Top 10 Prospects: New York Yankees

michael eisnerCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2008

This was previously posted on my website:

Pitchers and catchers are here! 

Wasn’t it just Christmas?

Over the next few weeks, I will focus on the top 10 prospects for each Major League team, beginning with my hometown New York Yankees. T

he criteria for making the list is simple:  You must be a prospect. 

If you are not eligible to win Rookie of the Year honors in your respective league, you are no longer a prospect.  I will also share some insight on the prospects best rookie card and most undervalued rookie card(s) to keep things interesting.  Here it goes:

#1. Joba Chamberlain, P - This is a no-brainer.  “Joba Rules” should move into the starting rotation with ease. It’s quite possible that Chamberlain can produce numbers like this right out of the chute: 15 wins, 3.50 ERA, 200 Ks.  Chamberlain has #1 starter’s stuff.  The best, and most popular, Chamberlain rookie card to get is his 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autograph, which should set you back roughly $150-175.  If you are looking for a bargain, try picking up his 2007 Topps 52′ Rookies short-print card #190, which is a quick seller at $10-12.  Another key rookie card the 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights “reverse negative” which is extremely tough to find and can set you back $200 or so.

#2 - Jose Tabata, OF - The power will develop, or so they say.  Tabata can run the bases and make consistent contact, but he needs to get stronger in order to develop some pop.  We like his game; however, he should try taking some weight-gainer or something.  He’s played most of 2007 as a 19 year-old, so there’s a lot to be said for that.  Tabata has very few cards to choose from, so we recommend his 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospect card, which should set you back a few bucks. 

#3 - Austin Jackson, OF - Jackson is the center fielder of the future for the Yankees, despite the presence of Melky Cabrera.  He is a five-tool prospect with all the trimmings.  If the Yankees trade Cabrera in a package for Johan Santana, look for Jackson to get a chance to play at the big league level at some point in 2008.  At this point, Jackson’s card repitoire is limited, so we suggest picking up a few copies of his 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition certified autograph.  But, if you can find a copy of his 2004 Bowman AFLAC promo card, picking it up would be a wise move, despite it’s probable $100 price tag.

#4 - Ian Kennedy, P - Kennedy was a member of Team USA a couple of years ago and was a very successful pitcher in college.  His numbers in 2007 were filthy, both in the minor leagues and the Majors.  Kennedy is not overpowering, but does profile as a #3 starter, though some scouts have predicted more success for him than that.  If he makes the rotation out of Spring Training, which is expected, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins 10-12 games with a 4.00 ERA and a decent K to Inning ratio. Nothing overwhelming, but certainly serviceable.  While the flurry of Kennedy cards should hit the market in 2008 as he becomes “Rookie Card”-eligible, right now you’re only choice is any one of his 2005 and 2006 Team USA autographs.

#5 - Jeff Marquez, P - Not too many people realized that Marquez won 15 games last year.  The problem, from a prospecting perspective, is that he barely struck anyone out. Marquez profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.  If any one of the Yankee starters suffer injuries in 2008, it’s quite possible that Marquez could end up saving the day for the big club at some point, possibly following the same career path as a Jeff Karstens.  Marquez best card is his 2004 Upper Deck SP Prospects certified autograph.

#6 - Humberto Sanchez, P - If he was healthy, Sanchez would probably be #2 on this list; however, he is recovering from major arm surgery and his status at this point is unknown.  But, it’s safe to say that prior to his surgery, he had the best stuff of anyone in the system, this side of Joba Chamberlain.  Sanchez’ future is probably in the bullpen. He’s a big, powerful guy who looks like Sid Fernandez from the neck down.  Sanchez absolutely dominated minor league hitters for a stretch in 2006 and looks to regain that form in 2008. If he’s healthy, he could contribute at the big league level at some point late next season.  His 2005 Bowman’s Best certified autograph is his most popular with the 2005 Bowman Sterling certified autograph running a close second.

#7 - Brett Gardner, OF - Time is running out for the 24-year old speedster from The College of Charleston.  Despite putting up decent numbers in 2006 and 2007 between Single-A and Double-A, Gardner’s late-season jump to Triple-A produced average results, including a .260 AVG. and a miniscule .331 SLG., which won’t scare too many big league pitchers.  However punchless his numbers were, Gardner did manage to swipe 21 bases in 45 games in Triple-A, bringing his 2007 season total to 39.  He should receive a full-year of Triple-A at-bats; however, he could be in line for a call-up should Melky Cabrera get injured. His best, and only, rookie card resides in the 2005 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects set.  The Chrome parallel might set you back about a buck.

#8 - Alan Horne, P - Horne is another one of the Yankees almost-ready major league pitching prospects.  At 25 years-old, Horne is on the verge of becoming nothing more than a middle-reliever for the Yankees if he is not traded soon.  His numbers at Double-A Trenton last year were impressive (12-4 3.11 ERA, 153 1/3 IP, 165/57 K/BB), but they were not dominating enough to earn him top-billing with the likes of the other Yankees top pitching prospects (Chamberlain, Kennedy, Phil Hughes).  Horne is nothing more than trade bait right now, though things can change quickly, especially if the Yankees run out of options in their bullpen and turn to Horne for a quick fix.  Horne has no rookie cards to speak of at this moment.

#9 - Dellin Betances, P - Extremely young and very talented, Betances put up some impressive numbers in Low-A ball last year, though his season was cut short by injury. His 29 Ks in 25 IP with Staten Island turned some heads, though the 17 BBs he issued also turned the same heads in the wrong direction.  Should those numbers improve with age, which they most certainly will, the Yankees will have another big-time pitching prospect to add to their repitoire. Betances’ imposing frame (6-8 215) remind some scouts of Randy Johnson, and the fact that he is a local kid (Brooklyn, NY) can’t hurt his chances either.  If Betances stays healthy in 2008, he could end up in High-A ball by the end of the summer.  His 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects autograph is the card to get, though his 2007 Elite Extra Edition autograph is probably the best value out there right now.

#10 - Andrew Brackman, P - Brackman will spend most of 2008 recovering from Tommy John surgery; however, the 6-11 230 lb. 2007 first-round pick out of NC State is expected to be ready to go by 2009.  Due to his extensive experience, including four years at NC State and Team USA, Brackman should move up the ladder quickly upon his return, and could be pitching in The Bronx sometime in 2009.  Brackman’s best card is from 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition, which is a certified autograph.  I also like his 2007 Team USA autograph jersey card, which is short-printed and difficult to locate.