Mar
07

2012 Draft: Makeup Guys

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(Photo via The Orlando Sentinel)

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will change the way teams spend in the draft but probably not their philosophies. The Twins are still going to grab safe college arms, the Phillies will keep trying to hit homeruns with raw high schoolers, and the Rays will look for unheralded mid-rounders to turn over to their player development staff. The Yankees are no different, and just like the last few years they figure to again emphasize makeup in 2012.

Dante Bichette Jr. — the Yankees top selection last year — is a perfect example of what the Yankees seem to be going for. His bat was a standout tool, specifically his right-handed power, but his defense at the hot corner was a big question. He made some major strides with his glovework after turning pro, thanks in part to his determination and work ethic. Bichette is no longer considered a lock to move to first or left field, which heightens his prospect stock and potential big league value.

Talent still reigns supreme, but the belief seems to be that good makeup guys have a better chance of maximizing their talent. That point is debatable, but the team’s recent drafts (as well as their recent player movement in general) indicate a renewed emphasis on character, something they got away from for a while. Here are a few players available this June that offer both talent and strong makeup….

Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State (video)
The typical pitchability left-hander, Heaney is a four-pitch guy that uses multiple arm slots to confuse batters and give them different looks. When using his normal three-quarters slot, he’ll sit 88-92 with the four-seamer and a bit lower with his cutter. An upper-70s curveball and a fading changeup round out his repertoire. Heaney has had trouble staying healthy in college, throwing just 133.1 IP during his first two years. Listed at 6-foot-2, 175 lbs., he still has to prove he can hold up under a starter’s workload and take the ball every five days. Like everyone else in this post, his makeup is considered a plus and he’s a hard worker. Considered more of a third-to-fifth round type right now, a strong spring could result in Heaney coming off the board much earlier.

Ty Hensley, RHP, Sante Fe High School (Edmond, OK) (video)
The son of former Cardinals second round pick and current Kansas State head coach Mike Hensley, Tyler is a big right-hander listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs. He’ll sit anywhere from 90-95 with his fastball and backs it up with a mid-70s curveball and a nascent changeup. His delivery is surprisingly smooth and consistent given his size, allowing him to throw strikes regularly. Hensley grew up around the game and considered very coachable. He’s committed to Mississippi and figures to be selected in the sandwich round at the moment.

(Photo via GatorZone.com)

Nolan Fontana, SS, Florida (video)
Middle infielders are always in high demand, and Fontana is one of the few players in the class expected to remain at shortstop long-term. He fits the whole undersized grinder stereotype perfectly, standing just 5-foot-11, 190 lbs. with an all-out style of play. Fontana plays the small-ball game well, drawing a ton of walks and getting hit by plenty pitches to go along with the innate ability to make contract and avoid strikeouts from the left side. He won’t hit for much power or steal a ton of bases, but he grinds out at-bats, gets on base, and plays strong defense at a critical position. That’s enough to get him drafted in the first or early-sandwich round.

Jesse Winker, OF, Olympia High School (Orlando, FL) (video)
Winker will get lots of looks this spring because his teammate Walker Weickel is a legit first round talent with a chance to go in the top ten. He’s a left-handed hitter with big power and loads of leverage in his swing, the kind of guy who could really take advantage of Yankee Stadium. There are very few questions about his bat, but he’s not a great runner and doesn’t have the strongest arm. Although his instincts help hide those flaws, he’ll likely be relegated to left field or first base down the line. His brother Joe in currently in the Dodgers organization. As expected, Winker is a baseball rat and is said to have excellent makeup. He’s committed to Florida and is currently expected to go in the late-first round or early-sandwich round.

Rhett Wiseman, OF, Buckingham Browne & Nichols High School (Cambridge, MA) (video)
A big time tools guy, Wiseman is young for his draft class and will graduate at 17. He’s been on the radar for years and had been offered a scholarship by Vanderbilt by his sophomore year. At 6-foor-2 and 175 lbs., Wiseman offers top notch speed and power from the left-handed side of the dish with athleticism to spare. He’s also very raw with a swing that needs work, and he’s struggled at times against better pitching in showcase events. Wiseman is his class president and gave up football this year so he could focus on baseball and wrestling. They’re first round tools but there is a ton of risk, plus Vanderbilt commitments are traditionally tough to break. A strong spring could have him come off the board in the first 30 picks, but he could also go completely undrafted if teams think he is unsignable given the new draft spending restrictions.

Categories : Draft
  • CJ

    Is there a Drew Storen-type available for yanks 1st pick? A fast track 1st round college closer, character guy. Yanks have an eye for late round relief arms, with Mo leaving, can they spot one in early rounds? Or would this contradict an organizational philosophy?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Relievers in the first round is such a waste. Too volatile, and almost none of them have success after being rushed to the bigs.

      • CJ

        I generally agree but since the yanks have a system to identify quality relievers late I was wondering if they could nail it early, drew Storen wouldn’t be a waste. It seems that a relief arm would be the easiest position to get right big fastball clocked and one other pitch and control. I think the position players are extremely volatile difficult to project especially switch to wood.

        • A.D.

          One would argue since Yanks do have said system they don’t need to burn top picks to get said relievers.

          • CJ

            True. That’s what I meant by a contradiction of organizational philosophy

        • Ted Nelson

          I’m totally with you that *if* a Drew Storen or Chris Sale or Huston Street is still available when the Yankees pick, it would not be a waste. That might have been, in fact, exactly what they were doing with picks like Joba (sandwich) and/or Sam Stafford (2nd).

          Unfortunately Storen went #10 and Sale #13… so it’s easier said than done from the bottom of the first.

          I think people have an immediate opposition to the idea because they over-estimate how many draft picks work out.

