State of the Farm:One, two, three, four. Can I have a little more?”

Prospect rankings primer

The Top Ten

  1. C Gary Sanchez
  2. CF Mason Williams  
  3. RHP Jose A. Ramirez
  4. OF Slade Heathcott
  5. OF Tyler Austin
  6. RHP Ty Hensley
  7. 2B Angelo Gumbs
  8. RHP Jose Campos
  9. RHP Mark Montgomery
  10.  RHP Rafael De Paula

1. Gary Sanchez
Position: C
DOB: 12/02/1992
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: .297/.353/.517 at Low-A Charleston (68 games); .279/.330/.436 at High-A Tampa (48 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 6+ potential power; 7 arm

What Happened in 2012: After a return trip to Charleston to start the season, Sanchez eventually hit his way to High-A, where the bat continued to turn heads while the glove continued to remind people that the bat turned heads.

Strengths: Big raw; 7 power potential; crushes fastballs; already tapping into right-center power; hit tool has above-average potential; arm strength is plus-plus; receiving skills have improved; impact bat at any position.

Weaknesses: Will expand hitting zone; can struggle with spin; swing has some miss; glove is below average; well below average run; catch/throw plays down because of footwork and release; low-effort player at times.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division/all-star at major-league level

Explanation of Risk: High risk; raw power to play, but below-average defensive profile and some makeup concerns.

Fantasy Future: Potential to be middle-of-the-order power bat from a premium defensive spot; could hit .270-plus with 25-plus bombs.

The Year Ahead: Assuming the Yankees push Sanchez to Double-A, his bat is still going to be the carrying force in his skill set, as the power is very real even if the hit tool plays below expectations. He isn’t a lost cause behind the plate and has shown some improvement in recent years, but the overall profile is always going to be fringy. Regardless, a 4 catcher with a 6 overall bat is a monster player, and if Sanchez can juggle the demands of development, he has high-impact potential.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Mason Williams
Position: CF
DOB: 08/21/1991
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 150 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 4th round, 2010 draft, West Orange High School (Winter Garden, FL)
2012 Stats: .304/.359/.489 at Low-A Charleston (69 games); .277/.302/.422 at High-A Tampa (22 games)
The Tools: 7 run; 6 potential glove; 5+ potential hit; 5 arm

What Happened in 2012: Williams excelled in Low-A and was starting to find his groove in the Florida State League when a shoulder injury cut his season short.

Strengths: Plus athlete; easy/natural player; loose/handsy swing; very solid contact ability; 5+ hit tool; not empty; has some juice; 7 run; very good defensive profile in center; plus potential glove; good instincts; arm is 5.

Weaknesses: Excellent athlete, but needs to add strength; struggled against changeups in 2012; out in front and empty on contact; needs to refine baserunning; below average power.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; good defensive profile; good carrying hit tool; ready for Double-A.

Fantasy Future: Has leadoff potential, with quick bat and good contact; very good run; could be .280 hitter with good secondary skills at premium defensive spot.

The Year Ahead: An injury to his non-throwing shoulder ended his season, but Williams is ready to take the next step forward in his development and mature into the Yankees center fielder of the future. He might benefit from another stop in High-A, but he won’t face the real test until he reaches Trenton, where better pitching will shine a light on the real potential of the bat. Some sources put plus grades on its future, while others saw it as average that has the ability to play up in games because of his speed. Williams is going to be able to make contact at all levels, and with some added strength, he could really step forward at the plate. Add his defensive profile to the mix and you have a player with serious potential.

Major league ETA: 2014

3. Jose A. Ramirez
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/21/1990
Height/Weight: 6’3’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2007, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 3.19 ERA (98.2 IP, 92 H, 94 K, 30 BB) at High-A Tampa
The Tools: 7 FB; 6+ potential CH; 5+ potential SL

What Happened in 2012: Ramirez made 18 starts in the Florida State League, missing just under a bat an inning an flashing the electric stuff that has teased since his stateside debut in 2009.

