2016 Draft: Yankees select OF Blake Rutherford with first round pick

Over the last few weeks the Yankees were connected primarily to high school pitchers and college bats for their first round pick of the 2016 draft. So, naturally, when their pick came around Thursday night, they took a high school position player. Go figure.

With their first round selection in the 2016 draft (18th overall), the Yankees selected California HS OF Blake Rutherford. He’s from Chaminade College Preparatory School in Chatsworth, so scouting director Damon Oppenheimer once again went for a Southern California player. That’s Oppenheimer’s go-to locale. When in doubt, expect the Yankees to take the SoCal kid.

Rutherford was one of the very best prospects in the draft class. In fact, Keith Law says several folks consider Rutherford a better pure hitter than fellow SoCal prep outfielder Mickey Moniak, who was taken first overall by the Phillies. Law (subs. req’d) ranked Rutherford as the sixth best prospect in the entire draft while MLB.com ranked him eighth and Baseball America ranked him ninth. Here’s a piece 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 favored college players in recent years and they seem to have a knack for out-of-nowhere picks. Rutherford is the opposite of that. He was the best player on the board according to the various rankings, and the only real knock against him is his age. Rutherford turned 19 last month and is one of the oldest high schoolers in the draft class.

Because he was considered a top ten talent, chances are the Yankees will have to pay Rutherford an overslot bonus to get to pass on his commitment to UCLA. Slot money for the 18th pick is $2.44M. Expect to see the Yankees take some cheaper players in rounds two through ten. They need to save some pool space to sign Rutherford.

2016 Draft: Day One Open Thread

(Pic via @MLB)
(Pic via @MLB)

The Yankees are wrapping up their four-game series with the Angels tonight, and while that game is important given the team’s place in the standings, it is not the most important thing going on in Yankeeland tonight. The 2016 amateur draft begins tonight, which means the Yankees and every other team have the opportunity to add future rotation leaders and lineup anchors.

The MLB draft is a three-day event and a total of 77 picks will be made tonight. That covers the First Round, Supplemental First Round, Competitive Balance Round A, Second Round, and Competitive Balance Round B. The Yankees have two picks tonight: 18th and 62nd overall. That’s their first and second round selections. The full draft order is right here. The Padres lead the way with five picks tonight. The Cubs have zero.

The latest reports indicate the Yankees are leaning towards taking a pitcher, likely a high schooler. That is hardly set in stone though. There are conflicting reports about their interest — aren’t there always? — and it should be noted the team has favored college players in recent years. They’ve selected eleven players in the first three rounds over the last three draft, and eight of the eleven came out of college.

I personally don’t have much of a preference who the Yankees draft tonight. The player New York has been most connected to these last few weeks is California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy (write-up). A report this morning indicated he wants a huge bonus though, and the Yankees don’t have the draft pool space to do anything crazy. They have $5.77M in pool space for the top ten rounds. That 18th pick comes with a $2.44M slot value.

The draft broadcast begins at 7pm ET. You can watch live on MLB Network or stream online on MLB.com. You can also follow along on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker. Here are Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects and MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects for reference. As always, MLB.com’s draft content is completely free. The scouting reports and everything.

The Yankees are playing the Angels at the same time as the draft tonight. Here’s the game thread. Please help keep things tidy by keeping game comments in the game thread and draft comments in this draft thread. Thanks in advance. Enjoy the draft, everyone.

Game 60: Finish the Sweep

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees have played three four-game series this season and they’ve managed to win all three. That’s hard to do. They took three of four from the Royals last month and swept the Athletics in Oakland a few weeks back. They’ve won the first three games of this series with the Angels, so tonight’s a chance to earn a second four-game sweep. That is pretty cool.

Things have been going much better for the Yankees of late. First and foremost, the offense is actually scoring some runs. They’ve scored at least five runs in three straight games and in six of their last seven games. From what we’ve seen this year, the offense is very streaky. They seem to alternate between red hot and ice cold. Being red hot is much more fun. Let’s hope it continues tonight. Here is the Angels’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Parmelee
    RHP Ivan Nova

It has been an unbelievably nice day in New York today. Sunny but not hot, bright blue skies … pretty much perfect weather. About the only complaint is that it’s a bit windy. I’ll live. Tonight’s series finale will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Draft Note: The 2016 draft beings tonight at 7pm ET. Kinda annoying that the game and the draft are on at the same time, but whatever. It is what it is. I’ll have a dedicated draft thread up soon. Please help keep things tidy by keeping your game comments in the game thread and your draft comments in the draft thread. Thanks in advance.

