Yankees sign first round pick Blake Rutherford to overslot $3.282M bonus

(Lenny Ignelzi/AP)
(Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

The Yankees have taken care of their most important piece of 2016 draft business. The team has signed first round pick Blake Rutherford, they announced this morning. He is heading to one of their two rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliates. Here’s a photo of the contract signing.

Jim Callis says Rutherford received a $3,282,000 bonus. That’s the absolute maximum the Yankees could give him without forfeiting a future first round pick. Here’s our Draft Pool Tracker. The Yankees have less than $200 of bonus pool space remaining, so they won’t be signing any late round picks to overslot bonuses. This seems like it was a “here’s the most we can offer, take it or leave it” negotiation.

Rutherford was widely considered a potential top ten pick heading into the draft. Keith Law (6th), MLB.com (8th), and Baseball America (9th) all ranked him among the ten best players in the draft. Here’s a quick little study I did looking at similar prospects, and here’s a snippet of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

The left-handed-hitting outfielder from the Southern California high school ranks can do just about everything on a baseball field. Rutherford has the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average raw power. He’ll record average to plus run times, and his speed helps him on the basepaths and in the outfield. Rutherford is a solid defender in the outfield, though most feel he’ll move to right field in the future. The good news is his bat should profile just fine if that move does happen.

The Yankees have a pretty lousy track record with first round picks. Only two of their first rounders since 2007 have even reached the big leagues. Andrew Brackman (2007) threw 2.1 innings in pinstripes and Slade Heathcott (2009) appeared in 17 games last year. That’s it. Obviously some of the recent picks are still in the minors, but still, that’s almost ten years with zero impact from first rounders.

Now that he is officially signed, the 19-year-old Rutherford slots in neatly as one of the Yankees’ five best prospects, joining Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and James Kaprielian. We could argue the exact order all day. Point is those guys are clearly the five best prospects in the organization, even after Kaprielian’s elbow injury.

The Yankees have signed all of their picks in the top ten rounds, the picks tied directly to the bonus pool. They exceeded their bonus pool by $290,800 this year and will pay $218,100 in tax. The team has spent the maximum 5% overage and paid the penalties in each of the last few drafts now.

Thoughts following Carlos Beltran’s hamstring injury


Last night the Yankees received a bit of a scare when Carlos Beltran pulled up slow running out a would-be double. He grabbed at his right hamstring before walking off the field with trainer Steve Donohue. An MRI showed nothing major — it was deemed nothing more than a cramp — and Beltran is day-to-day. The injury scare led to some thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. I firmly am on #TeamSell at this point and I really hope the injury scares the Yankees into selling at the trade deadline, if not sooner. (Let’s call it “buying for the future.” That sounds better.) I don’t think there’s a realistic chance the Yankees will do anything more than hang around the fringes of the wildcard race and win maybe 82 or 83 games tops. That’s a waste of a season. It’s time to make some moves geared towards the future. Beltran is one the club’s top trade chips, and that’s now two injury scares this month. He had the hamstring last night and had to have his knee drained in Colorado a few weeks back. The baseball gods are telling the Yankees to sell now before he breaks down any more. Same with Aroldis Chapman and whoever else they are considering dealing. Waiting the four and a half weeks until the deadline to make moves is awfully risky. Last night was a reminder.

2. Isn’t it incredible how much the Yankees rely on Beltran to create offense? Exactly two Yankees had a 100 OPS+ or better going into last night’s game: Beltran (136) and Chris Parmelee (376). That’s it. Out of everyone. Even the guys with one or two plate appearances. Beltran and Parmelee. Everyone else has been below-average — not even average, below-average — in terms of OPS+. The Yankees have a few guys in the 95-99 OPS+ range and that’s pretty much it. Beltran is the offense. I really have no idea how they would score runs without him. It’s amazing anyone has pitched to him the last few weeks. I know the offense will be even more painful if the Yankees trade Beltran, but man, it’s for the greater good. Besides, it’s not like winning games will be a priority at that point anyway.