Strengths: Prototypical size; electric arm speed; from standard slot, routinely works 93-96 with the fastball; can touch 98; shows plus life; changeup is bat-missing pitch; excellent out of the hand with good sink; slider will flash in the mid-upper 80s; can throw strikes and repeat his delivery.

Weaknesses: Can fall under the ball; slider is fringe at present; has a show-me curve, but not a go-to pitch; inconsistent secondary utility; shows control but needs to refine his command; lives loose in the zone.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 2/3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; injury resume; 23 and yet to make Double-A debut.

Fantasy Future: Has bat-missing stuff; if healthy, can flash top-of-the-rotation stuff with back-of-the-rotation consistency.

The Year Ahead: If Ramirez can stay healthy, he could be an easy top 101 prospect in 2013. The fastball is an impact major-league offering, with plus (to plus-plus) velocity and good life. One source called the changeup a future 7 pitch, and if the slider can develop into a consistent above-average offering, Ramirez is going to be a dangerous man on the hill. Don’t be shocked if he explodes in 2013.

Major league ETA: 2014

4. Slade Heathcott
Position: OF
DOB: 09/28/1990
Height/Weight: 6’1’’ 190 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2009 draft, Texas High School (Texarkana, TX)
2012 Stats: .235/.409/.353 at complex-level GCL (5 games); .307/.378/.470 at High-A Tampa (60 games)
The Tools: 5 hit; 6+ run; 6 arm; 6 glove; 5 power potential

What Happened in 2012: It’s funny what can happen when Heathcott can actually stay on a field….

Strengths: High-end athlete; major-league strength/quickness; 7 run; plus range in center; very good glove; arm is plus; shows good hands at the plate; hit tool could be another average (or above) tool; excellent bat speed; has pop; five-tool player.

Weaknesses: One-speed player; needs to command his game; might struggle to adjust if stuck in one gear; aggressive approach; swing has some miss; might not have big-game power in the majors.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: High risk; injury prone; one speed player.

Fantasy Future: Shows all five tools; could hit for average and show some game power, with stolen base ability all from a premium defensive position.

The Year Ahead: Opinions are mixed on Heathcott, with some calling him a future All-Star while others question the game command and utility of the impressive raw tools. Staying healthy is the biggest issue, and with a balls-out approach to every aspect of the game, it’s hard to see Heathcott staying on the field enough to reach his full potential. If he can stay healthy, and this is a big if, he has impact potential at the highest level.

Major league ETA: 2014

5. Tyler Austin
Position: OF
DOB: 09/06/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 13th round, 2010 draft, Heritage High School (Conyers, GA).
2012 Stats: .320/.405/.598 at Low-A Charleston (70 games); .321/.385/.478 at High-A Tampa (36 games); .286/.375/.286 at Double-A Trenton (2 games)
The Tools: 6 hit; 5 arm

What Happened in 2012: Tyler Austin just keeps hitting, proving doubters wrong at every stop.

Strengths: Strong; decent athlete for size; good overall approach; natural hitter; very easy bat-to-ball skills; works himself into good counts; exploits bad balls; 6 hit; 5+ power potential; 5 arm; 5 glove; makes a corner work; good baserunner.

Weaknesses: Limited to a corner; has to hit; below-average run; over-the-fence production might fall short of prototypical corner.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; solid-average major-league regular

Explanation of Risk: Moderate risk; ready for Double-A; will need to prove it at each stop.

Fantasy Future: At full potential, could hit .280-plus with 10-15 HR and 25-plus doubles from corner spot; good on the bases despite limited speed.

The Year Ahead: Good hitters hit, and Austin has shown that he can put good wood to a baseball. He is likely to keep that up in Double-A, and some scouts see the game power slowly creeping into the mix in the next few years. With a sound approach and a quick and controlled swing, Austin should continue to work himself into favorable hitting conditions and make steady contact. If the power blossoms, his stock will rise, as will his projection.

