Archive for 2011 Draft

Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees offered RHP Jonathan Gray approximately $500k as their tenth round pick in 2011, which is far above slot. He did not sign and is now expected to be a top five pick in this summer’s draft. Both Baseball America (subs. req’d) and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him as the second best prospect in the draft class behind Stanford RHP Mark Appel in their latest rankings.

The Yankees drafted the 21-year-old Gray out of Eastern Oklahoma State but he has since transferred to Oklahoma. He was a pure arm strength guy back in 2011, sitting around 94 mph with his fastball and backing it up with a hard slider. He’s since added velocity and consistently flirts with triple-digits, plus his secondary stuff and overall command has greatly improved. Going from a tenth rounder out of a junior college to a potential first overall pick out of a major program is quite a jump for the kid. Good for him.

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Via Aaron Fitt, Texas left-hander Sam Stafford will miss the 2012 season due to shoulder surgery. The Yankees selected Stafford with their second round pick last year, but they did not sign him after a physical revealed a small tear in his shoulder. They’ll receive the 89th overall pick in this year’s draft as compensation. The injury is really unfortunate for Stafford, who was poised to climb up the draft rankings this year as a hard-throwing lefty in a class generally considered short on college pitching.

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Baseball America posted some Draft Report Cards today (subs. req’d), including the Yankees. It’s not a report card in the sense that they hand out grades, instead they run through different categories like Best Pure Hitter (Dante Bichette Jr.), Best Fastball (Zach Arneson and Phil Wetherell), and Best Late-Round Pick (Dan Camarena).

Mark Montgomery, this year’s 11th rounder, is said to have the Best Secondary Pitch, “a slider that grades as major league plus already.” A college reliever from Longwood University in Virginia, Montgomery struck out 51 of the 124 batters he faced in his pro debut this summer (41.1%, a 16.2 K/9), and even whiffed five in one inning at one point. The Yankees have done a really nice job of turning double-digit picks into bullpen fodder in recent years, and Montgomery looks to be the next in line. He needs to jump to Double-A relatively soon though, you’re not going to learn anything about him against Single-A kids with that slider.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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Update (Aug. 27th): Just to tie up some loose ends, Baseball America (subs. req’d) says Hebert received a $148k bonus while Maher received $300k. That’s what I figured, low six-figures. Again, solid deals late in the draft.

Original Post (Aug. 15th): Via K. Levine-Flandrup, the Yankees have agreed to terms with both 27th rounder Chaz Hebert and 38th rounder Joey Maher. The former is a high school lefty from Louisiana, the latter a high school righty from New Hampshire. No word on the money, but both figure to have received six-figure bonuses.

Maher is the better prospects of the two, a 6-foot-5, 185 lb. sinker-baller that still sits in the mid-to-high-80’s with the fastball and is still working on a breaking ball. Baseball America (subs. req’d) said that one evaluator dropped a Derek Lowe comp on him. Hebert is a bit smaller at 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs., but he generally sits in the low-90’s with his heat. “His slow curveball is well below-average, lacking velocity and at times resembling an eephus pitch,” said Baseball America. Both guys are great late-round fliers, there’s nothing to lose here but money.

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Aug
16

2011 Draft: Closing Thoughts

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We can finally put a bow on the 2011 draft now that the signing deadline has passed, and according to Baseball America’s draft database (no subs. req’d), the Yankees signed just 22 of their 50 selections. That assumes the Chaz Hebert and Joey Maher report is correct but BA is still in the process of updating their info. A typical signing class is usually 30 players or so, maybe 35 in a good year, so the Yankees are a bit below that. It’s possible that some signings just haven’t been reported yet, especially some of the lesser prospects, but I can’t imagine it’s more than two or three guys, maybe five at the most.

The actual draft, all 50 rounds, is just step one of the process. Getting the kids under contract is another matter entirely, and now that we know who did and who didn’t sign on the dotted line, we can get a much clearer picture of the kind of talent the Yankees imported this year. Let’s digest it all…

  • Based on the info in Baseball America’s advanced database (subs. req’d), the Yankees spent at least $5.6225M on this year’s draft. That’s all the over-slot signings, but does not include Hebert, Maher, and seven others. Let’s round up and call it an even $6M. Compared to the last few years, when they spent around $7-8M, that’s light. I’d happily take one less brand name LOOGY per year if it meant pumping another $2-4M into the draft budget.
  • Not signing second rounder Sam Stafford stinks even though they’ll get that pick back next year. You’d always like to have the player now rather than pick later. However, if the medicals didn’t check out, then I can’t fault them for passing. There’s only so much homework you’re allowed to do before the draft. Remember, they ran into a similar problem with Scott Bittle in 2008, and they turned the compensation pick into J.R. Murphy while Bittle blew out his arm. The Stafford comp pick will be #89 overall next year no matter what, and they can’t lose that pick for signing a free agent. Here’s a list of all the comp picks in next year’s draft.
  • Among the guys they did sign, fifth rounder Greg Bird got the most money ($1.1M) and is probably the best prospect. I assume they’re going to try him at catcher (they announced him as a catcher at the draft), but I’m not sure how that will work out. If it doesn’t, his bat is going to have to carry him, and you’d like to see a little more well-roundness from your top draft prospect.
  • Dante Bichette Jr. ($750k), Matt Duran ($335k), and Bubba Jones ($350k) are all cut from the same cloth: bat-first prospects that are already relegated to a corner spot. Bichette is the best prospect of the trio and has the best chance to make it work in a corner outfield spot. That’s not saying much though. Jake Cave ($825k) is a bit more dynamic offensively and has a chance to provide some value on defense. Justin James probably has the best all-around tools package, but he’s super raw and a bit of a project.
  • The Yankees did a much better job on the mound, which has been a running theme the last few years. Jordan Cote ($725k), Dan Camarena ($335k), Hayden Sharp ($200k), and Rookie Davis ($550k) are all high school upside plays, with Cote and Sharp having the most potential but also the least amount of refinement. I like Camarena more than most, Davis less than most. Hebert and Maher are two more interesting arms, assuming they did actually sign.
  • And, of course, the Yankees used a few picks to refill the bullpen pipeline, grabbing power college arms like Mark Montgomery, Branden Pinder, Ben Paullus, Phil Wetherell, and Zach Arneson. They’ve done a good job of incorporating these kinds of guys into the big league roster in recent years, but they’ve still got some work to do with the starting pitchers.
  • I really liked the Yankees’ draft haul last year (if people bothered to look beyond the Cito Culver pick, they’d like it too), lots more than this year. Last year they got up the middle position players with upside, this year it was all corner bats, the easiest thing to find on the free agent market. This is nowhere near a weak class, but I’m left wanting more. Knowing what we do at this very moment right now, I just can’t give this year’s draft haul anything more than a C. It feels they drafted for need more than anything.

