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. (NJ.com)
Miller. (NJ.com)

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 MLB.com audio feed and the MLB.com 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)

No Mo III
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.

* * *

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 MLB.com. 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 MLB.com feed and here is the MLB.com Draft Tracker. Talk about all things draft right here throughout the day.

2015 Draft: Yankees balance probability with projects on Day One

Day One of the 2015 amateur draft was both surprising yet completely predictable for the Yankees. They used their first round pick on a player they’ve been connected to for weeks, and they did take three college players with their three picks. New York’s second and third selections seemed to come out of left field though. At least in the sense that we hadn’t seen them connected to those players this spring.

The Yankees went probability first, upside second on Day One this year. Getting safe players — safe by draft standards, which means not safe at all! — likely to contribute at the MLB level was the priority over getting players with impact potential. That’s nothing fans want to hear, of course, but it’s very easy to say they should take more risk when you’re not the one with your neck on the line. And besides, the Yankees haven’t had much success developing their risky picks the last few years. Let’s review Day One.

Kaprielian. (Daily Bruin)
Kaprielian. (Daily Bruin)

Fit The Profile
UCLA RHP James Kaprielian fit the Yankees’ profile so perfectly that I’m not sure why I ever thought they might take someone else once we knew was going to be available. Deep repertoire? Check. Command? Check. Big? He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., so check there too. Southern California product? Also check. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer loves his SoCal pitchers. He shows it year after year.

“Kaprielian is a guy we’ve scouted for a long time, and we’re really happy we were able to get him,” said Oppenheimer in a statement following the draft last night. “He has three quality pitches, throws strikes and generates a lot of swings-and-misses. On top of that, he has great make-up. He compiled a quality track record in a good league and performed well for Team USA.”

Kaprielian, who the Yankees selected with their first round pick (16th overall), was the team’s safe pick on Day One. Safe by baseball draft standards, I mean. No prospect is ever really safe. Kaprielian throws three pitches, including a fastball that jumped from 89-92 mph to 93-95 mph later in the spring, as well a very good changeup and a solid curveball. He locates all three pitches well and has even messed around with a slider/cutter at times.

Pitchers with good fastballs who can control two offspeed pitches tend to have a ton of success at the college level, which Kaprielian certainly did with the Bruins. The Yankees have had some success developing pitchers like Kaprielian, the polished college guys, though he has better command than someone like David Phelps and better stuff than someone like Adam Warren. He’s someone they can just plug into the farm system and not worry a whole lot about. Safe is boring, but safe also has value.

Holder. (San Diego Union Tribune)
Holder. (San Diego Union Tribune)

Carrying Tool
In the wake of Derek Jeter‘s retirement, the Yankees have gone full doomsday hoarder with shortstop prospects. They signed several top shortstops as international free agents last year, traded for young Didi Gregorius in the offseason, and selected San Diego SS Kyle Holder with the 30th overall pick last night. That was the compensation pick for David Robertson.

“Holder is about as elite a defender as we’ve seen come through the college ranks. He’s got a tremendous glove. He also had a productive year offensively and does not swing and miss,” said Oppenheimer after making the pick. Holder fits the no hit/all glove mold, which is far from exciting, but that’s also Holder’s starting point. He’s not a finished product and he did hit .348/.418/.482 with as many walks and strikeouts (19) in a major college conference this spring, so it’s not as if he’s never hit.

What Holder offers more than anything is a carrying tool in his high-end defense. Quality shortstops are hard to find. There’s a reason dudes like Brendan Ryan stay in the league for a decade. The Yankees have to figure out a way to get Holder to be a passable hitter — the league average shortstop is hitting .246/.297/.356 (80 wRC+) this season, by the way — to maximize his value, which won’t be easy. Frankly the Yankees have kinda sucked at developing bats lately and there are reasons to doubt their ability to help Holder.

The Yankees took on a project with Holder and it’s fair to question his overall upside. The best case scenario seems like a solid regular, which would be a pretty great outcome for the 30th overall pick, but Holder is also extremely likely to get to the show as a defensive specialist, even as an up-and-down utility guy. Holder is starting from a pretty high base and any sort of development with his bat suddenly puts him in the everyday player conversation.

Degano. (MVC-Sports.com)
Degano. (MVC-Sports.com)

Long-Awaited Lefty
The history of the New York Yankees is littered with great left-handed starters, from Whitey Ford to Ron Guidry to Andy Pettitte to CC Sabathia. They’re the Bronx Bombers first and foremost, yes, but their historic success is also built on quality southpaws. For some reason that demographic has been largely ignored in recent years, with 2013 draftee Ian Clarkin the notable exception.

The Yankees went back to their roots with their third selection on Day One, taking Indiana State LHP Jeff Degano with their second round pick, 57th overall. “Degano is a left-hander with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a good breaking ball. He throws a lot of strikes and has a quality athletic body,” said Oppenheimer of the 6-foot-4, 200 lb. southpaw. A power lefty? Where have guys like this been lately?

Of course, Degano is not without risk. He’s already blown out once, having Tommy John surgery back in 2013, forcing him to miss most of that season and the entire 2014 season as well. Degano started this spring a little rusty but was much better down the stretch and climbed draft boards as he started looking more like the pre-elbow injury version of himself. The Yankees are banking on that history.

More than anything, the Yankees are rolling the dice on a big southpaw with a power fastball and a quality breaking ball. Degano missed bats all spring — he struck out 126 batters (99 innings) this year, seventh most in Division I, and he did it while walking only 28 batters — and he’s a changeup away from being  a no-doubt starter, the kind of lefty starter the Yankees have lacked since Sabathia’s fade started. Learning a changeup is not easy, but the guys who already have changeups go in the first round, like Kaprielian.

