2015 Draft: Yankees remain conservative, focus on college players on Day Three

After three days, 40 rounds, and 1,215 total picks, the 2015 amateur draft is complete. The Yankees wrapped up their draft haul with rounds 11-30 yesterday, and once again they focused on college players with higher probabilities, same as Day One and Day Two. Day Three was … not all that exciting. But who knows how this will work out? The draft is totally unpredictable. You can see all of the Yankees’ picks at Baseball America. Let’s review Day Three.

Miller. (NJ.com)
Miller. (NJ.com)

Youth & Upside
The Yankees made 30 picks on Day Three and only five (five!) were high school players. The two most notable are New Jersey LHP Andrew Miller (34th) and Florida SS Deacon Liput (39th). Yes, the Yankees actually drafted a lefty named Andrew Miller. Like the other Andrew Miller at the same age, this version throws hard (low-to-mid-90s) but doesn’t have much of an idea where it’s going. Unlike the other Andrew Miller, this one lacks a defined breaking ball and an intimidating frame (6-foot-3 and 195 lbs.). Still, lefties who throw hard are always worth a late round pick.

Liput is committed to Florida and is the kind of player who could wind up coming out of college as a top three rounds pick in a few years. He’s a sound defender with great instincts and good speed, and he’s able to slash the ball all over the field from the left side of the plate. Liput is very similar to current Yankees farmhand Tyler Wade, though Wade was a better bet to stay at shortstop long-term when he was drafted out of high school. The Yankees figure to have some pool money available to sign Miller or Liput to above-slot bonuses, but it might be one or the another, not both. Whoever takes the money first gets it.

Rogers. (Louisville)
Rogers. (Louisville)

Tommy John Surgery Veterans
The Yankees selected a pair of college hurlers on Day Three who had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery: Louisville LHP Josh Rogers (11th round) and Southern Mississippi RHP Cody Carroll (22nd). Both had their elbows rebuilt as high school seniors — Rogers in 2013 (he’s a draft-eligible sophomore) and Carroll in 2011 (he’s a senior). Neither has had any elbow trouble since.

Rogers shows three pitches (fastball right at 90, slider, changeup) he can throw for strikes, giving him back of the rotation potential, though one of those offerings will have the develop into an out-pitch at some point to reach that ceiling. Carroll is more of an arm strength guy — he sits low-90s and will touch 95 while also throwing a good changeup and a meh slider. He doesn’t throw enough strikes though, likely limiting him to the bullpen long-term. Like many of the team’s pitchers, Carroll is a big dude (6-foot-5, 200 lbs.).

Unproven Thump
Despite spending a year in junior college, Chipola 1B Isiah Gilliam (20th) is still only 18 years old because he graduated high school early. He’s a switch hitter with a ton of power from both sides of the plate — Eric Longenhagen says Gilliam once hit a ball over the Western Metal Supply building at Petco Park, which, uh, is a bomb — who doesn’t have a set position and hasn’t yet learned how to take his power into games. Still, power from both sides of the plate? That’s never a bad skill to take in the 20th round.

The Yankees also selected Lehigh 2B Mike Garzillo (38th) after teams continued to shy away from his right-handed power bat. Garzillo went from zero home runs as a freshman and sophomore to 13 as a junior, in part because he learned how to pull the ball with authority when the opportunity presented itself rather than be content with sitting back and serving everything the other way. Garzillo hasn’t faced the greatest competition and it’s fair to wonder just how legitimate his power spike really is. He could opt to return to school, prove himself further, then try his hand in the draft again next year.

Mahoney. (BYU)
Mahoney. (BYU)

The Atypical Prospect
BYU RHP Kolton Mahoney (16th) had his draft stock held down by three factors beyond his control: he’s already 23, he doesn’t have much of a track record, and he’s on the small side for a right-hander (6-foot-1 and 195 lbs.). Mahoney went on a Mormon mission from 2012-13 and only threw 135 innings in college. That said, he chewed up wood bats and was named the Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Year last summer, a league the Yankees scout very heavily because it’s basically a collegiate All-Star league. The best of the best. Mahoney has a fresh arm, repeats his delivery, and sits low-90s with three offspeed pitches (slider, curveball, changeup). He’s lacking command, which isn’t surprising given his lack of experience, though it’s starter stuff. Mahoney is older than the typical prospect, sure, but they don’t check IDs on the mound.

