Yankees minor league system leaves uncertainty

Montero 2

There was once a time where the Yankees had the “Killer B’s”, three pitchers that seemed to have a bright and destined future in the Yankees organization. There was also a time where the Yankees #1 prospect was Jesus Montero, a catcher that was imagined to be the heir to Jorge Posada‘s throne. Fast-forward to 2013, when the Yankees were experiencing issues with pitching and catching. None of the “Killer B’s” were major league ready (Andrew Brackman isn’t even on the Yankees anymore). Jesus Montero was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda (there’s still no clear winner of that trade since Montero ended up in the minors and Pineda hasn’t thrown a pitch for the Yankees as of yet). When it came to trying to find help for the team with all the injuries in 2013, the Yankees looked abroad their organization. Looking abroad for talent during a crisis showed just how much faith the Yankees organization had in their minor league system.

Out of 56 players on the 2013 Yankees, 23 of them were homegrown. That’s less than half of the 2013 team. Most of the deals the Yankees made were for third basemen and shortstop, two positions where the Yankees do not have a major league ready player. Why were there no answers in the organization for such a long period of time? It goes back to the 2007-2008 draft. The draft picks were underwhelming. Since then other teams found raw talent while the upper levels of the minor leagues appeared stagnant.

Since 2005-2011, the Yankees only had two players who were selected in the first round to come up to the majors and give meaningful contributions: Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, both drafted in 2006. Some of the previous first round picks C.J Henry, Andrew Brackman and Jeremy Bleich haven’t worked out at all for the Yankees, while they missed out on a chance when Gerrit Cole elected to go to college instead of taking the Yankees offer in 2008. Many seem to believe that the Yankees minor league system is a complete failure.

“Our biggest issues have been higher in the draft, not lower; I think that’s a fair assessment,” Mark Newman, the Yankees senior vice president of baseball operations said. “Some of that (criticism) is legit. Some of it isn’t. All of us are committed to being self-aware about it.”

The Yankees don’t have immediate answers for 2014 if Derek Jeter‘s injury hinders his performance or if Alex Rodriguez is suspended, but the Yankees do have promising talent coming up such as Cito Culver and Eric Jagielo–probably as early as 2015.

“I would say that there’s moderate hope,” Jonathan Mayo, who covers the minor leagues for MLBPipeline.com told NY Daily News about Jagielo being up as early as 2015. “They don’t have the worst system in baseball, but the one thing they’ve lacked in recent years is they haven’t produced any real impact players.”

Some wonder if the Yankees will ever find success again in the farm system? It could happen, but for now there is uncertainty, especially with what could happen in the near future with question marks around shortstop and third base.

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8 Responses to Yankees minor league system leaves uncertainty

  1. Tanned Tom says:

    The drafting has been a failure. Time to bring in someone like Pat Gillick to straighten things out, or bring back Gene Michael. The last highly touted player to come up from the farm and turn into something for the team was Derek Jeter.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Gene Michael had the 6th pick in the draft when he picked Derek Jeter. That was the last time the Yankees would pick in the top 10 since then. That should tell people something.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Gene Michael had the 6th pick in the draft when he picked Derek Jeter. That was the last time the Yankees would pick in the top 10 since then. That should tell people something. Also the only time they even picked in the top 15 was the following year when they picked 13th.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        Of course you're right, but other teams seem to do better with their prospects than we do. And even the ones who work out (Robertson, Cano, Gardner) seem to be accidental. The team tried trading Cano many times before he became an established star, and only turned to Gardner in an emergency. Other teams have done better.

        • gcorcoran says:

          Yes, other teams have done better. I would argue that a fair amount of that has to do with good luck for those teams and bad luck for the Yankees. People love to say there's something wrong with the Yankees training staff, but they aren't doing anything different than everyone else. The amount of injuries this farm system has had to endure is almost comical.

          In addition to that other teams have been lucky with some of their picks that have turned into stars. There's an art to it and there are ways to increase your chances of success with these draft picks, but there's so much luck involved it's not even funny. The top 7 picks in the draft are the only positions that can reliably become stars. The statistics bear that out. Once you get past that 7th pick the chances of developing a star amount to luck. For the Yankees to draft one at 23 means that 16 teams would have had to have passed on a star and most likely not drafted a star of their own in his place. Think about those odds. Then to criticize the Yankees but not the 16 teams who draft ahead of them and fail to develop stars in the first round, it seems silly to me.

          My point is, the Yankees luck will come around eventually. Their DSL program is becoming a baseball development machine. Between that and their better drafting skills in the past two drafts, and the players returning from injury, I think next year is going to be a huge improvement for the farm.

  2. gcorcoran says:

    Interesting points Delia. I'll say this though. The Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Pineda and Jose Campos. While Montero is the only one with significant major league time, which two would you take at this point? I know what my answer is. Montero may have been overrated, but clearly he was not overrated to the Yankees brass.

    • Tanned Tom says:

      That was a great trade for the Yankees, they showed great judgement about Montero, and both Campos and Pineda could still be MLB starting pitchers.

  3. Bronx bomber 22 says:

    Greg I completely understand what your saying, but I am tired of seeing the way the yanks draft. Taking college relievers to high, they pass up a lot of talented high school pitching. I know it's because of the bonus pool but some adjustments need to be made.