A quick review and some thoughts about the Yankees’ recent first round picks

Yankees hold off Rockies for 3-2 win
Damon Oppenheimer speaks out in favor of pre-draft physicals

Yesterday’s news that right-hander Ty Hensley is likely to miss the rest of the season following hip surgery kinda got me thinking about the team’s first round draft picks in recent years. Before we get into it, let’s look at the actual picks…

Those are the team’s first and supplemental first round selections during the Damon Oppenheimer era. He replaced long-time amateur scouting director Lin Garrett after Brian Cashman got his supposed autonomy following the 2005 season. Garrett was one of George Steinbrenner‘s guys and his drafts were amazingly unproductive in the early-2000s.

Anyway, the Yankees have done a miserable job of turning their early picks into big league players. This dates back a long way too, basically all the way back to when they drafted Derek Jeter in 1992. Only three of their first and supplemental first round picks since then — Eric Milton (1996), Mark Prior (1999), and Kennedy (2006) — have accumulated even 10+ WAR in the show. All three did so with other teams. Their most productive first rounders other than those three are Phil Hughes (7.6 WAR) and Joba. That’s it.

More recently, their top picks under Oppenheimer have been a mess of … everything. He had a brilliant first draft in 2006, a draft that probably set expectations unrealistically high. They selected 50 players that year, signed 36, and ten reached the big leagues. Six of them are mainstays around the league (Kennedy, Joba, Zach McAllister, George Kontos, Mark Melancon, David Robertson). That’s a pretty tough act to following.

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Brackman in 2007 was a classic “good pick that didn’t work out.” It happens. He was the highest-ceiling prospect on the board but also maybe the riskiest, especially when you consider his asking price and all that. Looks silly in hindsight, but the Yankees really shot for the moon with that pick. New York was lucky Cole slipped to them the following year, but unlucky when he decided three years at UCLA was preferable to turning pro. New York offered the prep right-hander a well-above-slot $4M bonus, so they certainly made a huge offer.

The last few years have been a little more questionable. Their top selections from 2009-2011 were all considered reaches by the publicly available consensus rankings, and so far only Heathcott has made the team look smart. He’s had injury problems but is regarded as one of baseball’s top 100 prospective big leaguers. Cito Culver and Dante Bichette Jr., their top picks in 2010 and 2011, have been unmitigated disasters so far. The picks were widely panned at the time of the draft and it’s easy to see why. Those two haven’t developed in the pro ranks and don’t even have trade value at this point.

Hensley’s career is just getting started, so we can’t pass judgement on him yet. We definitely know what the Yankees have in their top selections from 2007-2011, and that’s very little. It’s Heathcott, that’s it. Brackman has since been released, Cole went to school and was drafted first overall by the Pirates two years ago, and then there’s Culver and Bichette trying to figure things out by repeating Low-A Charleston. Whole bunch of nothing, really.

The Yankees have three first round picks this year — three of the first 33 picks in the entire draft, the first time they can say that since 1978 — and nearly $8M worth of draft pool money at their disposal, and I think it’s absolutely imperative they improve their first round results. It’s not easy to do, especially when you’re always picking in the back half of the first round, but this first round talent drought is nearly two decades old. They aren’t even turning these picks into trade chips these days and that needs to change, especially given the club’s self-imposed austerity.

I think — and this is just my opinion here — the Yankees have made some very questionable early picks the last three or four years. I think they got a little gun shy after Brackman blew up and Cole walked away, causing them to go a little more conservative with their top selections. They targeted players they knew they could sign, and while that is important, it shouldn’t trump talent. These three picks this year are a golden opportunity to inject some life and impact talent into the farm system, and simply maintaining the status quo and doing what they’ve been doing in recent years obviously isn’t good enough. There was a shift in strategy following Brackman and Cole, and now there needs to be another one after these last few drafts.

Yankees hold off Rockies for 3-2 win
Damon Oppenheimer speaks out in favor of pre-draft physicals
  • Mark L.

    Anyone with a monthly subscription to BP or BA would have made better draft picks than Oppenheimer & Co. This may be an example of someone trying to justify his salary by pretending he knows something no one else does. Unfortunately, it appears that he doesn’t know much. My advice: don’t try to get cute, just pick the players that the sports media and blogging community think should be picked.

