Archive for Draft
MLB.com published their list of the top 50 draft prospects not too long ago, a list that is predictably topped by NC State LHP Carlos Rodon. He’s the best draft-eligible player since at least Gerrit Cole in 2011 and probably since Bryce Harper in 2010. East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman and California HS C/OF Alex Jackson round out the top three.
The Yankees currently hold the 53rd overall pick in next summer’s draft after forfeiting their top three selections as free agent compensation, but that will change as the rest of the qualified free agents come off the board. The draft board will change substantially over the next few months and it’s inevitable a few of those top 50 players will be available when New York’s first selection rolls around. There are scouting reports and videos and all sorts of other stuff, all for free, so check it out.
1:55pm: Scratch that, Feinsand issued a correction. The Yankees will indeed forfeit the Cano and Granderson picks for free agent compensation. That’s what the CBA says. One is already gone for Ellsbury — or will be as soon as his deal is official — and the other will go if they sign another qualified free agent. So much for that.
1:48pm: Via Mark Feinsand: The Yankees will keep the supplemental first round draft picks they receive as compensation for losing Robinson Cano (to the Mariners) and Curtis Granderson (to the Mets). The team will forfeit its second round pick for signing Jacoby Ellsbury after giving up its first rounder to sign Brian McCann. The Collective Bargaining Agreement says supplemental first rounders can be lost as free agent compensation pretty explicitly, but Feinsand is citing an MLB official. Pretty great news if true.
Coming into this past season, it was obvious the Yankees needed to add some young, impact talent to the organization. They had none at the big league level and very little in the minors following a down year in the farm system. When Baseball America published their list of the team’s top ten prospects over the winter, it was hard to ignore that six of the ten missed at least a month due to injury in 2012 while two others were still way down in Rookie Ball.
The Yankees had a chance to add talent this summer during the annual amateur draft in June, which is true of every year. This draft was different though — New York had two extra picks after Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher declined qualifying offers and signed with other teams as free agents. Add in their own first rounder and New York owned three of the first 33 selections. It was the first time they held even two of the first 33 picks since 1978. The opportunity to give the farm system a real shot in the arm was there, and, at this point, it appears the Yankees nailed it.
Three First Round Talents
Having three first round picks — it was really one first rounder and two supplemental first round picks, but whatever — doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get three first round talents. Let’s not kid ourselves here; the Yankees have made some questionable high picks in recent years and grabbing the best available talent was not a given. Rather than go off the board for a player they liked more than the consensus, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer & Co. went big and grabbed arguably the three best players on the board with each pick.
The first of the three was Notre Dame 3B Eric Jagielo, who was the club’s natural first rounder at #26 overall. He signed quickly for a straight slot $1.84M bonus and hit .264/.376/.451 (~152 wRC+) during his 221 plate appearance pro debut. Jagielo is a polished hitter and a good defender at a hard-to-fill position who should climb the ladder very quickly. The second pick was Fresno State OF Aaron Judge (#32), a monstrous (listed at 6-foot-7 and 255 lbs.) slugger with as much raw power as anyone in the draft. He took an above slot $1.8M bonus the day before the signing deadline. California HS LHP Ian Clarkin (#33), a power southpaw with an out-pitch curveball, was the third of the three first rounders.
In a normal year, landing one of those guys with a first round pick would have been a coup for the Yankees. Being able to draft all three — and being willing to exceed the draft pool to sign them, as they did by signing Judge to an over-slot bonus at the last minute — is a major win for a farm system in need of impact talent. All three of these guys are not going to work out, the odds are strongly against it because prospects are made to break hearts, but the more high-end talent they have, they better. These three first rounders were incredibly important given the state of the organization and the Yankees nailed ‘em.
Middle Infield Depth
The Yankees have been blessed with Robinson Cano and (especially) Derek Jeter for a long time, making it pretty easy to overlook just rare quality middle infielders are these days. I’m not even talking about stars, above-average guys are very hard and rather expensive to acquire. New York drafted two true middle infielders in the top four rounds in 2B Gosuke Katoh (2nd round) and SS Tyler Wade (4), both out of California high schools. Both play above-average defense at their positions and Katoh is just a strong arm away from being a shortstop. They both performed well in their pro debuts: Katoh managed 171 wRC+ (12.6 BB%) in 215 plate appearances while Wade had a 137 wRC+ (16.0 BB%) in 213 plate appearances. The performance is nice but the most important this is that both guys have the defensive chops to stay up the middle while also projecting to be something more than zeroes at the plate. These were two very strong picks after the first round.
