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Yankees Draft Preview 2017: Projected second-round prospects

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A look at some of the players that could be available when the Yankees make their second-round selection with the 54th pick overall.

The Yankees will make their selection in the second round of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 54th pick overall.

The New York Yankees have the 18th pick in the second round of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft. It is the 54th pick overall.

While much of the focus leading up to the draft centers on which players will be taken early in the first round, there is always talent to be had in round two as well. In fact, some of the greatest players in baseball history have been selected in the second round of the draft.

Johnny Bench was selected by the Reds in 1965, Mike Schmidt was taken by the Phillies in 1971, and Cal Ripken, Jr. was chosen by the Orioles in 1978. Standout players drafted more recently in the second round include Giancarlo Stanton (76th pick by the Marlins in 2007) and Dustin Pedroia (65th pick by the Red Sox in 2004).

The Yankees have drafted a pair of icons in the first round (Thurman Munson was the 4th pick overall in 1968 and Derek Jeter was the 6th pick in 1992) and hit the jackpot in later rounds (Don Mattingly was taken in the 19th round in 1979 and Andy Pettitte was drafted in the 22nd round in 1990). But the club hasn't been successful in drafting any future legends in the second round. No one who would achieve legendary status playing for the Yankees, that is.

The Yankees drafted John Elway in the second round in 1981. Elway played in the Yankees’ minor league system for one season before being selected in the NFL draft and deciding to play football exclusively. The following year, the Yankees used their second round pick to select Bo Jackson out of McAdory High School. Jackson opted against signing with the Yankees and headed to college instead, where he won the Heisman Trophy and later became a two-sport mega-star with the Royals and Raiders.

Before we delve into this year’s second-round draft prospects, let’s get a quick status report on the most recent picks made by the Yankees in round two.

Yankees second-round picks 2007–2016

2016 Nick Solak 2B

Nick Solak slashed .321/.412/.421/.833 in 279 plate appearances (64 games) for the Staten Island Yankees (Short-season A) in 2016. He began 2017 with the Tampa Yankees (High-A) and has slashed .286/.408/.393/.801 in 206 plate appearances (54 games) so far. Solak is currently ranked number 18 on MLB.com's Top 30 List of Yankees prospects. As Brock Hammond recently noted in his review of the Yankees 2016 draft class, no other position player selected last year has advanced further in the Yankee system than Solak.

2015 Jeff Degano LHP

Jeff Degano began his professional career in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) and was promoted to Staten Island where he appeared in 4 games in 2015. He was then sent back to the rookie league (Pulaski) to begin the 2016 season. Brock Hammond recently detailed Degano's trouble throwing strikes. Degano has not yet pitched in 2017.

2014 Jacob Lindgren LHP

Jacob Lindgren tore through five levels of the minors and made his first appearance with the big league club less than one year after being drafted. He made seven appearances for the Yankees in 2015 before suffering an arm injury which required Tommy John surgery. The Yankees tried to outright him off the 40-man roster while he was hurt, but the Atlanta Braves claimed him. He is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch for Atlanta.

2013 Gosuke Katoh 2B

Gosuke Katoh made it to High-A Tampa this year (his fifth in the Yankees system) and has slashed .296/.371/.500/.871 in 62 plate appearances (17 games). Katoh was drafted out of high school and is 22 years old.

2012 Austin Aune CF

Austin Aune has slashed .234/.303/.332/.636 in 419 plate appearances (80 games) since being promoted to High-A Tampa last year. Aune was drafted out of high school and is 23 years old.

2012 Peter O'Brien C

Peter O'Brien was traded by the Yankees (with player to be named) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Martin Prado (who was later flipped for Nathan Eovaldi) on July 31, 2014. O'Brien appeared in 36 games for Arizona in 2015 and 2016 before being traded to the Royals. He has since been waived twice (by the Royals and Reds, respectively) and is currently in the Texas Rangers minor league system.

