2011 Draft Review: Part One

The Alfredo Aceves Mistake
The RAB Radio Show: June 9, 2011

It was a tale of two drafts for the Yankees. They started it off with a curious pick, taking Dante Bichette Jr. with the 51st overall selection after rumors swirled about their interest in several high-priced players that were still on the board at the time. What happened after that was a bit out of the norm. Day Two (rounds 2-30) and Day Three (31-50) had entirely different feels and apparent philosophies, so it doesn’t make sense to lump them into one recap. This is the first of two parts, the second will be along a little later.

Fourth round pick Matt Duran. (Photo Credit: Vincent DiSalvio, The Journal News)

Day Two: Power & Size

Let’s rewind to early-March, when John Sickels of Minor League Ball interviewed Yankees’ VP of baseball ops Mark Newman…

SICKELS: What about your weaknesses?

NEWMAN: Corner players with power. We have (Brandon) Laird who is a solid prospect, but we are thin for corner bats otherwise in the system. We always try to take the best players available in the draft and on the international market, and doing that can result in positional imbalance. We’re aware of it, but we would rather get as many high-end athletes as we can and worry about the rest of it later. In a perfect world you get both, of course, high-end guys who fill up the slots you need to fill.

It was pretty obvious during the first 30 rounds of the draft that the Yankees were trying to address that lack of corner power bats, just like they tried to address the lack of up-the-middle athletes in 2010. In addition to Bichette, the Yankees also took high school power hitters in first/third baseman (and local kid!) Matt Duran (4th round) and catcher/first baseman Greg Bird (5). Both are bat first players that can hit and hit with authority, but they aren’t expected to provide much value elsewhere. Prep first baseman Austin Jones (7) and Arizona State first baseman Zach Wilson (21) also fit that mold. JuCo outfielder Tyler Molinaro (15) offers pop from the left side, but he also has some athleticism and can contribute with the glove.

The two big position player prizes from Day Two are high school outfielder Jake Cave (6) and JuCo outfielder Justin James (13), son of Dion. The Yankees were connected to Cave pretty much all spring, opting to take him as a hitter rather than as a left-handed pitcher, where he’s also a quality prospect. He has some bat speed but also some swing question marks, projecting as more of a doubles guy. James shows huge power in batting practice and high-end foot speed, but he’s raw because he quit baseball to focus on basketball late in his high school career. Cave has to be bought away from LSU and James is just risky, but both offer upside and the ability to provide value on both sides of the ball.

When they weren’t taking power hitting players at corner positions, the Yankees were selecting pitchers, and big ones. Lefty Sam Stafford (2) joins righties Jordan Cote (3), Phil Wetherell (8), Jonathan Gray (10), Hayden Sharp (18), Jordan Foley (26), and Scott Hoffman (29) as hurlers that stand 6-foot-4 or taller, with Sharp topping the group at 6-foot-6. Four others check in at 6-foot-3. In addition to size they all share velocity, all capable of throwing in the low-90’s. Sharp again tops the group in this category; he’s run it up as high as 98 this spring.

However, despite all of these big pitching prospects, many of them are just relievers. Zach Arneson (9), Ben Paullus (19), Nik Goody (22), Brooks Belter (25), John Brebbia (30), and Wetherell were all relievers in college while Gray and Brandon Pinder (16) project to be the same in pro ball. That’s eight of the 21 pitchers they selected on Day Two. The best of the bunch is Wetherell, who sits 92-95 with a legitimate swing-and-miss splitter. Arneson sports a big time fastball (up to 96) but little in the way of secondary pitches, while the others are generic high-80’s/low-90’s guys trying to figure out a second pitch.

Second round pick Sam Stafford. (Photo Credit: Bill Calzada, The San Antonio Express-News)

Now that I’ve had some time to look things over, I consider Stafford the best pitching prospect the Yankees selected in the entire draft. Southpaws that have shown 95-96 mph velocity with a curveball that can be unhittable at times are a rare breed, he just has to figure out a way to have both at the same time and work on his overall consistency. Starter Corey Maines (23) is a garden variety sinker-slider guy and Matt Tracy (24) was a two-way player at Mississippi, so his mound experience is limited.

