Wednesday, February 15, 2017
TAMPA – It’s not going to go how you expect.
That is hardly the cheery, pie-eyed optimism associated with pitchers and catchers reporting and the first day of spring training. But it is not going to go how you expect with the Yankees and their most concerted youth movement in a quarter of a century. That doesn’t mean it has to go badly.
If I had told you in 1993 that the Yankees were going to be dynastic from 1996-2001, you would have bet Brien Taylor and Ruben Rivera would anchor the greatness. Taylor blew out his shoulder and never spent a day in the majors, Rivera failed to translate great tools into on-field success.
This is the chaos theory of baseball, what Yankee GM Brian Cashman called “the beauty and the danger of the sport.”
Consider that in the 28 years Baseball America has done a top-100 prospect list, the Yankees have had four top-three prospects: Taylor, Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and Jesus Montero, who ranked third in 2011 behind Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
Taylor and Rivera were the only Yankees to be in the top three twice. Taylor was the only Yankee who was No. 1 overall, in 1992, and he was second in 1993. Rivera was No. 2 in 1995, behind Alex Rodriguez and ahead of Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter. He was No. 3 in 1996, right behind Paul Wilson. Yep, it is not going to go how you expect.
I still don’t know what happened with Ruben Rivera. He was going to be the next Mickey Mantle…
It is sobering to look the list of former Yankee top-three prospects and realize just how uncertain baseball prospecting is. You can have a bunch of great prospects and none may pan out. Of course, no one thought Robinson Cano was going to be a potential Hall of Fame 2B until he became one.
We don’t know how the Yankees’ youth movement is going to go, but I am encouraged to see them trying it.