Former Yankees’ Prospects Making Impact Around Major Leagues

Over the past decade, many Yankees’ critics have whined and complained about the Yankees’ weak farm system. Since the beginning of time, it has been popular to accuse New York of buying its talent, and by proxy buying it’s titles. And in the first half of this decade it was a fairly accurate accusation in terms of the Yankees having a weak farm system.

cashmanMajor League signings like: Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown either left the Yankees’ farm system barren from trades or blocked from promotions.

It was right around winter of 2005 when Brian Cashman famously demanded controlling power from George Steinbrenner and his Tampa faction led by Randy Levine and won. It was also coincidentally around that time when the Yankees’ started paying attention to both the international and domestic draft again.

It’s a well-known fact Yankees’ prospects have struggled in the minor leagues this season, mainly due to injury. What’s not as obvious is the impact former prospects are now making in the Major Leagues.

Whether due to trade, Free Agency or other, many of them are not making that impact in the Bronx. Here is a look at notable former Yankees’ prospects, why they left the team and what they are doing now across Major League Baseball. The list will be split between the best, average and worst performances elsewhere:

Elite Class:

Melky Cabrera

The Trade: Arodys Vizcaino, Michael Dunn, Cabrera and Cash for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez.

Current Performance: Cabrera was having an MVP-type season before Steroid allegations and a failed drug test cut it short this past week. In 2012, the outfielder posted a .346/.390/.906 slash line before his season ended prematurely. Cabrera will be a Free Agent at the end of the season.

Austin Jackson

The Trade: A three-way deal with Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson.

Current Performance: Jackson has emerged as the top-of-the-order, electric, type of bat he was expected to become. In 2012 he appears to be putting it all together, adding a .306/.391/.894 slash line to elite defense in centerfield. He has also added 13 long balls and 10 SB in an injury shortened year for the playoff-contending Detroit Tigers.

Tyler Clippard

The Trade: Straight up for  Jonathan Albaladejo.

Current Performance: Clippard was a middling starter for the Yankees, not appearing to have much potential when he made brief stints with the parent club. Albaladejo was a reliever with a lot of potential. The latter never panned out as anything solid and Clippard was converted to a reliever and eventual elite set-up man. With Drew Storen out for the season in 2012, the first-place Nationals have turned to Clippard as the closer, and much like his entire career as a reliever, he has not disappointed. The former Yankee is 26/30 in save opportunities with a 2.93 ERA, a .168 BAA and .106 WHIP to compliment 68K in just over 55 innings pitched.

Ian Kennedy

The Trade: A three-way deal with Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson.

Current Performance: A rare three-way trade where everyone won. The Yankees acquired an elite outfielder with improved production, the Tigers received a reliable reliever and a young, cost-controlled, solid, centerfielder and the Diamondbacks received an ace. Kennedy put it all together in 2011, nearly winning the Cy Young during a 21-4 season in which he posted a: 2.88 ERA, .227 BAA, 1.09 WHIP and threw 222 innings for the playoff bound Diamondbacks. This year Kennedy has fallen off a bit with a: 4.35 ERA, .278 BAA and 1.33 WHIP, but still remains a top-notch starter in the NL West.

Jose Quintana

The Trade: Minor league signing.

Current Performance: Quintana has broken out as a reliable 23-year-old starter in the middle of a division race for the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees simply did not protect the righty from being signed away and now that he was, Quintana has posted a: 2.57 ERA, .251 BAA and 1.12 WHIP in 14 starts.

Honorable Mentions:

Alfonso Soriano and Randy Choate

Soriano never quite lived up to his contract but has certainly had a solid career, posting a .273 BA and closing in on 2000 hits and 1000 RBI in 14 seasons for five major league teams. His 361 career HR and 269 SB’s are a nice added bonus. Soriano last played for the Yankees in 2003 before being traded to Texas in a deal for Alex Rodriguez.

Choate debuted briefly with the Yankees in 2000 but has made a solid 13 year career as a middle reliever. Presently on his fourth team (he left the Yankees in 2003), Choate is having perhaps his best portion of his career after the age of 35, posting a 1.82 ERA and .149 BAA for the Marlins in 2011 and following it up with a 2.90 ERA, .198 BAA and 1.10 WHIP in 2012.

These are not the only players making an impact at the big league level. Here is a list of players who have definitely helped, but are not quite elite:

Zach McAllister

The Trade: McAllister was a player-to-be-named to complete a deal for outfielder Austin Kearns.

Current Performance: A rare player to be named who is contributing and actually performing better than the player he was traded for. Kearns did not do much a a rental for the Yankees, but McAllister has emerged as a reliable back-of-the-rotation arm for the Cleveland Indians. The 24-year-old righty has a 3.64 ERA with a .268 BAA and 1.35 WHIP in 14 starts this season.

Jesus Montero

The Trade: Traded with Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.

Current Performance: Montero is just 22 years old but already a regular in the Seattle Mariners’ lineup. For such a young age and playing mostly at catcher, Montero has earned a respectable .266/.308/.710 slash line in the cavernous Safeco Field. Perhaps more impressive has been 12 home runs and 46 RBI, indicating the righty could have special power a few years from now as his bat develops.

Mike Dunn, George Kontos and Phil Coke

The Trade(s): Dunn was part of the same deal as Melky Cabrera for the Yankees to acquire Javier Vazquez, Coke was in the same deal as Ian Kennedy and Curtis Granderson and Kontos was traded straight up this past offseason for backup catcher, Chris Stewart.