Major league ETA: 2014

6. Ty Hensley
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/30/1993
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 220 lbs.
Bats/Throws: Both/R
Drafted/Acquired: First round, 2012 draft, Edmond Santa Fe High School (Edmond, OK)
2012 Stats: 3.00 ERA (12 IP, 8 H, 14 K, 7 BB) at complex-level GCL
The Tools: 6+ FB; 5+ potential CB; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2012: A surprise find at the 30th spot in the first round, Hensley could make half the teams in baseball look bad for passing on him.

Strengths: Prototypical size; strength; good athlete; very strong arm; fastball is 6/7 pitch; works low-mid 90s; can go back for more; excellent life; curveball flashes plus; big vertical 12/6 break; works mid-70s; changeup has projection; power profile.

Weaknesses: Can rush delivery; short-stride and struggle to finish pitches; will elevate; can lose curveball; changeup is fringe at present; solid-average potential; command needs work.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 2/3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; complex-league resume; changeup/command need big jumps.

Fantasy Future: Workhorse frame and the potential for three solid-average or better pitches; could be 2/3 if curve really develops; backend innings chewer as floor.

The Year Ahead: Hensley was a gift at pick no. 30, and could jump this list with a strong showing in short-season ball in 2013. There is no need to rush the high-ceiling arm, and a stay in extended spring training followed by a trip to Staten Island could be in the cards. The fastball is legit, with velocity and movement, and if he can finish his delivery, the ability to throw it downhill on a steep plane. The curveball has plus potential, and the changeup has a chance to play. This is a workhorse in the making and possibly more if the package comes together. Very good arm.

Major league ETA: 2016

7. Angelo Gumbs
Position: 2B
DOB: 10/13/1992
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 175 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2010 draft, Torrance High School (Torrance, CA)
2012 Stats: .272/.320/.432 at Low-A Charleston (67 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 6 raw; 6 run; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2012: Making his full-season debut, the former second-round pick showed flashes of brilliance mixed in with flashes of flameout.

Strengths: Plus athlete; plus run; above average arm; really fast hands at the plate; produces crazy bat speed; can make loud contact; plus raw pop; competes.

Weaknesses: Very aggressive player; aggressive approach at the plate; struggles to make in-swing adjustments; can take himself out of games; hit tool can play down; glove has potential, but currently fringe-average.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Explanation of Risk: High risk; Low-A resume; approach issues.

Fantasy Future: Could be impact second baseman, with chance for decent average, 20-plus home run pop, and speed.

The Year Ahead: Gumbs just needs to play, getting reps at the plate and in the field. His glove will improve through repetition, as he owns all the necessary tools to develop into a quality defender. His bat will determine his future, with excellent bat speed and good raw power, but an approach that puts him behind in counts and at the mercy of secondary stuff. If it comes together for Gumbs, he has first-division potential, but his approach and intense competitive nature could work against him as he climbs the ladder.

Major league ETA: 2015

8. Jose Campos
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/27/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 195 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009 (Mariners), Venezuela
2012 Stats: 4.01 ERA (24.2 IP, 20 H, 26 K, 8 BB) at Low-A Charleston
The Tools: 6 FB; 5+ potential SL; 5 CH

What Happened in 2012: An elbow injury ended his season before it could really begin.

Strengths: Tall; good present strength; very good arm; fastball works low-90s; can get mid-90s with some effort; good weight to pitch; thrown downhill; pounds lower quadrant of the zone; shows multiple breaking ball looks; short slider with sharp slice has above-average potential; good soft-contact pitch; good overall command profile; looks to establish the fastball early and often and pitch off of it.

Weaknesses: Command gets loose when he goes back for mid-90s velocity; starts throwing instead of pitching; curveball can loose tight rotation and break early of the hand; could be average offering, but fringe at present; changeup is still coming; shows some action, but arm speed will slow.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Explanation of Risk: High risk; injury risk; Low-A resume.

Fantasy Future: Has the potential to develop into a mid-rotation innings chewer, with a heavy, low-90s fastball and feel for secondary stuff.

