- Dellin Betances is a very intriguing prospect in the Yankee organization. He has huge potential, but struggles a lot with his control. I think its safe to say his ceiling is an ace, but where do you think he realistically ends up?
I honestly believe that he is going to reach his ceiling as an ace, only not as quickly as others. No doubt, Dellin has dynamite stuff. However, the simple fact that his large frame gives him inconsistent mechanics is probably the reason why he isn't flying through the system a la Phil Hughes in 06 and Joba and Ian in 07. At the end of the day, I see Dellin reaching his potential when he's about 24 or 25, kind of like Randy Johnson did. We also have keep in mind that if Dellin decided to go play for powerhouse Vanderbilt instead of sign with the Yankees, this past college season would have just been his sophomore year. One more year to draft eligbility, and for some of the younger prospects, all it takes is one year to iron out all the kinks in their repertories. He’s only 20, and once he learns to throw his three plus pitches with cleaner mechanics, we are all in for a real treat.
- Jesus Montero’s hitting ability and power potential are pretty widely known, but there are concerns about his future at the catcher position. Do you think he will be able to stay at catcher, or will he have to move to first base?
I love this question. Only because most people seem to really be pulling for Montero to make the bigs as a catcher. I really hope he makes the big leagues, but not at the catcher position. I am really pulling for Montero to be the Yankees version of David Ortiz, a DH mostly who will play 1st during the interleague games. Right now, the 18 year old, is 6’4, 225. He will no doubt get bigger, and by the time he fills out, he might be in the 240-250 range. I can’t possibly see him remaining at the catcher position at that size. It’s just not possible. With that in mind, the only way to maximize his hitting potential is to move him over to the first base or let him assume dhing duties. That way, we get the most out of him offensively. Besides, we don’t need to worry about catching prospects in the Yankees organization, with the likes of Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli, Chase Weems, and Kyle Higashioka down on the farm.
- What would you say is Austin Jackson’s ceiling?
I think A-Jack’s (the nickname he prefers) ceiling is somewhere between a Curtis Granderson/Torii Hunter type player. I see Austin being a .300/20/.390 player down the road, with tons of extra base hits. I just love his overall ability and his knack for constantly learning and fine tuning his hitting to get better. Next year when he replaces Melky at center, Yankee fans are going to see how truly special this guy really is.
- Zach McAllister is having a huge year, posting a 2.53 ERA between Charleston and Tampa. Where do you think he ends up? Does he have ace potential or is he just a groundballing innings eater?
I think he’ll be in Trenton at the start of the 2009 season and remain there for the whole year, regardless of what he does. The next year, we’ll see Z-Mac at Scranton for the beginning of the year, and if he dominates as expected, he will then earn to promotion to the bigs. The last thing the Yankees need is to rush their pitching prospects after what we saw happen to Phil Hughes so far in his major league career. With that being said, when Z-Mac reaches the majors, I see him being the carbon copy of Chien-Ming Wang, a solid #2 in the rotation who will just go absolutely crazy garnering up so many groundouts. Barring injury, I honestly don’t see anything being in Zach’s way.
- Brett Gardner was recently called up to the bigs. Do you see him as a legitimate starter or he is he more of a 4th outfielder/pinch-runner?
I see Brett as a legitimate starter hitting in the .290 range with a .400 OBP. You just can’t let his ability to get on base and steal at a great clip rot on a bench, whether it is the Yankees or any other team. People will always have a problem with his power, but he has already shown more power this year at Scranton than in years past. Add in his speed and he will be a XBH hitting machine (primarily doubles and triples). In addition, the game winner he had against the Red Sox and Papelbon truly showed that one doesn’t need tremendous power to prove worthy and essential to a team.
- A lot has been made of the switch pitcher Pat Venditte. Does he have a future as a successful major league reliever, or is he a gimmick with mediocre stuff.
I think Pat will definitely find some success as a major league reliever. Do I think he’ll be one of the better relievers in the game if he reaches the major leagues? Not really. He doesn’t have great stuff from either side so how hitters at higher levels adjust to his “style” of pitching remains yet to be seen. I mean the numbers his is putting up, albeit it’s at Short Season, are pretty darn good. He’s got all of our attention that’s for sure.
- Who is the most underrated prospect in the Yankee system right now? Is there anyone who may be on the verge of breaking out?
Manny Bareda, in my opinion is the most underrated prospect in the Yankees system right now. He gets a bad rap because of his small stature, as others believe that he will break down as a result. That’s not fair, considering the fact that most of the starting pitchers who get injured in today’s game happen to be guys with huge frames. In my opinion, small size has no correlation with higher injury probability. The guy has a fastball that tops out around 95 as a starter right now, and a pretty good changeup. I think once the training wheels are taken off a bit, people will see how good this guy really is.
Next year, the player I see on the verge of breaking out is Austin Romine, in my opinion the future catcher of the Yankees of many years to come. No doubt Jesus Montero was the breakout player this year. Austin could have given Montero a run for his money this year, but the simple fact that Austin was out for an extended period of time earlier in the season might be the reason why I think Austin hasn’t been getting enough recognition as Montero. Next year, that will change. If healthy, he will not only be better defensively, but I believe he will be hitting over 300, with a 350+ OBP clip, with low strike out totals, and many extra base hits. By the end of next season, Austin will vault himself into the top 10 in terms of Yankees prospects and will succeed Jorge Posada as the next Yankees backstop. Yeah, you could probably say that I’m really high on him.
- Ivan Nova is another young pitcher with good potential who hasn’t been putting very good numbers. Will he be able to figure it out, and if so, what is his ceiling?
I think he’ll toil away in the minors and never be able to make the majors as a starter. Maybe he does it as a reliever, but he is SO inconsistent. He is sort of an enigma, as it is so difficult for Ivan to string two good starts together. Realistically, I see the Yankees organization switching Ivan to a reliever, as they can afford such a change with the starting pitching depth they have in terms of prospects. When they do that and if he makes the majors, I see Ivan as a serviceable reliever but nothing to get excited about.
9. Jose Tabata has been having a very rough season in Trenton. He is still only nineteen, but does he have a future as a successful major leaguer?
I think he will find success. After all, he is only 19 playing at the Double A level. Now obviously he has the opportunity to make the majors with the Pirates, which can only help him as pressure is miniscule over at Pittsburgh compared to the big stage in New York. I ranked Jose as my #1 prospect before the season started, and I still believe in him. He’s immature right now and still a kid. Things did not pan out for him this year. That is why he will come even harder next year to reclaim his prospect status. The weight issues can be solved. His hitting slumps can be solved. Jose just needs to focus better, and I believe he will do that, next year as he is playing with a chip on his shoulder. I think the Yankees jumped the gun with this one, but it’s in the past now.
- There is a lot of hype surrounding Mark Melancon. It seems like he may eventually replace Mariano Rivera as closer. I think its safe to say he won’t be as good as Mo, but how good can he be?
There is no way Mark will be able to duplicate what Mo has done over his career. Then again, I don’t think anyone will be able to do so. However, I believe Mark will be really good, establishing himself as one of the better closers in the game when he replaces Mo. I think he is fairly comparable to Jason Isringhausen. So, I think we can realistically expect Mark with a low-mid 2ish ERA. However, for the time being, if he does get called up in the near future (that is sometime this year), I see the Yankees being very very careful with him. He’s already logged so many innings. The last thing the Yankees need is for Mark to get injured again.