When it was all said and done, 21 of the 30 clubs went the distance and worked all 50 rounds of the draft, including the Yankees. In his thirdÂ draft at the helm of Scouting Director, weÂ areÂ beginning to see some very real trends in Damon Oppenheimer’sÂ draft stategy:
- He loves his college players. OnlyÂ 9 of the 50 players taken by the Yanks this year are from the high school ranks (18%). In 2006,Â only 11 of 50 picks (22%)Â were prepsters, and only 8 of 50 (16%) were high schoolers in 2005.
- He believes in track records. There’s no better example than Ian Kennedy last year, who had a subpar draft year after 2 straight years of dominance, and is now arguably the best pitching prospect in the organization. This year he went for Damon Sublett, who posted consecutive years of 1.000+ OPS’s as a middle infielder before having a poor, injury riddledÂ campaign this year. Chris Malec in ’05 is another example.
- He’s not afraid to take the Yanks’ money and roll the dice. In 2005,Â he went big money for Austin Jackson and AlanÂ Horne. Last year it was Dellin Betances and Mark Melancon.Â Oppenheimer gave himself plenty of options this year, as Carmen Angelini, Chris Carpenter and Greg Peavey could all set bonus records for their respective rounds.
- He laughs in the face ofÂ a scary medical history.Â Alan Horne, Joba Chamberlain, Mark Melancon … they all had medical dossiers the size of the Yellow Pages.Â Again, the trend continues in 2007 with top pick Andrew Brackman highlighting an injury clouded crop that also includes Carpenter, Sublett and Ryan Zink.
- He’s down with taking on a project. Austin Jackson was a basketball player they taught to play baseball. George Kontos went from a 5.30 career ERA in college to one of the most dominant pitchers in recent NY-Penn League history. Garrett PattersonÂ is perpetually working on his mechanics. Staying true to form, Oppenheimer gave his minor league coaches plenty to work with by taking the raw Brackman, the out-of-control Carpenter, the work-in-progress deluxeÂ inÂ Chad Dawson, and of course,Â the awesomest pitcher ever.
- He’s got a keen eye for relievers. JB Cox. Zach Kroenke. Eric Wordekemper. Nick Peterson. David Robertson. The list speaks for itself. Adam O., you and that great arm come on down!
- He’s really starting toÂ love up-the-middle athletes. In 2005,Â 13 of the 24 position players the Yanks drafted can be described as “up-the- middle athletes.” In 2006 thatÂ increased to 15 of 24. This year, 17 of 25 position players drafted fit that bill. That my friend, is what you call an upward trend.
It’s been a little over 2 years with Oppenheimer calling the shots, but the effect he is having on the farm system is abundant. The pitching depth he’d built via the draft is borderline unfathomable, and it’s only a matter of time before we start some seeing returns.