Sunday Links: Harper, McCann, Old Timers’ Day, Draft

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)
(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The Yankees and Orioles wrap up their three-game series later this afternoon. Until then, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

Future Yankee Bryce Harper?

It was inevitable. When the Nationals visited the Bronx to play the Yankees last week, Bryce Harper was asked about his hardly imminent free agency and whether he would consider signing with the Yankees. Harper grew up a Yankees fan because of his father, a big Mickey Mantle fan, and famously said he wants to “play in the pinstripes” in his 2009 Sports Illustrated feature.

“I enjoy playing for the Nationals,” said Harper to Dan Martin last week, astutely avoiding the question about the Yankees. “We try to win a World Series, just like every other team. If I could bring that back to DC, bring that back to the city, that’s what I want to do. I’ve said it for a long, long time. That’s something that I want to do … We have such a great team here. I look at every single day as a new day. I go in and have the same mentality. DC is a great place to play. It’s a monumental town.”

Harper won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season, when he will still be only 26 years old. He’s already one of the best players in the game and figures to be in position to smash contract records when he hits the open market a la Alex Rodriguez in 2000. Sure, the Nationals have one of the wealthiest owners in sports and could sign Harper to an extension at some point, but Giancarlo Stanton set the bar at $325M, and I’m sure Scott Boras will look to top that with Harper. (Stanton signed his deal at roughly the same service time level Harper will be at after the season.)

It both is and is not too early to look ahead to Harper’s free agency. It is early because geez, it’s still three and a half years away, but it isn’t because Harper is so talented and will be such a hot commodity. He’s a can’t your eyes off him superstar in every way. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) recently wrote it “would be shocking if Harper isn’t wearing a Yankees uniform on Opening Day in 2019,” in fact. Most of the team’s huge contracts will be off the books by then and the Yankees will be in position to go huge for Harper, who might command 12 years and $400M+ come 2018.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

How McCann stopped popping up

During his first season with the Yankees, Brian McCann was a pop-up machine, hitting weak fly ball after weak fly ball, which resulted in a disappointing .232/.286/.406 (96 wRC+) line with a .231 BABIP. All those weak fly balls were easy outs, hence the low BABIP. McCann has been one of the team’s best hitters this season though, coming into the weekend with a .264/.327/.447 (122 wRC+) line that is right in line with the 121 wRC+ he put up during his healthy seasons with the Braves from 2009-13.

How did McCann improve this year? He stopped popping up, as Eno Sarris explains. McCann credits former hitting coach Kevin Long for some mechanical adjustments late last season. “Last year, for whatever reason, my hands weren’t taking a direct route to the ball,” said McCann to Eno. McCann averaged about 4.0% infield pop-ups from 2006-03, but that jumped to 5.0% last year, and it doesn’t take into account all the weak fly balls to the outfield. This year he’s down to a 0.8% pop-up rate (!), one of the lowest in the game. Fewer pop-ups, more hard contact, better McCann.

Old Timers’ Day attendees announced

Earlier this week the Yankees announced the list of former players, coaches, and personnel who will attend Old Timers’ Day next Saturday. Here is the full list. No Derek Jeter, no Jorge Posada, no Andy Pettitte, and no Mariano Rivera. Also no Mike Mussina or Hideki Matsui either this year. Lame. Oh well, it’ll still be fun. The Yankees will honor Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park that night as well.

Several 2015 draft picks en route to Tampa

According to his Twitter feed, LHP Jeff Degano (2nd round) traveled to Florida earlier this week, which usually indicates he has a deal in place and will sign soon. Bryan Hoch and Jeff Hartsell say 3B Donny Sands (8th) and LHP James Reeves (10th) will turn pro as well. Also, RHP Kolton Montgomery (16th) and 1B Kale Sweeney (29th) told ABC 4 Sports and Norm Sanders, respectively, they are signing with the Yankees and will report to Tampa. The team’s mini-camp for draftees actually started Thursday, so these guys are probably already in uniform working out.

