Baseball America’s Jim Callis posted his second mock draft today (no subs. req’d), and he has the Astros taking former Yankees draft pick/Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray with the first overall selection. Callis notes Houston is rumored to be seeking a pre-draft deal with a college bat — likely San Diego 3B Kris Bryant or UNC 3B Colin Moran — so they can redistribute the draft pool savings elsewhere. The Cubs and Rockies are projected to take Stanford RHP Mark Appel and Bryant with the second and third overall picks, respectively.
The Yankees have three first round picks, and Callis has them selecting New Jersey HS LHP Rob Kaminsky (26th overall), Indiana State LHP Sean Manaea (32nd), and Oklahoma HS C Jon Denney (33rd). Click the links for my profile of each player. The Yankees have been connected to Denney, an offense-first catcher, in every single mock draft so far. Callis suspects the Yankees will roll the dice on Manaea — he missed his last start with shoulder stiffness and hip soreness that has lingered all spring — thanks to their extra picks and draft pool money ($7.96M), but they have become risk-averse in recent years, at least when it comes to their highest selections. Those three players might represent the best case scenario for the Yankees, unless they’re willing to take on an another injury risk in Minnesota HS OF Ryan Boldt.
Other Mock Drafts: Baseball America (v1.0), Keith Law (v1.0), and MLB.com (v1.0). · (11) ·
Six questions and five answers this week. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us mailbag questions or anything else at any time.
Nick asks: Could the Yankees target Chris Perez as a trade candidate? A deal similar to the Joel Hanrahan trade?
My first thought was no way, but my first thought is often wrong. Not only is Mariano Rivera retiring after this season, but Joba Chamberlain is likely to leave as a free agent too. David Robertson is awesome, but I think the Yankees should add some kind of Proven Veteran™ backup plan to the Shawn Kelleys and Preston Claibornes of the world. My preferred choice as of today is impending free agent Grant Balfour, but that is subject to change.
Perez, 27, owns a 2.25 ERA and 5.72 FIP in 16 innings this year. He’s run into some serious homer problems of late, serving up three to the last eight batters he’s faced. Since getting the closer’s job outright in 2010, Perez has pitched to a 2.80 ERA (3.88 FIP) with a strong strikeout (8.11 K/9 and 21.6 K%) rate but mediocre walk (3.53 BB/9 and 9.4 BB%) and ground ball (34.7%) numbers. He managed to cut his walk rate to 2.50 BB/9 (6.6 BB%) last year, but that hasn’t stuck so far. I think we can say Perez is what he is at this point.
The Hanrahan comparison is perfect. Perez will be a free agent after the 2014 season, so acquiring him this winter means you’d be getting one year of a two-time All-Star, Capital-C Closer like the Red Sox got with Hanrahan. Would the Indians take a package of four spare parts like the Pirates did? Who knows. The Yankees could slap together a package of Dellin Betances, Zoilo Almonte, Eduardo Nunez … guys like that if the Indians will take quantity over quality. Perez has had some run-ins with the Indians brass over the years and could be available, but I want to see how he performs the rest of the season before going all-in.
Johnny asks: How would you handicap the chances of Yankees trading Phil Hughes before deadline?
I think they’re very, very small. This team lives and dies with its pitching as presently constructed, so I don’t see them giving up a rotation arm even if Hughes will be a free agent (and likely leaving) after the season. Maybe if Michael Pineda comes back strong, Ivan Nova figures things out in Triple-A, Vidal Nuno continues to impress in the show … maybe. I’d want a bat in return, preferably at shortstop or catcher. Someone who can help the team today, not prospects. Prospects suck.
Alex asks: Do you think that the Yankees’ preference for bat-first catchers has hindered the development of their minor league pitchers? The Yanks have seemed to be notoriously poor at bringing pitchers up to reach their ceiling for the past decade-plus.
It could be a factor, but I don’t think it’s a big one. Most minor league catchers stink at defense, and it’s not like Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy — the teams’ two most notable bat-first catchers — are atrocious defenders. Reports over the last 18 months or so have been very positive about their defensive improvement. Jesus Montero was a miserable defender though, and he did work with most of the team’s top young arms over the years.
