Prospect watcher John Sickels released a preliminary version of his top-20 Yanks list (the official version goes into his annual publication). I more or less agree with the rankings and the grades Sickels gave, although I’d probably make a few minor adjustments of a more subjective nature.
Prospects 1-5: Jesus Montero (C), Gary Sanchez (C), Dellin Betances (RHP), Manny Banuelos (LHP), Hector Noesi (RHP)
Prospects 6-10: Andrew Brackman (RHP), Ivan Nova (RHP), Austin Romine (C), Slade Heathcott (OF), Adam Warren (RHP)
Prospects 11-15: Graham Stoneburner (RHP), David Phelps (RHP), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), David Adams (2B)
Prospects 16-20: J.R. Murphy (C), Corban Joseph (2B), Cito Culver (SS), Brett Marshall (RHP), Jose A. Ramirez (RHP)
Honorable Mention: Angelo Gumbs (OF), Sean Black (RHP), Kelvin De Leon (OF), Gabe Encinas (RHP), Robert Fish (LHP), Ramon Flores (OF), Ben Gamel (OF), Shaeffer Hall (LHP), Tommy Kahnle (RHP), Melky Mesa (OF), Bryan Mitchell (RHP), D.J. Mitchell (RHP), Evan Rutckyj (LHP), Rob Segedin (3B), Dan Turpen (RHP), Chase Whitley (RHP), Mason Williams (OF)
Sickels’s thoughts (abridged, and with my own emphasis)-
This system has two excellent hitters at the top, but thins out quickly in position players with impact potential after that. The pitching is quite rich; I count eight guys with the ability to hold rotation spots at the major league level, including a couple of potential anchors, and there are more arms behind them… Overall…it is a system that has a lot going for it, and if some of the sleepers from the ’10 draft pan out it can look even better next year.
My quibbles on prospect-ranking in general have always been about striking the proper balance between a player’s upside and the likelihood that a player reaches his full potential. In other words, in a case of two prospects where the first is what he is and has very little room to grow (and is a solid but unspectacular player), how do you compare him to a second player who could far surpass the first if he hits his ceiling? Who is more valuable?
In my mind, I always lean towards the high-ceiling guys over the known commodities. Not that there isn’t value to be derived from the devil you know (to use the expression), but, when it comes to prospects, hitting the homerun is not only more gratifying but imminently more valuable.