2011 Sam Stafford LHP

(did not sign with the Yankees)

2010 Angelo Gumbs SS

Angelo Gumbs was ranked number seven among Yankees prospects by MLB.com entering the 2013 season. He was released by the Yankees prior to the 2016 season and is currently in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system.

2009 John Ryan Murphy C

Murphy has had a positive impact on the 2017 Yankees (indirectly), having been traded to the Twins for Aaron Hicks prior to last season. Hicks currently has the second-highest OBP in the AL behind Mike Trout and the fourth-best OPS behind Trout, Aaron Judge, and Miguel Sano.

2008 Scott Bittle RHP

(did not sign with the Yankees)

2007 Austin Romine C

Austin Romine made his first MLB appearance in 2011 and became the backup catcher for the Yankees in 2013. He stayed with the Yankees organization after being outrighted off the 40-man roster, and served as the starting catcher for Triple-A Scranton in 2014 and 2015. He appeared destined to become a career minor leaguer until he won the backup job for the big league club in spring training last season. Romine has proven to be a very capable MLB backup catcher, and really came through for the Yankees with both his bat and signal-calling earlier this season when Gary Sanchez was hurt.

Yankees 2017 second-round draft prospects

In this year's draft, the Yankees will make the 16th selection in the first round. But they do not have any compensation or supplemental picks. So their second-round draft choice will be their second selection overall.

Who the Yankees will pick in the second round this year is anyone's guess. A lot can happen between now and then, and no one can predict with accuracy precisely who will be selected with the 53 picks prior to the Yankees taking their turn. Their second-round decision-making will likely be impacted by their first-round choice as well.

We do have a pretty good idea of which players are more likely than not to go in round two. I have compiled a list of 34 of those players. A good number of them will most definitely be available when the Yankees make their second-round selection, so there is a good chance that the player they ultimately choose is somewhere on this list.

Pitchers

Luke Heimlich

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: LHP, L/L, 6'0", 190 lbs.
School/Status: Oregon State (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: never)
Rank: 34 (Baseball America), 108 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
Luke Heimlich is the Friday night pitcher on the number one ranked Division 1 college baseball team in the country. In 16 starts this season, he is 11–1 and leads the nation with a 0.76 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. He has given up 10 earned runs on 70 hits, while striking out 128 and walking 22. He was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and was named to the first team of the 2017 Collegiate Baseball All-America list. He is also a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award (given to the national player of the year) and is one of five finalists for the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s National Pitcher of the Year award.

Jacob Heatherly

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: LHP, L/L, 6'1", 214 lbs.
School/Status: Cullman (AL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Alabama)
Rank: 57 (Baseball America), 45 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
MLB.com reports: "Heatherly usually sits at 90-93 mph and touches 95 with his fastball, which plays above its velocity when he locates it well and is willing to work inside with it." Heatherly throws four pitches, and scouts report that he has excellent command. John Sickels, writing for minorleagueball.com, notes that "If the complementary reports are accurate, then he is a starter with few - if any - weaknesses who could eventually be a decent mid-rotation starter."

Jake Eder

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: LHP, L/L, 6'4", 220 lbs.
School/Status: Calvary Christian Academy (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Vanderbilt)
Rank: 65 (Baseball America), 66 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Alex Scherff

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, S/R, 6'2", 210 lbs.
School/Status: Colleyville Heritage (TX) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Texas A&M)
Rank: 53 (Baseball America), 52 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Clarke Schmidt

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'1", 200 lbs.
School/Status: South Carolina (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: never)
Rank: 31 (Baseball America), 49 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
Clarke Schmidt suffered an elbow injury in a game at Florida on April 20, and underwent successful Tommy John surgery on May 3. He is still expected to be drafted in the first few rounds. However, I believe it is unlikely that the Yankees will use their second-round pick on Schmidt, considering they have recently let more than one of their major league pitchers go rather than carry them through the Tommy John recovery period.

