2015 Draft: Kyle Cody

Kyle Cody | RHP

Background
Cody was a 33rd round pick (Phillies) out of high school in 2012 who declined to sign and instead followed through on his commitment to Kentucky. He had a 4.05 ERA with a 67/33 K/BB in 95.2 innings while bouncing between the rotation and bullpen as a freshman and sophomore. This spring he has a 5.80 ERA with a 42/11 K/BB in 45 innings, almost all as a starter.

Scouting Report
First things first: Cody is listed at 6-foot-7 and 245 lbs., so he’s a behemoth on the mound. He sits 93-95 mph with his fastball, touches 97 mph regularly, and holds his velocity deep into games. Cody also throws a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider, both of which are inconsistent but improving. His command has improved considerably over the last calendar year and Cody knows how to use his size to his advantage by pitching downhill. As with almost all pitchers this size, his mechanics can fall out of whack from time to time.

Miscellany
MLB.com and Baseball America ranked Cody as the 19th and 25th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. Keith Law (subs. req’d) did not rank him among the top 50 prospects in the upcoming draft. The Yankees love physically huge pitchers and guys who have had success in the Cape Cod League — Cody chewed up wood bats last summer and was ranked the second best prospect on the Cape by Baseball America — though they usually look for college arms with more polish than Cody. He’s a bit of a project and may need three years in the minors before being ready to help at the MLB level. Cody should still be on the board for New York’s first pick (16th overall) and may even be available for their second (30th).

2015 Draft: Mariano Rivera III

(Iona)
(Iona)

Mariano Rivera III | RHP

Background
The Yankees selected Mo III a draft-eligible sophomore out of Iona College in the 29th round (872nd overall) of last summer’s draft, though he declined to sign and instead returned to school. “I think Mariano and the family feel like some more seasoning in the college ranks will benefit him more,” said Brian Cashman to Anthony Rieber following the signing deadline last July. Rivera has a 3.24 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 16 walks in ten starts and 58.1 innings this spring after pitching to a 6.02 ERA with 64/40 K/BB in 106 innings his first two years of college.

Scouting Report
Rivera is short and rail thin at 5-foot-11 and 155 lbs., and last year he sat mostly 89-92 mph with his fastball. He’s made significant strides this year and now sits 93-95 mph while throwing both a power low-80s curveball and a promising split-finger fastball he uses as a changeup. No, he doesn’t throw a cutter. Rivera is an excellent athlete with a loose arm like his father, though he’s quite raw and has to work to firm up his command and delivery. He made the jump from kinda sorta interesting last year to actual prospect this year.

Miscellany
Mariano III is not expected to be a high draft pick this year — neither Keith Law (subs. req’d), MLB.com, nor Baseball America ranked Rivera as one of the top 50 prospects in the draft this year. He’s more of an 11th to 15th round talent. Rivera has expressed a strong interest in finishing his education, however, so he may not be signable even though he took a big step forward developmentally this spring. Mo III isn’t his father and it’s incredibly unfair to put any sort of expectations on him because of his bloodlines. He has some ability though, and I think it’s safe to assume the Yankees know him better than any other team, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they popped Rivera again this year in case he does decide to turn pro.

2015 MLB Draft: Ian Happ

Ian Happ | OF

Background
Happ, 20, is a Pittsburgh kid who went undrafted out of high school in 2012. He stepped right into the starting lineup as a freshman for Cincinnati and hit .322/.446/.489 with 26 doubles, eleven homers, 79 walks, 67 strikeouts, and 44 steals in 54 attempts in 107 games his first two years on campus. Happ went into the weekend hitting .386/.509/.693 with nine doubles, ten homers, 34 walks, 34 strikeouts, and five steals in eleven attempts in 37 games this spring. (No relation to J.A. Happ as far as I can tell.)

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-0 and 205 lbs., Happ is a switch-hitter who is more refined from the left side but has a quick bat and line drive stroke from the both sides of the plate. He has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and good power potential that is starting to blossom this spring. Happ is just an okay runner despite his impressive stolen base totals as a freshman and sophomore, and he’s still learning the nuances of the outfield after playing second base earlier in his college career. It’ll be interesting to see if whichever team drafts him decides to give Happ another try on the infield in pro ball. He’s an aggressive, high energy player who will earn the “gritty” label in a hurry.