2016 Draft: Alex Kirilloff

Alex Kirilloff | OF

Background
The 18-year-old Kirilloff attends Plum High School in Pittsburgh. He jumped onto the draft map last summer with strong showings at various showcase events, which included winning the Perfect Game All-American Classic Home Run Derby. He’s committed to Liberty University.

Scouting Report
Kirilloff, who stands 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs., has a ton of natural power from the left side of the plate. The ball goes a long way when he connects. Kirilloff does have a little bit of a hitch before starting his swing — he loads his hands, pauses for an instant, then swings — that has led to concerns about his ability to hand high-end velocity. Defensively, Kirilloff is a good runner and he’s athletic for his size, allowing him to handle center field. If he has to move to a corner down the line, his arm is plenty strong for right. He’s also played some first base as well. There is true middle of the order potential here, assuming that weird timing issue doesn’t hold him back.

Miscellany
The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft and Kirilloff is ranked right in that area; in their latest rankings Baseball America had him 15th, MLB.com had him 18th, and Keith Law (sub. req’d) had him 19th. The Yankees have been known to target brute mashers early in the draft (Eric Jagielo, Peter O’Brien, etc.), but Kirilloff offers good athleticism and defense, so while he is a bat first prospect, he’s not a bat only prospect.

Sherman: Cubs won’t trade Schwarber for Andrew Miller

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

From the “no duh” department comes this nugget: the Cubs are unwilling to trade injured outfielder Kyle Schwarber for Andrew Miller, reports Joel Sherman. We’ve yet to hear whether Chicago has interest in Miller, but come on. Of course they do. Miller’s awesome, and as good as the Cubs are, the one thing they lack is a shutdown left-handed reliever. (Miller is excellent regardless of handedness.)

Schwarber, 23, tore his ACL in an outfield collision three games into the season. He came up and hit .246/.355/.487 (131 wRC+) with 16 homers in 69 games last season. I’m not as high on Schwarber as most — he’s a DH who probably needs a platoon partner, and now he’s coming off a major knee injury too — and I believe the Cubs should be open to trading a guy who isn’t on their active roster for help at the deadline, but Schwarber is certainly a good young player. Anyway, I have some thoughts on this.

1. The price for Miller should be very high. The Yankees don’t absolutely have to trade Miller. He’s signed for another two years and holding on to him through the trade deadline is a perfectly viable strategy. Free agent closers like Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon and, of course, Aroldis Chapman, are going demand huge dollars this winter. Miller will represent a much more cost effective alternative. There will be a trade market in the offseason too.

So, with Miller being so valuable, the Yankees should stick to their guns and ask for top young players. And you know what? They’ve done that already. They held their ground over the winter and rejected a package from the Astros similar to what Houston sent to the Phillies for Ken Giles because they felt it wasn’t enough. They’re in control of the bullpen market at the trade deadline because of the arms they can offer. Miller will have a ton of suitors and it only takes one team to meet New York’s asking price.

2. One great prospect or several good prospects? I’ve been thinking about this a bit and the Schwarber non-rumor gives me a reason to bring it up. The Yankees are going to get all sorts of offers for Miller (and Chapman), but do they prefer one high-end prospect or a package of two or three good prospects? Would they rather have, say, a top ten overall prospect or two guys in the 80-100 range plus a third piece?

This all depends on the players of course, and I don’t think there’s a right answer. Giles was traded for five players but none were a truly great prospect. Miller fetched a top 25 caliber prospect (Eduardo Rodriguez) when he was traded from the Red Sox to the Orioles a few years back. The Yankees figure to be in position to demand whatever they want if they do decide to take the plunge and trade Miller. I’m curious to see what kind of return they seek.

3. Trade season will pick up soon. The first major trade of the offseason just went down (James Shields to the White Sox) and once the draft ends this weekend, trade chatter will pick up. Right now clubs are focusing on the draft. Once that’s out of the way, focus shifts back to the big league club, and teams are going to start looking to address their needs.