Swing Adjusted
Last year Cal Poly OF Zack Zehner (18th) was a seventh round pick by the Blue Jays, but he didn’t sign, returned to school, made some swing adjustments, set career highs in doubles and walks, and … fell eleven rounds in the draft? Zehner is a righty swinger with power but he can be overly aggressive at the plate, sabotaging his offensive ability. He’s also a sound defender with a good arm, though for some reason the Yankees announced him as a left fielder rather than a right fielder. Zehner is a college senior, though his new swing mechanics are just a year old, and the Yankees used a late round pick see if the power spike is something more than a fluke.

Arms, Arms, Arm
As always, the Yankees loaded up on college arms on Day Three, simply because they need warm bodies to soak up innings in the lower levels of the minors later this summer. Among this year’s haul of Day Three arms are Alabama RHP Will Carter (14th), Tennessee RHP Bret Marks (15th), San Diego State RHP Mark Seyler (19th), Nebraska RHP Josh Roeder (21st), Fresno State RHP Garrett Mundell (23rd), Cal State LA RHP Icezak Flemming (26th), Pittsburgh RHP Hobie Harris (31st), West Point RHP Alex Robinett (32nd), and Sam Houston RHP Alex Bisacca (35th).

Roeder. (Nebraska)
Roeder. (Nebraska)

First of all, yes, the Yankees drafted a dude named Icezak. Secondly, all nine of those guys are college seniors, which means they are extremely likely to sign and begin their careers. Carter is the best prospect of the bunch and not just because he was drafted the highest — he stands 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs. and sits in the 92-95 mph range with a useable curveball. He doesn’t always throw strikes though, and he often falls in love with his fastball and gets way too predictable on the mound. Roeder has the best numbers of the bunch (28/3 K/BB in 20 innings) and has a low-90s sinker/slider combination. He also holds Nebraska’s career saves record (33).

Among the non-senior arms are Clemson RHP Brody Koerner (17th), Georgia RHP David Sosebee (26th), Delaware RHP Chad Martin (30th), Indiana RHP Christian Morris (33rd), and Oklahoma City RHP Dustin Cook (36). Koerner had a terrible year (7.55 ERA in 62 innings!) but is the best prospect of the bunch because he has a bowling ball of a low-90s sinker. Sosebee, who returned to the mound less than a month after having surgery to repair a constricted spinal cord in March, is a super-high-makeup guy who could stick around in pro ball a very long time because of his leadership. Teams value that. They want their prospects around good guys who are driven to succeed.

The Rest of the … Rest
Arizona HS OF Terrance Robertson (12th) is a light hitting speedster who stands out most for his athleticism and, well, speed. Robertson also has a strong arm and pitched in high school, but his future is in the outfield … St. Petersburg OF Trey Amburgey (13th) is a tool shed with a ton of speed who did a nice job turning his talent into baseball skills in his two years at junior college … UCSB RHP Paddy O’Brien (24th) is both extremely Irish and a catcher the Yankees are going to try on the mound because his arm is a howitzer. He’s also 6-foot-5, 230 lbs., and a draft-eligible sophomore …  Oral Roberts C Austin Afenir (25th) is the son of longtime Yankees scout Troy Afenir … Idaho HS 1B Michael Hicks is a 6-foot-7, 245 lb. high school first baseman. I mean, what? … Morehead State 1B Kane Sweeney (29th) and Catawba C Will Albertson (40th) are big time college performers. Albertson hit .467/.534/.865 with 26 homers in 62 games this spring … Colorado HS 3B Matthew Schmidt (37th) has two-way tools but is probably better off going to college (he’s committed to Texas), refining his skills, and trying the draft again in three years.

* * *

I’ll have some more thoughts on the draft later today. For now I’ll just say the Yankees went conservative on Day Three — at least based on the tiny little bit we know right now — which is disappointing. They weren’t going to have enough draft pool space to afford the higher profile high school players who fell due to bonus demands like Tennessee HS RHP Donny Everett and California HS LHP Justin Hooper, but taking more college seniors than high schoolers on Day Three seems … backwards. Teams can always sign undrafted free agents to fill out minor league rosters. The younger guys who have a chance to grow into legitimate prospects the next two or three years are much harder to come by, yet the Yankees have steered clear of those players for two drafts now.

