Fans who casually follow the New York Yankees’ drafts each year could likely recognize the name of Jacob Lindgren, the reliever who could break camp with the big league club this spring, and may be familiar with early round picks like pitchers Austin DeCarr, Jordan Foley, and Jordan Montgomery. There wasn’t much excitement leading up to the 2014 draft for Yankee fans since the team didn’t pick until the second round, and their draft leaned heavily to the college side over high school players, which perhaps further dimmed the enthusiasm of draft followers. But look more closely and you will find the Yankees have some intriguing players drafted in later rounds who could become much more recognizable in 2015.
Jonathan Holder-Right-handed Pitcher
Holder pitched in the same Mississippi State bullpen as Jacob Lindgren, but unlike his college teammate Holder was deployed as a starter when he got to professional baseball after being drafted in the 6th round. At 6’2″ and 235 pounds Holder is built to start, and word is he added a promising cutter to a low-90’s fastball and a breaking ball and changeup which both show potential as usable pitches. It is difficult to judge college pitchers when they debut professionally, considering they’ve pitched a full season already and then log 30 or 40 more innings in the minors after they sign, so we will get a better idea about Holder in 2015 when he pitches a full season. He won’t turn 22 until June, so perhaps a spot in the Charleston rotation is a good bet for him, but he commands the ball well enough to pitch a level higher. With his bullpen experience, Holder could return to that role in the future if he struggles as a starter, especially if his fastball plays up in shorter stints and his cutter is effective.
Ty McFarland-Second Baseman
Drafted in the 10th round out of James Madison, McFarland has a reputation as a guy who can hit. His .775 OPS in Staten Island did not do anything to change that assessment. McFarland, 23, hits the ball to all fields, doesn’t strike out much, and has enough power to project as a double-digit home run hitter annually. The Yankees are trying to play him at second base to get the most value out of his bat, but at 6’3″ he is lankier than most second basemen and will need some time to adjust. Ty played for his father Spanky, a long-time college coach, at JMU, and that ingrained baseball acumen will serve him well as he adapts not only to second base but to being a professional. When you read about McFarland’s attributes, you can’t help but think about Rob Refsnyder, and the Yankees will be thrilled if he turns out similarly.
Sean Carley-Right-handed Pitcher
Like Jonathan Holder, Sean Carley is a former college reliever the Yankees are trying as a starter after drafting him out of West Virginia in the 14th round. Carley had some ups and downs pitching for Staten Island, but after making some adjustments seemed to find something that worked for him down the stretch. He is likely another case of a college pitcher who will look different in his first full season than he did in his debut short season. At 6’4″ and 230 pounds, Carley is stout enough to be a starter, but he also showed he can run his fastball into the mid-90’s and has a hard slider that could be very effective in short stints out of the bullpen. At 24, Carley will be given a chance to start but could quickly be moved to a relief role and potentially take off from there.
Justin Kamplain-Left-handed Pitcher
People don’t get excited about smallish pitchers without big fastballs, especially when they are drafted in the 18th round, so Kamplain may have trouble attracting fans. However, when a lefty puts up the eye-popping numbers Kamplain did in his debut season, you have to sit up and take notice. If a 1.65 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 0.893 WHIP, and zero home runs allowed in just under 44 innings doesn’t get you on the radar, something’s wrong. Kamplain, 22, throws three pitches for strikes, repeats his delivery, competes, and has the potential to be an effective reliever if he can’t remain in a starting role. He finished the season in Charleston and could return there, but if in spring training he pitches the way he did to close last season Kamplain could be in the Tampa rotation come April.
Joe Harvey-Right-handed Pitcher
The Yankees have had some success drafting relievers out of college, and they seemed to collect them on the trade market this off-season, so the path to the Bronx for relievers isn’t exactly clear. Guys like Tyler Webb, Nick Rumbelow, and James Pazos have ridden the fast track toward the Major Leagues, and Joe Harvey could be a guy to keep an eye on joining a large group of interesting relievers in 2015. Harvey had a successful debut at Staten Island after being drafted in the 19th round out of Pittsburgh, putting up a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings, but it’s the way he put up those numbers that makes him curious. Some guys have fastballs that get on hitters faster than they expect, think David Robertson for example, and Harvey may have one of those fastballs to go along with an aggressive approach. If his fastball can tick upward into the mid-90’s, the Yankees may really have something. He could be successful with the stuff he has now, but he may push his way toward the big leagues quickly if it improves.