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Yankees 2019 Draft Preview: The recent history of the 30th and 38th picks

How successful have teams been drafting where the Yankees will in the first round?

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to predict anything about baseball prospects and the MLB Draft would be so much easier if we had the Wicked Witch of the West’s crystal ball, or a flux capacitor-driven DeLorean, or a rickety old van with a quantum tunnel. If we had any of these things, we would be able to get a glimpse into the future and learn how the players that the Yankees take in the first round of the draft will develop.

Unfortunately, none of these things actually exist outside the cinematic world, and so we are stuck with one way to get an idea of the future: by looking at what players have been selected over the last ten years at the 30th and 38th spots in the draft.

Recent Players Drafted at 30 and 38

Year Pick 30 Pick 38
Year Pick 30 Pick 38
2018 J.T. Ginn, P Xavier Edwards, SS
2017 Alex Lange, P Stuart Fairchild, OF
2016 Cole Ragans, P Robert Tyler, P
2015 Kyle Holder, SS Tyler Nevin, 3B
2014 Luis Ortiz, P Mike Papi, OF
2013 Travis Demeritte, 3B Michael Lorenzen, P
2012 Ty Hensley, P Mitch Haniger, OF
2011 Levi Michael, SS Brandon Martin, SS
2010 Chevy Clarke, OF Noah Syndergaard, P
2009 LeVon Washington, 2B Josh Phegley, C

While the jury is still out on recent draft picks such as Alex Lange, teams have generally not drafted well with the 30th pick in the draft. This is partially due to the fact that half of them are pitchers. The phrase “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” rings especially true, as both Ty Hensley and Cole Ragans have seen their careers derailed by multiple Tommy John surgeries. Additionally, last year’s pick, J.T. Ginn, did not sign with the Dodgers, instead preferring to go to Mississippi State. The most successful of these pitchers has been Luis Ortiz and his 2.1 innings pitched for the Baltimore Orioles last season at the age of 22.

Even non-pitchers selected at 30, however, have not seen much success; only Kyle Holder and Travis Demeritte have a realistic shot at finding themselves in the majors in the next two seasons.

For some reason, teams have recently found substantially more success picking at 38 than they have at 30. Three players — Mitch Haniger, Noah Syndergaard, and Josh Phegley — serve as key starters in 2019; they combine for a combined 15.7 WAR over the course of their careers. Michael Lorenzen, meanwhile, serves an important role in the Reds’ bullpen. In limited ABs last season, he flashed potential as a two-way player, posting a 169 OPS+ in 34 plate appearances last season. While it is still too early to pass any judgment on the more recent picks, such as Xavier Edwards and Stuart Fairchild, they have at least gotten on the field and played games at the professional level, which is a start.

Ultimately, looking back at the recent history of these picks shows us just how much of the draft is left to...while “chance” is not the right word, it is unpredictable as random chance to outside observers who are not within the organization. It remains to be seen how successful the Yankees’ picks this year will be, but if history is any indication, the second pick has as good of a chance to succeed as the first — if not a greater chance.