We’ve reached the end of the second day of the 2023 MLB Draft, and the Yankees welcomed eight new players to the organization. They kicked off the draft class on Sunday night by selecting right-handed shortstop George Lombard Jr. out of Gulliver Prep High School in Miami, FL. with the 26th pick. You can read in-depth analysis on Lombard here from Marcus and Andrew, and submit your grades here.
Day 2 of the Draft began with New York selecting JUCO southpaw pitcher Kyle Carr out of the Palomar College in San Marcos, CA. with the 97th pick, followed by Oklahoma State second baseman Roc Riggio at 129. If you are wondering why the Yankees had just three picks in the first five rounds, they forfeited their second- and fifth-round selections as a result of the qualifying offer and luxury tax implications of signing Carlos Rodón. Marcus and Jake have individual write-ups on the pair here and here, respectively, and you can submit your grades here.
There appears to be a clear focus on the infield and pitching. This makes sense — two of their top three prospects in Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza have either graduated or are on the cusp of graduating to the majors while the minor league pitching depth took a hit in last deadline’s disappointing trades for Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino, and Scott Effross. That trend continued in the second-half of Day 2 action, with the Yankees picking Mississippi State righty pitcher Cade Smith at 192, followed by Arizona lefty first baseman Kiko Romero at 222 and Louisiana-Monroe righty pitcher Nicholas Judice at 252. They selected their first outfielder in the ninth round, taking Jared Wegner out of Arkansas at 282 before they wrapped Day 2 up by selecting Oklahoma State right-handed pitcher Brian Hendry at 312.
Smith comes as a surprise at No. 192 considering he’s unranked on MLB Pipeline Top 250 Draft Prospects and clocks in at 438th on Baseball America’s predraft Top 500 list. The 21-year-old righty pitched to a 4.14 ERA and 1.366 WHIP in 130.1 innings since 2021 and struck out more than a batter per inning in his just-completed junior year. He throws a mid-90s fastball with excellent carry as well as a mid-80s slider with good bite, though interestingly he reduced the usage of a curveball he loved to throw in high school. Like a few of names that follow, Smith might end up being an under-slot pick to save money in the future rounds.
Romero spent three seasons on the JUCO circuit before impressing in a final campaign at Arizona, slashing .343/.439/.721 with 21 home runs in 59 games in 2023. He has upper-echelon exit velocities that have translated well to in-game power to all fields as well as above-average strikeout and walk rates. That said, he does struggle with chase and swing-and-miss and while he has experience in the outfield corners, his 30-grade speed likely keeps him at first.
Judice might turn out to be a steal at No. 252 given MLB Pipeline had him ranked at 175th (though Baseball America are less impressed, placing him 420th). He throws a mid-90s fastball that has flirted with triple digits and a hard, sharp slider, both from a deceptive low, three-quarter slot. With only two pitches, he operated mostly out of the bullpen, producing a 3.74 ERA in 53 outings while striking out almost 30 percent of opposing hitters. At 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, it’s easy to dream of an increase in velocity as Judice adds muscle mass and learns to engage his lower-half better.
Wegner is one of the oldest players in the 2023 class at 24 years old but experienced quite the breakout after transferring to Arkansas following four unremarkable years at Creighton (save for his 2022 finale). As a graduate student, the righty outfielder slashed .313/.457/.673 with 15 home runs in 42 games while carrying impressive strikeout and walk rates. BA’s 309th-best predraft prospect hits the ball as hard as just about any college player in the country, but with subpar defense and speed, he will rely on the bat to carry him through the minors.
Hendry is unranked by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America so there is limited information on the Yankees’ newest farmhand. He spent three seasons pitching for St. John’s before transferring to Oklahoma State, where he pitched to a 6.63 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 36.2 innings as both a starter and reliever. He has a fastball in the low-90s, a slider that can reach 97, and a standout breaking ball in the low-80s, though there is question whether he can sustain his stuff across multiple innings. Hendry also missed all of 2022 to injury and pitched only two innings on Cape Cod the following summer; he projects as a bullpen arm.
There will be time in the coming weeks to learn more about these newest Yankees, while it may be years before we know what kind of MLB talents they turn out to be. For now, though, we just want to get your immediate reaction. How would you grade the Yankees’ selections in rounds six through ten?
What overall grade would you give the Yankees’ sixth- through tenth-round picks?
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