BBD’s Yankees Top 50 prospects: 2012 pre-draft edition

Bronx Baseball Daily has never published a top prospects list before, but now felt like a good time to start. 2012 has been a busy year for the site. BBD moved to ESPN’s Sweetspot Network, a new crop of writers joined the squad, and the site is more popular than ever.

On top of that, the MLB draft begins on Monday and the Yankees will be getting a whole new crop of players so now is an especially good time to take stock of what the system looks like right now.

1. Manny Banuelos, Pos: LHP, Age: 21, Highest Level: AAA, Nickname: ManBan. This has been a frustrating year for him so far with back issues and then elbow inflammation, but Cashman says he’ll be back by the end of this season. He’s got the best stuff in the system, and he’s lefty running his fastball in the mid to upper 90′s.

2. Gary Sanchez, Pos: C, Age: 19, Highest Level: A, Nickname: The Sanchize. Sanchez has looked like he’s finally ready for the move to High-A Tampa this season, and will probably be there soon enough. He’s got seven  home runs in the young season, and looks poised to be a top 50 prospect in all of baseball be season’s end.

3. Mason Williams, Pos: CF, Age: 20, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Mad Mase. He’s been struggling as of late, but it’s his first time in full season ball so that’s expected. If he turns it around soon he’ll be in High-A by season’s end as well. Lightning quick and displaying some decent power potential, Mason Williams is a shoe-in for a top 100 spot this season.

4. Dellin Betances, Pos: RHP, Age: 24, Highest Level: AAA. Before the season started, he was my number two prospect. Control problems have caused his stock to fall, but if he can harness his stuff he is close to unhittable. The bullpen may be the ultimate destination for Betances, but he still has front of the rotation potential.

5. Jose Campos, Pos: RHP, Age: 19, Highest Level: A. Like Banuelos, Campos is suffering from elbow inflammation right now which hopefully will not result in the need for Tommy John surgery. He only had a few starts in Charleston, but he looked to be the real deal. He’s got great stuff and if he comes back this season there’s no doubt he’ll dominate Low-A.

6. Ravel Santana, Pos: CF, Age: 20, Highest Level: RK, Nickname: Ravenous Ravel. Santana is said to be 100% following the gruesome leg injury he suffered last season. He has 70 power and 70 speed on the scouting 80 scale, and he showed that he can translate those tools into success at the plate and on the basepaths last season. His cannon for an arm is another reason he’s top six talent in the system.

7. Tyler Austin, Pos: RF, Age: 20, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Stone Cold. The main knock on Austin last season was his power. This season he has clearly addressed that issue as he has 13 homeruns already. He also hits for average and even has stolen 13 bases this year. The main concern is finding him a position, but the switch to right field could end up being permanent and may address those issues. He should be a top 100 talent by season’s end.

8. Austin Romine, Pos: C, Age: 23, Highest Level: AAA, Nickname: BRomine. He’s been out all season with back injuries, which has decreased his stock a bit from the beginning of the season. He is set to return in July. If all goes well he could be with the major league team permanently by season’s end. Hey, he can’t do worse at the plate than our current catchers.

9. Dante Bichette Jr., Pos: 3B, Age: 19, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Bichette Happens. He started off slow, much like last year in the GCL, but he has come back with a vengeance. His first homerun came on May 31st, but he raised his average from close to .200 to .265 in just a couple of weeks. Should this trend continue, he’ll be ready for High-A Tampa before the end of the season.

10. Brett Marshall, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: AA, Nickname: Fire Marshall. Marshall has really shown a lot in Double-A this season. He has kept his ERA consistently below three, and is winning games left and right for the team. The only thing missing is strikeouts, but hopefully this will come with time.

11. Slade Heathcott, Pos: CF, Age: 21, Highest Level: A+. Yet another player plagued by injuries, but the talent is there as he showed last season. He will rejoin High-A Tampa soon as a DH and will resume duties in center field sometime thereafter. If he can stay healthy, he’s probably a top 10 talent in the system.

12. J.R. Murphy, Pos: C/3B, Age: 21, Highest Level: A+. Heathcott and Murphy were the first and second round picks in 2009. Murphy really came around last season, and it appears he’ll stick at catcher. So far he has had a rough go of it this season, batting .234, but he’s recently shown signs of life with a 5/5 performance.

