2012 Draft: Yankees sign 7th and 8th round picks

Via K. Levine-Flandrup, the Yankees have officially signed seventh round pick RHP Taylor Garrison from Fresno State. Slot money for this pick is $145k, but Garrison likely signed for much less as one of those draft pool saving college senior picks. He’s a low-to-mid-90s fastball-cutter reliever with a curveball and changeup that he’ll probably scrap as a pro. I expect him to join Short Season Staten Island later this month.

In other news, eighth rounder OF Taylor Dugas has signed as well; his lady friend posted a picture of him signing his contract on Twitter. Slot money for this pick is just shy of $132k, but again he’s a draft pool saving college senior. Dugas is a speedy leadoff type out of Alabama, and earlier today we heard Keith Law say he “would be very surprised if (Dugas) didn’t hit his way to some kind of major-league role.” Expect him to join Garrison in Staten Island.

Also, 33rd rounder Saxon Butler has apparently signed based on his Twitter feed. I’m curious to see if the Yankees will use the left-handed masher from Samford at first base or behind the plate. All of New York’s picks can be seen at Baseball America.

Yankees place Freddy Garcia on bereavement list, recall Ryota Igarashi

The Yankees have place Freddy Garcia on the bereavement list and recalled Ryota Igarashi from Triple-A. Garcia is returning home to Venezuela following the death of his grandfather, so condolences to him and his family. He can remain on the bereavement list for up to eight days. Igarashi was claimed off waivers a little more than a week ago and is expected to arrive in the Bronx in time for first pitch. He threw 18 pitches in Triple-A just last night.

Injury Updates: Gardner, Robertson, Tex, Joba

Got a pair of quick injury updates…

  • Brett Gardner (elbow) will play in his first minor league rehab game with Low-A Charleston tomorrow. “Brett will play tomorrow and possibly Saturday,” said VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman in a release. “We are taking it one game at a time with him. His coming to Charleston is his first step toward getting back in left field in Yankee Stadium.”
  • David Robertson (oblique) threw live batting practice at Yankee Stadium today and based on Joe Girardi‘s comments yesterday, the right-hander could appear in his first minor league rehab game this week.
  • Mark Teixeira (cough) has been diagnosed with vocal cord damage after seeing yet another specialist about his continued coughing problem. He won’t miss any games or anything, but it will take some time to heal completely.
  • Joba Chamberlain (ankle, elbow) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. He threw off a half-mound last weekend and apparently things went well enough for him to get back up on a full mound. It’s been less than 12 weeks since Joba suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle, so this is kinda mind-boggling. He’s coming back way quicker than I imagined.

2012 Draft: Closing Thoughts & Links

“It’s a bigger joke this year than it’s ever been,” said an unnamed agent to Jerry Crasnick at some point during the last three days, referring to the new draft system put in place by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Yankees and a number of other clubs finagled the system by selecting college seniors in the top ten rounds so they could reallocate the funds to higher-upside kids late. The same agent said teams have reached pre-draft agreements with those seniors and most deals will come in around $5,000. Scott Boras went so far as to call the new rules a “mockery.”

The new system is what it is though, there won’t be any changes in the next five years unless the two sides decide to open up the CBA and renegotiate mid-term. I wouldn’t count on it, the owners and players both seem happy and that’s all that matters. I think we’ll see clubs adjust their strategies going forward but this was the year of the college seniors. Clubs loaded up on them early to reduce the risk associated with not signing a player — losing the draft pool money, specifically — and took shots in the dark late. The Yankees drafted seniors with one of their two second rounders as well as with their seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth rounders. It’s backwards; after the first and second round all the best players went in double digit rounds.

Anyway, here are some miscellaneous draft and Yankees-related links and notes from around the web…

