2017 Draft: Jake Burger

Jake Burger | 3B

Background
The 21-year-old Burger is a St. Louis kid who went undrafted out of high school, but has since developed into one of the top power hitters in the country at Missouri State. He is currently hitting .346/.459/.693 with 20 home runs and more walks (38) than strikeouts (30) in 52 games this season, and he’s a career .346/.423/.632 with 45 homers in 165 college games.

Scouting Report
Burger is a right-handed hitter with big power potential that he generates with both bat speed and raw strength. He knows the strike zone well and is capable of making adjustments mid-at-bat because he understands how pitchers are trying to attack him. There are two knocks on Burger. One, his defense. He has good hands at the hot corner but limited range and an average best arm. To his credit, Burger works hard at his defense, but odds are he’ll wind up at first base long-term. And two, he has a bit of a hitch in his swing, which creates some concern about how he’ll handle advanced pro pitching.

Miscellany
In their latest rankings MLB.com ranked Burger as the 16th best prospect in the draft class, Baseball America ranked him 19th, and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him 24th. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. Under scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees have selected a few big bat/questionable glove college mashers high in the draft (Eric Jagielo, Peter O’Brien, etc.), though it is definitely not their go-to demographic. Burger could be someone they target if they decide to go heavy on offense and believe he can move quickly.

2017 Draft: Bubba Thompson

Bubba Thompson | OF

Background
Thompson, 18, attends McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, Alabama, where he plays both baseball and football. He’s a good quarterback recruit who received Division I scholarship offers for both sports, though he committed to attend Alabama, where he’ll play baseball only. Odds are it won’t matter. Thompson is expected to turn pro after being drafted.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs. Thompson is one of the top athletes in the 2017 draft class, and his best tools right now all come on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a rangy center fielder thanks to his top of the line speed, and he also has a strong throwing arm. A long-term center fielder, he is. No doubt about. Thompson is a right-handed hitter with bat speed and bat-to-ball skills, and he’s shown promising power potential this spring. He has the potential to go 20-20 with very good center field defense down the line. Despite splitting his time between two sports, Thompson is not as raw as you’d expect. The kid has legitimate five-tool ability.

Miscellany
The various scouting publications all agree Thompson is a first round talent. Baseball America ranks him as the 18th best prospect in the draft class while MLB.com and Keith Law (subs. req’d) rank him 24th and 25th, respectively. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. The biggest knock on Thompson is his age. He’s 18 with a June birthday, so he’s older than most high school prospects. (He’ll be roughly the same age on draft day as Blake Rutherford last year, who slipped out of the top ten in part due to his age.) The Yankees love their toolsy up-the-middle athletes and Thompson certainly fits the mold. For what it’s worth, Baseball America linked the Yankees to Thompson in their most recent mock draft.

2017 Draft: Brendon Little

Brendon Little | LHP

Background
The 20-year-old Little grew up outside Philadelphia and was a 36th round pick out of high school by the Giants in 2015, though he didn’t sign. He got buried on a deep North Carolina pitching staff as a freshman last spring — Little threw four innings last year — so after pitching well in the Cape Cod League last summer, Little transferred to the State College of Florida. So far this spring he has a 2.53 ERA with 133 strikeouts and 33 walks in 85.1 innings. Because he’s now at a junior college, Little is draft-eligible again this spring.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs., Little has good size and athleticism. His fastball sits 92-94 mph and he’s run it up as high as 97 mph this spring. Little’s breaking ball is a hard power curveball that misses plenty of bats. He also throws a changeup, but it lags far behind his other two pitches at the moment. His arm is loose and he generates his velocity with ease. Little does run into command issues at times, and there’s also some concern his short stride makes his stuff play down, pointing to a future in the bullpen.

Miscellany
In his latest rankings, Keith Law (sub. req’d) ranked Little as the 17th best prospect in the 2017 draft class. MLB.com and Baseball America ranked him 35th and 36th, respectively. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. Lefties with good velocity and an out-pitch breaking ball are always in demand, though my guess is the Yankees would prefer to nab Little (or someone like him) with their second round pick, 54th overall, than their first rounder.

2017 Draft: Adam Haseley

Adam Haseley | OF

Background
Haseley, 21, grew up outside Orlando, and went undrafted out of high school. After hitting only .275/.360/.407 during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Virginia, Haseley has broken out as a junior, and he currently owns a .400/.498/.688 batting line with 14 homers, ten steals, 40 walks, and only 19 strikeouts in 53 games. He also has a 2.51 ERA in 172 career innings on the mound, though his pro future is as a position player, not as a pitcher.