Corbin Martin

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'3", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Texas A&M (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: never)
Rank: 62 (Baseball America), 32 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
MLB.com reports that while pitching in the Cape Cod league, Martin "struck out twice as many batters as he allowed baserunners... while dealing at 95-96 mph and scraping 98 with his fastball." Martin began this season in the Texas A & M bullpen, but later moved into the starting rotation. He threw 81 1/3 innings in 22 appearances (11 starts), allowing 27 earned runs on 79 hits while striking out 87 and walking 36. He pitched to a 2.99 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. If Martin is drafted as a reliever, he could possibly make a fast ascent to The Show.

James Marinan

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'5", 210 lbs.
School/Status: Park Vista Community (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Miami)
Rank: 52 (Baseball America), 65 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Steven Jennings

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'2", 175 lbs.
School/Status: Dekalb County (TN) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Mississippi)
Rank: 48 (Baseball America), 47 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube

Tanner Burns

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'0", 210 lbs.
School/Status: Decatur (AL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Auburn)
Rank: 38 (Baseball America), 39 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Tristan Beck

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'4", 190 lbs.
School/Status: Stanford (Year: Sophomore, Previously drafted: 2015, 34th round, pick 1021, MIL)
Rank: 66 (Baseball America), 53 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube

Wil Crowe

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP, R/R, 6'2", 250 lbs.
School/Status: South Carolina (Year: RS Junior, Previously drafted: 2016, 21st round, pick 632, CLE)
Rank: 44 (Baseball America), 44 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
Wil Crowe underwent successful Tommy John surgery mid-2015, and rejoined the South Carolina pitching staff this season. In 15 starts, he is 6–5 with a 3.41 ERA. He has thrown 92 1/3 innings, yielding 35 earned runs on 89 hits, while walking 31 and striking out 90. MLB.com reports: "Crowe has regained his velocity after having his elbow reconstructed, working at 92-95 and hitting 97 with nice sink. His curveball can be a plus pitch with power and depth when it's on, and he also can miss bats with his slider." Chris Stanley, writing for garnetandblackattack.com, has noted that "Crowe has the arsenal of pitches scouts love: a strong fastball anchored by a usable curveball and slider that all have solid velocity."

Hagen Danner

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: RHP/C/3B, R/R, 6'1", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Huntington Beach (CA) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: UCLA)
Rank: 46 (Baseball America), 41 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube

Catchers

Evan Skoug

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: C, L/R, 5'11", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Texas Christian (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: 2014, 34th round, pick 1024, WAS)
Rank: 76 (Baseball America), 48 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
In 2016, Evan Skoug was named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Big 12 All-Tournament team, and 2nd team All-Big 12 Conference. He was also a Johnny Bench Award Semifinalist. In 60 games this season, he is hitting .278 with 17 home runs and 58 RBIs in 60 games. He has 124 total bases and is slugging .539 in 230 at-bats.

Luis Campusano

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: C, R/R, 5'11", 210 lbs.
School/Status: Cross Creek (GA) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: South Carolina)
Rank: 45 (Baseball America), 64 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

MJ Melendez

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: C, L/R, 6'1", 175 lbs.
School/Status: Westminster Christian (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Florida International)
Rank: 50 (Baseball America), 72 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

First basemen

Brent Rooker

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 1B, R/R, 6'4", 215 lbs.
School/Status: Mississippi State (Year: RS Junior, Previously drafted: 2016, 38th round, pick 1143, MIN)
Rank: 59 (Baseball America), 50 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
Brent Rooker is a potential five-tool player. Prior to the start of the 2017 College World Series last week, he led the SEC with a .415 batting average, 20 home runs, 73 RBI, and was tied for first in stolen bases with 18. In Sunday's CWS action, Rooker hit his 30th double of the year, becoming the first player in SEC baseball history to get 21 home runs, 30 doubles, and 77 RBI in a single season (stats accumulated during CWS games count toward season totals). Rooker is still in the hunt to become the first player since 1984 to win the SEC triple crown, as he currently holds a one home run lead (21 to 20), eight-RBI lead (77 to 69), and 15-point lead in batting average (.397 to .382) as the CWS shifts to the Super Regionals. He is also currently fifth in the nation in home runs, and tied for first in the nation in RBI. Through Sunday, he has an .821 slugging average and 192 total bases in 234 at-bats. Rooker is the first Mississippi State player in history to be named SEC Player of the Year, and he is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.