The starting pitchers are going to have to come from the high schoolers, a group led by Cote, Sharp, Mark Montgomery (11), Rookie Davis (14), Matt Troupe (17), Dan Camarena (20), and Chaz Hebert (27). Cote is the best prospect of the group in terms of projection and upside, but it’ll take an above-slot bonus to pry him away from Coastal Carolina. He’ll sit in the low-90’s and show two distinct breaking balls, though finding consistent mechanics and turning some raw tools into baseball skills is the challenge that lies ahead. Camarena is the best prospect of the bunch in terms of present day ability; he’s a legitimate three pitch left-hander with command of a low-90’s fastball and an advanced changeup. A San Diego commitment must be bought out to get him to turn pro. Davis has garnered some attention as a low-90’s fastball/developing slider righty, but there’s some Melky Cabrera Syndrome going on here. He’s getting hyped up because he has a cool name.

From here, it appears that the Yankees went into Day Two with an agenda to find power hitters and power relievers, and that’s exactly what they did. Most of the big bat guys figure to wind up at first base though, which could lead to a logjam, but we’re a long way from worrying about that. Cote, Sharp, and Camarena are three very interesting arms that may or may not sign (I’m guessing they get Cote and at least one of the other two), but they’re all several years off. The college relief crop is deep enough that one or two of those guys will end up viable big league options down the road. The glaring weakness here is the overall lack of significant upside outside of James, Stafford, Cote, and Sharp.

Day Two of the draft wasn’t great for New York but by no means was it a total loss or anything like that. I don’t necessarily agree with hoarding useful pieces that appear to fit an organizational need more than anything else instead of gunning for players with star potential, but that’s what they did. As always, we can begin to really evaluate the talent influx once we see who actually signs, but the early returns from Day Two are somewhere between “okay” and “decent.”

The Alfredo Aceves Mistake
The RAB Radio Show: June 9, 2011
  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Stafford, legs akimbo.

  • CP

    Cote is the best prospect of the group in terms of projection and upside, but it’ll take an above-slot bonus to pry him away from Coastal Carolina.

    I read in one of the articles about him that they had already discussed terms (in the abstract, of course, because they can’t negotiate) and had come to a number that was mutually agreeable.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      That’s right, China… all the tea.

      • MannyGeee

        dont do the stingy thing, give the kid his cake. we can worry about overvqaluing him and trading him for a 36 year old Joel Pinero later…

  • Jericho Spade

    I don’t think you can fault the Yankees at all for picking relievers. At RAB, we all always lament over the extreme volatility of relievers. Additionally, while the Yankees have a difficult time developing starters, they have been adept at developing relievers in the recent future. Most are throw away pieces anyway, and the fact that they got solid season out of guys like Veras, Bruney, Coke, Edwar, etc. is impressive, since none have replicated that success again. Having a surplus of hard throwing relievers is a good problem to have.

    Notwithstanding the last draft, the Yankees have been burnt recently selecting athleticism over power bats. Now over the last two drafts they have a great combination of both. Finally, let’s be honest, the names may not be sexy and the players currently unheralded, but especially with HS players, it is so difficult to predict future success and to make claims like 18 year olds won’t play defense is foolish. At the very least average corner outfielders can be developed.

    • Jericho Spade

      wow! recent future= recent history… it would be nice to be able to predict the future though.

    • Ted Nelson

      “I don’t think you can fault the Yankees at all for picking relievers. ”

      Absolutely. Especially since they’ve had some success at picking relievers in the “middle-rounds” in the past.

  • K.B.D.

    There’s nothing particularly bad about the draft, it’s just a bit underwhelming given the huge amount of talent and big time names that were present. The Yankees have never been afraid to spurn the collective thought process and choose the guys they have the most faith in. Just have to trust that they know what they’re doing.

    Or maybe Cashman is just trolling us before he skips town (this is a joke and I am aware that he isn’t in control of the selection process, save the first pick or so).

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Cashman just took the entire 7.8M IFA budget out of petty cash and bet it all on the Washington Generals.

      • jsbrendog

        they’re due.

  • zs190

    I think you are a bit light on Rookie Davis. The scouting reports I’ve read on him say he has a fastball that sits low 90’s with a good low to mid 70’s curveball that’s shown depth. Granted, he’s not a projectable kid at about 6’2, 250 but he’s a huge guy that focused more on hitting than pitching and maybe with some mechanics tinkering could gain a couple ticks on the fastball.

