Mar
03

2010 Draft: A Pair Of First Round Arms

By

The Yankees don’t kick off their exhibition schedule until this afternoon, but meaningful baseball has been played across the country for weeks. The college baseball season started in mid-February, and high school ball in warm weather states has begun as well. The Yanks’ scouting department doesn’t get the luxury of Spring Training, they need to be in mid-season form right out of the gate.

As I’ve already explained, the Yankees didn’t gain or forfeit any picks this year because of draft pick compensation, and their first choice comes in at number 32 overall. That pick will be their first in an effort to rebuild the farm system that has thinned out as the result of trades, graduation, and attrition, so they better make it count.

I figured I would kick off this year’s draft coverage by highlighting two personal faves of mine, a pair of power college arms.

James Paxton, LHP, No School
The name probably rings a bell for more than one reason. Paxton was Toronto’s sandwich round pick last year, though they weren’t able sign him and he returned to Kentucky. Well, he was going to return to Kentucky, except the NCAA wouldn’t let him. I’m not interested in explaining the whole story, but essentially the NCAA found out Paxton had someone negotiate with the Jays on his behalf, which is a no-no. The two sides were in court for months as Paxton tried to get his eligibility restored, and he ultimately decided to drop out of school when it became apparent the NCAA was trying to make an example out of him.

So now the 21-year-old Paxton will have to show off his stuff in an independent league this spring instead of fronting the Wildcats’ rotation. He’s a pure power arm from the left side, using all of his 6-foot-4, 220 lb frame to generate fastballs typically in the 93-95 range, though he’s flirted with 98. Paxton’s second pitch is a hard curveball that’s a true strikeout pitch, and his changeup is no worse than average. His stuff plays up because of strong control and command (just 61 walks in 148.1 IP at UK).

Even though his delivery is simple and his arm action is clean, Paxton dealt with elbow tightness in high school (he was raised just outside of Vancouver, so he’s a hoser) plus some minor back and knee trouble in college. Thankfully those were all one-time incidents. After going 37th overall last year, Paxton might end up going as high as in the top ten this year. If he’s around when the Yanks’ first pick comes up, they’d be wise to grab him.

Photo Credit: Canadian Press

Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas
One of the best high school arms in the country back in 2007, the Phillies wouldn’t meet Workman’s demands of first round money when they took him in the third round. So he ended up going to school, making the Longhorns’ standout pitching staff that much better. Workman made a name for himself by no-hitting my Nittany Lions last March, and he’s posted a 131-48 K/BB ratio in 128.1 IP during his first two years on campus. He has a 13-4 K/BB ratio in 11 IP during his two starts this season.

Another big guy like Paxton, Workman stands 6-foot-5 and packs 220 lbs. onto his frame, and his repertoire is all power. His fastball legitimately sits in the mid-90′s, and he’s run it as high as 97. An over-the-top curveball is Workman’s second pitch, and he’s messed around with everything from a slider to a splitter to a changeup as his third pitch. Although his delivery was extremely violent coming out of high school, Workman’s worked hard and has done a good job of smoothing it out.

Right now he’s projected to go somewhere in the back half of the first round, but if Workman’s bonus demands are similar to what they were three years ago, then he might slip a little further. It’s a surefire first round arm, possibility even a top ten arm, but these things never go according to plan. In a system lacking high upside pitchers, Workman would be a breath of fresh air.

* * *

Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has shown that he prefers polished pitchers, which would give Paxton the edge over Workman. Either way, the Yanks’ system is short on power starting pitchers at the moment, so nabbing one of these two guys would go a long way toward correcting that.

Categories : Draft

77 Comments»

  1. Workman’s got himself a great name, too. It’s no Stoneburner, but it’s up there.

  2. Bo says:

    Oppenheimer and Co need a really good draft here because the last few have been train wrecks.