Gavin Sheets

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 1B, L/L, 6'5", 235 lbs.
School/Status: Wake Forest (Year: Senior, Previously drafted: 2014, 37th round, pick 1123, ATL)
Rank: 58 (Baseball America), 60 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
Gavin Sheets is hitting .322 with a .634 slugging average this season. He has 20 home runs, nine doubles, 81 RBI, and 55 runs scored in 227 at-bats over 60 games. He is currently third in the country in RBI and tied for ninth in the country in home runs. Sheets was named to the All-ACC First Team. The big left-handed slugger hits cleanup for one of the top teams in the country.

J.J. Matijevic

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 1B, L/R, 6'0", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Arizona (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: 2014, 22nd round, pick 674, BOS)
Rank: 64 (Baseball America), 62 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
J.J. Matijevic is hitting .383 and slugging .633 in 2017. He has 10 home runs, 30 doubles, 65 RBI, 57 runs scored, nine stolen bases, and 152 total bases in 240 at-bats over 59 games. He leads the country in doubles, and has the second-most in a season in school history. Matijevic has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.

KJ Harrison

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 1B, R/R, 6'2", 205 lbs.
School/Status: Oregon State (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: 2014, 25th round, pick 758, CLE)
Rank: 63 (Baseball America), 76 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Second basemen

Kevin Merrell

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 2B/SS, L/R, 6'1", 180 lbs.
School/Status: South Florida (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: never)
Rank: 49 (Baseball America), 51 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
Kevin Merrell was a star on his high school track team, and scouts rate him a 75 in speed. In 216 at-bats (52 games) this year, he is hitting .384 with 11 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, 38 RBI, 48 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases. Kevin Merrell was a first-team pick on the All-American Athletic Conference team for both his sophomore and junior years.

Shortstops

Brady McConnell

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: SS, R/R, 6'1", 170 lbs.
School/Status: Merritt Island (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Florida)
Rank: 39 (Baseball America), 75 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Chris Seise

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: SS, S/R, 6'3", 170 lbs.
School/Status: West Orange (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Central Florida)
Rank: 68 (Baseball America), 38 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Jeter Downs

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: SS, R/R, 5'11", 190 lbs.
School/Status: Monsignor Edward Pace (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Miami)
Rank: 69 (Baseball America), 37 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
A shortstop who was named after Derek Jeter projected to go in the first two rounds of this year's MLB draft? That's right! Even if Downs is selected by a team other than the Yankees, plenty will be written and spoken about this youngster. He profiles as a potential five-tool player. From MLB.com: "Scouts love the way he swings the bat, consistently barreling up balls, and he has very good power... his baserunning acumen will allow him to pick up extra bases when he hits the gaps."

Third basemen

Mark Vientos

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 3B, R/R, 6'4", 190 lbs.
School/Status: American Heritage (FL) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Miami)
Rank: 40 (Baseball America), 67 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Ryan Vilade

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 3B, R/R, 6'2", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Stillwater (OK) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Oklahoma State)
Rank: 60 (Baseball America), 43 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
Ryan Vilade was the number three hitter and a top performer on the U.S.A. national 18-and-under team that won the gold medal at the Pan American Championships in October. He was also named Gatorade's Player of the Year for the state of Florida this year. From MLB.com: "Vilade's power potential stands out more than his contact. The winner of the home run derby at the Under Armour All-America Game in August, he has good bat speed, impressive pop to his pull side and the room to add more strength to his 6-foot-2 frame."