I suppose having no confidence in the catcher blocking a breaking ball in the dirt or throwing out base-stealers could alter pitch selection, but pitchers are usually given a set number of pitches to throw per game. A team will tell their guy he needs to throw 25 curveballs or whatever per start as part of his development. Maybe bad defensive catchers have contributed to the team’s lack of success with starting pitching prospects, but I feel like it would be just a small part of the problem.
Mike asks: Is it time for some promotions in the minor league system? I know Dietrich Enns is 22 already, but he is blowing away the competition in A-ball (along with Rafael DePaula). These guys, along with Murphy and Sanchez, need to go up a level. Right?
Shep asks: Given his early success in Low-A and his “age,” how quickly do you think DePaula will climb the ladder? What is your prediction for his MLB debut?
Gonna lump these two together. We’re starting to approach promotion season, which usually takes place from mid-June through July, when the draft provides some new players to fill roster spots. Enns has been awesome — lefty with a 0.71 ERA (1.34 FIP) and 43/11 K/BB in 25.1 innings for Low-A Charleston — and I expect him to get bumped up to High-A Tampa at midseason. Murphy and Sanchez are repeating levels and have performed plenty well enough to earn midseason promotions. Some other obvious promotion candidates include (stats don’t include last night’s games):
- C Peter O’Brien: His defense is awful, but he’s hitting .328/.392/.586 (165 wRC+) with five homers for Low-A Charleston.
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: Hitting .335/.440/.451 (~158 wRC+) and has already been promoted once. Bumping him up to Double-A Trenton allows Angelo Gumbs to play second everyday with High-A Tampa as well.
- RHP Tommy Kahnle: 1.77 ERA (3.50 FIP) with 23 strikeouts and 13 walks in 20.1 innings. Another few weeks of that and he should be ready for Triple-A Scranton.
- RHP Shane Greene: Repeating High-A Tampa with a 3.07 ERA (2.36 FIP) and a 53/8 K/BB in 55.2 innings. Get this man to Double-A Trenton.
DePaula is another animal entirely. The numbers — 2.38 ERA (1.96 FIP) with a 74/19 K/BB in 45.1 innings — are outstanding for Low-A Charleston, but he’s also short on pitching experience because of his various layoffs (suspension, visa) despite being 22 years old. VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman told Chad Jennings a promotion isn’t imminent because he’s “got to develop secondary pitches. He hasn’t pitched that much competitively.”
I do think DePaula will get moved up to High-A Tampa at midseason, but he might spend another four or six weeks with the River Dogs first. Let’s see what happens when the league gets a second and third look at him, how he holds up physically under the workload, stuff like that. DePaula is on a weird development schedule and I’m generally not a fan of promoting starters after 50 or so dominant innings. As for his big league debut … second half of 2015 at the absolute earliest? DePaula will get promoted eventually, there’s no rush.
Travis asks: With the upcoming roster crunch (when DL players start coming back), is there going to come a point where is may make sense to bring Manny Banuelos up from the Triple-A DL to put him on the 60-day DL for MLB? I know they didn’t want to lose a year of control, but at the halfway point, would it be a lost year?
The Super Two date is sometime in early-June, so yeah, there’s a definitely a point where calling him up to clear a roster spot makes sense. Banuelos’ free agency has already been pushed back and they’re only two or three weeks from avoiding Super Two. They might actually be passed that date already since he’s not going to be in the big leagues on Opening Day next year.
There’s still some dead weight on the 40-man roster that can be trimmed — Ben Francisco, Reid Brignac, Melky Mesa, Francisco Rondon, etc. — but the Yankees have six guys expected to come off the 60-day DL in the next two months. Letting Banuelos accrue just a few weeks of service time would be no big deal under the circumstances.
