Regular readers know I'm not really a minor league fan- sure I write Bronx Bound (nearly) every Sunday, and sure I check the AAA box score every night, but I'm most interested in who could help the Yankees next week, next month, and next season (since that'll impact free agent signings).
So the draft really isn't my strong suit- I have no idea who these players are, and I've never seen them play.
That's why, instead of pretending to know, I will be liberally linking to the most knowledgeable writers on the web.
First Round- Gerrit Cole
Anaconda already did a great write up on Cole. Top ten talent who fell to us because of awkward mechanics and Scott Boras.
First Round, Supplemental- Jeremy Bleich
The Yanks seemed to be trying to outdo last year's mystery pick (3rd rounder Ryan Pope) by selecting left-handed pitcher Jeremy Bleich. I was having trouble finding out enough about him, so I posed a question Kiley over at Saber-Scouting (one of my favorite sites because it's still small enough to get individual questions answered); his reply:
He was ranked 97th in the country out of HS by Baseball America as a part of an elite Louisiana HS crop a few years back (the Beau Jones/Sean West class) and had been hurt recently at Stanford but came back with 4 solid innings in relief for the Cardinal in regional play. He’s a lefty with three solid pitches (fastball from 88-91, plus change, good curve) and command that has been coming and going this year, but has been a strength in the past (#3 in HS command on the BA top tools for 2005 draft) and a clean arm and solid mechanics indicate it will continue to be.
He was ranked 97th in the country out of HS by Baseball America as a part of an elite Louisiana HS crop a few years back (the Beau Jones/Sean West class) and had been hurt recently at Stanford but came back with 4 solid innings in relief for the Cardinal in regional play.
He’s a lefty with three solid pitches (fastball from 88-91, plus change, good curve) and command that has been coming and going this year, but has been a strength in the past (#3 in HS command on the BA top tools for 2005 draft) and a clean arm and solid mechanics indicate it will continue to be.
Second Round- Scott Bittle
The righthanded reliever from Ole Miss was drafted by the Yankees in the 48th round last season- one year later and he goes from fringe to set for life. Baseball America has the details on the guy they thought was the 97th best player in the draft:
Bittle's fastball is just an average pitch, with velocity between the 88-91 mph range. However, Bittle pitches mainly off his cut fastball—a devastating late breaking pitch in the mid-80s that has two-plane movement similar to a slider. Bittle is able to command this pitch down in the zone and creates a ton of swings and misses by starting it just above the knees and having it drop just below the strike-zone. He also effectively mixes in a changeup, freezing unsuspecting hitters. At 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, and without an above-average fastball, Bittle does not fit the typical closer's profile in the major leagues. He will most likely be a long relief or setup man in the pros.
Third Round- David Adams
A second baseman with a bat, MLB.com breaks him down this way: a contact hitter with 10-15 homer power, slow footed but good instincts on the bases, solid arm and soft hands but only average range.
Fourth Round- Corban Joseph
Continuing a run on middle infielders with first names for last names, the high school shortstop is intriguing to Mike A. from RAB :
Hits for power and average to all fields, but he’s an offense first shortstop and will likely have to change positions. He’s got a big wiry frame, so there’s plenty of room to add strength. Fast, but not a burner.
Fifth Round- Christopher Smith
A 6-foot-2, 195-pounder who bats and throws from the left side...
Pickens [Smith's high school coach] coached current Angel farmhand Andrew Toussaint at Centennial and Boston Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp with his C-BATs Academy team, so he knows something about talented prospects.
“Chris does things they couldn’t do,” he said. “He has dynamite strength and the ability to hit with power to all fields. They had power to only one field.”
I know BA ranked him the 105th best prospect in the state of California, but I have no idea if that means they think he'll be any good. With a hat tip again to Mike A., he hit .708/.744/.1.361 in high school. If he can do half of that as a pro he'll have a decent career...
Sixth Round- Brett Marshall
Finally, in today's final round the Yanks started to flex those financial muscles. With the 200th pick, the Yankees drafted a right handed pitcher that Baseball America thought was the 87th best player in the country. He's a guy who dropped because of sign-ability concerns (he's committed to Rice), but hopefully Yankee green (and the pinstripes, history, tradition, yada yada) will put him on track for the major leagues.
Hopefully we'll several more picks like this tomorrow.
All in all, I'm quite pleased by the Yanks' draft strategy so far- obviously, you want to take the best guy on the board, but within that they haven't been scared off by injury concerns (as an organization, we've got one of the best track records for helping pitchers mend), except for Bittle the Yanks went for high upside starters. This makes perfect sense with the glut of MLB-ready relievers in the system; even better, two of the seven picks are lefties, something the system is lacking. And on the offensive side, the Yanks went for players who figure to hit and will find a defensive position later- since they weren't getting their hands on any of the super-elite hitters/ fielders, it's better to go with projectable bat/ questionable glove than vice versa.
At the start of the day I asked for some power college pitchers, at least a couple athletic bats, and one high ceiling lefty. So my power pitcher is a high schooler, the bats are more hitters than fielders, and the college lefty's ceiling is lower than it was a couple years ago, but these are draft realities for a team that continually finishes at the top of the standings. It's all good.