    • Steve H says:

      It’s generally too early to judge any draft after just a year or two, and you do have to take into consideration that they have CC/Tex/Burnett on the big league club, which cost them draft picks and gave them less margin for error in the draft. It’s a good tradeoff if you ask me.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I think last year’s draft is a lot better than people realize. Two premium up-the-middle bats in Heathcott and Murphy, plus some serious power arms in Stoneburner and Cotham, plus Warren. And Bryan Mitchell might be the bet high school pitcher they’ve signed since Phil Hughes.

      • crawdaddie says:

        Some people don’t know much if they think the Yankees didn’t have a good draft last year.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        ’07 and ’08 do look a bit weak thus far.

        Of course, anything is going to look weak next to ’06, and there’s still plenty of time for guys from those drafts to put it together.

    • Stryker says:

      fine, i’ll take the bait.

      it’s very hard to tell right now if the last few drafts have been “train wrecks”. yes it’s true 2008 didn’t exactly go as we all would have liked, but it’s not like the yankees didn’t draft a lot of talented guys. it just takes a while to see how they develop.

      • And really, not signing Gerrit Cole sucks, but 2008 still gave us:

        Bleich
        David Adams
        CoJo Multipass
        Brett Marshall
        Higashioka
        D.J. Mitchell
        David Phelps
        Nik Turley

        That’s also not a “trainwreck”. Those are decent young prospects.

        And Cole/Bittle turned into Heathcott/Murphy. That can’t be ignored. If not for those 2008 picks that didn’t sign, the 2009 class is much thinner.

    • I fail to see how getting Heathcott/Murphy/Warren/Cotham/Lyerly/Black/Elam/Brooks/Medchill/Gerritse/Mack/Stoneburner/Greene/Mitchell/Thompson/etc. qualifies as a “train wreck”.

      Does it suck that Gerritt Cole didn’t sign? Yeah. Is it fair to call the past two drafts “trainwrecks”? No, not really. That’s an overreaction.

    • kevin davis says:

      Bo, Its obvious you don’t follow the Yankee minor league system. Mike, why would you draft pitchers with your top choices when the Yanks are already deep in Pitching. How about drafting a shortstop with the top pick. Get somebody ready to replace Jeter in 3 or 4 years. Shortstop seems to be the weakest position in the Yankees system, lets draft two!

  3. Steve H says:

    Why did Paxton slip to 37th last year, signability concerns? A lefty with that size, velocity and control? Sounds like he should have been higher last year.

  4. Is Jesse Hahn another possibility at #32? He’s also a big, polished college starter; has some Cape Cod action, which is always a plus for us.

    Also: Kyle Blair?

    Thoughts?

    • Corey says:

      Blair is projected to go a higher than 32, and he has looked very impressive in his first two starts. He needs to keep the walks down, but his 19 Ks in 10.1 innings and Opponents Batting Average of .189 is outstanding. Plus from what I’ve heard, he’s a great competitor on the mound and he works out of jams incredibly well. And his slider has been said to be the best in amateur baseball. If the Yankees could pick him up at 32 that’d be a steal!

  5. Chip says:

    I’d love to know what kind of DES guys we could get at that spot. That’s where the talent is at that point

  6. Jack says:

    I thought the Andy Oliver thing took care of the “no agents” rule?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      No, the NCAA appealed, or something like that. So they can still harass their players. They’re only hurting themselves by pushing away top players who won’t want to deal with any potential nonsense.

      • Jack says:

        God, is there any organization that blows more than the NCAA?

      • I really don’t like the way the NCAA treats these situations. Kids shouldn’t get punished for negotiating with a team, the NCAA should want to keep kids in school. They set up strange incentives by acting in this manner – kids can either put themselves at a disadvantage by not hiring a representative to negotiate for them so that they keep the option of returning to school, or they can decide to hire a negotiator, put themselves at a disadvantage because they eliminate some leverage since the teams know they can’t go back to school, and be guaranteed to not return to school no matter what. If the point is to keep kids in school (a noble goal), they should allow these kids to hire reps for the sole purpose of negotiating with their drafting team and allow them to come back to school if they don’t come to an agreement with such team (at which point the professional relationship with any such representative should terminate). What they shouldn’t do is what they do now – create a system that guarantees that some kids will not return to school even if they want to.

