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The history of the 20th and 55th picks in the MLB Draft

What type of players have typically been available in the spots the Yankees will be selecting this year?

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Tomorrow will see the beginning of this year’s MLB Draft, and a return to a more extended edition after last year’s three-round affair. Thanks to the Yankees’ less than stellar regular season in the shortened year, they’re set to pick at No. 20 overall, their highest selection since No. 16 back in 2017 (Clarke Schmidt). They’re also set to pick at No. 55 overall for their second-round selection.

While there are no shortage of mock drafts out there telling you who the Yankees could select this year, this isn’t that. Instead, let’s take a look at the players who have been picked at those spots recently and see the range of prospects the Yankees could end up with.

If we take the last 15 drafts into account, 10 of the players selected at number 20 have made it to the majors so far. Of the five that didn’t, two, George Kirby (2019) and Garrett Mitchell (2020), were ranked as top 100 prospects by outlets this year and haven’t made it more so because they haven’t had the chance to yet. The other three non MLB players were all selected in 2014 or before and are all either in Indy ball or seemingly out of baseball entirely.

OF the remaining 10, the most notable name is probably Gavin Lux of the Dodgers. While Lux hasn’t exactly lived up to his hype in the majors just yet, he was considered a consensus top five prospect in baseball ahead of the 2020 season and still has a promising future.

Beyond him, there’s Trevor Larnach who made his MLB debut earlier this season and has gotten his career off to a very solid start, putting up a 124 wRC+ at time of writing. Another 20th pick is David Peterson, currently of the Mets. In terms of Baseball Reference WAR, the most successful 20th pick in this group is Tyler Anderson, who’s had a solid six-year career as a roughly league-average pitcher.

While the Yankees didn’t make either selection, the spot has been fruitful for them as both Mike Mussina and CC Sabathia were selected 20th overall.

As far as the 55th pick goes, the Yankees have actually had that selection semi-recently. In 2014, they used the pick to take pitcher Jacob Lindgren. “The Strikeout Factory” looked set to become a key piece of the Yankees’ bullpen for years, and moved through the system quickly, making his debut in 2015. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his Yankee career and he was out of the organization by December 2016. He hasn’t played in the majors since and currently has an ERA over 10 in independent ball.

To find a 55th picks that, at least so far, has had a decent MLB career, you have to go back to 2006, when Brett Anderson went there. He’s had his ups and downs, but Anderson is now on year 13 in a career that’s featured mostly solid pitching.

The 2016 55th pick was Nolan Jones, who is a top 100 prospect in Cleveland’s organization. The four most recent 55th picks are all still in baseball and still have time to add to the list of major leaguers from the spot. It’s just that several of them just haven’t played much recently thanks to injuries, COVID season cancellations, or a combination of both.

Every draft is different. However, even though the Yankees don’t have a top-ten pick, there’s a good chance there will be real talents available when they make both their picks. What happens after that remains to be seen.