2009 Draft: NoMaas interviews Damon Oppenheimer


Lane Meyer at NoMaas chatted with Yanks’ scouting director Damon Oppenheimer recently about the upcoming first year player draft. The part I found most interesting is that Oppenheimer was given an actual budget with a ceiling this year, compared to years past when he’s had more flexibility and less constraints. He also says that some people could be in for a surprise this year based on who the Yanks like and who they’ll end up taking. I’m intrigued. Make sure you head on over and give it a read.

Categories : Asides, Draft


  1. He also says that some people could be in for a surprise this year based on who the Yanks like and who they’ll end up taking.

    We’re gonna draft Joe Mauer with the #29th pick. The Twins won’t know what hit ‘em. You heard it here first.


  2. Jake H says:

    I was surprised also by him getting a budget. You have to wonder that if the Yanks are getting a budget that other teams probably will be also.

    • Zack says:

      I think it’s just a negociating stunt. You just got drafted by the Yankees, you’re going to ask for money then you would any other team. Coming out and saying they have a budget a month before the draft helps them more then if they just say during negociations ‘oh no we have a budget now’

      • Jake H says:

        How many agents are looking at NoMaas to read an interview with DO thou?

        • Zack says:

          It doesn’t matter if they read it or not, the scouting director of the Yankees is on record of saying it. I never trust anything that a team says before any draft because they’re just trying to manipulate other teams or agents.

      • Mike HC says:

        I’m with you Zack. I think it is to gain any edge they can in negotiating.

  3. My Pet Goat says:

    The most obvious answer is: it’s the economy. But what if the recession allows the Yankees the illusion of draft-budget constraints. This isn’t to suggest that Cole went to UCLA because he believed the Yankees had more money to offer, but perhaps the Yanks pay a premium for their draft picks simply because the draftees and their advisors know that there’s always a little more coin in that coffer. If you’re negotiating with the Yankees isn’t it easier to hold out for another 500k, than if you’re negotiating with the Braves?

  4. Will (the other one) says:

    Very cool read, although I shuddered a little when I saw DO call the Yankee mental-makeup guy a “performance enhancement coach.”

    • Mike HC says:

      hahaha … that is exactly what I picked up on. Is that really the terminology you want to use in this day and age? Funny though.

  5. whozat says:

    He also says that some people could be in for a surprise this year based on who the Yanks like and who they’ll end up taking.

    Read: We’ll be drafting some guys that everyone else thinks are overdrafts

    • A.D. says:

      pretty much

    • V says:

      That’s what I read. And I don’t like it.

      If a high upside arm like Purke is available, they have no excuse not to take him.

      • whozat says:

        Seriously. Frankly, I’m bracing myself for a cautious draft that will be widely panned.

        I mean, reading this AFTER we just read that their backup plan for the first round is a bunch of “polished college players” (read: high-probability guys with limited upside) makes me anticipate being underwhelmed.

        • MattG says:

          It could go that way, or Oppenheimer might be hinting that the Yankees have some new, out-of-the-box evaluation methods that’ll leave people scratching their heads, but they really believe in. Couple that with the “performance enhancing coach,” and the Yankees are set to draft 50 guys that really love their mothers.

        • V says:

          I just hope it’s a smoke screen.

          But, last year’s draft wasn’t all that great (though if Cole had signed it would have been much better), and Austin Jackson is the only non-1st/supplemental/2nd round pick that I recall amounting to anything. I’d really prefer to see more of the signability guys taken, but the Yankees don’t do as much of that as they can.

      • A.D. says:

        Eh, its somewhat different for the MLB than other drafts, since you cannot trade the pick, or even trade the player for a year, then the team wants to get the players they value the most, even if it involves some over-drafting, which is more so for the Yanks this years with having some of their picks gutted.

        Its not the like NFL where you can trade down to get extra picks & the player you want for the value the rest of the league has assessed.