Under Oppenheimer, the Yankees have used the middle and late rounds to draft power arms who could someday help out of the bullpen. With the new spending restrictions and Collective Bargaining Agreement all but eliminating the ability to give big money to players who fall due to bonus concerns, there’s not much more you can do late in the draft. Dig up some hard-throwers for the bullpen and focus on positions players with that one high-end tool. Not much more is available.
This summer’s crop of hard-throwers includes Texas JuCo RHP David Palladino (5), LSU RHP Nick Rumbelow (7), San Diego State RHP Phil Walby (12), and Oklahoma Christian RHP Cale Coshow (13). All four guys offer mid-90s heat while Palladino has good enough secondary pitches to start. Sam Houston State LHP Caleb Smith (14) has shown 94-95 in short outings. The Yankees have had trouble developing players overall the last few years, but they generally go a great job of unearthing these power arms and getting them far enough up the ladder that they at least serve as trade bait, if nothing else. These five guys are the newest members of the pipeline.
Late Round Gambles
The big money late-round picks don’t really exist anymore, but there is always going to be talent that slips into the late rounds. Not every “signability” guy will cost seven figures. New York paid over-slot for Georgia HS OF Dustin Fowler (18) and Missouri HS 3B Drew Bridges (20) after saving pool money by taking cheap college seniors in rounds six through ten. Fowler is the better prospect as an athletic outfielder with speed and a sweet lefty swing, but Bridges has some power potential and a knack for getting the fat part of the bat on the ball from the left side.
I think the Yankees had their best draft in several years this summer and that’s not only because of the extra first round picks, though those certainly helped. I’m talking about the quality of the players they landed with their picks. The added impact guys at the top of the draft, some important middle infield depth after that, and a lot of interesting late-round guys who could play roles down the road. This was a super important draft for New York and they did a bang-up job in my opinion.
Earlier this week, Baseball America ranked the Yankees’ 2013 draft haul the third best in baseball behind only the Pirates and Diamondbacks. They followed up with an individual draft report card on Friday (subs. req’d), which breaks down the team’s draft into a variety of categories. 3B Eric Jagielo (first round) was ranked the “Best Pure Hitter” while LHP Ian Clarkin (1s) was said to have the “Best Secondary Pitch,” for example.
I thought there were two interesting pieces of information in the report card. One, OF Aaron Judge (1s) is apparently going to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He isn’t listed on any rosters at the moment, however. A quad injury preventing him from appearing in a game after signing. Two, LHP Caleb Smith (14) has “a potentially plus changeup and fastball up to 94,” making him a really interesting bullpen candidate down the road. He had a great pro debut (1.93 ERA and 2.03 FIP in 51.1 innings) and ended the year with a spot start for Double-A Trenton. I wonder how fast of a track Smith will be on.
In a piece that is free for all to read, Baseball America broke down this summer’s draft using a variety of categories. The Yankees ranked third in the “Best Draft” category, trailing only the Pirates and Diamondbacks. Pittsburgh had two of the top 14 selections. New York, of course, had three of the top 33 selections, so having a strong draft was pretty much guaranteed.
OF Aaron Judge, the middle of those three first rounders, is said to be the fifth best power hitter in the entire draft class by Baseball America. That’s his calling card, he’s a huge dude who can hit the ball a mile from the right side of the plate. That’s a skill that is very hard to come by these days. 2B Gosuke Katoh had the third best pro debut among high school draftees according to the publication. Those three first round picks are going to make or break the team’s draft haul. In this new spending restricted system where talent goes pretty linearly, those top picks are crucial.
The 2014 draft is still seven months away, but this is as good a time as any to start familiarizing yourself with the draft class. Baseball America published their first top 50 draft rankings yesterday, and best of all, you don’t need a subscription to read it. Fifty players with a little blurb on each. Pretty cool. NC State LHP Carlos Rodon predictably tops the list — he’s the best draft prospect since at least Gerrit Cole in 2011, maybe even Bryce Harper in 2010.
