2010 Draft: Priority Signs


Now that the actual draft is over, all of our attention turns to the August 16th signing deadline (the 15th falls on a Sunday this year, so the league pushed the deadline back a day). As we already know, the Yankees selected several “signability” types in the later rounds of the draft, players that fell not because of talent, but because their willingness to sign came into question. The team drafted some of these players with every intention of paying of them, others were chosen as backup plays should the higher picks reverse course and decide not to sign, Gerrit Cole style.

It’s hard to say which of these players are the most important signs, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. I’m leaving first rounder Cito Culver and second rounder Angelo Gumbs out for three reasons. One, and probably most importantly, they’re not big overslot guys. Two, I assume the Yanks have the intention of paying them if they were willing to use such I high draft pick on them. Three, those picks are protected, so if even if they don’t sign, the Yanks will receive the same pick plus one next year. Granted, the player now is worth more than the pick next year, but at least there’s some kind of fallback option.

Teams typically sign 30-35 of the 50 or so players they draft each year, so it’s inevitable that some talent will walk away. Knowing which ones to let what is what’s important. You’re inevitably going to disagree with me on this list, and I encourage that. I’ve never tried to do anything like this, and frankly rating players based on how important it is to sign them is a bit … odd. On to the list…

1. Kevin Jordan, OF, 19th round
Perhaps the best prospect the Yankees drafted this year, Jordan is a special athlete with good bloodlines and the raw tools to be an above average player on both sides of the ball. He fell in the draft for a few reasons, but mostly because he battled a flu-like illness in the spring that cost him some weight off his already lanky 6-foot-0, 190 lb. frame and prevented him from played at 100% in front of scouts. Jordan has a strong commitment to Wake Forest, where he’d play centerfield every day as a freshman.

It may not been a matter of simple money here, because Jordan’s father Brian had a long and productive big league career that netted him more than $51M in earnings (according to B-Ref). The Yanks are not only going to have to pay him handsomely, but also sell him on the idea of being a Yankee. Not always as easy as it sounds.

2. Tayler Morton, RHP, 9th round
The Yankees shoot for the moon with high upside athletes in this draft, but they also backed that strategy up by grabbing power arms in the later rounds. Morton has a big and projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., and he’s already shown flashes of sitting at 93-95 mph with his fastball in the past. He also throws a very good changeup and a developing curveball, so the tools are there for him to become a big league starter. Committed to Tennessee, there’s a chance Morton could instead opt for the JuCo ranks and re-enter the draft next year after dominating the circuit.

3. Rob Segedin, 3B/OF, 3rd round
One of the very few established college bats the Yankees drafted, Segedin has a low maintainence swing geared for hard contact  from the right side. His position is a little up in the air, though he has the tools to stay at the hot corner but may profile better in a corner outfield spot. Segedin’s draft stock dropped because of an old back injury and his added leverage as a draft eligible sophomore. The Yankees lack polished, impact bats in the low minors, so the current Tulane Wave would be a welcome addition to the farm system.

If the Yankees are unable to sign Segedin, they would receive a supplemental third round pick as compensation, which would come between the third and fourth rounds.

4. Gabe Encinas, RHP, 6th round
Like Morton, Encinas is a classic projectable high schooler at 6-foot-4, 190 lbs. with a low-90′s heater, but he has a feel for changing speeds and setting hitters up. His appeal lies in his simple delivery and clean mechanics, plus his polish and advanced feel for his craft. Encinas is committed to Loyola Marymount, which has proven to be a tough school to buy kids away from in the past. He’s better than a sixth round talent, so it would be a nice coup if the Yanks were able to add an arm like Encinas to the system.

5. Mason Williams, OF, 4th round
The Yankees drafted many raw, toolsy athletic types this year, and Williams embodies that demographic. He’s a 6-foot-1, 160 lb. fast-twitch athlete with a sound swing and top of the line defensive abilities in center. Power will never be part of his game, so he’s more of a four-tool guy than a true five-tooler. Williams is committed to South Carolina and is reportedly seeking $2M to skip out on school, which is top ten money. Williams isn’t a top ten talent, but he is a damn good one. The Yankees have overpaid for a fourth rounder before, and I’m sure they’d be willing to do it again if they like the player enough.

My gut feeling is that the Yankees will sign one of Williams or Jordan, but not both.