Drew Ellis

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: 3B/1B, R/R, 6'3", 201 lbs.
School/Status: Louisville (Year: RS Sophomore, Previously drafted: never)
Rank: 61 (Baseball America), 61 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube

Outfielders

Brian Miller

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, L/R, 6'0", 187 lbs.
School/Status: North Carolina (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: never)
Rank: 43 (Baseball America), 59 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
Brian Miller was the spark plug for a North Carolina Tar Heels team that is ranked number two in the nation and was a serious title contender until being upset by Davidson in the CWS Regionals this weekend. Miller has the potential to be a big league leadoff hitter and standout center fielder. Could he be Brett Gardner version 2.0, or possibly even better? Daniel Bayer, writing for tarheelblog.com, notes that "Brian Miller did it all for the North Carolina baseball team with his defense in center field and in leading off for the Tar Heel offense. He led the team in batting average (.343) and was always a threat on the base paths. He led the team in stolen bases (24) and runs scored (61). He also patrolled center field and led the team with his .995 fielding percentage, with many of those being run-saving diving catches."

Cole Brannen

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, L/R, 6'1", 190 lbs.
School/Status: The Westfield School (GA) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Georgia Southern)
Rank: 51 (Baseball America), 68 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Conner Uselton

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, R/R, 6'3", 190 lbs.
School/Status: Southmoore (OK) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Oklahoma State)
Rank: 92 (Baseball America), 46 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Tristen Lutz

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, R/R, 6'3", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Martin (TX) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Texas)
Rank: 56 (Baseball America), 34 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America
Tristen Lutz is a big, right-handed power hitter. Although he plays center field in high school, John Sickels, writing for minorleagueball.com, notes that Lutz's "60-grade raw power and a 60-grade throwing arm... makes him a prototypical right fielder." MLB.com notes: "The Texas recruit gets the most out of his speed, running the bases well and showing better-than-expected range in center field. He'll almost certainly move to right field in pro ball, where his strong, accurate arm will play nicely."

Daniel Cabrera

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, L/L, 6'0", 180 lbs.
School/Status: Louisiana State (Year: Senior, Commitment: Louisiana State)
Rank: 81 (Baseball America), 55 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Garrett Mitchell

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, L/R, 6'1", 200 lbs.
School/Status: Orange Lutheran (CA) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: UCLA)
Rank: 55 (Baseball America), 54 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Jacob Pearson

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, L/R, 5'11", 195 lbs.
School/Status: West Monroe (LA) HS (Year: Senior, Commitment: Louisiana State)
Rank: 79 (Baseball America), 56 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | Baseball America

Stuart Fairchild

Position, Bats/Throws, Height, Weight: OF, R/R, 6'0", 195 lbs.
School/Status: Wake Forest (Year: Junior, Previously drafted: 2014, 38th round, pick 1144, WAS)
Rank: 42 (Baseball America), 57 (MLB.com)
Video: MLB.com | YouTube
Stuart Fairchild has five-tool potential. He hits third and plays center field on a Wake Forest Demon Deacons team that has emerged as a CWS championship contender. John Sickels, writing for minorleagueball.com, notes that Fairchild has "above-average 60-grade speed that he uses very well on the bases and in the outfield." In 248 at-bats (60 games) this season, Fairchild is hitting .359 and slugging .645. He has 17 home runs, 18 doubles, 67 RBI, 64 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases.

Top 10

These are the players that I would most like to see the Yankees draft with their second-round pick, in order of preference:

  1. Luke Heimlich, LHP, Oregon State
  2. Brent Rooker, 1B, Mississippi State
  3. Brian Miller, OF, North Carolina
  4. Stuart Fairchild, OF, Wake Forest
  5. Gavin Sheets, 1B, Wake Forest
  6. Jacob Heatherly, LHP, Cullman (AL) HS
  7. Wil Crowe, RHP, South Carolina
  8. Corbin Martin, RHP, Texas A&M
  9. Kevin Merrell, 2B/SS, South Florida
  10. Jeter Downs, SS, Monsignor Edward Pace (FL) HS

Who would you like to see the Yankees pick in the second round of this year’s draft?