The MLB first year player draft is one of my favorite parts of baseball season. I normally take the day off of work, sit at my computer and read tweets from Kiley McDaniel, Keith Law, Jim Callis, John Manuel and the late Kevin Goldstein. Who is going number one, what players are going to fall because of signability? To me this is the the second best day of the baseball year(The first is minor league opening day).
Now that my love affair with the draft has been shared here is information you will want to know concerning the Yankees draft.
1. Because of the Yankees offseason blitzkrieg on free agents they had to give up the pick they got for Granderson, Cano and their normal first round pick. Because of the signings the Yankee’s wont make their first selection until pick 55th which is in the middle of the 2nd round. Here is a link to all the 55th picks in the draft. http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?overall_pick=55&draft_type=junreg& There are some very interesting players that were drafted over the last decade at that spot. Some of those guys are top prospects with some having MLB careers already.
2. What have the Yankees done lately with their top draft picks? But you might be saying to yourself Jake there is more picks then just the top selection. There are 40 rounds and while that is true because MLB has done everything in it’s power to screw the draft up your draft is really made in your top picks and a few signability guys you pick up after round 10. Here is the list of top selections that the Yankees have made.
2013: Eric Jagielo(C,3B), Aaron Judge(C,OF) and Ian Clarking(H,LHP)
2012: Ty Hensley (H, RHP)
2011: Dante Bichette Jr (H, 3B)
2010: Cito Culver (H, SS)
2009: Slade Heathcott (H, OF)
2008: Gerrit Cole (H, RHP)
2007: Andrew Brackman (C, RHP)
2006: Ian Kennedy (C,RHP)
Looking at the 10 picks that Oppenheimer has made since taking over as the scouting director of the Yankees 4 of the picks had been college players and 6 had been high school players. 5 of the picks had been pitchers so there isn’t a bias there. But looking at the first round picks I do believe that a pattern is there. When Oppenheimer took over the draft he went for upside.
Kennedy was a safer pick but that was also the draft that the Yankees had a comp pick and they picked Joba up which was a very high risk high reward pick. The Brackman pick the next year was the same. Yankee brass takes a lot of heat for taking Brackman with their first round pick but it isnt’ justified at all. Brackman was a top 10 pick with some people thinking he should have gone right after David Price(Boras got the Yankees to pay him as if he was the 2nd pick in the draft).
Next year Gerrit Cole was considered one of the top picks in the draft and was a Yankee fan to boot. They knew he was going to be a tough pick because his family had money, he had a full ride going to a top 10 baseball school and could come out in 3 years. They took him knowing all of these things and it didn’t work out. Just because of that doesn’t mean that it was a bad strategy just that it didn’t work.
Heathcott is one of the top guys in the farm system and he was considered a 5 tool player who Keith Law had at 51st and BA had at 72. Now there isn’t a ton of difference between the #29 pick( Where Heathcott was picked) and the 51st player in the draft. Usually there are tiers to the draft and that probably fell in the same tier. But this is the start of a trend that really showed up the next two years with the Culver and Bichette picks.
Next we have Ty Hensley who fell to the Yankees. He had a very high upside and looked as if the pick was going to be a steal. Then the medical flag happened and so far Hensley has pitched 0 innings above short season ball. But while the pick didn’t work out so far doesn’t mean that it was the bad pick. Draft picks fail and so do prospects.
Last year the Yankees really did a good job with their three first round picks. I look at their first round like this. They took a safe college bat, a potential number two starter in Clarkin and a lottery pick with Aaron Judge.
Looking at all the draft picks in the first round I believe that you can get a sense of what Oppenheimer wants to do. He wants to go with upside and I believe that the Culver and Bichette picks were outliers in his draft philosophy. Could those picks have come from ownership that wanted to sink more cost into the big league club. I’ve heard that mentioned other places and while that might be somewhat accurate I don’t buy it. Spending money on draft picks is nothing compared to the actual big league payroll. I believe that some thought might have gone down to start looking for higher floor players to get good trade pieces. Ultimately that philosphy blew up in their faces as both Bichette and Culver looked like non prospects coming into this year. Bichette might have gotten some prospect status back but it’s still too early to tell.
Next draft post will have tiers of best case scenarios that the Yankees might be able to do.