3. As much as I love him, I don’t want the Yankees to put Alex Rodriguez back in the lineup full-time while Beltran is out, even if it’s only for a day or two. It would be the easiest move, but I say to stick to the plan of sitting Alex against righties — the Yankees will face a righty starter tonight and tomorrow — and use the DH spot for someone else. Mark Teixeira‘s a good candidate given his recent knee trouble. That allows the Yankees to play both Rob Refsnyder (at first) and Aaron Hicks (in right), and I’d like to see those two get more at-bats. Just keep playing them and see what happens. If A-Rod does return to the regular lineup with Beltran out, then play Refsnyder in right over Hicks. Either way, Beltran’s injury is an opportunity to give a young player at-bats. Someone who might actually have a future with the team. That’s the silver lining.

(Free Adams/Times Leader)
(Free Adams/Times Leader)

4. As soon as the injury happened, I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of an Aaron Judge call-up. Would it be exciting? Hell yes. But I stand by what I said yesterday. Give him some more time in the minors as he continues to make all these adjustments at the plate — he’s added a bigger leg kick and lowered his hands and who knows what else this year — and go with someone else in right. Hicks, Refsnyder, Ben Gamel, whoever. A prospect’s timetable should not change because someone else gets hurt. Judge didn’t suddenly become MLB ready because Beltran felt something in the hamstring, you know? This guy is not just the right fielder of the future. He’s the right fielder of the future and possibly the No. 3 or 4 hitter of the future. Calling Judge up now would feel like a panic move to me, and those are the worst possible moves you can make.

5. One non-Beltran thought: man does the James Kaprielian injury suck. He had all the look of a quick moving college starter who could maybe help the Yankees late this season, but instead he’s looking at a lost year of development. Even if his upcoming trip to see Dr. ElAttrache brings good news, a strained flexor tendon typically requires several weeks of rehab, and you know the Yankees are going to play it safe. Kaprielian’s season may very well be over and that totally bites. Even if he didn’t reach the show this season, he figured to put himself in position to be an early call-up next year, and that was exciting. Now, who knows? Maybe the Yankees should just forfeit all their first round picks to sign free agents going forward. It seems they’re all cursed. Sigh. I guess no good velocity spike goes unpunished.

Yankees lose Beltran and get shut down by Hamels in a 7-1 loss to the Rangers

I don’t know to make this one sound any better than it was besides saying “at least there wasn’t any three-hour rain delays tonight!” (Poor Mike) Okay, back to the sadness. The Yankees ran into one of the hottest pitchers in AL in the month of June and lost their best hitter very early in the game. CC Sabathia pitched well but everything pretty much fell apart in the eighth to make the win virtually unattainable. Last night, the Yankee offense at least showed some life. Tonight, offense was minimal. The final score was 7-1 Rangers.

(Rick Schultz/Getty Images)

Hard Luck CC

One of the more frequently-stated lines of the night was “CC pitched better than his line indicates” and it’s because it’s true. Sabathia had tough luck more than one way tonight. Not only did he not get support from his lineup, but also he was charged for six earned runs in seven innings. If you didn’t watch the game, trust me – he did much better than that.

CC wasn’t too sharp in the very beginning though. The Rangers struck in the very first inning. Ian Desmond got on first with a single and Adrian Beltre followed it up with a homer to the opposite field to make it 2-0 Rangers in the first inning. From then on though, Sabathia was just dealing.

From the second to seventh inning, he allowed only three baserunners and, of course, no runs. According to Brooks Baseball, he topped out at 94.3 mph, which is a good sight. He was hitting 93 mph in the eighth inning against Shin-Soo Choo, so it’s good to see that velocity maintained late as well. Speaking of which, that eighth inning spelled doom for not only CC but also the team.