        So far Oppenheimer & co have done pretty well, with the main blunder the seemingly lack of Due Dilligence on Cole’s actually chances of signing.

        • V says:

          Yeah, I know. And it’s possible that they ‘overdraft’ by taking the 50th ranked guy and 90th ranked guy with their picks in the 1st and 2nd round and both turn into future studs, and we enshrine Oppenheimer in the Yankees HOF.

          We really can’t know for at least five years, heh.

    • Jacob says:

      Well what is he going to say? “Most of the mock drafts out there have it pretty spot on with who we are looking at.” I don’t believe anything any front office people say in any sport within a month of the draft.

  6. A.D. says:

    As we speak right now I’ve been given a budget and it’s got a ceiling to it, but we’ll see what happens

    Basically looks like there’s a budget, but that’s not going to stop them from going out and getting a guy that falls.

    • Thomas says:

      Yeah, I see them drafting a player, if he falls, and worrying about signing them later. Sounds like a solid plan to me.

  7. Reggie C. says:

    Imagine we’re in a scenario where we pass on a Grant Green or Matt Purke and opt to go the Slade Heathcott/college OF route. Wow. That would start some fire on this board. Maybe the Yanks bust the budget on Sano, and we don’t know about it. Hmm…

    • V says:

      I’d rather invest the money in the draft than more Dominicans, frankly.

      The farm system really isn’t all that great, other than Jackson, Montero, Romine, and a few right handed pitching prospects.

      • whozat says:

        Seriously. Those kids are so far away from the bigs, there’s so much misinformation and false hype — and a legitimate risk that they’re not the age their handlers say they are.

      • I’d rather invest the money in the draft than more Dominicans, frankly.

        Meh, recently the draft has given us good stuff like Hughes, Joba, Melancon, and Robertson with AJax, Betances, Brackman McAllister, and Romine probably on the way soon.

        However, our baseball academies in the DR have given us Cano and Melky with Montero and WLDR right behind them, and several high-upside kids like Banuelos, Vizcaino, and (dare I say it?) Croussett behind them.

        The draft is going to produce more guys simply because there’s more guys to choose from, but the Latin American pipeline still produces great frontline stars. (Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Ramiro Mendoza all say hello.) I don’t want to start spending less money in the DR and miss the next Cano or Montero.

        Especially when the rumor mill says we’re in heavy on Gary Sanchez, who would be a surefire first rounder if he were in the draft.

        • Doug says:

          Kelvin De Leon still on the radar?

        • UWS says:

          Yeah, I’m not so hot on the Dominicans, either.

          Much more sense to go after the Venezuelans.

        • V says:

          Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the international market. But I don’t want to pull a Pirates and invest $4M in the international market and take that away from the draft budget.

          Failing to land Ynoa stings, but I understand why they passed (they had a deal in place and his handlers broke it).

          • K.B.D. says:

            From what I understood from last years NoMaas draft coverage the two budgets (International and Draft) are separate and don’t affect each other. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know.

        • MattG says:

          You know, Crousett had to increase his age on the birth certificate, or else everyone would’ve thought he was made up. Imagine! Making up Melvin…

    • Thomas says:

      Well, Heathcott would be an upside pick, since he is a top 10 talent with “character issues”, so I don’t think many well informed fans (i.e. the RAB faithful) would really bomb that pick. However, I suspect the fans will be upset if we pass up a talent like Purke for a Tony Sanchez-esque player (i.e. low upside).

      • Reggie C. says:

        I mentioned Heathcott only b/c there’s been absolutely zero rumblings that he’d be a difficult sign. Heck… he’d probably sign for slot. But yes, Heathcott has great upside and would have more upside than any position player we’ve drafted since CJ Henry.

        That said, the Yanks hopefully don’t pass up on a Purke or Green if either is available.

      • Eric says:

        Sanchez caught 25 innings against Texas. How’s that for consistency? He’s a grinder, just like Scott Brosius. He’s exactly the type of player the Yankees need.

