The New York Yankees relying heavily on prospects would be a mistake 1
Oct 18, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Scorpions pitcher James Kaprielian of the New York Yankees against the Mesa Solar Sox during an Arizona Fall League game at Sloan Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Yankees’ prospect haul is good in theory, they’ll regret placing all their confidence in too many young talents.

The New York Yankees have an arsenal of talent in the minor leagues. Upon acquiring some of the top prospects in baseball, including Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, the Yankees made it clear that their main goal is to build up the farm system once again.

With Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge making a splash in the major leagues this past season, the Yankees knew that the future had arrived. In beefing up their farm system, they are clearly preparing for that future.

The problem is that the Yankees are relying too much on prospects right now.

Some of the best Yankees teams boasted an even balance of veterans and rookies, which brought them home several championships. And as the Yankees know, some of those highly-touted prospects don’t necessarily work out in the Bronx.

While the talent is exploding in the minors right now, it is unrealistic to believe that all of these players will become stars for the Yankees. As we’ve experienced before, talent in the minor leagues does not always translate to big league success.

Joba Chamberlain is probably the biggest example of a prospect failure in the Yankees’ system. Phil Hughes was a top prospect for the Yankees in 2007 before his mediocre performance in the majors. Jesus Montero and Austin Jackson are other players that add-on to that ever-growing list.

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Scorpions infielder Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The chances of a prospect converting to superstar status in the major leagues are highly unlikely. The question is, will the Yankees and their fans be able to settle for prospects that might not be MVPs, but who might be right in the middle of the pack?

There’s no predicting how minor league players will handle the big show. There will be some that produce like Sanchez and others that will get a few shots but won’t make the cut.

If the Yankees solely rely on these prospects to fill their line-up in the future, they will end up being disappointed. There will come a time, sooner or later, when the Yankees will realize that not all of these prospects will make it.

It’s a great thing to have faith in the younger generation. We’ve seen fascinating offensive and defensive performances in the minors and the Arizona Fall League by Torres. James Kaprielian has made a case to be a solid starter in future years. Jorge Mateo is thought to be the future in the infield.

But what is the reality that they actually will be? If the Yankees put all their faith in these prospects and they don’t pan out, what happens then? There has to come some point where the Yankees are eager to win now. They can’t necessarily do that when they are still harvesting talent in Scranton.

Relying on young talent means the Yankees are not making any moves to improve the team right now. They are waiting for their talent to develop. But that is something that will not end well for them.

The Yankees need to realize that putting all their faith in their young players is a risky decision. With several acquisitions this past season, the Yankees are doing just that. That is their decision and while it seems like a good one on the outside, it will not turn out the way they planned. Putting that reliability on their young minor league talent will ultimately cause them to miss out on players that can win now.

There’s a very good chance that some of these prospects will live up to the hype. However, if they rely solely on this unproven talent and it falls through … the Yankees will be on the losing end of the game.


9 COMMENTS

  1. You fail to bring up the fact that money also has a huge effect on the decisions in the front office. I think the Yankees are going about it the right way by stockpiling youngsters with a high ceiling. Of course not all of them will pan out, but some will. We’ve learned a hard lesson by giving out monster sized contracts that go on well past the age of the player’s ability and we’ve paid the price. A combination of developing youth and picking up some solid free agents with the goal of responsible management of salaries is the way to go.

    • Yes, I didn’t bring up the money aspect in this piece. That is certainly true! It’s great to develop the youth but what if those youngsters do not reach those high ceilings, then what? They won’t be able to trade them for valuable pieces for the future. They’ve let these prospects pan out in the past and have gotten not-so-great results, so it’s a double-edged sword. At least that is what I believe.

      • Well, I’m hoping that out of more than a half dozen pitching prospects, a couple of them pan out as starters and maybe a couple become studs in the bullpen. The more prospects we have, the better chance of finding some that can cut it in the big league. I’m pretty high on Chance Adams and Kaprielian getting to the stadium and doing well. As for all the others, I’m really high on Rutherford and Frazier. And I’m sure that Torres will also become a star. But of course, it’s all speculation. It would be a dream if all top prospects in the farm worked out. I have no problem with Cashman trading some prospects just as long as the target of the trade is young, healthy, proven, and won’t need a contract that extends 5 years past his worth.

