Flashback: Yankees in Baseball America's 2012 Top 100 Prospects listThere were four current, one past, and one future Bomber in that list
When it comes to Baseball America, the Yankees' total is more than double their 2016 representation of three in the Top 100, despite the fact that catcher Gary Sanchez (No. 36 last year) graduated from prospect eligibility after a near-Rookie of the Year campaign.
As we look back five years to BA's 2012 list, we see that the Yankees had four Top 100 prospects that year, and it would have been five had the list come out about a month earlier than it did. Then-Dodger Nathan Eovaldi (No. 96) makes it six total with past, present, or future Yankees ties (so far), but we skip Evo and start our look back at the Yankees' ties in the 2012 list with a player who was, at one point, the No. 1 prospect in the organization.
No. 85: OF Mason Williams
Williams, the Yankees' fourth-round pick in 2010, made his list debut in 2012, coming off a 2011 season where he hit .349 with 28 steals in 68 games at Short-Season Class-A Staten Island. BA said that he would "head up a deep, athletic group of prospects heading to Class-A Charleston" in 2012 and he lived up to that, hitting .298 with 11 home runs, 35 RBI, and 20 steals in 98 games between Charleston and Class-A Advanced Tampa and moving up to No. 32 on the 2013 list.
That would be Williams' last appearance on BA's Top 100, though, as he struggled somewhat as he kept moving up the Yankees' ladder. Williams did make his MLB debut in 2015, hitting .286 in eight games before a shoulder injury ended his season, and he returned for 12 games (and a .296 average) last season. He will head to Spring Training on the Yankees' 40-man roster, and will head to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if he does not win a job in camp.
No. 81: C Gary Sanchez
Sanchez was the No. 30 prospect entering 2011, but he slipped 51 spots following a season where he hit .256 with 17 homers and 52 RBI in 82 games at Charleston but, according to BA, "took hits for his makeup and defensive ability." Sanchez rebounded in 2012, though, hitting .290 with 18 homers, 85 RBI, and 15 steals in 116 games between Charleston and Tampa and moving back up to the No. 57 spot on BA's 2013 list.
Like Williams, Sanchez had his struggles as he advanced through the Minors, but he would make two more appearances on BA's list - ranking No. 35 in 2014 and No. 36 in 2016 - before graduating last season, thanks to the .299-20-42 line in 53 games that almost won him Rookie of the Year. He was the runner-up, but he'll no longer be a runner-up on the Yankees' catching depth chart, as he enters 2016 as their undisputed No. 1 backstop.
No. 63: RHP Dellin Betances
As BA noted, Betances became the 10th member of the Yankees' 2006 Draft class to reach the Majors in 2011, as he pitched 2 2/3 innings in September after posting a 3.70 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The 2012 list was Betances' third and final appearance (he had been No. 100 in 2007 and No. 43 in 2011), and he would spend the entire year in the Minors, going 6-9 with a 6.44 ERA in 27 outings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Betances struggled with control as a starter that year and in 2013, but he moved to the Scranton bullpen in mid-2013, returned to the Majors for a second cameo that September, and has never left; the towering righty has been a key fireman in the Yankees' relief corps the last three years, posting a 1.93 ERA and 392 strikeouts over 247 innings, and the three-time All-Star will enter 2017 in the same role.
No. 29: LHP Manny Banuelos
The other half of the "Killer B's" was BA's No. 41 prospect in 2011, and he moved up 12 spots after posting a 3.75 ERA in 27 starts between Trenton and Scranton. He made just six appearances at Triple-A in 2012, though, before being felled by Tommy John surgery, and while, as BA noted, former Yankees farm director Mark Newman compared ManBan's poise to Whitey Ford's, Banuelos has not quite had a similar career path as the "Chairman of the Board."
Banuelos returned in 2014, posting a 4.13 ERA in 26 games over three levels, and was traded to Atlanta in January 2015 for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve. The lefty did make his MLB debut with the Braves that next year, posting a 5.13 ERA in seven games/six starts, but he spent most of 2015 and all of 2016 in the Minors before being designated for assignment last August; Banuelos signed with the Angels soon after but did not pitch the rest of 2016, and he remains with the Halos this year as he tries to return to the Majors.
No. 6: C Jesus Montero
As a bonus, we include Montero, who burst on the Bronx scene in September 2011 (to the tune of a .328-4-12 line in 18 games) but was traded to Seattle in the January 2012 deal for Michael Pineda.
BA said that Montero would "face less pressure replacing Miguel Olivo rather than Jorge Posada," but Jesus never really lived up to the hype. He had been a Top 100 prospect four times (2009-12), landing at Nos. 4, 3, and 6 the final three years, but a 2012 season where he hit .260 with 15 homers and 62 RBI in 135 games for Seattle is his MLB high-water mark.
Montero spent much more of the next three seasons in the Minors (222 games) than the Majors (73), and Seattle waived him near the end of last spring. He caught on with Toronto and had a strong season at Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .317 with 11 homers in 126 games, but he became a minor-league free agent this winter and recently signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles, who will have him at Triple-A Norfolk to open 2017.