2012 Draft: Christian Jones

The 2012 amateur draft is only five days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Christian Jones | LHP

Background
A potential first round pick coming into the spring, Jones grew up in the Bay Area before headed to the University of Oregon. His draft stock took a huge hit when he blew out his elbow in February and needed Tommy John surgery.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., Jones throws three pitches from a low arm slot when healthy. His sinking fastball sits in the low-90s and his slider sweeps across the plate, as you’d expect given his arm slot. A changeup serves as his third offering. Jones repeats his classic drop-and-drive delivery well, but he can still suffer through bouts of wildness on occasion. His makeup and work ethic are considered major pluses and his rehab is going well by all indications.

Miscellany
The new spending restrictions really screw over a kid like Jones, who went from a potential top pick to someone who might not be drafted at all. Baseball America ranked him as the 315th best prospect in the draft following the elbow injury, so way down the list. With teams unable to pay him say, third or fourth round money without incurring harsh penalties, there’s a very good chance Jones will return to school and come out as a potential top pick in next year’s draft. I really like him as a late-round upside play, but the system really doesn’t allow for those kind of picks anymore.

Thursday Night Open Thread

(Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Today is second of three off-days the Yankees will have in a 12-day span. Two are needed for travel to and from the West Coast, but I’m not quite sure what Monday’s day off is about. I’m not complaining though, that’s Day One of the draft and for the first time in RAB history I’ll be able to focus on it without having to check the score between picks. I remember a few years ago, I think 2008, the Yankees were playing the Red Sox the same night. It’ll be nice to have that break. We’ll hold a live chat during all three days as usual, so get excited.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. There are only three baseball games being played today and MLB Network will air two of team: Red Sox-Tigers (Beckett vs. Scherzer, 7pm ET) and Brewers-Dodgers (Greinke vs. Billinglsey, 10pm ET)). The Astros and Rockies are the non-nationally broadcast game, and … ewww. There’s also some NBA playoff action going on later tonight. Talk about whatever here, go nuts.

2012 Draft: MLB.com’s Latest Mock Draft

In his latest mock draft for MLB.com, Jonathan Mayo has the Astros taking Stanford RHP Mark Appel with the first overall pick. It sure seems like their choice is down to either Appel or prep OF Byron Buxton at this point. I’d take Buxton, but no one asked me.

Anyway, Mayo has the Yankees taking Texas A&M OF Tyler Naquin with their first round pick (#30 overall). He has arguably the best outfield arm and the best hit tool in the college crop, making an absurd amount of hard contact to all fields from the left side. The concerns are that he doesn’t run/play defense well and may not hit for much power, so there is ‘tweener potential. Naquin can hit and isn’t a disaster in the field though, so he should through the system quickly. Mayo also reiterates that the Yankees have some interest in various unnamed high school arms, which we’ve heard before.

Injury Updates: Eduardo Nunez & Austin Romine

Got a pair of injury updates from the minor leagues…

  • Eduardo Nunez (thumb) has started taking ground balls in Tampa and should return to Triple-A Empire State soon. He was placed on the DL a week or two ago after essentially jamming his thumb. [Andrew Marchand]
  • Austin Romine (back) has been cleared for baseball activities, something he’s been unable to do since Spring Training. Last week we heard that he was going to be out until July with an inflamed disc in his back, which fits with today’s news assuming they’re going to be conservative with his workouts over the next few weeks. [Romine on Twitter]

Curtis Granderson and the opposite field

Before plating five runs in the third and Nick Swisher‘s go-ahead sacrifice fly in the sixth, Curtis Granderson set the Yankees up for a quick strike last night by doubling with one out in the first inning. There’s nothing unusual about that on the surface, but this double was different that most of Granderson’s doubles. It was an opposite field double, landing perfectly in left-center between the ball-hawking Mike Trout-Peter Bourjos combination.

Granderson isn’t exactly an all-fields type of hitter. He pulls the ball for big-time power and is tremendously successful doing so. One opposite field double doesn’t mean much of anything, but take a quick look at his spray chart for the six-game West Coast road trip (via Texas Leaguers)…

Of his seven hits in the six games, four were to the opposite field and two were yanked to right for homers. The one hit that hugged the left field line was a total bloop, but the other three hits to left were solid line drives. All three came on pitches on the outer third of the plate from right-handers (Tyson Ross and Ervin Santana), so Granderson just flipped them to the opposite field. It’s pretty neat. A nice piece of hitting, as the pundits say.

The four opposite field hits on the road trip give Curtis nine such hits this season, one fewer than he had all of last year. His .378 wOBA to left is a top-20 mark among all left-handed hitters and far better than his .304 career mark. We haven’t heard anything about a conscious effort on Granderson’s part to hit more to the opposite field and it could all just be a fluke this early in the season, but it’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on. Anything that diversifies his offensive impact without taking away from that huge power is a major plus.

Yankees pursuing Taiwanese shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin

Via Taiwan Baseball, the Yankees are after 16-year-old Taiwanese shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin. They had originally agreed to sign him for $350k back in 2010, but the deal fell apart because he was too young to turn pro at the time. Bidding is expected to approach $2M this time around. “For sure we will make an offer that is higher than the current offers to get him to join the Yankees,” said Ken Su, the team’s scout in Taiwan. “Our organization has given instructions to get (Lin) at any cost.”

MLB.com recently ranked Lin as the 18th best international free agent on the market, noting that he’s a burner from the left side of the plate with little present power but a strong arm and solid defensive skills. He’s listed at 5-foot-8 and 160 lbs., so c’mon growth spurt. It’s worth noting that Lin will be subject to the spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement come July 2nd, so expect him to sign before then. The Yankees are a very popular team in Taiwan thanks to the success of Chien-Ming Wang, and that can only help their pursuit of Lin and other prospects.

2012 Draft: Joey Gallo

The 2012 amateur draft is only five days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Joey Gallo | 3B/RHP

Background
A two-way star and Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Gallo hit the tenth longest homerun in Petco Park history while participating in a wood bat showcase event last summer.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., Gallo is legitimate first round talent both on the mound and as a position player. He prefers to hit and went to great lengths to keep his pitching schedule a secret so scouts couldn’t see him this spring. Gallo has tremendous raw power from the left side, arguably the most in the draft, and he’s capable of hitting the ball out to all fields. He doesn’t make enough contact however, and there are real concerns about his ability to handle pro offspeed pitches. Although he’s athletic for his size, he’ll likely have to move across the diamond to first base because his hands and footwork aren’t good.

On the mound, Gallo runs his fastball up to 98 and will sit in the mid-90s. His power slider needs work but flashes swing-and-miss-ability on its best days. Like most high schoolers, he needs to improve his overall command and changeup.

Miscellany
Keith Law (#23), Baseball America (#33), and MLB.com (#33) all agree that Gallo is a back-half of the first round talent as a hitter, though he might have been in the conversation for the first overall pick had he focused on pitching this spring. It’s worth noting that Law had the Yankees selecting Gallo with their first rounder (#30 overall) in his latest mock draft, so there’s some interest there. The contact issues will be overlooked because power is so hard to find, plus he’ll always have the fallback option of returning to the mound.