FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Hot News: Baseball America concludes that the Yankee farm system is struggling: Is it us, or the system that rates systems?
Posted by el duque at 11:06 AM
Last winter, BA - as it's known in Twitter shorthand - praised the organization. It listed the top 10 Yankee prospects as:
1) Mason Williams
2) Slade Heathcott
3) Gary Sanchez
4) Tyler Austin
5) Jose Campos
6) Brett Marshall
7) Angelo Gumbs
8) Manny Banuelos
9) Ty Hensley
10) Rafael De Paula
Yep. Looking at this list, I needed to puke. Williams, Heathcott, Austin and Gumbs didn't hit a lick this season. Sanchez looks like the Second Coming of Jesus (Montero). Campos was apparently hyped excessively to mute anger over the Pineda injury. Banuelos and Hensley will miss the year. Only De Paula has pitched well, and but hey - he's old for his league, so let's not get giddy.
If BA knew what we know today, here's what the rankings might have looked like last winter:
1. Preston Claiborne
2. Zoilo Almonte
3. Vidal Nuno
4. De Paula
5. Dellin Betances (Since moving to bullpen, last 10 games: 17 innings, one run, five walks, 25 Ks, an 0.53 ERA and he's hitting 97 mph)
6. RJ Murphy (catcher, bumped up to Scranton)
7. Peter O'Brien (big lug catcher, tore apart Low Single A)
8. Sanchez (because we will always believe in Jesus)
9. Jose Ramirez (pitcher, bumped up to Scranton)
10. Tie: Williams, Austin, Heathcott and maybe David Adams (whom I like personally, and since I'm making this up, I get to play faves arbitrarily.)
Hmmm. That last point raises a question:
Do the Yankees have a failed minor league system? Or is the scouting ability of the media simply a steaming pile of crapola?
I don't mean to insinuate that BA doesn't know what it's doing. Because I don't - and I'll admit it. But I believe the Yankees lie like rugs to sportswriters whenever they see fit. They almost never tell the truth on injuries. And one of the perfectly useful lies would be to create stalking horses, prospects who absorb all the fawning attention, so others can thrive without diversion. Jesus Montero - with his magnetic name and size - may have been just such a phenomena. For five years, the Yankiverse watched his every move. Looking back, what a joke.
So... do we have a system of secret prospects, operating covertly under the media radar? I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure I can. The reason: Our recent first round draft picks.
Since 2007, this is what we've gotten from the First Round. (I'm excluding this year, because it's too early to draw a bead.)
2007: Andrew Brackman (bust)
2008: Gerrit Cole (didn't sign) & Jeremy Bleich (injured)
2009: Heathcott (struggling)
2010: Cito Culver (repeating low A, hitting about .205)
2011: Dante Bichette Jr. (repeating low A, hitting about .195.)
2012: Ty Hensley (injured, miss year with bad hip.)
We could easily go 0 for 7. I recognize that the Yankees draft late - (the O's picked up Wieters, Matusz and Machado in that same period, but they always drafted in the top 5 teams) - but there's something else in play here: The Yankees seem to show an organizational hubris: They picked potential diamonds in the rough rather than consensus selections. They chose long-shots - Brackman, the giant, despite his obvious elbow injury; Cole, the top pick, despite his claim that he would not sign. They seem to think everything would magically change, and they'd look like the smartest team in baseball.
It's as if they think the Yankee uniform will transform a player - and that hasn't happened in 50 years.
Well, I don't believe in BA's ability to rate a system. I think it's bogus, and all these websites devoted to the Yankees - ourselves included - are just channeling useless crap, and it probably has a negative impact on our system. Some guys start thinking they're headed for Cooperstown, when in fact, they belong in Oneonta. (Here's looking at you, Mason Williams.)
That said, I think BA has it right. Our system is struggling. But it's not because a few high profile prospects are having bad seasons. The problem is at the top.