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MLB Draft 2023: Grading the Yankees’ overall draft

The Yankees went with college pitchers, especially early, but with one major exception.

George Lombard Jr. during the Perfect Game All-American Classic last summer.
George Lombard Jr. during the Perfect Game All-American Classic last summer.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With fewer dart throws due to the absence of the second and fifth-round picks they sacrificed in order to sign Carlos Rodón, the Yankees continued their trend of replenishing the upper echelon of their prospect pool with more polished, lower-risk players. In fact, they took just one prep player in their first 10 picks, and the one they took — George Lombard Jr., a shortstop out of Miami, with the No. 26 pick — was a more calculated risk given his skillset and pedigree.

Lombard Jr., fresh off his 18th birthday, represents the first prep player the Yankees have selected in the first round since Anthony Volpe in 2019, and the first prep player they’ve chosen period since 2021. A Vanderbilt commit, Lombard Jr. is unlikely to sign a below-slot deal; the Bombers must be high on him to break their mold and spend top dollar. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen was high on him too, ranking him 22nd overall given his versatile five-tool skillset. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds on FanGraphs, the young shortstop also has the potential to fill out and upgrade some of his abilities to solidly above average. If his bloodline — including a father who played for four MLB teams across parts of six seasons — is any indication, he’ll at least be a big-leaguer.

The Yankees had to wait until the third round for their next pick, which they spent on junior college lefty Kyle Carr. Carr’s calling card is his mid-90s fastball, a surprise from the left side. The lean 21-year-old also has the opportunity to add more muscle, indicating an even higher ceiling for his heater. In spending a higher pick on him, the Yankees likely see Carr as a starter, and he’ll join Brock Selvidge as just the second lefty in that role in the New York farm system.

Next, the Yankees called upon Roc Riggio in the fourth round. The Oklahoma State second baseman certainly lived up to his name this year, his sophomore season, with an OPS exceeding 1.100 in DI play. At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he doesn’t have much room to add bulk, but players his stature or smaller have certainly succeeded at the keystone (see Pedroia, Dustin and Altuve, Jose) and he brings a rare lefty power bat to the position.

The Yankees went with college players for their next seven picks, picking up five pitchers — righties Cade Smith (Mississippi State), Nicholas Judice (Louisiana-Monroe), Brian Hendry (Oklahoma State), and Josh Grosz (East Carolina), and lefty Brady Rose (Dallas Baptist) — and two corner bats — first baseman Kiko Romero (Arizona) and outfielder Jared Wegner (Arkansas) — in the process. Their most surprising get of this bunch was probably Smith at No. 192 given his 438 ranking at Baseball America; he’ll likely sign for under-slot value. His fastball has excellent carry and could be all he needs to be a successful reliever in the bigs. The Yankees selected another intriguing arm in the eighth round, the deceptive 6-foot-8 Judice, who slings a hard fastball-slider combo from a low slot. Also of note: Wegner and Hendry, each nearly 24 years old, represent two of the oldest players in the draft class.

Balancing those older picks, three of the Yankees’ next five choices — two-way player Josh Tiedemann (Hamilton HS, Arizona), right-hander Danny Flatt Jr. (P27 Academy, South Carolina), and outfielder Wilson Rodriguez (Academia Presbiteriana HS, Puerto Rico) — were born in 2004. Tiedemann is committed to TCU so he might cost the Yankees a pretty penny, but he demonstrates power both at the plate and on the mound, hitting homers and the mid-90s with his heater.

In between Flatt Jr. and Rodriguez, the Bombers nabbed their first catcher — Tomas Frick out of UNC — and another right-hander, Andrew Landry out of Southeastern Louisiana. Frick’s OPS nearly reached 1.000 in a tough conference, and he earned ACC All-Tournament honors this year.

Then, the Yanks rounded things out with three more college players: third baseman Coby Morales (Washington) and right-handers Cade Austin (South Carolina) and Bryce Warrecker (Cal Poly). Warrecker, another 6-foot-8 hurler, ranked 286th on Baseball America’s top 500 due to a strong showing in the Cape Cod league last summer. He brings solid command of a four-pitch mix to the table but may return to school given his additional year of eligibility. Alternatively, the Yankees could fork over some of the money they saved in the middle rounds to entice him.

Assuming they sign, we could begin to see some of these college players work their way through the minor leagues in the next year or two. But overall, we won’t know just how productive this draft class will be for the Yankees for a number of years, especially since they chose to turn to the riskier but higher-ceiling prep players in the later rounds this year. That said, we can still speculate: what do you make of the draft as a whole?


What overall grade would you give the Yankees for the 2023 MLB Draft?

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