And finally, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer confirmed to Chad Jennings the Yankees will sign RHP Alex Robinett (32nd). Robinett is a second lieutenant and a staff ace at West Point, and will have to finish his military commitment after playing this summer. “Hopefully we can keep him in some kind of baseball shape when he’s able to finish that commitment and come back after serving his country,” said Oppenheimer. Earlier this season Cardinals righty Mitch Harris became the first military academy graduate to play in MLB in nearly a century.

Law’s team-by-team draft breakdowns

Keith Law posted his AL and NL draft reviews earlier this week (subs. req’d). He didn’t hand out grades or anything like that, just said which picks he liked and didn’t like. Law says the Yankees “wanted a bat with their first pick, but all the candidates went before them,” which is what I wondered the other day. He also says Degano has “first-round stuff, but slipped because he hadn’t pitched in more than two years due to Tommy John surgery and will turn 23 this fall,” and that RHP Drew Finley (3rd) “was a steal.” The Yankees reportedly had interest in Finley for their supplemental first round pick, the 30th selection, but they were able to get him with the 92th pick. Neat.

Also make sure you check out Draft to the Show’s review of New York’s draft class.

DotF: Refsnyder goes deep, benches clear in Scranton’s win

The Yankees have signed UMass Lowell OF/RHP Geoff DeGroot as an undrafted free agent, according to Justin Soderberg. DeGroot both pitched and played the outfield in college, but I don’t know what he’ll do as a pro. He hit 274/.369/.319 this spring and had a 4.74 ERA with a 22/10 K/BB in 47.1 innings.

Also, UTIL Jonathan Galvez was released from the Triple-A Scranton roster, according to Chad Jennings. IF Ali Castillo was called up from Double-A Trenton to fill the roster spot.

Triple-A Scranton (13-3 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — threw a runner out at second
  • LF Jose Pirela: 3-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 4-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — second homer in his last six games after hitting two homers in his first 50 games
  • C Austin Romine: 0-0, 1 HBP — left the game after taking a pitch to the head in the first inning … the benches cleared after that
  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LHP Jose DePaula: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 6/6 GB/FB — 51 of 77 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — half of his 12 pitches were strikes … he and manager Dave Miley were ejected for an unknown reason

[Read more…]

Thoughts following the 2015 Draft

Kaprielian. (Los Angeles Times)
Kaprielian. (Los Angeles Times)

After weeks of anticipation and three days of picks, the 2015 amateur draft came to an end Wednesday evening. The Yankees made 41 picks and now we have to wait until Friday, July 17th to see how many of them actually sign. It’s usually somewhere in the 25-30 range. Obviously some will sign sooner than others. Here are my reviews for Day One, Day Two, and Day Three, and here are some miscellaneous thoughts on the draft.

1. The Yankees once again went heavy on college players — 34 of their 41 picks were college players (83%), including ten of the first 12 — after doing so last year. (They took 82% college players in 2014. The league average is close to a 50/50 split.) Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said last year they are leaning towards college players because they’ve had better success developing them, and while that’s true, I also wonder if there’s some pressure from ownership. Not an explicit “go take college players” directive, but Hal Steinbrenner has been talking about the farm system not helping enough for two years now, so perhaps the staff feels some pressure to get guys through the system quick, which is why they’re focusing on college players. I would hope not, but these guys are only human, and they’re going to do what they can to please their boss and keep their jobs. I dunno, I’m just thinking out loud.

2. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing too exciting about high-probability college starters, though that doesn’t make UCLA RHP James Kaprielian a bad pick or anything. He’s a perfectly fine first round pick. He’s a quality prospect and was expected to go right in the middle of the first round somewhere. The Yankees were connected to a ton of bats before the draft, and I wonder if Kaprielian was Plan B after the bats they wanted were off the board. They were connected to Cincinnati OF Ian Happ (9th overall), Georgia HS SS Cornelius Randolph (10th), and New York HS RHP Garrett Whitley (13th) in the days and weeks leading up to the draft, for example. Perhaps the Yankees were hoping to grab one of those three and settled for Kaprielian when they were off the board. Then again, they were said to love California HS C Chris Betts, yet passed on him twice. Who knows. That the Yankees were connected to so many bats but changed direction and went for a pitcher makes me think the guy(s) they were targeting had already come off the board.

