Curry: LHP Jacob Lindgren heading to Tampa later this week

Via Jack Curry: Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren is traveling to Tampa to take his physical on Thursday. That’s a strong indication the two sides have a contract agreement in place. He was the club’s top selection (second round) in last week’s amateur draft. Slot money for the 55th overall pick is $1,018,700.

Lindgren, 21, already said he wants to sign “as soon as possible,” and Brian Cashman recently told Donnie Collins they will send the southpaw to Low-A Charleston when the time comes. Mississippi State’s season ended just last week, so Lindgren probably won’t need much more than a bullpen session or two to get back into game shape. You can see all of the team’s picks and keep tabs on their draft pool situation at Baseball America.

Draft Updates: Foley, Holder, Borens, Thompson

Late last week we heard Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren, the Yankees’ top pick in last week’s draft (second round, 55th overall), wants to turn pro “as soon as possible.” He has not signed yet, but Brian Cashman did tell Donnie Collins they will assign the southpaw to Low-A Charleston once he is under contract, so they’ve already got a plan in place and everything. I’m surprised they’re not sending him to High-A Tampa right away like they did RHP J.B. Cox back in the day.

Anyway, the signing deadline this year is Friday, July 18th, so a month and a week away. All of the team’s picks can be seen at Baseball America (Day One & Two, Day Three reviews). Here are some miscellaneous signing updates. Keep in mind that many mid-to-late rounders agreed to pre-draft deals, which is the reason they were selected where they were in the first place (draft round in parentheses):

  • Central Michigan RHP Jordan Foley (5) is indeed going to sign, according to Dominick Mastrangelo. I don’t see any reason to think any of the team’s picks in the top ten rounds won’t sign this year. Slot money for the 152nd overall pick is $317,500.
  • Mississippi State RHP Jonathan Holder (6) indicated he will sign on Twitter. He even posted a photo of himself and college teammate Lindgren wearing Yankees hats. Slot for the 182nd pick is $237,600.
    Eastern Illinois RHP Matt Borens (11) said he is traveling to Tampa and will be “starting his career” on Twitter, so yeah, he’s signing. I’m guessing he’ll be in the Short Season Staten Island rotation.
  • Citadel 1B Bo Thompson (13) is signing, according to Jeff Hartsell. Thompson said he “can’t wait to get back to Riley Park as quickly as possible,” indicating he will eventually be assigned to Low-A Charleston.
  • West Virginia RHP Sean Carley (14) will sign and head to Short Season Staten Island, reports Baseball America. He’s going to have to cut his hair and lose the whole Kenny Powers look.
  • Concordia RHP Corey Holmes (20) will sign and report to Staten Island, according to Pinstriped Prospects.
  • Pittsburgh RHP Matt Wotherspoon (34) told Steve Bennett he was flying to Tampa this week to take his physical and go through a brief mini-camp. He said the team has not yet told him if he will be a starter or reliever.
  • William & Mary 2B Ryan Lindemuth (37) said he is signing on Twitter. Guessing he will go to Staten Island as well.
  • South Carolina HS SS Madison Stokes (40) said he will be following through on his commitment to South Carolina on Twitter. Stokes was considered a tough sign going into the draft and the Yankees grabbed him late in case he changed his mind about school.
  • Based on his Twitter feed, the Yankees have signed USC C Jake Hernandez as an undrafted free agent. The 22-year-old hit .327/.363/.374 in 50 games this year. He spent most of his career as a backup for the Trojans. Veteran catchers to guide young pitching prospects are important!
  • The Yankees also signed Dayton RHP Travis Hissong as an undrafted free agent, according to Curt Conrad. He is heading to Staten Island.

Also, it’s worth noting Texas OF Mark Payton (7), UC Irvine 1B Conner Spencer (8), and Vanderbilt SS Vince Conde (9) can’t sign just yet because their schools qualified for the College World Series over the weekend. Once they get eliminated or win the National Championship, then they’re free to turn pro.