        • thenamestsam

          Isn’t immediate relief help one of the main things the Yankees don’t need, even in Mariano does retire? This is one of the best bullpens in the game: they have Soriano, DRob and Joba as potential closers for next year. Hughes might be joining them. Many scouts believe Betances will eventually transition to being a late inning reliever. And as we know the Yankees minors are stuffed with power relief prospects. Yes losing Mariano will hurt, but this will still be a well-stocked bullpen. Using a first round pick to get someone who can move quickly to become the Yankees critical “6th-inning guy” would be a mis-allocation of resources in my opinion.

          • DM

            I agree with you here. While it’s true that you can’t replace Rivera, I think the Yankees already have great depth in that area. And I feel the same way about Betances. He’s been able to manage successfully thus far as a thrower — but that won’t cut it in the big leagues. I see him as a short man conversion project. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he struggles as a starter in AAA this year.

            I feel differently about Hughes only b/c I think he’ll sign somewhere else (to be a starter) when he’s a FA or get traded before then. If Hughes is going to be a Yankee long term, he’ll have to succeed as a starter to justify his $. He’d be a good value as even a mediocre starter, but not at 4mil+ to be a 7th inning guy. He won’t re-sign with them to be 7/8/9 guy on their terms if some other team wants to sign him to be a $tarter, imo.

      • Ted Nelson

        In the top 15-20 picks I would tend to agree, but after 20 or so I disagree. By the time you get to the late 1st round, chances are that your pick will not make MLB. If you see a reliever who can be in MLB in a year… there’s a good chance his career turns out better than whoever else you pick. (Especially now if you can’t “buy” guys as much.)

        I wouldn’t advocate taking a Drew Storen #10, but by the time the Yankees usually pick… I’d call it a 50/50 or better proposition that he’s better than whoever they select. Two full seasons after being drafted he’s already got 2.3 bWAR. Sale already has 3.4 only one full year after being drafted. Most late first rounders and second rounders will never get that in their careers.

        After Huston Street was taken #40 in 2004, for example, the next 5 players taken have combined for -0.3 bWAR. Street has 10.7. Only 1 of the next 23 guys taken has more than 3.4 to date. Maybe you would have taken a Gallardo, or Pence, or Pedroia instead of Street, but chances are overwhelming that you would have taken some total zero.

        • CJ

          Thanks Ted, great analysis of early relievers. Are there ant Storen, street sale prospects that might be available late 1st? With Mo leaving this may be the time to go for a closer pick. Ted, do you generally agree that a closer is relative low risk-low reward early draft pick?

          • Ted Nelson

            Marcus Stroman of Duke is one candidate. Branden Kline from UVA, too, but maybe not as much upside as Stroman. I’m not super familiar with amateur players, though, and this is supposed to be a HS heavy draft.

            If you get the right guy I think it’s a low risk-solid reward pick. Guys like Storen, Sale, Street, or Joba give their team a lot more rewards than the majority of late first rounders and beyond. A lot of guys who are good enough pitchers to move quickly to a MLB bullpen are also good enough to potentially be good starters in MLB, which begs the question of whether to rush the guy as a reliever or take time as a starter, moving him to the pen later if that doesn’t work. (Or take a hybrid approach which has annoyed Yankee fans to no end with Joba.)

            A guy like Stroman who is a 5’9″ NCAA closer fits the bill of someone you might be able to just rush right along. Someone like Jake Barrett from ASU, on the other hand, could be rushed as a reliever or brought along as a starter.

  • Ted Nelson

    I think that it’s a matter of what sort of “make-up” you’re looking for. I’m not so sure they’re looking for nice guys, so much as they are looking for persistent hard workers. And I don’t think it’s too debatable that a hard worker has a better chance at maximizing his talents than a guy who doesn’t work as hard, or that there’s a mental side to sports. It’s intangible and we can’t quantify it, but it’s there.

    Take someone like Slade. Some people feel that the Yankees went outside of their “make-up” philosophy on him, but I’m not so sure. He was a total beast football player who came back from knee surgery quickly. The rest of his life was a mess, but throughout it his focus on athletics didn’t seem to waiver.

    Obviously player development staffs deserve some credit/blame, but a lot of it is about the player. A lot of guys get exposed to the same Tampa coaches, and not many of them make it. As much as the Rays might have good player development people, they also might draft kids who are willing to work (and are talented). If you’re not a total stud it’s not easy getting from HS/NCAA to MLB. I have to guess that persistence and work ethic have a lot to do with it, along with talent of course.

  • A.D.

    ….but he could also go completely undrafted if teams think he is unsignable given the new draft spending restrictions.

    The bargaining/gamesmanship in this year’s draft is going to be reallll interesting.

    Mike (or anyone) any of these guys in your mind worth 2 first rounders per the penalties?

  • Gonzo

    What happened to the days when everyone hated makeup and wanted players like Fly Eli.

    Ahh, the memories.

    • A.D.

      Dustin Pedroia happened

      • Gonzo

        Oh that’s right, they closed Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

  • http://www.nesn.com/2011/01/2011-red-sox-will-challenge-1927-yankees-for-title-of-greatest-team-in-major-league-history.html Denver fighting tebows

    played against wiseman last year, has a smooth swing and easy power

  • https://twitter.com/#!/joshfortunatus joshfortunatus

    I know it looks like Bichette stays at third but had he not been able to, why would he move to LF? If he has a 3B arm, wouldn’t he be dispatched to RF?

  • Fernando

    The draft has gotten a lot more interesting the the CBA changes and the potentially season-ending injuries to two of Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects — OF Victor Roche (#9) and SP Lucas Giolito (#2). I doubt one of those guys slides all the way down to the Yankees at #30, but those guys will probably slide down a bit as teams are hesitant to draft an injured player so high.