Triple-A Scranton (8-5 loss to Durham)
- 2B Corban Joseph: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
- RF Brennan Boesch: 3-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — had two hits in his first five games since being sent down
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 0-4, 1 K
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
- RHP Brett Marshall: 4 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 9/0 GB/FB — 49 of 83 pitches were strikes (59%) … hooray ground balls?
Via Erik Boland: Mark Teixeira could join Double-A Trenton for an official rehab assignment as soon as next Tuesday. He’s been hitting in the cage and in simulated games down in Tampa, and I assume he’ll squeeze in a few Extended Spring Training at-bats before joining the Thunder.
Teixeira, 33, has been out with an injury to the tendon sheath in his right wrist since early March, so his rehab assignment is probably going to last longer than two or three days. He might be there for a week considering he missed a big chunk of Spring Training and needs to iron out two swings. Lyle Overbay has started to cool off recently and if nothing else, getting Teixeira in the lineup will be a huge help against left-handed pitchers. · (16) ·
The Yankees are enjoying a much-needed off-day today, their first true off-day in over two weeks. They open a three-game series with the Rays on Friday, a team that really isn’t a good matchup for them on paper. Then again, it’s a three-game series and anything can happen. That’s the best part of baseball.
Here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is airing a game tonight, though who you see depends on where you live. There’s also some NHL playoff action, including the NY Rangers trying to stave off elimination. Talk about any of those games and more here. Have at it.
Via Joel Sherman & Andy McCullough: Right-hander Michael Pineda averaged 93 mph during today’s five-inning Extended Spring Training start according to team officials. I would take that with a grain of salt considering the source. Sherman says the plan is for Pineda to make one more ExST outing next week before going out on an official 30-day rehab assignment. The team will eventually decide if he is big league ready or in need of more Triple-A time.
Meanwhile, the Mariners demoted Jesus Montero to Triple-A today according to Ryan Divish. He hasn’t hit a lick since the trade, producing a miserable .252/.293/.377 (86 wRC+) line with 18 homers in 663 plate appearances to go along with awful defense behind the plate. Seattle is apparently going to work him out at first base in the minors, which is probably long overdue. This trade remains firmly in lose-lose territory. What a spectacular mess. · (65) ·
I think teams get a pretty good idea of what they have after three years, but the old saying says you need five years to evaluate a draft class. So, with the 2013 draft just two weeks away, it’s time to take a look back at the Yankees’ draft haul from June 2008. Unlike the 2007 draft, the team’s 2008 draft has been sneaky productive despite a high-profile first round blunder.
UCLA over NYY
Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has been on the job since before the 2006 draft, and he has not drafted a single player better than RHP Gerrit Cole. Oppenheimer and the Yankees selected Cole with their first round pick back in 2008, making him the 28th overall selection. Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked him as the tenth and 17th best prospect in the draft, respectively, but he slipped to New York due to signability concerns. Concerns that proved to be completely founded.
Despite declarations that he was a lifelong Yankees fan — and one very famous photo — Cole declined to sign with the team prior to the August 15th deadline and instead following through on his commitment to UCLA.
“We knew it was going to be a tough sign,” said Brian Cashman to Tyler Kepner in 2011, “but we also were told in pre-draft meetings with the family that he was willing to play pro ball and forgo college. We rolled the dice and took our chances. Everybody has a right to change their mind … We were right on the [talent] evaluation. There’s no doubt about that.”
Oppenheimer confirmed the team was prepared to offer Cole a far-above-slot $4M bonus, but they wouldn’t even listen to the offer. Cole wanted to attend UCLA, and it didn’t hurt that his family is wealthy and the money wasn’t truly life-changing. The Yankees lost out on their top pick, who went on to have three great years with the Bruins before being the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Pirates gave Cole an $8M bonus and he is now on the cusp of the big leagues. Before the season, Baseball America ranked him as the third best pitching prospect and sixth best overall prospect in the game.
I like to think that had the Yankees signed Cole, he would be in their rotation right now after debuting sometime during the 2011 season. I assume he would have been on the Phil Hughes timetable, meaning Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa in year one, High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in year two, Triple-A Scranton and the show in year three. Cole did make major strides with his changeup at UCLA though, the pitch that made him the first overall pick two drafts ago, and there’s no way to know if that would have happened had he signed. Either way, missing out on Cole was devastating.
