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Four Yankees draft picks who are impressing in their pro debuts

These players haven’t had much trouble adjusting to the professional ranks

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Every MLB draft pick wants to make a good impression right out of the gate with their new team. In reality, however, there’s often an adjustment period for players getting their first taste of professional baseball. That said, many of the Yankees/ top draft picks have had no such trouble. Here are a handful of 2019 draftees who have made a splash in their first month as members of the Yankees’ organization.

T.J. Sikkema

The Yankees selected Sikkema, a big left-handed pitcher out of Missouri, with the 38th overall pick in the 2019 draft. After dominating the SEC in his junior season, Sikkema is making quick work of his opponents in the New York-Penn League. In his first 10.2 innings of play, Sikkema has surrendered just one run on six hits and registered 13 strikeouts. A 13.0 K/BB ratio isn’t sustainable, but that level of dominance is a welcome sight for the Yankees, who put a lot of faith in the lefty by selecting him in the competitive balance round.

Josh Smith

The Yankees’ second-round pick, infielder Josh Smith, was expected to perform well right off the bat as a 22-year-old with three years of SEC competition under his belt. The club started him out at Low-A Staten Island, and he hasn’t disappointed. The young shortstop is slashing .407/.521/.593 in his first 12 games with a minuscule 5.6% strikeout rate. He’s displayed patience, power, and elite contact skills in the early going, offering hope that he could have a future similar to another former LSU Tiger, DJ LeMahieu. The Yankees clearly placed an emphasis on middle infield depth early in the draft, and if Smith’s performance thus far is any indication, he could move quickly through the Yankees’ system.

Ken Waldichuk

Waldichuk was the third left-hander selected by the Yankees in the first five rounds of the MLB Draft. At six-foot-four and 220 pounds, the St. Mary’s product has thrown 23.1 innings in the Appalachian League, and the results have been impressive. Waldichuk owns a highly respectable 3.47 ERA in eight starts, but it’s his strikeout totals that jump off the page. Waldichuk has punched out 41 batters and walked four in 23.1 innings, good for a 15.8 K/9 and a 10.25 K/BB rate. In his August 3rd start, the left-hander struck out nine batters in four innings, his longest outing of the season. If Waldichuk can continue to build off his early success, the Yankees might have found a steal in the fifth round.

Spencer Hansen

Back when the Yankees drafted Hansen, I suggested that the Yankees could potentially see a little bit of Luke Voit in his profile. He’s shown flashes of that kind of power in the early going, with six home runs in his first 24 professional games. The 18-year-old has posted a solid .256/.378/.573 line in 82 at-bats between Pulaski and Staten Island, and has been the best offensive performer among Yankees draft picks not named Josh Smith.

It’s a long and winding road to the big leagues, but these four 2019 draft picks have started off on the right path.