Scouting Report
A left-handed hitter and thrower, Haseley is an excellent opposite field hitter who can inside-out pitches to left field with ease. This year he’s shown more pull power than he had in the past, making him a more well-rounded threat at the plate. He also knows the strike zone and has above-average speed, making him an on-base and basestealing threat. His setup at the plate is unorthodox — Haseley hits from an extreme crouch with a fairly big leg kick — though it’s not bad, necessarily. Just different. In the field, Haseley shows the potential to stay in center field long-term thanks to his speed and reads, though there is some thought he’ll wind up in left field because his arm is average at best (despite his success on the mound). This is the rare college player with some untapped potential. Haseley, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 195 lbs., is just now figuring out how to pull the ball for power rather than settle for serving everything the other way for singles.

Miscellany
All three major scouting publications consider Haseley a top half of the first round talent. Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranks him as the 11th best prospect in the draft class while Baseball America ranks him 13th and MLB.com ranks him 14th. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. The Yankees love their up-the-middle athletes and left-handed hitters with power potential, which describes Haseley perfectly. Top college performers have a way of getting drafted higher than expected, however, so he might not be on the board when the Yankees pick.

Saturday Links: Happ, Zimmer, Sanchez, Mock Drafts, Girardi

The Yankees and Rays will play the second game of their three-game series later this afternoon. Here are some links to check out until then.

Yankees passed on Happ, Jimenez, Zimmer

This is pretty fun and interesting. According to Joel Sherman, during trade talks last year, the Yankees and Cubs agreed that New York would receive either Gleyber Torres, Ian Happ, or Eloy Jimenez in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Also, during talks with the Indians about Andrew Miller, it was down to Clint Frazier or Bradley Zimmer. Both Happ and Zimmer were called up within the last week, and both have hit their first MLB home runs already.

Sherman says the Yankees passed on Jimenez because he was furthest away among the three Cubs prospects, and they passed on Happ because he’s not expected to be much of a defender. Torres had the best all-around ability. The Yankees went Frazier over Zimmer because he’s two years younger and has fewer exploitable holes in his swing. (Zimmer had a 30.7% strikeout rate between Double-A and Triple-A last year. Yikes!)

I really do like Happ, though I am totally cool with passing on him for Gleyber. The Yankees picked correctly in both cases, in my opinion. Torres is a budding superstar. Frazier has a much better chance to be an impact bat long-term too. Something tells me we’ll all have one eye on Happ and Jimenez and Zimmer over the next few years. Either way, the trade deadline last year truly was a franchise altering event. The Yankees are in much better shape long-term right now than they were 12 months ago.

Sanchez among top 25 under 25

A few days ago Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked the 25 best players in baseball under the age of 25. Not surprisingly, Bryce Harper claims the top spot. Manny Machado and Carlos Correa are second and third. Yeah. The Yankees have one player on the list: Gary Sanchez, who ranks 14th. He’s one spot behind Alex Bregman and one spot ahead of Dansby Swanson. Here’s the write-up:

Sanchez had a rookie season — well, half-season — for the ages last year, with 20 homers in 53 games, good enough to get him second in Rookie of the Year balloting and push the Yankees to trade Brian McCann and give Sanchez the starting job behind the plate. Sanchez has improved enough as a receiver to stay back there, though he is probably always going to be a bat-first, throw-second, glove-third kind of guy. I’m sure the Yankees will be fine with that.

Aaron Judge, who turned 25 last month, was not eligible for the list. I’m sure he would have made it had the list been players age 25 and under. The list is very position player heavy — Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez, Julio Urias, and Michael Fulmer are the only pitchers — and I’m guessing Luis Severino wasn’t particularly close to making it. That doesn’t surprise me. Sanchez is the only catcher in the top 25, and that is pretty darn cool.

Baseball America’s mock draft v3.0

Baseball America released their third mock draft of the year earlier this week, and now they have the Twins selecting Vanderbilt RHP Kyle Wright with the top pick. California HS RHP/SS Hunter Greene, the top prospect in the draft class, is projected to fall to the Padres with the third pick. The mock draft has the Yankees taking Alabama HS OF Bubba Thompson with their 16th pick. Here’s the write-up:

New York has been linked to preps this spring such as Huntington Beach first baseman Nick Pratto and Alabama prep outfielder Bubba Thompson, who’s likely to go in the 16-23 range. Pratto’s relatively modest spring offensively has pushed him down lists a bit.

The draft is a little more than four weeks now, so things are still pretty wide open. So far the Yankees have been connected to mostly high school players, though that doesn’t mean much. Last year they were mostly connected to high school arms and college bats before the draft, then bam, they went with a high school bat. Hopefully things get narrowed down a bit over the next month.

