While the Yankees' first round draft picks have come under intense scrutiny over the last few seasons, some of the later draft picks have made waves in the Yankees farm system. The two most notable examples are Brett Gardner and David Robertson, picked in the third and 17th rounds, respectively. 2016 first rounder Blake Rutherford has already been lauded as a great pick for the 18th overall slot, but he might not be alone.
For whatever reason, the fifth round of the MLB draft is an important one to watch. For teams that try to save money with their early round picks, the fifth round can be a good place to sign someone to an above-slot deal. Some examples of fifth round picks include Jake Arrieta, Mookie Betts, and future Pirates ace Tyler Glasnow. The Yankees have selected the likes of Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder in the fifth round, in addition to Chance Adams, who has broken out in his first pro season.
This year, they used the fifth round pick to select Dominic Thompson-Williams, a lefty outfielder for the South Carolina Gamecocks. The intriguing thing about Thompson-Williams is that he spent the first two years of his college career dominating for Iowa Western Community College. The St. Louis Cardinals tried to take a flyer on him in 2014, failing to sign him with their 19th round pick. Despite making the jump to the SEC, Thompson-Williams didn't miss a beat in 2016. In 64 games, he had a .321/.418/.517 slash line with 18 steals in 23 attempts. His strikeout rate understandably jumped to just under 18%, but he demonstrated good patience at the plate, with a walk rate of 13.4%.
The fact that he presumably faced much better pitching and still managed to put up tremendous numbers is exciting. His stats suggest a solid ability to make adjustments, something that will obviously come into play as he rises up the ranks of the Yankees' system. According to The Baseball Cube, he never played summer ball, which makes him somewhat of a wild card. Hopefully, his adaptability to SEC pitching translates to hitting with wooden bats.
Another potential sleeper within the 2016 draft class is 15th rounder Tony Hernandez. Hernandez was picked out of Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, so not very much is known about him. However, he does meet a lot of the requirements for a sleeper pick. He is a 6'2" left-handed pitcher who had a 9.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 as the ace of Monroe's staff.
Furthermore, Hernandez doesn't turn 20 until August. Playing in a cold-weather state like New York, it is possible that he managed to slide under the radar by not attending all of the high-profile showcases. His peripheral stats at Monroe speak for themselves, even if it wasn't against Division 1 hitters. His age, location, and polish on the mound are an exciting combination, even if he fell all the way to the 15th round.
Do you think the Yankees managed to stumble upon a pot of gold in Day 2 of the MLB Draft? As always, let us know in the comment section.
Data is courtesy of University of South Carolina and The Baseball Cube.