2014 Draft: Reviewing Day Three

So much for targeting high school catchers, huh? Actually, so much for targeting high schoolers in general. The Yankees wrapped up the 2014 Rule 4 Draft with their final 30 selections yesterday, and only six of those 30 picks come from the high school ranks. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer wasn’t kidding when he told Chad Jennings they “might lean toward the college guy if everything’s equal” the other day.

The Yankees made 39 total picks in this year’s draft and the final tally is 24 pitchers, nine infielders, four outfielders, and two catchers. I swear it felt like way more than 24 pitchers while following the draft live. Only seven of the 39 were high school players, the other 32 were from either a four-year college or junior college. You can see every pick at Baseball America. Here is the Day One and Two review. Now let’s look over what happened on Day Three.

Toffey. (StudentSports.com)
Toffey. (StudentSports.com)

The Upside Plays
Despite their college heavy approach, the Yankees did land two prep upside plays on Day Three. Florida HS RHP Garrett Cave (17th round) already sits in the low-90s and will touch 95 with his fastball even though there is plenty of room to fill out his 6-foot-3, 190 lb. frame. He also has good athleticism, a promising curveball, and a work in progress changeup. New York will use some of their saved draft pool money to try to sign him away from Florida International. Oh, and as far as I know, he isn’t related to OF Jake Cave.

Five rounds later the Yankees selected Connecticut HS 3B Will Toffey (23), who also happens to be one of the top hockey players in the Northeast. He dropped hockey not too long ago and is now focusing on baseball exclusively. Toffey’s best tools are his speed and arm strength, though he projects to hit for both average and power from the left side as he gains more experience on the diamond. With a 6-foot-0 and 200 lb. frame with athleticism to spare, Toffey is something of a blank canvas with lots of potential. The team will have to buy him away from Vanderbilt, however.

The Lottery Tickets
Once you get into the late rounds, there’s not much a team can do other than gamble on super raw tools and athleticism. The Yankees drafted Stanford OF Dominic Jose (24) even though he was only a part-time player in college, hoping they could smooth out his swing and untap his power potential. Tennessee HS RHP Will Gaddis (36) is a raw thrower. On the position player side, New York also took California HS C Chris Hudgins (35) and South Carolina HS SS Madison Stokes (40). Stokes is expected to wind up at third and is more of a contact oriented, line drive hitter. The Yankees see something they like in each of these guys and will try to get them signed.

Carley. (@BenBadler)
Carley. (@BenBadler)

Big & Beautiful
It’s no secret the Yankees love physically huge players, especially on the mound. Day Three featured a run of massive college pitchers, including Eastern Illinois RHP Matt Borens (11), West Virginia RHP Sean Carley (14), Gonzaga LHP Derek Callahan (16), Concordia RHP Corey Holmes (20), Oregon LHP Porter Clayton (21), Indiana RHP Jake Kelzer (22), and USC RHP Lee Casas (28). Those seven average 6-foot-6 and 223 lbs. Boren, Holmes, Kelzer, and Casas stand 6-foot-7, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-8, and 6-foot-7, respectively. Carley, as you can see, bears some resemblance to Kenny Powers.

Carley and Kelzer are the best prospects of the bunch. They both sit in the low-90s with good sliders, almost non-existent changeups, and questionable control. It’s worth noting Kelzer was also on the swim team and has a really loose and athletic body. What more do you expect from double-digit round picks? Both guys were (mostly) relievers in college and figure to continue in that role in pro ball. Clayton walked more batters (26) than he struck out (25) in 36.1 innings this spring, but he has lefty specialist potential because of a low-90s heater and big breaking slurve. Borens should be able to start at the next level and both Callahan and Holmes are pure arm strength guys.

Corner Power
The Yankees draft four first basemen and only two shortstops this year, which is just weird. Usually teams load up on the up-the-middle players, but I guess they’re doing that in international free agency next month. Two of the three first basemen selected on Day Two are Grayson County JuCo 1B Chris Gittens (12) and Citadel 1B Bo Thompson (13), both of whom have huge raw power. The third, Oklahoma HS 1B Cameron Warren (39), projects to have power down the road. The other two have it right now.