Miscellany
Keith Law (subs. req’d), MLB.com, and Baseball America ranked Happ as the sixth, 15th, and 17th best player in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. This draft is really light on bats though and, as a college hitter with big stats, I wouldn’t be surprised if Happ came off the board earlier than projected. (The Yankees pick 16th overall.) As a switch-hitter with plate discipline and promising power, Happ seems like the kind of player the Yankees always try to have in their lineup. That he excelled in the Cape Cod League — Happ hit .329/.433/.503 with 12 doubles and four homers in 43 games with the Harwich Mariners last summer and was ranked as the sixth best prospect in the circuit by Baseball America — only makes him more of a target for New York.

2015 Draft: Opening Thoughts

2015 Draft logoThe 2015 amateur draft will be held from June 8-10 this year, so roughly eight weeks from now. The Yankees hold two of the top 30 picks — Nos. 16 and 30 overall with the latter being the compensation pick for David Robertson — for the first time since 1978. They also haven’t picked as high as 16th overall since 1993.

The draft is always important, that goes without saying, though I think it is extra important for the Yankees this year for a two reasons in particular. One, the team’s international spending will be restricted during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods, so they won’t be able to spend wildly and get top talent that way. Two, the Yankees don’t have any extra picks coming their way for a little while. No one on the roster due to hit free agency after this season or next figures to be worth the qualifying offer.

Our draft coverage here at RAB is going to essentially going to be the same as the last few years. Hey, if it’s not broke, why fix it? Over the next few weeks I’ll write up a bunch of short profiles of individual draft picks the Yankees may target this year. Some of them will be personal favorites but for the most part I’ll look at players who fit New York’s recent draft tendencies. These days that seems to be polished pitchers and power hitters, generally college guys with success in the wood bat Cape Cod League.

Obviously a lot of this is guesswork, though I have hit the nail on the head a few times over the years. I wrote up a pre-draft profile for LHP Jacob Lindgren last year, and two years ago I wrote up profiles for all three of OF Aaron Judge, 3B Eric Jagielo, and LHP Ian Clarkin. Way back in the day I wrote up Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, and Dellin Betances as possible draft targets. So either I’m really lucky or I’m better at this than I realize.

The pre-draft profiles for the 2015 draft will start … soon. I don’t have a set date in mind just yet but it’ll be soon. A few days or so. Until then, here are some miscellaneous thoughts to kick off this year’s draft coverage.

Large Bonus Pool Gives Yankees Flexibility

As mentioned yesterday, the Yankees have the sixth largest draft bonus pool this year at $7.885M. Four of the five teams ahead of them hold the top four picks, and the other is the Braves, who have a bunch of extra draft picks. Aside from Atlanta, which picks two spots before the Yankees in both the first and supplemental first rounds, no team is better positioned to pay a top talent big bucks in the middle of the first round or in the sandwich round.

The question isn’t can the Yankees afford a top talent, but will there be a top talent available? These days the only players who tend to fall below their projected draft spot are injured players or good but not great high schoolers with exorbitant bonus demands. I think New York’s best shot at a top draft talent this year is either the injured Brady Aiken or Mike Matuella. I don’t see any top high school prospects falling into their laps in the first round. That doesn’t happen anymore under the new system. The large bonus pool gives the team the flexibility to pay one player big or several players slightly less big, and the latter seems more likely.

Injuries Wreaking Havoc On Top Prospects

It’s not only Aiken and Matuella who have gotten injured so far this spring. California HS LHP Kolby Allard, a projected top ten pick, suffered a back injury a month ago and won’t return until mid-to-late-May at the earliest, according to J.J. Cooper and Keith Law. Scouts won’t have much of an opportunity see him this spring. Something like this could send Allard to college — no team may decide he’s worth the risk high in the draft.

It doesn’t stop there either! Boston College 1B Chris Shaw and South Carolina HS OF Kep Brown bother suffered significant injuries last week, reports Hudson Belinsky. Shaw broke the hamate bone in his right hand and won’t return until late-May, right before the draft. Brown tore his Achilles tendon and will be out at least six months. Shaw was considered a fringe first rounder and Brown a second rounder coming into the spring.

A handful of draft prospects get hurt every year, that’s just baseball, but this spring it seems there have been more devastating injuries to top talent than at any point in the last 10-15 years or so. And the more top guys get hurt, the fewer quality prospects there will be for the Yankees to draft.

