It has been five years since the 2009 MLB Draft, a period of time by which the prospects selected by their respective teams in the draft have pretty well established who they are going to be from this point forward. Even the youngest high school seniors drafted then are now about 22-23 years old, and college draftees are already a year or two past the midpoint of their twenties. They have had five years to cultivate their skills and improve weaknesses in their game.
With the 2014 MLB Draft approaching, it's worth remembering that the alumni from the 2009 draft class were once such kids with high potential as well. Some draft classes are quite good and produce numerous big leaguers, like the 2006 group that yielded David Robertson and Ian Kennedy (to name two of the ten major leaguers from the '06 class), but obviously, there will also be duds like the 2002 draft class, whose best alumnus is reliever Phil Coke. (Yeahhhh Linwood Garrett scouting director years.)
So how have the Yankees' picks from 2009 fared so far? Since the top 10 picks tend to be the biggest names, I will write a little bit more about them than the other 39 picks, who "lightning round" style reviews.
1st round: Slade Heathcott
CF, Texas High School (Texarkana, TX), 29th overall (supplemental pick)
With their top pick in the draft and the likes of Chris Owings, Jason Kipnis, and Nolan Arenado still on the board, the Yankees gave $2.2 million to Heathcott, a high-talent, balls-to-the-wall outfielder who was considering going to the LSU instead. That aggressive playing style has made him an interesting prospect who annually winds up among the team's top five or ten prospects, but he has yet to play over 105 games in a season due to injuries and there have been questions about his makeup as well.
When he has played though, he's been pretty decent, batting .270/.347/.408 with 69 doubles, 16 triples, 20 homers, and 55 stolen bases in 303 games throughout the minors. Although the 23-year-old hasn't made the majors yet, he is on the 40-man roster and just started the season at Double-A Trenton, where if he has a good start, he seems to be the most likely candidate to be promoted to Triple-A Scranton. The jury's still out on Slade.
2nd round: John Ryan Murphy
C, Pendleton School (Bradenton, FL), 76th overall (supplemental pick)
The Yankees didn't make their next selection until almost 50 picks later, but the early returns on Murphy are solid. When drafted (the Yankees gave him $1.25 million to pass up a scholarship to the University of Miami), he had only been catching full-time for two years, and Minor League Ball's John Sickels wrote "he was considered an extremely promising hitter, but quite raw on defense." It took him a couple years to mature behind the plate and he played a little bit of third base too in case it didn't work out. Fortunately, Murphy has made very impressive strides, hurdling over several names on the prospect lists and turning himself into a highly-regarded young defensive catcher with acclaimed pitch-framing abilities.
Murphy changed himself from a bit of an afterthought following a mediocre .702 OPS 2012 season split between High-A Tampa and Trenton to a legitimate MLB-ready talent with a monster 2013. He rocked a 117 wRC+ acros the the system's two highest levels and made his MLB debut in September. Initially forced to return to Triple-A Scranton due to the catching logjam with Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli, Murphy was promoted back to the pros when Cervelli went down with a hamstring injury and went on the 60-day DL. He's proved to quite prepared for the responsibility of backing up McCann, and he's hit .400/.419/.533 in 12 games thus far. Given both his talent and the fact that the big off-season signing McCann is in front of him on the depth chart, the 23-year-old might find himself as part of a trade package later on in the season, but as of now, the Yankees are sure glad to have him.
4th round: Adam Warren
RHP, UNC, 135th overall
The former Tar Heel signed with the Yankees for $195,000, and he has pitched well everywhere he traveled in the minor leagues. He was not considered to have a very high ceiling, but scouts thought that his floor was better than most, as the arsenal he honed at UNC would play well in the minors. Warren jumped to Scranton by the beginning of 2011, and over two seasons in Triple-A, he pitched to a 3.66 ERA, a 3.80 FIP, and a 2.9 BB/9 in 53 starts. After a forgettable one-start cameo MLB debut in 2012, Warren made the majors out of spring training in 2013 and served as a capable long reliever for the Yankees that year with an 83 ERA-. Now in a more relevant bullpen role, Warren has been dynamite in 2014, posting a 35 ERA- and 61 FIP- in 25 games so far as a middle reliever who can go more than one inning. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says that Warren could return to the rotation one day, but for now, he's proved to be a very useful bullpen cog and a fine fourth round pick.
5th round: Caleb Cotham
RHP, Vanderbilt, 165th overall
A somewhat-similar college arm to Warren, Cotham has not quite shared his success. He made a few starts in the low minors before it was revealed that he needed shoulder surgery, forcing him to miss all of 2010 and limiting his 2011 to 23 innings. Cotham was decent in 2012 splitting time with Low-A Charleston and Tampa, and a 3.72 ERA with an 8.1 K/9 over 29 innings earned him a promotion to Scranton last May. However, International League hitters were not fooled by Cotham, and they bludgeoned him to a 5.46 ERA and about a .300 batting average against in 22 starts from 2013-2014. He was recently demoted back to Trenton, where he must work hard to prove his importance to the organization all over again.
