The following list does not include any of the recent draftees, mostly due to the fact that most of the highest profile draftees have yet to sign. There are sure to be adjustments to the list below by this offseason - some due to promotions to the majors, and some due to performance reasons. At that time, some of the current draftees may find themselves on a post season top ten list.
The following is the mid-season ranking of Yankee prospects. This ranking is based on a weighted combination of expected value to the Yankees as measured by absolute ceiling, along with expected return in major league value (i.e., expected CR+ for position players along with defensive ability, and expected DERA for pitchers during the specified time period) to the Yankees over the next year to five year period. Consequently, some players who have very high ceilings (e.g., Pirela) will be listed lower than others with lower ceilings but more ready to play in the majors (e.g., Gardner).
1) Joba Chamberlain, 6-2 225 (RHP) His complete dominance of A+ and AA ball in 2007, indicates that early scouting reports that he would be a front of the rotation starter are probably true. Chamberlain's stuff is absolutely outstanding, with a mid to high nineties heater and a slider that he commands. He compliments those two outstanding pitches with a changeup and a curve that he can throw for strikes, but not necessarily command. Major league comparables are Carlos Zambrano or a right handed CC Sabathia. (ETA 2008)
2) Austin Jackson, 6-1 202 (CF). This is the biggest jump up the Yankee prospects list I've made for this report. At 20 years, Jackson has been making great adjustments at the plate all year, and it is really paying off for him. Over the offseason, Jackson added nearly ten pounds of muscle, with the expectation that it would add strength to hold up during a full year of professional baseball. Because of the adjustments physically and at the plate, Jackson strikes out much less this year than last year, and his all around game is finally catching up with the tremendous potential the Yankees expected to eventually see when they signed him to an 800K bonus in 2005. His recent callup to A+ Tampa has seen him hitting .410/.439/.564 through his first nine games after the promotion. Major league comparable for Austin Jackson is a combination of Torri Hunter in the field and the plate, with Johnny Damon on the bases. (ETA 2009).
3) Jose Tabata, 5-11 205 (RF). Tabata is having a very solid year in A+ Tampa in his 19th calender year. He shows the ability to hit for a high average and is expected to add power to his already strong gap hitting strength. Injuries have held back Tabata a bit for the last year, but it appears that nothing will be able to keep him out of New York's lineup in several years. Major league comparable is a right handed Bobby Abreu. (ETA 2009)
4) Alan Horne, 6-4 195 (RHP). Horne has made adjustments to his game so that now he projects as the front of the rotation starter some thought he would be when he was drafted in the first round as a high school player. Horne's tremendous arm, now harnessed, is inducing ground balls at a tremendous rate. Horne is able to get strikeouts when he needs them. With an MDERA of 140+ all season, it appears that Horne should be in a position to compete for a starting spot in the Yankees rotation within a year. An interesting comparable for Horne is current Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie. (ETA 2008)
5) Ian Kennedy, 6-0 1/2 180(RHP). Kennedy has dominated at A+ and early on in AA ball this year. He is a very seasoned pitcher who knows how to pitch. The Yankees tweaked his delivery so that he could maintain more consistent velocity and life on his fastball. Although Kennedy doesn't have the stuff of Joba Chamberlain or Alan Horne, he has an outstanding chance to be a very solid major league 3 starter. Major League comparable is Dan Haren. (ETA 2008/09)
6) Dellin Betances, 6-9 235 (RHP). Betances has tremendous talent with the upside to be a dominant ace in major league baseball. However, in the limited exposure that he has in the minors so far, he is far away from fullfilling this tremendous talent. With a mid to high nineties heater and with outstanding secondary stuff, he would rate higher than this if he showed more consistent control. His performance in the GCL last year was somewhat overlooked (7 walks in 23 innings is not great in that league) when reports out of Yankee instructional work indicated that Betances was likely to be able to apply his mechanical lessons quicker than it appears he currently is. Major league comparable for Betances is currently Daniel Cabrera (ETA 2010)
7) Brett Gardner, 5-9 180 (CF). Gardner, like Jackson has worked hard to develop his approach at the plate this year. Since returning from an injury earlier this season, Garnder has been on fire. Expect to see someone take a chance on starting this guy in the major leagues soon. Gardner's tremendous speed and baserunning ability (80 on a 20-80 scouting scale) are his calling card. If what we are seeing this year is any indication from Gardner he ought to be a .280/.380/.420 kind of guy in the majors, yet, with that speed and baserunning ability he will be very valuable to a major league lineup. A major league comparable for Gardner is Scott Podsednik. (ETA 2008)
8) Jose Pirela, 5-10 189 (CF/SS) The right handed hitting Pirela is an incredibly talented offensive player currently in the DSL. The Yankees were very cautious with the youngster (17) by assigning him to the DSL, knowing that the long season in the United States can wear down the younger players. Yet, Pirela has been with the Yankees for a year and is generally considered to be the best 'catch' for value among the 2006 Yankee signees. Pirela has great baserunning ability, in large part due to his strong athleticism and great instincts for the game. Still it is his all around game that has the Yankees most excited. Major league comparable - Alphonso Soriano. (ETA 2011)
9) Zoilo Almonte, 6-0 180 (LF) The right handed throwing, switch-hitting Almonte is an impressive hitter right now. The Yankees have started the 18 year old Almonte in the Gulf Coast League this year. Over his first ten games stateside, Almonte is showing the offensive tools expected of him .333/.385/528. Almonte is a very polished hitter, mature beyond his years. He has already drawn raves from Yankee organizational personnel who believe he will challenge for batting titles in the major leagues. Some compare him to Melky Cabrera, yet Almonte's hitting ability at his age is more reminscent of Miguel Cabrera not Melky Cabrera. (ETA 2010)
10) Jairo Heredia, 6-1 170 (RHP). The 17 yr old Heredia is considered to be a front of the rotation talent by the Yankees. He has already demonstrated that he can throw his fastball consistently between 91-94 mph, along with a curve and a changeup already considered to be plus pitches. Heredia has started stateside with the GCL Yankees and although he hasn't yet blown away the league (that still may happen) in the early going, he is doing very well with a league unadjusted defense independent ERA of 2.91 (regular ERA of 3.09). He has shown remarkable control with only 2 walks in 11.66 innings, one homerun allowed, and 10 stikeouts. Major league comparable is a right handed Dontrelle Willis (i.e., similar delievery and stuff) ETA 2011.
Edit: I'd like to limit the discussion to those Yankee prospects whose arbitration clock has not yet started. That rules out the likes of Hughes, Clippard, etc.