Evaluating The Yankee Farm System In Context
By Andy Singer
Photo Credit: Getty Images
For those of us that obsess over prospects, December-March is almost the best time of year, besides Pitchers and Catchers (sigh). In those months, most rigorous publicly available baseball scouting services and publications update their prospect rankings and player reports. For people like me, it is a fascinating time, as it is possible for our preconceived notions regarding a player’s future role, ability at maturation, or even their likelihood to remain with the team developing them are challenged. While I personally make an effort to supplement my reading about prospects with seeing as many of the Yankees’ prospects both in person and via video as I possibly can in order to justify my opinions, it is nearly impossible to see everyone on these lists unless you have a full-time job in baseball. All of that being said, I try to read all of the prospect reports, both the league top-100 and team reports, from all of the respected outlets. Just in the last couple of months, there have been extensive prospect updates from:
Prospects 1500 (A new-ish guy on the block, but a good one)
All of these resources are well respected in the baseball community and provide honest projections and a wealth of knowledge regarding both prospects individually and farm systems as a whole. When you begin cross-referencing sources, trends and storylines emerge. Of particular interest, the popular stories told about the Yankee farm system don’t quite match the trends and realities that these scouting reports identify.
I have always said that one of the things I value most about Start Spreading The News is the community of people that are here on a consistent basis. From a writer’s perspective, one of the best parts of that community is that we can get a feel for how our readers think and feel about the team and its prospects in both broad and specific ways. The overarching sense that I’ve gotten from our community both through comments in posts and questions to the SSTN Mailbag is that while the Yankees have some good prospects, the farm system as a whole is not competitive enough when compared to other MLB teams.
Most of the prospect publications have finished releasing their top-100 prospects, and many of those have also gotten around to individual team reports and team farm system rankings. Of particular interest this week, Baseball America ranked the Yankees’ farm system 13th in baseball, and most other respected publications will likely slot the Yankees into the 8-15 range as well. On the surface, that doesn’t sound impressive until you dig a little deeper.
In 2021, the Yankees traded multiple prospects who were present on other teams’ top-10 prospect lists, such as Ezequiel Duran, Kevin Alcantara, Roansy Contreras, and Miguel Yajure. These deals were all made in pursuit of improving the MLB team, but all certainly would have made the Yankees’ system look deeper. This doesn’t mean that the Yankees “messed up” in any way, though. Prospects are supposed to help your MLB roster, either through their play on the field or their value via trade. The Yankees did in fact make the MLB team better with those trades, both for 20201 and 2022. While the farm system lost significant depth, the MLB team gained a couple of good ballplayers in Jameson Taillon and Joey Gallo who were necessary supplements to the roster.
Trades like that help explain why the Yankee farm system looks a little less deep at the moment. Additionally, multiple prospects who were previously mid-level or nearly non-prospects had huge years to put themselves on the map. Beyond that, almost every publication notes the proliferation of tools that the Yankees have accumulated in the low minors and in Latin America. While those players don’t really help the farm system outlook today, if even a couple of those guys realize their tools, a good bet with the current minor league development staff, the Yankee farm system will be well stocked for the next few years.
Rumors of the farm system’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. A much deeper dive into the prospects in this system is coming soon, but the farm system is far from bereft. Keep it in mind when thinking about the 2022 season and beyond.