The Yankees didn’t just fail to sign Cole, they also didn’t sign their second round pick either. RHP Scott Bittle out of Ole Miss had agreed to a contract, but a pre-signing physical found some wear and tear in his shoulder and the team backed out. Bittle returned to school and had a strong senior season, which led to the Cardinals taking him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He blew out his shoulder almost immediately after signing and has been out of baseball since 2011.
The Yankees did receive compensation picks for failing to sign Cole and Bittle, picks they used to draft OF Slade Heathcott and C J.R. Murphy in 2009. Those two are among their top prospects right now, but I would trade both for Cole and whatever is left of Bittle’s shoulder in a heartbeat.
Because failing to sign Cole and Bittle wasn’t enough, supplemental first round pick LHP Jeremy Bleich — the compensation pick for losing Luis Vizcaino to the Rockies — blew out his shoulder in May 2010 after an underwhelming 2010 campaign (4.86 ERA and 2.07 K/BB in 144.1 innings across two levels). He returned to action as a reliever last last year and currently owns a 3.32 ERA (3.71 FIP) in 21.2 innings for Double-A Trenton. Bleich is the fringiest of fringe prospects following surgery.
The Late-Round Success Story
As bad as the top three picks were, the Yankees did uncover a gem in RHP David Phelps (14th round). Phelps had a breakout sophomore year at Notre Dame but a disappointing junior/draft year, and the Yankees gambled $150k that they could get him back to his sophomore self. That happened almost immediately, as he flew through the minors in three years and never once posted an ERA over 3.00.
Phelps made the big league roster out of Spring Training as the long man last year, and he’s since pitched his way into the rotation and become a valuable member of the staff. In 142 innings split between 15 starts and 28 relief appearances, he has a 3.49 ERA and 4.12 FIP with New York. The Yankees struck gold with their 14th round pick and $150k investment.
Reached The Show
Phelps is not the only 2008 draftee to reach the show with the Yankees. In fact, IF David Adams (3rd round) is now the team’s everyday third baseman following the injuries to Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez. He’s performing very well and is playing his way onto the roster even when those two return. Adams missed an awful lot of time with injuries over the years, including a fractured ankle that cost him almost all of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, so his story is definitely one of perseverance.
In addition to Phelps and Adams, IF Corban Joseph (4), RHP Brett Marshall (6), and RHP D.J. Mitchell (10) have all reached the big leagues with the Bombers. Joseph and Marshall made their short-lived debuts within the last two weeks and are just up-and-down players at this point. Mitchell made four underwhelming appearances last summer before being traded to the Mariners for Ichiro Suzuki at the deadline. He’s since been released by Seattle and currently pitches in the Mets system.
The Other Late-Round Success Story
Turning a 14th round pick into a useful big leaguer is a pretty awesome accomplishment, but the Yankees also turned their 50th round selection — the 1,502nd of 1,504 total players drafted in 2008 — into a legitimate prospect. A commitment to BYU and impending two-year Mormon mission scared clubs away from Southern California prep LHP Nik Turley, but the Yankees convinced him to turn pro with a $150k bonus.
In the five years since, Turley has developed from a gangly and raw high school arm into the team’s top left-handed pitching prospect. He’s climbed the ladder slow and deliberately, but he earned a spot on the 40-man roster last winter by pitching to a 3.00 ERA (~3.39 FIP) in 117 innings split across High-A Tampa and Double-A Charleston. I ranked Turley as the team’s 11th best prospect a few weeks ago, and this year he owns a 4.46 ERA (4.39 FIP) with the Thunder. He should made his big league debut at some point next season, six years after being the third to last player picked in the draft.