  • Final Breakdown: The Yankees drafted 41 players in the 40 rounds thanks to the extra second rounder for failing to sign LHP Sam Stafford last year, including 21 pitchers (14 righties and seven lefties), 11 outfielders, six infielders, and three catchers. Twenty-four of the 41 were college players, 15 were high schoolers, and two came from the junior college ranks.
  • We already know that first rounder RHP Ty Hensley expects to sign soon, but Chad Jennings has the full transcript from the right-hander’s conference call the other day. “I think the quicker that I can get started and get on to A-ball next year, I think the better,” said Hensley. Amen.
  • Keith Law said (subs. req’d) he’d rank Hensley “likely sixth” on his Yankees prospect list, “behind half of the (Low-A) Charleston roster.” I haven’t thought too much about that yet but the 5-10 range seems likely. You can make a case that he should rank above Jose Campos because of the elbow injury, but I won’t do it. Here’s my Pre-Draft Top 30 for reference.
  • In his AL draft evaluations (subs. req’d), Law says Alabama OF Taylor Dugas (8) “squares up all kinds of pitching and I would be very surprised if he didn’t hit his way to some kind of major-league role, maybe even as the heavy side of a platoon.” That surprised me.
  • Speaking of Dugas, he told Don Kausler Jr. that he grew up a Yankees fan and that Ron Guidry is a close family friend. He hails from Lafayette, Louisiana like Gator. Dugas said he hopes to sign quickly.
  • “I’m gonna come back to LSU and make another run at it next year,” said Raph Rhymes (30) to Jim Kleinpeter. The LSU outfielder and SEC Player of the Year and led the nation in hitting with a .469 average this year, but he doesn’t offer much power and is without a home defensively. Don’t count on him turning pro.
  • Prep RHP Brady Lail (18) told Tony Jones that he’ll forgo his commitment to Arizona and turn pro if the Yankees make a sweet enough offer — $400k according to James Edward. He sounded pretty gung-ho about college a few days ago on Twitter but has since changed his tune a bit.
  • “I went to a couple workouts with (the Yankees) and I really liked their organization and how they run things … It’s just a nice fit and how it happened,” said prep catcher Chris Breen (12) to Despina Barton. No word on whether or not he’ll sign, though.
  • High school RHP Dayton Dawe (15) has been training with former Yankee and fellow Canadian Paul Quantrill according to Dale Carruthers. “He taught me a lot (about) using my arm as a whip, standing on my back leg and driving my front side toward the plate … Paul Quantrill really taught me how to save my arm in the way of not letting it get sore,” said Dawe. I know Quantrill isn’t remembered fondly around these parts, but he spent 14 years in the big leagues as workhorse setup man. I’d listen to him too.

2012 Draft: Reviewing Day Three

After three long and sometimes tedious days, the 2012 amateur draft is complete. The Yankees selected 41 players across the 40 rounds, starting with first rounder Ty Hensley on Monday night. They added another 15 players on Tuesday and concluded with the final 25 rounds yesterday. The spending restrictions implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement led to some creative drafting around the league including in New York’s war room, which emphasized young and upside around the typical unspectacular Day Three picks on Wednesday.

All of Yankees’ picks can be seen at Baseball America. The majority of the players selected yesterday will just help fill out low minors rosters for a summer or two but there are some gems mixed in. Teams usually signed 30-35 players out of a typical 50-round draft in the past, but I’m not sure if that number will change with the new 40-round format. It’s easy enough to plug roster holes with undrafted free agents anyway. Here’s a look of the players the Yankees hauled in the yesterday, the forgotten 16-40th round crop.

Moore. (Luis Sinco/The LA Times)

The Upside Plays
By taking five college seniors in the first ten rounds on Tuesday, the Yankees saved enough draft pool space to roll the dice with same late-round gambles in the later round. High school outfielders Vincent Jackson (23rd round), Ty Moore (25), and D.J. Stewart (28) were selected within five picks of each other and represent the best of the late-round, high-upside lot. I actually wrote Moore up as a potential target a few weeks ago and I’ll just refer you to that, but the short-version is that he’s a bat-first prospect with left-handed power.

Jackson is the best prospect of the bunch, a left-handed hitter with the innate ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball and future power potential based on his 6-foot-5, 195 lb. frame. He pitched some in high school and has a strong arm to go with good speed, though not good enough to play center field long-term. The Yankees like Stewart so much that they invited him to Tampa for not one but two pre-draft workouts according to Corey Dowlar. Another lefty hitter, he has power but lacks baseball experience because he focused primarily on football in high school. There’s lots of athleticism in Stewart’s stocky 6-foot-0, 215 lb. frame.

Prepsters Brady Lail (18) and Jose Diaz (29) belong in this mix as well, though they don’t offer the same kind of obvious upside as Jackson, Moore, and Stewart. The former is 6-foot-3, 170 lb. right-hander who’s shown three pitches — 85-91 fastball, curveball, changeup — while the latter is a 6-foot-2, 180 lb. southpaw with an 86-91 mph fastball and sweepy low-70s slider. Both Lail and Diaz need years of development, but they do offer some intriguing long-term potential. That late in the draft, rolling the dice on projectable arms is never a bad move. The Yankees will not lose any draft pool money if these guys don’t sign because they were selected after the tenth round.

