2009 Draft Recap


DeAngelo MackAfter three long days and 1,521 selections, the 2009 MLB Draft came to an end ten days ago. Unlike previous years when the Yankees shot for the moon with their first pick and took a player who fell because of exorbitant bonus demands, this year they zeroed in on a target and drafted him even 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 tons of promising players.

As fans, we keep looking back at the 2006 draft crop and expect that every year. The Yanks picked an incredible amount of talent that year, but in reality that haul was far more the exception than the norm. Four players from that class alone have reached the Bigs for the Yanks, while just five players reached the majors from the ’03, ’04 and ’05 classes combined.

Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer stayed true to form this year and went hard after college players, especially on the mound. Take a quick gander at this graph showing the breakdown of the players he’s taken in his five drafts for the Yanks. Lots of college guys, huh? I prefer high school players, but there’s nothing wrong with going after college players as long as the goal isn’t to get a quick return on the investment.

Note: Getting back to the graph, very few high school first baseman are drafted because they’re already limited to the worst case position. Guys like Prince Fielder and Derrek Lee are rare birds. Second baseman usually aren’t drafted for similar reasons. Almost all big league second baseman are failed shortstops.

It remains to be seen what kind of impact this draft class will have for the Yankees, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a second to recap all the action. You can see all of the team’s picks here.

Best Prospects
The two best prospects the Yankees picked up in this year’s draft were their two first choices: CF Slade Heathcott and C JR Murphy. I profiled those two on draft day, so click the links to learn more about them. Aside from Heathcott and Murphy, the player with the best combination of present ability, upside, and probability is 14th rounder Graham Stoneburner. The righthander fell because he has extra leverage as a draft eligible sophomore, but also because he’s a bit on the small side at 6′-0″, 185 lbs. Featuring a power arm sporting a legit mid-90′s fastball with two good offspeed offerings and strong command, Stoneburner projects as mid-rotation starter or an elite reliever if things come together.

Righthander Sean Black (7th round) and lefthander Gavin Brooks (9) were elite prospects coming out of high school in 2006, but plateaued in college and didn’t take that step forward. Black has shown mid-90′s velocity in the past with a put-away curveball, but he struggles to maintain his delivery which leads to inconsistency. Brooks is another hard thrower, but he’s been held back by injury and control problems. He has, however, tremendous upside and top-of-rotation ability when right. Both players can fall back on being shutdown relievers if starting doesn’t work out in the long run.

Outside of Heathcott and Murphy, outfielder DeAngelo Mack (13) is the most intriguing position player the Yanks selected primarily because he shows average tools across the board with much improved plate discipline. Third baseman Rob Lyerly (6) has a plus hit tool but needs to prove himself with a wood bat. He could end up in left field down the road.

Adding Depth
Like it or not, the draft is more about quantity than quality. As much as we want them to, the Yanks can’t to land players with star potential with every pick without having to take a second and third mortgage out on the New Stadium. Pitchers like Adam Warren (4) and Tyler Lyons (10) have faced the best competition college baseball has to offer for the last several years and should zoom up the ladder in short order. Vanderbilt’s Caleb Cotham (5) is another draft eligible sophomore, but unlike Stoneburner he’s primarily a sinker-slider guy with a heavy ball and two other offspeed offerings.

Outfielder Neil Medchill (11) is another guy that’s faced top notch competition and should have no problems as he advances. Former USC utility guy Hector Rabago (18) offers a ton of versatility and is converting to catcher full-time thanks to his premium throwing arm. Shortstops Ben Soignier (22) and Danny Black (42) are polished players who should shore up a key position.

Lotto Tickets
I’ve been using that term for years before I started blogging, and I’m not sure if I can take credit for coining it or if I heard it in passing somewhere and just don’t remember it. Either way, it basically refers to a player that you don’t expect to get anything out of, but if he pays off, he could pay off in a big way. Perhaps the best example from this draft class is southpaw Sam Elam (8), who flashes tremendous stuff but has been limited to just 76 IP in four years at Notre Dame because of extreme control issues (64 BB).

California prep righthander Chad Thompson (17) had Tommy John surgery recently and will be out until next spring. He has tremendous upside packed into his 6′-8″ frame, but is very raw and will need considerable development time if he decides to pass on a commitment to Arizona State. Fellow West Coaster Brett Gerritse (12) has a big projectable frame and two solid offspeed offerings, but a maladroit delivery that limits velocity and command. Committed to Long Beach State, he has frontline starter potential if he smooths out his delivery and makes good on some of that projection.