Gittens is another huge guy at 6-foot-4 and 250 lbs., and he’s a better hitter than Thompson because of his bat-to-ball skills and advanced approach. Thompson is basically a brute masher, swinging from his heels and trying to yank the ball 500 feet every at-bat. The Yankees will try to teach him that he is strong enough to hit the ball out of the park with shorter, more controlled swings that make him a better all around hitter. None of the drafted first basemen stand out defensively, so the Yankees grabbed all of them for their bats. In the late rounds, power is a good tool to emphasize.

The Depth Players
Pittsburgh RHP Joe Harvey (19), Grand Canyon RHP Jorge Perez (30), and UNC Wilmington RHP Jordan Ramsey (32) are all bullpen prospects with good fastballs and not so good secondary stuff. Both Alabama RHP Justin Kamplain (18) and Pittsburgh RHP Matt Wotherspoon (34) have the three-pitch mixes necessary to start and I assume they’ll continue to do that in pro ball. Arizona State RHP David Graybill (33) played the infield this spring but has pitched in the past, and the Yankees plan to stick him on the mound full-time. That’s what they did with Chase Whitley back in the day.

On the position player side, Oppenheimer & Co. opted for experience with Washington State C Collin Slaybaugh (26), Jacksonville State OF Griffin Gordon (27), and William & Mary 2B Ryan Lindermuth (32), all of whom are seniors. They’ll help fill out minor league rosters. Same with UC Riverside OF Devyn Bolasky (31), a junior. Other miscellaneous arms include Boston College LHP Andrew Chin (15), Tampa RHP Dylan Barrow (25), and UH-Victoria RHP Andre Del Bosque (38). Some of these guys will sign, some won’t. Either way, they’re there to be role players around the actual prospects in the minors.

Mo Jr. (Boston Globe)
Mo Jr. (Boston Globe)

The Legacy Pick
The name says it all: Mariano Rivera Jr. The Yankees drafted Mo’s kid out of Iona College in the 29th round because that’s what teams do — they draft the kids of their all-time greats. It’s been going on for years. Junior told Stan Grossfield getting drafted is “an opportunity that I can’t let pass” back in April, though his father has made it clear he wants him to return to school to finish his education. Sounds like something the family will have to work out. Either way, Mariano Jr. is not his father and it’s unfair to put any kind of pressure on him or have any real expectations. (He doesn’t even throw a cutter.) He’s not much of a prospect and the draft pick was more of a thank you than anything. It’s nuts we’re at the point where Mo’s kid is getting drafted out of college though, isn’t it?

* * *

Aside from Cave, Toffey, and Connecticut HS RHP Austin DeCarr (3), the Yankees did not draft a ton of upside this year. That is … kinda disappointing. They went very heavy on college players, particularly relievers, which are the types of prospects they’ve had success developing into MLB players over the last seven or eight years. They stuck to their strengths, basically. Boring but not entirely unreasonable, especially not with the rumored international spending spree on the horizon. This was far from the sexiest draft haul and its impact potential will depend on whether Cave and Toffey turn pro.

2014 Draft Open Thread: Day Three

2014 DraftThe first two days of the draft are complete, but there are still another few hours and 30 rounds left to go. Thankfully, those 30 rounds will be drafted during a rapid fire conference call with no wait between picks. It’s glorious. The entire draft used to be like that. I get that MLB is trying to market the draft and increase interest, but it really isn’t a made-for-TV event. A minute (or worse, five minutes) between picks is an eternity.

Anyway, Day Three of the draft is actually pretty fun. More than Day Two, at least. Day Two is more about manipulating the draft pool and selecting cheap, easy to sign players to save as much money as possible. Day Three is about drafting high upside players to use that extra money on. Sure, there will be a ton of organizational types selected today, that comes with the territory, but expect a run of prep players at some point.

