It’s hard to believe, but we have been using prospect publications since 1990 – first John Sickels’ Notebooks, published by STATS, then Baseball America’s Prospect Handbooks since 2001.
These, along with what we see live and hear in interviews, have formulated our coverage, first in the newspaper industry, then for MLB, and now proudly for Pinstriped Prospects, where we strive to offer the best in that area for Yankees fans and additional observers.
Our 2017 Baseball America Prospect Handbook arrived Thursday as it snowed, added to the collection of all such ever produced and Sickels’ excellent efforts on our bookshelf. The 2001 edition was the first, and it’s fun to look back at who were the Top 10 Yankees prospects as analyzed 16 years ago and what became of them:
1. Nick Johnson, 1B – A minor-league superstar hitter who was ticketed to succeed Tino Martinez. Johnson, Larry Bowa’s nephew, had a 10 year career with the Yankees, Montreal/Washington, Florida and Baltomore, batting .268 in 832 games as a series of injuries limited him.
2. Alfonso Soriano, SS – He played 16 years, starting in the Yankees infield and ending in the Yankees outfield. In between, with Texas, Washington and the Cubs, he hit 412 home runs and was a dynamic player. Sent to the Rangers in 2004 with fellow infield prospect Joaquin Arias for Alex Rodriquez.
3. D’Angelo Jimenez, SS – Was highly touted, but played just seven games with the Yankees. Spent most of an eight-year career with Cincinnati, mostly as a reserve.
4. Adrian Hernandez, RHP – A Cuban defector, “El Duquito,” pitched in just 14 games with the Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers as he struggled with control.
5. Alex Graman, LHP – Made just five appearances with the Yankees, but found some success in both Japan and Korea that lasted over a decade.
6. Randy Keisler, LHP – Pitched in just 14 games with the Yankees, but earned work as a reliever with Cincinnati, Oakland and St. Louis through 2007.
7. Erick Almonte, SS – An athletic type. the highpoint in his career came in 2003 when he filled in for an injured Derek Jeter. He drifted to Japan for several years and the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. He returned to the majors for 16 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011, and became the first player to be placed on MLB’s concussion-based 7-day disabled list.
8. Deivi Mendez, SS – Bounced around the Yankees system for several years and also tried a comeback as a pitcher, He was suspended 30 games for drugs in 2005, with did not go well at the time.
9. Wily Mo Pena, OF – Signed by the Yankees in 1999 and received a $3.7 million bonus after contracts with both Florida and the Mets were declared invalid. He was traded to Cincinnati for 3B Drew Henson and OF Michael Coleman in 2001 and hit 26 hone runs in 110 games for the Reds in 2004. He also had chances with Washington, the Mets, San Diego, Arizona and Seattle. Appeared with the Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish in 2010 and in Japan. Signed a minor-league contract with the Cleveland Indians Feb. 6. He is thus active at 34.
10. Todd Noel, RHP – Obtained from the Cubs system in 1999, Noel threw his fastball at 98 mph and had elite secondary stuff. He also had shoulder issues and never advanced past Class-A Tampa. He now is an account manager for Paramount Beauty South on Tampa, and calls on clients who buy products for hair stylists.
A few other names stand out on the rest of the Top 30 list, namely outfielder Juan Rivera (No. 11), RHP Chien-Mong Wang (No. 13) and outfielder Marcus Thames (N0. 30), who is now the Yankees’ Assistant hitting coach.