With the 2014 draft rapidly approaching, PSA is taking a look back at the Yankees' respective draft classes over the past five years. Andrew reviewed the 2009 class, and today I'll be looking at the team's most notable 2010 draft selections:
1st round: Cito Culver
SS, 32 overall, High School (Rochester, NY)
New York got plenty of criticism for their pick of Culver, who was considered more of a third or fourth round talent than someone who should go in the first round. This criticism was mainly towards his bat, especially towards his plate discipline, or lack thereof. At the time of the draft, Culver also received questions as to whether he'll stick at shortstop long-term. However, he has shined with the glove (despite what his error totals tell you), showing very good range and a strong throwing arm at the shortstop position.
Unfortunately, since joining the Yankees' minor league system, Culver hasn't shown much at all with the bat, as he is just a .236/.318/.321 hitter across five seasons and four leagues. Culver was a switch hitter up until 2013, where he is now exclusively batting right-handed, but the overall results with the bat haven't shown much improvement at all. Here in 2014, Culver is hitting just .216/.278/.268 in 38 games with the High-A Tampa Yankees; this comes after hitting to a BABIP-fueled .355/.394/.484 in a 16-game trial with Tampa last summer. Culver was also a pitcher in high school, where he can hit up to 94 mph on the gun, and you have to wonder if the Yankees will ever transition him back to the mound if his offensive struggles continue. For now, though, the Yankees will see where his glove can take him.
2nd round: Angelo Gumbs
SS, 82 overall, High School (Torrance, CA)
The Yankees gave the then 17-year-old Gumbs $750,000 after being selected in the second round. Like the Culver pick, Gumbs was a bit of a reach, but the Yankees wanted to take a chance on his athleticism along with his bat speed. Gumbs didn't really have a position (although he was originally drafted as a shortstop) at the time, but the thought was that his overall athleticism would help him find a home in the middle of the diamond, which he has at second base.
Following a strong 2012 in which he hit .272/.320/.432 with 26 stolen bases for the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs, Gumbs hit the skids quite a bit in 2013. After trying to play through a nagging right middle finger injury, Gumbs hit to a very weak .214/.265/.302 in his first 39 games at High-A ball. He even got demoted back to Low-A, where he continued to flounder, hitting .213/.261/.351 in 52 games. To make matters worse, Gumbs' 2013 ended with a concussion.
Gumbs is back in High-A Tampa here in 2014, where he's gotten off to another slow start, hitting .237/.279/.321 in 41 games. Since moving to second base full-time in 2012, Gumbs has continued to make strides defensively, but it's his bat that needs to provide more results. Just 21 years of age, Gumbs still does have plenty of time on his side, and he has to potential to be a very good, all around second baseman at the next level if he can ever put it all together. At the same time, we're almost at the make-it-or-break-it point with Gumbs, as he looks to avoid his second consecutive forgettable year.
3rd round: Rob Segedin
3B, 112 overall, Tulane University
A draft-eligible sophomore, the Yankees selected third baseman Rob Segedin with their third round selection. As a college bat, the thought was for Segedin to be a bit of a quick riser in the system, but injuries put quite a halt to that. Hip injuries have taken a bite into Segedin's development, most notably a right hip injury in 2013, where he had to have season-ending surgery in April after hitting to a near 1.000 OPS with the Thunder.
He is off to a solid start this season with the Thunder, hitting .246/.370/.389 in 34 games, with more walks (23) than strikeouts (18). If he can keep it up, Segedin could find himself in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Segedin is now 25, and last year's season-ending injury was quite a bump in the road for him, but if he can continue to develop, Segedin could become an option at third base for the Yankees down the road.
4th round: Mason Williams
CF, 145 overall, High School (Winter Garden, FL)
Committed to South Carolina, the Yankees gave the uber athletic Mason Williams a $1.45 million bonus to forgo college. That $1.45MM bonus happened to be the largest bonus the team handed out among its 2010 draftees. Williams soared through the lower levels of the system, including Low-A, before having to undergo season-ending surgery to his left shoulder in August of 2012 after just 22 games in High-A.
Williams endured a pretty rough 2013, which included a DUI, inconsistencies on the field, and some weight problems in the middle of it all. He hit to just a .261/.327/.350 line in 100 games at Tampa but was promoted to Double-A Trenton despite sluggish results at the plate after Slade Heathcott got injured. Williams looked over-matched in a 17-game trial in Trenton (.428 OPS, 18:1 K:BB) and there was thought that he could go back to Tampa to start 2014.