13. Bryan Mitchell, Pos: RHP, Age: 21, Highest Level: A. He’s always had the stuff but couldn’t harness it. Now he’s harnessing it much to the chagrin of Low-A hitters. He’s another who could crack some top 100 lists by the end of the season if he keeps up the good work.

14. Ramon Flores, Pos: LF, Age: 20, Highest Level: A+, Nickname: Ray-Flo. He’s just 20 years old in High-A, and he appears to be holding his own. Scouts have always said he has a knack for hitting and great patience at the plate. He’s a solid outfielder as well. It’s just a matter of waiting for some of that power to develop. If it does, he’s top 10 in the system.

15. Rafael DePaula, Pos: RHP, Age: 21, Highest Level: N/A. The visa issues are finally over and he’s in the USA. Apparently the scouting reports we had on him are all true. He hits 98 with the fastball and has superior control of all of his pitches. He’s impressed everyone at extended Spring Training and will make his stateside debut soon.

16. D.J. Mitchell, Pos: RHP, Age: 25, Highest Level: MLB, Nickname: The Mitchuation. Mitchell is about as solid as they come in Triple-A. He almost made the team out of Spring Training, but David Phelps took that honor. He’s got great control and an excellent sinking fastball that draws a ton of ground balls. He’s either a future back end starter or a future Cory Wade.

17. Nik Turley, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: A+, Nickname: The Turley Bird. Turley is quickly making a name for himself, at least when he’s not injured. He has drawn several comparisons to Andy Pettitte and some say he’s actually more advanced than Andy was at this point in his career. He’s a big lefty and he made the “almost top 100″ on at least one list last season.

18. Angelo Gumbs, Pos: 2B, Age: 19, Highest Level: A, Nickname: “Bubba” Gumbs. Gumbs is another with a recent power surge. For a second baseman he is really dropping bombs right now. After a slow start, he has also brought his average up close to .270 and is showing patience at the plate. He’s playing a solid second base, and could easily be ranked higher by season’s end.

19. Matt Tracy, Pos: LHP, Age: 23, Highest Level: A+, Nickname: M-Trac. Tracy is another mid 90′s throwing lefty in the system with superior control. The Yankees sent him straight to High-A when he returned from injury, showing just how much faith they have in this kid. He will be a fast mover since he’s already 23, and we could be hearing his name a lot more by the end of the season.

20. Jose Ramirez, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: A+, Nickname: J-Ram. Ramirez ran the fastball up to 100 mph at instructs. Just as he started to get some consistency he went down with, you guessed it, elbow inflammation. The stats haven’t been great but by all accounts the stuff is there. His changeup is as good as ever and the slider has improved.

21. Adam Warren, Pos: RHP, Age: 24, Highest Level: AAA, Nickname: The Warden. He’s another major league close prospect, but has struggled this year mightily. He’s not pitching to his ability right now, so a mid-season turnaround is in order. It’s looking more and more like the only space for him will be in the bullpen though.

22. Greg Bird, Pos: C, Age: 19, Highest Level: N/A. This big Catcher was one of the big signing bonuses in last years draft. He has displayed big power and looks to make a splash in this his first year with the organization. Questions about him center around his ability to stick at catcher.

23. David Adams, Pos: 2B, Age: 25, Highest Level: AA. Adams has fallen pretty far on the prospect radar but the most important thing is he’s back to playing everyday and he’s finally healthy. He looks to be rounding into form in Double-A and if all of the talent is still there he could move quickly and help the major league team.

24. Mark Montgomery, Pos: RHP, Age: 21, Highest Level A+, Nickname: Monte. Montgomery has struck out 14.5 per nine innings this season. He had a two inning appearance where he struck out six batters once already. He’s in High-A and completely overpowering hitters with his slider. He’ll be in Double-A soon. D-Rob comparisons abound.

25. Cito Culver, Pos: SS, Age: 19, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Cheeto. Culver has really struggled so far this season. Scouts say his left handed swing is a mess, and he’s still in the low .200′s in batting average. He has stolen some bases and played a solid short though, and worst case scenario he could just bat right handed full time in the future.

26. Miguel Andujar, Pos: 3B, Age: 17, Highest Level: N/A. Andujar, a big international signing, is expected to come stateside this season. The scouting report on him states that he he very good at everything, but doesn’t have a standout tool. He plays an excellent third base though and he could be the Ravel Santana of this season who jumps on the scene.

