2009 Prospect Mine: New York Yankees

There is not a ton of depth in the upper levels of the system, but there are some impressive bats on the way – with one that could develop into a superstar. The Yankees organization, though, always seems to be able to squeeze every ounce of potential out of its prospects, as long as they remain healthy.

AAA/AA
Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke both made good impressions with the Yankees last season despite receiving little-if-any hype prior to the 2008 season, as both would have been lucky to be described as No. 5 starter candidates. Right-hander Aceves, 26, posted a 2.40 ERA in 30 innings, although his FIP told a different story at 4.80. He allowed just 25 hits but his strikeout rate was rather low at 4.80 K/9 and his walk rate was a respectable 3.00. Aceves’ repertoire includes a fastball that sits around 91 mph, as well as a cutter, change-up and curveball. Left-hander Coke took to the bullpen in his MLB debut and posted an ERA of 0.61 in 14.2 innings. His FIP was far more favorable at 1.63. The 26-year-old hurler allowed eight hits, while posting rates of 1.23 BB/9 and 8.59 K/9. Both players could be useful MLB pitchers, but their ceilings are limited.

Mark Melancon has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and he flew threw the minor league system while playing at three levels in 2008, including his final stop at Triple-A. At the senior level, Melancon allowed just 11 hits in 20 innings pitched. He also walked just four with 22 strikeouts. In total, the right-hander allowed 69 hits in 95 innings. Impressively, his strikeout rate rose during each promotion and topped out at 9.90 K/9 in Triple-A. Melancon, 23, is in a perfect position to help out in New York in 2009.

Arguably the Yankees’ best prospect, outfielder Austin Jackson is still raw in many facets of his game, but his tools and potential are undeniable. Only 22, he had a solid season in Double-A last year with a line of .285/.354/.419 with nine homers and 19 stolen bases in 520 at-bats. He also posted rates of 9.7 BB% and 21.7 K%. He didn’t run a lot last year and he also does not have a ton of home run power in his bat. That said, he is a solid all-around player who does a little bit of everything and plays above-average defense. Jackson could very be patrolling center field for the Yankees before the end of 2009.

A+/A
He’s moved along slowly but Dellin Betances is still only 20 (soon to be 21), having been drafted out of high school in 2006. The right-hander is loaded with potential but he has been bitten by the injury bug a fair bit in his young career. Betances threw well last year in A-ball by allowing just 87 hits in 115.1 innings of work, with rates of 4.60 BB/9 and 10.53 K/9. He also allowed just nine home runs (0.70 HR/9). The injuries have slowed his development of a change-up but his fastball can touch 97 mph and his curveball is a plus pitch at times. He could split 2009 between High-A and Double-A if he’s healthy all year.

Zach McAllister is another promising but raw young pitcher. He was also taken in the 2006 draft and five rounds higher than Betances. Despite that fact, McAllister is not as flashy as his system-mate and has a lower ceiling. His fastball can hit 94 mph, but he pitches more to contact and lacks a reliable out-pitch. Both his change-up and curveball are still in the developmental stages. Last season, he split the year between two A-ball affiliates. In High-A, he allowed 74 hits in 88.2 innings and posted rates of 1.32 BB/9 and 6.29 K/9.

Jesus Montero has the potential to be a monster offensive player in the big leagues. He’s only 19 and will be playing at High-A ball in 2009. Last season in A-ball, Montero hit .326/.376/.491 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI in 525 at-bats. He walked just 6.6% of the time and posted a strikeout rate of 15.8 K%, which is excellent for a young power hitter. Montero’s defense behind the plate has improved, but it’s still below average and there are not many people who think he’ll remain a catcher for longer. He could be in New York in 2010, especially if it’s at 1B, DH or LF.

Austin Romine could soften the blow if Montero has to move off catcher. The 20-year-old held his own in his first full season in A-ball. Considered more advanced with the glove than the bat, Romine hit .300/.344/.437 with 10 home runs in 407 at-bats. He posted rates of 5.8 BB% and 13.8 K%. Romine will likely split time behind the dish with Montero again in 2009.

Brad Suttle is a solid third-base prospect, but he lacks the traditional power expected from the hot corner. Regardless, he has a lot of potential and should hit for a solid average with 15-20 home runs while playing good defense. In his first full season, Suttle hit .271/.348/.456 with 11 home runs in 377 at-bats.

SS/R
Arodys Vizcaino, 18, had an impressive showing in rookie ball in 2008. The right-hander possesses a fastball that can touch the mid-90s, as well as a curveball that shows plus potential. The downside to Vizcaino, though, is that he’s only 6’0”… although some reports have him reaching 6’2” now, which would definitely work in his favor. Andrew Brackman was given a boatload of money to sign out of college in 2007 as a first-round draft pick but he immediately had Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in the regular season. The 6’10” hurler should make his regular season debut in A-ball in 2009.

Jeremy Bleich, 21, was the club’s top pick in 2008 and he appeared in just one game after signing. The southpaw has a solid three-pitch mix, which includes a fastball that can hit the low 90s and two solid secondary pitches: a curveball and change-up. He’ll likely open 2009 in A-ball and could move quickly.

Up Next: The Philadelphia Phillies




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


15 Responses to “2009 Prospect Mine: New York Yankees”

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  1. The Riddler says:

    Vizcaino is said to have already grown to 6’2″ so you might want to check your sources.

    Brackman and Bleich both pitched in Hawaii Winter League action and Bleich was dominant so that should probably be included as well.

    I agree with the majority of your other profiles however.

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  2. Matt B. says:

    Bleich dominated Hawaii huh?

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    • The Riddler says:

      Um, yup… Over 35.2 innings in Hawaii, Bleich had a 1.77 ERA, allowed 29 hits, walked 12 and struck out 33.

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      • alskor says:

        I guess that’s “dominant” when youre a soft tosser without great stuff… but typically that line (other than the meaningless ERA), those components do not fit the definition of “dominant.”

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      • The Riddler says:

        TO “alskor”

        You do realize Bleich was competing after pitching a full season with Stanford (and coming back from elbow issues) and the Hawaiian Winter League is a showcase of the game’s best young prospects?

        So if you want to throw out a sub-2.00 ERA and discard his k/9 and bb/9 in an attempt to sound smart, be my guest. Because that way you sound just the opposite.

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  3. Kevin S. says:

    “Only” 6′ 0″? I didn’t realize that was short for a pitcher.

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  4. Tom says:

    It’s a long-standing tradition that no right handed pitcher can be listed under 6’0″, so scouts often put at least 6 foot on reports to make sure the kid gets looked at. Even Pedro Martinez was listed at 5’11″. So when you tell someone to “check their sources”, make sure of your own.

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    • The Riddler says:

      I did check my sources. Pinstripes Plus always has accurate measurements – more accurate than MiLB.com, etc. – so what sources are you citing pal?

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  5. Aaron/YYZ says:

    No Kelvin De Leon update?

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  6. dan says:

    Check out Betances’s first and second half splits…. his walk rate specifically.

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  7. Yankee1010 says:

    Vizcaino pitched for the GCL Yankees last year, making his performance all the more impressive.

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  8. Thomas says:

    Bleich was the second pick Gerrit Cole was their top pick, but obviously didn’t sign.

    Very good list though.

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  9. The Joker says:

    Suck a dick Riddler. You think you’re so smart and everyone else is wrong. Get over yourself douchebag. The Yankees minor league system isn’t that great.

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  10. Well, for sure, putting a decent setup together has gotten pretty simple. This is truely amazing!

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