"I haven't experienced a year like that," Yankees senior
vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. "We had very few key guys get injured. We had a number of key
guys come back from injury or illness and play very well. We had several players make substantial improvements."
Many of those comeback stories came on the mound, something that could help assuage panic from those worrying about the Yankee pitching staff. Former first-rounder Andrew Brackman took a huge step forward, showing real progress perhaps for the first time and pitching well in Double-A. Dellin
Betances stayed healthy and earned a promotion once he came back in June, also reaching Double-A, as did Manny Banuelos, who came back strong from an early-season appendectomy. With
Ivan Nova, and perhaps Hector Noesi, ahead of them, Adam
Warren and David Phelps right there with them, and some other intriguing arms a step behind, the Yankees do have some pitching depth building.
Combine that with some exciting players behind the plate -- Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez -- and there's
plenty to be excited about down on the farm.
"We don't sit around patting ourselves on the back," Newman said. "We had good fortune this year. We had a bunch of guys come back from injury and a bunch of guys have good
The Yankees had another successful season in the win-loss
department, finishing with a combined .532 winning
percentage, good for sixth among all 30 teams. The top three teams all finished well above .500, with Triple-A Scranton leading the way with a .608 mark. Scranton lost in the first round of the International League playoffs to Columbus, which went on to win the Triple-A championship. Trenton made it a round further in the Eastern League, losing in four games to the Altoona Curve in the championship series. But there's a mini-dynasty building in Tampa. The Tampa Yankees won their second straight Florida State League title.
"We typically win a lot of games and get in playoffs every
year, but that isn't the be-all, end-all, and it isn't our
major objective," Newman said. "It's tradition around here. People expect to do well. Developmentally, we have to make
sure our players are playing in the right spot, they're
getting at-bats and innings pitched at the level at which
they're going to be challenged. When they show a significant amount of mastery, they move along."
Organizational Players of the
MLB.com's Preseason Picks
Jesus Montero, C: It seemed that a third consecutive
go-round as the system's top hitter was a no-brainer, but it didn't quite work out that way. A sub-par first half --
.252/.328/.415 -- in his first taste of Triple-A keeps him
from getting a three-peat. His second half, however
(.351/.396/.684), more than salvaged his season. He finished second in the system in batting average (.289), second in home runs (21) and fourth in RBIs (75) to put him firmly knocking on the big league door, at least offensively.
Manny Banuelos, LHP: The prediction was that at age
19, the lefty would top the organization in ERA and
strikeouts while reaching Double-A. If it weren't for an
appendectomy at the start of the season, it might have been right on the money. Banuelos did come back to throw 64 2/3
combined innings and he did finish the season in Double-A
Trenton. His 2.51 ERA would have been good for third in the system had he thrown enough innings.
MLB.com's Postseason Selections
Brandon Laird, OF: Laird began the year in Double-A
Trenton and finished in Triple-A Scranton. Along the way, he led the organization in home runs (25) and RBIs (102) while finishing with a .281 average, good for ninth in the system. He began making the transition to the outfield during the Arizona Fall League, where perhaps his bat will get to the big leagues faster than at third base.
David Phelps, RHP: Phelps is making a habit of
hitting two levels in a season. In 2009, his first full
year, he pitched in the South Atlantic and Florida State
Leagues. This past year, he moved up to Double-A and
finished in Triple-A. Combined, he was second in the
organization with his 2.50 ERA, went 10-2 and was second in the system with 141 strikeouts. He amassed that total while not hurting himself with walks, yielding just 36 in 158 2/3 total innings while keeping hitters to a .234 batting