Archive for Draft
Jordan Brink | RHP
Undrafted out of Central High School in Fresno three years ago, Brink spent his freshman year and most of his sophomore year as a position player at Fresno State. He didn’t hit (.224/.292/.299 in 389 plate appearances) and wound up on the mound. Brink had a 3.92 ERA and a 65/25 K/BB in 59.2 innings last year, and this spring he has a 2.28 ERA with a 40/31 K/BB in 55.1 innings while working exclusively as a pitcher.
Despite a smallish frame — listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 lbs. — Brink offers big time power stuff, including a fastball that hit 96 mph during fall workouts and has sat 91-93 this spring. His best pitch is a hard and sharp curveball in the low-80s that sometimes looks like a slider. A good changeup rounds out his three-pitch mix. Brink is said to be a top notch competitor with off the charts makeup, and even though he hasn’t been pitching full-time very long, his delivery is compact and repeatable.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Brink as the 48th best prospect in the draft class in his most recent rankings. Baseball America (no subs. req’d) did not include him in their top 50. This draft is loaded with college pitching, enough that someone like Brink could slide due to his height and unimpressive performance this spring (K/BB, specifically). The Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason shopping spree and I think landing Brink would be a real coup. He has a fresh arm, he already throws three pitches, and he’s the kind of competitor they love.
Matt Imhof | LHP
Imhof, 20, is a Bay Area kid from Fremont. He was not drafted out of Mission San Jose High School, mostly because he started out as a full-time first baseman and didn’t seriously get into pitching until his sophomore year. Imhof was a swingman as a freshman at Cal Poly (3.04 ERA in 47.1 innings) before moving into the rotation as a sophomore (2.74 ERA in 101.2 innings). This spring he has a 2.07 ERA with 88/22 K/BB in 61 innings across nine starts. He currently leads Division I in strikeouts and is second with 12.98 K/9.
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 220 lbs., Imhof usually sits in the low-90s with his fastball but will occasionally touch 95 mph. The pitch has some natural cutting action in on righties even though he delivers the ball almost straight over the top. An upper-70/low-80s slurve — not quite a curve, not quite a slider — is his go-to secondary pitch. Imhof has been working on a changeup since last year but it is still nascent. The coaching staff at Cal Poly has helped him smooth out and develop consistency with his mechanics, and that has allowed him to better command his pitches, especially down in the zone.
Baseball America (no subs. req’d) and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Imhof as the 35th and 43rd best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. This draft is very deep in college pitching and while 6-foot-6 lefties usually don’t get lost in the crowd, Imhof’s lack of a third pitch could cause him to slide a bit in favor of more polished arms. The Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) this year and while Imhof is risky, he also offers quite a bit of upside as a high-strikeout southpaw.
Derek Fisher | OF
Fisher is from a small town in Pennsylvania, a few miles outside Harrisburg, and he was drafted in the sixth round (204th overall pick) out of high school in the 2011 draft by the Rangers. He reportedly declined a seven-figure bonus offer and instead followed through on his commitment to Virginia. After hitting .290/.386/.495 during his first two years at school, Fisher is hitting .333/.393/.451 through 14 games this spring.
Fisher, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., is one of the best athletes among this year’s crop of college players. That says more about the draft class than his ability, unfortunately. Fisher is a good but not great runner, and he’s already relegated to left field because of his poor arm and okay at best instincts. He is good enough defensively to stick in the outfield long-term as opposed to moving to first base or even DH, but forget about center or right.
Fisher’s draft stock is built around his left-handed swing, which is quick and compact. He shows lots of power in batting practice but has not yet to fully carry it over into games because of a tendency to drop his hands and let his swing get a little loopy. His approach and ability to recognize breaking balls need work. If Fisher can learn to take his power from batting practice into games, he has all the look of a future middle of the order guy who can swat 30+ homers at his peak.
In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Fisher as the 24th and 39th best prospect in the draft. However, Fisher’s draft stock has taken a hit because he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist sliding into a base recently. He is not expected to return until mid-to-late May, right before the draft. Teams won’t have much of an opportunity to scout him this spring.
Fisher came into the spring looking like a top 20 pick but is now likely to slide out of the first round because of the injury. He is a prime target for teams with extra picks or teams hoping to land a top talent in the second round after surrendering their first rounder to sign a free agent. The latter describes the Yankees, whose first pick is in the second round (55th overall) after their offseason spending spree. They seem to have renewed interest in college bats these last two years and there’s a chance Fisher will fall into their laps this spring. It’s a stretch, but not impossible.
Baseball America published their updated list of the top 50 prospects for this year’s draft yesterday (no subs. req’d). NC State LHP Carlos Rodon came into the spring as the overwhelming favorite to go first overall, but his stuff has not been as electric this spring and he is no longer a lock to go even in the top three. California HS LHP Brady Aiken is the consensus top prospect for the draft right now.