* * *

The Yankees had … well I’d say sort of an atypical Day One. Kaprielian is a classic Oppenheimer pick but Holder and Degano are unlike any of their recent high selections. They’ve gone for big bats (Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge), raw and toolsy athletes (Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott), or prep hurlers (Clarkin and Ty Hensley) the last three or four years. Holder and Degano are none of those things.

This draft was more about probability. Kaprielian’s very likely to be a big league starter as long as he stays healthy. Holder’s defense at a premium position means the offensive bar is low, and Degano will get a million chances as a lefty who misses bats. Even if he doesn’t learn a changeup, he goes to the bullpen to be a poor man’s Jacob Lindgren. The Yankees went safe on Day One this year, safe but with two project players in Holder and Degano who have the potential to be big league regulars with the fall back option of being high probability useful players.

2015 Draft: Yankees select Indiana State LHP Jeff Degano with second round pick

(MCCAthletics.com)
(MCCAthletics.com)

The Yankees went 3-for-3 on Day One of the 2015 draft Monday night: three picks and three college players. With their third pick, the 57th overall selection and their second round pick, the Yankees took Indiana State LHP Jeff Degano.

Degano, 22, was a late riser this spring after missing most of the 2013 and all of the 2014 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. He had a 2.36 ERA with 126 strikeouts and 28 walks in 99 innings this year. I didn’t write up a profile of Degano, so here are some scouting report tidbits from the pros.

Baseball America (83rd ranked prospect):

Degano has dominated thanks to a 90-94 mph fastball and a plus 78-82 mph slurve with good depth. He’s shown he can vary the shape of the breaking ball to make it a little bigger and slower or harder and later-breaking depending on the situation … Degano also throws a fringy changeup, but he’s used it infrequently this season..

MLB.com (94th ranked prospect):

The redshirt junior works at 88-92 mph and can reach 95 with his fastball, which features some natural cutting life. He gets many of his strikeouts with his hard slurve, which he can run away from lefties and back-foot against righties … Degano has a decent changeup with some fade and will need to use it more as a starter in pro ball. He throws strikes but his command could use some refinement. Though he doesn’t have a true plus offering, he has the upside of a three-pitch starter with the fallback of becoming a situational lefty.

Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Degano as the 54th best prospect in the draft class in his latest rankings, but did not write up an individual scouting report. Degano is a big dude at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs. and he spent much of this spring shaking off the rust following Tommy John surgery. Here’s video:

Degano flew under the radar for much of the spring but really finished strong and shot up the various draft rankings in recent weeks as he showed his pre-Tommy John surgery form. He has to learn a changeup and that’s not easy, but he’s a big, physically lefty with a power fastball and a bat-missing breaking ball. That’s a profile that, frankly, the Yankees haven’t drafted enough in recent years. They’ve eschewed southpaws for some reason.

Slot money for the 57th overall pick is $1,074,400, and this year’s signing deadline is Friday, July 17th. Degano shouldn’t be a tough sign at all — there’s a chance he could sign below slot, but we’ll see — and I’m sure the Yankees are eager to turn him over to pitching coordinator Gil Patterson to work on that changeup. That pitch is the key.

2015 Draft: Yankees select San Diego SS Kyle Holder with supplemental first round pick

(MLB.com)
(MLB.com)

Once again, the Yankees turned to the college ranks for their second pick in the 2015 draft. The team selected San Diego SS Kyle Holder with the the 30th overall pick Monday night. This is the supplemental first round pick they received for losing David Robertson to free agency.

Holder, 21, hit .348/.418/.482 with 14 doubles, four homers, five steals, 19 walks, and 19 strikeouts in 55 games for the Toreros this spring. He was considered arguably the best defensive player in the entire draft class, regardless of position. Here are some scouting report tidbits.

Baseball America (38th ranked prospect):

The athletic 6-foot-1, 185-pounder doesn’t run better than average and has an uphill lefthanded swing path, which one scout compared to a cricket swing. However, Holder has shown a knack for the barrel this spring and makes consistent contact. He’s unlikely to make an impact offensively but should defensively, where scouts give him grades ranging from 55 to 70. He has an average-to-plus arm to go with excellent, instinctive actions and footwork.

MLB.com (51st ranked prospect):

Unlike many college shortstops, there are absolutely no questions about Holder’s ability to stay at the premium position long-term. He has outstanding hands, range and footwork to go along with a strong arm and the athleticism that made him a good shooting guard carries over to baseball. The questions start to come when discussing his bat. While he is performing in his junior year and rarely strikes out, he’s still learning how to take good at-bats consistently, and power is never going to be a part of his game.

Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Holder as the 91st best prospect in the draft in his latest rankings, but did not write up an individual scouting report. For what it’s worth, Holder was a standout basketball player growing up and he didn’t focus on baseball full-time until two years ago, so he doesn’t have the same level of experience or polish as most college players. Here’s video:

I seem to be one of the few people who has no problem with the Holder pick. I actually think there’s some upside there — he’s got the defensive part of the game figured out and now just needs to gain experience and work on his offense. Is Holder going to be a middle of the order hitter? No, of course not. But I think his chances of developing into a non-zero with the bat are better than he’s getting credit for.

Now, that said, the Yankees haven’t had much success developing bats in recent years, and I don’t think we can give them the benefit of the doubt with Holder either. Getting him to improve his offense is a tall order. Also, this pick continues the team’s weird recent trend of prioritizing defense to the point that they are willing to punt offense to get it. Not sure what sparked that but it’s kinda annoying.

Anyway, slot money for the 30th overall pick is $1,914,900 and the signing deadline is Friday, July 17th. There’s no reason to think Holder will be a tough sign, and heck, he might even sign below slot. We’ll see.