New York Yankees Top-15 Prospects of 2009, No’s 6 – 15
For an overview of the process used to grade players, the factors used to determine where a player ranks, and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the start of the season. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me or you can make a comment below at the bottom of the page.
You can find a full listing of each team’s top prospect list in the Top Prospect List Archive Page. Also, each team will have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles related to that team, and links to some of the team’s best fan sites. We finish off the New York Yankees top list by scouting prospects 6 – 15…
Also See: New York Yankees, Prospects 1 – 5
6. Phil Coke | LHP | MLB | Age – 26 | Drafted – Round 26, 2002
Body Type – stocky build and not really projectable
Fastball – really plays up out of the bullpen, coming in between 92 and 95…looks as if it picks up a beat or two before it reaches home plate…gets on hitters quick
Slider – the hard slider complements his fastball well…sweeping across the plate, he’s able to get right handers to swing over top of it
Coke also throws a curveball and change-up, but doesn’t throw either pitch often. Both pitches are useful when he wants to keep hitters from sitting on something hard
I know many will object to Coke in this spot, but the bottom line is that he will be the second lefty out of the Yankee bullpen in 2009 and the only one who can go multiple innings at a time. He’ll find himself in plenty of high leverage situations and he has the stuff to succeed in that role. Originally a starter in 2008, he was converted to the bullpen when he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton. Once there, Coke saw a sharp rise in his K%, while showing improved control at the same time. The results continued even when he was promoted to the majors and actually saw another improvement in his control (though the sample size was small).
Coke has the ability to get out hitters from both sides of the plate, though historically he’s been better against lefties. His ability to start gives the Yankees a lot of options on what to do with Coke. He could act as a spot starter, a long reliever, a multi-inning middle reliever, or somebody who can come in and get that tough left handed hitter out.
Best Case Outcome – a very good reliever used in a variety of ways
More Likely Outcome – a good reliever used in a variety of ways…not much difference between his upside and downside. The only question is whether his bullpen performance in Triple-A and the majors was a fluke…or better yet, how much of a fluke was it, because he won’t replicate his 2008 MLB numbers in 2009.
7. Zach McAllister | RHP | A+ Tampa | Age – 21 | Drafted – Round 3, 2006
Body Type – tall, strong, and durable
Fastball – clocked between 89 and 94 and commands the pitch extremely well to both sides of the plate…he features both a four and two-seamer. The two-seamer sits between 89 – 91, while the four-seamer is able to generate better velocities
Slider – the Yankees originally had McAllister scrap the slider so he could go with a curveball after he was drafted, but he could never get a good feel for the pitch, so he went back to the slider and it flashes above average potential
Change-Up – still developing and shows a good feel for throwing it. It’s the best of his secondary offerings and helps him get lefties out at a similar rate as righties
McAllister’s stuff plays up because of his advanced feel for pitching and excellent command of all his pitches. His stuff is not elite, but it’s at least average all the way around.
While McAllister is young, he already possesses a physical and large frame so there isn’t really any projection left. Besides needing to further tighten his slider and develop his change-up, McAllister is what he is. He’ll continue to show improvement as he adjusts to higher levels of competition, but in terms of really adding another major boost to his stuff, I don’t really see it.
Mechanically, McAllister is very basic. His tempo is a little slow for my liking, but he’s not exactly an armsy thrower as he drifts through his balance and leads with his hips. McAllister doesn’t have any unique quirks to his delivery, but he also has no major red flags. Below is a clip of McAllister during the 2007 season. It gives you a general idea of what his overall mechanics look like, but keep in mind it does not incorporate any changes made by McAllister prior to the 2008 season:
*Credit to Minor League Baseball
One reason McAllister’s command is so good is because of his ability to consistently repeat his mechanics, which is aided by his good athleticism.
By the Numbers – McAllister is essentially solid all the way around. I would like to see him miss a few more bats, but his ability to keep the ball on the ground helps make up for this.
Best Case Outcome – No. 3 starter
More Likely Outcome – No. 4 starter…his lack of upside keeps him from being ranked higher
8. Jairo Heredia | RHP | Charleston (A) | Age – 19 | Signed – Dominican Republic, 2006
Body Type – smallish frame, but a solid athlete and should be able to put on some more weight to his frame
Fastball – sits between 90 and 93 with a great deal of sink
Curveball – flashed plus potential, but still inconsistent…can get a little slurvy at times and projects to be an above average pitch
Change-Up – made the most progress of all his pitches last year, but the pitch still needs more consistency
As I’ve said before, prospects in Charleston were very difficult to find video on, so I’m mostly using outside sources on this one, but the biggest reason I’m including Heredia in this spot is because of the very solid numbers he posted at a very young age in a league in which the hitters were much older than him. Heredia was the second youngest pitcher in the Sally League and was solid all the way around. He’s shown some ability to miss bats, kept the ball on the ground, and flashed solid control that should improve as he gets older.