6th round: Rob Lyerly
3B, UNC - Charlotte, 195th overall
The lefty Lyerly hit .401 with 12 homers during his senior year in the Atlantic 10 conference, and he looked strong in 2010 with Charleston (120 wRC+) and the first half of 2011 with Tampa (129 wRC+). However, he stumbled in Trenton in 2011, as he slipped to a .246/.292/.357 triple slash and a 78 wRC+, then had to undergo his second shoulder surgery shortly after the start of his 2012 campaign. Lyerly tried to rehab it at first but later decided to retire in March 2013. Since he had back-to-back 30-double seasons in 2010 and 2011, that was a bummer, but so it goes.
7th round: Sean Black
RHP, Seton Hall, 225th overall
A pitch-to-contact arm originally drafted out of high school in the second round in '06 by the Washington Nationals, Black struggled to reach his potential. He got off to a strong start in Staten Island in '09, but endured back-to-back awful seasons in Tampa from 2011-12 (6.87 ERA combined in 173 innings). He rebounded nicely with a 1.66 mark in 12 games last year, but a promotion to Trenton did not lead to many positive results. Black posted a 4.22 ERA and 1.438 WHIP in six starts before his season ended in mid-July. Black was among the 17 minor leaguers released by the Yankees last December, and he's since caught on with the Reds organization. (He has a 6.86 ERA and 1.576 WHIP in 11 games, so suffice it to say, he is not really missed.)
8th round: Sam Elam
LHP, Notre Dame, 255th overall
Elam notched 38 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings for the Fighting Irish in '09, but he already demonstrated problems with control that would come back to bite him. Indeed, he was dreadful during his two years in the organization with the Rookie League and Short-Season-A Staten Island, walking 51 batters in 30 innings (15.3 BB/9 [!]) while pitching to a 7.80 ERA and 2.467 WHIP despite decent strikeout totals. Elam was released from the organization at the end of minor league camp in 2011. He has not returned to baseball.
9th round: Gavin Brooks
LHP, UCLA, 285th overall
The Bruins' closer in '09, Brooks struck out 196 in 218 innings throughout his collegiate career and got off to a terrific start in the organization with a sparkling 0.62 ERA and 10.0 K/9 in 30 games for Staten Island. He did walk five batters per nine innings, but there was still plenty to like about Brooks's left arm. Sadly, injuries completely ruined him and he only pitched in one more game for the organization before ultimately getting let go in March of 2012. Friggin' injuries, man.
10th round: Tyler Lyons
LHP, Oklahoma State, 315th overall
A workhorse with strong command in the Cowboys' rotation, the Yankees hoped that he would join them and perhaps not take long to rise through the system, like Warren. Lyons elected to stay in college though, and he was instead selected in the ninth round of the 2011 draft by the Cardinals. Lyons did indeed quickly rise through the minors, and he made his MLB debut last year for the Cards, though his minor league success has not yet translated to the majors.
Now on to the lightning round...
|11||345||Neil Medchill||LF||Oklahoma State||Released from Trenton in 2013; now on Sugar Land (Ind.)|
|12||375||Brett Gerritse||RHP||Pacifica High School (Garden Grove, CA)||Swingman with a 5.01 ERA and 1.608 WHIP for Tampa (A+)|
|13||405||DeAngelo Mack||LF||University of South Carolina||Released from Trenton in; last played in 2012 on Evansville (Ind.)|
|14||435||Graham Stoneburner||RHP||Clemson||Frequent rider of Trenton/Scranton shuttle, cannot shake AAA struggles|
|15||465||Shane Greene||RHP||Daytona Beach Community College||After strong 2013 AA numbers, made MLB debut in 2014; currently in AAA Scranton|
|16||495||Bryan Mitchell||RHP||Rockingham County High School (Reidsville, NC)||Common top 20 NYY prospects list arm; has yet to harness potential in AA Trenton|
|17||525||Chad Thompson||RHP||El Toro High School (Lake Forest, CA)||Did not sign; drafted by MIL in 2011, hasn't played since 2012|
|18||555||Hector Rabago||C||USC||.517 OPS in 129 G as utilityman; now a coach on NYY GCL 2|
|19||585||Luke Murton||1B||Georgia Tech||25-HR power from 2012 did not translate to AAA; released and now on Sioux City (Ind.)|
|20||615||Thomas Keeling||LHP||Oklahoma State||Did not sign; drafted by MIL in 2010, released by ATL in March 2014|
|21||645||Joseph Talerico||CF||Brookdale Community College||Did not sign; hasn't played in minors|