    • mitch

      Disagree. Any idiot could pick off of a top prospect list. These guys are getting paid big bucks to make their own evaluations and determine the best choice. If they’re not getting the job done they should be replaced.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        And, if the first round choices aren’t working, then you still should be judging them on the merits of the rest of the draft.

        There’s a problem. What Mike is pointing out is certainly part of it, but I’m pretty sure even he knows it’s not the full picture.

    • BeanTooth

      But after the first round, then what? While the Yanks have sucked in first-round drafting, they’ve done pretty well in the later rounds, particularly when it comes to finding future relievers. Bloggers don’t know jack about those folks. And don’t forget that Mike Trout wasn’t exactly an MSM/blogging fave before his draft. But had the Angels not taken him, the Yanks would’ve.

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

        They’ve done an excellent job in the mid-to-late rounds.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Smart comments win the internet for the day. You should have your computer seized by authorities if you honestly believe your first sentence.

      • Mark L.

        As the great Billy Zane said in Titanic “A real man makes his own luck”

        The team with the most resources shouldn’t be getting such poor returns on their investments.

        • WSAnalyst

          This article doesn’t even scratch the surface of what kind of return on their investment they are getting or how that compares to the return that we should expect.

    • MannyGeee

      Also, anyone with MLB12 could set a line up and build a team with better confidence than Girardi and Cashman have. Sign ALL TEH P1AYERZ!!!!

      *wanking motion*

    • morris

      I agree. This is not the NFL or NBA. They have done an overall lousy job of drafting. The proof is how are AAA and AA teams are void of players that we can bring up and fill holes. Why do we have to go and get the Pierces,Mcghees,and Nelson’s of the baseball world.

      • WSAnalyst

        Quite confused. MLB first rounders are far less likely to work out than NFL or NBA picks, not more likely.

  • jjyank

    The only picks that I thought were bad at the time and still look bad are Culver and Bichette. That’s not really enough for me to call their drafting a disaster. I liked the Cole and Brackman picks, and Hensley’s book is still being written.

    Basically what I’m saying is I don’t think it’s been quite as bad as Mike.

    • Jim Is Bored

      “Basically what I’m saying is I don’t think it’s been quite as bad as Mike.”

      For whatever reason, this has been my opinion on most issues the past 3-4 months.

    • Jake

      Though not a first rounder, Bleich also looked pretty bad at the time, and still does. And Pope was another guy where you just had to trust the Yankees knew something no one else did. Again, looks like they didn’t.

      • jjyank

        If we’re extending this little game to the third round now, we can play it with just about every team.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Ryan Pope was about to be called up a couple years ago. He fell apart, but that happens with relievers.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Bleich also has had pretty severe surgery. I can’t recall whether this was something the Yankees knew or not at draft time. I assume it all happened afterwards.

        Seattle, of course, obviously knew.

    • LK

      There’s too much uncertainty with drafting to say much definitively.

      With that said, having back-to-back first round picks who stay completely healthy and still have essentially no trade value almost immediately after being drafted is pretty damning.

      • jjyank

        Sure. I didn’t say the team has been good at drafting lately. I just disagree with the “disaster” assessment. If they whiff again with 3 high draft picks this year, I’ll probably change my mind.

        • LK

          Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t describe the farm as a disaster overall. The first round pick issue I think is a combination of bad process and bad luck. Hensley was a good pick at the time in my opinion though. I’m interested to see what direction they go with the 3 picks this year.

          • TomH

            …I definitely wouldn’t describe the farm as a disaster overall.

            You’re right: it’s not a “disaster.” However, that doesn’t mean it’s of a quality that will keep the Yankees annually competitive for a playoff spot. Perhaps it’s best just to call it–and those responsible for it–mediocre.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              I think it’d make them more reliable on spending money in order to remain competitive than devloping from within. You can look at recent Yankee history and easily see where that approach has peaked and valleyed and draw your own conclusions.

            • jjyank

              Most publications have the farm system ranked in an above average position. That’s not how I describe mediocre.

              • YanksFan

                Shh, don’t ruin Tom’s on-going narrative and give him facts.

                However, he’s not alone in looking at the NYY farm in a vacuum. When compared to the rest of MLB, it’s not bad. They’ve got 4 Top-100 picks and a few lottery ticket/injured pitchers. They’ve also got a lot of MLB caliber depth. Not studs, but guys that come come up and not suck. Maybe even be replacement or slightly below. That is something that every organization needs when the injuries hit.

