Trying to predict MLB’s Amateur Draft is a fool’s errand. Unlike the NFL, where newly drafted players are expected to make an impact on their team later that year, baseball generally sees a longer player-development timeline. With precious few exceptions, draft picks will spend three years in the minors — or longer.
Last year, the Yankees chose University of South Carolina right-hander Clarke Schmidt in the first round with the 16th overall pick. He has yet to throw a professional pitch, as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. (The club knew he was hurt when they drafted him.)
Overall during the 2017 Amateur Draft, the Yankees chose 28 pitchers and only 12 position players. Over the last 10 years, New York picked five pitchers in the first round, so it has been evenly split in that regard. Another point of interest is college players versus high school talent. New York chose five of each in the first round over the last 10 drafts.
The Yankees have the 23rd overall pick in round one this year — the slot value is $2,815,900. We have no way of knowing what strategy the organization will employ. We do know that Yankee Stadium favors left-handed power hitters. We also know you can never have enough pitching. With that in mind, I scoured the roster of players who are expected to go mid-to-late round one for guys I think would be nice fits in the Bronx.
LHP, Age: 18, Height: 6’2”, Weight: 210 lbs
School: Loretto (Tennessee) HS, Year: Senior, Commitment: Vanderbilt
MLB Rank: 13
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
Ryan is the son of former Yankee David Weathers. We all remember David’s contribution to the Yankees 1996 World Series championship pitching out of the bullpen. Scouts predict that Ryan will be even better. He features three pitches, with a fastball that currently tops out at 95 MPH. Ryan set a Tennessee high school tournament record with 28 strikeouts, including 12 while pitching a shutout in the championship game.
LHP, Age: 21, Height: 6’1” Weight: 173 lbs
School: South Florida, Year: RS Sophomore, Previously drafted: 2015, 26th (779) - NYM
MLB Rank: 14
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
Tommy John surgery erased his freshman year, but he came back and performed well as his team’s Saturday starter. His fastball usually tops 97 MPH, and he consistently hits triple digits.
RHP, Age: 18, Height: 6’5”, Weight: 220 lbs
School: Heritage (Ga.) HS, Year: Senior, Commitment: Georgia
MLB Rank: 19
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Wilcox pitched on the Team USA staff that won a gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup last September. He reaches 98 with his sinker, and he has already developed an effective change. He is one of the most coveted high school pitchers in this year’s draft.
RHP, Age: 18, Height: 6’5”, Weight: 250 lbs
School: North Oconee (Ga.) HS, Year: Senior, Commitment: Vanderbilt
MLB Rank: 23
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Rocker opened last summer as the consensus top high school pitching prospect before getting passed by fellow Georgia hurler Ethan Hankins. Rocker’s fastball reaches 98 MPH.
3B, Age: 18, Bats: L, Throws: R, Height: 6’1”, Weight: 210 lbs
School: O’Connor (Ariz.) HS, Year: Senior, Commitment: Arizona
MLB Rank: 12
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Gorman captured homer titles at the MLB All-Star Game High School Home Run Derby in Miami and at the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. A left-handed power-hitting third baseman playing for the Yankees? Graig Nettles, anyone?
1B, Age: 18, Bats: L, Throws: R, Height: 6’4”, Weight: 238 lbs
School: American Heritage (Fla.) School, Year: Senior, Commitment: Miami
MLB Rank: 20
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Casas earned MVP honors in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup for helping Team USA win a gold medal by leading the tournament in home runs and RBI. A lefty home run hitter playing 81 games a year at first base in Yankee Stadium? Sign me up.
OF, Age: 21, Bats: L, Throws: R, Height: 6’4”, Weight: 205 lbs
School: Oregon State, Year: Junior, Previously drafted: 2015, 40th (1197) - SD
MLB Rank: 26
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Larnach is known as a patient hitter who consistently makes hard contact. He can play either corner outfield position.
C, Age: 18, Bats: L, Throws: R, Height: 6’1”, Weight: 195 lbs
School: St. Joan of Arc (Ont.) HS, Year: Senior, Commitment: Texas A&M
MLB Rank: 27
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Noah is the younger brother of Padres prospect Josh Naylor. He performed well in the High School Home Run Derby at Marlins Park. A left-handed hitting catcher to complement Gary Sanchez, perhaps?
Anyone catch your eye as a good first-round target for the Yankees? Let us know in the comments section below.