27. Chase Whitley, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: AAA, Nickname: Chase Whiffley. Whitley has moved through the system like a rocket. He now resides in Triple-A and is battling Kevin Whelan for the privilege of the next promotion. He does everything a reliever should do, strikes out batters, and gets great extension like D-Rob.

28. Zachary Nuding, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: A+. At the very least he’s a great relief prospect, but at best he’s another back end rotation guy. He’s having good success in High-A and the scouting report on him is pretty good.

29. Ronnier Mustelier, Pos: OF/3B/2B, Age: 27, Highest Level: AAA, Nickname: Musketeer. Mustelier is a super utility who can play third and outfield at least, while claiming to have the ability to play second. He has nine homeruns on the season already, and is still hitting over .300. The only downside is his age (27) and his height (5-foot-7).

30. Zoilo Almonte, Pos: OF, Age: 22, Highest Level: AA, Nickname: “Boilin” Zoilo. Almonte really came into his own last season, and made a name for himself in Spring Training. He got injured for a few weeks, but has hit the ground running in his return. Given the paucity of outfielders in Triple-A, a promotion may soon be in order.

31. Corban Joseph, Pos: 2B/3B, Age: 23, Highest Level: AAA, Nickname: CoJo. Cojo can hit. This is the one thing that seems to be a consensus among scouts. His second base is spotty, and his power has still yet to develop, but if it does he could see himself in the major leagues soon. Just got promoted to Double-A yesterday!

32. Michael O’Brien, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: AA. Made it all the way up to Double-A with a promotion earlier this season. All he has done there is pick up right where he left off. Yet another back end of the rotation candidate for the major league team, or a future spunky reliever.

33. Isaias Tejeda, Pos: C, Age: 20, Highest Level: SS-A, Nickname: The Hata Tejeda. Due to the catching logjam in the system, Tejeda will start the year in Staten Island. A case could be made that he should have been in full season, but Sanchez is blocking him. We may see him there when Sanchez gets promoted.

34. Jordan Cote, Pos: RHP, Age: 19, Highest Level: N/A. Cote was the third round draft pick last year and he will be an exciting player to follow this season. He’s a high school pitcher armed with a fastball in the 90′s, never a bad thing to have in the system.

35. Evan Rutckyj, Pos: LHP, Age: 20, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Rutzkrieg. Rutckyj started his career in Charleston with a great performance, then regressed back to his previous GCL form for the next two starts. When he’s on, he strikes out a ton of guys and he is tough to hit. He’s very tall and he’s lefty.

36. Daniel Lopez, Pos: OF, Age: 20, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Dee-Lo. Lopez is my super sleeper for 2012. Most people don’t know about him, but he is lightning quick with 80 speed, and his power has improved every season. His offseason workout regimen is apparently like no other, so look for even more power this season.

37. Claudio Custodio, Pos: 2B/SS, Age: 21, Highest Level: Rk Nickname: The Janitor. Nicknamed for his ability to clean up ground balls in the infield, he’s a solid middle infielder who really flashed the speed last season in the GCL with 26 stolen bases. Great speed and athleticism, solid fielding, and a good contact hitter.

38. Rookie Davis, Pos: RHP, Age: 19, Highest Level: N/A. Another righty with a ton of potential drafted last season. He’s more polished than Cote, and could really make some noise this season.

39. Daniel Camarena, Pos: LHP, Age: 19, Highest Level: N/A. It’s hard to mention Rookie Davis without mentioning Camarena in the same breath. Some thought he would actually flat out make Charleston’s roster this year, because that’s how polished this lefty already is. He’ll have to prove himself in short season first though.

40. Caleb Cotham, Pos: RHP, Age: 24, Highest Level: A+, Nickname: Gotham City. Cotham was recently promoted to High-A, and he has looked solid in a couple of appearances there. He came back from an arm injury last season and impressed, so they gave him another shot at the rotation where he has excelled so far.

41. Ben Gamel, Pos: OF, Age: 20, Highest Level: A, Nickname: Gam-Gam. Gamel has really shown he can hit this season in Low-A Charleston. Power is the last thing to come around, and if it does the sky is the limit.

42. Hayden Sharp, Pos: RHP, Age: 19, Highest Level: Rk. A late pop-up guy in last years draft due to his fastball being dialed up to 98 mph, he has since learned to harness that arm and not overthrow. Brett Marshall was a very similar type of player at this stage.

