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.

Yankees select LHP Jacob Lindgren with top pick in 2014 draft

(Logan Lowery/InsideMSUSports.com)
(Logan Lowery/InsideMSUSports.com)

With their first pick in the 2014 amateur draft (second round, 55th overall), the Yankees selected Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren. They did not have a first round pick after signing all those free agents over the winter. Here is what I wrote about Lindgren a few weeks ago and here is the obligatory video:

“Jacob has two Major League pitches that are above average and possess swing-and-miss quality. He has been extended for multiple innings and holds his stuff consistently,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer in a statement. “Jacob has been very successful in a tough conference and has produced exceptional strikeout numbers. We are very happy to have selected him.”

Lindgren, 21, was a full-time reliever this spring after trying out the rotation last year. He pitched to a 0.81 ERA with a 100/25 K/BB ratio in 55.1 innings this year, and his 16.27 K/9 would have been by far the highest in the country if he had enough innings to quality. As @collegesplits notes, Lindgren also had the second highest ground ball rate in Division I at approximately 79%.

Here is what the big three scouting publications have to say about the 5-foot-11, 205 lb. southpaw:

Baseball America (ranked 50th best prospect in the draft):

He regularly reaches 93-94 mph with his fastball with heavy life and arm-side run. He’s tabled his curve and changeup in a relief role, sticking to the heater and his hard, plus slider in the low to mid 80s. His stiff delivery likely leads him to a future relief role as well, and his 16.8 strikeouts per nine indicate he can dominate in that job. Lindgren lacks command, and his control usually is just enough.

MLB.com (51st):

He has overmatched hitters more than ever in shorter stints, making it unlikely that he’ll last past the second round of the Draft. His best pitch is a wipeout slider that arrives at 82-84 mph with late bite. His fastball has jumped from 87-91 mph as a starter to 91-95 as a reliever … Because Lindgren has a sinking changeup and throws strikes, a pro team could be tempted to develop him as a starter. But his stuff plays up as a reliever, and he could reach the Majors very quickly in the role. He has closer upside.

Keith Law (67th):

His fastball sat in the 88-90 mph range as a starter, but that has shot up to the 92-94 range in relief. That velocity plays up even more because of his slider, which flashes plus-plus with outstanding late tilt that is practically unhittable for left-handed hitters … Someone might be tempted to see if Lindgren’s two plus pitches can play in the rotation, but more than likely he’s a high-leverage reliever who can be death to left-handed hitters and hold his own against right-handers as well.

I am not at all joking when I say Lindgren might be better than Matt Thornton right now. Unless the Yankees try him in the rotation — always a possibility, but I think it’s unlikely — Lindgren should fly through the system and become a big league bullpen option very soon. There’s a chance he can pitch in the show later this season, a la Paco Rodriguez for the Dodgers two years ago. It’s really a question of whether the Yankees will let him more than anything.

New York is reportedly planning to spend a ton of money internationally this summer, upwards of $30M between bonuses and penalties, so that is where they’re going to add the high-ceiling prospects this year. They opted to use their top draft pick to add a player who can help the MLB club in short order. It’s a reasonable strategy given their low draft slot and upcoming international spending spree. Plus they’ve stunk at player development lately and Lindgren doesn’t need much work. The Yankees have plenty of power righty relievers in the system and he helps balance things out.

Slot money for the 55th overall pick is $1,018,700 and there are no concerns about Lindgren’s signability. Mississippi State’s season ended earlier this week, so he is free to sign at any time. I would expect it to happen soon. The Yankees didn’t take a reliever with their top draft pick to wait around. They want to get his career started as quickly as possible.

2014 Draft Open Thread: Day One

2014 DraftThe 2014 amateur draft begins tonight with the first round, the supplemental first round, the second round, and the two competitive balance rounds. A total of 74 picks will be made tonight, including the Yankees’ second rounder (55th overall). They don’t have a first rounder after signing all those free agents last winter. The Cardinals and Royals lead the way with four picks tonight while the Orioles are the only team without a selection on Day One.

The Yankees are said to be targeting a high school catcher or Indiana 1B Sam Travis with that 55th overall selection. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer also has a long history of selecting players from Southern California (Ian Kennedy, Ian Clarkin, Gerrit Cole, Gosuke Katoh, Austin Romine, Tyler Wade, Angelo Gumbs, etc.), plus we know the Yankees are willing to go off the beaten path with their picks.

All of our 2014 draft coverage can be found right here. Baseball America has a list of the top 500 draft eligible prospects while MLB.com has a great top 200 list that includes video and scouting reports, all for free. If you’re wondering what it’s like in a draft war room, read this FanGraphs article by former Mariners front office staffer Tony Blengino.

All of tonight’s action, all 74 picks, will be broadcast live on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com. Here’s the video link. You can also follow the entire draft with MLB.com Draft Tracker. The broadcast is scheduled to run from 7pm to 11pm ET, so the Yankees will probably make their selection sometime during that 10 o’clock hour. That’s just a guess though.

Use this thread to day about the draft or anything else tonight. Sorry, there won’t be any liveblog(s) this year, I just don’t have the time. The Yankees already won this afternoon, so there’s no game to watch. The Mets are playing and the NBA Finals start tonight.

Draft Links: Mock Drafts, SoCal, Memo, Ages

The 2014 amateur draft begins a little less than five hours from now — the Yankees will make only one pick tonight — so here are some last minute draft links to get you ready:

  • Mock Drafts: Here are the final mock drafts from Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com. All three still have the Astros taking San Diego HS LHP Brady Aiken first overall. It would be a surprise if he wasn’t the top choice at this point. The last high school pitcher to be taken first overall was … Brien Taylor. How about that? The Yankees are not included in any of the mocks because they cover the first round only.
  • In this afternoon’s chat, Law says he continues to hear the Yankees connected to high school catchers and Indiana 1B Sam Travis. He also says we should never rule out Southern California prospects given scouting director Damon Oppenheimer’s roots and tendencies. You can filter Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects list by state, if you want to check out the SoCal prospects.
  • Jeff Passan obtained a copy of the memo MLB sends to teams outlining what they can and can not ask prospects prior to the draft. They can explicitly ask the player what kind of bonus he’s seeking, but there are rules against trying to use other players as leverage as stuff like that. It’s silly because teams ignore all of it and do whatever they want. It’s just interesting to see.
  • Clint Longenecker listed the youngest and oldest prospects available in this draft, broken down into pitchers and position players, high school and college. Want to feel very old? There’s a kid in this draft who was born in 1997.
  • As a reminder, the Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason spending spree. Their spending pool for the top ten rounds is $3,202,300, including $1,018,700 for that second round pick. None of their other picks are slotted for seven figures.
  • Click here to go back through our draft archive to see all the draft prospects we’ve profiled. I selfishly hope the Yankees select one of them. It was pretty neat when they drafted three players I wrote up in the first round last year.