The potential of the New York Yankees farm system is astronomical, but recent history will tell you that hype often leads to bust.
By Christian Kouroupakis
The New York Yankees got a sweet taste of the future during the 2015 campaign. As we all know, prospects Greg Bird and Luis Severino made significant impacts during the Bombers playoff run.
Quite naturally, it also set some scary expectations for the entire farm system.
Many consider Severino to be the best starter in the rotation, at just 22-years old and only 62.1 innings on his big league resume. Some might even say he’s expected to be the ace of the future.
His 62.1 innings were impressive a year ago, as he went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings. But despite the eye-opening first glance we got at the righty, it’s simply not fair to place all of these expectations on such a young kid.
We have seen top prospects for New York bust time in and time out. In fact, the last number one prospect who considered to pan out was Derek Jeter, the number one prospect in the organization in 1994.
In 2011, according to Baseball America, he was the Yankees’ top prospect, and Major League Baseball’s third best (behind Bryce Harper and Mike Trout). Many considered his bat to be Mike Piazza-like due to the power he demonstrated at the plate.
To make the hype even bigger, Montero slashed .328/.406/.590 and hit four home runs in 18 games in September of 2011. It was his first taste of the show, and like Severino, it left fans excited for his sophomore season.
Unfortunately for him, he became one of the biggest busts in the history of baseball.
He turned in a dismal 2012, was suspended for PEDs in 2013, and in 2014 he reported to camp overweight. In Seattle, he has a slash line of .247/.285/.383 in 796 games.
It’s not just Montero who turned out to be nothing.
The Yankees have had numerous pitchers that got punched around after they were initially deemed as “rising phenoms.”
The last top Yankee pitching prospect, Manny Banuelos, was number one in the Bronx in 2012. In the same year, he tore his ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the 2013 season.
In 2014, he struggles in Tampa, Trenton, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was dealt to the Atlanta Braves in 2015. Banuelos go his first taste at the show last year, but underwent surgery to remove a bone spur this past off season.
Back in 2008 Joba Chamberlain was the number one prospect in the organization and did well in his first full year in the Bronx. Unfortunately for him and the Yankees, the infamous “Joba Rules” forced him to transition from the bullpen to rotation on numerous occasions. This impacted his performance to a devastating extent, causing his 7.94 ERA in 2015.
Manager Joe Girardi plans to let Severino lose this season, in order to avoid tampering with his rhythm, preparation, and anything else that comes with limiting a starting pitcher.
That’s a positive, but the one thing Girardi cannot control are the expectations the tough City of New York has placed on the young hurler, and the rest of the prospects.
Aaron Judge, who stands at a monstrous 6’7″, draws comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton with the raw power he possesses. Catching prospect Gary Sanchez (top prospect in 2014) has been told he has MVP potential.
Judge hit .224 in Triple-A in 2015, and Sanchez doesn’t have a single hit in 14 at bats here in Spring Training.
Temper your expectations fans of the Bombers. We haven’t seen anything close to a decent sample size from these athletes to even consider comparing them to the best in the game.
This is not just the case with a handful of Yankee prospects. This is general advice in regards to any prospect in their first full season. These rising prospects need time to adjust to the stage of major league baseball and develop at their own pace.
The added pressure cause by the vicious fans of New York has effected prospects in the past, and it’s time that every fan takes a step back and realize this.