6. Evan Rutckyj, LHP, 16th round
Big lefthanders are always a hot commodity, especially when they’re young and have started to refine their mechanics and smooth out their delivery. Rutckyj (pronounced root-ski) stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 210 lbs., and he already sits in the low-90′s with a fringy breaking ball. He’s a project, no doubt about it, but a project with enormous upside if it all comes together. He recently signed on with St. Petersburg College in Florida, a junior college that will allow him to re-enter the draft in each of the next two years. Reports indicate that Rutckyj is seeking first round money to sign despite being a consensus fourth or so round talent this spring.

7. Martin Viramontes, RHP, 27th round
An all talent, no results pick, Viramontes flashes premium arm strength (peaking at 96 mph) with a power curveball and a split-change hybrid, but he’s inconsistent with his mechanics and often doesn’t achieve the desired result. A Scott Boras client, Viramontes is a little old for a project, but it’s worth a shot with this kind of electric arm.

8. Kevin Jacob, RHP, 18th round
Another Boras client, Jacob is more refined than Viramontes but still has work to do. His delivery is unorthodox but extremely deceptive, as he leans all the way back and nearly touches the ground with the ball before moving his 6-foot-6, 225 lb. body towards the plate. Jacob’s fastball sits in the mid-90′s and has touched 98 in the past, and his slider is a legit put away pitch in the upper-80′s. A college reliever at a big time program in Georgia Tech, he’d fill the same role as a pro and be expected to move quickly.

9. Dan Burawa, RHP, 12th round
Similar to Jacob, Burawa is a power college reliever with unorthodox mechanics. He’s not quite as big at 6-foot-3, 190 lbs., but he’ll sit in the mid-90′s with an average breaking ball and the makings of a changeup. Burawa has a limited track record at St. John’s and teams will always be cautious of a guy with a nontraditional delivery, but different doesn’t always mean bad. Another long-term reliever, Burawa should move quickly.

10. Tommy Kahnle, RHP, 5th round
I feel like I should have just lumped Jacob, Burawa, and Kahnle all together as one player, Jacurawahnle, or something like that. Kahnle is another power armed reliever that sits in the mid-90′s and has flirted with 97, also offering a changeup and a slurvy breaking ball. Command and keeping his big and intimidating 6-foot-0, 220 lb. body in check isn’t always easy, but Kahnle has a track record of chewing up wood bats. He’s at Division II Lynn University, and will be the easiest sign of the four college arms at the back of my list.

One other player to keep in mind is tenth rounder Ben Gamel, the younger brother of Brewers’ prospect Mat Gamel. Like his brother, Ben is all bat, with a pure swing that gets some loft on the ball, but his fringy tools limit his value outside of the batter’s box. If you can hit you can hit, there will always be a place for you somewhere, but the game is rapidly gravitating away from the one-dimensional slugger in favor of player who can contribute more than just offensive. Mat was a good but not great prospect out of high school, but went to college and saw his stock soar. Ben could do the exact same thing in Florida State’s hitter friend park, which might be too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Categories : Draft


  1. My gut feeling is that the Yankees will sign one of Williams or Jordan, but not both.

    And of the two, Jordan’s probably the one we should pick. He seems like the better bet to rise to the mid-first round (and out of our draft reach, like Cole) if he goes to school and reenters the draft a few years from now, meaning we should jump on this opportunity to get him in our system because we probably won’t have another. His power potential is the tiebreaker over Mason Williams.

    Of course, that also means his price tag will be higher, methinks. You’re going to have to sell him on taking 2M now instead of going to school and coming out and taking 3-4M later. I’d hope we could sell his family on the lure of being a Yankee prospect; his dad made a lot of money but didn’t win a ring in either sport.

  2. I feel like I should have just lumped Jacob, Burawa, and Kahnle all together as one player, Jacurawahnle, or something like that.


  3. Mat was a good but not great prospect out of high school, but went to college and saw his stock soar. Ben could do the exact same thing in Florida State’s hitter friend park, which might be too good of an opportunity to pass up.

    The downside to that idea for Ben — He’d have to wear this:
    http://www.genedeckerhoff.com/.....6-3-27.jpg (safe)

  4. poster says:

    I hope the Yankees get that Jordan kid signed. I’m most intrigued by the fact that he’s a CF. That’s a premium position.

  5. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Hopefully the Yankees can sign enough of these arms that we can clean out the scrapings of a bullpen that’s in Charleston.