3. Speaking of Kaprielian, he is represented advised by Scott Boras and didn’t say a whole lot about when he expects to sign while speaking to reporters the other day. “I’m very happy about the opportunity. I’m going to let the business portion work itself out,” said Kaprielian to Andrew Marchand. Boras coaches these guys well. They don’t say anything that could hurt their leverage. Boras tends to wait until the signing deadline with his high profile draft prospects to squeeze every last draft pool penny out of teams, though I’m not sure if Kaprielian is high profile enough. The Yankees did take some cheap college seniors in rounds 7-10, so they will have extra bonus pool money to play with. I’m curious to see if that extra money goes to overslot bonuses for players taken after the tenth round or to Kaprielian, who is already slotted for $2,543,300. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boras managed to get his client a few extra grand. He’s good like that. Special assistant Jim Hendry is leading negotiations for the Yankees according to Bryan Hoch, by the way.

Holder. (USD)
Holder. (USD)

4. It kind of goes without saying the development of San Diego SS Kyle Holder’s hit tool will be a major storyline to track doing forward. The Yankees took the defensive wiz with their supplemental first round pick (the pick they received for losing David Robertson to free agency) and while there are no questions about his glove — seriously, I haven’t seen anything that says Holder is worse than a well-above-average defender at short — there are questions about his bat and whether he’ll hit at the next level. Apparently Holder made some mechanical changes before his junior season that allowed him to get the bat through the zone a little quicker, though who really knows. If Holder develops even an average hit tool, something that allows him to post a 90-100 OPS+ down the line, he’s going to be a seriously good prospect. Can the Yankees help him improve his hitting ability? Maybe! We’re going to find out. No one thought Brett Gardner would hit much and look at him. It’s not impossible.

5. I’m intrigued by two of the club’s junior college picks: Howard 2B Brandon Wagner (6th round) and Chipola 1B Isiah Gilliam (20th). They’re both position-less power bats, though that late in the draft teams are looking for unteachable skills, and power can’t be taught. Gilliam’s got an interesting backstory too. He’s only 18 yet he did a year in junior college because he graduated high school early, and, as I mentioned this morning, Eric Longenhagen says Gilliam once hit a ball over the Western Metal Supply building at Petco Park. Metal bats or not, that is quite the shot. Wagner will sign — the Yankees wouldn’t have taken him in the sixth round and risked draft pool space without knowing (and being willing to meet) his asking price — but Gilliam’s more of a question. He might require an overslot bonus, which is $100,000+ after the tenth round. I’m also interested in following BYU RHP Kolton Mahoney (16th), who doesn’t have a ton of pitching experience because he was on a Mormon mission for two years.

6. The Yankees selected only two catchers in this year’s draft — Oral Roberts C Austin Afenir (25th) and Catawbe C Will Albertson (40th), not counting UCSB C Paddy O’Brien (24th) because he is moving to the mound — after taking two last year, one the year before that, and three year before that. Almost all of them are organizational player types too, not prospects, which I thought was a little weird. The Yankees tend to hoard catchers because they’re hot commodities, but they’ve drafted just two catchers higher than the 12th round since taking John Ryan Murphy with the 76th pick in the 2009 draft: Greg Bird in the fifth round in 2011 and Peter O’Brien in the second round in 2012, and those guys didn’t last long behind the plate. The Yankees have signed a bunch of international free agent catchers in recent years, Luis Torrens most notably, but the catching prospect well has dried up a bit. It’s certainly not a point of emphasis early in the draft anymore. (The Yankees took Murphy, Kyle Higashioka, Austin Romine, and Chase Weems reasonably high in the draft from 2007-09.)