The Year Ahead: Campos is healthy and ready to resume his climb to the majors, but until he proves he still has the stuff (and the health) in game action, it’s all just talk. Campos is a big kid with a big arm, and with a good command profile and feel for a deep secondary arsenal, he has a legit chance to reach the majors as a starter in a few seasons. He butters his bread with a thick low-90s fastball that he can work low in the zone, and his cut-slider can get him out of counts. If the arm stays intact and the changeup takes a step forward, Campos will once again be back on the prospect track.

Major league ETA: 2015

9. Mark Montgomery
Position: RHP
DOB: 08/30/1990
Height/Weight: 5’11’’ 205 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 11th round, 2011 draft, Longwood University (Farmville, VA)
2012 Stats: 1.34 ERA (40.1 IP, 23 H, 61 K, 16 BB) at High-A Tampa; 1.88 ERA (24 IP,
12 H, 38 K, 6 BB) at Double-A Trenton
The Tools: 6 FB; 7 SL

What Happened in 2012: From High-A to Double-A to the Arizona Fall League, all Montgomery did was miss bats and break hearts.

Strengths: Physical; impressive arm speed; fastball is plus pitch; 90-93 on the gun, but explosive movement to the arm side; slider is breadwinner; can manipulate offering; shorter and cut-like; can also make the bottom fall out; grade 7 pitch.

Weaknesses: Limited height; comes across body in delivery; can drag the arm; falls off to 1B on follow-through; command isn’t always crisp.

Overall Future Potential: 6; frontline setup

Explanation of Risk: Low risk; Double-A resume; AFL; ready for major-league taste in ’13.

Fantasy Future: Bat-misser with two major-league quality pitches; should develop into very good late-inning arm; potential to close.

The Year Ahead: Short and stocky with a vindictive slider and a lively fastball, Montgomery is going to find success at the major-league level at some point in 2013. The delivery has some effort and he can get out of whack mechanically, but his stuff missed barrels, and that’s his job.  Relievers don’t make the best prospects, but Montgomery could be a frontline setup arm in a major-league bullpen, and that has a ton of value, especially when he is under team control for six seasons. Yes; even the Yankees appreciate a good bargain when they see it.

Major league ETA: 2013

10. Rafael De Paula
Position: RHP
DOB: 03/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 212 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2010, Dominican Republic
2012 Stats: 1.46 ERA (61.2 IP, 35 H, 85 K, 18 BB) at complex-level DSL
The Tools: 7 FB; 6 potential CB

What Happened in 2012: Stuck in the Dominican Republic with visa issues, De Paula wasn’t challenged by complex-level hitters, mowing down 85 in 61 2/3 innings of work.

Strengths: Good size; strength; athletic; big arm strength; very easy and loose; from three-quarters slot, fastball can work 93-97; touches 99; jumps out of the hand; shows some feel for a low-80s power curve; can spin it; gets tight rotation and occasional depth; some feel for changeup; poise and fortitude throughout suspension and visa dispute; competitor.

Weaknesses: Limited looks against quality bats in quality environments; secondary stuff behind fastball; curveball is inconsistent; struggles to command it; changeup underdeveloped at present; questions about age/identity.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter/closer

Explanation of Risk: Extreme; 22-year-old in ’13; yet to play stateside; age/name issues; suspension on resume.

Fantasy Future: Who knows? The fastball is a 7 and maybe an 8 in bursts; the curve could be a 6; he could be something electric in either the rotation or bullpen.

The Year Ahead: De Paula was finally cleared to make his stateside debut, and he could jump to Low-A Charleston to start the season. There are way more unknowns in his game than the average high-risk prospect, starting with limited game experience and extending to questions about his legit identity (age/name/DOB). With the suspension behind him, De Paula can bring his boom-or-bust act to the states, where he could be the top arm on this list in a year or a cautionary tale for prospect writers who get excited over plus arsenals despite the extreme risk involved. Six sources on De Paula and each source was in love with the raw stuff, but the unknowns can’t be ignored. If the stuff shows up at the stateside level, De Paula is going to be a name every fan of the farm remembers. Extremely risky prospect, but if you like ceilings and plus-plus fastballs from easy releases and the potential for exploding breaking balls, there isn’t anything wrong with dreaming big.  

