May
24

Looking back at the 2007 draft

By

They say you need five years before you can properly evaluate a draft class in baseball, so with the 2012 event less than two weeks away, let’s look back at what the Yankees did five years ago. It was Damon Oppenheimer’s second draft class as scouting director and he was coming off a banner 2006 haul that would place two pitchers — Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain — on the big league roster less than 15 months after being selected. The 2007 class wasn’t nearly as successful.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Top Pick
There has been no more polarizing first round pick in recent Yankees history than Andrew Brackman. The Yankees took him 30th overall after most pre-draft projections ranked him as one of the draft’s top three talents (with David Price and Matt Wieters) but concerns about his elbow caused him to slide. New York rolled the dice knowing Brackman would likely need Tommy John surgery, giving him a four-year big league contract worth $4.55M and incentives that could have pushed the total value to $13M. A week later he was under the knife having his elbow rebuilt.

After missing all of 2008, Brackman impressed in Hawaii Winter Baseball (number two prospect in the league according to Baseball America) but did not build on the success. He pitched to a 4.66 FIP in 106.2 Low-A innings in 2009, then rebounded to post a stellar 3.22 FIP in 140.2 innings split between High-A and Double-A in 2010. That had us all thinking Brackman was on his way to helping the Yankees, but he flopped in 2011 (5.77 FIP in 96 Triple-A innings) despite making his big league debut in September*. He walked three and struck out zero in 2.1 innings. After two bad years, one good year, and one year lost to injury, he was released after last season.

* Brackman was actually called up in September 2010 but did not appear in a game. He was on the 40-man roster already thanks to his contract and the minor league season had ended.

Brackman’s deal remains the largest the Yankees have ever given to an amateur player and at the time, it was potentially the richest contract in draft history. All told, he pitched to a 5.11 ERA with 7.97 K/9 and a 4.98 BB/9 in 343.1 minor league innings with the Yankees. He’s currently in the Reds organization and pitching very poorly for their Triple-A affiliate: 9.87 ERA with more walks (16) than strikeouts (13) in 17.1 innings across five starts.

(Mike Ashmore)

Reached The Show
In addition to Brackman, two other 2007 draftees have reached the show for New York. The first player to actually play in a big league game out of this draft class was Brandon Laird (27th round), who helped fill out the bench through injuries last July before coming back up in September. He has four singles and three walks in 25 big league plate appearances, all coming last year. Laird is biding his time in Triple-A and is just an up-and-down corner player for the Yankees.

The other big leaguer is catcher Austin Romine (2), who debuted last September following Frankie Cervelli‘s latest concussion. He had three singles and one walk in 20 plate appearances, starting four games behind the plate and appearing in four others off the bench. Romine had a chance to replace Cervelli as the backup catcher this season, but he’s been dealing with a back issue since Spring Training and will be out until July.

Big Money Duds
The Yankees handed out a trio of seven-figure bonuses in 2007. The largest went to Brackman, but Bradley Suttle (4) and Carmen Angelini (10) received $1.3M and $1M, respectively. Suttle has been slowed by a series of shoulder injuries that have required surgery, and he is currently away from the organization and reportedly considering retirement. He’s a .256/.334/.417 career hitter in just shy of 1,400 minor league plate appearances, topping out at Double-A. Angelini was a spectacular failure, hitting just .220/.285/.287 in 930 plate appearances at the Single-A level. He’s been hampered by injury as well, most notably a hip issue.

Last year I opined that the developmental failures of Brackman, Angelini, and Suttle have contributed to the Yankees becoming more conservative in the draft. After giving out those three seven-figure deals in 2007, they’ve handed out just four — Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, J.R. Murphy, and Greg Bird — in the five drafts since.

