'98 Yanks rally to tie All-Time Yankee series with '51 team

Series tied: 2-2
Knobby, Jeet, sparkplugs!
Gil takes El Duque downtown!
In dramatic appearance, Joe D ignites stadium!
Mo flubs lead, then comes through!
Billy fails!
Next up: Vic Raschi v David Cone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Frozen in time? What does it say when your top prospect for the last two years has still never experienced a professional pitch?

It's the dregs of January - the time of polar vortexes, Sports Illustrated soft porn, inaugurations, exploding Gwyneth Paltrow vagina candles and - drum roll, please - Baseball America's Top 100 prospect list. Last January, the Yankees placed three names on this exalted parchment of ether. This year, they have - drum roll - three! The same three. 

Cryonic suspension? you ask. Time Travel? Nope. Pandemic. 

Our top hopeful is Jasson Dominquez, aka "The Martian," a switch-hitting CF who ranks 33rd. Last year, age 16, he placed 38th. He spent the last 12 months hanging around Camp Tampa, whistling at girls and watching Netflix... and his status improved. At this rate, if the Covid shutdown lasts seven years, he'll be No. 1. 

Occasionally, videos show Dominquez whacking balls in batting practice. The Yankiverse celebrates these events, like edicts from Noam Chomsky. I donno what to make of them. They show a strapping young man, seemingly cut for the NFL, slamming a meat ball. He might as well be ringing the strong man bell on a carnival midway. In a few weeks, he'll be 18. Earth time, not Martian. He yet to experience a professional curveball in a game.

Our other two top 100 prospects are pitchers Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt - again, frozen in place over the last 12 months. Garcia ranks 55th - up from 62nd - (why am I bothering to compile this? I tell myself every year, "Don't bother with it" and yet...) and Schmidt came in at 64th, up from 65th! Yes, he pitched in three MLB games, with a 7.11 ERA, moved up ONE WHOLE NOTCH, to 64th! (Somebody, stop this. Please, shoot me...) 

These rankings are baseball's version of cryptocurrency: Nobody knows how they are made, or what they're worth. They're fun, like collecting pogs, and when the Yankees trade the farm for a Giancarlo Stanton, they give sportswriters a shorthand way to document the atrocity. And sometimes - yes, sometimes - they give us a glimpse of what's to come.

Here's a quirky tidbit: Last January, the two teams with the most Top 100 prospects were the Rays (8) and Dodgers (7) - the eventual world series contestants. Tampa consistently maintained one of MLB's best systems, while eating the Yankees' lunch. 

Yesterday, the Rays put five players on the Top 100 - third highest total among franchises. Of concern to the Yankees should be 19-year-old Wander Franco, a SS who for two years now has been rated MLB's No. 1 prospect. (Other two-time winners: Bryce Harper, Andruw Jones and Joe Mauer.) If Franco becomes a star, well, we might be scrambling for wild cards. (Also, if you can believe it, Randy Arozarena - the breakout star of the 2021 post-season - still qualifies as a prospect. He ranks 17th. Dear God, is Tampa stacked, or what?)

And then there is Toronto. The Jays placed six prospects on the list. (The Padres ranked first, with seven.) For whatever it's worth, Boston has three, and Baltimore five, including the No. 2 prospect overall, catcher Adley Rutschman.

It's now been about five years since the Yankees - with Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge - boasted one the game's best farm systems. The hope was that they would maintain it. Well, so much for that. These days, they generally draft about 20th and are hogtied by MLB's spending caps on international prospects. They cannot use their financial advantage, as they once did. But frankly, that wasn't working so well, either.

In 2014, in advance of the new rules on international signings, the Yankees shot the moon and picked up a tranche of Latino 16-year-olds. The big catch was a hulking, 6'3" third baseman named Dermis Garcia. Shortly after his arrival, scouts started suggesting Garcia's future might be at first base. Then, gasp, as a DH. Now 23, Garcia was last seen in Single A Tampa, where in 2019 he hit .247 with 17 HRs. The pandemic may have been kind to Jasson Dominquez. It did no favors for Garcia, who basically faces a make or break year.

Why am I obsessing over this ridiculous blob of information, nothing of which will matter by April 1? Well, somehow the Dodgers and Rays figured out how to have it both ways. They not only win on the field, but they consistently develop fresh talent. Long ago, this was the goal set by Brian Cashman: The Yankees would contend every year, while also growing their own. 

That plan died about three years ago. Cashman turned into a "win NOW!" general manager. Considering the horrible financial anvil that Giancarlo Stanton has become - and Aroldis Chapman could become - the Yankees are always straightjacketed, when it comes to trades and prospects. We don't have enough to trade. And we never dump an aging vet to fortify ourselves for the future. 

So... frozen in time. It'll work if Dominquez becomes the next Mike Trout/Mickey Mantle. But Dermis Garcia was going to be the next someone, and now I can't remember who. Somebody once said, "Whom the gods wish to destroy, they grant unlimited potential." Who was it? Gwyneth Paltrow?


JM said...

Judge had a shot at being the new Mickey Mantle, but then the constant injuries. Most of which I imagine Mick would have played through, but whatever.

DickAllen1964 said...

It should be noted that, as Tampa and LA have risen to the top at all levels, the one other thing they've done is maintained their excellence with new management.

Hint, hint...

And my apologies to you Win - over the last few years (four of them to be exact) my vocabulary has sunk to new lows. I thought I had run out of expletives until this off-season when Harold and The Brain left our sinking ship wrecked on the shoals of Staten Island (over on the Perth Amboy side where you can't see it, but you sure can smell it).

Carl J. Weitz said...

JM,you are correct. Mickey found the best tonic to enable him to play through the pain of injuries. Unfortunately, it was most often mixed with gin.

Anonymous said...


So you're saying Judge should drink more... Worked for the Babe as well.

I still don't understand how tight ends and small forwards, who have similar builds, can take a ton of abuse, and he keeps getting hurt. Must be the torque on a baseball swing. Still...

Top 100

There are 30 teams in MLB. So in a statistically even world we would have 3.3 in the top 100. We do. They are middle of the pack. Last year I think I defended it by pointing out how many we graduated but the truth is so did the Dodgers and the Rays and they still look great.

We always complain about the front office and ownership but this is just another example that we are right. Meh!

The Martian

It currently takes 7-9 months to travel to Mars. So counting return time NASA can fly there, hang out, grab a Martian and head back in around a year and a half.

We'll be lucky to see our Martian in four years. Until then my favorite Martian remains Ray Walston.

Doug K.

Kevin said...

Ray Walston, u da man! I'm still waiting for Drew Henson..... Jackson Melian... Joba.....Brackmon....... Must......stop.......waiting. Purge, purge, purge...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Some guys are just more fragile. Look at Bill Walton. Great, great player: his feet just couldn't take the pounding.

I don't hold it against The Judge, who I love. I do hold it against the Brain, who should've looked into trading him two years ago, when it was already evident that the injuries would never stop.

The Mick COULD play through almost anything. But then, he grew up in what literally became a Superfund site. I'm thinking the next Marvel franchise here...

Carl J. Weitz said...

Good point, Doug...maybe he should have a few nips during warm ups. Might relax his muscles. But taking up yoga would help him and Stanton stay limber.

The Martian turns 18 in 2 weeks. If he doesn't get called up by September of next year at 19.5 years then he isn't as good as advertised. Many teams call up players 18 at roster expansion time so if Dominguez isn't one of them that would be telling.