Instead, Williams started 2014, and remains, in Trenton, where he's continuing to struggle. The 22-year-old is hitting .196/.287/.264 in 36 games with the Thunder. From watching him on MiLB.tv, he seems to make a lot of weak contact that results in ground balls towards the right side of the infield or fly balls to left field. He has a pretty hard time making consistent, hard contact with the baseball, and he also seems to have trouble catching up to better velocity. The tools are obviously there for Williams to be a productive Major Leaguer, but adjustments will need to be made to take the next step.
5th round: Tom Kahnle
RP, 175 overall, Lynn University
This season, Tom Kahnle became the first Lynn University product to ever to reach the Majors. He did so, however, as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Kahnle did well in a relief role in the Yankees' minor league system, most recently in 2013 with Double-A Trenton, posting a 2.85 ERA and 3.97 FIP in 46 games. Despite the solid year with Trenton, Kahnle went unprotected by the Yankees in the Rule V Draft and was selected by Colorado. Now with the Rockies, Kahnle has pitched to a 1.59 ERA and a 3.78 FIP in 16 games. The right-handed Kahnle has good stuff: a 96-98 mph fastball with a plus slider to put batters away. There's still a lot of season left to be played, so there's always the chance Kahnle could wind back with the Yankees, but for now he might have found a home in Colorado.
6th round: Gabe Encinas
SP, 205 overall, High School (Santa Fe Springs, CA)
The right-handed Encinas got off to a roaring start with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs last season, pitching to a 0.77 ERA and 3.17 FIP through seven starts. Unfortunately, Encinas hit a pretty big roadblock, as he needed Tommy John Surgery in May. When healthy, Encinas sits more towards the lower 90's with his fastball, but can get it up to 96 mph. He also features a curve as his main off-speed pitch to go along with a change-up that is a clear third offering. Now almost a full year from Tommy John Surgery, Encinas is getting closer to pitching in live games pretty soon.
12th round: Danny Burawa
RP, 385 overall, St. Johns University
Drafted out of St Johns, Burawa looked as though he could rise quickly through the system and ultimately become a relief option for the Yankees relatively soon. He pitched to a 3.64 ERA and 3.85 FIP split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa in 2011, but missed all of 2012 thanks to an oblique injury. He came back strong last season with Double-A Trenton, pitching to a 2.59 ERA and 3.43 FIP, while seeing both his strikeout and walk rates jump from his previous season (9 K/9 in 2013, 7.1 K/9 in 2011) (5.7 BB/9 in 2013, 2.6 BB/9 in 2011).
Burawa has continued his high-strikeout, high-walk ways with Triple-A Scranton after being unclaimed in the Rule V Draft last winter. So far, Burawa has a 12 K/9 and 6.4 BB/9 in all of 11 1/3 innings pitched with the RailRiders. As we saw this spring, Burawa features a nasty high-90's sinker to go along with a biting mid-80's slider. If he can get the walks under control, Burawa could become an option for the Yankees at the big league level late this season; he certainly already has the raw stuff to succeed at the next level.
13th round: Tyler Austin
C, 415 overall, High School (Conyers, GA)
Selected as a catcher, the Yankees had Austin make the shift from behind the plate to more of a third base/first base split in the Gulf Coast League after being drafted. With Dante Bichette Jr holding down third base for the 2012 RiverDogs, Austin settled for right field, and it was smooth sailing from there. Austin raked to a .320/.405/.598 line in 70 games for the 'Dogs before getting a mid-season promotion to High-A Tampa. Although the numbers weren't quite as robust as they were with Charleston, Austin still hit to a .321/.385/.478 line in 36 games for the T-Yanks. At the end of the season, Tyler Austin found himself on numerous Top 100 prospect lists and it looked as though the Yankees might have their future right fielder climbing through the system.
Things haven't been quite the same for Austin since getting bumped up Double-A, though. In 2013 with the Thunder, Austin battled through an off-and-on right wrist injury that saw an overall decline in production, especially in the power department. Albeit in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League, Austin hit just 6 homers in 83 games with a paltry .116 ISO. To make up for lost time, the Yankees had Austin go to the Arizona Fall League, but he lasted just four games thanks to the same wrist injury. The 2013 season was certainly a far cry for Austin compared to his breakout 2012.
To make matters worse, Austin missed virtually all of this year's Spring Training thanks to the same right wrist that acted up on him early in camp. After getting fully healed, Austin came back for 14 games with the Thunder, but thanks to a groin injury while running the bases, Austin was sidelined for a couple more weeks. He has came back since, thankfully, so hopefully he'll start to get on a roll with the bat. All told here in 2014, Austin is hitting .256/.337/.337 through 23 games. Unlike 2012 and 2013, however, Austin, thanks partly to the team's packed outfield, has seen less time in right field and more time at first, third, and DH. As soon as he, or others (Slade Heathcott, mostly) get promoted to Triple-A, Austin could find more time in the outfield, but an increase in versatility wouldn't hurt.