7. Last year the Yankees had a conservative. college heavy draft because they had basically no choice. They surrendered a bunch of high draft picks to sign free agents and had a tiny draft pool. This year was a different story. They had an extra pick and the sixth largest bonus pool, yet they still went conservative, and I find that disappointing. I do wonder though if that was done in an effort to balance out last year’s international spending spree. The Yankees spent a ton of money of international amateurs last year and those kids are super risky. They have a ton of talent and upside, but they’re much less likely to fulfill their potential because they’re so far away from MLB. Lots of them will never even make it out of rookie ball. The draft gives the Yankees some safer prospects to help balance things out and not put all their eggs in the ultra-risky prospect basket. I don’t know if that’s what happened, but it’s certainly possible. Either way, I’d like to see the Yankees go after a little more upside in the future. These are the Yankees, they’re always going to be chasing stars, and it would be nice if they tried developing one or two of their own so they don’t have to pay through the nose for the decline phase of someone else’s one of these years.

2015 Draft: Yankees remain conservative, focus on college players on Day Three

After three days, 40 rounds, and 1,215 total picks, the 2015 amateur draft is complete. The Yankees wrapped up their draft haul with rounds 11-30 yesterday, and once again they focused on college players with higher probabilities, same as Day One and Day Two. Day Three was … not all that exciting. But who knows how this will work out? The draft is totally unpredictable. You can see all of the Yankees’ picks at Baseball America. Let’s review Day Three.

Miller. (
Miller. (

Youth & Upside
The Yankees made 30 picks on Day Three and only five (five!) were high school players. The two most notable are New Jersey LHP Andrew Miller (34th) and Florida SS Deacon Liput (39th). Yes, the Yankees actually drafted a lefty named Andrew Miller. Like the other Andrew Miller at the same age, this version throws hard (low-to-mid-90s) but doesn’t have much of an idea where it’s going. Unlike the other Andrew Miller, this one lacks a defined breaking ball and an intimidating frame (6-foot-3 and 195 lbs.). Still, lefties who throw hard are always worth a late round pick.

Liput is committed to Florida and is the kind of player who could wind up coming out of college as a top three rounds pick in a few years. He’s a sound defender with great instincts and good speed, and he’s able to slash the ball all over the field from the left side of the plate. Liput is very similar to current Yankees farmhand Tyler Wade, though Wade was a better bet to stay at shortstop long-term when he was drafted out of high school. The Yankees figure to have some pool money available to sign Miller or Liput to above-slot bonuses, but it might be one or the another, not both. Whoever takes the money first gets it.

Rogers. (Louisville)
Rogers. (Louisville)

Tommy John Surgery Veterans
The Yankees selected a pair of college hurlers on Day Three who had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery: Louisville LHP Josh Rogers (11th round) and Southern Mississippi RHP Cody Carroll (22nd). Both had their elbows rebuilt as high school seniors — Rogers in 2013 (he’s a draft-eligible sophomore) and Carroll in 2011 (he’s a senior). Neither has had any elbow trouble since.

Rogers shows three pitches (fastball right at 90, slider, changeup) he can throw for strikes, giving him back of the rotation potential, though one of those offerings will have the develop into an out-pitch at some point to reach that ceiling. Carroll is more of an arm strength guy — he sits low-90s and will touch 95 while also throwing a good changeup and a meh slider. He doesn’t throw enough strikes though, likely limiting him to the bullpen long-term. Like many of the team’s pitchers, Carroll is a big dude (6-foot-5, 200 lbs.).

Unproven Thump
Despite spending a year in junior college, Chipola 1B Isiah Gilliam (20th) is still only 18 years old because he graduated high school early. He’s a switch hitter with a ton of power from both sides of the plate — Eric Longenhagen says Gilliam once hit a ball over the Western Metal Supply building at Petco Park, which, uh, is a bomb — who doesn’t have a set position and hasn’t yet learned how to take his power into games. Still, power from both sides of the plate? That’s never a bad skill to take in the 20th round.

The Yankees also selected Lehigh 2B Mike Garzillo (38th) after teams continued to shy away from his right-handed power bat. Garzillo went from zero home runs as a freshman and sophomore to 13 as a junior, in part because he learned how to pull the ball with authority when the opportunity presented itself rather than be content with sitting back and serving everything the other way. Garzillo hasn’t faced the greatest competition and it’s fair to wonder just how legitimate his power spike really is. He could opt to return to school, prove himself further, then try his hand in the draft again next year.