  • your mom

    Let the Cito & DBJ bashing commence.

    The Yankees need to spend more time & money on scouting. Or can we just kidnap the Cardinal’s scouts?

  • kenthadley

    All drafting is a crapshoot, but Ops hasn’t had much early round success and should be accountable for it. What isn’t understandable is why NYY didn’t use their economic muscle in the IFA market over the past five years before the limits were set. This would have more than made up for bad early drafting, but instead they let the Texas Rangers and Pittsburg Pirates and Oakland A’s take a good deal of the talent that Yanks could have dominated. The got their share, but they needed to use that muscle to get more and they didn’t. That’s where Cashman is accountable.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Cashman doesn’t set the IFA budget.

      • kenthadley

        I’m sure the GM makes budget proposals…Hal doesn’t just pick a number out of the air. The GM should be offering a convincing arguement to use the economic muscle they had to dominate while it was still possible. You can be correct that it could be nixed by Hal, but he doesn’t have a track record of drafting success that would match the rhetoric of being a championship caliber organization while keeping the budget at 189 or even reasonably above that. And it will be more pronounced next year.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          This is where I find a lot of these discussion frustrating. We all think we know what a GM does, or how the various parts of an MLB front office works, but our layman’s knowledge of who is who doesn’t even come close to understanding the everyday realities of a baseball front office.

          It’s fun conversation, but these are all blind swings we’re taking here. Unless someone here really has some high-level sports management knowledge, none of us are sure of anything.

          • kenthadley

            Yep. If we really knew, we’d be out scouting or making budget proposals rather than playing GM on the blog.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Obviously, the first guy to comment on this thread thought otherwise.

          • jjyank

            Which is exactly why assigning blame for things like the IFA budget is pointless.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Pointing fingers, and lots of them, makes you appear the more discerning fan.

              • kenthadley

                I’ve been very discerning…all the way back to when George Weiss was signing boatloads of prospects….Lew Burdette, Jackie Jensen, Gus Triandos, Sherm Lollar, Norm Siebern, etc. And then he turned them into 13 WS in 15 years.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  I think it’s awesome that you had that level of depth back then. I can tell you that my knowledge of prospects didn’t go beyond that one page in the team yearbook, and who was on the Donruss “Future Stars” cards, until the early 90’s. I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of guys here my age.

                  • CS Yankee

                    Weiss was Stalin back then and the game has changed in a hundred ways since then.

                    Plus, extremely doubtful he knew any of the prospects until they beared fruit in the majors unless he was employed by KC and had an arrangement with Weiss himself on who they would aquire next.

                    • kenthadley

                      he traded most of those guys before they ever hit the majors

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      That’s where Cashman is accountable.

      I agree overall that they could’ve/should’ve been more active in the IFA market, but I’m not sure if that’s a Cashman thing, or an ownership doesn’t want to shell out that much money for minor-league players thing.

  • trr

    Everyone knows this is far from an exact science; I’m wondering how do we stack up against other teams, taking into account the fact that we’re always drafting late? My feeling is that we should never skimp on scouting,
    should pay the top talent evaluators top dollar, and make the development of young talent the second highest organization priority.

    I think you all know what the first is/should be

    • moonimus

      I completely agree. How did the Yank stack up against the other teams within +/- 2 of their Average Draft Position. Yes, I am completely disappointed with the the Culver and Bichette picks and I hoped that they would “magically” pan out still but I am willing to think there are other teams that drafted close to the Yankees that have had “disaster” type results.

      Also, totally agree with the IFA spending and that the Yanks should have been on everyone in the last two years. They should be taking more risks at the amateur level since they can erase mistakes with their financial might. They should take less risks at the ML level since big, bloated contracts really reduce flexibility.

      Regardless, I am excited to see who they will draft this year in the first round.

      • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Domenic

        I think the 2010 draft is very damning in this regard. Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker, and Nick Castellanos went within the dozen picks following Culver, and all were far more highly touted heading into the draft (and are currently within the top-50 or so prospects in baseball).

        Outside of that year, however, it is kind of tough to pick on any of the Yankees picks using this methodology (e.g., who went around those picks). In 2011, the Yankees were hurt more by losing the first round than the actual selection of DBJ – several stud prospects went after their would-have-been pick, including Jackie Bradley, Trevor Story, and Kyle Crick. But I digress.

