With the 38th overall pick, and the sixth pick in the first competitive balance round, the Yankees selected TJ Sikkema. Sikkema is a 6-foot, 217-pound left-hander out of the University of Missouri. After going with a prep shortstop in the first round with Anthony Volpe, the Yankees have shifted to college pitching.
MLB Pipeline ranked Sikkema 57th on their top prospects list entering the draft, while Baseball America had him all the way down at 80. FanGraphs pegged Sikkema 78th on their big board. As with Volpe, the Yankees appear to have reached a bit to get their man.
Scouts praise Sikkema’s versatility, repertoire, and makeup. Check out an excerpt from MLB Pipeline’s report on him:
He’s a left-hander with three effective pitches and a history of success in a variety of roles, not to mention competitiveness and confidence that are off the charts. Sikkema usually operates at 89-91 mph with run and sink on his fastball from a lower three-quarters arm angle, though he can raise his slot and reach back for 93-95 mph when needed.
The Yankees received the selection they used on Sikkema from the Reds in the Sonny Gray trade. The rules that dictate competitive balance draft picks are somewhat esoteric, and you can read a bit more about them here. While normal draft picks cannot be traded, competitive balances can be used freely as trade assets.
Through two picks, the Yankees have a slick-fielding shortstop and a relatively soft-tossing, adaptable southpaw to show for their efforts. They also seem to have targeted prospects that grade well in terms of character, though it could just be a coincidence that their first two selections happened to be quality makeup prospects. We’ll see soon enough what direction they decide to take with their next pick, the 67th overall selection.