I was going to write this article tomorrow to allow any remain draft signings to come, but your participation here has riled me up.
Last year, the press made a big deal about how the Yankee farm was barren and as a result the team couldn't call up injury replacements and thus, missed the playoffs and brought shame to millions. This meme is still being marketed by the press this year, though even other teams' scouts are conceding the farm is okay, if only lacking high end talent. Though, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge say, "Hi." But let's hang onto them.
So where are we now? And why does it look like there are multiple plans afoot? To wit, in November of 2012, the Yanks finally played the arbitration game and netted 3 first round picks. They hadn't had close to that since they had a first and a sandwich pick which they used on Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain in a 2006 draft that is still paying dividends in the form of Dellin Betances.
With the three picks they took Eric Jagielo, Ian Clarkin and Aaron Judge. All three look like good to great picks so far, their high draft pool, as a result of the three 1's netted them a deep draft class that has already seen college reliever Tyler Webb hit AAA this year, and a prep bat like Dustin Fowler kicking it in Charleston. Gosuke Katoh is starting to rock there, and Tyler Webb has done some good things, too. Anyway it looks like a really good draft and the Yanks seemed to have figured something out.
What's more, their Rowland era string of damn good IFA signings seemed to continue last July.
As a result of these good recent IFA signings as well as the 2013 and 2012 drafts, the Yankees currently have some great quality and depth from A ball all the way down to their complex in the Dominican Republic.
This great talent acquisition was basically happening under the cloud of Hal Steinbrenner's 189 plan, which either did or didn't keep the Yanks out of the running for Puig, Cespedes and the other Cubans. I think it might have, since, he also had not been willing to pony up for Chapman or any of the other high end Cuban's of the past few years. In fact, I think any time Hal says no, and the guy turns out, the Yanks sort of blame the scouts, but I think it's his budgets.
Anyway, the new austerity was bringing more picks, so that was a very good thing, if missing out on all the Cuban hitters who are going off was a bad thing.
Then they didn't make the playoffs, and all draft benefits were lost as Hal, obviously, decided to scrap 189 and authorized a huge expenditure on Ellsbury, McAnn and Beltran. It's been a horror show on the field, and was a horror show for this year's draft, as the Yanks forfeited 3 better firsts than they had last year, and ended up with a tiny draft pool.
In general, the Yanks had been becoming more prep centric in their draft approach over the last few years, even with the rules change, though they've also had success with their college picks. This year's tiny draft budget forced them into taking college almost to the exclusion of preps. In fact, they've only signed 1 prep player so far, Austin DeCarr and because they gave him their top bonus it doesn't look like they'll be able to sign anymore this year.
That's how destructive the flip side of the November spending spree has been. They didn't just lose three great picks, they lost money for more good picks throughout the 40 rounds. Absolutely brutal on a farm that's just being rebuilt.
That said, there was a compensatory plan in action. And at least some intelligence somewhere in the organization as the Yanks did aggressively go after Tanaka, an IFA who cost them no draft compensation, but made up for a lot of the pitching blunders of the recent past, till he got hurt.
But, according to Kiley McDaniel, among others, as far back as last December the Yanks had a plan to blow the roof off this years teenage IFA class, and earlier this month, they did just that. What's more, the draft guys knew they were getting a panoply of high upside teen hitters in July, and thus went for their own panoply of college arms in the draft. And some of those arms are already looking good.
Between this year's diminished draft and the Yanks foreign splurge they still managed to add more deep and diverse talent to the entry levels of the system, including some college pitchers who are already moving on up.
So I think it's very safe to say that over the past two years, the Yanks have done a very good job of amateur talent acquisition. They have ignored the major Cuban FA's over the Hal reign settling for bargain guys like Adonis Garcia and Jorge Luis, and that's hurt them at the upper and major league level of the organization.
Now I've spent some time on the impressive health of the bottom of the system. So what's up with the top two levels and who's to blame?
First, I'm not sure anything is very wrong with AAA. Most teams keep AAAA players there, and the Yanks actually have 4-6 position players who might help the big league club at this point, as well as the pitchers they've already called up. Dave Miley is the manager there and a recent ceremony for him, Cashman called him a great teacher. This made me wonder why he wasn't farther down the chain teaching young kids. But, whatever, AAA is in pretty good shape prospect wise.
AA had been a wasteland for awhile. It's been home to struggling prospects like Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and - to a lesser extent - Gary Sanchez for over a year. But this past week, they finally sent some more talent up to challenge those stalled guys including Jake Cave who started in CF and moved Mason Williams to DH tonight, and pitchers Luis Severino and Nick Rumbelow up to the rotation and pen respectively.
I think this will prove a great test both for the promoted players and what I consider the questionable coaching staff at AA. But, unquestionably, as of these promotions we now have talent at all levels of the system, which we haven't had in a few years.
In fact, guys like Aaron Judge, Eric Jagielo or Dante Bichette and Miguel Sulburan could all be promoted to AA before the end of the season, moving even more talent to that level and providing and even broader challenge to the coaching staff.
So, anyway, looking up and down the system, it's definitely having a bounce back year, and despite the November `13 FA splurge, more talent has been added to the base, and serious talent is starting leach up. It's in good shape, and press is behind in their estimations of it.
Why it's bouncing back is a credit to both the scouts, and the good coaches, and some solid plans that have worked around Hal's limits on draft spending, IFA spending, and Cuban spending.
Btw, the way to build the bridge from the old guard to the kids in the farm was with Cubans. But they didn't see that, or didn't see that in time, and that's why we stink now at the major league level and had a limited draft this year. It wasn't a scouting problem it was a budget problem.