2012 Draft: Stephen Piscotty

The 2012 amateur draft starts tonight, so I’m going to highlight some last-minute prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Stephen Piscotty | 3B/OF

Background
A Bay Area kid who wound up at Stanford, Piscotty has been a consistent performer in college and won the Cape Cod League batting title last summer. He started his career with the Cardinal as a left fielder before moving to third as a sophomore and then back to the outfield as a junior.

Scouting Report
Big and athletic at 6-foot-3 and 215 lbs., Piscotty has managed to avoid the pitfalls of the “Stanford Swing,” an approach the coaching staff forces onto the team’s hitters and is designed to filet the ball the other way. He has natural strength and gets backspin on the ball, giving him better than average power potential from the right side — once the Stanford gets taken out of his swing. Piscotty is an aggressive hitter who doesn’t walk much but also doesn’t strike out much because of his contact skills. His hands and feet work well at the hot corner and he has a very strong arm — he’s a weekend starter for the Cardinal but is a better pro prospect as a position player — so a move to right field down the line shouldn’t be a problem if necessary. Piscotty’s makeup and work ethic are considered pluses as well.

Miscellany
Keith Law (#15), MLB.com (#18), and Baseball America (#26) all consider Piscotty a middle-to-back of the first round talent in their latest rankings. For what it’s worth, Kevin Goldstein said the Yankees have started to target college bats and Piscotty in particular with their first round pick (#30 overall) in his latest mock draft. I like him because right-handed power is hard to find, but we shouldn’t downplay how difficult it may be to get him back to his natural swing to untap that pop. The Yankees have a pretty strong track record of cleaning up swings and getting more offense out of players than expected — Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Dante Bichette Jr. being the most notable examples — which is comforting, is nothing else.

2012 Draft: Keith Law’s Mock Draft v4.0

In his latest mock draft (subs. req’d), Keith Law has the Astros selecting Stanford RHP Mark Appel first overall and the Yankees selecting high school SS Addison Russell with their first rounder (#30 overall). He mentions that remain interested in prep right-handers Duane Underwood, Mitch Gueller, and J.O. Berrios, but they would prefer to have a big bat like Russell or high school OF Lewis Brinson fall into their laps. Here are my write-ups on Russell, Underwood, Gueller, Berrios, and Brinson.

Law also mentions that the Yankees are targeting prep RHP Paul Blackburn for one of their second round picks (#89 and #94 overall). He’s a classic projectable high school arm, standing 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs. His fastball sits anywhere from 88-92 with a solid low-70s curve and promising upper-70s changeup. You’re dreaming on him filling out, adding velocity, and turning into a workhorse starter. I actually have Blackburn on my little list of interesting non-first round/sleeper types and may write him up tomorrow if he makes it through the sandwich round tonight.

Mailbag: Potential Cubs’ Trade Targets

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Dustin asks: According to Bob Nightengale, nearly everyone on the Cubs but Jeff Samardzija is available. Looking at this realistically, who are some guys the Yankees should call in on?

Here’s the MLBTR write-up on Nightengale’s report and also clarification from Theo Epstein that shortstop Starlin Castro is not available. I’m sure they’re going to listen if someone is willing to blow them away, but I don’t think the Yankees have the pieces to land a young guy like Castro.

Anyway, the Cubs have a number of players that are both interesting and potentially useful to the Yankees. Some are obvious like Matt Garza (4.09 FIP), who Jon Heyman says New York is most interested in. I’m a Garza fan and think he’d be an ideal trade target for the rotation, though it would be costly. They’d be getting him for a season and a half at a below market salary, so I think something along the lines of the Dan Haren package — one premium prospect and two or three secondary pieces — would be reasonable. Heyman says the Yankees aren’t interested in Ryan Dempster (3.48 FIP) and I don’t love him either. Quality pitcher but not someone I consider a difference maker. Here’s what I wrote about Garza and Dempster last year.