MLB.com’s mock draft v1.0

In other mock draft news, Jim Callis dropped his first full mock draft of the year last week. He has the Twins taking Louisville LHP/1B Brendan McKay first overall. It seems Minnesota has been connected to all the top prospects except Greene. Weird. Anyway, Callis has the Yankees taking California HS 1B Nick Pratto withe their first rounder.

One of the most rumored mid-round marriages is New York and Pratto, though this is more a floor than a ceiling for the best high school bat available. Burger and Canning are other potential targets.

Here’s my write-up on Pratto. Also, here’s my write-up on UCLA RHP Griffin Canning, who Callis connected to the Yankees as well. Burger is Missouri State 3B Jake Burger, who is one of the top power hitters in the draft. He’s probably going to end up at first base though, and it’s unclear if his less than picturesque swing will allow him to handle pro pitching. Meh. Doesn’t seem like the kind of player the Yankees usually target in the first round.

Girardi on new competition committee

Earlier this week MLB announced the relaunch of the competition committee, a 16-man committee that is “charged with studying all aspects of the game and advising the Commissioner and Club Owners on on-field matters.” They’re going to look for ways to make baseball better, basically. I guess automatic intentional walks and talking about pace of play constantly isn’t working as well as hoped.

Anyway, Joe Girardi is one of four current big league managers on the committee, along with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, and Orioles skipper Buck Showalter. Here is the press release with all the committee members. I do like that commissioner Rob Manfred is open to new ideas and seems genuinely interested in improving the game. I have no idea whether the new competition committee will result in any tangible improvements, but hey, at least they’re trying.

2017 Draft: Shane Baz

Shane Baz | RHP

Background
At 17 with a June birthday, Baz is one of the younger high school players in the 2017 draft class. He attends Concordia Lutheran High School in the Houston suburbs and is committed to Texas Christian.

Scouting Report
Texas is known for producing hard-throwers, and while Baez sits 92-95 mph and touches 97, he stands out most for his secondary staff. He has arguably the deepest arsenal in the entire draft class. Baz complements his four-seamer with an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s slider, a low-80s changeup, and an upper-70s curveball. The cutter and slider are his top non-fastballs at the moment, though the changeup and curveball are quite promising as well. Baz often falls in love with his secondary stuff rather than attacking with his fastball, which is pretty much of the opposite of most live-armed high school kids. His athleticism and clean delivery help the 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander throw strikes. Baz also draws praise for his makeup and worth ethic. It’s worth noting he has legitimate pop at the plate and has committed to both pitch and play third base for TCU, though he is a far better pro prospect on the mound.

Miscellany
Both MLB.com and Baseball America ranked Baz as the 12th best prospect in the 2017 draft class while Keith Law (subs. req’d) isn’t as much of a fan. He ranked him 45th. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. The Yankees do love hard-throwers (who doesn’t?), and they’ve targeted prep kids with deep repertoires in the first round before (Ian Clarkin and Gerrit Cole, most notably), so Baz could pique their interest.

2017 Draft: Trevor Rogers

Trevor Rogers | LHP

Background
The 19-year-old Rogers attends Carlsbad High School in New Mexico. So far this spring he has a 0.33 ERA with 134 strikeouts and 13 walks in 63.1 innings, and he’s hitting .394/.506/.788 with three homers in 89 plate appearances. It’s worth noting he’s not facing the best competition in southeastern New Mexico, though he has performed well in various summer showcase events. Rogers and former big leaguer Cody Ross are cousins.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-6 and 185 lbs., Rogers has the big and sturdy frame everyone looks for in a high school pitching prospect. His fastball sits mostly in the 89-92 mph range, though he has run it up as high as 95 mph in short bursts. The pitch also plays up a bit because he has a big stride and long arms, so he releases it closer to the plate than the average pitcher. Rogers has a hard breaking ball that is more of a true slider than a curveball, and when he’s at his best, the pitch is allergic to bats. Like most top high school pitchers, he hasn’t developed much of a changeup because he hasn’t needed it. Rogers is a really good athlete and his arm is loose. There’s not much effort in his delivery at all, though, like most young pitchers this tall, his mechanics can come and go.

Miscellany
The various scouting publications all agree Rogers is a first round talent. Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranks him as the 18th best prospect in the 2017 draft class while MLB.com and Baseball America rank him 23rd and 28th, respectively. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. The biggest knock on Rogers is his age. He’s already 19 with an October birthday, making him one of the oldest prep prospects in the draft class. Last year Blake Rutherford slipped in the draft partly because he turned 19 in May, a few weeks before the draft. Rogers will turn 20 this fall. They don’t check IDs on the mound though, and athletic 6-foot-6 lefties with good velocity and a promising breaking ball sure are hard to pass up.