The Yankees do not pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason spending spree, but in all likelihood a few of the players in this edition of the top 50 will be available when that selection comes around. This draft is very deep in right-handed pitchers — 19 of the top 50 are righties — and really light on impact bats. The Yankees need some arms, and while drafting for need in the early rounds isn’t ideal, they could definitely add a quality pitching prospect to the organization with that 55th pick this year.
In my opinion, the 2013 draft was the Yankees’ strongest in several years. Obviously having three first round picks helped — their natural first rounder plus compensation picks for Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano — but they landed three legitimate first round talents with those picks, plus they unearthed some gems in the middle rounds. The farm system has been in need of impact talent, and they definitely added some last summer.
Thanks to their offseason spending spree, the Yankees forfeited their top three picks in this June’s draft. That means their first rounder is gone, ditto the compensation picks for Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Their top selection right now comes in the second round, the 55th overall pick, but they could always surrender that to sign Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales. Heck, they could sign both and forfeit their second and third round picks. I’d bet against that though. Here is the team’s draft pool situation, courtesy of Baseball America (no subs. req’d):
- Second round, 55th overall: $1,018,700
- Third round, 91st overall: $585,100
- Fourth round, 122nd overall: $424,000
- Fifth round, 152nd overall: $317,500
- Sixth round, 182nd overall: $232, 600
- Seventh round, 212nd overall: $178,300
- Eighth round, 242nd overall: $157,000
- Ninth round, 272nd overall: $146,500
- Tenth round, 302nd overall: $137,600
That all adds up to $3,202,300 for the top ten rounds, or $3,359,212 if you include the 4.9% each team is allowed to exceed their pool before getting slapped with the really harsh penalties, specifically forfeiting future first rounders. The Yankees did exceed their draft pool last year, but only by 1.4%. Exceeding by the pool by no more than 4.9% results in a tax of 75% on the overage, which is a pittance for most MLB clubs.
It’s easy to say the Yankees will grab whatever top talent falls into their lap for that 55th overall pick, and while that’s probably true, they have shown a tendency to take “their guy” in the early rounds. It’s not just SS Cito Culver and 3B Dante Bichette Jr., either. The Yankees took both OF Slade Heathcott and 2B Gosuke Katoh higher than projected. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it tough to pin down the players they could be targeting.
In the past, the Yankees were all about high school position players and polished college pitchers. The gears have shifted the last two years, as they’ve taken high school arms (RHP Ty Hensley, LHP Ian Clarkin) and college bats (3B Eric Jagielo, OF Aaron Judge, C Peter O’Brien) in the early rounds. In fact, they took two college hitters (Jagielo and Judge) in the first round last summer after taking one college hitter (OF John-Ford Griffin) in the first round from 2001-12. Is this a new trend, or a blip in the radar? I think it’s the former, but again, this makes it tough to pin down who they are looking at.
The Yankees are reportedly planning a huge international spending spree, and that’s how they will add the bulk of their young talent in 2014. Draft talent has come off the board much more linearly — the best players go early and very few fall into the later rounds, and those that do usually end up not signing — since the spending limits were implemented, so club can only add so much talent this draft. This year’s class is very deep in college right-handed pitchers and I do think the Yankees will look to replenish the pitching pipeline this year, at least in the middle rounds, but that’s just a hunch.
As I’ve done the last two years, I’m going to put together short posts for individual prospects in the weeks leading up to the draft. Here’s the Jagielo post from last year, for example. I used to group players together based on similar traits (college bat, power arms, whatever) but I think the individual posts work better. Because the Yankees don’t have a first rounder this year, I won’t be focusing on the top talents. There are plenty of places you can read about those guys. I want to look at players who could still be around when the Yankees pick. It’ll be difficult this year, but I think that will make it more fun too.
6:00pm: Baseball America (no subs. req’d) has the individual slot values for the draft and international pools. The international slots are for used in trades. The Yankees are slotted for $1,018,700 for that 55th overall pick. Their third rounder falls all the way to $585,100.
12:00pm: Via Jim Callis: Bonus pools for the draft and international free agency have increased 1.7% this year. The Yankees have been slotted $3,202,300 for the 2014 draft, the second smallest pool, ahead of only the Orioles. They have also been slotted $2,193,100 for international free agency, which is more middle of the pack (17th most).
The Yankees forfeited their top three draft picks — their first rounder and the compensation picks for Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano — to sign free agents last winter, so their first selection is in the second round, 55th overall. That may change slightly if Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales ever get around to signing. That $3.2M pool still gives them enough cash to sign a big money prospect or two, as long as they grab cheap college seniors in rounds five through ten to compensate. They’ve done that the last two years.
Based on what we heard over the winter, the international spending pool is meaningless this year. The Yankees are said to be planning a huge spending spree, upwards of $15M on prospects and then another $15M in penalties. They reportedly have some agreements already in place. If they do spend huge like that, they will not be allowed to sign anyone to a bonus larger than $300k the next two years. That might not matter with an international draft looking more and more likely. The international signing period opens July 2nd.
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.