        • EricVA

          Ah 2010 does look bad. 2012 or 2011 doesn’t look as bad.

        • Bo Knows

          Taijuan Walker looks like a younger Betances right now, has big stuff but walks the park. I would bet if he was in the system people would be bitching about his walks like they have with everyone else.

          • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Domenic

            This is the first time Walker has really struggled with walks … and he’s six starts into the season. Since hitting full-season ball in 2007, Betances has walked at least 4.6 per 9 every season but 2010. That comparison isn’t too apt.

            • Bo Knows

              The reason I said right now. He could put it together again, but right now he looks like Betances, no control what so ever.

              • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Domenic

                I understand what you are saying – I just think it’s very premature. I don’t think most Yankees fans would get discouraged following six iffy starts after three years of very strong performances… perhaps I’m too optimistic.

        • pat

          Castellanos cost more than almost our entire 2010 draft. If you want to fault the FO for implementing a budget that’s fine. but Cash and co couldn’t have taken him.

          • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Domenic

            I was under the impression that this was a critique of the Yankees recent draft classes … and I feel that the team failing to invest properly is a valid criticism to levy here.

            • WSAnalyst

              It’s a matter of identifying who you are criticizing. Just saying “I wish they drafted better guys” is something that a fan of just about every team can do. Actually analyzing the results of their drafts relative to expectations is a lot harder. Pointing out a few guys drafted later in one draft and confusing the baseball operations and finance functions of the org is more fan rant than analysis.

              • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Domenic

                I am replying to a question regarding who was drafted within the same range as the Yankees’ selections. I’m not arguing that that is a scientific way to look at things … but as we are not involved in the drafting process and we do not know the budget, it is difficult to look at things beyond names.

                Cito Culver was signed for more money than Sanchez, Walker, and Syndergaard. He was signed for more than Mike Olt, who was universally regarded as the better talent. If they were strictly sticking up the middle, Matt Lipka (who has flamed out, but I don’t know if that’s fair for our purposes) was more highly regarded, and he signed for less. Ditto Andrelton Simmons.

                In the end, I suppose I am just criticizing the Yankees drafting as a whole. It is difficult to pinpoint and adjudicate blame, as we don’t know all of the particulars. Based on what has been said by the parties involved, I would argue that the team overvalued make-up a bit, and was terribly risk averse.

      • EricVA

        I totally agree here. I went back and looked at the last couple 1st rounds. There aren’t any names that stand out within 4-5 picks after the Yankees pick. When you are picking in the back of the 1st round, it’s tough to find standout selections.

  • Ron

    We finally agree Mike. They have been playing it safe Since Cole told them no. Also in the international market since giving Sanchez 3mil they have been picking up cheap guys while players like Sano who are just looking for money were let go because of “he didn’t have the right attitude like Culver and DBJ” When the Twins outbid you in the international market you know things are not what they used to be.

    • Havok9120

      What? Do you honestly believe the Yankees never lost an IFA battle before Hal got firmer about budgets?

      • Ron

        They were never overbid for what was considered top talent. Some went where they had better relationships with teams( ie: Felix to Mariners)but when have they lost someone who was considered at the time a top prospect based on money. The list of money given out to shitty players who never panned out is huge, but at least they tried.

        • WSAnalyst

          You really think the Yankees signed every talented, big money IFA in baseball before a few years ago?

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    I think that there has been a directional shift, and that Hensley, a mid-first rounder who fell to us, is the first example.

    I mean, he looks pretty damn similar to who Hughes was coming out of HS.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    How are Culver and DBJ “playing it safe,” though? I understand the signability piece, but I actually consider taking guys not even in conventional conversation as first-rounders a sizeable risk.

    I honestly don’t recall now whether Slade was considered an overreach at the time. My memory had told me “no,” but perhaps I’m wrong.

    I don’t know what to say here. I could easily envision a team taking the NFL “best player available on the board” approach and still having shitty first-round luck. This is a sliver of what replenishing the farm system as about. To me, the entirety of the draft class is going to tell you more. There’s validity here, but it’s one tree in that forest.

