It’s no secret that the Yankees are looking to cut payroll down to $189 million next season. All along the way they have insisted that they would continue to field a “championship caliber” team though and they would need a lot of young players to step up to achieve that goal.
Well let me tell you, unless the Yankees are willing to abandon their $189 million goal, the farm system doesn’t look ready to produce any impact players.
On Monday, Baseball America listed the Yankees among the five minor league systems around baseball that are having a year to forget. That was on the same day that ESPN’s Keith Law observed top hitting prospects Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott and called one awful and pointed out major flaws in the other’s swing.
The disappointment doesn’t end with Austin and Heathcott though. Mason Williams, Ramon Flores, and Brett Marshall have all been disappointing. Former first round picks Ty Hensley (out all year so far with a hip injury), Dante Bichette Jr., and Cito Culver are also aggravating. I can’t leave out former top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, who will miss two full seasons with injuries, among the disappointing.
While there certainly have been bright spots, J.R. Murphy, Jose Ramirez, Rafael De Paula, and Gary Sanchez are all still strong prospects and Dellin Betances might have saved his career in the bullpen, it feels like nearly every prospect the Yankees were counting on has let them down.
Just look at these numbers:
Heathcott is hitting .253/.322/.372, Austin .257/.349/.373, Williams .256/.334/.355, Flores .241/.337/.331, Bichette .197/.275/.283, and Marshall has a 7.94 ERA. You don’t even want to see Culver’s numbers and there is nothing to show for Hensley or Banuelos.
These are precisely the prospects that the Yankees were counting on to help them lower payroll and stay competitive. It has left them in a tough position too because not only can they not plan on plugging any of these guys into the roster next year, but they can’t even trade and get decent value in return.
Heck, this even makes it hard to trade the minor leaguers that are doing well. If Heathcott, Austin, and Williams can’t be counted on, how could they possibly consider trading Sanchez or even Murphy?
Of course none of this is to say that they are all done. There is still enough time in the season for these guys to turn it around (and some, like Heathcott, are on brief hot streaks right now). Even if they all continue to have bad seasons, most are still young enough that I wouldn’t count them out completely. It is certainly premature to count on any of them for 2014 though. And that’s where the struggles of this year’s farm system could really come back and bite the Yankees.
NEWS AND NOTES
• Brett Gardner set a Yankees record by striking out in 16 consecutive games. He has been struggling lately, but it’s best not to overreact to that record. He was hitting quite well throughout most of that span.
• Derek Jeter desperately wants the Yankees to activate him, but they are taking it slow. Minor league beat writer Donnie Collins said that he expects Jeet will stay with Triple-A Scranton Wednesday and Thursday and will likely be reevaluated after.