The ultimate lotto ticket pick is 48th rounder Pat White, who hasn’t played baseball since high school and is currently listed as the third-string quarterback on the Miami Dolphins’ roster after a celebrated career at West Virginia. Since he’s out of college eligibility, the signing deadline does not apply to him, so the Yanks can sit back and let White decide if he’d rather continue his football career or pursue one on the diamond. He’s a premium athlete but needs to learn how to translate those physical gifts into baseball skills.

Other players, like shortstop Steve Bruno (26), outfielder Andrew Aplin (33), and righties Kyle McKenzie (30) and Cody Stiles (39) were all drafted late and aren’t expected to sign, but the Yanks took a shot and if they get anything out them it’s just icing on the cake.

* * *

It’s ridiculously early to say anything of substance about this draft class, but on the surface it appears the Yanks have landed some interesting arms with upside and solid organizational depth. They took some much-needed position players and lefthanded arms while still adding upside and depth.

Photo Credit: Alan Tauber, The Daily Gamecock

Categories : Draft


  1. crawdaddie says:

    We’ll have a lot to find out about this group of players over the next 4-5 years.

  2. Chris says:

    Where would JR Murphy rank among the current crop of C prospects in the Yankee system?

  3. A.D. says:

    What position was Pat White taken as?

  4. pat says:

    I have only heard of one of the kids the Yankees drafted.

    Therefore, they are all garbage.
    That is all.

  5. A.D. says:

    Too bad Mack is only OPSing 250….what a bust!

    In all seriousness fairly intriguing outfielder especially for that late of a selection.

  6. Riddle says:

    If we’re worried about Graham Stoneburner being a bit small, then we need to hire Tim Lincecum’s dad as a special pitching coach…develop some of his weird delivery…

  7. ARX says:

    “Almost all big league second baseman are failed shortstops.”
    Seriously? Why?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I’m not sure, I guess it’s because shortstop is more premium position, so teams grab the best players there first, then move them over if they don’t work out.

      Off the top of my head, the only second basemen that came up as 2B in the minors are Orlando Hudson and Uggla. Could be wrong though. Utley was a 3B for a while before moving over.

    • Seriously? Why?

      For the same reason that almost all big league relievers are failed starters and almost all big league corner outfielders are failed centerfielders.

      Because SS, CF, C, and SP are probably the 4 toughest positions on the field, so amateur big leaguers almost invariably start there since they’re the best players on their high school and college teams, and as they become pros and get lumped in with other elite talents, the very best of them remain at SS, CF, C, and SP and the others move across the diamond to positions of lower defensive utility (or to the bullpen).

  8. Bill says:

    the player i will look out for the most besides heatchcott is mack b/c he has a nice swing that is built for the stadium. i also think medchill could be a sleeper prospect – he has power which could improve if he adds more weight (6-3, 170+ pounds). he’s also lefty, which should add to his power if he reaches the majors.

  9. Bill says:

    mack’s swing in the picture has a little bonds and griffey in it

  10. Bill says:

    mike, who do you think is the best college guy the yanks picked this year?

  11. ChrisS says:

    #23rd pick, Kevin Mahoney – book it.

  12. John says:

    My wildest dream: EVERY guy taken in this draft by the Yankees, if they sign, will become a solid-regular or a star.

  13. John says:

    Mike, you should list all the guys who have already signed too.

  14. Reggie C. says:

    I would hope that the Yanks make a hard run at Andrew Aplin. With any sort of solid game performance, it’ll be high schoolers like Aplin that’ll make the pages of prospect publications before guys like Medchill and Mack.

  15. Charlie says:

    Is Stoneburner supposed to sign??

  16. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    so how many of these kids do you think won’t get signed?

    out of the HS’ers, is it because they (mainly) want to go to college to up their skill level and get drafted again later?

    i can’t imagine why a kid would get better at college faster/more than he would get better playing ball full time (although that life is probably a lot harder!).

    any place i can find salaries and signing bonuses somewhere? would love to see what these kids get right out of the chute!

    • Ed says:

      i can’t imagine why a kid would get better at college faster/more than he would get better playing ball full time (although that life is probably a lot harder!).

      It’s not about getting better faster. These guys are cases where the player has a lot of potential, but there’s a clear flaw in their game. Maybe the player is tall but too thin, and scouts would like to see a little more muscle before committing big bucks to the player. Maybe the guy is clearly a great athlete but isn’t as good a hitter as you would otherwise expect. If these guys overcome their flaw, teams would be willing to pay them big bonuses. Teams would gladly sign the players now hoping that they do fix the flaw, but they won’t pay a premium.

  17. Jacob says:

    Great recap. If Thompson signs he’ll be an interesting one to follow. Of the 50 players taken how many should we expect the Yanks to sign?