    • LK

      Personally, I think picks can be classified as risky if there’s a chance they’ll refuse to sign (Cole), they cost a lot of money (Heathcott), or they have a huge ceiling with very low probability (someone like Betances). DBJ and Culver were both cheap picks who they knew would sign, and seemed to be relatively high probability due to their work ethics but with limited ceiling. I don’t really know how you consider them risky – if they don’t work out, the only real risk is that the team looks dumb for taking them since the financial outlay was small.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        That’s certainly another way to look at it. I still don’t know if I agree, as I both don’t think “makeup” particularly translates to high probability, and do think multiple misses at that first round slot, while they can be compensated for in the rest of the draft, are still missed opportunities to add potential fast-risers.

        Then again, what fast-risers are truly out there when you’re picking at the end of the first round constantly.

        • LK

          I would agree on the second point that a busted 1st round pick is a missed opportunity, but I view that as a risk you’re taking no matter who you select, so that doesn’t make Culver or DBJ “risky” to me.

          As far as the makeup question, I think it’s reasonable to assume that working hard raises the probability all else being equal – I just don’t really think you can assess makeup in an 18-year-old well enough that you should be drafting based on it.

          Basically, when the Yanks were talking about taking Culver and Dante, do you think they were saying “we’re trying to hit a home run and find the next superstar” or “these guys should be solid MLB players”? Obviously we’ll never know, and there aren’t many guys with superstar potential at the back of the first, but the evidence seems to suggest that they were playing it safe with those two picks.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I don’t know what my answer would be to your question on Culver and Dante. My hunch would be “find an MLB regular” with Culver and “diamond in the rough” with DBJ.

            • LK

              Certainly possible. With those two, unless there’s a drastic turnaround, the question is essentially did the Yanks play it safe with the picks, or did their scouts completely miss? The answer is usually some combination of the two, but given the success elsewhere it seems like more of the former to me.

    • Bubba

      Given where the Yankees draft, any prospect with high end talent will have significant warts, such as signability, injury/durability issues and/or character questions. Most times these could lead to a complete flame out. By picking guys with lower ceilings but possibly higher floors, the Yankees could possibly put themselves in a better position to have a useful piece (role player, secondary trade chip) albeit at the expense of potential finding a superstar. It’s not a strategy I would take, but I can see where it’s “playing it safe.”

      I think Mike hit the nail on the head that Culver and DBJ were reactionary picks. I think that also partially explains IFA spending (Igawa). Whether that’s a FO issue or a mandate from ownership, who know’s.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    drafting in baseball is like gambling. You kinda know what you get with the top 10 picks. It’s kind of a crapshoot after that. It’s just about projecting people. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. Sometimes you may pick the right guys but it just doesn’t work out for whatever reason. It’s hard to judge from the outside anyway because we’re no scouts and we don’t even have 1% of information the Yanks have.

    The Yanks always pick at the very end of the 1st round, the obvious top prospects are long gone when they pick. You can’t do too much wrong with the 1st overall pick but when you’re picking at 30th or so then you have like 100 guys you can pick from. I’m not saying that they’re doing a good job but I can imagine how hard it has to be to pick the right guys. You do all the scouting and whatever and in the end it comes down to several guys and you basically roll the dice and make your pick.

    I mean when you look at the list it’s really not too bad. 3 out of the nine made it to the majors and Cole for sure will be the 4th. If Hensley or Heathcott make it to the Show too then the Yanks are above 50% of their 1st round picks making the majors, which is above average for late 1st rounders.

    That being said the Culver pick was by far the Yanks’ worst pick in the recent past. I could see why they drafted DBJ but drafting a SS without a half decent hitting tool in the 1st round was just stupid imo.

  • thenamestsam

    I think this is way too sweeping of an assessment made with a serious lack of data. Basically Mike is making the case that the Yankees have struggled in the recent drafts because of a change to a more conservative strategy due to the Cole and Brackman picks.

    But the evidence for that change in strategy is all of two picks. While the Heathcott pick may have been a little reach-y, it certainly doesn’t seem to fit the into the narrative of a change to low risk signings since he’s a super toolsy guy who can’t stay healthy and has had character issues (rightly or wrongly) raised over the years. Plus they gave him a large bonus. Doesn’t seem like Hensley fits into that story very well either since he was near the top of most draft boards when we selected him. So we have two picks that fit the story and two that really don’t.

