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Latest mock drafts have the Yankees veering away from their recent trends

Three recent mock drafts have the Yankees moving away from the “up the middle, high contact rate” profile that has served them well over the last several years.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 03 Cal at Arizona State Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The regular season for many amateur players is coming to a close. This means that with just over two months left before the MLB Draft (July 17-19th) scouts and evaluators are rushing around to get their final looks at players in game action. With nearly a full spring of action to assess, players are moving up and down draft boards and being linked to certain teams. Let’s take a look at three of the most recent mock drafts and see some of the players who are being projected to go off the board when the Yankees use the 25th overall pick.

In recent years the Yankees have selected up the middle players who are considered to have advanced hit tools in the first round. Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells and Trey Sweeney all fit this profile, and it is reasonable that the Yankees are likely happy with the way that those players are progressing through the system. This recent wave of mock drafts has the Yankees diverting from this formula and selecting different types of bats.

In Baseball America’s recent Mock Draft the staff has the Yankees selecting Vanderbilt outfielder Spencer Jones. The six-foot-seven Jones has played exclusively in right field this season. He is a left-handed bat and possesses above-average raw power but also struggles to make consistent contact.

This is an odd-pairing if you look at the Baseball America draft rankings — they have Jones rated as just their 81st best draft prospect, and he feels more like a potential second round pick that the Yankees could be in on. He is also striking out 26 percent of the time this season, which goes against a lot of the traits that the Yankees have looked for in their top picks in recent years. Austin Wells and Trey Sweeney both walked more than the struck out at the college level while Jones is skewed heavily towards trading contact for power.

Even when you look at Jones’ excellent numbers from the Cape Cod League in 2021 where he slashed .312/.424/.481 he still struck out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances. It is highly unlikely that Jones’ contact issues will come under control and improve as he joins the professional ranks.

A player with the bat to ball skills the Yankees would love is Louisiana State University’s Jacob Berry. Prospects Live has Berry going to the Yankees at 25th overall in their most recent mock draft, but it is highly unlikely that he will last that long on draft night. Most rankings have the standout hitter going much earlier and at several points he has been in the discussion for the first overall pick.

The logic that Prospect Live has for dropping Berry is his lack of a true position. He is spending some time at third base and right field, but numerous scouts think that he will end up as a first baseman. Berry’s bat would likely make him the best pure hitter in the Yankees system if he were to fall that far. The switch hitter is currently slashing .377/.464/.680, with 15 home runs and only 17 strikeouts (eight percent strikeout rate) on the season. Baseball America ranks him as the ninth best prospect in this draft and he comes off the board in the top-10 of both the Baseball America and MLB.com mock drafts.

MLB.com recently released a mock draft and they have the Yankees taking University of California right fielder Dylan Beavers. The lefty-hitting Beavers has hit 34 home runs in 408 career at-bats for Cal. He has also displayed strong plate discipline, walking almost 19 percent of the time this season and posting a .429 on-base percentage.

Beavers struggled last summer in a short stint in the Cape Cod League and then again when he joined USA Baseball. He has rehabilitated his stock this spring with a big year where he has displayed his raw power and the tools that should make him a first round option.

A few other names that seem to fit the Yankees recent draft profile and could be available when they pick are Justin Crawford (Carl Crawford’s son), Cole Young and Zach Neto.

Crawford attends Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, the same school that produced Joey Gallo and Austin Wells. Like his father, he is known for his top end speed and athleticism and has climbed up draft boards this spring.

Cole Young, a shortstop from Pennsylvania recently drew an Anthony Volpe comparison from Baseball America’s draft writers Ben Badler and Carlos Collazo. Some scouting reports have him as the second-best pure hitter in this year’s draft class. He does not profile for a lot of power, but the ability to make a lot of contact from an up the middle type of player is exactly what the Yankees have looked for in recent years. Some draft rankings and mock drafts have him off the board before the Yankees select but he could still be an option.

If Young fits the Volpe profile, then Zach Neto has a similar profile to Trey Sweeney. Neto plays shortstop for Campbell University and has a .361/.481/.672 line on the season. He has been a steady performer in college and during his 16-game run in the Cape Cod League last summer. So far this season he is striking out under 10 percent of the time and displaying strong bat-to-ball skills. He is rated as the 26th best draft prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com.

The most recent set of mock drafts have an interesting mix of players coming to the Yankees. None of them fit the Yankees’ recent draft profile in terms of defensive profile and elite bat-to-ball skills. All the players profiled have above-average raw power and it could be that the Yankees are spending a lot of time scouting that trait as the new dead baseball makes it harder to hit for power.