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MLB Draft 2021: Yankees select Tyler Hardman 153rd overall

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The Oklahoma first baseman was the Big-12 batting champion in 2021.

NCAA Baseball: Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With their fifth round selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees selected Tyler Hardman, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound first baseman from the University of Oklahoma. MLB.com had him ranked as the 194th-best prospect on their top-250 draft list, while Baseball America had him at No. 226.

The right-handed hitting Hardman is the reigning Big-12 batting champion after hitting .397/.481/.661 during the regular season. Scouts saw an advanced approach this season that made him one of the most skilled hitters in the Big-12. During the shutdown for the pandemic, Hardman lost 20 pounds and showed up for 2021 in much better shape than scouts had previously observed. Along with his better conditioning came more bat speed and superior all-around tools.

Hardman had previously made a name for himself in 2019 during the Cape Cod League, when he made the All-Star team and hit eight home runs in 44 games with a wood bat against some of the best pitching in the country. Due to his exposure to high competition with the wooden bat, there is a high confidence that he will hit for power in the professional ranks.

Defensively, Hardman played third base during his time in the Cape Cod League and has the potential to play there if the defensive expectations are not too high. More likely, he will be an average first baseman. The Yankees currently do not have any first base prospects ranked among their top-30 prospects in the organization, so Hardman could help fill that void.

The Yankees will next select 183rd overall in the sixth round.