Traded Away
You can make an argument that Chase Weems (6) has contributed more to the Yankees without ever wearing pinstripes than any other player in this draft class has so far. The catcher was traded to the Reds for Jerry Hairston Jr. at the 2009 trade deadline, and Hairston went on to become a valuable bench player on that World Championship team. Weems flamed out in Cincinnati’s farm system and was last seen playing independent ball. The Yankees also got some trade mileage out of Adam Olbrychowski (5), trading the right-hander to the Nationals for Justin Maxwell last spring. Olbrychowski is still toiling around in Single-A with Washington.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Unsigned Gems
The Yankees drafted four players in 2007 who did not sign but have since gone on to become big leaguers. The most notable is Drew Storen (34), who turned New York down out of high school only to become the tenth overall pick in 2009 as a draft-eligible sophomore. He is currently out with an elbow injury but serves as the Nationals’ closer when healthy. Right-hander Chris Carpenter (18) had injury problems in college, went back to school for his senior year, then was drafted in the third round by the Cubs in 2008. He broke in with them last season and was actually sent to the Red Sox as compensation for Theo Epstein this offseason. Outfielders Eric Thames (39) and Erik Komatsu (38) both went back to school for another season before re-entering the draft. Thames plays semi-regularly for the Blue Jays while Komatsu has seen time with the Cardinals and Twins as a Rule 5 Draft pick this season.

The Rest
Other than Romine and Laird, the only other players from this draft still in the organization are Damon Sublett (7), Manny Barreda (12), and Craig Heyer (22). Pat Venditte (45) returned to school for his senior year and was re-drafted by New York in 2008. The Yankees signed 34 of their 50 picks in 2007, all of whom can be seen here. Romine projects as a solid big league backstop when healthy but Laird and Heyer are spare parts on a contending team. The Yankees have received no impact from this draft class and are unlikely to get any unless one of those three exceeds expectations.

Categories : Draft
  • Robinson Tilapia

    Great write-up.

    I have little issue, still, with them swinging for the fences with Brackman. I’m still surprised they let him go as unceremoniously as they did, but high-risk, high-reward, if the guy is sitting there in the late first round, is chance I’m fine with the organization taking.

    This is where those who like to point out that there’s a lack of impact talent in the higher level of the minors will start beginning to look. I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

    • Reggie C.

      IIRC, Brackman had not logged more than 100 college innings as a starter and came with big medical red flags.

      I understand swinging for the fences at times but here Opp and co. got reckless in understanding the high risk factor accompanying Brackman.

      Bad pick. Even Worse draft.

      /isoppenheimerfiredyet

      • Robinson Tilapia

        It’s only reckless when it doesn’t work out. He’d be a genius if Brackman was in the rotation right now.

        • Reggie C.

          If he’d turned into a reliable late game reliever, I would’ve gladly taken that return.

          Brackman’s medical red flags and price tag, both factors KNOWN to all ML teams, would’ve dropped well past the first couple rounds had Oppenheimer not suffered a brain cramp.

          What’s worse is that nothing of starter caliber value to the current Yankees team has emerged with the slight exception to Romine, but that is down the line. This class is dangerously close to going 0 for every pick.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            It’s speculation as to where Brackman would have gone. Sure, what you’re saying is possible. It’s also possible he would have gone with the very next pick. This is why teams agonize over who to pick and when to pick them so much.

            I agree that, yeah, this class isn’t looking good at all right now. Talking about a lack of impact talent about Single-A is a favorite talking point on here, but how much of 2007 is due to things not breaking the org’s way, and how much is them just blowing it? Not that easy to quantify.

            • jjyank

              Right, and we like to say that prospects are volatile and unpredictable…well these guys aren’t even prospects! Draft classes will fluctuate between awesome and utter failure all the time. Especially for teams with low draft picks.

              If 2006 was a “banner year”, was it really fair to expect a repeat? That’s very, very hard to do when you’re scouting high school and college kids.

              And I highly doubt Brackman would have still been on the board by the Yankees’ second pick. As I’ve said before, his talent level was that of a top-5 pick. Guys like that don’t slide much further than he already did.