  6. JohnC says:

    It’s gonna be a long wait til the August 15 deadline to see who they get signed and who they don’t.

  7. RollingWave says:

    How did Brian Jordan have such a long career anyway? for a guy who played to 39 he sure didn’t have much of a peak. and several horrific and / or injury filled season were inserted into his “peak”

    • Sure, but a .291/.343/.471/.814 (110+) from 1993-2003, that’s not too shabby. Dude has a 33.5 career WAR, which ties him with Juan Gonzalez (no, seriously) at #383 all time.

      That’s higher than Ken Caminiti, Bobby Murcer, Bobby Bonilla, Ken Griffey Sr., Mickey Rivers, Don Baylor, Willie McGee, Mike Lowell, Greg Luzinski, Elston Howard, etc.

      • Thomas says:

        Two more things that helped Jordan’s fame/recognition:
        1. He played for good marquee teams in Atlanta, the Dodgers, and St. Louis; he didn’t toil away in KC or Pitt.
        2. His biggest weakness was that he didn’t get on base, which during the majority of his career was valued as it is today. Thus, at the time, people thought he was better than he was since he put up good average and power number.

        These are in addition to being a good player.

    • Sleepykarl says:

      Two sport stars always have added notoriety.

  8. Johnny O says:

    There’s no way Jordan signs, so let’s just move on. He’d be selling himself way low, and in his family’s economic position there’s no reason he should do that.

    While Culver signing is expected, I’d personally like to see him signed ASAP and get some time in the rookie league. You can add him to the “priority sign by July 1″ list. Gumbs too would be great. That would make DoTF really fun this summer.

    • There’s no way Jordan signs, so let’s just move on. He’d be selling himself way low, and in his family’s economic position there’s no reason he should do that.

      Think of it this way, though: Would you rather have a 2M signing bonus and become a Yankee farmhand, or a 4M signing bonus and become a Houston Astros or Pittsburgh Pirates or a Kansas City Royals farmhand?

      Now, imagine that your dad had 25M chillin’ in the bank, and he could literally give you the 2M difference if you asked for it. Would your answer change? He has the financial security to turn down a smaller payday now for a bigger one later, but he also has the financial security to do the opposite, turn down a bigger payday later for a smaller but more desirable payday now. It works both ways.

      • vin says:

        Eh… I’d have to consider the likelihood of me cracking the team’s major league roster. It’s much easier to get called up and get meaningful ABs with the Royals/Pirates/etc than the Yanks.

        Just look at AJax. He probably wouldn’t have made the Yankees out of ST. Then he gets dealt and is the opening day CFer and lead-off man for the Tigers (a very decent organization).

      • Rick in Boston says:

        Do we know how Brian Jordan’s doing financially? I mean, the guy could’ve lost a boat load of money doing stupid things.

      • Reggie C. says:

        That’s one heck of a graduation present Culver’s gonna get.

      • Captain Jack says:

        What’s the status on Jordan’s grades and test scores? I recall going through this line of thinking with Austin Wilson, I basically came to the conclusion that since he’s basically a genius and has loaded parents college will always be waiting for him. Baseball, on the other hand, won’t. Things can happen to his body, and if it’s his dream to play professional baseball it’s really in his best interest to sign, but also to use the leverage of Stanford and his parents’ wealth to his advantage in the negotiating process…gots to make as much money as you can in this country.

        However, the same may not be true for Kevin Jordan. I’m not saying he’s a dumb athlete or anything, just sayin…should be unable to play baseball I’m unsure Wake Forest will be there waiting for him.

    • Amol says:

      Culver is, according to Jack Curry, prohibited from signing till he graduates this weekend. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if we get an announcement on Monday.

      As for Jordan, I wouldn’t be so sure. There’s no way to tell whether he’d be selling himself low without knowing what the Yankees might be offering. I could see him signing for second round money, and maybe even less if he’s worried about what the next CBA will do to bonuses in the future.

      • vin says:

        Good point. The prospect of the next CBA may definitely help a team like the Yanks sign guys like Jordan.

        It’s a pretty tough conundrum.

        Take guaranteed, but potentially less money now, and get professional coaching for the next few years.


        Take the risk, possibly get more money later. Get nonprofessional coaching/training in the meantime. And get a head start on a college degree to boot.

      • I could see him signing for second round money, and maybe even less if he’s worried about what the next CBA will do to bonuses in the future.

