With the Yankees talking about budgets so much an extra emphasis has been placed on the farm system, however that hasn’t paid off with one of the top systems in the game as they were ranked at No. 14 by John Sickels of SB Nation.
14) New York Yankees (16): Strengths: quartet of young hitters at the top, with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott all potential impact prospects, though all have some questions. Good depth in C+ types behind them. Weaknesses: impact pitching. I don’t count Manny Banuelos as an automatic Tommy John recovery. Wildcard: Rafael DePaula, who could vault up lists quickly once he pitches against people his own age.
If the Yankees had recently graduated major talent it would be one thing, but overall their system is mediocre. Banuelos had major surgery last year, Dellin Betances is a bust, and they just gave up on Andrew Brackman. Even Jose Campos missed nearly the entire 2012 season dealing a big blow to the system.
Meanwhile, their best talent is all at the lower levels. There is a chance Heathcott has a cup of coffee with the club in September if everything goes right for him in 2013 including health, production, and attitude. Other than that there is almost zero chance any of their big names, Sanchez, Austin, or Williams, will reach the majors even in a very minor role.
The Yankees aren’t without need. They lost Nick Swisher and couldn’t replace him internally, something we saw coming, but they also lost Russell Martin and had nothing to replace him with. Austin Romine is an option, but injuries have ruined the luster on his prospect status. If he stays healthy, he might be ready defensively, but as far as his offense goes it’s still a big question as to what he can contribute with.
To call the system mediocre isn’t to say it’s bad though. They are in need of an elite pitching prospect, but could get one if Campos has a healthy and productive season and, as Sickels pointed out, DePaula could finally make big strides in 2013. And if Sanchez, Austin, Williams, and Heathcott continue to progress at the rate they have so far there is a chance for them to contribute as soon as 2014.
With all of the emphasis put on the budget and profits, you would hope the Yankees farm system would at least be in the conversation for one of the better ones in the league. A lot went wrong in 2012 though so I suppose they are fortunate to even be ranked this high.