      • jjyank

        I wouldn’t call it reckless. Like I mentioned below, they’re not going to get a sure thing picking so late in the first round. Brackman had huge potential, and the Yankees thought that if they could get him and get TJS over with, it might have been a huge steal.

        The Yankees are going to have to either draft an unspectacular player, or a guy with star potential with injury risks. It’s the nature of the ~30th pick.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          We could say Joba was a similar kind of pick, although the money and rehab commitment was markedly less.

          If Brackman would/could reach abouot 80% of that potential, holy shit.

          • jjyank

            Right, that’s the point. Guys with Brackman’s potential would go in the top 5 overall picks if there were no health concerns. The only way the Yankees can draft guys with potential like that at #30 is by taking the gamble on the health risk guys.

            I have no problem with that strategy, but by its very nature, it will fail quite a bit. It seems like the Yanks have backed off that strategy in recent years though, taking guys like Culver and Bichette.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              It’s a different type of risky strategy, though. Now they’re trying to pluck these potentially underrated guys early, but not taking the chance that they’ll be available later. Time will tell as to effective that is. Thank god the draft is a zillion rounds long, with actual chances of success from later round picks.

              • jjyank

                Oh absolutely. There’s risk with just about every non-Harper/Strasburg draft pick. At least with the current strategy, the risk costs less in terms of bonuses and contracts.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  ….and if Strasburg wouldn’t have recovered from TJS as spectacularly as he seems to have….

                  • jjyank

                    Nationals fans would demand that their scouting director should be fired and what a waste of a first overall pick. Something seems familiar here…

          • Donny

            Everyone can attest that College Juniors are typically the most major league ready. For that, they are usually drafted first. Unfortunately, because the Yankees draft so late, they have to take an unconventional approach because these types of quality players come off the board so quick and there is a significant drop-off after about the first 10-15. Instead, they must look at either raw high school players with higher ceilings or gamble on guys like Joba and Brackman. That is the means of which they can get quality players. Clearly, it is not always going to work out, but I think it makes the most sense.

            For me, I would rather take a gamble (and lose) on guys who have injury history (Brackman / Joba), are raw high school athletes (Slade / DBJ) or high school players that slip due to signability issues (Cole) than settle for the 30th best college player just because he is that. The other obvious option would be to just draft better, but baseball is the hardest sport to scout talent. So I can’t fault bad choices.

      • Steve (different one)

        Don’t get the comment about the medicals. The Yankees were 100% aware that he was probably going to need TJS, that was baked into their decision.

        I don’t think drafting Brackman was reckless at all. The problem was the contract they negotiated with Boras.

        Pitching prospects bust all the time. It’s more surprising when they don’t bust. The issue was the major league deal and the size of the deal. I don’t see anyone picked within 20 picks of Brackman that makes me think the pick was outrageously bad. He didn’t work out, it happens all the time, it’s only notable because of how much money he got.

        • Thomas

          The money was pretty much required too. Otherwise Brackman goes back to school and comes out in a year (or likely two for TJS) with the potential of being the number one overall pick. For elite talent, you have to pay elite money.

        • Reggie C.

          And what I’m saying is that Opp and co. failed to properly weigh the alarming medicals against a short track record of success as evidenced by the record signing bonus given Brackman.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Much easier to say now than then.

            • Havok9120

              You’re still not commenting on the issue of where we have to draft and the choice that gives us regarding drafting high upside guys. We can either draft high upside guys with injury concerns or are a major project or draft a guy who should go in the second round or later. Those are mostly what’s left by the time our first rounder comes up. Which do you prefer? A reach or a lottery ticket?

              • jjyank

                That’s basically what I’ve been saying. And I prefer the lottery ticket. Once in awhile, you’re gonna hit big, and it will be awesome.

                Too many of the “high floor, low ceiling” guys flame out anyway, might as well go big.

                • Havok9120

                  That’s my thought as well. That post was meant as a reply to Reggie.

              • Havok9120

                Sigh. Not you Tilapia.

                This is maddening.