  18. Bo says:

    The lack of high signability players in this draft means that the team is going to go hard after the top international free agents. That has to be accounted for when recapping the draft because they probably skipped some signability players because they want to focus their cash on the international market.

    • Judge: Mr. Hutz we’ve been in here for four hours. Do you have any evidence at all?
      Lionel Hutz: Well, Your Honor, we’ve got plenty of hearsay and conjecture; those are kinds of evidence…

      • radnom says:

        Considering who its coming from, I thought this was a very reasonable post.

        Any talk here regarding the Yankee’s intentions applying to any part of the draft process is pure conjecture….I don’t necessarily think Bo’s comments was more so then a lot of then a lot of other posts.

        There have been “whispers” of a budget this year, and the Yankees are rumored to be frontrunners for the top IFA. I personally don’t think the two are related, but it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to get there.

      • jsbrendog says:

        ::golf clap::

  19. Steve O. says:

    Mike, what’s your take on selecting elevator prospects such as Murphy who have improved their stock greatly over one season?

  20. Help me fill out the rest of this as-yet-unsigned draft pick projection.


    1 Slade Heathcott – will sign (because the team can’t afford to lose the pick)
    2 J.R. Murphy – will sign (because the team can’t afford to lose the pick)
    4 Adam Warren – has already said that he’ll sign
    5 Caleb Cotham –
    7 Sean Black –
    10 Tyler Lyons –
    12 Brett Gerritse –
    14 Graham Stoneburner –
    16 Bryan Mitchell –
    17 Chad Thompson –
    20 Thomas Keeling –
    22 Richard Soignier –
    26 Stephen Bruno –
    28 Aaron Meade –
    29 Scott Matyas –
    30 Kyle McKenzie –
    31 Judd Golson –
    32 Nick Ebert –
    33 Andrew Aplin – won’t sign since he’s a highly regarded high-schooler picked way too low to get the money he wants
    34 Jacob Petricka -
    35 Brett Bruening –
    36 Ken Ottoson –
    38 Adam Bailey – won’t sign, already said he’s going back to Nebraska
    39 Cody Stiles – won’t sign since he’s a highly regarded high-schooler picked way too low to get the money he wants
    41 Mariel Checo –
    42 Danny Black –
    44 Evan DeLuca –
    45 Jeremy Baltz –
    46 Tony Plagman –
    47 Shane Brown –
    48 Patrick White - won’t sign since he’s going to give the NFL a real shot
    49 Xavier Esquivel –
    50 Stephen Kaupang -

    • radnom says:

      48 Patrick White – won’t sign since he’s going to give the NFL a real shot

      How long does he have though?
      Mike noted that the signing deadline does not apply to him….does this mean that the Yankees have rights to him if he should decide to switch back to baseball, or is there a time limit on that?

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

      38 Adam Bailey – won’t sign, already said he’s going back to Nebraska

      Nebraska sucks. Bbbbbuuuurrrrrnnnn.

    • cult of basebaal says:

      33 Andrew Aplin – won’t sign since he’s a highly regarded high-schooler picked way too low to get the money he wants

      From a recent Vacaville newspaper article on the draft:

      “I’ve been leaning towards college, and being that late, I didn’t think it would be the money I wanted,” Aplin said. “But they said it could be somewhere in the wheelhouse of what I wanted and would be willing to talk.”

      I’d say that sounds at least somewhat promising …

    • Januz says:

      I actually think that Aplin could sign because the Yankees can meet his price, and because of the lack of quality outfielders in the Yankee Organization. Stiles I agree with because there is a tremendous amount of righthanded pitching already in the organization, and it becomes a numbers game.
      I will predict that they will sign maybe 10-12 more players from this draft: Heathcott, Murphy, Warren, Cotham, Black, Lyons, Bruno (Being a Jersey kid and a shortstop), Checo, and at least one of the three (Gerritse, Stoneburner, and Thompson).

      • Januz says:

        Stoneburner is a likely sign. Note the following: “………Finally, there’s Stoneburner. Based on this interview with a reporter who evidently has access to a Yankees’ scout’s Rolodex, New York’s approach appears to be that the Yankees will watch Stoneburner a few times this summer and assess his value thereafter.

        Now, I don’t know where Stoneburner is expected to play this summer – he’s not on any Cape rosters – but Stoneburner’s answers hardly seem as if he is leaning toward returning at this stage. That can change, obviously, and only time will tell……… http://www.pawsitivepress.com. It looks like the Yankees have him signed, sealed, and delivered, and sometime in August, they will announce it.