Sabathia hit Choo with a pitch to start the eighth inning. On a 0-2 count, nonetheless. Desmond followed it up with a single on a grounder that deflected off of Sabathia. If these two outcomes were different, Sabathia could’ve had a nice line to exit with tonight. However, Beltre followed it up with a sharp single that deflected off Chase Headley‘s glove and trickled into center. Choo scored to make it 3-0 Rangers. Prince Fielder followed up with a double down the right field line that scored Desmond. Sabathia exited with a 4-0 deficit and once Anthony Swarzak allowed inherited runners to score, the big lefty was charged with six earned runs. Welp. Life ain’t fair.

Sabathia had a final line of 7 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s and 1 HR allowed. His ERA rose from 2.71 to 3.17. Man, that’s rough.

Handcuffed Bats


Cole Hamels had been on a roll prior to tonight’s start. In the month of June, the lefty had pitched to a 1.82 ERA in five starts. But fear not, maybe guys like Carlos Beltran can make something happen! Except he exited the game early after hitting a single. In the first inning, Beltran drilled a liner that reached the left field wall that looked like a sure double. However, he stopped at first. He is not a fast guy but it seemed like he could have easily taken second. Joe Girardi and athletic trainer Steve Donohue came out to examine him and Beltran soon exited. Not ideal!

The Yankees had a chance in the fourth with one out and runners on first and second. Didi Gregorius hit a bloop single that barely missed Rougned Odor’s glove, and Chase Headley followed it up with a soft grounder for another base hit. The next batter, Aaron Hicks, hit a hard liner to left but it was right towards 3B Beltre. The third baseman caught it and doubled Didi off at second. Ouch. Two very soft hit balls set up the chance but once a guy hits it hard, the entire inning gets wiped away. Story of this team’s season.

Besides the first and fourth innings, uh, not much there to highlight besides that. Hamels pitched seven scoreless. The lefty threw to a 7.0 IP, 6H, 1BB, 7 K line – neat and tidy if you are a Rangers fan. RAB may have New York Rangers fans but probably zero Texas Rangers readers. So uh, a yucky showing by the Yankee bats.

A Run!

As soon as Hamels departed the mound, the Yankee lineup immediately abolished the shutout. Jake Diekman, a hard-throwing lefty, came into relief in the bottom of the eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a double to lead off and advanced to third on a Rob Refsnyder fly ball to right. A-Rod followed it up with a sac fly to center to drive Ellsbury in. A run! Sound the (moral) victory alarms! The Rangers still led 7-1, a score that would never change.


As mentioned before, Anthony Swarzak came into the eighth inning to somehow make a no out, runners on second and third situation better. Well, I’ll tell you what, Swarzak ain’t David “Houdini” Robertson. He ended up allowing both runners to score and, in fact, he added an earned run of his own! After starting the eighth with a 2-0 deficit, Yankees got out of the inning trailing 7-0.

Conor Mullee, who was called up earlier today, got the call to take care of the garbage time ninth inning. I don’t know how you saw it, but I thought he looked pretty darn good tonight. He struck out Choo and Desmond swinging and retired Beltre with a fly ball.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

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

Source: FanGraphs

Will the Yankees get a win this four-game series? They will have Masahiro Tanaka on the mound versus Nick Martinez for the Rangers on Wednesday.

DotF: A wild night of walk-offs in the farm system

Let’s start with some notes:

  • In case you missed it earlier, RHP James Kaprielian has been diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain. Also, C Gary Sanchez and SS Jorge Mateo will represent the Yankees at the Futures Game.
  • Vince Lara-Cinisomo put together a list of nine pitching prospects who are in the middle of breakout seasons, and RHP Chance Adams is one of the nine. Adams has a 3.01 ERA (2.52 FIP) with a 30.9% strikeout rate and a 6.3% walk rate in 68.2 inning this year. He’s transitioning from reliever to starter.
  • And finally, earlier today Matt Eddy pointed out the Yankees have the highest minor league winning percentage in baseball this year at .601. The Phillies are a distant second (.576). I’ve been around long enough to know winning in minors means nothing, but it’s still cool to see. So with that in mind, let’s update the standings tonight.

