2016 Draft: Yankees select 2B Nick Solak with second round pick

The Yankees have connected to a bunch of college bats the last few weeks, and they landed one with their second round pick in the 2016 draft Thursday night. New York selected Louisville second baseman Nick Solak with their second rounder (62nd overall). They took California HS OF Blake Rutherford with their first round pick.

Solak, 21, put up a .380/.474/.576 batting line with five homers, nine steals, 27 walks, and 19 strikeouts in 45 games for the Cardinals this spring. He was all over the place on the various draft rankings. Baseball America ranked Solak as the 86th best prospect in the draft class while MLB.com ranked him 147th. Keith Law (subs. req;d) did not include him in his top 100 draft prospects list. Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

He has a line-drive stroke and focuses on the middle of the field, an approach that leads to consistent contact but not much power. Once he gets on base, he has the solid speed and good instincts to make things happen … He has sure hands and his quickness gives him range, though he doesn’t have the smoothest infield actions and some scouts wonder if he might wind up in center field in pro ball. He receives praise for his gritty makeup.

It’s easy to assume Solak is a pick designed to save draft pool space for Rutherford, though I’m not entirely sure that’s the case. I’ve said that about other players over the years — Peter O’Brien and Gosuke Katoh, most notably — and it hasn’t happened. Slot money for the 62nd pick is $1.04M. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see whether Solak is a draft pool pick or just one of those players the Yankees like more than everyone else.

2016 Draft: Yankees select OF Blake Rutherford with first round pick

Over the last few weeks the Yankees were connected primarily to high school pitchers and college bats for their first round pick of the 2016 draft. So, naturally, when their pick came around Thursday night, they took a high school position player. Go figure.

With their first round selection in the 2016 draft (18th overall), the Yankees selected California HS OF Blake Rutherford. He’s from Chaminade College Preparatory School in Chatsworth, so scouting director Damon Oppenheimer once again went for a Southern California player. That’s Oppenheimer’s go-to locale. When in doubt, expect the Yankees to take the SoCal kid.

Rutherford was one of the very best prospects in the draft class. In fact, Keith Law says several folks consider Rutherford a better pure hitter than fellow SoCal prep outfielder Mickey Moniak, who was taken first overall by the Phillies. Law (subs. req’d) ranked Rutherford as the sixth best prospect in the entire draft while¬†MLB.com ranked him eighth and Baseball America ranked him ninth. Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

The left-handed-hitting outfielder from the Southern California high school ranks can do just about everything on a baseball field. Rutherford has the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average raw power. He’ll record average to plus run times, and his speed helps him on the basepaths and in the outfield. Rutherford is a solid defender in the outfield, though most feel he’ll move to right field in the future. The good news is his bat should profile just fine if that move does happen.

The Yankees have favored college players in recent years and they seem to have a knack for out-of-nowhere picks. Rutherford is the opposite of that. He was the best player on the board according to the various rankings, and the only real knock against him is his age. Rutherford turned 19 last month and is one of the oldest high schoolers in the draft class.

Because he was considered a top ten talent, chances are the Yankees will have to pay Rutherford an overslot bonus to get to pass on his commitment to UCLA. Slot money for the 18th pick is $2.44M. Expect to see the Yankees take some cheaper players in rounds two through ten. They need to save some pool space to sign Rutherford.

2016 Draft: Day One Open Thread

(Pic via @MLB)
(Pic via @MLB)

The Yankees are wrapping up their four-game series with the Angels tonight, and while that game is important given the team’s place in the standings, it is not the most important thing going on in Yankeeland tonight. The 2016 amateur draft begins tonight, which means the Yankees and every other team have the opportunity to add future rotation leaders and lineup anchors.

The MLB draft is a three-day event and a total of 77 picks will be made tonight. That covers the First Round, Supplemental First Round, Competitive Balance Round A, Second Round, and Competitive Balance Round B. The Yankees have two picks tonight: 18th and 62nd overall. That’s their first and second round selections. The full draft order is right here. The Padres lead the way with five picks tonight. The Cubs have zero.

The latest reports indicate the Yankees are leaning towards taking a pitcher, likely a high schooler. That is hardly set in stone though. There are conflicting reports about their interest — aren’t there always? — and it should be noted the team has favored college players in recent years. They’ve selected eleven players in the first three rounds over the last three draft, and eight of the eleven came out of college.