    Piliere said he’s probably not signable that late but I think he’s a legit prospect on the mound.

    Interestingly Piliere also said that he was not impressed by Camarena and thinks he should go to college and come back in a few years. Generally Piliere tends to be more positive on prospects than most prognosticators too but at least he’s a very interesting prospect.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Granted, he’s not a projectable kid at about 6’2, 250

      He’s projectable. He could project to be even fatter.

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        I’m 6’2, 200…I can’t imagine carrying another 25 lbs, let alone 75..holy crap…i pray for the kids knees!

        • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Let’s be honest, we’re all friends here… You look like you’re carrying a tad more than a deuce.

          • Foghorn Leghorn

            that’s only b/c i just dropped a duece…see me after lunch!

        • V

          I’ve been 6’0″ 260 lbs before and I was still plenty mobile.

          • Klemy

            On wheels?

            • V

              I could probably still have beaten Posada, Swisher, and Teixeira in a foot race ;-)

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        “The fog is getting thicker….”

        “And Leon is getting LARGER!”

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Where did you get that dress, it’s AWFUL, and that coat, and those shoes, JEEEZ!

          • Foghorn Leghorn

            Dr. Rumack: What was it we had for dinner tonight?

            Elaine Dickinson: Well, we had a choice of steak or fish.

            Dr. Rumack: Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna.

      • zs190

        Oops, I might have gotten wrong height/weight info. I thought I read somewhere that he’s 6’2, 250 but checked a few sites today and he’s actually listed as 6’5, 235.

        • Foghorn Leghorn

          235, 250…whatever it takes…

          • http://www.twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Oppenheimer’s brain is like oatmeal. He yelled at Newman today for coloring outside the lines! He and Nardi are starting to watch the same TV shows, and he’s liking them! He’s losing it.

            (You win RAB, btw. That was awesome.)

    • Ted Nelson

      “Piliere said he’s probably not signable that late but I think he’s a legit prospect on the mound.”

      I find that a bit interesting… I mean if you offer him the same sum, what does it really matter what round you took him in?

      I guess maybe he’d feel more confident the team loves him… but you liked me 5th best of your picks vs. you liked me 14th best doesn’t seem too different. Or maybe Piliere means that because he fell that far it probably means teams knew he wasn’t signing?

      • zs190

        I think the assumption is that you wouldn’t pay as much for lower round picks. While it is possible for a team to pay kids 7 digit bonus when they are drafted in the teens rounds, teams generally do not do that.

        He was perceived to be a 3rd/4th round talent but dropped due to bonus demands so I imagine he would be pretty tough to sign.

        • Ted Nelson

          Definitely possible and probably true as a general rule, but I still think that’s more about the money or a general unwillingness to sign than the actual round.

          Hopefully he is this year’s Bryan Mitchell ($800k 16th round for an NC HS arm).

          Just my 2 cents, but perhaps the Yankees were feeling when their first picks came up in 2010 and 2011 like getting a cheap but in their opinion underrated Culver/Bichette and then having more money to go way over slot later is preferable to taking a shot at a Castellanos, Allie, Cole/Bell, Howard, Norris and maybe being in a spot where you either pay out a $4+ mill bonus or lose the guy. Or maybe they just saw the BPA differently from other people.

      • Mister Delaware

        “I find that a bit interesting… I mean if you offer him the same sum, what does it really matter what round you took him in?”

        As much as I love disagreeing with you, I’ve had this same thought a thousand times. $800K in the 32nd round versus $800K in the 11th round … who cares?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Nobody would obviously care about that. The problem is, there’s numerous other alternatives, like, say, 7M in the first round.

          • Mister Delaware

            For some. And I imagine some are deluded. I wish someone had kept a signability database so we could see how often kids improve tangibly* on their draft status.

            * Meaning both draft round / signing bonus and future projected earnings after you knock 3 years off their pro career.

          • Ted Nelson

            The paraphrase from Piliere was specifically that the round determined his likelihood of signing… though I have no idea if that’s what he actually said.

    • zs190

      Um, some sites say he’s actually 6’5, 235. Still not projectable at that size but at least he wouldn’t be fat =p

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    SICKELS: What about your weaknesses?
    KRUK: We have none. And by “we” I mean both we the Phillies and we the Red Sox.

  • dan l

    ESPN Boston said that Cote’s adviser and the Yankees have come to an agreement over money.