DotF: Severino strong in third start with Triple-A Scranton

Triple-A Scranton (7-2 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 R
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-5, 1 R
  • C Austin Romine: 1-5, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 K — 9-for-25 (.360) during his little seven-game hitting streak
  • RHP Luis Severino: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 64 of 95 pitches were strikes (67%) … 56/15 K/BB in 55 innings this year
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 15 of 26 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 13 of 23 pitches were strikes (57%)

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

I know the “This Date in History” video above is not from this date, but I’ve been looking for video of that game for years. Years. That game was totally insane. Look at the WPA graph. (Here’s the box score.) I remember Ben saying the odds were against Johnny Damon going 6-for-6, and I said something like “he doesn’t need to go 6-for-6, he just needs to go 1-for-1″ right before the walk-off hit. It was pretty awesome. What a wacky game.

Here is tonight’s open thread. This afternoon’s loss will be replayed on YES at 7pm ET, if you’re interested for some reason. The Mets are getting no-hit tonight playing tonight and ESPN will show the Red Sox and Orioles as well. Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals will be on too (8pm ET on NBCSN). Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Yankees option Jose Pirela to Triple-A Scranton

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Following this afternoon’s game, the Yankees optioned Jose Pirela to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. With Pirela going down and Andrew Miller being placed on the 15-day DL, the team has to make two call-ups before Friday’s series opener against the Orioles.

My guess is Ramon Flores will be brought back come Friday. Miller’s injury allows the Yankees to bring him back without waiting the usual ten days. In fact, that was probably the plan on along. They knew Miller was going on the DL, so Flores goes “down” for a game, Pirela plays against the lefty Gio Gonzalez, then Flores comes back Friday. Though I guess there was still a chance Miller could have avoided the DL by time Flores was sent down.

The other roster spot figures to be a pitcher. My guess is Chris Martin, who has been pitching for Triple-A Scranton the last few weeks after coming back from his elbow injury. He was up with the Yankees earlier this season and seems like an obvious candidate. The team has no shortage of candidates though: Jose Ramirez, Danny Burawa, Nick Rumbelow … any of them could all get the call.

Pirela, 25, is 11-for-43 (.256) in limited time this season. Brendan Ryan returned from the 60-day DL on Wednesday and will take over as the backup infielder.

Yankees can’t hold on to a 4-2 lead, lose in extras against the Nationals 5-4

Last weekend I saw my alma mater University of Maryland lose two in a row to University of Virginia in the NCAA Super Regionals – both losses came in heartbreaking bullpen blown saves. All I could really tell myself was “that’s baseball.” The game can make you happy and it can make you incredibly disappointed. A lot of us have learned to deal with it, hopefully.

And that was what I uttered myself in top of 11th when Nationals took a 5-4 lead on Wednesday. Yankees had a 4-2 lead going into the top of the 8th. It seemed like another victory for New York, but alas, things don’t always work out ideally. Washington tied it in that inning, the game went to extras and New York fell on the short side of the stick. The seven-game winning streak has been snapped and the fans can now look forward to the Yankee starting another one. On the plus side, Eovaldi pitched one of the better starts of the season and, well, A-Rod had a hit so that’s eight away from number 3,000.

If I were Nate, I’d make this my Facebook profile picture (Source: Getty)

Not-so-shabby Nate

It’s pretty fun looking at the radar gun reading while Nathan Eovaldi is pitching on a warm day. 96! 97! 98! Velocity isn’t everything in pitching but it certainly helps.

In the third inning, after getting two outs, Eovaldi surrendered two consecutive doubles to allow a run. The second double to Denard Span was annoying – it was down the third base line and just inside the bad, but because Chase Headley was situated a little close to shortstop, the grounder went towards the left field corner and the Nationals took a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, Danny Espinosa jumped on a first-pitch hanging curveball to drive it out of the park. Boy, that was crushed. Looks like Eovaldi threw it to get ahead of the count and setup other pitches – but it didn’t fool the Nats infielder. 2-0 Nationals.

Besides from that, Eovaldi was pretty solid. He pitched seven innings, allowed eight hits and three earned runs, a walk and struck out four. His ERA shaved down just a bit to 4.13 and FIP is at 4.07 – pretty nice no. 4 starter numbers.

Bottom of seventh, again

As Drake would rap, things went from 0 to 100 real quick this inning. Yankees looked hapless against Gio Gonzalez for the first six innings. In the bottom of sixth, New York had two runners on but failed to score.

In the next inning however, Yankees were luckier. Chris Young led off with single. Gonzalez retired Jose Pirela on a flyout to Bryce Harper. Up came Brendan Ryan. On his third plate appearance of the season, Ryan hit a big fly to center field that just got out of Denard Span’s reach for an RBI triple. 2-1 Yankees. How’s that for a comeback game?

