In a little less than a month, all 30 teams will descend upon Secaucus, New Jersey for the 2019 MLB Draft. It’s hard to believe it’s nearly draft time; the season flies by. This year the Yankees have pick number 30 in the first round, as well as pick number 38 in competitive balance round A.
The Yankees have a good amount of bonus pool money to spend — $7,455,300 per Baseball America — so it should make for an interesting draft. With that in mind, it proves helpful to look at who the Bombers could select. A few mock drafts have already gone live, so here are some highlights.
In MLB.com’s first mock draft, Jim Callis has the Yankees selecting prep shortstop Gunnar Henderson. Besides having an 80-grade baseball name, Henderson possesses a quality bat. He’s hitting .559/.642/1.247 with 11 home runs for Morgan Academy (Selma, Alabama). Some question if he can stay at shortstop, but the consensus is that he would remain an infielder. MLB Pipeline ranks him number 33 on the top 100 draft candidates. Here’s a snippet from their scouting report:
One of the better hitters in this year’s high school class, Henderson produces a lot of hard contact from gap to gap. He has shown more bat speed from the left side of the plate this spring and his power is catching up to his hitting ability as he continues to add muscle to his 6-foot-3 frame. He has been a little faster this year as well, more consistently recording above-average run times.
And some video:
Henderson has committed to Auburn University. His stock continues to rise, so he may not even remain on the board when the Yankees come to pick.
Keith Law’s Mock Draft 1.0
Law (subscription required) sees the Yankees selecting George Kirby, a right-handed starting pitcher from Elon University. The 21-year-old owns a 2.20 ERA over 77.2 innings pitched for the Phoenix. MLB Pipeline gives him a 60-grade fastball with his slider and curveball checking in at 55 each. This line in his scouting report, however, stands out:
“Kirby has four potential quality pitches to make it as a starter, beginning with a running fastball that sits in the low 90s, reaches 98 mph and should add more velocity as he gets stronger. He has feel for spinning the ball and both his curveball and slider show flashes of becoming plus offerings.”
A pitcher who has potential to add velocity and possesses an intriguing spin rate? That has the Yankees written all over it. He makes sense as a target geographically as well. While the team has a history of selecting players out of California, in recent years, they’ve picked a few pitchers from the Carolinas. Think Jordan Montgomery and Clarke Schmidt. Kirby fits right in their wheelhouse.
Mike Axisa made a mock draft for CBS, and he has the Yankees taking Tulane University third baseman Kody Hoese. The right-handed power bat is hitting .404/.492/.829 with 21 home runs this season.
“Some mechanical adjustments -- long story short, Hoese became a launch angle guy -- contributed to a power breakout that dates back to summer ball last year,” writes Axisa. MLB Pipeline gives him 55-grade power while ranking him number 27 on their pre-draft prospects list.
The Yankees love their launch angle guys, so Hoese is a name to watch.
The folks at 2080 Baseball have the boldest mock draft to date, with the Yankees using their first round pick on Jack Leiter. The right-hander is a polished prep arm, and yes, he is Al Leiter’s son. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the number 30 draft eligible prospect. Consider this excerpt from their scouting report:
From a velocity standpoint, Leiter often utilizes an average fastball, thrown in the 91-92 mph range, though he can go get 94-95 mph when he needs it. It plays up because he throws it with some sink and has outstanding command of the pitch. He has shown distinct breaking balls in the past, though he’s been leaning on the curve more frequently this spring, and it was a true knee-buckling out pitch during his NHSI win. He has feel for a solid changeup as well, even if he doesn’t need it much at his current level.
The roadblock, here, however has to do with his post-high school plans. Leiter has committed to Vanderbilt, and that’s a tough deal to break. The Yankees could use some of their pool money to pay a substantial first-round bonus, but even that is no sure thing. It’s a risky proposition drafting Leiter.
So far there doesn’t appear to be a big consensus. The mock drafts link the Yankees to a prep bat, a prep arm, a college bat, and a college arm. It’s still early, though, so this should give us a useful baseline as further mock drafts release.