43. Rob Segedin, Pos: 3B/OF, Age: 23, Highest Level: A+, Nickname: Seggy. Segedin has done nothing but hit so far in his career. Double-A is the next step, but he’s going to have to step it up with the power if he ever wants to hit in the big leagues.

44. Jose Rosario, Pos: IF, Age: 20, Highest Level: A. A solid middle infielder who came into his own last season in the GCL with 6 homeruns and 11 stolen bases. He’ll be in Staten Island this year so watch out for him.

45. Philip Wetherell, Pos: RHP, Age: 22, Highest Level: A He could be higher on this list really. He has been excellent for Charleston in relief and has shown that he should get promoted, probably when Montgomery goes to Double-A.

46. Jake Cave, Pos: OF, Age: 19, Highest Level: N/A. Unfortunately he broke his knee cap and will miss most if not all of the season. This is the second time he has had an “all out player” type of injury, and he will lose a lot of key development this season. He has all the tools to be another Mason Williams though.

47. Dan Burawa, Pos: RHP, Age: 23, Highest Level: A+. Another solid reliever, he’ll join Trenton when he returns from his torn oblique muscle. It will be a big year for him.

48. Matthew Duran, Pos: 3B, Age: 19, Highest Level: Rk. Hit extremely well in the GCL last season at the age of 18 with a .301 average and .365 OBP. Largely overlooked but this young gun could end up being a major power hitter if he develops properly.

49. Graham Stoneburner, Pos: RHP, Age: 24, Highest Level: 24, Nickname: Graham Cracker. He’s had injury after injury to stunt his development, but he still has good stuff. He’s likely destined for the bullpen if he can get healthy.

50. Taylor Morton, Pos: RHP, Age: 20, Highest Level: SS-A. He was basically the ace of the GCL staff last season. He’s another who many felt was snubbed by not being included in the Charleston starting rotation. Morton is still young yet though and now he’ll have a chance to earn his way to Low-A.

Honorable mention: Cody Johnson, Pat Venditte (would have been on the list if not for a torn labrum), Abraham Almonte, Anderson Feliz, Branden Pinder, Shaeffer Hall, Preston Claiborne, Joey Maher, Chaz HebertGabriel Encinas, Brandon Laird, Kevin Whelan, Evan DeLuca, Justin JamesKevin Mahoney, Shane Greene.

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3 Responses to BBD’s Yankees Top 50 prospects: 2012 pre-draft edition

  1. Dayners says:

    great job on the rankings, kinda surprised that Austin wasn't rated a couple spots higher, I would have had Abe Almonte in the rankings somewhere, he still only 22 and has some pretty descent numbers this yr and a pretty descent ceiling, kinda surprised that Melky Mesa didn't make the list at all. The biggest surprise to me is the yeicok Calderon didn't make the list at all, kids very talented and put up some impressive numbers in the DSL a couple yrs ago and got of to a really good start last yr before slowing down toward the end of the yr

  2. Greg Corcoran says:

    Honestly I had Austin 6th originally but there were two of us doing the rankings and Rob didn’t like him as much as I did. That said Ravel Santana does have much better tools than Austin. Abe Almonte made the list as honorable mention and to be honest with you there’s barely a difference between those guys and number 40-50 in the rankings. Also, for the record, I had him 48 in my personal rankings. Melky Mesa im just not impressed with. I think he’s got a good set of tools but he strikes out too much and I don’t think he makes enough solid contact to ever be a major leaguer. Yeicok Calderon is the same except younger. I wasn’t impressed with him in the GCL. He could certainly change some minds this year though. Again, it doesn’t take much to go from 80 to 35 on this list.

  3. I guess I'm still giving Santana the benefit of the doubt that he is the better player. Santana will probably need a solid second half to stay ahead of him though. If we had stuck with Austin in the 6th spot I really wouldn't have had a huge problem with it.

    I did think leaving Abe Almonte off wasn't exactly fair, but like Greg said, there really isn't much difference between guys in the 41-50 range compared to the 51-60 range. If he plays better I can easily see him cracking the list by the end of the year.

    Felt bad leaving Melky off because I've always rooted for him. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to have the patience to be a major leaguer. It's a shame though because he's a great defensive player with a cannon for an arm and he can hit for power. He's probably have a .220 average in the majors with a .250 OBP. That's not going to cut it.