                • jjyank

                  We know who you were responding to.

          • jjyank

            They knew the medicals. My point on the other posts is that you can either take the unspectacular player, or you can gamble on the potential star. Brackman has top-5 pick stuff, and it’s rare that the Yankees get to draft someone with that potential. Besides, Brackman’s biggest problem after being drafted (besides the TJS that the Yankees already knew they were getting into) was that Brackman never regained any control. It didn’t work out, but I’d rather go for the potential star than draft guys who would be lucky to be league average.

        • Bubba

          Here’s a wacky idea. Let’s not negotiate with Boras. I don’t know as much about baseball as many on this site but have the Yankees ever negotiated a contract with Boras and have it work out well for them? I’m not talking about for a week or month or year but for the life of the contract.

          Boras does a great job most of time for his clients (it’s his job after all), but the Yankees… not so much.

          • jjyank

            It’s a nice idea, shut out the guy who is notorious for getting his clients insane amounts of money, but they guys is just too powerful. The Yankees would lose a lot of potential players by shutting out his clients.

            Here’s a good one I found though: Boras was Bernie Williams’ agent, and negotiated his deal in 1998. It was a monster deal, but Bernie was pretty damn good up until the last year or two of the contract.

            • Bubba

              I thought Bernie (and JD) might have been an outlier but was too lazy to research. While no one wants to lose out on potential players, I think most on here would vote hell yes on losing out on bad deals.

              I tip my hat to Boras. He absolutely pants’ed Levine on the Soriano contract and not in a Lendleton kind of way. Or maybe in a Lendleton kind of way. I’d prefer to watch his destruction from afar.

              • Havok9120

                Thing is, how would the rest of the industry (agents, that is) react to that? Heck, how would the Union and the League? Sure, they’d have no legal recourse (though there might be some hidden gem in the League’s Giant Book of Rules that could be construed to give them one), but there are all kids of other ways to exact vengeance on the Yanks for freezing out the most successful agent in the history of baseball.

                Heck, just the reaction of the players might make it a horrible, horrible move.

                • Bubba

                  Other agents would probably be happy. The League got a wart on its fanny over how much the Yankees spend so I can’t imagine them being too broken up about it. Player tend to go where they are paid the most or happiest. I can’t imagine most non Boras players caring one way or the other.

                  If the spending ceiling is real, the Yankees can’t afford to grossly overpay Boras’ clients and maintain their excellence.

                  • Havok9120

                    You’re seeing every (or almost) agent and player out there as being too shortsighted to see the big picture of “the Yankees have frozen out the guy who makes his players and himself the most money,” as a bad thing.

                    I don’t think that that would actually be the case. Especially since the players have an organization made specifically for the purpose of seeing the big picture and making sure they all understand it and act as one to make it better for themselves. Heck, Boras is the guy that allows those players to make the most money and the insane contracts he obtains can sometimes set the market for a lot of other guys, a benefit I don’t think they’d be blind to.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Johnny Damon?

      • Deep Thoughts

        You’re confused. Let me help you. Good pick, bad result. You are mistakenly calling acceptance of a high risk with high potential reward “recklessness.” I’ll ignore the fecklessness of doing so with the benefit of five years of hindsight.

    • jjyank

      I agree. With all these end-of-the-first-round picks that the Yanks get, it seems like you either need to settle for a guy with a high floor/low ceiling or a risk/project guy.

      Can’t really fault the Yanks for trying to get a potential star with their first round pick. The nature of were they draft makes it difficult, if not impossible, to get a “can’t miss” sort of guy.

  • Brian S.

    Could have drafted Mike Stanton instead of Brackman. What a horrible bust he ended up becoming.

    • Steve (different one)

      And you’d have been sitting there bitching that the Yankees used a first round pick on a guy no one thought was a first rounder.

    • Thomas

      Stanton was picked 46 spots after Brackman with every team passing on him at least once. It may not have worked out, but Brackman at the time was the far superior prospect.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Maybe they were trying to call him Giancarlo and he wasn’t listening.

