Mike Ashmore covers the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA affiliate, for the Hunterdon County Democrat, and writes the outstanding 'Thunder Thoughts' blog.
I sent him some questions recently about the Yankee farm system. Here is the result of our e-mail exchange.
Ashmore: Montero is kind of like IKEA furniture right now ... some assembly required. He's certainly looked good, but he hasn't been the "blow your doors off" kind of impressive that I was expecting. The bat's been decent -- a lot of his outs have come on hard hit balls as well -- but his defense certainly needs some work. He hasn't been real great in throwing runners out, and I'm not too sure the pitchers are sold on his game-calling abilities just yet.
But he's 19 years old. 19 and in Double-A. Must be nice. But he also looks like a 19-year-old kid in Double-A right now, but I suspect he'll have improved quite a bit when the season comes to a close.
Ashmore: Their draft approach is an interesting one. Hopefully they learned from the mistake they made with Andrew Brackman ... maybe he'll turn into something someday, but having him take up a 40-man roster spot (at the expense of guys like Eric Hacker, Steven Jackson and so on) and signing him substantially over slot doesn't really seem to have panned out just yet. Overall, I'd like to think they might take a less aggressive approach with the draft in the future, but it is what it is.
The farm system as a whole ... the pitching is good, the position players are pretty average. Outside of a few standouts, there really aren't too many genuine impact players to be found when it comes to position players.
PA: Which pitchers at AA are most likely to eventually make an impact on the major-league level?
Ashmore: Zach McAllister, Ivan Nova, Mike Dunn, Amauri Sanit ... I'd have said Christian Garcia before he went down with injury, but his status is a bit mysterious as of now.
Ashmore: Given his age, yes. He's put up numbers wherever he's been, he's got a great story, and he's a great kid. Challenge him in Tampa and see if he can keep this run up.
Ashmore: No one on the level of Montero...but Jorge Vazquez is probably the one that stands out the most. If he can ever get his stuff straight and improve his defense -- hence his "The Jorge Vazquez Experience" nickname -- he could make an impact at the big league level at some point.
Ashmore: I don't have that kind of power. I'm lucky to get one myself, really.
Ashmore: Yes and yes. He played exclusively at shortstop, so I was impressed by how well he handled third base at the start of the year. He was kind of thrown into the Futures Game at the last second as an afterthought ... but I guess they got it right after all. But I still never thought he'd be a guy who would skip Triple-A almost entirely.