Mahoney. (BYU)
Mahoney. (BYU)

The Atypical Prospect
BYU RHP Kolton Mahoney (16th) had his draft stock held down by three factors beyond his control: he’s already 23, he doesn’t have much of a track record, and he’s on the small side for a right-hander (6-foot-1 and 195 lbs.). Mahoney went on a Mormon mission from 2012-13 and only threw 135 innings in college. That said, he chewed up wood bats and was named the Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Year last summer, a league the Yankees scout very heavily because it’s basically a collegiate All-Star league. The best of the best. Mahoney has a fresh arm, repeats his delivery, and sits low-90s with three offspeed pitches (slider, curveball, changeup). He’s lacking command, which isn’t surprising given his lack of experience, though it’s starter stuff. Mahoney is older than the typical prospect, sure, but they don’t check IDs on the mound.

Swing Adjusted
Last year Cal Poly OF Zack Zehner (18th) was a seventh round pick by the Blue Jays, but he didn’t sign, returned to school, made some swing adjustments, set career highs in doubles and walks, and … fell eleven rounds in the draft? Zehner is a righty swinger with power but he can be overly aggressive at the plate, sabotaging his offensive ability. He’s also a sound defender with a good arm, though for some reason the Yankees announced him as a left fielder rather than a right fielder. Zehner is a college senior, though his new swing mechanics are just a year old, and the Yankees used a late round pick see if the power spike is something more than a fluke.

Arms, Arms, Arm
As always, the Yankees loaded up on college arms on Day Three, simply because they need warm bodies to soak up innings in the lower levels of the minors later this summer. Among this year’s haul of Day Three arms are Alabama RHP Will Carter (14th), Tennessee RHP Bret Marks (15th), San Diego State RHP Mark Seyler (19th), Nebraska RHP Josh Roeder (21st), Fresno State RHP Garrett Mundell (23rd), Cal State LA RHP Icezak Flemming (26th), Pittsburgh RHP Hobie Harris (31st), West Point RHP Alex Robinett (32nd), and Sam Houston RHP Alex Bisacca (35th).

Roeder. (Nebraska)
Roeder. (Nebraska)

First of all, yes, the Yankees drafted a dude named Icezak. Secondly, all nine of those guys are college seniors, which means they are extremely likely to sign and begin their careers. Carter is the best prospect of the bunch and not just because he was drafted the highest — he stands 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs. and sits in the 92-95 mph range with a useable curveball. He doesn’t always throw strikes though, and he often falls in love with his fastball and gets way too predictable on the mound. Roeder has the best numbers of the bunch (28/3 K/BB in 20 innings) and has a low-90s sinker/slider combination. He also holds Nebraska’s career saves record (33).

Among the non-senior arms are Clemson RHP Brody Koerner (17th), Georgia RHP David Sosebee (26th), Delaware RHP Chad Martin (30th), Indiana RHP Christian Morris (33rd), and Oklahoma City RHP Dustin Cook (36). Koerner had a terrible year (7.55 ERA in 62 innings!) but is the best prospect of the bunch because he has a bowling ball of a low-90s sinker. Sosebee, who returned to the mound less than a month after having surgery to repair a constricted spinal cord in March, is a super-high-makeup guy who could stick around in pro ball a very long time because of his leadership. Teams value that. They want their prospects around good guys who are driven to succeed.

The Rest of the … Rest
Arizona HS OF Terrance Robertson (12th) is a light hitting speedster who stands out most for his athleticism and, well, speed. Robertson also has a strong arm and pitched in high school, but his future is in the outfield … St. Petersburg OF Trey Amburgey (13th) is a tool shed with a ton of speed who did a nice job turning his talent into baseball skills in his two years at junior college … UCSB RHP Paddy O’Brien (24th) is both extremely Irish and a catcher the Yankees are going to try on the mound because his arm is a howitzer. He’s also 6-foot-5, 230 lbs., and a draft-eligible sophomore …  Oral Roberts C Austin Afenir (25th) is the son of longtime Yankees scout Troy Afenir … Idaho HS 1B Michael Hicks is a 6-foot-7, 245 lb. high school first baseman. I mean, what? … Morehead State 1B Kane Sweeney (29th) and Catawba C Will Albertson (40th) are big time college performers. Albertson hit .467/.534/.865 with 26 homers in 62 games this spring … Colorado HS 3B Matthew Schmidt (37th) has two-way tools but is probably better off going to college (he’s committed to Texas), refining his skills, and trying the draft again in three years.