Slugging first baseman/corner outfielder Bryan LaHair could be a fit for the Yankees depending on what they think of his defense in the outfield. He doesn’t have enough big league time for the defensive stats to be meaningful but it’s safe to assume he’s best at first given how often he’s played there this year and in the minors. The 29-year-old left-handed hitter is having a huge year (158 wRC+), but his primary skills are his ability to draw walks (12.7 BB%) and hits for power (.273 ISO), making him an ideal fit for Yankee Stadium. He strikes out a ton (28.9 K%) and struggles against southpaws (61 wRC+), so he’s cut from the Russell Branyan/Jack Cust cloth. LaHair came into the season will less than two years of service time, so he’ll be dirt cheap for the next five years and fit right into that 2014 payroll plan if he can handle a corner outfield spot on an everyday basis and essentially replace Nick Swisher.

Lesser pieces like David DeJesus (113 wRC+) and Reed Johnson (95 wRC+) could make sense if Brett Gardner‘s injury lingers, plus DeJesus is under contract for next year and could help replace Swisher in the short-term. I’m not the guy’s biggest fan but it is an option. The Yankee Analysts wrote more about DeJesus recently, so check that out. A reliever like changeup specialist Shawn Camp (3.17 FIP) could be a fit given the Mariano Rivera‘s injury, but I consider Carlos Marmol (5.47 FIP) a no-no. He’s just way too erratic and makes too much money. Kerry Wood could have been an option had he not retired a few weeks ago.

Garza and LaHair are the two most obvious players who could interest the Yankees if the Cubs do indeed conduct what amounts to a fire sale. A few lesser pieces like DeJesus and Camp could make sense but that’s really it; the north-siders don’t really have the most exciting roster in the world. The Yankees have never made a trade with the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime because of the whole Red Sox thing, but I can’t imagine that would impact any trade talks. Both parties know what’s up.

2012 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v4.0

In their latest mock draft (no subs. req’d), Baseball America has the Astros taking Stanford RHP Mark Appel first overall and the Yankees taking prep RHP Walker Weickel with their first round pick (#30 overall). Here’s my write-up. They reiterate that the Yankees are interested in various high school arms like RHP Duane Underwood, RHP Zach Eflin, RHP Lucas Sims, RHP J.O. Berrios, RHP Shane Watson, RHP Ty Buttrey, and RHP Lance McCullers (yes, the son of the former Yankee). The Yanks have $1.6M to spend on their top pick and Baseball America notes that may not be enough to sign McCullers, who has one of the best pure arms in the draft.

2012 Draft: Baseball Prospectus’ Mock Draft

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus published his mock draft today, and you don’t need a subscription to read it. It’s free for all. He has the Astros selecting prep outfielder Byron Buxton first overall despite reports from yesterday saying they are expected to take Stanford right-hander Mark Appel. KG says his asking price may have become an issue.

Goldstein has the Yankees selecting one of Appel’s teammates with their first selection (#30 overall), third baseman/outfielder Stephen Piscotty. He says they remain interested in high school arms — specifically Lucas Sims and Walker Weickel — but have been connected to college bats most recently, specifically Piscotty. He’s one of the few players who haven’t been ruined by the “Stanford Swing,” a rigid approach the coaching staff implements that results in soft contact the other way. Piscotty has the strength to hit 20+ homers a year and is defensively strong enough to remain at the hot corner or slide to right field if necessary.

2012 Draft: Ground Rules & LiveBlog Reminder

The 2012 amateur draft kicks off tonight and ends Wednesday. Tonight’s broadcast of the first and supplemental round begins at 7pm ET and can be seen live on MLB Network (there’s a preview show starting at 6pm ET). I’ll liveblog all three days and post various news, notes, and player capsules, plus we’ll also have regular content as well, so please keep the conversations in the appropriate posts and comment sections. Draft stuff in draft posts, please. Also please review our Commenting Guidelines.

These next three days are both fun and hectic, so thanks in advance for helping us stay organized. Tonight’s liveblog will be begin shortly before 7pm ET, so I’ll see you then.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 4th, 2012

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Season Record: 29-24 (249 RS, 226 RA, 29-24 pythag. record), 1.5 games back in AL East
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