Heavy On Re-Drafts?

Every year teams will draft a player(s) they selected in a previous year. Teams do this all the time. They draft players they’ve already drafted once before but were unable to sign for whatever reason. It makes sense, right? At one point they liked the player enough to call his name, so when he re-entered the draft a few years later, they take him again.

A trio of New York’s unsigned 2012 draft picks are among the top college performers this year: UCLA OF Ty Moore (25th round in 2012), Florida State OF D.J. Stewart (28th), and Miami 3B David Thompson (38th). The Yankees took all three out of high school as late-round fliers knowing they were unlikely to sign, and indeed all three followed through on their college commitments. Here are their 2015 stats through this past weekend:

  • Moore: .375/.458/.533 with eight doubles, three homers, 17 walks, and 12 strikeouts in 32 games.
  • Stewart: .306/.506/.595 with six doubles, nine homers, 41 walks, and 31 strikeouts in 37 games.
  • Thompson: .357/.462/.667 with six doubles, six homers, 15 walks, and seven strikeouts in 22 games.

Stewart is the best prospect of the three but not only because of the stats. He is among 60 players on the Golden Spikes Watch List (baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) and Baseball America (subs. req’d) and MLB.com ranked Stewart as the 21st and 28th best prospect in the draft, respectively. Neither ranked Moore nor Thompson among the top 50 draft prospects. (Keith Law didn’t rank any of the three among his top 50 draft prospects.)

The Yankees clearly liked Moore, Stewart, and Thompson once upon a time and felt they were worthwhile late-round gambles. They didn’t just pick their names out of a hat. All three players will be draft-eligible again this year and could again be targets for New York, Stewart in particular as a left-handed hitting outfielder with that classic power and patience profile the Yankees have leaned on for decades.

Slot bonus values for 2015 draft and 2015-16 international signing period

This year it'll be Rob Manfred at the podium. (Getty)
Rob Manfred will be at the podium this year. (Getty)

Last summer the Yankees made up for their lack of high draft picks with an unprecedented international spending spree that saw them hand out more than $17M in bonuses along, according to Ben Badler. This summer they will have to do the opposite and make up for a lack of international spending ability with their two first round draft picks, Nos. 16 and 30 overall. (No. 30 is the compensation pick for David Robertson.)

So, with both the draft and the 2015-16 international signing period slowly but steadily approaching, let’s look at the team’s draft pool situations for both. Here is a breakdown of the overall pool situations and all important slot values.

2015 Amateur Draft

A few weeks ago we heard the Yankees will have a $7.885M bonus pool for the top ten rounds of the 2015 draft. That’s the sixth largest pool in baseball thanks to Robertson pick. Four of the five teams with larger bonus pools are the teams with the top four picks (Astros, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Rockies) and the fifth is the Braves, who have an extra pick for Ervin Santana plus two Competitive Balance Picks.

The bonus pool applies to the top ten rounds — any money over $100,000 given to a player drafted after the tenth round counts against the pool as well — and teams can pay one pick an overslot bonus and save money by paying another underslot. If a team fails to sign a player, they lose the bonus money associated with that pick, which is pretty significant. Here are New York’s slot values according to Baseball America:

2015 Draft Slots

The bonus pools have gone up considerably this year, roughly 9%, so New York has three seven-figure slots. That’s pretty cool. That 16th overall pick is the Yankees’ highest pick since they selected RHP Matt Drews out of a Florida high school in 1993. This will also be the first time the team has two of the top 30 picks since 1978, when they had three of the top 30 picks.

The Yankees will have the option this year of going big and signing one top talent to a huge overslot bonus (Brady Aiken? Mike Matuella?) and signing cheaper players elsewhere, or they could spread the money around and select several solid but not top prospects. Both are viable strategies and it depends on how the draft shakes out as much as anything. There might not be an Aiken or Matuella available for that 16th pick.

Last year scouting director Damon Oppenheimer told Chad Jennings the Yankees lean towards college players these days because “we’re getting some college guys up there a little quicker and through the system a little quicker,” and this draft is loaded with college pitching. Really pitching in general, high school and college. The consensus is there is a lack of quality bats this year. But it’s only April. A lot will change between now and June.