The Other Unsigned Gems
Cole is obviously the headliner here, but the Yankees also failed to sign 36th rounder LHP Chris Dwyer. He turned the team down out of high school before signing with the Royals as a fourth rounder out of Clemson in 2009. He was a super-rare draft-eligible freshman. Dwyer had a huge 2010 season across two minor league levels and Baseball America ranked him as the game’s 83rd best prospect prior to the 2011 season. His performance went south in a hurry — 5.77 ERA and ~4.75 FIP in 277.1 innings from 2011-2012 — and he’s just a fringe prospect now.
RHP Rob Scahill (48) also passed on New York, instead returning to Bradley for his senior year. He was an eighth round pick of the Rockies in 2009, then climbed the minor league ladder in short order before debuting with Colorado as a September call-up last year. In 14 innings spread across eight relief appearances these last nine months, Scahill owns a 0.64 ERA and 2.86 FIP.
The Rest of the … Rest
The Yankees drafted 51 players in 2008, signing 34 of them. Of those 34, ten remain in the organization. Bleich, Adams, Joseph, Marshall, Phelps, and Turley are six of the ten. The other four are organizational players: C Kyle Higashioka (7), RHP Mikey O’Brien (9), IF Addison Maruszak (17), and SwP Pat Venditte (20).
Venditte is the most notable of the bunch because of the whole ambidextrous thing, but he currently recovering from right shoulder surgery. Higashioka is a strong defensive catcher who will miss the rest of the year following Tommy John surgery. O’Brien is having an okay year with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, and Maruszak is doing the same with Triple-A Scranton.
I have to mention somewhere that the Yankees traded RHP Andy Shive (35) to the Indians for Kerry Wood at the 2010 trade deadline. He was released following that season and has been out of baseball since. Wood, as you remember, was a valuable setup man for New York down the stretch that year.
* * *
Fair or not, the 2008 draft will be defined by the failure to sign Cole. He is one of the top pitching prospects in the game and could become on of the top pitchers in the world in relatively short order. Using a first round pick on that player and failing to sign him is a big kick to the gut.
Beyond Cole though, the Yankees have gotten one good big leaguer out of this draft in Phelps. Adams looks to be on his way to joining him in the “useful player” ranks while the book is still out on Joseph, Marshall, and Turley. Shive was useful in his own way. As much as losing out on Cole sucks, the Bombers have gotten some value from this draft class. Just not impact talent.
The 2013 amateur draft will be held from June 6-8 this year, and between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Dustin Peterson | SS
Peterson attends Gilbert High School in the Phoenix suburbs, and he has his brother D.J. to thank for his prospect stock. D.J. will come out of New Mexico as a fringe first rounder this year after going undrafted in 2010, leading a lot of teams to believe they dropped the ball while scouting him in high school. That has led to Dustin getting a lot of extra attention this spring. He is committed to Arizona State and played very well in front of scouts this spring.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs., Peterson’s best tool is his sweet right-handed swing and high-end bat speed. He’s very quick to the ball and he uses his lower half well, generating above-average power in addition to the ability to hit for average. Peterson has no trouble against good fastballs and he recognizes offspeed stuff well.
The bat isn’t much of a question, but his long-term position is. Peterson is a good athlete but he lacks the first step quickness needed to play shortstop long-term. His hands are fine but his arm isn’t anything special, making second base a more likely destination than third. The outfield could also be a possibility. Peterson is just an okay runner who won’t steal many bases. He’s not a bat-only prospect, but he is bat-first. I can’t find any video — there’s another kid named Dustin Peterson with a bunch of YouTube clips, but it’s not this Dustin Peterson.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked Peterson as the 36th and 61st best draft prospect in their latest draft rankings, respectively, so there’s a pretty big split of opinions. Dustin is more advanced than his brother was at this age, and there’s a chance D.J. will be a top-15 pick in a few weeks. If a team thinks Dustin can remain at shortstop, he could go in the back-half of the first round. If not — and I’m guessing at least one of the 30 teams thinks he can play short long-ish term — he might be more of a second round guy. The Yankees have three first rounders (26th, 32nd, 33rd) and they love up-the-middle athletes, especially when they can hit. Peterson is right up their alley.