    “Cote is currently committed to Coastal Carolina, but is reportedly very signable. In Sunday’s profile of the prospect on ESPNBoston.com, he told correspondent Roger Brown “Money is definitely the No. 1 factor. I wish baseball could always be for fun, but that’s not the way it is.”

    Cote confirmed those comments again, saying that his advisor and the club have come to terms on an undisclosed number that both parties are “very comfortable with”. He said with his busy schedule, it would be realistic to expect him to sign close to the August 15 deadline.”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      He’s going to sign for the 650k we saved by nontendering Aceves.

      Boom, that just happened.

  • Ted Nelson

    Very good summary. I think it was fair all around (besides declaring at the end that it “wasn’t great for New York” before any returns have been seen) and offers a lot of interesting info.

    I’m also curious about the apparent blitzkrieg drafting approach of the last two years… mostly middle guys, mostly corner guys. Perhaps they really tried to go best pick available (in their opinion) every pick… but it’s quite a trend. Could be an attrition philosophy or maybe an arbitrage strategy seeing the value in this draft class in HS corner guys.

    I know some people are worried about corner only guys… but there are plenty of successful MLB players who never had a shot at playing anything but a corner spot. I’m fine with taking a bat and finding a position for him later, especially outside the top 15, 20 or so picks where getting any MLB player is a good pick.

    Will be interesting to see who they can/do sign. If they passed on some guys for signability reasons (speculating here… may have just not liked them or thought they’d be around later), you’d hope they at least sign some of the top guys they did take (and for piece of mind that the guys they passed on don’t sign).

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    51 Bichette, Dante
    88 Stafford, Sam
    118 Cote, Jordan
    149 Duran, Matthew
    179 Bird, Gregory
    209 Cave, Jake
    239 Jones, Austin
    269 Wetherell, Philip
    299 Arneson, Zachary
    329 Gray, Jonathan
    359 Montgomery, Mark
    389 Grice, Cody
    419 James, Justin
    449 Davis, William
    479 Molinaro, Tyler
    509 Pinder, Branden
    539 Troupe, Mathew
    569 Sharp, Hayden
    599 Paullus, Robert
    629 Camarena, Daniel
    659 Wilson, Zach
    689 Goody, Nick
    719 Maines, Corey
    749 Tracy, Matthew
    779 Smith, Adam
    809 Foley, Jordan
    839 Hebert, Chaz
    869 Lazaro, Josean
    899 Hoffman, Scott
    929 Brebbia, John


    Who signs and who spurns? Best guesses?

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      I will bet my over-mortgaged house that Nick Goody doesn’t make it too far…that is not the name of a major league ball player.

      and Chaz Hebert? for the love of God, where are the Chuck’s, Franks and Henry’s?

      WE’RE DOOMED!!!

      • zs190

        how dare you doubt Nick “The Goods” Goody?! =p I’m not kidding, that is actually his nickname.

      • http://www.retire21.com first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

        I can hear Chris Berman calling him Nick “oldie but” Goody now.

      • http://twitter.com/buckfunts buckfunts

        He’s destined for The Show. And he’s destined to enter the game to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au8oi_zkpVU#t=67s

    • Ted Nelson

      I’d guess Cave is signing/getting signed after all the rumors the Yankees liked him then actually taking him… maybe the AJax, Betances, Mason Williams of 2011 if he chooses to use some leverage.

      It’s irrational, but I also feel better about them passing on Howard since they were rumored to be on him for so long. Maybe it was a simple miscalculation of how far he’d fall and/or they just liked Bichette better, but maybe they did their due diligence and felt confident he wasn’t signing or wasn’t worth his bonus demands.

      Would really like to see them sign the top 6… but I guess that’s stating the obvious.

    • zs190

      Haven’t done my research on this but my guess is James, Davis, and Hebert will go to school; Cate and Cote will sign; have no idea about Camarena. There are going to be a few college guys in the 2nd half of the list that will go back to school, I just don’t know who because they are too fringey for there to be much information about them.

    • Mister Delaware

      I wish my grandmother were still around just so I could print this out and ask her who was pick #479. The singer at her church was named Molinaro, a guy she knew well, but for some reason she always called him Molinarry. Killed me.

      • Gee H K

        Mr. D,

        She was channeling the Stooges Three. Moe//Larry.

