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Sickles: 2013 Top 20 Reports on Yankees and Cardinals

Migrant Redbird

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1) Gary Sanchez, C, Grade B+

2) Tyler Austin, OF, Grade B+

3) Mason Williams, OF, Grade B

4) Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B

5) Brett Marshall, RHP, Grade B-

6) Jose Campos, RHP, Grade B-

7) Angelo Gumbs, 2B, Grade B-

8) Mark Montgomery, RHP, Grade B-

9) Ty Hensley, RHP, Grade B-

10) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B-

11) Nik Turley, LHP, Grade B-

12) Corey Black, RHP, Grade B-

13) Rafael DePaula, RHP, Grade C+

14) JR Murphy, C, Grade C+

15) Ramon Flores, OF, Grade C+

16) Bryan Mitchell, RHP, Grade C+

17) Austin Romine, C, Grade C+

18) Corban Joseph, 2B, Grade C+

19) Nick Goody, RHP, Grade C+

20) Dante Bichette JR, 3B, Grade C+


1) Oscar Taveras, OF, Grade A

2) Shelby Miller, RHP, Grade A

3) Carlos Martinez, RHP, Grade A-

4) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, Grade B+

5) Michael Wacha, RHP, Grade B+

6) Kolten Wong, 2B, Grade B

7) Matt Adams, 1B, Grade B

8) Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Grade B-

9) Anthony Garcia, OF, Grade B-

10) Carson Kelly, 3B, Grade B-

11) Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Grade B-

12) Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Grade B-

13) Greg Garcia, 2B-SS, Grade C+

14) Seth Maness, RHP, Grade C+

15) John Gast, LHP, Grade C+

16) Starlin Rodriguez, 2B, Grade C+

17) Ryan Jackson, SS, Grade C+

18) Maikel Cleto, RHP, Grade C+

19) Tyler Lyons, LHP, Grade C+:

20) Breyvic Valera, INF, Grade C+

OTHER GRADE C+: Tim Cooney, LHP; Victor De Leon, RHP; James Ramsey, OF; Boone Whiting, RHP

Sickels on the Yankees:

This is a system with a unique mixture of strengths, weaknesses, and lots of question-marks.

The greatest depth is in the outfield. Austin, Heathcott, and Williams all have All-Star potential. Austin has the best balance between tools and skills. Heathcott has made a lot of progress over the last year but has to prove he can stay on the field. Williams could develop into a star on both offense and defense, but the buzz about his makeup was unusually public and unusually negative last summer. He has time to outgrow that, but it was enough to give some pause.

Gary Sanchez, meanwhile, has the combination of a booming bat and a premium defensive position, assuming that he keeps making progress behind the plate. There is additional catching depth as well. Beyond the top group of outfielders and catchers, there are some guys who look like useful role players, but they all have doubts or questions of some kind. Cuban defector Ronnier Mustelier is too old to be a "real" prospect at age 28, but the guy can hit and could be useful for several teams if the Yankees don't want him.

Pitching is tough to get a grasp on. Injury attrition has taken a toll. There is a lot of material for a bullpen and much of it will be ready soon, but what about starting pitching? Campos has a great ceiling but how is his elbow? Is Hensley's shoulder a real issue? How will Banuelos recover from Tommy John? Is Rafael DePaula the real thing?

DePaula is the real wild card here: you can draw a scenario where he is one of the top pitching prospects in the game six months from now, but it is hard to assume that for a 21/22 year old based on 62 innings in the Dominican Summer League against high school-age kids.

Sickels on the Cardinals:

What can you say? This is one hell of a farm system. There is impact talent. There are future stars. And there are a lot of guys who project as solid role players to back them up.

The pitching. . .you have four guys in Miller, Martinez, Rosenthal, and Wacha who could be and should be rotation anchors. Jenkins has that kind of talent too, if he can refine it. There is a ton of pitching behind them, with a good mixture of strike-throwers (Maness, Lyons, Boone Whiting) and guys with hot arms. The Cardinals should never want for good relief pitching, and if even if some of the top guys get hurt or don't pan out, one of the efficiency experts could step in.

As history shows (Oakland's Four Aces, Generation K of the Mets, the Royals a couple of years ago), having a great batch of pitching prospects is no guarantee of success. There will be injury attrition, and someone will be a disappointment. But the point is to gather as many pitchers as possible to provide depth to cover for the inevitable failures, and the Cardinals are masters at doing this.

But the Cardinals also have lots of hitting to go with the pitching. Taveras will be a star, Wong and Adams look like regulars, and there are a bunch of guys who should be role players or strong contributors at least. The 2012 draft brought in additional bats, with particular depth at third base. If those guys thrive in 2013, this list will still look strong next year even if the top guys graduate.

Overall, this is an amazing system, a prospect factory. They find guys at big colleges, they find guys at small colleges, they find guys in junior college, they find and develop high school guys, they find and develop Latin American guys. They do everything.

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I'm jealous of the Cards system.