I think there’s a big advantage in acting early, regardless of whether you’re buying or selling. If you’re buying, the new player(s) will be able to help you for a longer period of time. And if you’re selling, you’re trading away more games and can ask for more in return. I don’t see the Yankees doing anything quickly, however. They’re going to wait as long as possible before deciding whether to pull the plug and sell.

Guest Post: Counterpoint for the Future of the Big Three Relievers

The following is a guest post from Andrew Calagna, who goes by The Original Drew #BAEROD in the comments. You can follow him on Twitter at @_swarlesbarkley. Andrew wrote about the trade deadline and the Yankees top relievers. Enjoy.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Last week Don Sullivan wrote an intriguing guest post that advocated that the Yankees send off all 3 of their endgame bullpen arms and go into full rebuild mode. While the Yankees are not close to contending in 2016 (as of today), I do not believe that contending in 2017 is out of the realm of possibilities. Allow me to retort0

There is a core of the team already in place

There is a ton of dead weight on the Yankees roster currently (I refuse to use the “A” word) but there are still many pieces on the 2016 team that can help build a contender in 2017. Starting pitching wise you have Masahiro Tanaka, the much improved Nathan Eovaldi, and despite his struggles I would still consider Luis Severino to be an asset going forward. You have Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances potentially back as the anchors to the bullpen.

Lineup wise is where it gets tricky. Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius are definitely building pieces along with Aaron Hicks, but you have to squint really hard to find others on the current roster. Brian McCann led all catchers in HRs as recently as 2015 and having the presence of Gary Sanchez on the roster might make McCann a part time DH option next year. Do we believe that Brett Gardner is a truly .230 hitter now? It is a definite possibility but there is still enough good performance dating back to last year to possibly justify keeping him around a piece for next year’s team.

That is beginning of building a contender for next year. The good news is that some of the dead weight of the current roster will be gone next year, but there are many players that still remain (I am looking at you Chase Headley). What do the Yankees do with these players? I am not going to pretend that I am smarter than the Yankee front office, but jettisoning many of these players, even if it is for pennies on the dollar is a must. I listed 10-11 guys as pieces for next year, not counting the Yankees top prospects which is a nice segue to…

Rolling the dice with prospects

The Yankees went into the year with their offense relying on Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, two aging sluggers, having a repeat of their mostly awesome 2015 seasons. This was clearly a risk by the front office but there weren’t really any other realistic options for the team going into 2016. The 2017 team is going to be much different. Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez will potentially be ready to step in and contribute at the major league level.

As it stands today, handing over the keys to the Yankees offense to this group are also inherently risky. We are unsure of Bird’s recovery timetable from shoulder surgery, Judge is struggling at AAA right now, and Sanchez currently out with an injured thumb. The question is, is it more risky than what the Yankees did going into 2016? At some point you have to see what you have in these players and you ride or die with them. I can only speak for myself but I would rather roll the dice with this group of prospects (on top of other offseason moves the Yankees make) rather than go with the approach the Yankees have currently.

Trading away 2/3 of the big 3 relievers but not all 3

The Yankees have a depreciating asset in Aroldis Chapman. The longer he is on the roster in 2016, the less the Yankees are going to get for him in a trade. As Mike and many others have stated, no matter if the Yankees somehow miraculously turn it around in 2016 Chapman has to be turned into future assets. The return is potentially much larger now than what they gave up for him in the offseason.

Trading both Miller and Betances is where things start to get dicey. Relievers are fickle creatures, but having a dominant bullpen is a must for contending teams. I agree with Don that the most valuable reliever on the Yankees roster is currently Betances, but at the same time the Yankees would have to be really blown away to trade him. Miller seems to be a top target for a lot of contending teams and should definitely be more in play.

There is always the possibility of trading away Miller and Chapman and being able to resign the latter. This is an unlikely possibility but it becomes more likely if the Yankees trade away Miller. Like most, I believe that the now budget conscious Yankees wouldn’t pay top dollar for two relievers. If Betances is the only reliever left standing in 2016, re-signing Chapman should definitely be in play. The domestic violence issue that lead the Yankees to acquire Chapman has been a icky situation at best, but the Yankees were willing to take the brunt of the criticism but acquiring Chapman to begin with. Re-signing him should not be out of the question.