        • Here’s how it should be handled:

          You’re an amateur athlete (and thus retain your eligibility) until you actually sign a contract to receive some sort of financial compensation for your athletic talent or status.

          Hiring an agent or an advisor doesn’t make you a professional athlete. Signing with a team or inking an endorsment deal makes you a professional athlete.

          Simple and straightforward.

          • Steve H says:

            Exactly. What if your father is an agent, or a friend of the family is an agent, are you allowed to discuss your future with them?

            Once money is exchanged, you’re a Pro.

          • That works for me. If a kid wants to hire a rep, that really shouldn’t make him ineligible. They kind of do it backwards, you’re right… If the kid is getting paid, he should be ineligible, but if he’s paying someone else, he shouldn’t be.

            I just figure they have some reason to not want these kids to hire reps, maybe it opens doors to shenanigans that they don’t want to deal with. If that’s the case, if there’s some valid reason to not want them to hire reps, I say let them hire reps for one specific purpose: to negotiate with a drafting team (and don’t allow that rep to do anything else for the kid). Then, let the kid terminate that relationship if he wants to come back to school. Everyone’s purposes are served, and no kids get shut out of school if they want to go back.

  7. Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

    so you’re saying there is a large possibility workman could fall to the yanks?

  8. Rose says:

    A pitcher with the name “Workman”?

    That’s like an ice cream man being named cone!!

    /Kramer’d

  9. Christos says:

    Wow it really is draft season. ESPN won’t shut up about the combine, the Nets are making a run for the top pick and now this.

  10. JohnC says:

    As far as positon players, H.S. OF Josh Sale would be an excellent pick if he slips to us. Also, a couple of Shortstops, Manny Machado and Yordy Cabrera.

  11. T-Dubs says:

    Mike, I’m curious of your take on Harper. While we’re on the subject of the draft, I’ve heard so many varying opinions.

    I think that SI article wet everyone’s appetites hearing him rave about YS and throwing out his own Ruth comparisons but that seems like ages ago at this point.

    Here’s the link if anyone hasn’t seen it: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c...../index.htm

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Best high school player since The Justin Upton, and it’s not even close. He has more power than TJU, but he’ll probably hit for less average. Cannon arm, but he might outgrow catcher. If he does, he’s a RFer.

      Easily the best player in this draft, though he’s not as much of a standout as Strasburg was.

  12. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    The Yankees should just negotiate a deal with Hugo Chavez, Leonel Fernandez and the Castro Brothers to have first right of refusal to any of their countryman, and blow off all American players.

  13. lordbyron says:

    Mike,

    Just curious – have you actually seen any of the prospects mentioned in both your article and comments in person?

  14. [...] few weeks ago I highlighted Texas starter Brandon Workman as a player the Yankees could target in June’s amateur draft, and now we get an updated look [...]

  15. dan says:

    can the yankees draft kyle richter out of san margarita high school
    in 2010 draft

  16. dan says:

    if he’s available the yankees should take kyle richter out of san margarita high school. His mechanics are great. He gets tremendous followthrough when he throws the ball. But I’m not optimistic that he’ll be available. If he is available in the first round yankees are screwed if they don’t take him!

  17. [...] three weeks to show off his stuff to scouts before the draft in June.  I mentioned Paxton as a player the Yanks could target with their first round pick a few weeks [...]

  18. [...] first choice, #32 overall. JuCo outfielder LeVon Washington comes in at #31, Indy league southpaw James Paxton is right behind him at #33, and California prep righty Peter Tago behind him at #35. Virginia [...]

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