  • LargoVegas

    “Could have drafted Mike Stanton instead of Brackman. What a horrible bust he ended up becoming.”

    Not a real good comparison since Stanton was picked with the 76th pick, so he was passed on 36 times after Brackman by other teams. I doubt that the Yankees saw this as a choice between the two.

    When you look at that 2007 draft, the best player so far between Brackman and Stanton is Jordan Zimmerman, and even he was picked at #67.

    So, looking back, maybe Brackman wasn’t that much of a reach after all.

    A bad pick, but not because of where he was picked, but because he didn’t work out.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Playing “who could x team have picked instead in the draft” is a fun game to play every year in every sport. There’s so much context lost in the process.

      I remember being in the Miami Arena for the big draft party the year Shaq was drafted (gulp) and remembering the team passing on Robert Horry to pick Harold Miner, who flamed out immediately. Plenty of Yankee examples and, really, examples for every team out there in any sport.

      There were reasons why drafting Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan made sense at the time, or so we always hear.

      • Jesse

        Same with the Blazers taking Oden over Durant.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          That just royally sucks, doesn’t it?

        • Reggie C.

          I still think Oden will be collecting Social Security checks in five years.

          • All Praise Be To Mo

            5 years? He already is…

    • LargoVegas

      As Thomas points out, Stanton was picked 46 picks after Brackman, not 36. I really have to start using a calculator more often.

  • DERP

    Good process, bad results. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    • pat

      I’m in the same boat. The contract they gave him is the only egregious mistake in my eyes.

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

        Heh, that’s the funny part. In the grand scheme of things, $4.55M is nothing to the Yankees. They’re paying Pedro Feliciano just about that much to not pitch this year. In the realm of draft money, it’s outrageous.

        • Thomas

          I feel like the Feliciano contract was some sort of settlement agreement between him and NY baseball teams. I mean he was “abused”, receives $8 million, and never works again in the NY baseball community. Sounds like a settlement to me.

        • pat

          Yup. And it’s not even the $$ that was bad it was the 40 man roster spot. Granted the 38th, 39th and 40th men aren’t all that important, but they’re still pretty important.

          Double whammy.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Yup.

  • Steve (different one)

    Remember how pissed everyone was when Porcello got snapped up 3 spots ahead of Brackman? You know who kindof sucks? Rick Porcello.

    If he had made it to 30 and had the same career, would it be because of the Yankees inability to develop pitchers because of all the hype he was drafted with? How do separate that from the fact that maybe he was just never that good?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Porcello was also probably pretty egregiously rushed to the majors.

      • A.D.

        Yeah have to wonder what if, had he been given more than 1 season in the minors… that and he’s 23, he can still improve

    • jjyank

      If I recall, Porcello was on a strict pitch count in the low minors. He wanted to pitch deeper into games despite his pitch count, so he scrapped one of his breaking pitches (a slider? I can’t remember) in favor of developing a sinker so he could pitch to contact instead of striking guys out.

      I know nothing about what went on behind the scenes in the Tigers organization, but I’m not sure why they just let him do that.

      Anyway, your point is an interesting one. We’ll never know obviously, but it makes you wonder: would the Yankees have made Porcello keep his strikeout approach, or would they have also allowed him to become a sinkerballer?

  • Reggie C.

    At the end of the day, Oppenheimer should really be fired and replaced with Jerry Reese.

    • pat

      +1

    • Thomas

      Both drafted Chad Jackson.

    • Steve (different one)

      Agree with that. Yet you still had all the fans blasting his JPJ choice….obviously this doesn’t apply to something like evaluating Brackman 5 years layer, but more like the reaction to picking DBJ.

      • Steve (different one)

        Obviously that should say JPP, not JPJ. Need to turn off the Zeppelin….

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I’ve been dazed and confused for so long as I choose.

    • Havok9120

      You really hate this guy.

