It sure has been a long time, hasn’t it? I mean the last few years haven’t been all that bad, and hey, the Bronx Bombers won the wild card spot last year. Of course, there was that feeling of hopelessness going in with a lack luster offense against the American League Cy Young Award winner, but it was a playoff appearance that had been missing since 2012.
The problem was it was a lot of the same. Everyday you woke up and it was the same old story. Mark Teixeira was hurt. Ivan Nova struggled. Jacoby Ellsbury was hurt. Michael Pineda struggled. Alex Rodriguez got hurt. Nathan Eovaldi struggled.
Today, though. Today is the first day of a new beginning for the Yankees.
I have said it before and I will say it again. I have been a Yankees fan since before the Core Four. Losing was common place. A bad season wasn’t finishing above .500 and missing the playoffs. It was winning 67 games and seeing a starting rotation full of losing records. It was a sad time when you were excited that Mike Witt (you know, the guy acquired for Hall of Famer Dave Winfield) was pitching.
It was also a time where we were sold on some pretty lousy prospects. Gerald Williams was supposed to be the next great thing. It was ok when Don Mattingly‘s back finally got him, because Kevin Maas was the next great Yankees first baseman. Sterling Hitchcock, Bob Wickman, Dave Eiland. These were the names we were fed as future starters for the Yankees.
That’s why it was so hard for some of us to believe that these two kids named Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who totally stunk it up in 1995 before being sent down, would be worth anything. It took five years for Bernie Williams to make a believer out of most Yankees fans with his tremendous 1996 season. Gene Michael had finally developed a farm system, and Joe Torre would come in and finish what Buck Showalter started.
Thus, Yankees fans quickly forgot about the terrible farm systems of Yankees past. They once again believed that the future rotation was stacked with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy just a few years away. They would be throwing the ball, of course, to the greatest Yankees catcher since Thurman Munson, because Jesus Montero was as can’t miss as they came. Top prospects they were called. They had names like Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, Cito Culver. I can go on if you’d like, but I’m sure you’d rather forget. For crying out loud, their best first round draft pick was Gerrit Cole and he wouldn’t sign.
Anyway, for the first time since… well since I can remember, the Yankees traded away two sure fire Major League studs in Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and rebuilt their farm with elite prospects. And the best part about these prospects… they aren’t the Yankees.
From the beginning of the 90s dynasty until 2013, the Yankees simply didn’t select great players. Some nice ones filled the void or played some roles very well. The two best Yankees prospects of the era were Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano, both international free agents. Cano was never even a Top 100 prospect on any charts.
Think about that. The best Yankee prospect of the 2000s was one that no one expected to be. Nearly all of their Top 100 prospects that they drafted and cultivated on their farm were flops.
They know have a collection of seven prospects in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 waiting on the farm, and some are very close to being ready.
Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney were steals in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Last week, I looked at why Yankees fans should be happy with the idea that once top prospect Jorge Mateo and Torres can coexist (go ahead, click HERE, take a read, I’ll wait).
Then yesterday, to the dismay of many Yankees fans, Andrew Miller was sent to the Indians for a bevy of prospects, but the two most impressive in the haul were the Indians top prospect Clint Frazier and lefty Justus Sheffield.
(side note: yesterday was also very hard to be a Yankees fan. There were people talking about how they were disgusted with Cashman, Girardi and the front office in trading away Miller. I liked Miller, and I think he is the best reliever in the American League. But you can’t sit there and question why Miller was traded when Gardner, Ellsbury, A-Rod, McCann and Teixeira are still on the roster. You understand that you just can’t trade people, right? You understand that someone has to WANT those people, correct? It gets more absurd everyday on the Internet. But I digress).
These are two guys I have profiled and followed closely in my work this season at Minor League Ball and Today’s Knuckleball. These guys are very exciting and are definitely armed with Major League talent. Check it out if you’d like, click on the name below and it will take you to my profiles:
Seven. Seven top 100 prospects. Sure has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it George?