2011 Draft: Baseball America’s Early Top 50 Prospects


Now that Felipe Lopez has signed a minor league contract with the Rays, the 2011 Draft Order is finally set. As you know, the Yankees surrendered their first round pick to sign an all-important eighth inning reliever, so their first selection is number 51 overall. You can thank Javy Vazquez for that one. After that they pick 88th, 118th, 149th, then every 30 picks thereafter.

The upcoming draft class is the best in a long, long time, loaded with high-end college talent. Baseball America’s early look at the top 50 draft prospects (subs. req’d) has Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon as the top talent, followed by former Yankees’ first rounder Gerrit Cole. “[Cole had the] best pure stuff in 2008 draft and has best pure stuff this time around,” said Jim Callis. In most years, Rendon, Cole, TCU LHP Matt Purke (ranked third), UConn OF George Springer (fourth), and Vanderbilt RHP Sonny Gray (fifth) would be favored to go first overall, plus UConn RHP Matt Barnes (eighth) showed first overall stuff last summer with Team USA. None of these guys will fall to the Yankees at 51, so they’re going to have to hope one of the late-first round guys, a 25-35 kind of talent, is still around when they pick.

Categories : Asides, Draft


  1. S says:


    (shakes fist in air like Stephen Colbert)


  2. Trevor says:

    Cashman has to go.

  3. adam bauer says:

    I went to high school with george springer… I didn’t know he was that good.

  4. Jimmy says:

    I’ve been hearing about this collossal draft for a couple years, but I’ve never heard it explained what exactly makes this draft so historical. Is it that there are 5-10 future HoF’ers in the class then followed by the normal distribution of talent, in which case the impact down at 51 is that the Yankees just miss out on 5-10 future HoF’ers they would have missed out on anyway. Or is the entire distribution just so much better this year in which case the Yankees miss out on say 30-40 guys who would be top 10 in any other year? The first scenario would be more realistic, no?

    • Rick in Boston says:

      It’s a draft where we could have guys who are normally #1 overall picks sliding into the teens based on other available talent – not bonus demands. The Yankees should still be able to get an “average” Top-30 talent at 51 (average being a normal Top 30 pick).

  5. crawdaddie says:

    A lot of the top 50 are college players which means some high school kid might come on and be there for the Yankees to take at 50.

  6. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Every single one of the guys mentioned will be available at #31, but then all be gone by #51.

    Damn you Levine, DAMN YOU TO CLEVELAND.

  7. mike c says:

    Soriano is worth giving up the pick

    • Steve in PDX says:

      Please explain.

      • mike c says:

        A late first round pick doesn’t help the Yankees win this year plus baseball draft picks are a crapshoot anyway. Plus the Yankees have the money to sign any free agent or international prospect they wish, but I understand that some people want a reason to whine & complain so don’t let me ruin the fun

        • ROBTEN says:

          The Yankees already had a good enough bullpen to win this year before Soriano, but keeping the higher draft pick had more potential to lead to winning this year and winning in future years. It is even worse with Soriano’s likelihood of opting out at some point (if not after the first year) factored in. He has the Yankees over the proverbial barrel (if he pitches well, he opts out; if he doesn’t, the Yankees are stuck with him at an exorbitant cost relative to his value).

          • Chris says:

            The contract is a different matter, but the draft pick by itself is worth significantly less than Soriano.

            • ROBTEN says:

              I don’t think the contract is separate. In an ideal sense, yes a known commodity such as Soriano would be worth more than a draft pick. However, in evaluating the decision to sign Soriano and give up the pick, one has to factor in non-ideal issues such as team need–i.e. is the value of Soriano such that it was worth signing him to what are essentially multiple one-year contracts over having a higher pick in this year’s draft?

              I am suggesting that the pen was not the most glaring need, and was not worth giving up a draft pick, especially given the young arms that the team could have used to fill the 60-70 innings that Soriano will likely be used, but at a much lower cost and at relatively the same wins-value that Soriano will provide.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                A. You are not properly valuing a draft pick. You talk about it like it’s a 1st rounder in the NFL draft. It’s not.

                B. You’re ignoring that if Soriano leaves as a Type A you get not 1, but 2 picks in return. As a type A he could easily net them a higher pick than #31.

                • ROBTEN says:

                  A. I understand that it is not like the NFL. But, I am also of the mind that it doesn’t make sense to give up a first-round pick for a reliever that is essentially signed for one season, even if that person is “guaranteed” to be a shut-down reliever. I think that the discussion is, in part, a difference of bullpen philosophies and how important Soriano will actually be in terms of win-values next year (as opposed to the bullpen construction last season). In other words, I’m not saying draft picks are always worth saving, I’m suggesting that it’s not worth it for a reliever, especially in what is described as a “loaded” draft year.

                  B. I think this is the more pertinent point and a good one to introduce into the discussion, as Soriano could potentially turn into two draft picks in the future. In this context, however, there’s also the fact that the CBA runs out next year and one of the targeted changes is how relievers are valued on the type A/B scale. So, we can’t say for certain whether or not Soriano opting out would result in either a type A or B. Under the current system, yes. But it seems like that might change.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    “I’m suggesting that it’s not worth it for a reliever, especially in what is described as a “loaded” draft year.” “even if that person is “guaranteed” to be a shut-down reliever”

                    Disagree there. The difference between Soriano and the Romulo Sanchez-type he’s replacing should be pretty big.

