Mixed bag for Yankees
It was a strange year for Yankees prospects.
Recently, the high spending Bombers have cultivated many useful pieces from their farm system, from Brett Gardner to David Robertson to Ivan Nova, and also have dealt several others, like Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke, away in trades.
But in 2011, few prospects delivered on either front for the Yankees. Jesus Montero did come up and play well in September, but he endured scrutiny all season long after struggling in spring training. There also was talk that any one of three top pitching prospects Andrew Brackman, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances could make an impact in The Bronx by season end. Instead, Banuelos never made it to the big leagues, and Brackman and Betances only got cursory looks as late September callups.
Now that the minor league season is in the books, here a look at some of the key developments from the Yankees farm system in 2011.
Top hitting prospect: C Jesus Montero
It been a roller coaster season for Montero, to say the least.
He entered the season with the expectation of competing for if not definitely earning a spot on the major league roster coming out of spring training, and those exp Swarovski Jewelry ectations exponentially increased when Francisco Cervelli was hurt early on. But Montero struggled throughout the spring, and was sent back to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre for a second tour of duty.
There, Montero was questioned for not hitting for as much power as he had in previous years in the minors, and there was also talk that he was bored. But then Montero was called up to the majors on Sept. 1, and has proven why expectations were so high to begin with.
During the final month of the season, Montero hit .328 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 18 games, doing more than enough to earn himself a spot on the postseason roster, and he probably will get some opportunities as the designated hitter against left handers.
Because Jorge Posada is in the final year of his contract, Montero late season surge should give him a chance to be the team full time designated hitter next season if he isn dangled as trade bait to land another frontline starter like Seattle Felix Hernandez.
Top pitching prospect: LHP Manny Banuelos
Like Montero, it been an up and down season for Banuelos. After a stellar spring training, in which he received the James P. Dawson award as the Yankees top rookie, the left hander was assigned to Double A Trenton. But though he showed flashes of brilliance including his one hit, seven inning shutout of Pawtucket on Aug. 29 for SWB Banuelos failed to deliver consistent performances throughout the season.
Considering he turned 20 in March, though, Banuelos combined numbers between Double A Trenton and SWB 6 7, 3.75 ERA, 125 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings were more than respe Swarovski Jewelry ctable. Given that he never had control issues in the past, you would expect his bloated walk total in 2011 (he issued 71 free passes this year) to be an aberration.
Biggest surprise: OF Mason Williams
The Yankees had high hopes for Williams, who they drafted in the fourth round in 2010 and gave a $1.45 million bonus to keep him from honoring his commitment to South Carolina.
But their highest hopes had to be exceeded with the way Williams played for the New York Penn League champion Staten Island Yankees this summer.
Williams, 20, was outstanding for the Baby Bombers, hitting .349 with three homers, 31 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 269 at bats in what is predominantly a league full of college players, and was named the league top overall prospect by Baseball America.
Biggest disappointment: RHP Andrew Brackman
The Yankees had high expectations entering the season for Brackman, after it seemed like the 2007 first round pick out of North Carolina State finally had figured things out at the end of 2010. But after pitching extremely well down the stretch for Trenton, Brackman had a disastrous first few months of the season as a starter for SWB, going 2 5 with a 6.52 ERA in 13 starts.
The 6 foot 10 right hander did rebound down the stretch as a reliever, putting together seven scoreless outings in his last nine relief appearances, earning himself a S Swarovski Jewelry eptember call up.
But Brackman has a seven figure option for next season, leaving the Yankees with a difficult de Swarovski Jewelry cision to either pick it up or decline it and risk losing him.