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

Record Last Week: 3-3 (32 RS, 28 RA)
Season Record: 29-24 (249 RS, 226 RA, 29-24 pythag. record), 1.5 games back in AL East
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Rays (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Mets (three games, Thurs. to Sun.)

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Hughes dominates Tigers in road trip finale

Source: FanGraphs

Derek Jeter set the tone right from the first pitch. The Cap’n drove Justin Verlander’s first offering of Sunday afternoon over the right field wall for a leadoff homer, the fifth straight (and sixth in the last seventh) time the Yankees have scored a first inning run off the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP award winner. It was all Phil Hughes after that. Let’s recap…

  • St. Phil: Coming off a total dud in his backyard, Hughes threw the first nine-inning complete game of his career and completely manhandled the Tigers’ hitters with almost entirely fastballs — 99 fastballs, 18 curves, five changeups, one cutter. He surrendered three singles and one solo homer (an understandable shot by Prince Fielder), striking out eight. Two of those eight were the great Miguel Cabrera swinging, including once on three pitches. Nine dominant innings against an expected top-tier contender? Brilliance.
  • Five Runs: Jeter set the tone and the Yankees were all over Verlander early on. They pushed another run across in the first inning on Mark Teixeira‘s sacrifice fly and two innings later Alex Rodriguez crushed a mammoth solo homer off the brick beyond the left-center field wall, his second homer of the series and fourth in the last ten games. Robinson Cano‘s run-scoring triple turned into an impromptu inside-the-park homer due to some defensive hilarity in the fifth, giving the Yankees a comfortable 5-1 lead. I have no idea how that ball wasn’t caught honestly, it hung up there forever. No complaints though.
  • More Phil: By Game Score (80), this was the second best start of the Phil’s career behind an eight-inning gem in Texas back in 2009. His final pitch — career-high number 123 — clocked in at 93.4 mph according to PitchFX and better than his game average (92.79 mph). The only two batters he allowed to make it beyond first base were Fielder on the homer and Cabrera in the first inning, courtesy of a passed ball that should have been scored a wild pitch. The Tigers never had more than one runner on-base at a time and Hughes retired 14 of the final 16 men he faced. Twenty-two of his 27 outs were recorded on the infield.
  • Leftovers: Not to rain on the parade, but the Yanks went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, with the one being Cano’s triple … Eric Chavez had two singles the other way and should have had a double as well, but Don Kelly made a great running catch on the warning track … Jeter and A-Rod each had a single and a homer, plus Curtis Granderson (double), Nick Swisher, and Russell Martin (double) each drew a walk and had a base knock … Martin lined into an inning-ending double play in the fourth that would have resulted in two runs … Hughes has allowed a homer in all 11 starts this year and is nine short of the all-time record for consecutive starts with a dinger (20 by Burt Blyleven) … the Yankees went 6-3 on the nine-game road trip and could have gone 8-1 with slightly better luck in the two walk-off losses … I’m pretty sure this was the most satisfying win of the year so far.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are off on Monday — draft day! — before returning home for the first time in nearly two weeks. They’re one game back of the Rays in the loss column and welcome Tampa to the Bronx for three games starting Tuesday. Andy Pettitte and Jamie Shields get the ball in the opener of the biggest series of the season to date.