* * *

I’ll have some more thoughts on the draft later today. For now I’ll just say the Yankees went conservative on Day Three — at least based on the tiny little bit we know right now — which is disappointing. They weren’t going to have enough draft pool space to afford the higher profile high school players who fell due to bonus demands like Tennessee HS RHP Donny Everett and California HS LHP Justin Hooper, but taking more college seniors than high schoolers on Day Three seems … backwards. Teams can always sign undrafted free agents to fill out minor league rosters. The younger guys who have a chance to grow into legitimate prospects the next two or three years are much harder to come by, yet the Yankees have steered clear of those players for two drafts now.

2015 Draft: Day Three Open Thread

2015 Draft logoWith the first two days of the 2015 draft complete, we’re down to Day Three, the day teams take some risks and build organizational depth. Inevitably, several prospects who will develop into very good big league players will be drafted today. Baseball’s weird like that. So many guys fly under the radar and turn out better than expected.

The Yankees went college heavy on Day One and Day Two, which is their thing now. Fast-moving college players because they haven’t had a whole lot of success with riskier, long-term development prospects the last several years. The Yankees will definitely roll the dice on some prep players today — they have to use the bonus money they saved on Day Two somewhere — but won’t sign them all. Cast a wide net, hope to catch a few fish.

Here are the best available players according to Baseball America. The top 15 are all high school players and all 15 are still on the board because teams aren’t confident they can sign them. Day Three picks are not tied to draft pool space, so teams can select those players, see if they’ll change their mind about turning pro, and not lose anything if they go to college. The Yankees figure to make a few picks like that.

Day Three of the draft begins at 12pm ET and, thankfully, the picks are rapid fire now. One right after the other. How else are they supposed to cover rounds 11-40 in one day? The entire draft used to be like this. It was glorious. Here is the audio feed and the Draft Tracker. Use this thread to talk about the final day of the draft. We’ll have a regular game thread along for this afternoon’s game shortly.

2015 Draft: Yankees add upside among bonus pool saving picks on Day Two

Since the spending restrictions were put in place a few years ago, Day Two of the annual amateur draft has mostly been a bore. Teams are focused on maximizing their bonus pool, which often means drafting players earlier than their talent dictates simply because they’ll sign quickly and below slot. Many of the best available players heading into Day Two are still available on Day Three because teams don’t want to risk losing draft pool space if the player doesn’t sign. That’s the case every year.

The Yankees once again leaned toward college players on Day Two yesterday — only two of the eight players they selected were high schoolers — though they were still able to squeeze in a few upside picks. Not future stars or anything like that, but players with a chance to go grow into above-average big leaguers down the line. Here’s my review of Day One, now let’s review Day Two. You can see all of New York’s picks at Baseball America.

Finley. (San Diego Union Tribune)
Finley. (San Diego Union Tribune)

The Upside Play
After a bland, less than exciting Day One, the Yankees went for upside and projectability with their first selection on Day Two, grabbing California HS RHP Drew Finley with their third round pick (92nd overall). Here’s my profile. They reportedly coveted him with one of their two first round picks and were able to get him in the third round, so that’s a nice coup.

Finley has a low-90s fastball, a good curveball, and a good changeup, plus he throws strikes well enough. He also stands out for the PitchFX data he generated during showcase events last year. From Keith Law (subs. req’d):

Rancho Bernardo HS right-hander Drew Finley was one of the top-rated pitchers on the showcase circuit in the summer of 2014, according to the pitch-tracking data from Trackman, which ranked the extension on his fastball and the spin on his curveball as among the two best in the draft class.

As Jeff Passan and Mike Petriello explained a few weeks ago, spin rate is all the craze these days because it correlates to swing-and-miss rate better than pure velocity. It’s a relatively new but very valuable tool, and Finley scored well compared to his peers last summer. The Yankees rely on analytics as much as any team, so they no doubt took this data into consideration when drafting Finley.