They have all been included as one since they are middle relievers, but each has made a noticeable impact in 2012.

Dunn has been respectable out of the Marlins’ bullpen with 36K in 34 innings to accompany a 3.63 ERA and .238 BAA.

Coke has held it together despite a .328 BAA and 1.63 WHIP, numbers which would normally land a player in unemployment or on another team. At the end of the day it’s the runs scoring that will finish a reliever, and Coke has been OK at that posting a respectable 3.86 ERA as a lefty reliever.

Kontos has found himself in the Bay area, adjusting nicely to the National League West for the San Francisco Giants. In 29 innings, Kontos has a 2.48 ERA, .232 BAA and 1.17 WHIP, striking out 28 and allowing just two home runs all season.

Jeff Karstens

The Trade: Sent away with Daniel McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.

Current Performance: Karstens has been solid for the Pittsburgh Pirates, adding a reliable arm for a team in need of pitching. The righty has made 12 starts this season, posting a: 3.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and .261 BAA in 69 innings. In 2011 Karstens was even better, throwing  a 3.38 ERA and notching nine wins for the Pirates in 162 innings.

Here we look at players who made it to the show elsewhere, but have struggled to find success. A lot of the transactions sending former farmhands away from New York can be questioned as far as which team had the better deal, but it’s hard to argue the Bronx Bombers miss any of these players:

Mark Melancon

The Trade: Melancon and Paredes to Houston for Lance Berkman.

Current Performance: Pretty ugly. Once a top reliever prospect in the Yankees’ system, Melancon may end up most noted for players he was traded for, having Berkman and Jed Lowrie as part of his resume. The latter of which was dealt by the Red Sox in exchange for Melancon on the heels of a very successful season for the Houston Astros as a closer.

Like most variables in Boston this season, Melancon has turned into an unquestionable disaster, posting a 7.12 ERA and .142 WHIP in 30 innings for the Sox. After a disasterous April, Melancon spent time in the minors before being called back up to the bullpen. For what it’s worth, he has surrendered just three runs in eight innings in August for the parent club.

Shelley Duncan

The Trade: No trade, just an outright release.

Current Performance: Shelley Duncan was never a truly highly touted prospect. Save for some beginner’s magic with the Yankees, he has always been a platoon type hitter with great power and poor defense. It appears in 2012 Duncan is bottoming out. The energetic outfielder has a: .210/.301/.712 line and five times the strikeouts (55) to home runs (11). Soon to be 34, Duncan’s numbers are all slightly lower than his MLB career norm.

Hector Noesi

The Trade: Same deal as Jesus Montero.

Current Performance: Non-existent but only after it was awful. Noesi is presently back in the minor leagues trying to regain his location and his confidence. Even at the friendly pitching confines of Safeco Field, Noesi has not shown the same potential as his trade counterpart in Montero, as he threw up a 5.77 ERA and went 2-11 in 17 starts this season. Noesi has not quite recovered in the minors either, presently sporting a hefty 7.04 ERA in 38 innings.

Jose Tabata

The Trade: Same one as Jeff Karstens

Current Performance: Demoted to the minor leagues. The original trade will never be a win for the Yankees. Xavier Nady was mediocre and then missed an entire season with injury and Damaso Marte despite one great postseason run to help the Yankees win the World Series, was also constantly hurt and never helped the Yankees in the regular season. That said, Tabata was the crown jewel in a deal where the Yankees sent four legitimate prospects packing and he has turned from a lot of potential into impending disappointment.

After two decent seasons in Pittsburgh, Tabata posted a forgettable: .230/.295/.636 line this season, striking out more than all of his extra base hits and walks combined. Presently back in the minor leagues after a midseason demotion, the outfielder is still just 24 years old but has taken a definite step backwards this season.

Ross Ohlendorf

The Trade: Same as Tabata

Current Performance: Demoted to the minor leagues. Ohlendorf has never really cut it since he had a solid season starting for Pittsburgh in 2009. Since then it’s been all down hill; the righty went 1-11 as a starter in 2010, Posted an 8+ERA in 2011 in nine starts and then was traded to San Diego where he has followed up with a 7.58 ERA in nine more starts. Now, Ohlendorf is back in the minors struggling to find himself on the west coast.

Chien-Ming Wang

The Trade: No trade, just non-tendered.

Current Performance: We all know the story. Wang was signed internationally and sent to the Yankees’ farm system, rose through the ranks and became the Yankees’ ace in 2006 and 2007 after a successful debut in 2005. When he was rounding the bases in Houston a few months into what was looking like another terrific season, Wang injured his ankle and missed the rest of the year in 2008. An attempted comeback for the Yankees was painfully unsuccessful in 2009 as Wang was plastered for a 9.64 ERA in nine starts before being shut down with an injury and not pitching again until 2011.

The part that has been unclear to the mainstream media is where his career has headed since. The Taiwanese righty was actually very solid in 11 starts in 2011 for the Washington Nationals, posting a: 4.04 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 62.1 innings.

This year he has reverted back to a nightmare, posting a 7.61 ERA as a starter (four starts) and reliever in 23.2 innings. With a surplus of pitching in Washington, Wang is back in the minors as an insurance policy.


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