Nationals went to the bullpen and brought up LHP Felipe Rivero. Brett Gardner hit a double just out first baseman’s reach to tie the game at 2-2. Two batters later, with RHP Aaron Barrett on mound, A-Rod hit his 2,992nd career hit for an RBI double to center to give the Yanks lead. Barrett then hit Mark Teixeira and allowed an RBI single to Brian McCann. 4-2 Yankees. New York has been quite deadly with a lead going into the late innings but today’s storyline turned … a bit darker.

Baby’s first blown save

(Source: Getty)

In the eighth inning, Jacob Lindgren came in relief of Eovaldi and faced Harper. That, by the way, was the first time ever Harper faced a pitcher younger than him. Lindgren, who was drafted just last year, was born 8 months after the Nats outfielder. Lindgren won the matchup by getting Harper to fly out to left, so that’s that.

Now, Lindgren is a young guy and he’s gonna see some growing pains being in ML roster- that’s pretty much what happened today. With two outs, a runner on and with a 1-2 count, Lindgren left a fastball up high the zone and Michael Taylor didn’t miss it – he drove it over the right field fence for a two-run homer. 4-4 game.

Giving up the lead and the game

A lot of us collectively held our breath when Chris Capuano came in for relief in the tenth and faced Harper as the first batter. The lefty somehow got Harper out on a grounder to first and two other batters – Ian Desmond and Taylor – grounded out as well. Not bad.

In the 11th, Capuano allowed a single to Tyler Moore to begin the inning. It was not a horribly-placed pitch – a changeup that was veering towards the outside the strike zone. Moore did a good job reaching and lining it to left field. Jose Lobaton hit a sac bunt to advance Moore to second and Espinosa grounded out to Capuano to move the runner to third.

Next batter, Denard Span, is always a threat with bat. He’s got a pretty good contact skills with leadoff hitter speed. With two outs and runner on third, Span hit a breaking ball for a chopper up the middle that Stephen Drew fielded and could not get the runner at first. Moore scored from third. 5-4 Nats. It was a really tough play for Drew to execute and as soon as it bounced over Capuano’s head, I didn’t think Yanks would have a chance to go to the next inning all tied up.

Mustaches aren’t really a thing anymore, Brendan (Source: Getty)

Leftovers

In the bottom 10th, with one out, Didi Gregorius took off from first on a 3-2 count on a hit-and-run move. Carlos Beltran struck out and it seemed like Lobaton threw Didi out at second … but maybe not? Didi signaled the dugout immediately for replay. The broadcast replay (and the broadcasters) made us pretty sure that Didi was safe – it seemed like he got around the initial tag attempt towards his shoulder and his hand got on the bag. But, for whatever reason, the umpires did not change the call. I guess it wasn’t conclusive enough for them to overturn it.

How about Brendan Ryan? Not a lot of people were fans of sending down Ramon Flores for the shortstop but boy, he did what he could do today. He hit the first Yankee hit of the afternoon, he got the offense going in the bottom seventh with an RBI triple and he made some really, really slick plays. Didi’s been showing off defensive prowess lately but Ryan’s glove is still there.

I was going to write a little section about today’s bullpen usage but turns out that Andrew Miller was placed in the disabled list for strained forearm muscle. Ugh. Also, it would have been pretty nice to get Dellin Betances to guarantee a non-loss but then again, he leads the American League in appearances (29) and pitched in three of the past five games. I really don’t want to defend not using him but Capuano was a better-placed chopper in the 11th inning away from getting out of the trouble. Sometimes a skipper’s gotta show faith in other arms in bullpen and that’s what he did – sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

Box score, highlights, standings, WPA

Here’s the box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA chart.


Source: FanGraphs


Yankees get a day off tomorrow. They will face another team in the mid-Atlantic region – the Baltimore Orioles. On Friday night, Michael Pineda will take a mound in the Camden Yards against Ubaldo Jimenez. Here’s to starting another lengthy winning streak.

Yankees place Andrew Miller on 15-day DL with forearm injury

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees have placed Andrew Miller on the 15-day DL with a flexor muscle strain in his forearm, Joe Girardi told reporters after this afternoon’s game. Girardi said Miller has been dealing with the issue on and off but didn’t tell the team until last night. Miller had an MRI today that confirmed the strain. He will be shut down 10-14 days before throwing.