Reed. (Jordan Murphy/Maryland Athletics)

Bullpen Arms
Say what you want about their ability (or inability. really) to develop starting pitchers, but the Yankees pump out quality bullpen arms like few others. They continued to replenish that pipeline on Day Three, starting with 16th rounder Stefan Lopez. The right-hander sits anywhere from 91-94 and relies on his fastball heavily, rarely breaking out his slider or changeup. Lopez has a classic bulldog reliever mentality, pitching through a torn ACL at the end of the season for Southeastern Louisiana.

The Yankees liked Maryland’s bullpen so much that they drafted the Terrapins’ closer in Jimmy Reed (21) and setup man in Charlie Haslup (26). Haslup, a right-hander, is actually the better prospect of the two. He’s a big guy (listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs.) with a low-90s fastball and a solid slider that can miss bats. Reed is a tiny little southpaw (listed at 6-foot-0 and 163 lbs.) who relies heavily on his low-80s slider. He has a chance to provide some value as a lefty specialist down the road.

Catching Depth
The Yankees value catching depth and although they selected just one true backstop on Day Three — prepster Dalton Smith (36) — they did grab two interesting conversion candidates. Samford’s Saxon Butler (33) provides power from the left side and although he spent most of his college career at first, he showed off his catching skills in pre-draft workouts. JuCo outfielder Sherman Lacrus (40) has some right-handed pop and experience all over the outfield and behind the plate. He doubled as a reliever and offers a strong arm to help neutralize the running game.

One-Tool Wonders
Once you get this late in the draft, into the double digit rounds, there’s not much more teams can do other than lock in on a guy with one standout tool and hope it carries him up the ladder. Georgia shortstop Kyle Farmer (35) is a standout defender at one of the toughest positions to fill on the diamond. LSU outfielder Raph Rhymes (30) was one of the best pure contact hitters in the entire draft. Butler provides power and Reed a wipeout breaking ball, both from the left side. Doing one thing very well is an advantage these late rounders have over their peers.

Accomplished Players
Rhymes led the nation in hitting with a .469 average this year and won the SEC Player of the Year award. Left-hander Tim Flight (17) was named the Division II Pitcher of the Year at Southern New Hampshire, striking out 140 in 102.2 innings. Lopez led the country in saves this spring with 19. Accolades and individual accomplishments really mean nothing as far as a player’s pro potential in concerned, and frankly every draft class will have its fair share of decorated players. These three deserve some acknowledgement for their excellent seasons.

Erickson. (Zach Beeker//The Miami Hurricane)

Nepotism Picks
Every team uses some late-round picks on friends and relatives of former players, current staff, etc. and the Yankees are no different. They took Andy Cannizaro’s younger brother Garrett (32) out of Tulane six years after he briefly wore pinstripes. This doesn’t really qualify as nepotism, but New York drafted Miami southpaw Eric Erickson (34) six years (!) after taking him out of high school in the 43rd round in 2006. Erickson had Tommy John surgery twice in college because the first new ligament didn’t take (missed all of 2009 and 2011) and this pick feels like a bit of a favor after a tough few years. I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that the Yankees drafted right-hander Jose Mesa Jr. in the 24th round, the son of the former big league closer of the same name. That’s not exactly nepotism though, the senior Joe Table never played for the Bombers.

Day Three Overview
The new spending restrictions actually made the third day of the draft more interesting than the second. The Yankees saved some serious draft pool money by going college senior heavy in the top ten rounds and followed up by grabbing a number of high-end prospects yesterday. Jackson, Moore, and Stewart are premium high school talents and prep arms like Lail and Diaz offer upside on the mound as well. Don’t expect New York to sign all of them — they’re all essentially back-up plans for each other — but reeling in even one with the saved draft pool would be win. Signing two would be a minor miracle and the core of a strong draft haul headlined by Hensley, Austin Aune (2), and Pete O’Brien (2).

Grounders return with Nova’s adjustment

Hell yes. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ivan Nova pitched poorly in Anaheim last week. So poorly that I said the Yankees needed to consider sending him to the minors if he didn’t start to show improvement and soon. Nova showed improvement last night and then some, holding the Rays to one garbage time run across eight innings of work. After allowing five runs in 6.2 innings to the Halos last time out, it was a very welcome sight.

“After the game in Anaheim I had a nice conversation with Robbie Cano,” said Nova after last night’s game. “He was telling me I had to start pitching good. I had to be ready. I had to prepare myself more if I need it. (Andy Pettitte), even when he came out of the game [on Tuesday], he told me, ‘Your turn tomorrow.’ He was waiting for me to pitch today, even though he pitched. He came out and the first thing he said was, ‘Your turn tomorrow.’ That motivates you when guys like that want you to do good.