One problem–of the balls that do get in the air–too many became home runs last year outside of his home park, which is pitcher friendly. In total, 17.6% of the fly balls he allowed on the road became home runs. Heredia is generally around the plate, but needs to work on sharpening his command as he’ll get too much of the plate at times.
Heredia is praised for his feel for pitching, which helps his stuff play up. His mechanics are also deceptive though there is a good amount of effort. The Yankees have been working with Heredia on cleaning up his mechanics, but I can’t comment until I see them for myself.
Best Case Outcome – No. 3 starter
More Likely Outcome – No. 4 starter
*Credit to River Avenue Blues for some of the information in this report
9. Austin Romine | C | B – R | Single-A Charleston | Age – 20 | Drafted – Round 2 (94), 2007
Body Type – lean and athletic for a catcher…room to fill out his frame
Romine is overshadowed by Jesus Montero, but he’s a good prospect in his own right and is a much better bet to stay at catcher. All around, he’s solid defensively, but he’s inconsistent in terms of blocking, framing, and calling pitches. All of that should improve with experience. Romine’s arm is strong and accurate.
Offensively, Romine is a high contact hitter with gap power. His patience still leaves a lot to be desired, but if he can make enough contact to hit for a high enough average, he should be able to maintain a respectable OBP. Romine projects out to have average power, maybe more if he can make a couple adjustments with his swing.
*Credit to the MLB Scouting Bureau
Coming out of high school, Romine had a short stroke, keeping the bat connected to his body as he carried his weight forward. Romine was able to keep the bat head in the hitting zone for a long period of time, but he was also too handsy with his swing, often getting extension before contact and not letting the ball travel deep into his hitting zone. Most major league quality power hitters let the ball travel deep before unloading. In Romine’s case, the result is a high contact rate and plenty of line drives, but a limited amount of power.
Best Case Outcome – Slightly above average catcher with good defense
More Likely Outcome – Average everyday catcher
10. Christian Garcia | RHP | A+ Tampa | Age – 23 | Drafted – Round 3, 2004
Body Type – tall and athletic frame
Fastball – typically sits between 92 and 94 with life…he spots it well to both sides of the plate
Curveball – the bite is sharp and the pitch doesn’t display much of a hump as it comes out of Garcia’s hand…more of a 12-to-7 version.
Change-Up – another solid pitch with good tumbling action…he maintains his arm speed well…not as advanced as his curveball
Another Yankee pitcher with injury issues. Of the numerous injury-striken pitchers with C+ or C grades, Garcia’s upside is probably the highest because of his combination of command and three slighty above average to plus pitches. He does struggle with his control occasionally, but his raw stuff makes his margin for error greater.
Garcia returned last year from Tommy John surgery and was very impressive in limited innings for A+ Tampa. He showed off his ability to miss bats, kept his walks to a moderately low rate, and while his GB% wasn’t fantastic, he didn’t allow a high number of fly balls. The difference was a high line drive rate.
The Yankees didn’t allow Garcia to go deep into games very often, but when he did, his performance didn’t suffer.
Why does Garcia struggle so much with injuries? It’s likely a combination of factors. A lack of conditioning may have been a factor. Perhaps Garcia just isn’t made for throwing a baseball over a long period of time at high velocities. Injuries happen when you pitch…it’s one of the most unnatural things you can do to your body. Other players just might be able to better take the consistent pounding that throwing a baseball does to your arm than Garcia can.
There are also a couple mechanical issues that give Garcia a potentially higher risk of injury. Below are two clips of Garcia. On the left is Garcia on September 1st of 2008, while on the right is Garcia’s draft video:
For one, he is another armsy thrower, meaning he’s not using his body as efficiently as he could. Garcia also uses an upside down arm action, or as some call it: an inverted-L type arm action. There is also some evidence that suggests when the elbow gets above the shoulder plane, extra stress is placed on the shoulder. And from my vantage point, Garcia’s elbow does cross that line, meaning he has two potential risk factors in his arm action.
Neither attributes are predictors of injury, but it’s not unreasonable to say both types of arm action carry a bit more risk for a pitcher. And when you have a pitcher consistently break down, that tells you something must be up.
It looks like the Yankees made an effort to clean up Garcia’s arm action a bit, but it’s difficult to tell because the clip on the left is missing frames and the angles are different. But it seems Garcia doesn’t have as pronounced an inverted-L as he used to. What do you think? The elbow still goes above the shoulder.
What else can be done? Not much…they’ve already gone about making changes to his arm action, which is risky in itself. It’s very difficult for a pitcher to change after having a specific set of mechanics for so long in life, especially when you’re dealing with arm action. The best they can hope for is to monitor his pitch counts, condition the arm as best they can, and hope he remains healthy.
Best Case Outcome – Strong No. 3 starter
More Likely Outcome – Set-up man out of the bullpen…I’m just not sure his body will let him pitch so many innings in a year without breaking down.