Major league ETA: No idea

Prospects on the Rise:

1. LHP Nik Turely: Big lefty from the 2008 draft, Turley isn’t the type of prospect that is going to set the world on fire. But he knows how to execute a solid-average mix of pitches, changing speeds and sightlines, and if takes a step forward in Double-A, he could be a top 10 prospect in the system in 2014.

2. OF Ben Gamel: Gamer profile with a fluid swing from the left side of the plate and good gap pop, Gamel more than held his own at the full-season level as a 20-year-old. A versatile defensive player with good baseball skills, Gamel isn’t likely to develop into a first-division talent, but another strong year at the plate could raise his status and put him in the discussion for inclusion on prospect lists.

3. 3B Dante Bichette Jr. Baseball bloodlines and a lot of industry love for Bichette, the Yankees’ supplemental first-round pick in 2011. Bichette really struggled in his full-season debut in 2012, but the bat has some juice and through repetition he has a chance to stick around at third going forward. For a guy that slugged .331, Bichette has plenty of backers, and if he rebounds in a return trip to the Sally League, he could be right back in the prospect discussion.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2013

1. OF Zoilo Almonte: Almonte is like the diet version of a five-tool prospect. He doesn’t have any plus tools, but he shows all five in the fringe-average to average range, giving him a chance to not only reach the highest level, but carve out a role at some point in the future. If he can refine his approach and his tools play up and not down, he could find himself in the majors this season.

2. RHP Brett Marshall: 27 starts at the Double-A level in 2012 put Marshall in contention for a call-up this season, where his brand of attack the lower zone with heavy low-90s heat and mix in a deep secondary arsenal might just play at the back of a rotation.

3. C Austin Romine: When healthy, Romine is a solid-average receiver with some catch-and-throw skills, but he hasn’t been able to log time behind the plate with any consistency over the past few seasons. The bat isn’t great, but its not entirely empty, and if he can stay on the field in 2013, he has a chance to develop into a quality back-up catcher at the highest level.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/87 or later)

  1. C Gary Sanchez
  2. CF Mason Williams 
  3. RHP Jose Ramirez
  4. OF Slade Heathcott
  5. OF Tyler Austin
  6. RHP Ty Hensley
  7. 2B Angelo Gumbs
  8. RHP Jose Campos
  9. RHP Mark Montgomery
  10. RHP Rafael De Paula

Over the past two decades the Yankees have groomed plenty of major-league contributors. However, this list includes no players that will appear on the Opening Day 25-man roster.

The Yankees’ philosophy on amateur talent has never wavered. They go after the highest ceiling every time. Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin are prepared to fill a potential opening in the outfield when Curtis Granderson hits free agency next winter. The athletic Williams’ future is directly dependent on how his bat will translate to the major-league level. He is a legitimate plus-plus runner with quick-twitch athleticism, and scouts who like him believe he will hit for both average and power. Heathcott is a similar prospect in that his best tool is his speed. Austin surged up prospect boards in 2012 because he was able to make solid contact and flash some power potential, but few believe he will be a star.

Gary Sanchez’s future relies solely on his ability and #want behind the plate. He’ll provide more than enough value offensively, and in 2012 he took steps toward becoming a better defender. Angelo Gumbs has always put on 5 o’clock displays with tremendous bat speed and arm strength. He needs to build on his 2012 campaign by continuing to apply his raw tools in game situations.

The pitchers have plenty of upside, but among starters only Ramirez has pitched above Low-A. Mark Montgomery, who boasts one of the minor leagues’ best secondary offerings, is the safest arm on this list, but at best he is a late-inning reliever.

The Yankees may lack anyone major-league ready on this list, but they do not lack high-ceiling talent. The potential is here for big-league production, or at least trade deadline value. —Zach Mortimer

A Parting Thought: The Yankees system is better than I initially realized, with high-impact potential scattered all over the top 10, but the quality falls off quickly and the lack of depth keeps the farm from being considered a top 10 system.

Last year's Yankees rankings