  2. I disagree…1) worst free agent class in recent memory 2) 50 million coming of the books after the 2017 season. 3) Great veteran signing in Holliday not just for his bat but he has been a class act throughout his entire career and will be a awesome mentor to our young bombers. in Light your article should be about how the yankees are doing an amazing job at staying competitive during this rebuild.

    • They are doing a great job at staying competitive during the rebuild but they are nowhere close to being able to contend for a championship. They just don’t have the starting pitching right now and their offense has been so spotty these past few seasons. They have a ways to go, for sure. I liked the Holliday signing a lot for the veteran presence. I just worry that they’ll place too high a price on these prospects who won’t pan out in the major leagues. But then again, we can’t predict the future!

  3. But they aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket. Cashman was pretty clear on this I thought in what he’s been saying. Not trading his top prospects for Jose Quintana (and the like) doesn’t equate he’s exclusively planning to rely on the prospects. He clearly has said that his goal is to reset the tax and to build a team that can sustain itself (like the Yankee teams of the 90’s did). A big reason for resetting the tax is so they can actually go out and sign big name free agents in 2018 and 2019. Having a lot of prospects allows them to better play the odds that you mention and having some of them actually pan out. Not trading 22 year olds for 28 year olds is so that by the time that they can add big name free agents those 22 year olds will hopefully be in their prime (i.e. timing) and ready to be part of a long run instead of gutting the farm for “proven” 28 year olds that will be at the start of the downside of their careers by the time they can reload in free agency. The Yankees aren’t ready to compete right now…they just aren’t. To trade prospects for guys that can help them win a handful of more games but not be able to win it all doesn’t make sense per Cashman and he’s right. I think you’re misunderstanding Cashman and the Yankees relative inactivity as something that it’s not. Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing.

    • Hey thanks for the feedback! Very good points, but I also want to say that Cashman talked to the MLB Network at the end of December and also stated how protective he was of the prospects on all the work he’s done. He also stated that if the deal was right, they would go for it, but nothing has been right because of the high level he holds these prospects at. Some way or another, Cashman does believe that these prospects will be the answer to the future. Why else would he collect them?
      He also said they haven’t reached their ceilings yet which is true, but if the Yankees wait a long time to trade these prospects and their value goes down due to poor performances, they’ll get nothing from them. It’s a double-edged sword and a risk. But too many prospects have not lived up to the hype and the Yankees ended up with nothing in return.

  4. I agree that prospects are high risk investments and the Yankees have a team full of prospects. I also agree that the Yankees have a sorry reputation for developing their prospects for the past 15 years. Indeed, “Joba Rules” should be a graffiti tag in every bathroom stall in the front office. Just to remind them how stupid THAT idea was.

    But here we are in 2017 and the mercenary version of the Yankees has run itself into the ground over and over again. And the free agent market is thinner and more expensive than it used to be. This year’s market – especially for the pitchers we truly need – was awful. The Yankees did the right thing by turning to its youth and trading veterans for more youth. They also did the right thing by not squandering prospects in trades or giving up years on the roster for second-rate players. Ya gotta let them play and see what they are truly worth.

    Youth movements take more than 2 months to bear fruit. It takes every other team in baseball several years to rebuild. Will most of these prospects blossom as expected? No. But if half of them flame out, we will have a nice core to build around when much richer 2018 and 2019 free agent markets open up. And I’ll wager some Yankee prospects will be worth a lot more in trade than they are today. Especially if some of them break out like Sanchez.

    Yankees aren’t going to win the 2017 World Series. We all need to accept that. Rookie pitchers will blow up games worst than Pineda. Rookie hitters will slump worse than ARod in his last year. Some who screw up may be become superstars in the end. We don’t know yet. And the only way to find out is to put them on the field and see what they’ve got.

  5. Cash believes these prospects are the future because they are the future. They have good internal options at every field position, except 3B, and they are almost all set to arrive in 2017 and 2018. The Yanks don’t have the pitching to contend seriously in 2017, so they will have to spend big on starters for 2018. But the only reason for that is that they have so few starting pitcher prospects in the minors. The formula is pretty simple. Don’t spend where you don’t need to spend, so you can spend where they system is not producing.