11. Brett Marshall | RHP | GCL (Rookie) | Age – 19 | Drafted – Round 6, 2008
He’s only thrown six professional innings, but I like him a lot. Click here to read the full scouting report. If he can remain healthy–and that’s a big if when you consider his mechanics, the Yankees reputation for keeping pitchers healthy, his high school pitch counts, and the attrition rate for pitchers in general–but if he can remain healthy, his upside grades out to that of a No. 2 starter.
Grade – C+
ETA – Late 2013
12. Brad Suttle | 3b | B – B | Single-A Charleston | Age – 23 | Drafted – Round 4, 2007
There were some encouraging signs last season for Suttle. First, he hit a high percentage of line drives. Line drives will fall in for hits between 70 and 80 percent of the time. Related to the line drive percentage, Suttle does a good job of keeping the ball off the ground. A hitter will never hit for power if they put it on the ground all the time. The .181 ISO-power was solid, especially when you consider the park he played in. He’s not really a projectable player, but perhaps he can continue tweaking his swing in order to increase his power output. I know the Yankees have made some changes to his swing (Source: NoMaas), but coming out of Texas, Suttle didn’t incorporate his lower body enough and got by on raw strength and excellent bat speed generated by his quick wrists. Suttle strikes out a lot, which will keep his batting average grounded, but he does see a lot of pitches and will walk often.
Another thing to point out–as a switch hitter, Suttle was much better from the left side. If he doesn’t improve from the right side, he might want to think about becoming a left handed hitter only.
Defense - Suttle isn’t really considered anything more than average at the hot corner, though he does have a plus arm. He loses a major chunk of his value if he has to move off the position.
Grade – C+
ETA – 2012
13. Humberto Sanchez | RHP | MLB | Age – 25 | Drafted – Round 31, 2001
Former top pitching prospect has seen his stock drop as he has battled command and weight issues and is currently working back from Tommy John surgery, which he officially returned from in September. Sanchez’s fastball bores into right handers between 92 and 94 mph, occasionally touching 95 when at full health. His curveball flashes plus potential, but is inconsistent in terms of break and command. Sanchez also features a change-up.
Sanchez’s biggest problem is his lack of stamina. He loses velocity as he gets deeper into games and his breaking ball loses spin. His numbers drop off a cliff as he gets into the fifth inning and because of this, Sanchez projects to be a reliever at the big league level.
Grade – C+
ETA – 2009
14. Arodys Vizcaino | RHP | GCL (Rookie) | Age – 18 | Signed – Dominican Republic, 2007
Possesses a 93 – 94 mph fastball at a very young age with the potential to add more velocity in time. His curveball and change-up lag significantly behind the fastball, but both pitches have solid potential. Reports on his secondary offerings were vague and all over the place. Had a strong season in the GCL–similar to the numbers Heredia posted in 2007. The difference between the two was that Heredia had the more advanced feel for pitching, better secondary stuff, and was able to induce ground balls, while Vizcaino’s fastball and raw stuff was better than Heredia. While both posted a similar BB%, Heredia’s control was more highly regarded. Vizcaino looks to have a potential No. 3 starter upside, though he could be a long shot No. 2 starter if everything goes right.
Grade – C+
ETA – Mid-2013
15. Wilkins De La Rosa | LHP | A+ Tampa | Age – 24 | Signed – Dominican Republic, 2001
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Something to keep in mind: Two players that did not appear on the list–Kelvin De Leon and Eduardo Sosa–were not included because I don’t have much information to go off of. I seldom include players that aren’t yet in the Gulf Coast League or above. Were they to be included, I’m inclined to say they would fall in that 7 – 12 range. I’m particularly intrigued by Sosa, a 5-tool center fielder that showed an ability to get on base, solid power potential, and an advanced level of base running with 30 steals in 38 attempts. So while they are not included on this list, I will be surprised if they’re not on next year’s list.
Other C+ Prospects (in no particular order): Brandon Laird (sleeper prospect, will have more on him in the Newsletter), Jonathan Albaladejo (solid middle reliever prospect, injury issues, hate his arm action), Manuel Banuelos (undersized lefty with solid stuff), Alfredo Aceves (ready now as a long relief/spot starter type), George Kontos (good stuff, command and make-up issues, profiles best as a reliever), Jeremy Bleich (see earlier scouting report, good showing in Hawaii makes me a bit more optimistic about his future), Abraham Almonte (very young for level, held his own), Kanekoa Texeira (decent fastball/plus slider…misses bats, gets ground balls, has solid control)
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Francisco Cervelli, Ryan Pope, Jonathan Ortiz, Brad Rulon, Casey Erickson, Alan Horne, Justin Snyder, Damon Sublett, Hector Noesi, Michael Dunn
Also See: New York Yankees Team Page
Up Next: Tampa Bay Rays, Prospects 1 – 5
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