More than anything else, what stood out last night was Nova’s ability to induce the ground ball. He came into the start with a 44.8% ground ball rate — down from 52.7% last year — but generated a season-high 13 ground ball outs for the second straight outing. Nine of those 13 ground balls came off the fastball, which is vintage Nova. After getting a grounder on 53.42% of all balls-in-play off his fastball last year, that rate was down to just 43.75% prior to last night. Getting the heat down had been the problem all season, until Nova appears to have made an adjustment to get back to being the guy he’s supposed to be.

“He has an understanding of what he needs to get done. He wasn’t kidding himself,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild last night. “Sometimes, with young pitchers, they will delude themselves into thinking other things, but he knew. He knew he wasn’t throwing the ball the way he can and making the pitches that he should. That’s the start of making some adjustments. If you don’t feel like you need to do that, you’re not going to do it. But he knew after the game he needed to make some adjustments both mentally and physically and he did it tonight.”

The Yankees have won ten of their last 13 games and two of those losses were imminently winnable walk-off defeats. This recent success has started on the mound with the starting pitchers, who pitched poorly as a group for the first six weeks of the season before turning things around of late. During this 13-game stretch, the rotation has pitched to a 3.22 ERA in 99.1 IP with a stellar 3.47 K/BB ratio. Compare that to a 4.93 ERA and a 2.78 K/BB ratio earlier in the season. It’s just a massive difference. Getting quality starting pitching every time out makes life so much easier.

Andy Pettitte’s return has helped solidify things, ditto Phil Hughes‘ recent turn around — he’s allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts. Hiroki Kuroda has been tagged with the “inconsistent” label but has surrendered no more than three earned runs in seven of his last starts. That’s exactly what was expected of him coming into the season. CC Sabathia provides quality bulk innings like few others; I don’t need to tell you that. One start does not mean Nova is out of the woods of course, but he looked better last night than he has at any other point this season. If he’s made the necessary adjustment to keep the fastball down, the Yankees will be running a quality arm out there game after game and the wins will follow.

Nova super as Yanks take series from Rays

Source: FanGraphs

Another night, another relatively stress-free win for the Yankees. That makes three in a row for New York, their fifth win in the last six games and tenth win in the last 13 games. Yep, things are going pretty awesomely right now. Let’s recap…

  • SuperNova: Desmond Jennings opened the game with a ground ball single, but it wasn’t until Sean Rodriguez doubled with one out in the eighth that Ivan Nova allowed another hit. Between the two knocks he retired 21 of 23 hitters including a dozen in a row at one point. Back-to-back triples to open the ninth ended Nova’s night, but his best start of the season featured five strikeouts and a season-high 13 ground balls. Twenty-one of his 24 outs were recorded on the infield. Nova was just fantastic, a brilliant effort.
  • Two Hits: For the first seven innings, the Yankees only mustered two hits offensively. Thankfully, both hits cleared the fence. Mark Teixeira walloped a hanging Alex Cobb curveball into the second deck for a solo homer in the second, then Robinson Cano lined a fastball over the right-center field wall for a solo Yankee Stadium cheapie in the fourth. Alex Rodriguez had just gotten picked off first a pitch or two prior, so it shoulda been a two-run dinger if not for the fallacy of the predetermined outcome and all that.
  • Tack-On Runs: The 2-0 score held up for seven and half innings before the Yankees were able to create some separation in the eighth. Pinch-runner Dewayne Wise replaced Raul Ibanez after a leadoff ground ball single and then came around to score on Nick Swisher‘s double down the right field line. Zombie Eric Chavez rose from the dead to plate Swisher with an opposite field double to help turn a two-run lead into a four-run lead. The breathing room was much appreciated.
  • Leftovers: Rafael Soriano retired all three men he faced for what is technically his first 1-2-3 innings of the season, so hooray for that … the run in the ninth was the first allowed by the Yankees’ pitching staff in 22 innings, since Prince Fielder took Phil Hughes deep on Sunday … Hideki Matsui was about 30 combined feet short of a three-homer night; his power seems to have evaporated into his late-30s … Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson went a combined 0-for-8 atop the lineup and you have to give some credit to Cobb, he was pretty good most of the night.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees jumped ahead of the Rays by a half-game in the AL East standings, though in reality those two clubs are locked in a three-way tie with the Orioles in the loss column atop the division. New York will look to complete the sweep on Thursday in a matchup of lefty aces, CC Sabathia and David Price.