|22||675||Richard Soignier||SS||Louisiana - Monroe||Did not sign; hasn't played in minors|
|23||705||Kevin Mahoney||3B||Canisius College||Needed surgery after .564 OPS in 2013 and released in 2014; now on Amarillo (Ind.)|
|24||735||Issac Harrow||2B||Appalachian State||Dismal .559 OPS in GCL after draft; released in March 2010|
|25||765||Shaeffer Hall||LHP||Kansas||Failed to impress in 4.5 seasons; released in June 2013, ended year in OAK org|
|26||795||Stephen Bruno||SS||Gloucester Catholic High School (Gloucester City, NJ)||Did not sign; drafted by CHC in 2012 out of UVA and currently in AA Tennessee|
|27||825||Jeff Farnham||C||New Mexico State||.611 OPS in 191 G as utilityman; released after 2013, now on Amarillo (Ind.)|
|28||855||Aaron Meade||LHP||Missouri State||Did not sign; drafted by LAA in 2010, last played for Kansas City (Ind.) in 2013|
|29||885||Scott Matyas||RHP||Minnesota||Did not sign; drafted by DET in 2011, hasn't played since 2011 in GCL|
|30||915||Kyle McKenzie||RHP||Thayer Academy (Braintree, MA)||Did not sign; hasn't played in minors|
|31||945||Judd Golsan||CF||Mountain Brook High School (Mountain Brook, AL)||.538 OPS in 74 G in GCL; released after 2010, hasn't played since then|
|32||975||Nick Ebert||1B||South Carolina||Did not sign; played one year of minors in 2011 with Evansville (Ind.)|
|33||1005||Andrew Aplin||CF||Vanden High School (Fairfield, CA)||Did not sign; drafted by HOU in 2012 out of ASU and currently in AA Corpus Christi|
|34||1035||Jake Petricka||RHP||Indiana State||Did not sign; drafted by CWS in 2010, split 2013 between AA & AAA|
|35||1065||Brett Bruening||RHP||Grayson County College||Did not sign; hasn't played in minors|
|36||1095||Kyle Ottoson||LHP||South Mountain Community College||Did not sign; drafted by SDP in 2012, hasn't played since 2012 in A-|
|37||1125||Justin Milo||OF||Vermont||Released after 2010 following 48 G in low minors; hasn't played since then|
|38||1155||Adam Bailey||RF||Nebraska||Did not sign; drafted by HOU in 2010, released in 2012, now on Long Island (Ind.)|
|39||1185||Cody Stiles||RHP||Taravella High School (Coral Springs, FL)||Did not sign; hasn't played in minors|
|40||1215||Benjamin Watkins||RHP||Pittsburgh - Johnstown||Released after 2010 following 60 G in low minors; hasn't played since then|
|41||1245||Mariel Checo||RHP||Norman Thomas High School (New York, NY)||Played one season above GCL; released after 2013, hasn't played since then|
|42||1275||Danny Black||SS||Feather River College||Did not sign; drafted by MIA in 2010 and currently in AA Jacksonville|
|43||1305||Isaiah Brown||CF||Paradise Valley Community College||Released after 2010 following 44 G in low minors; hasn't played since then|
|44||1335||Evan DeLuca||LHP||Immaculata High School (Somerville, NJ)||Released after 2012 following 40 G in low minors; last played for Windy City (Ind.) in 2013|
|45||1365||Jeremy Baltz||OF||Vestal High School (Vestal, NY)||Did not sign; drafted by SDP in 2012 and currently in A+ Lake Elinsore|
|46||1395||Tony Plagman||1B||Georgia Tech||Did not sign; drafted by DET in 2010, hasn't played since 2012 in AA|
|47||1425||Shane Brown||C||University of Central Florida||Did not sign; re-drafted in 2010, released in 2013 after .496 OPS in AA Trenton|
|48||1455||Pat White||CF||West Virginia||Yes, that Pat White. Did not sign; both NFL and MLB careers have gone nowhere|
|49||1485||Xavier Esquivel||RHP||Loyola Marymount||Did not sign; drafted by SDP in 2010, hasn't played since 2012 in A-|
|50||1515||Stephen Kaupang||1B||Cypress College||Did not sign; hasn't played in minors|
It's fascinating to look at the careers of all these former draftees and realize how hard it is just to get to the upper levels of the minors, the doorstep to finally making the major leagues. There are a few decent prospects in the rough there with Greene and Mitchell, but for the most part, it's a constant challenge to find talent past the 10th round that is certainly not unique to the Yankees.Still, it should not be forgotten that both Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were selected past the 20th round of the 1990 MLB Draft. There is hope yet for talent down there.
Other PSA writers will be following this draft review with updates on the other draft classes since 2009. On the whole for this draft, though? Murphy and Warren are the only saving graces right now, though of course Heathcott and Mitchell could improve matters. We'll just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.