        That’s an important factor as well. Not only is Kevin Jordan’s dad a former pro baseball and football player, if memory serves, he was a union player representative for a while during the latter half of his career. He knows enough of the business aspects of the game to possibly advise his son to take the money now rather than risk the the money evaporating if a hard-slotting system is part of the new CBA.

        • Johnny O says:

          Very good point about the CBA, and his dad understanding it more than most. Still, we’re all assuming the Yanks offer him $2M. Not sure I see Cash handing out that much cash.

          I’d say 35% chance he signs, based on unnamed sources.


    • A.D. says:

      The flip side of it is that his family’s econ position also allows for him to have some leeway and time to go to college if baseball doesn’t work out, as he won’t have to worry about immediately making a living. However getting a jump start to his baseball career (likely his first choice) isn’t something the family can buy.

    • I’m not sure why “so-and-so’s family has money so he won’t sign” has become a talking point. I blame Bill Madden.

      If he “doesn’t need the money” why does that automatically make him more likely to go to a college program, something most people to do get more money?

      • rbizzler says:

        Because his family might not view becoming a professional athlete as something that is necessary to ensure their child’s financial security. Jordan has the luxury of going to college, working towards a degree and reassessing his position in three years.

        • Right but teams do their best to compel kids by saying “we’ll pay for college if this doesn’t work out, don’t worry”. It’s not a black and white thing.

          There are really rare cases like Pedro Alvarez but hey, he also got more money by going to Vandy on top of getting his degree.

  9. Reggie C. says:

    I saw Mason Williams listed at 5’10″. Are you sure he’s 6’1′? The added 3 inches gives the kid more power projectability as his weight rises thru training.

  10. Jacob says:

    For whatever its worth, I heard a radio interview with Todd Raleigh (Tennessee’s baseball coach) and he raved about Tayler Morton’s potential for a good 5 minutes.

  11. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Ugh I wish there was an all of the above selection with these guys. I love the upside of the picks. I’m still trying to warm up to Culver but the rest of the draft was great.

  12. pat says:

    I would add TSJC fav John Dezse to this list too. kid is 6’5″ sitting 91-92 with the fb and has touched 96. Apparently he has gigantic hands and the org has told him he’ll be learning a splitter to augment his 4 seamer. He’s only been pitching for two years so he has a lot of polishing to do.

  13. Captain Jack says:

    Granted, the player now is worth more than the pick next year, but at least there’s some kind of fallback option.

    Ehhh…I slightly disagree. Next year’s draft features Cole, Gray, Jungmann, Rendon, and Hultzen. That’s a pretty impressive top five…which effectively pushes the top signability HS guys back further to teams that may not want to go that far overslot on a high schooler. Better draft class next year, I’m sure with a first next year the Yankees could find a better player than Cito Culver (nothing against the guy). Also lost in the scuttlebutt about the offseason signings of the Carl Crawford/Cliff Lee group is that the Yankees won’t get a draft pick in one of the most stacked draft classes in recent memory (at least that’s what the Goldsteins/Keith Laws/BAs of the world tell me).

    Slightly off topic, but knowing this this may increase the Yankees needs/wants to trade for Cliff Lee if they plan on acquiring him.

    • Angelo says:

      The Yankees wouldn’t trade away their best prospects for half a year of Lee and then attempt to lock him for another 4-5 years with that. That means they would pay money and prospects, and we all know the Yankees aren’t the most reluctant team to do that.

      Even if they are going to get some guy in a loaded draft class, it’s not worth giving up Montero, Romine, ManBan, J-Ram, etc.

  14. Captain Jack says:

    How does Evan Rutckyj compare to Rex Brothers?

  15. DJH says:

    Axisa I was curious about what Jordan’s real size is because you said: “he battled a flu-like illness in the spring that cost him some weight off his already lanky 6-foot-0, 190 lb. frame”. Now im just curious because 6 ft, 190 lb doesn’t sound that lanky to me and I was wondering if that his height was a typo because when talking about Taylor Morton you said: “Morton has a big and projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 190 lbs”.

    Now I understand there’s more projection when someone is taller but when talking in the present Jordan is actually the bigger and stronger one as someone 6-ft-3, 190 lbs is actually a lot more lanky then someone 6 foot even and 190 lbs.

  16. dan says:

    what are the odds josh dezche gets signed? Travis Dean? is there any high school video of these guys throws that someone can post on this site?

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