The 2021 season was undoubtedly a disappointing one for the Yankees considering what the expectations were going into the season. Despite that, they still won 92 games and got into the AL Wild Card Game, and as a result, they’re still set to pick in the back half of the first round in the upcoming MLB Draft. Their first two picks will come at Nos. 25 and 61 overall.
Although there are plenty of mock drafts out there suggesting who the Yankees might select, we’re not going to do that. Instead, let’s take a look at the caliber of player who will be available in those slots. Let’s go back through history and look at the notables who have been picked at No. 25 and No. 61.
The last 20 years of drafts have been pretty bountiful for teams selecting No. 25 overall, no more so than in 2009, when the Angels selected Mike Trout with that pick. That pick was famously lined up to be the Yankees’ selection and was given to the Angels as compensation for the Mark Teixeira signing. While some will rue the Teixeira acquisition because of that fact, the Angels also had pick No. 24 and by all accounts would have used that pick on Trout if they didn’t also have No. 25, taking him with the second of the two for bonus slot money reasons. Anyway, as you may or not be aware, the Trout guy is pretty good.
Beyond Trout, that pick has also produced Matt Cain, Matt Garza, and Matt Chapman who have all had or are having good MLB careers in recent years. In addition to Trout and Chapman, there are four other No. 25 overall picks who have seen MLB action so far this season. Of the last 20 years, only six haven’t played in the majors, although four of them are the 2018-21 selections, and they all still very much have a chance. Although the Diamondbacks didn’t sign Matt McLain after picking him 25th in 2018, he later went 17th overall to the Reds in 2021. He is now seen as a top-100 prospect by some.
Historically, the Yankees have never actually selected 25th, but a player picked there has been useful as the 1989 selection. The Twins took Chuck Knoblauch in the first round of the 1989 draft, and he ended up winning three World Series titles in New York.
Regarding the 61st overall pick, the Yankees have actually had that one semi-recently, using it in 2018 to select prospect Josh Breaux. The catcher was recently promoted to Triple-A and has eyes on him as a potential future option behind the plate or as a trade chip.
As for players who have made it to the majors from that spot, there aren’t any no-doubt future Hall of Famers like there were with Trout at No. 25, but there are some solid MLBers. The most notable one still playing is Josh Bell, who was taken 61st in 2011, and has had a nice little career with the Pirates and Nationals, being named an All-Star in 2019.
The best player ever taken at No. 61 was probably pitcher Ken Holtzman, who was selected at that spot back in 1965, the very first year of the draft. Holtzman was a two-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner with the great ‘70s Athletics teams. He also had a stint with the Yankees towards the end of his career. He was in the organization for the 1977 World Series championship, but he did not appear in the postseason.
Besides Breaux, the Yankees have had the No. 61 pick on two other occasions, taking Larry Gowell in 1967 and Howard Shoff in 1973. Only Gowell made it to the majors, appearing in just two games.
Although the Yankees will be waiting awhile to make their first picks, there will probably be some real talent available for them at both Nos. 25 and 61. Who knows, if things break right, maybe something “fishy” happens for them?