        /Joe Morgan’d

    • Blackdragon905 says:

      Passing on Green and Purke would make me just sick…ugh. I try not to think like that lol.

      • MattG says:

        I don’t understand what there is to like about Green. He’s got to stick as SS for the bat to play, and there are questions about his ability to stick at SS. That’s a tweener, and I don’t think you want to purposely draft a tweener in the first round.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I’d have no problems with a Heathcott pick. High upside player at an up the middle position.

      • Reggie C. says:

        I’d have problems with that Mike. Passing on a Purke or Green for Heathcott isn’t picking the BPA. Its being cheap.

        • Reggie C. says:

          I should amend my words. I’m not a strict adhere of BPA and don’t want to get called out on it. You’re right in pointing out the print on Heathcott tells us he’s a high-upside HS outfielder, who could actually stay at CF. Apparently, he was motoring when he was in a knee brace. That’s enticing speed.

          Purke is a hard throwing lefty and Green plays SS quite well and can hit. I’d hate to see us pass on these guys in favor of an easier sign. Heathcott would be fantastic next pick (76?).

          • whozat says:

            I thought Green was borderline at SS defensively.

            • Reggie C. says:

              No way.

              BA’s writeup compares Green’s defense to Tulo’s. Range, hands, actions are all described with positive adjectives. Yeah, Green had a down year at the plate, but the defense looks legit.

              Why would he be around when the Yanks pick? Boras. And i don’t think he’s a senior.

              • Doug says:

                conterpoint from Keith Law:
                “Green remains one of the top college bats in this draft, but his stock has taken a hit due to his light power production and problems on defense at short.”

                also: “In the field, Green is athletic enough to play shortstop but has had trouble both with fielding and throwing all spring. He could eventually have to move to third base. He’s big for a shortstop and a little awkward, but not so big that he’s a lock to have to move due to size.”

              • KLaw’s 5/30 update on Green (it’s Insider, so I’m excerpting):

                …his stock has taken a hit due to his light power production and problems on defense at short… In the field, Green is athletic enough to play shortstop but has had trouble both with fielding and throwing all spring. He could eventually have to move to third base. He’s big for a shortstop and a little awkward, but not so big that he’s a lock to have to move due to size. In a deeper year, he’d probably slip to the back of the first round or the sandwich round because of the issues with his swing and defense, but he’s a good athlete who could improve in both areas with pro instruction…


                • Reggie C. says:

                  I’m using BA’s May 27th, top 100 draft scouting report. The staff report has him down as a “middle infield fixture” with potential “Gold Glove” defense.

                  You don’t pass this up if he’s there.

                • Doug says:

                  but if he IS there, isn’t it only because teams think his defense (and therefore his future) at SS is suspect.

                • Reggie C. says:

                  Sure Doug. The divergent writeups are interesting. But Green’s not a candidate to sign for slot, or even slightly above slot, so you gotta weigh that against his draft status. There are alot of 6’3 guys who play SS. BA happens to think he can do it well for a long time.

    • JohnC says:

      I would love to see them take Heathcott. He is a 5 tool OF and with the lack of good position prospects in the system, he’d be a great pick.

  8. CB says:

    Oppenheimer publicly revealing that he has a both a concrete budget and that he didn’t have one before seems strange. That is the kind of strategic information that businesses are loath to admit to for reasons of competitive advantage.

    How does it help the yankees to make this publicly known?

    Sounds to me possible gamesmanship to me. A way to send a signal to both their draftees and the other teams in the game.

    They spent way less on the draft last year than they were prepared to and were anticipating as Cole and Bittle didn’t sign.

    And this year they have a hard budget for the first time?

    • A.D. says:

      Could help the Yankees try and leverage kids, not necessarily top rounders, but say a kid like Lassiter who is a very late draft pick, signing way over slot, by looking to sign him for less over slot.

