There are two major strategies when it comes to the draft: grab the best player available or draft what you need, but what do the Yankees need? Obviously, the draft isn't an exact science and any prospect, however highly or lowly rated, can fail or succeed. If the Yankees decide to pick and choose what positions in their system need filling they could end up with more draft busts like Cito Culver and Dante Bichette; both major reaches and both taken because of the positions they play. Will the Yankees choose that route again?
Catcher: A lot of people have the Yankees taking Jon Denney in the first round of the draft. He's supposed to be a good offensive catcher, but do the Yankees really need another poor defensive catcher in their system? JR Murphy was taken in the second round of the 2009 draft and was almost moved to third base. Right now his bat seems to be panning out, but he's still a work in progress behind the plate. They also signed Gary Sanchez out of the Domincan Republic that same year and he has been hitting the ball well, but still needs to improve his defense. The Yankees took Greg Bird in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, but soon moved him to first base over concerns about his back. Peter O'Brien was then drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft and he has been hitting the ball well, but has been a mess behind the plate. All three of the Yankees' catching prospects could be promoted based on their bats alone, but their fielding problems and a logjam throughout the system has kept them down. None of these issues will be solved next year either, so does the system really need more catchers?
First Base: The Yankees' sole first base prospect is 20-year-old Greg Bird, who is in Low-A right now and can freely move up the ladder whenever it is deemed necessary. Mark Teixeira will be entrenched at first base until after the 2016 season, so that means any prospects would have to stay in the minor leagues for the next three seasons. If the Yankees draft a college first baseman at 21, he would have no place to play until he was 24 or 25. First base prospects are rare anyway, so the Yankees might just fill that positon with players who have failed in other positions. Bird or even O'Brien could end up there and project as possible Teixeira replacements.
Second Base: Robinson Cano is on the verge of becoming a free agent, but they won't know if they can retain him until after the draft takes place, so the Yankees won't know if they will need a second baseman in the future or not. Signing Cano to an 8-10 year contract would alleviate any need for the Yankees to draft high for that position. Corban Joseph and Angelo Gumbs are the major prospects of the system that really only have a chance with the organization if Cano leaves. Anything can happen during the lifespan of a prospect, so drafting a second baseman won't hurt the organization, especially if it's believed they are athletic enough to move to a new position.
Shortstop: The days of Derek Jeter are coming to a close and the Yankees don't have anyone to replace him. Eduardo Nunez would be a below average stopgap since he has never consistently hit, but other than that, the system is barren of promising shortstops. It was clear that the Yankees saw something in Cito Culver that no one else saw when they drafted him in the first round of the 2010 draft. Since then he has done nothing but prove that he is not the future shortstop they envisioned him to be. One of the Yankees' first priorities should be to find a shortstop that can hit, first and foremost. Derek Jeter has been a bat-first shortstop for years and it's worked for him. This position can be tricky to draft for because it's incredibly difficult to find someone who can both field the position and hit at least league average. As long as the Yankees don't try to be too clever they could come away with someone talented and promising.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez will be under contract until 2017, but he might not even be playing third base by the time his contract comes to a close, so even a prospect who shoots up the system won't be held back for long. The Yankees reached on Dante Bichette Jr, drafting him with their first pick in the 2011 draft, but he has been a monumental let down in his second and now third year in the organization. The only other third base prospect they have is Rob Segedin, drafted in the third round of 2010, but he's been moved back and forth between the infield and the outfield and has now had hip surgery, just like A-Rod. The Yankees desperately need someone who can handle third base, David Adams could prove to be a sufficient enough stopgap, but the Yankees need to find someone who has staying power.
Outfield: Last season saw Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott tease the possibility of a completely homegrown outfield, but all three have had disappointing seasons in 2013. The system is full of alternatives like Zoilo Almonte, Ramon Flores, Ben Gamel, and Jake Cave, who could all prove to be something one day. Brett Gardner will be a free agent in 2015, so these prospects have until then to make it to the big leagues and ensure that the Yankees have some young talent in the outfield. It's a good idea to take athletic outfielders for their versatility, but it might not be as big of a priority as some of the other positions they need filled.
Relief Pitcher: If it's one thing the Yankees' farm system can produce, it's relievers. The Yankees have seen an endless supply of, not just failed starters, but actual relief prospects. First there was David Robertson and now there is Preston Claiborne, Mark Montgomery, Tom Kahnle, among others, who can make a difference. Next season Joba Chamberlain, Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan will be gone, so there will be plenty of room for the prospects to move up. The Yankees can continue to refill the pot with more relievers in the middle rounds, like they have done for the last few years.
Starting Pitcher: The Yankees' system was once filled with pitching talent, but now it has become pretty empty. Manny Banuelos will be out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Brett Marshall has been ineffective and Nik Turley, Bryan Mitchell and Jose Ramirez round out the Yankees' hopes for starting pitching in the next few years. Their first round pick from 2012, Ty Hensley, won't throw a pitch in 2013 after undergoing hip surgery, so the Yankees could really use pitching. Lefties and righties, it doesn't matter, just some promising pitching talent.
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