Here are the Day One and Day Two threads, and here are some miscellaneous links heading into Day Three:

  • Here are the best available players according to Baseball America. Just about all of the top ranking high school players have huge bonus demands and are considered unsignable at this point. Guys like Virginia RHP Jacob Bukauskas and Georgia HS LHP Mac Marshall have definitively said they are going to college.
  • In ESPN’s Day Two analysis (subs. req’d), Chris Crawford says RHP Austin DeCarr (third round) has the highest upside among AL East draftees. “[DeCarr’s] stock shot up over the past few weeks after touching 96 mph with his fastball, but he was always on scouts’ radars because of his ability to throw strikes with all three pitches, the best of which is a curveball that’s a plus offering right now … has a chance to be a quality starting pitcher, perhaps even a No. 2,” he wrote.
  • Within the same link, Crawford says RHP Jordan Foley (fifth round) will reach MLB the quickest among AL East Day Two draftees. “Assuming the Yankees move Foley to the bullpen, he could move quickly through their system as a reliever who can hit 96 mph on radar guns and will show a plus slider with a good amount of tilt,” wrote Crawford.
  • “It was a tremendous honor to be drafted by the Yankees. It’s the greatest organization in all of professional sports,” said DeCarr to David Carty. “There’s definitely a business side of baseball, you’ve got to understand it to the best of your ability. With the new slotting system, it has a little bit to do with the talent level, but the draft picks themselves have to do more with signability.”
  • In case you missed it the last two days, make sure you check out this FanGraphs post by former Mariners front office staffer Tony Blengino to get an idea of what it’s like inside a team’s war room during the draft.

The draft resumes at 1pm ET and the conference call will be streamed live on MLB.com. Here’s the audio link and here’s the Draft Tracker link. There won’t be a liveblog today (sorry, I just don’t have the time), so do all your draft talking here. Enjoy.

2014 Draft: Reviewing Days One & Two

The first two days and ten rounds of the 2014 Rule 4 Draft are in the books. All the fun happens on Day One while Day Two tends to be the least exciting of the three-day event. Teams look for ways to manipulate their draft pools on Day Two, and that leads to a lot of college seniors and fringe prospects being drafted. The Yankees selected one high school player (kinda) and eight college players on the first two days of the draft, and that’s not a coincidence.

“I think we’ve had success getting guys to the leagues both as high school players and as college players,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to Chad Jennings. “But it seems like we’re getting some college guys up there a little quicker and through the system a little quicker. So, if all’s equal right now, we’re kind of looking at it that we might lean toward the college guy if everything’s equal.”

The team’s first five picks were pitchers, the next four position players. Two of the eight college players are seniors and two others are juniors who figure to sign for below slot, even if it’s only a couple thousand bucks. Standard operating procedure under the new system. The Yankees have been doing this since the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was implemented three years ago. All of the team’s picks can be seen at Baseball America. Now let’s review the first two days of the draft.

Lindgren. (ESPN)
Lindgren. (ESPN)

Special, Not A Specialist
For some reason I get the sense many people think Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren (second round) is a lefty specialist. That isn’t the case. He’s expected to zoom through the system — there is a legitimate chance he will pitch in MLB this season, and it depends on whether the Yankees let him more than his talent — and reach the big leagues soon, but his wipeout slider is so good it gets both lefties and righties out. Lindgren isn’t a LOOGY. He’s expected to be a shutdown reliever who just so happens to throw from the south side.

Yesterday we heard Lindgren wants to sign soon and I can’t imagine negotiations will drag out very long. He’s not oblivious, he’s heard all the chatter about possibly getting to the show this year. The sooner he signs the sooner he gets called up. I don’t know if Lindgren will require the full slot value to sign ($1,018,700), but I suppose they could work out an agreement that nets him a smaller bonus in exchange for the promise of a call-up no later than September. That’s been done before (Giants did it with Conor Gillaspie in 2008) even though it’s against the rules. We’ll find out soon enough. Here is everything you need to know about Lindgren for the time being.

