The 2019 MLB Draft will be here before we know it, and the Yankees will be honing in on the next wave of players to populate their farm system. Instead of looking ahead to the upcoming draft, I decided to take a look back at the Yankees’ 2018 draft class to see how the team’s decisions look one year later. The investment an MLB team makes in a draft pick doesn’t really pay off until they reach the big leagues, but you can get a feel for which players are trending in the right direction in their young minor league careers.
Why not start with the Yankees’ first round draft pick, switch-hitting (and throwing) catcher Anthony Seigler. For a catcher fresh out of high school, Seigler performed well in his first taste of professional baseball. In 24 games last season, Seigler posted a slash line of .266/.377/.342. He probably won’t hit for power for a few years–if ever–but Seigler is known as a solid defensive backstop, so an indication that he can find ways to get on base is a welcome sign. A quad strain has delayed his first full minor league season, but it will be exciting to monitor his development once he recovers.
The Yankees spent their second and third round draft picks on above-slot players that project to hit for substantial power, in contrast to Seigler. They selected Josh Breaux, a catcher out of McLennan Community College, with the 61st overall pick in the draft. The Yankees have to be excited by Breaux’s start to 2019. After failing to record a home run in 60 games last season, Breaux has belted six home runs in 21 games at Low-A Charleston so far this season. He’s striking out in 30.3% of his at-bats (FanGraphs), but when he puts the ball in play he does so with authority. As long as he continues to slug .560, he’ll be a very good offensive catcher.
The Yankees went back to the high-school well in round three when they selected outfielder Ryder Green, signing him away from a commitment to Vanderbilt. His first taste of pro ball, 26 games in the Gulf Coast League, didn’t go very well. He posted a luke warm line of .203/.316/.392, but many 18-year-old players have done much worse in their pro debuts. Green won’t be considered a disappointment based on such a small sample, but there’s no doubt his contact skills will be under the microscope in the coming seasons.
The Yankees dipped below the slotted bonus in the fourth round and picked up North Florida right-hander Frank German. German was the best surprise of the early draft picks in his professional debut. Now the Yankees’ No. 21 prospect according to MLB.com, German dominated in 28.1 innings at Low-A in 2018, to the tune of a 2.22 ERA. Even more impressive was his K/BB ratio of 6.33 (FanGraphs). It’s entirely possible that the Yankees got a big-league arm in the fourth round, after selecting position players with their first three picks.
A potential diamond in the rough came with the Yankees’ 11th round draft choice, 6-foot-7 right-hander Tanner Myatt. While his results were up and down last season, Myatt began 2019 with 9.2 stellar innings, allowing only two hits and two earned runs. He has serious command issues, but he could be a triple-digit reliever if he can wrangle it in over the next few years.
Everybody knows you can’t evaluate a draft one year after it takes place, but if either Seigler or Breaux pans out the Yankees will be satisfied with how they chose to allocate their money in the 2018 draft. Contributions from German, Myatt, or any other pitching draft picks would be icing on the cake.