  21. IvanS says:

    Are you going to label this draft’s players in their respective game recaps as you did last year?

  22. Bill says:

    i think the pat white pick was a waste, not because of lack of talent, just because he probably is the least likely pick in the whole draft to sign. the guy was drafted by the dolphins where he’d be perfect in the wildcat and would make instant money. he hasnt played baseball since highschool and would have to toil in the minors, when he could be playing a role on the dolphins. i know the reward is greater than the risk, but still, he’s not turning down the dolphins.

    • MattG says:

      but still, he’s not turning down the dolphins.

      Unless he does. He has a whole year of football before he has to make that decision. He could get a concussion, strain an ACL, or fall victim to a myriad of other things that might make football a non-factor. Miami is the only offense in the NFL that has any use for Pat White. Hell, they might cut him.

      If the deadline for White was August 17, then yes, you’re right. But it’s not. Anything can happen before next June.

      • Bill says:

        i guess, but what makes u think he’ll quit the nfl after one bad injury? and why would he wanna play baseball after already suffering a bad injury that made him quit football? hey, maybe he’s the next bo jackson

        • MattG says:

          Some football injuries are less significant for baseball (and vice-versa). A concussion might make him think a baseball career is a good idea.

          Or he might just sit with a clipboard for a whole season, and decide, “hey, this sucks.”

      • Miami is the only offense in the NFL that has any use for Pat White. Hell, they might cut him.

        Antwaan Randle-El, Matt Jones, Brad Smith, Michael Robinson, Seneca Wallace, Tarvaris Jackson, and countless others say hello.

        He’ll have a great opportunity to play right away in the wildcat. But he’ll be given a decent shot to get reps at QB, and even when he fails at that, he’ll play some at RB or WR (or some hybrid back of some sort).

        He’ll kick around the league for quite some time. You’re selling his career way too short. Hell, Hines Ward was a QB at Georgia for a while before moving to WR.

    • You’re absolutely right.

      My retort? 99% of all 48th, 49th, and 50th round MLB draft picks are wastes.

      Us “wasting” a 48th round pick on White is par for the course. Everybody wastes picks there. No big deal.

      • Bill says:

        tru dat. maybe if they offer him some extra money, he’ll sign with us, but they probably wont do that for a 48th round pick, unless oppenheimer really sees something

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

        In related news, Nik Turley was seen crying today.

  23. MattG says:

    My take: Oppenheimer thinks he has a way of spotting who hasn’t peaked yet. I get this from reading a few interviews.

    If you look hard and long enough at all the amateur players drafted in recent years, you might find a connection that is indicative of a player still likely to improve. I think Oppenheimer has concentrated his efforts right here, and this is the first such draft.

    The way he talks about Heathcott and Murphy, you can tell he does not view them with the same ceiling Callis and Law have pinned on them. It will be interesting to find out.

    • BklynJT says:

      In the end, Callis and Law get their information second hand from other scouts. I trust Oppenheimer x 100 more than I do Callis, Law, or any other “expert” who hasn’t seen the player.

      • Clayton says:

        Actually Law sees most of the players. That’s why he had video of so many players on his draft blog.

        • BklynJT says:

          If Law has seen them first hand, I take that back what I said. But just seeing video on someone isn’t the same as seeing them in person. And when I hear Law talk about prospects, he always says “The scouts I talk to…” which makes me believe he hasn’t seen the player in person.

      • MattG says:

        Forget I said Callis and Law, as this obfuscates the point, that being: Oppenheimer believes he has identified a common trait or traits in players that will allow them to exceed their expected ceiling. I think it is a mini-revolution in scouting. It is exciting to imagine the Yankees breaking new ground.

    • Bill says:

      yeah he kind of goes with his own view of the player instead of the consensus view. which is what he should do. he’s running the draft for the yanks, not callis and law

  24. ArodMVP217 FTW! says:

    I like what i hear of Mariel Checo

  25. Bill says:

    it seems the yanks have surpluses at outfield and catcher. i wonder if this is a concious thing or a result of “best player available” mentality

  26. The Artist says:

    Tremendous write-up Mike, really enjoyed it.

  27. [...] Also make sure you check out the 2009 Draft Recap that was posted over at River Ave. Blues today. Mike Axisa did a great job breaking everything. [...]

  28. blee says:

    I saw SS Renfroe mentioned as a guy the Yanks would target, being uber athletic at a premium position.. So I was a bit disappointed when the Yanks passed and took a C with the 2nd pick, while the Red Sox took him later that round… :(

  29. [...] 2009 Draft Yankees Recap / Yankees hoping A-Rod starts acting like old self [...]

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