DeCarr. (@Xaverian_Hawks)
DeCarr. (@Xaverian_Hawks)

High School … Sorta
The only high school player the Yankees selected during the first two days of the draft really isn’t in high school. RHP Austin DeCarr (3) graduated but went undrafted out of a Massachusetts high school last year because he was coming off elbow surgery (bone spurs), then he opted to attend Salisbury Prep School as a postgraduate student rather than a traditional two or four-year college. I can’t remember hearing of a draftee doing that, but I’m sure it’s been done before.

DeCarr stands 6-foot-2 and 220 lbs., and now that he’s healthy his fastball operates in the 90-94 mph range and touches 96. His power curveball is an out pitch on its best days, though his changeup still needs a ton of work. Compared to most Northeast pitching prospects, DeCarr is more polished and less of a project. For what it’s worth, Keith Law called the pick a “solid value” at this draft slot in yesterday’s chat. DeCarr is already 19 because of the postgraduate year, but, as a cold weather guy, his arm is fresh.

SEC Studs
The SEC is the toughest conference in Division I baseball and has been for quite a while now. It’s not pro caliber competition, obviously, but it’s far tougher than any other conference. The Yankees grabbed two standout SEC performers in LHP Jordan Montgomery (3) and RHP Jonathan Holder (5) on Day Two, guys who have been playing intense games against the best competition in the country for three years now.

Montgomery. (GoGamecocks.com)
Montgomery. (GoGamecocks.com)

Montgomery, a South Carolina product, stepped right into the team’s rotation as a freshman in 2012, when he helped them to the College World Series finals. He took over as staff ace as a sophomore. Montgomery’s stuff isn’t anything that will blow you away — 88-92 mph fastball, very good changeup, slow curveball, occasional cutter — but everything plays up because he locatea well and knows how to set hitters up. As with most Yankees pitching prospects, he’s a big dude at 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs. This is the type of pitcher who will carve up the low minors with relative ease.

Holden was Lindgren’s bullpen-mate at Mississippi State, and last year he tied the conference single-season record with 21 saves. He remained the closer this year while Lindgren was used as more of a multi-inning relief ace. See? College coaches get it. Anyway, Holden is a husky fella at 6-foot-2 and 240 lbs., and he sits in the low-90s with his fastball. His bread and butter is a big breaking yet slow curveball in the low-70s. That’s some separation between pitches. Like Montgomery, Holden’s been pitching in big situations and big games in a tough conference for three years now, so pressure situations are nothing new.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…
The Yankees selected RHP Jordan Foley out of a Texas high school in the 26th round of the 2011 draft, but he declined to sign and followed through on a commitment to Central Michigan. The Yankees drafted him again yesterday, only this time in the fifth round. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder generally works in the low-90s with an occasionally excellent slider and a good splitter, but his mechanics are so inconsistent that one day he’d look like a second or third rounder, the next a fifth or sixth rounder. The Yankees have obviously had their eyes on Foley for a while now, and they’re hoping they can iron out his delivery enough to make him a legitimate starter. If that does work, the bullpen it is.

Right Bat, Wrong Position
UC Irvine 1B Conner Spencer (8) does nothing but hit. He’s hit .351 with 65/62 K/BB in 170 career games coming into the weekend, but he’s only hit one homer in three years. One! Doubles (36)and triples (13) are his primary form of power production, though it should be noted Irvine’s home field is a tough place to hit. Still, first basemen without power are not exactly popular, especially if they’re just okay defensively like Spencer. That said, the pure hit tool is real and in the eighth round, getting a guy who knows how to put the barrel on the ball and control the strike zone is pretty much the best case scenario. Maybe some swing adjustments can untap some hidden power. It’s worth a shot.

