John Nalbone wrote this today:
The contributions of homegrown players Derek Jeter, catcher Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams helped the Yankees win five World Series championships from 1996 to 2009.
This season, with Brett Gardner off to a dreadful (.150) start and Eduardo Nunez on the bench as a utility infielder, All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano is the only everyday position player developed by the Yankees’ farm system.
Years of neglect in the draft and far too many resources directed toward high-priced free agents in the waning years of George Steinbrenner’s stewardship of the franchise were to blame for the dearth of major league-ready talent in the minor-league system.
From 1997 to 2005 the Yankees drafting and player development was among the worst in baseball, with only 10 position players produced and those players combining for less than 900 major league at-bats.
Cano became a full-time player in 2005, but he was an undrafted amateur free agent from San Pedro de Marcoris in the Dominican Republic.
In 2006, general manager Brian Cashman began overseeing the player development system and things began to change, albeit slowly.
“It is an area that has lagged somewhat,’’ senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said of the lack of top-tier position players at the higher levels of Yankees system. “But Nunez is there now and Gardner is one of the better young outfielders in the game. The young catchers we have are some of the best in the business, and we’ve got some quality young guys lower in our system right now.’’
I totally agree about the Yankees bad drafting from 1997 through 2005. But, the line about “In 2006, general manager Brian Cashman began overseeing the player development system and things began to change, albeit slowly” is a farce. It makes it sound as if Cashman is calling the shots for the Yankees player development system. Meanwhile, just last summer, Yankees Senior VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman said that:
The nature of amateur scouting in the US is such that our guys do this all year. All in, it’s probably close to a twelve-month a year operation. They’ve got showcases in the fall, home visits in the winter — high school and college games in the spring leading up the draft. And then post-draft, there are summer leagues like the Cape, high school showcases, national team tryouts — there’s all kinds of things that our guys are involved in. Damon [Oppenheimer] runs that department very well, and he has the authority to draft the players the Yankees need. Neither [Brian Cashman] or I tell him who to pick and who not to pick. We’re there to support, and evaluate his production, just like everyone else in the organization is evaluated.
That sure sounds like Damon Oppenheimer is the point man for amateur scouting – which the pipeline for your player development system.
However, on the other hand, Cashman did get rid of Lin Garrett – and that had to help with the Yankees amateur scouting efforts. He gets a gold star for that one. But, then again, one could also say, here, “Brian, what took you so long to make that call?”
Also, the book on the Yankees farm system since “Brian Cashman began overseeing the player development system” five years ago still needs to be written. As, so far, what have we seen from that?