Miller, 30, has never had any serious arm problems in his career. He missed about a week in Spring Training with triceps inflammation back in 2012, but that’s it. Miller has had foot, hamstring, knee, and oblique problems throughout the years. Girardi said the MRI showed Miller’s ulnar collateral ligament was intact, for what it’s worth.

As our Bullpen Workload page shows, Miller threw 21 pitches last Tuesday then another 35 the next day, and they were all pretty high stress too. Perhaps the forearm problem started there. YES showed some replays of Miller shaking out his arm and flexing after throwing pitches during the ninth inning on Tuesday.

With Miller down, Girardi said Dellin Betances will slide into the closer’s role, which presumably pushes Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson into the seventh and eighth innings. The Yankees have Ivan Nova set to join the rotation fairly soon and could bump Adam Warren back to the bullpen, but geez, he’s pitched so well as a starter. Would hate to take him out of the role just as he’s hitting his stride.

The Yankees have an off-day Thursday and will need to call someone up in time for Friday’s game against the Orioles. Chris Martin seems like a logical candidate since he was up with the team earlier this year and is currently in Triple-A, plus the Yankees have been talking about adding a right-hander. Jose Ramirez, Branden Pinder, Danny Burawa … they’re all candidates as well. Either way, losing Miller is a huge blow.

Heyman: Yanks have interest in Ben Zobrist, Dustin Ackley

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

According to noted Arby’s lover Jon Heyman, the Yankees are among the teams with trade interest in Athletics do-everything-guy Ben Zobrist. “There will be many teams interested in Zobrist,” noted one A’s person while speaking to Heyman, and they’re correct. Zobrist’s ability to switch-hit and play almost anywhere makes him a hot rental commodity.

The 34-year-old Zobrist is hitting .207/.295/.359 (85 wRC+) in 105 plate appearances this year around a knee injury. As I noted last month, Zobrist has been trending downward in recent years, especially his power, but he still makes enough contact and draws enough walks to put up a decent AVG and OBP. Plus he’s a switch-hitter who plays strong defense at most positions. The fit for the Yankees is obvious as long as you’re willing to chalk up his 2015 performance to small sample size/injury noise.

Heyman also hears the Yankees maintain interest in Mariners utility man Dustin Ackley despite his dreadful season. He’s hitting a weak .197/.252/.331 (65 wRC+) in 142 plate appearances in 2015 and has been relegated to part-time duty. Ackley has experience at second base, first base, and all over the outfield. He’s still relatively young (27) and isn’t that far away from being a top draft pick (second overall in 2009) and top prospect (No. 11 and 12 on Baseball America’s top 100 lists in 2010 and 2011), so there’s some upside there if you really squint.

The Yankees have expressed interest in Ackley several times in the past, including as far back as the 2013 Winter Meetings. They reportedly tried to acquire Ackley at the trade deadline before acquiring Martin Prado last summer, but declined Seattle’s request of Bryan Mitchell in return. Mitchell’s a good pitching prospect, not a great one, but saying no was smart considering how far Ackley’s stock is fallen. He’s owed $2.6M this year and seems like a candidate to be non-tendered after the season.

Ackley. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
Ackley. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

While both Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew have performed better of late — Gregorius is 11-for-35 (.314) since the start of the West Coast trip and Drew has four homers in his last four games — the Yankees should be on the lookout for middle infield help, especially at second base since Drew is on a one-year contract. Rob Refsnyder as a 117 wRC+ in Triple-A, but, for a bat only prospect, that’s not exactly enough to force the issue. Besides, Zobrist and Ackley are versatile enough to play elsewhere even if Refsnyder comes up. (Also, Ken Rosenthal argued a six-man rotation would be easier if the Yankees had someone that versatile.)

Ackley should come pretty cheap because he’s been terrible this year and has been trending downward in recent years, though figuring out what it would take to get Zobrist is a much more difficult. The Yankees gave up Yangervis Solarte and Rafael DePaula to get Chase Headley — a similar defense-first switch-hitter with an okay bat — as a rental last summer, but my guess is Zobrist will cost quite a bit more because his peak was (and name recognition is) greater than Headley’s. Does giving up, say, Eric Jagielo make sense? It might come late July.

Barring injury, second base is the only position the Yankees can really upgrade at the trade deadline, unless they unexpectedly give up on Gregorius, which I don’t see happening. They’re locked in to players with big multi-year contracts at literally every non-middle infield position. Zobrist is a fit for the Yankees the same way he’s a fit for basically every team. Ackley’s more of a pricey reclamation project, the type a contending team usually doesn’t take on.