    Basically this feels to me like an attempt to stick a narrative onto something without the evidence to support it. It’s tempting to try to craft a story out of the Culver and Bichette picks because they fit nicely together. Two kids with high character and connections to the team who were considered reaches and have been busts so far. But if we zoom out to include even one more year that story starts to fall apart. I’m not sure there’s anything more here than just two draft picks in a row that missed. It happens. Two data points don’t necessarily describe a trend.

    And yeah, it’s important that the Yankees nail the draft this year. It’s important every year. But I’m far from convinced that a change in strategy has anything to do with it.

    • Gonzo

      I think these are all great points. I always like your comments because they are pretty crisp and on point. I do think Mike could have went further in his discussion about those two data points (Culver 2010, DBJr 2011). I want to leave out Hensley because they were under a new CBA agreement. The jury will be out on how that thing shakes out for a while.

      For example, the Yankees spent less in 2010 than they did in 2009. They also spent less in 2011 than they did in 2010. Meanwhile spending for the entire draft jumped from $189,335,200 in 2009 to $228,009,050 in 2011. So while the draft got more expensive, the Yankees spent less relative to the league. This could be for a bunch of reasons like more spending at the top, less picks, etc… I would love for someone to get into it though because I think it could be a fascinating discussion.

      Also, those two picks, as far as I can remember, were the only picks not to have protracted negotiations that ended in a higher than slot bonus.

      Obviously we can raise some questions, but chances are won’t get answers anytime soon. Like, did the Yankees begin to value getting players in the system quicker more? Did the Yankees ignore or not notice a trend to spend more in the draft? Would this trend have continued if not for the new CBA? Etc…

      This could lead to some fun internet chatter for sure.

  • TomH

    On the “crapshoot” dimension of the draft: probably true. I remember looking at lists of the Yankees’ farm teams from the old days, ca. 1950-60 (I can’t remember the website). If I’m recalling correctly, there were more teams under Yankee “control” than now. Thus many more players in total. It’s interesting to see how many of them–guys like Bob Grim, McDougald, Ford, Mantle, et al.–did move on up, either to star roles on the team or essential roles (McDougald, e.g.).

    But I wonder if the percentage success rate in signings, back then, was any higher than the percentage success in draftings today.

    I want to say “Yes” because of the feeling most people had in the 1950s that the Yankees had a well-oiled conveyor belt to bring talent up to the big team. In the 1950s? Hell, my father’s generation were complaining about the conveyor belt in the 1930s and 40s.

    In any case, today the success rate seems to have to be lower, if only because of leveling factors. Nevertheless (an odd word, logically speaking), it seems worth examining this question also by reference to those old days, if only to see whether the Yankee scouting industry today represents a decline from that era.

    On the first respondent’s point about the media and the “blogging community” as respositories of wisdom about the talent on the field: not a damned chance.

    • kenthadley

      with no draft back then, it was all about effort and money….most teams had many more minor league affiliates, and hundreds of players controlled for life…Yanks used their economic muscle back then to dominate the talent signings until the early 60’s when Topping decided to sell…the only shot this generation of Yanks had to do this was in the International FA pool before the limits, and Yanks chose not to dominate.

  • Coolerking101

    Mike, you’ve been doing a draftcast the last few years. I’m curious, who did you think (at the time) the Yanks should have pick in the 1st round during the last few years and how have they panned out?

    • vinnie

      id like to hear your answer to this too

  • CS Yankee

    I feel we need to judge the draft as a whole. Passing on a higher kid to grab a off-flavor pick is risky but also might save some key dollars for the later rounds.

    Bottom line, I could care less that they run a dead first round pick for 20 straight years as long as they produce overall an upper third system with some elite pros having made it as NYY as it is more of a heartache having developed someone (Lowell) and have them traded for a minor short-term piece.

  • Dan

    Phil Hughes has 10.2 fwar, and was a first round pick.

  • Bo Knows

    I disagree with the 3 out of four years, Hensley was widely seen as a mid-late first round talent so he wasn’t a reach at all.

  • Novymir

    Look at the San Fran Giants first round picks, and how well they have done. Oh yes, they have won 2 of last 3 WS.

    • pat

      Lincecum and Posey were both Top 10 picks. Stupid Yankees never drafting there.

    • Bo Knows

      and look at where those guys were taken

      2009- Zack Wheeler (#6 overall)
      2008- Buster Posey (#5)
      2007- Madison Bumgarner (#7)
      2006- Tim Lincecum (#10)
      2002- Matt Cain (#25)

      So with the exception of Cain every major pick the Giants have had in the past 10 years were top 10 overall picks.