As for the more traditional stuff, Finley’s father David is currently a scouting executive with the Dodgers who previously worked with the Red Sox and Marlins — Drew is a Red Sox fan! — so he’s grown up around the game, which could make the transition to pro ball easier. There’s no ace upside here, those guys are all off the board way before the third round, but Finley already throws strikes with three pitches, so he’s further along in his development than most prep arms.

I’m sure the Yankees are going to sign Finley — they probably hammered out terms overnight Monday — but, if they don’t, he’s the kind of pitcher who could come out of college as the top ten pick in three years. The changeup is already there, the location is already there, all that’s left is filling out that frame and gaining experience.

Adams. (Dallas Baptist)
Adams. (Dallas Baptist)

The Token Reliever
This is becoming routine for the Yankees. At some point in the first ten rounds of the draft, they select a bat-missing college reliever who projects to climb the minor league ladder in a hurry. Last year it was LHP Jacob Lindgren, the year before that it was RHP Nick Rumbelow, and the year before that it was RHP Nick Goody. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has taken at least one college bullpen arm in the top ten rounds since the bonus pool system was implemented.

On Day Two, that college reliever was Dallas Baptist RHP Chance Adams (5th round). Adams was probably only the third best prospect in his own bullpen this spring — RHP Drew Smith and RHP Brandon Koch were drafted in the third and fourth rounds, respectively — but he has the best combination of present stuff, command, and results. The 6-foot-0, 205 lb. righty used a mid-90s fastball and a sharp slider to post an 83/13 K/BB in 59 innings this spring. Adams isn’t Lindgren, but there are similarities with Rumbelow as a short-ish bullpener.

Hendrix. (The Oregonian)
Hendrix. (The Oregonian)

All Bat Or All Defense
In the fourth and sixth rounds, the Yankees scooped up two players whose value comes primarily on one side of the ball. Oregon State OF Jeff Hendrix (4th) is a speed and defense type who steals bases and plays a quality center field. His left-handed bat is a question mark — Hendrix is said to have an exploitable hole on the inner half, though he covers the outer half well and slashes the ball all around the infield to use his speed. It’s a classic defense first fourth outfield profile.

Two rounds later, the Yankees drafted Howard College 2B Brandon Wagner (6th), a left-handed power hitter who slugging 22 home runs in 58 games this spring. He’s said to have power to all fields and good knowledge of the strike zone, allowing that power to play in games. Howard isn’t much of a defender though, and there’s some thought he’ll wind up at third base or left field. Either way, he’s a bat first prospect who stands out for his lefty pop, making him the polar opposite of Hendrix. (It’s worth noting Wagner is still only 19. He’s young even by junior college standards.)

Workout Stud
Arizona HS 3B Donny Sands (8th) was not a well-known prospect coming into the spring nor was he expected to be a high pick. The Yankees were impressed enough during his high school season that they invited Sands to Tampa for a private workout a week or two ago according to Chuck Constantino, where their scouts fell in love with “his mental approach to the game, his competitive streak and his relentless work ethic.” Sands played shortstop and pitched in high school — that’s fairly common, the best athlete plays short and if he has a strong arm, he winds up on the mound too — but the Yankees announced him as a third baseman. Either way, the private workout was an opportunity, and Sands took advantage.

Money-Saving Seniors
As usual, the Yankees took some college seniors on Day Two in an effort to save some draft pool space. Seniors have no leverage and tend to sign very cheap, usually in the low-to-mid-five figures, saving the club bonus pool space they can then use on other picks. Every team does it. That’s the most efficient way to game the system and not stick strictly to slot.

Anyway, the Yankees grabbed three college seniors on Day Two: Florida Southern OF Jhalan Jackson (7th), Michigan State 1B Ryan Krill (9th), and The Citadel LHP James Reeves (10th). Combined slot money for those three picks is $500,700 and the Yankees will spend maybe 25% of that to sign those three. Jackson (20 homers in 45 games) and Krill (13 homers in 56 games) are power hitters while Reeves uses a low arm slot to rack up strikeouts (115 in 95 innings). They’re fringe prospects who were drafted as high as they were for draft pool reasons.