  • nick

    No biggy but thats definitely Matt Duran, New Rochelle in the photo up top.

  • Forrest

    The first picture is of Matt Duran. Not Greg Bird. I know Duran personally thats him playing for his high school team New Rochelle.

  • DerMegalodonster

    Concerning Dante Bichette, I’m actually pretty excited having learned of his tennis background. The skills he has developed through hours of tennis are perfectly suited for 3B, e.g., immediate lateral quickness and foot speed, reflexes, recognition and adjustment to line drives and angles of bouncing balls, core balance. He’s not a great athlete and certainly lacks speed but he can still be a plus defender at 3B. Think Mike Lowell.
    Remember, Donny Baseball always stated that playing racquetball is what made him such a good first baseman.
    Additionally, those who would knock this pick should keep in mind that all the hours of development put into tennis, laying the groundwork if you will, will now be focused solely on the particulars of baseball.

    Also, as to Cave, given the dearth of LH pitching which Cashman openly talks about, does anyone else see this as a potential Casey Kelly replay? Kid wants to be an everday player, team acquiesces with the thought of convincing him soon enough that his gravy train is as a SP. Not the prototypical height – but a high school lefty that can sit around 88-90, with a pretty athletic, lithesome frame and a bit of projection in it? I know what I would be focusing on as an organization.

    Good to see people coming around on Stafford. Lots of upside. Love Bird’s stroke (especially for high schooler.) Healthy dose of upside throughout. Premature grade: B-/B.

    • jsbrendog

      i could def see a tennis background translating well in the way you described. we shall see.

      • Mister Delaware

        Unless he remains in the batters box like a dummy waiting for the pitcher to hit it back.

        • Foghorn Leghorn

          a tennis serve is very much like a pitch so he’s in real trouble if the pitcher used to play tennis

      • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

        Yeah, I think it’ll help more in the field than at the plate.

        • jsbrendog

          i dont see it helping at the plate at all. but defensively that side to side movement is key for an infielder

          • Ted Nelson

            Hand-eye is a possibility at the plate… (Pretty intangible, just saying). Especially for a guy whose hit tool is questioned, maybe advanced hand-eye could improve that with a new swing.

  • YankeeGrunt

    Mark Montgomery was a college closer at Longwood, not a high schooler, and while Longwood isn’t UNC he was very effective (0.89 ERA, averaging something like a K and a half an inning). He may be the best reliever we drafted.

    • Fairweather Freddy

      Sleeper of the group may be Cody Grice. Kinda raw, but has the potential to be a five tool player once his power develops more

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        He’ll never be Bryce Harper, though. Harper is a six-tool talent.

        Running, Fielding, Throwing, Hitting for Average, Hitting for Power, and Being a Tool.

        • Foghorn Leghorn

          Or Casey Kelly…who’s name will take over the award to the best pitcher in both leagues…eat shit Cy Young..there’s a new sheriff in town!

          Kelly is so good he’ll win the award in both the NL and AL without having to throw a pitch.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Casey Kelly is the best prospect ever.
            Casey Kelly is a #3 starter, at best.

            [Ed. Note: the above comment has been updated to reflect Kelly’s trade out of the Red Sox organization.]

        • jsbrendog

          dude, bryce harper is perfect for baseball. he is the heel we need. baseball is full of faces. he will be the heel to come in and get booed and eat it up. all he has to do is prevent any racial slurs, or ignorant comments and he’ll be fine. i would love to have a heel take charge.

  • Fairweather Freddy

    I’d settle for the first five

  • AB

    Is Hayden Sharp projected more as a reliever or starter?

    And anyone know of a scouting report on him

  • Skip

    For those who haven’t seen it yet, LoHud has a nice post with quotes from Damon Oppenhemier about this draft class. Worth a quick peruse.

  • jon

    you think our draft was bad?

    the rangers drafted a kid in a wheel chair


    nice story

    • Dave

      How was our draft “bad” when none of these kids have even played a pro game?

  • Ted Nelson

    Goldstein has an interesting piece on ESPN about draft picks that were panned by “the industry” and worked out… Not that this means anything besides his best case upside, but the Prince Fielder part reminds me quite a bit of Dante Bichette as they are both sons of former boppers who were hated on for being “power only, corner only” guys. Billy Butler pick sounds a lot like Bichette too.