2015-2016 International Signing Period

Because of the penalties associated with last summer’s spending spree, the Yankees can not sign an international amateur to a bonus larger than $300,000 during the 2015-16 signing period. (And 2016-17 as well.) They do still have a regular sized bonus pool, however. Back in February we heard New York has a $2.2628M pool for the upcoming signing period.

Each team gets a $700,000 bonus base plus four slot values for international free agency. Those four slots are tradeable — clubs can’t just trade X amount of international dollars, they have to trade the individual slots — however a team can only acquire 50% of its original draft pool. So the Yankees could only acquire another $1.1314M, for example. Here are New York’s individual international bonus slots, via Baseball America:

  • Slot No.18: $687,300
  • Slot No. 48: $414,700
  • Slot No. 78: $218,100
  • Slot No. 108: $180,700

Because the Yankees are limited to $300,000 bonuses, it would make sense to trade one or two of those bonus slots this year. Then again, that money doesn’t have a ton of value. The Marlins acquired a 25-year-old bullpen prospect (Matt Ramsey) for over $1M in international money over the winter, for example. Think of it as trading bonus slots Nos. 18 and 48 for another Branden Pinder.

The Yankees have done an excellent job of finding quality international prospects on the cheap over the last few years. Jorge Mateo ($250,000) and Luis Severino ($220,000) both signed for $300,000 or less in recent years, as did fellow top 30 prospects Abi Avelino ($300,000), Angel Aguilar ($60,000), and Thairo Estrada ($49,000). That $2.2628M bonus pool equals seven full $300,000 bonuses. The Yankees have shown they can turn relative small bonuses into quality prospects.

2015 Draft: Mike Matuella to undergo Tommy John surgery

According to Keith Law, Duke RHP Mike Matuella suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament recently and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Matuella was a candidate to go first overall in this June’s amateur draft. He’s the second top draft prospect to need his elbow rebuilt within the last two weeks, joining Brady Aiken.

Matuella, 20, had a 1.08 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eleven walks in 25 innings across six starts this spring. He had a limited pitch count in several games due to forearm tightness and a back issue that was eventually diagnosed as spondylolysis, a manageable vertebra defect. MLB.com ranked Matuella as the second best prospect available in this year’s draft before his elbow gave out. Here’s a piece of their scouting report:

Undrafted as a Maryland high schooler in 2012, Matuella since has emerged as the player with the highest upside in the current college crop. He can overpower hitters with his 93-97 mph fastball and make them look bad with his curveball and slider. If that’s not enough, he also demonstrates feel for his changeup and throwing strikes. His 6-foot-7 frame creates difficult plane and angle for his pitches, making him that much tougher.

As I mentioned in the Aiken post, there is plenty of recent precedent for a player with elbow ligament issues to be selected high in the draft. Just last season ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman and UNLV RHP Erick Fedde had Tommy John surgery in May only to be drafted ninth and 18th overall in June, respectively. The Yankees also selected Andrew Brackman with the 30th pick in 2007 knowing he’d likely need his elbow rebuilt shortly after the draft, which he eventually did.

Matuella seems to be exactly the type of pitcher the Yankees tend to target these days. He’s physically huge (listed at 6-foot-7 and 220 lbs.), he throws hard, and he has a history of throwing strikes (career 6.8 BB% at Duke). Unlike Brackman, Matuella isn’t splitting time between two sports and his mechanics aren’t in need of major refinement. The Yankees have the 16th overall pick and plenty of draft pool space. I prefer Aiken over Matuella as a prospect, and while Matuella’s back issue is not insignificant, rolling the dice on either would be a worthy gamble worth for the Bombers, in my opinion.

Sunday Links: Draft Combine, Hensley, Lopez, Alvarez

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are playing the Astros this afternoon (Nathan Eovaldi vs. Scott Feldman), but there will be no video broadcast, so we won’t have a game thread. Instead, here are some miscellaneous links and notes.

MLB, MLBPA considering pre-draft medical combine

According to Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA are expected to discuss the idea of a medical combine for draft prospects during the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. The current CBA expires after 2016. This comes after the Astros declined to sign California HS LHP Brady Aiken — the first overall pick in the 2014 draft — after an issue with his elbow popped up during a physical. Aiken had Tommy John surgery a few days ago.