      That said he even qualifies it with “we’ll see” basically saying, we decided to actually budget things, but its not set in stone. On top of that he didn’t give a number, it could be a 100 million ceiling.

  9. anonymous says:

    My favorite was the power question. Which pretty much sounds like the steroid use is going down with prospects and teams need to adjust the way they draft. Not everyone will develop this amazing slugging power like they have in the past.

    • jsbrendog says:

      well we drafted this great defense, capable doubles hitter with power to the alleys and as soon as he came into our system and got with ourhitting instructor (steroids) he jus tput it all together (steroids) and started smacking the shit out of the bal (steroids). amazing thing, he just figured it out (steroids)

    • Yeah, this quote was awesome:

      “You know, for quite a few years there, within baseball in general, a lot of the guys that came in with a good hit tool developed power later on. We’ll see how it goes down at the draft, and I still think you have to be able to hit to eventually have meaningful power, but maybe I have to put a little more premium on those guys whose bats I like, that already have power now.”

      It’s really a pretty significant shift for talent evaluators and I’m glad the Yanks’ guys are aware of it and are addressing it. What a sea-change.

  10. Blackdragon905 says:

    What exactly is Heatcott’s ceiling? He’s a 5 tool player right who is possibly going to fall because of attitude issues?

  11. I can’t wait for the Yanks to take Strasburg after the Nationals draft him. Then Oppenheimer can offer him more money and sign him. That’s the secret strategy.

    • anonymous says:


    • Will (the other one) says:

      I like it. Is this what happens right before they send Nick Johnson to Boston bearing smallpox-infected blankets, only to call him back for bench depth in the Bronx immediately afterward?

    • Brilliant.

      I don’t know why we didn’t think of this before. We could of just picked David Price, Evan Longoria, and Carl Crawford behind the Rays and just signed them right out from under their noses!

      Cashman: Oh, Dombrowski’s gonna draft Rick Porcello? Guess what, bitches, I’M GONNA DRAFT RICK PORCELLO TOO!!! HOW DO YOU LIKE DEM APPLES, DETROIT ROCK CITY!!!!

  12. ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops says:

    The draft is socialist bullshit. Guess that’s the reason RAB posts about the draft so much.


  13. James K says:

    I realize one should never draft solely based on need, and top pitchers are more valuable than position players (trades are always possible with high-ceiling pitchers), but if Green were there, wouldn’t it make the most sense to draft him? If he is able to stay at shortstop, how long could he be ready for the show?

    Jeter can’t play short forever (and many would argue even today) so doesn’t it seem logical to take a top positional player who can make an impact pretty quickly?

    I’m just curious to hear what you guys think.

    • Here’s my thoughts: Green looks like a good prospect. So do Purke, Heathcott, and numerous others.

      If we take Green, I’ll be happy. If we don’t take Green because we’re taking Purke, or Heathcott, or some other high-upside kid, I’ll be happy as well.

      The only thing that would make me unhappy is if we took a low-ceiling “safe” pick. We should be swinging for the fences. Go long on porkbelly futures.

      • Doug says:

        but what if the kid has signability concerns…you still swing for the fences, knowing that if you don’t get a deal done, that draft pick is gone?

      • Like Jeremy Bleich instead of the other arms (Melville, Lobstein, etc.) that were there. I hate that as well. If it were up to me, I’d take as many overslot big-time talent/high ceiling guys as my budget would allow.

  14. Want a surprise pick?

    Kyle Heckathorn. Book it.

  15. [...] though there were sexier names left on the board. We heard plenty of rumblings that the Yanks were operating on a budget this year, but by the looks of it the budget wasn’t restrictive at all. They still landed [...]

  16. [...] this spring we found out from scouting director Damon Oppenheimer that he was given an actual budget to work with during this year’s draft, which promptly caused mass panic because, as we all know, the [...]

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