Mo III. (Iona)
Mo III. (Iona)

Hands down, the most surprising selection of Day Two was Iona RHP Mariano Rivera III (my profile). Surprising because the Yankees didn’t take him! I was convinced it was only a matter of time until they grabbed Mo’s son — they drafted him in the 29th round last year but he opted to return to school — but instead the Nationals beat them to the punch, selecting him with their fourth round pick (134th overall). Jerks!

Mo III is a legitimate prospect who improved his stock tremendously this spring — Baseball America ranked him as the 142nd best prospect in the draft, for what it’s worth — and it just seemed inevitable the Yankees would take him again. The question was whether they would do it on Day Two and risk draft pool space should he decide to continue his education. The Nationals took the decision out of their hands.

It would have been fun to see the Yankees draft Mo III and track his progress in the minors, though it’s probably best for him to be in a different organization. He’s already facing big time expectations just because of his name. It’s unfair but it happens all the time. Those expectations would be even more unfair and unrealistic had Rivera been with the Yankees. Now he gets to go and create his own legacy with his own organization. Good for him.

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Much of Day Two was focused on manipulating the draft pool and taking signable players, which is the case every year. The Yankees did get some upside in Finley, both according to traditional and analytical scouting measures, and they also landed a solid bullpen prospect in Adams. I find Wagner’s power to be very intriguing as well. It remains to be seen how much money the Yankees will save with these draft picks, though expect to see several big rolls of the dice on Day Three. There’s no risk taking a player and having him decline to sign now.

2015 Draft: Day Two Open Thread

2015 Draft logoDay One of the 2015 draft came and went yesterday with the usual fanfare. The Yankees selected three players — UCLA RHP James Kaprielian (16th overall), San Diego SS Kyle Holder (30th), Indiana State LHP Jeff Degano (57th) — as part of rather vanilla Day One haul. Kaprielian should move quickly, Holder can play the hell out of shortstop, and Degano is a big lefty with arm strength who missed a bunch of time due to Tommy John surgery from 2013-14. None has star potential but all three give you reasons to believe they’ll be useful MLB players. Here’s my Day One recap.

The draft continues today with Day Two, and, under the current spending restrictions, Day Two is typically the least exciting of the three days. Rounds 3-10 will be selected today and teams use these picks to manipulate their draft pools — they were working all night to cut deals and get signing bonuses in place so they know how much money they have to work with going forward. Day Three is when they start taking risks, when the picks aren’t tied to draft pool space. Here are some stray draft links to check out:

  • Here are the pick-by-pick first round pick analyses by Chris Crawford (subs. req’d) and Jim Callis. The short versions: both like Kaprielian as a quick moving righty and love Holder’s glove, with Crawford more skeptical about his long-term value than Callis. “I think his glove alone could make him a big league regular,” wrote Callis.
  • Here are the best available players according to Baseball America and The Yankees have been connected to both Tennessee HS RHP Donny Everett (my profile) and Florida post-graduate RHP Jacob Nix (my profile), and they’re both among the best players still on the board. I wonder if Nix is experiencing some blowback from teams after filing his grievance against the Astros last year. I’d like to that isn’t happening, but who knows.
  • The big name still on the board: Duke RHP Mike Matuella, who had Tommy John surgery in April and a back problem earlier in the spring. He told Laura Keeley he is considering returning to school, and since every team with extra picks already passed on him, my guess is his medicals are scary. He might not be signable at this point. Then again, he doesn’t have much leverage. Matuella’s options are sign or go back to school and not get on a mound until April.
  • Name to watch going forward: Iona RHP Mariano Rivera III (my profile). The Yankees will inevitably draft him at some point, the question is whether they do it today or wait until tomorrow. (He’s a fourth or fifth round talent.) Mo III and his family have said finishing school is a priority, and I doubt the Yankees want to risk losing draft pool money by taking him with one of today’s picks.

The draft resumes today at 1pm ET and there will be a half-hour pre-draft show as well. There is no MLB Network broadcast today, the draft shifts to online only for Days Two and Three. Here is the feed and here is the Draft Tracker. Talk about all things draft right here throughout the day.