It’s easy to understand why teams would be in favor of a medical combine, but the players have little to gain from this. Of course, draft prospects are not MLBPA members, so the union is free to negotiate away their rights, which they’ve been doing for decades. A medical combine would bring a ton of logistical issues — who is eligible/required to participate? who are the doctors? how will this impact college players given the clown show that is the NCAA? — though I fully expect one to implemented at some point, if not 2017. The MLBPA has shown time after time they will sell out amateur players for the betterment of union members.

Hensley healthy and participating in all workouts

After being viciously assaulted in December, RHP Ty Hensley reported to Spring Training this year as a healthy player and has been able to participate in all workouts, according to Brendan Kuty. “If you didn’t know something had happened, you wouldn’t know from watching him. He’s been working hard,” said minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson.

Hensley, 21, has had a lot of physical setbacks in his career. The Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder during his pre-draft physical and reduced his bonus from $1.6M to $1.2M. Then he missed the entire 2013 season after having surgery on both hips and to correct a hernia, and then he was assaulted in December. Hensley is really easy to root for, he’s been very upbeat while dealing with all this adversity, though the fact of the matter is he has thrown only 42.1 innings since being the 30th pick in the 2012 draft. That’s a lot of missed development time. I expect Hensley to start the season with Low-A Charleston and hopefully he plays a full, healthy season.

Felix Lopez out of the picture due to “family issue”

Executive Vice President/Chief International Officer Felix Lopez is out of the picture now, reports Bill Madden. George King says Lopez was not fired, but he is no longer on the team’s masthead after being listed there as recently as March 16th. “It’s a ‘family issue,” said Madden’s source. Lopez is married to Jessica Steinbrenner (George’s daughter) and was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations at the club’s complex in Tampa, though reportedly he often overstepped his bounds and dabbled in the team’s Latin America operations.

Madden says Lopez had an “unauthorized heavy hand” in negotiations with Yoan Moncada and effectively ended the club’s chances of signing the Cuban infielder. Who knows if that’s true — David Hastings, Moncada’s agent, told Nick Cafardo he gave the Yankees a chance to match the $31.5M deal the Red Sox offered, for what it’s worth — it seems like everyone in the organization has tried to pass the Moncada blame onto someone else, but either way Lopez is out of the picture. It really seems like no one is on the same page at the top of the organization. Everyone is going in a different direction.

Yankees have scouted Yadier Alvarez

The Yankees are among the many teams that have scouted 18-year-old Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez, reports Jon Heyman. Alvarez has been working out for teams in the Dominican Republic and has consistently sat 94-97 mph during workouts while touching 99. He  can not sign until the 2015-16 signing period opens on July 2nd, though Heyman says Alvarez is petitioning MLB to allow him to sign before then.

New York exceeded their international bonus pool during the 2014-15 signing period, so they can’t sign a player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. So if Alvarez can’t sign before July 2nd, the Yankees have no chance at him. They won’t be able to make a competitive bid. If MLB allows him Alvarez to sign before then though, the Yankees can get involved and offer him whatever they want, which I’m sure will be just enough to fall short.

Jeter looking to open restaurant in Tampa

According to Eric Snider, Derek Jeter is looking to open a restaurant in the Tampa International Airport, but faces stiff competition from more established brands for the 3,439 square foot space. The restaurant, which is tentatively named “The Players’ Tribune Bar & Grill,” was billed as having a “VIP atmosphere” in the bid documents. Here are some more details:

The Player’s Tribune menu skews upscale (no prices are listed), ranging from Buffalo Chicken Wings to Braised Porchetta, Spanish Garbanzo Bean soup to Roasted Pear Salad. There’s only one athlete-branded item, unusual for a sports-themed restaurant: the Jeter Burger. (Photographs of Jeter, (Blake) Griffin and (Chris) Paul decorate the menu.) The only other fame-named entree is the Salvador Dali Egg Breakfast.

iPads will be made available at “virtually every seat” so customers can peruse The Players’ Tribune website. High-def big screens will favor games by Tampa Bay teams.

Jeter made it no secret he wants to focus on his business ventures after retiring as a player, and, well, he’ll hardly be the first ex-athlete to open a restaurant. If he misses out on the airport space, I’m sure Derek and his people will continue to look for a location elsewhere in Tampa. Seems like The Player’s Tribune — the website, by the way, is about a million times more interesting than I (and many others) expected — is the brand Jeter is pushing.