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Syracuse) they are 47-30 and have a one-game lead in the North Division

  • DH Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 , 1 BB — no homer? lame
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI — 11-for-37 (.297) with two doubles and a homer in his last nine games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — man he is on some kind of tear, pretty amazing that he’s in the conversation for a call-up right now given the last few years
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 8/5 GB/FB — 55 of 96 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1/4 GB/FB — 19 of 33 pitches were strikes (58%)

[Read more…]

Update: Carlos Beltran day-to-day after hamstring MRI comes back clean


9:55pm: The MRI came back clean, Joe Girardi told reporters following tonight’s game. Beltran had a cramp and is day-to-day. Exhale.

8:18pm: Beltran left the team with a tight right hamstring, the Yankees announced. He’s heading for an MRI tonight. Here’s video of the play:

7:32pm: Carlos Beltran left tonight’s game in the first inning after running out a would-be double into the left field corner. He busted it out of the box then slowed down near first base. Carlos never attempted to run to second. Rob Refsnyder replaced him on the bases and then in right field.

Trainer Steve Donohue came out to check on Beltran, who grabbed at his hamstring — I think it was his right hamstring, but I could be wrong — before leaving the game. I guess the good news is he walked off under his own power and didn’t seem to be in any real pain. So maybe just a cramp? We’ll see.

It goes without saying that losing Beltran for any length of time would be devastating. Not only has he been the team’s best hitter this season (by a mile), he’s also a pretty darn good trade chip should the Yankees decide to sell at the deadline. Either way, contend or sell, losing Beltran ain’t good.

James Kaprielian diagnosed with flexor tendon strain

(Staten Island Advance)
(Staten Island Advance)

Top pitching prospect James Kaprielian has been diagnosed with a right flexor tendon strain, the Yankees announced. He went for an MRI today because his elbow is still not feeling better. Kaprielian will see Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles to get a second opinion in the coming days.

A flexor tendon strain is not the worst case scenario but it is pretty bad. It’s not uncommon for flexor strains to turn into Tommy John surgery and other nasty things. Hopefully Kaprielian can avoid anything more serious, though either way, his season is probably over. This usually isn’t a quick rehab process.

Kaprielian, 22, has not pitched since April due to what the Yankees have been calling elbow inflammation. He was supposed to begin a throwing program at some point this month, and I guess that’s when the elbow started giving him more problems. Hopefully ElAttrache brings good news. Fingers crossed.

Curry: Yankees making progress in talks with first round pick Blake Rutherford

According to Jack Curry, the Yankees are making progress in contract talks with first round pick Blake Rutherford. “Stay tuned,” said Curry’s source. Jack is the single most plugged in reporter covering the Yankees, so not only is there no reason to doubt his report, I’m going to assume a deal is pretty close to done at this point.

Slot money for the 18th overall pick is $2.44M, and as our Draft Pool Tracker shows, the Yankees currently have $3.28M or so in bonus pool space remaining. I should probably note I had an error on the Tracker page. I previously said the team only had $3.14M in bonus pool space, but one of the calculations was wrong, so it’s actually $3.28M. My bad, yo.

The signing deadline is Friday, July 15th this year. That’s two weeks from Friday. It’s not uncommon for first rounders to wait until the deadline to sign — James Kaprielian did it last year — but hopefully Rutherford signs before that. The Yankees may not be offering the full $3.28M at the moment, so Rutherford he try to wait them out.

Pretty much everything you need to know about Rutherford is right here. I also looked at similar players drafted in recent years. He’s in pretty excellent company. Rutherford was a projected top ten pick heading into the draft, though he fell to the Yankees due to signability concerns.