15th round: Chase Whitley
RP, 475 overall, Troy University
Another college reliever, Whitley quietly moved up the Yankees' farm system while posting pretty solid numbers out of the 'pen. Only three of Whitley's 115 total appearances leading up to 2013 were starts, all of which came as more of a spot starter. Continuing to put up good numbers in 2013, the Yankees decided to stick Whitley in the rotation towards the end of the season. As a starter in Triple-A, Whitley put up a 1.42 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .512 OPS in four starts. At the time, no one knew if this four-start trial for Whitley was just an end-of-season thing just for kicks, or if it was something that the team would keep doing in 2014.
Sure enough, the Yankees kept Whitley in the rotation, and he continued to provide positive results this season. He had to get stretched out at first, but in six total starts with Scranton, Whitley put up a 2.49 ERA while holding batters to a .579 OPS. Thanks to the big league team's razor-thin rotation, Whitley was called up just last week, where he held the Mets scoreless in 4 2/3 innings. Whitley, as shown in his game against the Mets, features a sinking low-90's fastball, a circle-change that features a lot of arm-side fade, and a mid-80's slider/cutter hybrid. The Yankees will need at least one of the David Phelps/Vidal Nuno/Whitley trio to step up even when CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda get healthy, but if Whitley ever proves he can go at least part-way through the third part of the order, he very well could stick in the rotation.
17 round: Preston Claiborne
RP, 535, Tulane University
Preston Claiborne seemed like just another reliever coming up through the system, appearing in 139 games in the minors, while posting solid, but not great, numbers. However, when the Yankees needed a reliever, it wasn't the heralded Mark Montgomery who got the call, but instead the more under-the-radar Claiborne. Claiborne did burst onto the scene with the 2013 Yankees, pitching to a 1.46 ERA (.554 OPS against) in his first 21 games with the club, but hit the skids hard the rest of the way (6.41 ERA, .871 OPS against in final 24 appearances).
Claiborne continued his awful pitching in Spring Training, thus being demoted to Triple-A to start the season. Thanks to the rash of injuries on the pitching staff as a whole, Claiborne has since been brought up from the minors, where he's pitched to a 2.19 ERA and 3.72 FIP in mostly low-leverage situations. Claiborne really doesn't have standout stuff to begin with, so it's hard to see how much more upside he has more than your generic, sixth inning reliever. At least they got those really good 20 appearances out of him in 2013 before he crashed hard, so I guess that's sort of a win coming from a 17th round draft pick.
Those 10 players mentioned above are probably the 10 that stand out the most, but there are some more interesting names that were selected in this 2010 class:
- Kyle Roller (8th round) is a big, lumbering first baseman who has hit well since joining the system and is currently in Triple-A. At 26, however, it's hard to see Roller ever becoming more than an organization player, but at least he gives the minor league beat writers something fun to watch with all his power.
- Ben Gamel (10th round) is a good, underrated outfielder who can hit a little and has shown some speed since moving up the system. He won't be anything more than a fourth outfielder if he ever reaches the majors, but, at only 22, Gamel is already in Double-A and has so far proven he belongs.
- Zach Nuding (30th round) has recently been promoted to Triple-A after a successful stint in Trenton. His stay in Scranton has so far been a bit of a disaster, but as soon as he adjusts to the league, Nuding should settle towards the back-end of the rotation once the bigger-named pitching prospects (Manny Banuelos and Bryan Mitchell) reach Triple-A. He most likely won't have a future as a big-league starter, but he could see the bigs if shifted to the 'pen where his sinker-slider combo could play up in a relief role.
- Kramer Sneed (32nd round) toiled in the lower parts of the Yankees' minor league system before getting traded in the Vernon Wells deal last year. Oh, and his name is Kramer.
- Michael O'Neill (42nd round) is the nephew of Paul and decided to head off to Michigan for college instead of signing with the Yankees. He was then selected again by the Yankees in the third round of last year's draft. So far with Charleston, O'Neill is hitting .224/.283/.388 in 41 games.
- Fred Lewis (47th round) is a left-handed reliever that has slowly climbed his way through the system. If you recall, Lewis opened some eyes in Yankees' camp, to the point where he became a legitimate option to make the big league team out of Spring Training, before ultimately being sent back down to the minors. So far in 2014, Lewis is pitching to a 6.75 ERA in nine appearances.