I personally don’t have much of a preference who the Yankees draft tonight. The player New York has been most connected to these last few weeks is California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy (write-up). A report this morning indicated he wants a huge bonus though, and the Yankees don’t have the draft pool space to do anything crazy. They have $5.77M in pool space for the top ten rounds. That 18th pick comes with a $2.44M slot value.

The draft broadcast begins at 7pm ET. You can watch live on MLB Network or stream online on MLB.com. You can also follow along on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker. Here are Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects and MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects for reference. As always, MLB.com’s draft content is completely free. The scouting reports and everything.

The Yankees are playing the Angels at the same time as the draft tonight. Here’s the game thread. Please help keep things tidy by keeping game comments in the game thread and draft comments in this draft thread. Thanks in advance. Enjoy the draft, everyone.

2016 Draft: Alex Kirilloff

Alex Kirilloff | OF

The 18-year-old Kirilloff attends Plum High School in Pittsburgh. He jumped onto the draft map last summer with strong showings at various showcase events, which included winning the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby. He’s committed to Liberty University.

Scouting Report
Kirilloff, who stands 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs., has a ton of natural power from the left side of the plate. The ball goes a long way when he connects. Kirilloff does have a little bit of a hitch before starting his swing — he loads his hands, pauses for an instant, then swings — that has led to concerns about his ability to hand high-end velocity. Defensively, Kirilloff is a good runner and he’s athletic for his size, allowing him to handle center field. If he has to move to a corner down the line, his arm is plenty strong for right. He’s also played some first base as well. There is true middle of the order potential here, assuming that weird timing issue doesn’t hold him back.

The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft and Kirilloff is ranked right in that area; in their latest rankings Baseball America had him 15th, MLB.com had him 18th, and Keith Law (sub. req’d) had him 19th. The Yankees have been known to target brute mashers early in the draft (Eric Jagielo, Peter O’Brien, etc.), but Kirilloff offers good athleticism and defense, so while he is a bat first prospect, he’s not a bat only prospect.

2016 Draft: Final Mock Drafts

The 2016 amateur draft begins today with the annual MLB Network broadcast. The draft itself begins at 7pm ET, though MLB Network will also have a preview show beginning at 6pm ET, so don’t miss that. Here are the final mock drafts before the big event.

MLB.com v4.0

Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo posted concurrent mock drafts this morning. They both have the Phillies taking California HS OF Mickey Moniak with the first overall selection. It seems as though Florida LHP A.J. Puk and New Jersey HS LHP Jason Groome, the consensus top two talents in the draft class, are going to slip a tiny bit into the 4th to 8th overall pick range. We’ll see.

The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick, and Callis has them selecting Texas HS RHP Forrest Whitley while Mayo pegs them for New York HS RHP Ian Anderson. Here are my write-ups on Whitley and Anderson. Callis and Mayo say the Yankees are leaning towards a pitcher and most likely a high schooler. California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy is again mentioned as a possibility. Here’s my Gowdy write-up. Callis throws Pittsburgh RHP T.J. Zeuch into the mix should the Yankees opt for a college arm. Here’s a piece of his MLB.com free scouting report:

Zeuch has a four-pitch mix, all thrown with steep angle from his 6-foot-7 frame that could add more strength. He uses a relatively easy delivery to fire fastballs that have touched 96-97 mph since his return. He’ll sit in the 92-94 mph range and his fastball has good run and sink to it. Zeuch will use both a slider and a curve effectively, with his breaking stuff occasionally flashing plus, though it’s been inconsistent. He tinkers with a changeup in the bullpen, but doesn’t have a ton of feel for it and doesn’t use it much in games. He throws strikes with all of his offerings.

The Yankees love their tall pitchers and Zeuch certainly qualifies at 6-foot-7. He has some late helium after the cold Northeast weather limited how often scouts could see him earlier in the spring.

Keith Law v4.0

Like the MLB.com gang, Keith Law (subs. req’d) has the Phillies take Moniak with the No. 1 pick. He has the Yankees selecting Anderson and says New York “apparently is a stopping point” for the young right-hander. That means the Yankees won’t pass him up if he’s still on the board when their pick rolls around. So that’s yet another prep arm connected to the Yankees.

