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John Donovan on Yanks' Farm System

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John Donovan on Yanks' Farm System

Postby WharfRat » Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:59 am

Donovan is generally a complete douchebag, but I think this story from SI.com might have some interest for you guys anyway:

DETROIT -- Kevin Thompson knows that most baseball fans, even those in New York, have never heard of him, don't much care about him and don't particularly want to know about him. Of course, those people had never heard of Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano or Melky Cabrera, either. And now, every Yankees fan knows their names.

That's exactly Thompson's point. The much-slammed Yankees' farm system -- as dry as a Sahara summer, as barren as a beach in a hurricane, as empty as David Wells' brain sometimes, the prevailing so-called wisdom goes -- is really not that bad off, Thompson insists. Not at all.

So cut out all the ripping, already.

"Honestly, a lot of us down there, that bothers us," said the young outfielder, who reports to the Yankees' Class AAA team in Columbus, Ohio, later this week. "We'll be sitting around the clubhouse, and ESPN will be on, and somebody will say that, and it's like 'What are they thinking?'

"The way they tell it, it's like we're pulling people off the street and putting them in uniform."

Thompson was venting about faulty perceptions from a spot in the dugout at Comerica Park, just before Sunday afternoon's Futures Game, a minor-league all-star game that precedes Tuesday's Major League All-Star Game (the one with all the capital letters).

The Futures Game has been filled throughout the years with soon-to-be All-Stars -- the capital-lettered kind -- including Alfonso Soriano and Hank Blalock of the Rangers, Lance Berkman of the Astros, Barry Zito of the A's, Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs and Rafael Furcal of the Braves.

The Yankees have had many players in this game before -- Soriano was a Yankee when he earned the game's MVP in the inaugural Futures Game in 1999 -- and, in fact, the Yanks had another player scheduled to take part in this year's game before Thompson stepped in. Instead, Cabrera was called up to the big club late last week, opening a spot for Thompson, who found out he was headed to Detroit before a game Friday in Norfolk, Va.

Numbers-wise, Thompson certainly looks like he belongs in this group. In 81 games with Class AA Trenton, he hit .329 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs. After the All-Star break, he'll join the Yankees' top farm team, the Columbus Clippers, a team that features first baseman Mitch Jones, who leads the International League with 21 homers in 87 games. Thompson will leave behind a Trenton team that includes sluggers like Shelley Duncan (a Class AA Eastern League All-Star, with 22 homers in 89 games) and third baseman Eric Duncan, a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2003 who is considered the organization's top prospect.

Those guys may not yet be ready to join a veteran-stocked major league team. But they're certainly doing all right in the minors.

"We've got three guys who are knocking the walls down," Thompson said of the two Duncans and Jones. "If you watch the guys there, you'll see. There's a lot of talent."

The Yankees, to be clear, have done a hatchet job on their minor-league system in recent years. Their drafts, especially in the late 1990s and in the early part of this century, were considered by many as nothing short of terrible.

What talent the Yankees did have often was traded away to get major league players. Among the minor leaguers the Yankees have traded away recently are outfielder Wily Mo Pena (now with the Reds), pitcher Yhency Brazoban (now with the Dodgers) and pitcher Brad Halsey (now with the Diamondbacks).

Still, it's not like the Yankees' farm clubs are, say, the Royals'. Baseball America ranked the Yankees' minor-league system 24th this spring, but the magazine pointed out that the team has "plenty of emerging players." The problem is, the best ones might still be a year or so away.

That's all Thompson wants people to know. There is talent in the Yankees system. Look at Wang. Look at Cano, and now Cabrera. Look at other rookies that the Yankees have used this year, including pitchers Scott Proctor and Jason Anderson, and outfielder Kevin Reese.

A 25-year-old center fielder from Fort Worth, Texas, Thompson opened in left field for the U.S. team on Sunday in the Futures Game, led off and went hitless in two at-bats. But if he plays in Columbus like he did in Class AA, Thompson could be in the Bronx before Yankees fans can say Chien-Ming Wang.

"I sense a little change," Thompson said. "I hear it every day. 'We got to do something different, because the other way hasn't been working.'"

The Yankees have proven this year that the minor leaguers are at least worth a look.
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Postby MMoNeY24 » Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:53 pm

Of course, those people had never heard of Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano or Melky Cabrera, either. And now, every Yankees fan knows their names.


I didn't like that comment for obvious reasons. Just another stereotype on Yankee fans that all they do is know big names and only follow them when they're winning/guys are playing well. It didn't rub me the right way, anyone agree or am I reading too much into it? If it's supposed to be there to prove a point, I'm exaggerating a little but if it's meant literally, that was a dumb statement. :-?
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Postby WharfRat » Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:00 pm

MMoNeY24 wrote:
Of course, those people had never heard of Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano or Melky Cabrera, either. And now, every Yankees fan knows their names.


I didn't like that comment for obvious reasons. Just another stereotype on Yankee fans that all they do is know big names and only follow them when they're winning/guys are playing well. It didn't rub me the right way, anyone agree or am I reading too much into it? If it's supposed to be there to prove a point, I'm exaggerating a little but if it's meant literally, that was a dumb statement. :-?


I see what you mean, but the truth is there are many fans of every team who don't know squat about their minor-league teams. Plus, when he says "even those in NY," to me that almost means that NY fans are extra-knowledgeable, and even THEY don't know Kevin Thompson. I don't know which it means, but I just kind've ignored that as Donovan's typical douchebag-ness. A lot of writers do that, it's irritating.
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