I'm excited by the Cards pitching prospects right now, but I also recall how impressed I was by the Orioles pitching prospects back in 2003-2004. The O's had 2 of the 10 best southpaw pitching prospects in baseball at the time (Matt Riley, Ryan Hanahan), according to a January 2004 Fox Sports article (no longer available online), plus 2 of the 5 "honorable mentions" (Erik Bedard, Adam Loewen) and some excellent right handed prospects (John Maine, Danny Bautista, Kurt Ainsworth). At the time, Sidney Ponson and Rodrigo Lopez also looked like solid middle-of-the-rotation guys who could eat innings and Eric Dubose had just finished a promising rookie season (74 IP, 3.79 ERA). It appeared all the Orioles needed to do was to sign a front-of-the-rotation free agent and have a reasonable number of their prospects achieve expectations to have one of the best pitching staffs in the game.

Of those prospects, I think only John Maine and Erik Bedard became solid major league pitchers and both of them had their careers derailed by injuries. 2004 was the last decent season Dubose ever had and Ponson went through his multiple meltdowns.

For years, the Cards farm system was consistently ranked in the bottom half among MLB teams, sometimes near the bottom. In 2011, Baseball America named the Cardinals the Organization of the Year, for the first time since BA began the award in 1982. (The Reds got the award in 2012 and the O's have never received it.) I don't know how much of that success should be credited to John Mozeliak, who took over as GM after Walt Jockety was forced to resign following the 2007 season, or to Jeff Luhnow, who was lured away from the Cards to be the new Houston GM after the 2011 season, but it's nice to be in that position.

With Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, and Carlos Martinez (being compared with Pedro), Sickels has rated 3 of the Cards youngsters as "A/A-" prospects. Sickels claims to be a tough grader; I'm waiting to see how other MLB organizations stack up when he publishes their reports.

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  • 2 weeks later...

ALL GRADES ARE PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE. No grade is final until January 10th, 2013.

2012 may have been a disaster at the major league level, but the Red Sox farm system is in solid shape.

1) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Grade A

2) Jackie Bradley, OF, Grade B+

3) Matt Barnes, RHP, Grade B+

4) Garin Cecchini, 3B, Grade B+

5) Allen Webster, RHP, Grade B

6) Henry Owens, LHP, Grade B

7) Bryce Brentz, OF, Grade B-

8) Blake Swihart, C, Grade B-

9) Brandon Workman, RHP, Grade B-

10) Deven Marrero, SS, Grade B-

11) Pat Light, RHP, Grade B-

12) Jose Iglesias, SS, Grade C+

13) Brandon Jacobs, OF, Grade C+

14) Drake Britton, LHP, Grade C+

15) Brian Johnson, LHP, Grade C+

16) Keury De La Cruz, OF, Grade C+

17) Ty Buttrey, RHP, Grade C+

18) Jose Vinicio, SS, Grade C+

19) Brock Holt, 2B, Grade C+

20) Cody Kukuk, LHP, Grade C+

OTHER GRADE C+: Sean Coyle, 2B; Austin Maddox, RHP; Travis Shaw, 1B.

OTHERS: Mike Augliera, RHP; Jamie Callahan, RHP; Chris Carpenter, RHP; Sergio Gomez, RHP; Alex Hassan, OF; Chris Hernandez, LHP; Aaron Kurcz, RHP; Juan Carlos Linares, OF; Tzu-Wei Lin, SS; Manuel Margot, OF; Simon Mercedes, RHP; Francellis Montas, RHP; Miguel Pena, LHP; Noe Ramirez, RHP; Anthony Ranaudo, RHP; Christian Vazquez, C; Alex Wilson, RHP; Steven Wright, RHP.


The main weakness in the Brewers system is lack of future star power.

1) Wily Peralta, RHP, Grade B

2) Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Grade B

3) Victor Roache, OF, Grade B

4) Clint Coulter, C, Grade B

5) Johnny Hellweg, RHP, Grade B-

6) Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Grade B-

7) Mitch Haniger, OF, Grade B-

8) Scooter Gennett, 2B, Grade B-

9) Hunter Morris, 1B, Grade B-

10) Ariel Pena, RHP, Grade B-

11) Tyrone Taylor, OF, Grade B-

12) Mark Rogers, RHP, Grade C+

13) Hiram Burgos, RHP, Grade C+

14) Khris Davis, OF, Grade C+

15) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Grade C+

16) Drew Gagnon, RHP, Grade C+

17) Caleb Gindl, OF, Grade C+

18) David Goforth, RHP, Grade C+

19) Jorge Lopez, RHP, Grade C+

20) Cameron Garfield, C, Grade C+

OTHER GRADE C+: Nick Bucci, RHP; Logan Schafer, OF.

OTHERS: Orlando Arcia, SS; Jed Bradley, LHP; Kentrail Davis, OF; Adam Giacalone, 1B: Kyle Heckathorn, RHP; Damien Magnifico, RHP; Chris McFarland, 2B; Casey Medlen, RHP; Matt Miller, RHP; Michael Olmsted, RHP; Jose Pena, OF; Chad Pierce, RHP; Josh Prince, OF; Nick Ramirez, 1B; Yadiel Rivera, SS; Jesus Sanchez, RHP; Cody Scarpetta, RHP; Josh Stinson, RHP; Michael Strong, LHP

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