2012 New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects

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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, 2011.

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1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Manny Banuelos, lhp
3. Dellin Betances, rhp
4. Gary Sanchez, c
5. Mason Williams, of
6. Dante Bichette, 3b
7. Ravel Santana, of
8. Austin Romine, c
9. J.R. Murphy, c/3b
10. Slade Heathcott, of
Best Hitter for Average Jesus Montero
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike Zone Discipline Ramon Flores
Fastest Baserunner Mason Williams
Best Athlete Mason Williams
Best Fastball Dellin Betances
Best Curveball Dellin Betances
Best Slider Mark Montgomery
Best Changup Manny Banuelos
Best Control Nik Turley
Best Defensive Catcher Austin Romine
Best Defensive Infielder Cito Culver
Best Infield Arm Cito Culver
Best Defensive OF Mason Williams
Best Outfield Arm Ravel Santana
Catcher Austin Romine
First Base Mark Teixeira
Second Base Robinson Cano
Third Base Alex Rodriguez
Shortstop Eduardo Nunez
Left Field Brett Gardner
Center Field Mason Williams
Right Field Curtis Granderson
Designated Hitter Jesus Montero
No. 1 Starter CC Sabathia
No. 2 Starter Manny Banuelos
No. 3 Starter Ivan Nova
No. 4 Starter Dellin Betances
No. 5 Starter Phil Hughes
Closer David Robertson
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Drew Henson, 3b Out of baseball
2003 Jose Contreras, rhp Phillies
2004 Dioner Navarro, c Dodgers
2005 Eric Duncan, 3b Cardinals
2006 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2007 Phil Hughes, rhp Yankees
2008 Joba Chamberlain, rhp Yankees
2009 Austin Jackson, of Tigers
2010 Jesus Montero, c Yankees
2011 Jesus Montero, c Yankees
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Brandon Weeden, rhp
(2nd round)
Out of baseball
2003 Eric Duncan, 3B Cardinals
2004 Phil Hughes, RHP Yankees
2005 C.J. Henry, SS Yankees
2006 Ian Kennedy, RHP Diamondbacks
2007 Andrew Brackman, RHP Reds
2008 Gerrit Cole, RHP Pirates
2009 Slade Heathcott, OF Yankees
2010 Cito Culver, SS Yankees
2011 Dante Bichette, OF Yankees
Hideki Irabu, 1997 $8,500,000
Jose Contreras, 2002 $6,000,000
Andrew Brackman, 2007 $3,350,000
Gary Sanchez, 2009 $3,000,000
Wily Mo Pena, 1999 $2,440,000
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New York Yankees

Since becoming general manager of the Yankees in 1998, Brian Cashman has overseen a franchise that has missed the playoffs only once while winning 100 games six times and earning four World Series championships. Yet it's impossible to evaluate Cashman's tenure or the team's success without acknowledging its financial advantages.

New York ranked second in major league payroll in 1998 and first every season since, spending $2.4 billion on players. It had $200 million-plus payrolls for the last seven consecutive seasons. When the Yankees don't sign a big-name free agent such as Cliff Lee—who spurned them for the Phillies last offseason—it's considered an upset.

New York's finances make it possible for it to owe 10 players a total of $167 million for 2012, from Curtis Granderson at $10 million to Alex Rodriguez at $29 million. But even the Yankees need low-cost players to supplement those eight-figure big leaguers. Minor league guru Mark Newman, pro scouting director Billy Eppler and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer have done their part to provide supplemental talent.

In 2011, New York's best rookies were products of its Latin American program. Ivan Nova's 16 wins led all big league rookies, while Eduardo Nunez started a total of 81 games at four different positions. Top prospect Jesus Montero made a quick impact in September and positioned himself for a full-time role in 2012 as a DH and part-time catcher.

The big league roster included key pro scouting pickups Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the rotation and Cory Wade in the bullpen. Oppenheimer draftees Brett Gardner, Ian Kennedy (with the Diamondbacks after being used in a December 2009 trade for Granderson) and David Robertson enjoyed all-star-caliber seasons. The latter two are part of a productive 2006 Yankees draft class that has sent 10 players to the majors.

New York has more on the way, starting with Montero, righthander Dellin Betances (another 2006 draftee) and Mexican lefty Manny Banuelos. Montero might not catch for many organizations, but he still might for the Yankees, who look more for offense from their backstops. With few attractive pitching options on the free-agent market, New York could turn to Banuelos or Betances in 2012.

They both reached Scranton/Wilkes-Barre toward the end of the 2011 season, becoming part of a Triple-A rotation that got 120 starts from homegrown pitchers. At the other end of the spectrum, Yankees affiliates won championships in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and short-season New York-Penn leagues.

It wasn't all great news for New York on the player-development front. Righthander Andrew Brackman, a 2007 first-round pick who collected nearly $6 million on the big league deal he signed without reaching the majors, didn't have his $2.2 million option for 2012 picked up after a terrible season. He contemplated quitting baseball and has gone 15-29, 5.11 as a pro.

Outside of Banuelos, the Yankees continue to struggle to develop lefties. Even with the success at the lower levels, the system's domestic clubs struggled to reach .500.

But on Cashman's watch, New York has been the majors' most consistent winner and produced its share of homegrown talent. As the GM begins a new three-year contract, it's easy to say that he has earned it.

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