“After a below-average 2013 draft, the 2014 class has potential to be the best class since 2011’s banner crop,” says the very first line in the write-up. The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick at the moment — they could lose that for signing a qualified free agent, obviously — and are in position to add a supplemental first round pick or two if their own qualified free agents head elsewhere. Keep in mind that is is mid-October. The high school and college seasons are still weeks away from starting, so those rankings will change a lot between now and the draft. A lot. In all likelihood, someone not on that top 50 list will wind up going in the top ten next June. These rankings are just a snapshot of what’s going on right now, that’s all. They aren’t intended to be some kind of prediction.
By going 85-77 this year, the Yankees hold the 18th overall pick in next summer’s draft. They finished with the same record as the Orioles, but because Baltimore had the worse record last season, they get the 17th pick while New York gets the 18th. The full draft order is right here, and note that tonight’s tiebreaker game between the Rays and Rangers is technically a regular season game, so the 22nd and 23rd picks could flip.
Slot money for the 18th overall pick was $2,109,900 this year, and the slots are expected to increase in 2014. The Yankees haven’t picked this high since taking C.J. Henry with the 17th pick in 2005. That was compensation from the Phillies for Jon Lieber (!), not their natural pick. The Bombers could end up forfeiting their first rounder to sign a qualified free agent (Brian McCann?
Matt Garza? Ervin Santana?), of course, and they could also add picks by losing their own qualified free agents (Hiroki Kuroda? Robinson Cano?). It’s still too early to know exactly how deep the draft class is, but there are always quality players available at 18.
Via K. Levine-Flandrup: The Yankees have agreed to sign 36th round pick Nestor Cortes. No word on the signing bonus, but since he was drafted after the tenth round, anything in excess of $100k counts against the draft pool. The Yankees are currently $114k over their pool.
Cortes, 18, is a left-hander out of Hialeah High School in Miami. He’s undersized at 5-foot-11 and 190 lbs., but he can run his fastball into the low-90s with good sink. His changeup is very good for a high schooler and he also spins a curveball. Cortes is also an excellent athlete with an easy delivery and arm action. There’s a definite Daniel Camarena 2.0 vibe here, though I’m not sure if Cortes has that kind of polish.
Keep tabs on the team’s draft pool with our 2013 Draft Pool page. The signing deadline is 5pm ET today.
Friday: Judge has officially signed. In fact, here’s a picture of him signing the contract. The Yankees are currently $114k over their draft pool and will have to pay an $85.5k tax.
Thursday: Via George King: The Yankees have agreed to sign first round pick Aaron Judge to an over-slot $1.8M signing bonus. Slot money for the 32nd overall pick is just under $1.68M. This is the sixth largest bonus the Yankees have ever given a drafted player, behind only Andrew Brackman, Ian Kennedy, Slade Heathcott, Drew Henson, and Eric Jagielo. This is the pick the Yankees received as compensation for losing Nick Swisher to free agency.
Judge, 21, is an outfielder out of Fresno State. He is listed at 6-foot-7 and 255 lbs., so he’s an imposing figure on the field. “Judge profiles as a .250 hitter and is going to strike out a lot, which comes with the territory for tall power hitters with long arms … he has light-tower power. Judge is a solid-average runner with an above-average arm and will be a solid defender in right field,” wrote Baseball America (subs. req’d) in their pre-draft scouting report.
Keep tabs on the team’s draft pool with our 2013 Draft Pool page.
Thursday: Bridges signed for $225k according to Baseball America (subs. req’d), so his “pool hit” is $125k. The Yankees are (unofficially) currently $114k (1.4%) over their pool, meaning they will pay just under $86k in tax if they don’t sign anyone else to an above-slot bonus before tomorrow afternoon’s deadline.
Friday: Via Jim Callis: The Yankees have agreed to sign 20th round pick Drew Bridges to an over-slot bonus. The exact amount is unknown, but Callis says it is sixth round money. That would put it in the $175-300k range. As a 20th rounder, anything he gets in excess of $100k counts against the team’s draft pool.
Bridges, 18, is a third baseman out of a Missouri high school. In their pre-draft scouting report, Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he “earns Brett Wallace comparisons because he’s a big-bodied left-handed hitter who can produce for average and might have interesting power if he adds loft to his swing.” Bridges is a big kid at 6-foot-4 and 220 lbs., so his ability to remain at third long-term is a question.
Keep tabs on the team’s draft pool with our 2013 Draft Pool page.