I officially got my money's worth out of my Baseball America subscription today. First, their Yankees top ten prospects report was posted online
. The list was reported a while ago, but there were in-depth looks at the prospects which took up a good portion of my day. Then at 2 p.m. there was a live chat
with the writer of the report, John Manuel, in which he answered several of the questions I would've had for him myself. First, the list:
- Joba Chamberlain, RHP
- Austin Jackson, OF
- Jose Tabata, OF
- Ian Kennedy, RHP
- Alan Horne, RHP
- Jesus Montero, C
- Jeff Marquez, RHP
- Brett Gardner, OF
- Ross Ohlendorf, RHP
- Andrew Brackman, RHP
I've heard all these names before, and done research on most of them, but a few quotes from the profiles left me giddy, I'll admit it. On Joba:
"Scouts chuckle with delight discussing
Chamberlain's raw stuff, and several give him 70 or 80 grades on the
20-80 scouting scale for three different pitches." That's three top-notch out pitches. There aren't too many aces in the major leagues who have three pitches that rate that highly. We saw it last year in short spurts, I can't wait to see how does as a starter.
Manuel went on to say, in the epic chat, that he lists Joba as his #1 prospect in the league in his personal top-50 prospects list. Manuel said he likes Joba in the long run over Hughes, mainly because his out pitches are better than Phil's and his control is at least comparable. Tough to argue, although I think Hughes' seems like a surgeon out there, the type of guy who will be able to dominate even on days when he doesn't have his best stuff using his brain to out-think hitters. I'm not sure how Joba will handle those days. I give the edge to Hughes, but it's a slight edge.
One snippet from a profile in particular brought up an interesting question for me...
On Jeff Marquez: "Known as a groundball guy, Marquez works off his
power 89-93 mph sinker. His fastball has as much life as any in the
system, with excellent run to go with its sink. His changeup and
curveball have improved to be solid-average pitches. He commands his
changeup better, making it his preferred secondary pitch. He has the
best pickoff move of any righthander in the system."
When I read this, I immediately thought Marquez could be the answer for a long-man out of the pen in 2008. The Yanks are going to need someone to eat innings out there, a la Ramiro Mendoza in his heyday.
This very subject came up in the chat in a question asked by Mike from Pelham, NY. Manuel said he didn't see a need for Marquez in that role when the Yanks have Edwar, Ohlendorf, etc. all vying for that type of role. He sees Marquez as more than a middle reliever and projects him as highly as a #3 starter in the future, possibly 2009. Personally, I like the idea of a guy like this cutting his teeth out of the pen for a year or two, then assuming a spot in the rotation.
Manuel covered another topic near and dear to me in the chat. Melky Cabrera vs. Brett Gardner. Gardner is a slap-hitting speed demon who seems poised to challenge Melky for the CF job as early as 2009 (and then be pushed out of the spot by A-Jax in 2010). Manuel likes Gardner's upside more than Melky's and also notes some comparisons between Gardner and Ellsbury. For my money, and God knows I've spilled enough ink defending Melky (with much more to come), I'd stick with the Melk Man. The benefit of Gardner over Melky is based purely on speed. His OBP may be a tick higher, but Melky will hit for more power (Gardner has only 1 HR in 2 years in the minors). Gardner will steal more bases, and possibly cover more ground in center, but Melky is the superior defender all around. Melky's defense is highly under-rated, it should be his job to lose at least until A-Jax is ready.
The most alarming thing about this list: Not a single left-handed pitcher in the bunch.
If you don't have a subscription to Baseball America, I highly recommend it. The info contained in these prospect reports is unlike anything you can get anywhere else.