  • dkidd

    the awesomeness of hensley’s mom makes me root for him even more

  • Pasta Stumbling Sojo

    In order to claim that these picks have been poor, you have to compare them to how well other similar draft picks have performed.

    There are many ways to do this, but I looked at the 5 picks that came after the Yankees’ picks for each of these years:

    2006: 0.2 WAR among the 5 picks that came after Kennedy (avg 0.04 WAR), 2 of whom made the Major Leagues
    2006b: 5.5 WAR among the 5 picks that came after Joba (avg 1.1 WAR), 1 of whom made the ML
    2007: 6.1 WAR (avg 1.2), 3 of whom made the ML
    2008: 1.0 WAR (avg 0.2), 3 made it
    2008b: 2.6 WAR (avg 0.5), 2 made it
    2009: 3.6 WAR (avg 0.7), 2 made it
    2010-2012: 0 WAR, 0 made it

    Yankees had 9 picks totaling 17.7 WAR (2.0 avg), 33% of whom made it to the ML
    The 5 picks following the Yanks’ picks averaged 0.4 WAR per pick, and 29% made it to the ML
    Also, the best Yankee pick by WAR has totaled 10.7 WAR, while the best pick of the following 5 picks has totaled 5.5 WAR (Chris Perez in 2006).

    That seems like a (mild) success, not a failure.

    WAR and making it to the ML doesn’t tell the whole story, especially for the last few years since those players haven’t had enough time yet. Looking at the specific players and their minor league performance is a big part of Mike’s analysis. But the part of the story that these numbers do tell don’t make Oppenheimer look bad at all.

    • WSAnalyst

      Thank you. Some level of analysis. Certainly far from comprehensive, but shows that in about 10 minutes you can do infinitely more analysis than the author bothered to.

      (I would say that this method overstates the Yankees’ success a little–for 2010-11 specifically–but it does begin to reveal how seldomly late first rounders work out. Getting MLB contributors is a big win. Not the norm.)

      • Pasta Stumbling Sojo

        Er, I wouldn’t say this is infinitely more analysis than Mike did. In fact, I’d say it’s less. I just wanted to add some important context that he left out.

  • pc

    i hear the yanks have the largest and most expensive scouting dept in baseball, they are either hiring by nepotism or over paying or both.

  • WSAnalyst

    The analysis here is non-existent. It’s not possible to make an assessment without establishing some sort of expected return. What is the expected return from the picks that they had? How far from that were they? Is the difference statistically significant or might it be random chance? This is just a fanboy rant.

    As I recall, you loved the Hensley pick. Going back on that over a hip inpingment? Fanboy stuff.

    Further fanboy stuff…
    -Lumping who the Yankees drafted in with whether they traded them with Milton and IPK. Not only are they two separate functions, but trading prospects for veterans has been the Yankees strategy for a long time and worked out quite well overall.
    -Isolating the first round from the rest of the draft.
    -Not mentioning how few the first rounders the Yankees have actually had over the time period you’re refering to. You mention where in the round those picks fell briefly, but barely do so. This goes to the lack of any real analysis. How many 10+ WAR players one should expect from a team with 20 top 10 picks is different from a team with 10 picks that feel from 20-30.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Ted…is that you?

  • James

    I think looking at the Yankees’ drafts as a whole, not just the first round, is a better analysis of their record, but since we’re just discussing the first round, I thought it’d be instructive to look at every teams cumulative first round bWAR since ’05, not just the Yankees:

    Nats 51
    Rays 47.3
    Giants 44
    Brewers 41.8
    Dbacks 37.9
    Red Sox 36.9
    Rockies 31.1
    Reds 30.2
    Royals 29
    Dodgers 27.8
    Pirates 21.8
    Cardinals 20.7
    Blue Jays 19.2
    Yankees 17.7
    Braves 17.6
    Twins 16.8
    White Sox 16.3
    Mets 14.8
    O’s 14.8
    Mariners 13.9
    A’s 12.7
    Rangers 10.6
    Angels 10.2
    Tigers 9
    Cubs 3.6
    Padres 3.2
    Indians 2.8
    Astros 2.6
    marlins 1.2
    Phillies -0.7