Within the write-up Law also mentions Gowdy, Georgia HS OF Taylor Trammell, Virginia C Matt Thaiss, and Pennsylvania HS OF Alex Kirilloff as possibilities for the Yankees. He adds Gowdy has apparently made huge bonus demands. Here are my write-ups on Trammell and Thaiss. Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report on Kirilloff:

While there is a little length to his swing, he’s shown the ability to barrel the ball consistently and has considerable raw power, which he put to use while winning the Perfect Game All-American Classic home run derby over the summer. He’s more athletic than one would think given his size and plays center field for his high school team. He’ll have to move to a corner spot at the next level, but moves more than well enough to stay there. He has a strong arm, one that fires 87-90 mph fastballs from the mound.

It is pretty interesting that most of the players connected to the Yankees this year are high schoolers. That would go against their recent trend of going college heavy. Then again, the team did revamp the player development department a year or two ago, so I guess they’re ready to try their luck with high school prospects again after not having much success with that demographic years ago.

Baseball America v5.1

In their last second mock draft Baseball America has the Phillies selecting Moniak as well, so I guess he’s the leader to go first overall at the moment. They have the Yankees picking Virginia C Matt Thaiss with that 18th pick and add “New York has a split camp of whether it should go bat or arm.” So it sounds like we’re in for a total surprise tonight. Fun! Here’s my write-up on Thaiss, by the way.

2016 Draft: Bryan Reynolds

Bryan Reynolds | OF

Reynolds, 21, was undrafted out of high school, but he’s been a three-year starter at a powerhouse program in Vanderbilt. This spring Reynolds put up a .330/.461/.603 batting line with 13 homers, 49 walks, and 58 strikeouts in 62 games. He also performed well in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Scouting Report
Reynolds is one of those guys who does a little of everything but nothing exceptionally well. His weakest tool is his below-average throwing arm, which relegates him to left field long-term. Reynolds has good speed and instincts in the outfield, so he should be able to hold down center for the foreseeable future. At the plate, he’s a switch-hitter with good power from both sides, and his advanced approach allows him to hit for average too. No player is a lock to do anything, but Reynolds is as good a bet as any player in the draft to become at least an average big league hitter. Swing-and-miss issues are a concern — he had a 20.4% strikeout rate this spring, which is awful high for a top college hitter — especially since he’s not a hacker who will chase off the plate.

In their latest rankings Keith Law (subs. req’d), MLB.com, and Baseball America ranked Reynolds as the 16th, 23rd, and 31st best prospect in the draft class, respectively. The Yankees pick 18th. They’ve been connected to college bats in mock drafts recently, and outside of the elite top of the draft guys, Reynolds figures to be the best all-around college position player available when New York’s pick rolls around.

2016 Draft: Kyle Muller

Kyle Muller | LHP

The 18-year-old old Muller had a record breaking spring with Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas. He set a national high school record by striking out 24 consecutive batters across two starts, including the first 18 batters of the game as part of an eight-inning, 21-strikeout performance. Muller also set a record by recording 36 consecutive outs on strikeouts at one point. He had a 0.46 ERA with 133 strikeouts and 15 walks in 76 innings this spring and is committed to Texas.

Scouting Report
Muller has the most big league ready frame among high school players in the 2016 draft class. He’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 lbs., though despite that build, he generally only sits in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball. That’s up from 85-88 mph last year. Muller’s climbed draft boards quickly this spring thanks to the velocity spike. That said, he doesn’t offer much projection physically, so it’s tough to expect more velocity down the road. Muller also throws a curveball and a changeup, though neither is even an average offering at this point. His delivery is sound for such a big guy, though he is pretty deliberate and slow to the plate. He often focuses more on repeating his mechanics than executing the pitch. It’s worth noting Muller is also a legitimate prospect as a power-hitting first baseman — he’ll get a chance to be a two-way player in college — though his upside is much greater on the mound.

Both MLB.com and Baseball America consider Muller a first round talent; they rank him as the 24th and 25th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. Keith Law (subs. req’d) is a little lower on Muller and ranks him 58th. The Yankees hold the 18th pick. We’ve heard New York is targeting high school arms this year, and while Muller is not one of this draft’s elite prep pitchers, he could very well be the best one still on the board when their pick comes around.