c
9. Jeremy Bleich, lhp
10. Andrew Brackman, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Jesus Montero
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Reegie Corona
Fastest Baserunner Melky Mesa
Best Athlete Melky Mesa
Best Fastball Andrew Brackman
Best Curveball Arodys Vizcaino
Best Slider Mike Dunn
Best Changeup Manny Banuelos
Best Control Zach McAllister
Best Defensive Catcher Francisco Cervelli
Best Defensive Infielder Ramiro Pena
Best Infield Arm Eduardo Nunez
Best Defensive Outfielder Jamie Hoffmann
Best Outfield Arm Melky Mesa
Catcher Austin Romine
First Base Mark Teixeira
Second Base Robinson Cano
Third Base Alex Rodriguez
Shortstop Derek Jeter
Left Field Curtis Granderson
Center Field Brett Gardner
Right Field Slade Heathcott
Designated Hitter Jesus Montero
No. 1 Starter C.C Sabathia
No. 2 Starter Phil Hughes
No. 3 Starter A.J. Burnett
No. 4 Starter Arodys Vizcaino
No. 5 Starter Manny Banuelos
Closer Joba Chamberlain
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Nick Johnson, 1b Marlins
2001 Nick Johnson, 1b Marlins
2002 Drew Henson, 3b Out of baseball
2003 Jose Contreras, rhp Rockies
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
2009 Austin Jackson, of Yankees
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 David Parrish, c Out of baseball
2001 John Ford-Griffin, of Cubs
2002 Brandon Weeden, rhp (2nd) Out of baseball
2003 Eric Duncan, 3b Yankees
2004 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2005 C.J. Henry, ss Out of baseball
2006 Ian Kennedy, rhp Yankees
2007 Andrew Brackman, rhp Yankees
2008 *Gerrit Cole, rhp UCLA
2009 Slade Heathcott, of Yankees
*Did not sign
Hideki Irabu, 1997 $8,500,000
Jose Contreras, 2002 $6,000,000
Andrew Brackman, 2007 $3,350,000
Gary Sanchez, 2009 $3,000,000
Willy Mo Pena, 1999 $2,440,000
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New York Yankees

Every Yankees team is measured against the amazing, rich history of the franchise, the most championship-laden in American team sports.

The standard for success is clear. Anything less than a World Series title is a failure.

For the first time since 2000, New York had a season it could consider a success, beating the Phillies in six games for their 27th World Series championship. The Yankees started the year under the cloud of Alex Rodriguez's admitted steroid use, but he and the team put that behind him. The club got off to a 13-15 start before Rodriguez returned from hip surgery on May 8, then won at a .672 clip for the remainder of the regular season before going 11-4 in the playoffs.

Investing $423.5 million in free agents Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett paid huge dividends, while captain Derek Jeter had one of the best seasons of his storied career. Despite playing in just 124 games, Rodriguez reached 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the 12th straight season. Better yet, he erased memories of previous playoff failures by batting .365 with six homers in the postseason, earning his first championship ring.

While the Yankees continued to wield their financial muscle when putting together their big league club, they also got vital contributions from a number of young homegrown players as well. Brett Gardner shared time in center field and provided a jolt with his top-of-the-line speed. Joba Chamberlain failed to convince anyone that he's better suited as a starter than as a reliever, yet he still held down the fourth slot in the rotation. Phil Hughes shined as a setup man, and rookies Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke and David Robertson helped further shore up the bullpen. In the postseason, every New York reliever except for Brian Bruney was a product of the farm system.

Senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, who has overseen scouting and player development in the organization for the better part of the last 13 years, says the Yankees aspire to more.

"We're not in this to develop relievers, but starters, starting pitchers and impact hitters," he says. To that end, both Chamberlain and Hughes are likely to be given another shot at the rotation in 2010, though scouts who once considered Chamberlain a future No. 1 starter now admit that he's a different animal out of the bullpen.

As for impact bats, New York points to Jesus Montero, the Venezuelan catcher they signed for $1.65 million bonus in 2006. Montero took a significant leap forward last season, dominating Double-A pitching at age 19. The Yankees had similar hopes for outfielder Austin Jackson, who ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago. But after he hit .300 with just four homers in Triple-A, they included him, as well as Coke and 2006 first-rounder Ian Kennedy, in a three-team trade that netted Curtis Granderson from the Tigers.

Several of the system's top pitching prospects had down years, with 2007 first-rounder Andrew Brackman having a truly awful season at low Class A Charleston and Dellin Betances and Jairo Heredia, among others, succumbing to injuries. But Newman said that on the whole, the Yankees' pitching injuries were down. And those setbacks were offset by the emergence of arms such as Arodys Vizcaino and Manny Baneulos, plus aggressive spending in the draft and internationally that landed prospects such as outfielder Slade Heathcott and catchers Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy.

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