Payton. (Express News)
Payton. (Express News)

Money Savers
The Yankees drafted three players on Day Two who figure to sign below-slot bonuses, and in two cases very below slot. Those three players are Texas OF Mark Payton (7), Vanderbilt SS Vince Conde (9), and James Madison 3B Ty McFarland (10). Payton and McFarland are seniors, Conde a low-profile junior who wasn’t expected to be drafted all that high. Payton has the best tools, though he is simply a bat control guy with good but not great speed and defense. He also doesn’t have much power despite hitting a homer in the Longhorns’ Super Regionals opener yesterday. All three guys will provide always important organizational depth, but these picks were geared towards saving some draft pool money for late-round gambles.

* * *

For the most part, the Yankees selected pitching prospects during the first two days of the draft while going with position players for the draft pool saving spots. The farm system is full of position player prospects — nine of their top 15 prospects in my pre-draft top 30 list are position players — and although no one really drafts for need early in the draft, the Yankees did address an organizational hole with their Day One and Two picks. I don’t know if that was by design or coincidence. They definitely would up with more high-probability than high-upside prospects.

The Yankees are now in position to roll the dice with some late round picks on players with big bonus demands. (Failing to sign a player drafted after the tenth round doesn’t hurt the draft pool situation.) That doesn’t necessarily mean guys looking for seven figures like Virginia HS RHP Jacob Bukauskas or Georgia HS LHP Mac Marshall, the Yankees didn’t save that much draft pool space, but they can make nice six-figure offers to some other players who are thought to be unsignable. Most won’t accept the offers, one or two might. That’s all it takes for the strategy to work.

Lindgren says he wants to sign “as soon as possible”

The Mississippi State season ended a few days ago and Yankees top pick LHP Jacob Lindgren is ready to begin his pro career. “I want to sign as soon as possible and begin my journey as a New York Yankee. I’m ready,” said the southpaw to reporters during a conference call. Chad Jennings has some more quotes from the call.

The Yankees selected Lindgren in the second round (55th overall) after forfeiting a bunch of high picks to sign free agents last winter. Slot money for the 55th overall pick is $1,018,700, and there were no indications he would require an above-slot bonus before the draft. He might even sign for something less than slot. We’ll see. Everything you need to know about Lindgren is right here. The sooner he signs the more likely he is to pitch in the big leagues this year.

2014 Draft Open Thread: Day Two

2014 DraftThe first day of the 2014 draft is in the books and now we’re moving on to day two. The Yankees selected Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren with their first and only selection on day one — everything you need to know about him is right here — after forfeiting a bunch of high picks to sign free agents last winter. It was kinda boring waiting around for their pick to come up, but that’s life.

Day two will cover rounds three through ten, and the Yankees have a pick in every one of those rounds. Their first selection of the day is 91st overall, or the 17th pick of the day. Their second pick of day two is 122nd overall, then things go back to normal and they’ll pick once every 30 picks. The Yankees will select seven eight players today and remember, these picks are all tied to the draft pool. Expect to see some regular ol’ prospects as well as some cheap college seniors picked today. The draft pool money saved on the seniors will be redirected to other players.

Here are some stray links following day one and heading into day two:

  • “I am humbled and grateful to be drafted by the New York Yankees,” said Lindgren to Michael Bonner. “This is an incredible feeling and a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I would like to thank Mississippi State University, my coaches, teammates and the greatest fans in college baseball for helping me reach this point.”
  • In ESPN’s round two analysis (subs. req’d), Chris Crawford called Lindgren the quickest to MLB pick and says he “can get left-handed hitters at the major league level out right now, as his slider is virtually unhittable against hitters from that side and he attacks batters with a 92-94 mph fastball.”
  • Here are the best available players from Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America. Virginia HS RHP Jacob Bukauskas, the consensus top available player, sent a letter to teams saying he intends to follow through on his commitment to UNC a few weeks ago, so he’s basically unsignable at this point.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, make sure you check out this FanGraphs post by former Mariners front office staffer Tony Blengino to get an idea of what it’s like inside a team’s war room during the draft.

The draft resumes at 1pm ET with a half-hour preview show beforehand, and it’ll all be streamed on MLB.com. Here’s the video link and here’s the Draft Tracker link. There won’t be a liveblog today (sorry, I just don’t have the time), so do all your draft talking here.