  • pat

    I can’t really fault them for guys getting injured. Angelini probably would have busted anyway, but he alone has had three season ending injuries .And at varying points of their careers Suttle and Romine both looked the parts of MLB contributors. Obviously the rest were trash, but they at least had considerable upside.

  • Smart Guy

    try to buy someone from the rays system that works in their process towards the draft and give him oppenheimers job

    also bring in mike pagliarulo as a consultant

    • Robinson Tilapia

      “So what’s the secret to your success in Tampa?
      “Well, basically, we sucked for a mighty long time.”

      • Smart Guy

        they also have 3 times the amount of scouts we have while we seem to focus on local kids with hardons for cape cods

        • jjyank

          Local kids: I can only think of Culver. But I don’t think that has anything to do with a lack of scouts.

          Cape Cod: It’s the only opportunity a lot of teams get to see kids that age hit with (and pitch against) wood bats. Seems like a good place to evaluate. Not sure what the issue is there.

          • A.D.

            Betances is true local, Brooklyn

            • jjyank

              Wow, so a whole TWO draft picks are local? I guess that means they’re focusing on local kids. Betances has huge upside, that had nothing to do with being a local kid.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I live in Brooklyn and have massive upside.

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

                They draft 50 kids a year, some of them are bound to local. No one would be complaining about the local aspect if Trout fell to them in 2009.

                • jjyank

                  Or if Betances puts it together. I don’t really get the “Yanks focus on local guys” argument.

        • Havok9120

          Local kids? Um. ‘Kay.

          Cape Cod League is the only big one that uses wood bats. What’s the problem?

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      I just want to know how the Rays are developing their starters without every one of them seeming to get TJ like our guys.

  • DERP

    I’m looking forward to the ‘Looking back at the 2010 draft’ piece in three years where we discuss how smart the Yankees were in giving Mason Williams top ten money and picking Tyler Austin in the thirteenth round.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      …while the Post posts pics of whatever starlet Bichette Jr. is now banging.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      I still think Gumbs will be huge for us, maybe I’m being irrational but I keep seeing a young Alfonso Soriano there.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I see this as a two-fold issue. The Yankees in 2007 were not opposed to drafting pitchers before position players. Cashman was looking to bolster the team ‘s pitching from within other than FA down the road. A guy like CC would not be given up without a fight. We have CC in the fold. Lee was just using us. Position could be had in FA if needed.

    On the other hand making the playoffs every year with the best record or near best record cuts back on your draft quality. Drafting 27th or later or even waiting into the second round because of a FA signing adds up over the years.

    Look a bad decision is better than no decision at least you can adjust from the bad decision. But the injuries to the Yankee players especially pitchers seems very common place, unfortunately. Taking a chance on a guy such as Brackman seemed like a no brainer when you can’t get top notch draft choice in the early rounds.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      I think if that’s the case this is a mistake. The Yanks should always be going BPA, position need shouldn’t be brought into consideration since most of these kids are 3-4 years away from helping in the bigs.

  • SMK

    The Yanks rolled snake eyes on that draft.

    If it was a contestant on Family Feud, it would be looking at a giant red X.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    I’m not so sure drafting at the end of the snake vs the beginning has anything to do with the quality of your draft class. Sure, it makes the #1 selection significantly easier, but we just had an argument about how many teams passed Stanton in this class. Pujols went one hundred and sixty something if I remember. Drafting is more about information fusion than position–let me put it this way: If you could make the perfect pick, but pick last every year, would you do it? Of course. We’re either not making good enough picks, or we’re not developing those picks well enough (btw I see zero wrong with trading developed prospects for immediate help).

    • Ted Nelson

      A very good draft class is only going to have a few MLB players. Significantly increasing your odds of finding one of those guys in the first round is a huge deal. About 15-20% of late 1st rounders work out (contribute at the MLB level more than a cup of coffee) from what I remember. I don’t know the number for top 5 or top 10 picks… but it might be the inverse for the top 5.