Jim Callis on Bleich

Baseball America’s Jim Callis took a question about Yanks’ sandwich rounder Jeremy Bleich in this week’s Ask BA. When asked if Bleich would have been considered a first rounder if not for the elbow strain, Callis replied “he could have been regarded as a consensus sandwich-rounder. He’s a lefty who knows how to pitch with an 88-91 mph fastball, a curveball and changeup, and his changeup grades as his best pitch. I wouldn’t call him a steal in the supplemental first round, but he wasn’t a reach either.” I’ll take it, but the real question is this: can he hold down Wang’s rotation spot? Pretty please?

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CWS kicks off today

The College World Series (aka the most exciting two weeks in baseball) starts today, and Yankees’ fans get a primo matchup right from the get-go. Sandwich rounder Jeremy Bleich takes to the mound and faces Florida State, where 13th round pick Jack Rye bats cleanup behind 5th overall pick Buster Posey. The game begins at 2pm EST, and can be seen on ESPN. If you can’t watch, you can follow along via CSTV’s ridiculous Game Tracker.

Make sure you check out The College Baseball Blog’s CWS preview to get your head around all the upcoming action, then check out all the box scores and game recaps at NCAA-Baseball’s calender. Baseball America also has a ton of CWS content up on their site, including a 12-page preview, player highlights, and a breakdown of all eight participants. You can find the bracket for the double elimination tournament here.

I can’t recommend the CWS enough, the game is so much more exciting when the goal is to win as a team, not to land a big contract or a postseason award. DotF turned into a game thread the last time a Bleich start was televised, so feel free to comment on the action here.

Draft Q&A with Damon Oppenheimer

As Ben mentioned earlier, Yanks’ Scouting Director Damon Oppenheimer chatted today over at the official site, taking fans’ questions about last week’s first year player draft. Obviously there was only so much he could reveal, so the answers aren’t all that juicy, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good info provided.

You can see the full transcript here, but here’s a few things that stood out to me:

mike: So when do you get to work on the ’09 Draft class?

Oppenheimer: We have been working on it the last two years, but we will really start this Thursday, with the High School Showcase in Minnesota.

That was my question, so I’m obligated to post it. It makes sense that they would start scouting players in advance, but it shows you just how far in advance they start to look. Were they scouting Gerrit Cole as a 14-yr old? Probably. I know they had their first report on Austin Jackson when he was 12.

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Yanks’ sign Adams, Maruszack

Draft signings are starting to trickle in: David Adams and Addison Maruszack, the Yanks’ 3rd & 17th round picks, respectively, have agreed to terms (don’t know the signing bonuses). Adams had a subpar junior year at Virginia, hitting only .286-.384-.411 with a 39-41 K/BB ratio after posting consecutive seasons with .950+ OPS’s as a freshman & sophomore. Maruszack, who you may remember from the Yanks’ ST game against the University of South Florida, hit .364-.474-.494 this year, and is a prime candidate for conversion to catcher.

(h/t the posters at NYYFans’ MiL Forum)

2008 Draft Review

After months and months of anticipation, the draft has finally come and gone, and all I have to say is: Thank God. It’s fun trying to find hidden gems and discussing who your team should take, but the actual event can be like watching linoleum curl. Televising the draft was a great idea, and it’s amazing how far draft coverage has come in the last 10-15 years, but it’s time to go back to the old rapid fire conference call. Four hours for 46 picks is just too long, sorry.

The Yanks employed their tried and true philosophy of taking the best talent available on their board regardless of bonus demands. While they didn’t land any of the sexy names in the later rounds like we’re accustomed too, Damon Oppenheimer & Co. still selected a bevy of high ceiling players late to supplement the talent they took at the top of the draft.

Obviously, the big prize is first rounder Gerrit Cole, a UCLA recruit who was ranked as one of top three high school pitchers in the country all year long, but other prep pitchers like Brett Marshall, Mikey O’Brien and Matt Richardson all bring a similar package of stuff, projectability and youth. To diversify the portfolio, so to speak, the Yanks also took safer college arms like Jeremy Bleich, Scott Bittle and Luke Greinke. Bleich and prepsters Blake Monar & Chris Dwyer give the club a solid group of southpaws for the farm system, which is all but devoid of quality lefties.

On the position player side, the Yanks went for youth and hitting ability up the middle with high schoolers Corban Joseph, Chris Smith, Garrison Lassiter and Sam Mende, and balanced them out with proven college bats like David Adams, Dan Brewer, Jack Rye and Luke Anders. Kyle Higashioka and Ben McMahan add to an already impressively deep crop of young catching, and Addison Maruszak is a prime conversion candidate.

Overall, I’m pleased with the haul. They landed high upside talent on the mound at up-the-middle positions, which are the critical areas of any baseball team. You can see all of the Yanks picks here. Selecting the players was only half the battle. Now they have to get them signed.

Yanks’ 30th round pick, #920 overall

With their 30th round pick, the Yanks selected Ben McMahan, C, Bishop Moore HS (Fl.)

Scouting Report: Known as a defense first catcher, McMahan also has a potent bat and runs very well for a catcher. His defense is Gold Glove caliber, and he could blossom into a .280-.350-.420 hitter. He’s a strong student and committed to Florida. Here’s his scouting video.

My Take: Great pick. Let’s hope they keep him away from the Gators.

Outlook: If they sign him, we won’t see him in any games until 2009 because it’ll likely go don to the wire. He could survive a full season assignment next year based on his defense alone.

Yanks’ 9th round pick, #290 overall

With their 9th round pick, the Yanks’ selected Mikey O’Brien, RHP, Hidden Valley HS (Va.)

Scouting Report: A short (5’11”) righthander, O’Brien works with a low-90’s fastball, a good changeup and a solid curve. He commands his pitches exceptionally well, and could add a tick or two as he fills out. He can hit a little too, leading his team in RBI as a senior.

My Take: I love the pick. He’s got a strong commitment to Winthrop, but anytime you take a 5’11” player named Michael (just like me), you done good. And, well, he sounds like a heck of a pitcher too.

Outlook: If they sign him, he’ll get a few innings in the Rookie level GCL.