                    “So, we can’t say for certain whether or not Soriano opting out would result in either a type A or B. Under the current system, yes. But it seems like that might change.”

                    Who knows, but I don’t know that there will be a radical change. If there is the Yankees may just as well benefit by being able to go out and sign top relievers without giving up a pick.

                    • Mister Delaware says:

                      Its a cascade effect, its not like Sanchez would be a high leverage, 75 IP guy if Soriano weren’t signed. Making it appear as an either/or with him and Soriano is a bit disingenuous.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      I agree that a straight Sanchez-Soriano swap is not totally accurate, but I think the cascade will create similar results ultimately. With the Yankees’ line-up (and starting rotation) I think there will be enough relief innings in winnable games for 4 righties and 2 LOOGYs. I don’t see diminishing returns to the extent some people seem to, but I also haven’t bothered to quantify it.

          • Jess says:

            Unless you think Rivera is immortal at at age 41, can pitch almost every day. What if he is out for a month or two? How does that bullpen look then?

            The 31st draft pick almost never amounts to anything. The best player drafted there in 45 years was Greg Maddux. The second best player was Jarrod Washburn. The majority of players drafted 31 never made the majors. Something Mike Axisa doesn’t quite get.

            But I enjoyed his whining about Soriano. Although I imagine most got sick of it long ago.

            • Craig says:

              What about the players after the 31st pick? Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, Troy Glaus and David Wright were all drafted after No. 31. Not necessarily saying that the Yankees would be able to draft the next version of those players, but I would have liked to keep the pick.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “It is even worse with Soriano’s likelihood of opting out at some point (if not after the first year) factored in.”

            You can’t say both that you’re upset about the pick and that you’re upset Soriano might opt out. If Soriano opts out the chances are REALLY high that he’s a Type A or B free agent and the Yankees are recouping the pick or doubling it. Can’t have it both ways. Either you’re upset about the pick or you’re upset about the opt outs.

            “keeping the higher draft pick had more potential to lead to winning this year and winning in future years.”

            You realize a late 1st round pick has about a 10-20% chance of ever making a positive impact in the majors? Or that you can often pay over slot to get 1st round talent later in the draft?

            • Mister Delaware says:

              “Or that you can often pay over slot to get 1st round talent later in the draft?”

              What about the lost opportunity of a talent (Cole-esque) who is falling out of a deep pool due to demands? Much better chance of stopping that fall at 31 than at 51.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                What about your own example, Cole, not signing?

                There are a lot of factors to consider, but I just think after considering all the factors I know of the loss of one draft pick is marginal at best. If Cashman is really upset about it he should use it to convince ownership to shell out for an extra high-profile IFA.

    • All Praise Be To Mo says:

      In a vacuum yes, but with that contract as well, no he is not.

    • Adam B says:

      I’m gonna wait on that one, if he has a great year and opts out then we could get the pick back.

      • Thomas says:

        Soriano could sign with a team with a protected pick and the Yankees could get a pick in the 50s. Also, even if he signs with a non-protected pick team the players available could be far inferior in the 2012 draft than what would be available at 31 in the 2011 draft.

        Even if they get the pick back next year, it will likely be a less valuable pick.

        • Adam Bauer says:

          again, I’m gonna wait on that one.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Even if that’s the case–and it’s just a scenario you pulled out of your ass so there’s no guarantee it is–you get not one but two less valuable picks. I’ll take 2 shots in the 50s over 1 shot in the 30s. This draft being so much more amazing than any draft since 1965 is pretty likely to be an exaggeration anyway.

      • Chris says:

        Over the last 5 seasons, Soriano has averaged 1.6 bWAR per year. Of all 31st overall picks (46 total) only 4 have put up more than 1.6 bWAR in their careers. The highest total is Maddux at 96.9 and then Washburn at 26.1. The other two are JP Howell (3.6) and Kirt Manwaring (4.6). And the Yankees are likely to get the pick back next year – assuming he opts out.

        So, just looking at the draft pick, Soriano is much more valuable than the pick. Of course, the contract is a different story.

        • The Fallen Phoenix says:

          On the other hand, first-round picks get included in deals that bring back players worth more than 1.6 bWAR all the time.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            So do guys signed out of the Dominican or Venezuela. So do 2nd-75th rounders. So do the pick(s) the Yankees get if Soriano leaves as a Type A or B.

            Also, for a guy picked #31 to be the linchpin of a deal for someone better than Soriano–i.e. it’s not primarily a salary dump where they’re just taking a shot on any 19 year old in A ball like CJ Henry for Abreu–he has to have proven himself in the minors. A higher percentage of guys will have had minor league success than made the majors, but every first round pick doesn’t do well enough in the minors to make themselves a trade asset. I don’t know the %.

  8. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    So long as the Rays or Red Sox don’t get Cole, I can live with it.

  9. Of course my subscription to BA runs out the day this list comes out. And I was annoyed that there wasn’t enough updates.

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