Baseball America Executive Editor Jim Callis was recently kind enough to answer some questions that I had in regard to the Yankees farm system and recent drafts. Here they are:
WasWatching.com: Has the general opinion regarding the state of the Yankees farm system changed in the past year? If so, how has it changed, and why?
Jim Callis: Not much, really. Their ranking is going to take somewhat of a hit because Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy have lost their prospect status (by exceeding rookie playing thresholds), and Brett Gardner and Ross Ohlendorf may as well. Jose Tabata has lost a little of his luster, too. But they still have a lot of pitching depth, and they still don’t have many position players to get excited about. Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero are the two best.
WasWatching.com: How would you grade the Yankees draft of 2008? If you had to rank the Yankees’ drafts of 2006, 2007, and 2008, what order would you rank them in – from best to worst? Why would you rank them in that order?
Jim Callis: First, I’ll have to throw out the standard caveat that it’s impossible to know exactly how good a draft is until five years down the road, and 2008 is tough because they haven’t signed everyone yet. That never stops us from ranking drafts, though, so here goes.
2006 is clearly the best, with Kennedy and Chamberlain at the top, and then several more interesting guys like Zach McAllister, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, Daniel McCutchen and David Robertson.
The last two drafts haven’t blown me away. They’ve signed guys for what I thought was over market value (sometimes well over market value), so I don’t think they’re going to get as much bang for their buck as they did in 2006. Assuming they sign everyone, I’d give 2008 a slight edge over 2007 if I had to pick, but they’re a tossup.
WasWatching.com: Which players in the Yankees farm system have seen their prospect status rise and fall the most in the last year? Why has their “stock” gone up or down?
Jim Callis: Jackson and Montero were already highly regarded, so I’m not sure if their stock has risen the most, but it is on the upswing. I’m still not sold that Montero is a catcher, though. Robertson, McCutchen and McAllister have all helped themselves. The Yankees knew they had good arms and they’re performing better. I think the guy whose stock has taken the biggest hit is Tabata. He’s still young a good prospect, but the repeated injuries and immaturity and the lack of power are frustrating.
My thanks to Jim Callis for his time on these questions – and for allowing me to share them here.