And finally, because I know everyone is waiting with bated breath, yes the Pirates did sign first overall pick and 2008 Yankees’ first rounder Gerrit Cole. He got $8M but not a big league contract, which blows my mind. How Scott Boras let that happen, I’ll never know. Anyway, the $8M is by far the largest up front bonus in draft history, surpassing the $6.5M the Buccos have Jameson Taillon last year. So what do you think, ~$4M from the Yankees in 2008 or three years at UCLA plus $8M from the Pirates in 2011? I think the kid made the right choice, I think it’s pretty clear in hindsight.

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Barring a late report (which is absolutely still possible), the Yankees did not sign second round pick Sam Stafford before Monday’s midnight deadline. Kirk Bohls reports that the deal hit a snag when the team found something they didn’t like in the left-hander’s arm and only offered him $200k, about half of MLB’s slot recommendation of $398.7k. Of course, Bohls did report that the two sides agreed to a deal worth $400k last month, so who knows. I’m guessing they agreed to the money, then the red flag popped up in the pre-signing physical.

Stafford, a southpaw from Texas, was the 88th overall pick. The Yankees will get the 89th pick in next year’s draft as compensation for the non-deal, and they’ll keep that pick no matter what. They can’t lose it for signing free agents, nothing. They won’t get another pick in 2012 if they fail to sign the player they take with that pick, however.

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Update (Aug. 15th): Via zoodig, the Yankees have inked Bird for $1.1M, which is some serious dough. It’s easily the most they’ve spent on a player this year, topping Jake Cave’s $825k bonus by more than 30%. They must really like his bat. Jim Callis confirmed the report, in case you wanted to see one of the regulars report it.

Original Post (Aug. 13th): Via Keith Law, the Yankees will sign fifth round pick Greg Bird to a signing bonus north of $1M. The exact amount is unknown, but KLaw says it’s in the seven figures. Baseball America (subs. req’d) says that Bird, a high school catcher/first baseman from the Denver area, “has good bat speed and gets plenty of loft and backspin on the ball” with his left-handed swing. He’s a big dude (6-foot-4, 210 lbs.), and is expected to wind up at first base. Bird was committed to Arkansas and his bonus will be the largest the Yankees have given out this year, surpassing the $750k they gave Dante Bichette Jr.

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Update (11:14pm): Via Jim Callis, the Yankees signed Cave for $825k. That’s the largest bonus they’ve officially given out this year, surpassing the $750k they gave Dante Bichette Jr.

Original Post (11:34am): Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees are close to signing sixth round pick Jake Cave. Cave, a high school outfielder from Virginia, was the 209th overall pick and the 182nd best prospect in the draft according to Baseball America. In their subscriber-only scouting report, they say “he shows bat speed, but he has a loop in his swing that could be a long-term problem.” They also say he figures to be stuck in a corner spot down the road. Cave is also a legit prospect as a left-handed pitcher, but the Yankees announced him as an outfielder during the draft. He’ll certainly get an over-slot bonus.

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Update (Aug. 15th): Via Jim Callis and Kendall Rogers, the Yankees have signed Camarena for $335k. Very nice deal, reasonable price. As I say below, I’m a fan.

Original Post (Aug. 4th): Via K. Levine-Flandrup, 20th round pick Dan Camarena threw for the Yankees’ head honchos today, presumably in Tampa. I’m only posting this because I’m a big Camarena fan and apparently I’m not the only one; Baseball America ranked him as the 138th best prospect in the country before the draft. In their subscriber only report, they note that 6-foot-1, 205 lb. high school left-hander from San Diego throws 87-91 with “excellent feel for his changeup, which some scouts rate as an average pitch.” They also say he “already flashes a big league breaking ball” in his curveball.

Workouts for the bigwigs is always a good sign because if nothing else, it shows that both sides are at least considering pursuing a contract. The Yankees inked third rounder Jordan Cote recently, and I think Camarena is the second best pitching prospect they selected this year. I’d like to see a deal get done because this is the kind of kid you could see coming out of college as a first or second rounder in three years.

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Via Kevin Gray, the Yankees will not sign 36th round pick Ryan Thompson, with the right-hander saying “we were pretty far apart.” Thompson, a draft-eligible sophomore out of Franklin Pierce, was not a 36th round talent. The former UConn Huskie throws his sinker in the 89-92 mph range and backs it up with a slider and a changeup. He has a starter’s build and some projection left (6-foot-3, 190 lbs.), and he held his velocity deep into games. Thompson was expected to go somewhere in the 5th-8th round range and I was a fan, seems like a guy that could take some big steps forward with pro instruction (like a David Phelps). Alas, the price was was apparently not right.

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