In conclusion, there is definitely more than one way to build a team. Being that the Yankees don’t truly rebuild in the sense that other teams do, I think that there is a way for the Yankees to trade away assets this year but not go into 2017 with having zero hope to contend.

I don’t think this team would be World Series favorite going into the season, but I personally would be happy with the team battling for a WC spot and have the potential to get better year and after year. Brian Cashman and Co. would be doing a disservice to the franchise to not listen to any and all offers for players on the current roster, but absolutely having to trade all assets away in a rebuild is not the only way to get the Yankees back into contention.

2016 Draft: Final Mock Drafts

The 2016 amateur draft begins today with the annual MLB Network broadcast. The draft itself begins at 7pm ET, though MLB Network will also have a preview show beginning at 6pm ET, so don’t miss that. Here are the final mock drafts before the big event.

MLB.com v4.0

Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo posted concurrent mock drafts this morning. They both have the Phillies taking California HS OF Mickey Moniak with the first overall selection. It seems as though Florida LHP A.J. Puk and New Jersey HS LHP Jason Groome, the consensus top two talents in the draft class, are going to slip a tiny bit into the 4th to 8th overall pick range. We’ll see.

The Yankees hold the 18th overall pick, and Callis has them selecting Texas HS RHP Forrest Whitley while Mayo pegs them for New York HS RHP Ian Anderson. Here are my write-ups on Whitley and Anderson. Callis and Mayo say the Yankees are leaning towards a pitcher and most likely a high schooler. California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy is again mentioned as a possibility. Here’s my Gowdy write-up. Callis throws Pittsburgh RHP T.J. Zeuch into the mix should the Yankees opt for a college arm. Here’s a piece of his MLB.com free scouting report:

Zeuch has a four-pitch mix, all thrown with steep angle from his 6-foot-7 frame that could add more strength. He uses a relatively easy delivery to fire fastballs that have touched 96-97 mph since his return. He’ll sit in the 92-94 mph range and his fastball has good run and sink to it. Zeuch will use both a slider and a curve effectively, with his breaking stuff occasionally flashing plus, though it’s been inconsistent. He tinkers with a changeup in the bullpen, but doesn’t have a ton of feel for it and doesn’t use it much in games. He throws strikes with all of his offerings.

The Yankees love their tall pitchers and Zeuch certainly qualifies at 6-foot-7. He has some late helium after the cold Northeast weather limited how often scouts could see him earlier in the spring.

Keith Law v4.0

Like the MLB.com gang, Keith Law (subs. req’d) has the Phillies take Moniak with the No. 1 pick. He has the Yankees selecting Anderson and says New York “apparently is a stopping point” for the young right-hander. That means the Yankees won’t pass him up if he’s still on the board when their pick rolls around. So that’s yet another prep arm connected to the Yankees.

Within the write-up Law also mentions Gowdy, Georgia HS OF Taylor Trammell, Virginia C Matt Thaiss, and Pennsylvania HS OF Alex Kirilloff as possibilities for the Yankees. He adds Gowdy has apparently made huge bonus demands. Here are my write-ups on Trammell and Thaiss. Here’s a piece of MLB.com’s free scouting report on Kirilloff:

While there is a little length to his swing, he’s shown the ability to barrel the ball consistently and has considerable raw power, which he put to use while winning the Perfect Game All-American Classic home run derby over the summer. He’s more athletic than one would think given his size and plays center field for his high school team. He’ll have to move to a corner spot at the next level, but moves more than well enough to stay there. He has a strong arm, one that fires 87-90 mph fastballs from the mound.

It is pretty interesting that most of the players connected to the Yankees this year are high schoolers. That would go against their recent trend of going college heavy. Then again, the team did revamp the player development department a year or two ago, so I guess they’re ready to try their luck with high school prospects again after not having much success with that demographic years ago.

Baseball America v5.1

In their last second mock draft Baseball America has the Phillies selecting Moniak as well, so I guess he’s the leader to go first overall at the moment. They have the Yankees picking Virginia C Matt Thaiss with that 18th pick and add “New York has a split camp of whether it should go bat or arm.” So it sounds like we’re in for a total surprise tonight. Fun! Here’s my write-up on Thaiss, by the way.