Coming into this season, the general consensus of the experts was that Joba Chamberlain, Alan Horne, Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Jose Tabata were the top five prospects in the Yankees farm system. (Note: I’m just listing them in alpha-order here.)
So, now that we’re half-way into 2008, what’s the current status of these five? Are they still on a good track? Or, have they regressed? Let’s look at each of them:
Joba Chamberlain: He’s been as real a deal as a real deal can be…no issues here.
Alan Horne: He’s missed about 8 starts this season due to injury. And, when he’s pitched the results have been so-so. Most recently, he’s complained of having a dead arm. When you’re 25-years old and pitching in Triple-A, and having a season like Horne is to date, you’re losing some of that luster off your prospect status star.
Austin Jackson: He’s 21-years old and playing in Double-A where the average age of both position players and pitchers (this year) is 24.6 years old. So, he’s young for where he’s playing – but he’s holding his own in the process. Maybe he’s not a can’t-miss, superstar to be, type prospect? But, he’s still a very good propsect and maybe the Yankees best position-player prospect (in terms of age, overall game, and resume to date) in their system.
Ian Kennedy: He flopped in the majors this season. And, he’s suffered a back-related injury for the second season in a row. Further, it seems that he’s slipped down in terms of what the big league staff thinks of him. It’s not a reach to say that Kennedy has taken a step backward, to date, in terms of his prospect status.
Jose Tabata: At 19-years old, he’s young for playing in Double-A. Maybe it was a mistake for the Yankees to have him at that level this season? He’s struggled with the bat this year, to date, and his defensive game has lapses. Worse, he’s getting the rep of being someone with a bad attitude. Right now, the only thing he has going for him is his age – as there are more questions around his prospect status, today, than there are good things to say.
So, in summary, it’s not all rainbows and cupcakes this season for the “crown jewels” of the Yankees farm system. Yes, Chamberlain is great. And, yes, Jackson appears to be on track. But, it’s not been a good season for Horne, Kennedy and Tabata.
The Horne and Kennedy thing is most distressing – because, when you add that to the poor seasons (this year) of young Yankees pitchers Phil Hughes, Jeffrey Marquez, and Dellin Betances (who, all three, were also rated very high by the experts as being high-potential young hurlers), it makes you wonder if the Yankees reported stockpile of young arms (in their system) is really everything that it’s cracked up to be…no?