Thursday, January 22, 2009
Now that this offseason is all but over for the Yankees I feel it is a good time to address the Yankees farm system and what they have to do to get it back to where it was last year. The Yankees farm system dropped all the way from #5 to #15 this past year (Boston also had a huge drop) due to a variety of reasons. Graduations to the big leagues by Joba and Ian Kennedy, a multitude of injuries in the minors, players traded away in the nady/marte deal, and a failure to sign first and second round draft picks all combined to lead to this large drop in the rankings. This past year also exposed an extreme lack of organizational depth in the minors as when injuries began to plague the rotation our best replacement was Darrel freaking Rasner. Going forward this year I'd like to see the Yankees do two major things to really improve the farm system.
1. Don't draft the high potential toolsy players that the Yankees traditionally draft. Sure this has worked out great before (i.e. Joba), but often times will fail. What the Yankees system needs most out of the draft right now are polished college players who may not have the most upside but are more a sure thing. There are other ways to obtain high end talent aside from the draft.
2. Make a splash in the international market. I realize the international market has been pretty hit or miss for the Yankees the past 10 years. We've had our highs in Hideki Matsui and our lows in Hideki Irabu and then we've had our kei igawas... but in all seriousness the Yankees made a splash in 2006 signing Jesús Montero which has worked out well so far, but since then have only had a moderate presence. In my opinion this is where the Yankees should be looking for their higher end talent this coming year, this is where they should be looking to take some risks (should have tried harder to sign Inoa this past year). Also make a play at Yadel Marti and Yasser Gomez (the two guys who just defected from Cuba) these guys are said to be near major league ready players with a lot of talent and have interest in playing for the Yankees. It would be disappointing to see the Yankees let this opportunity escape them.
Anyway lets take a quick look at the positives. Right now with 3 Yankees ranking in the top 100 Austin Jackson (46), Jesus Montero (83) and Andrew Brackman (95). Austin Jackson projects to be an above average everyday centerfielder. Jesus Montero has an above average bat and will end up a catcher unless he outgrows the position and is forced to become a first baseman. Andrew Brackman by far has the most potential out of any recent yankees prospects short of Joba. He is 6'10 with a fastball that sits in the mid 90's and a devestating knuckle curve. He played well in the Hawaii league coming off of Tommy John surgery. If he lives up to his full potential he will be a true #1 starter. This coming year will be interesting as we follow those 3 and get to see which high end players will emerge from low and high A ball.