As we approach the 2016 MLB Draft, it's important that we remember the Yankees' successes and failures over the years. We might not see much at the MLB level right now, but the 2013 draft class is definitely packed with plenty of potential. If things turn out well, this could be a franchise-altering group of prospects in another season or two.
The Yankees saw their first returns in 2015, just two drafts later, when Nick Rumbelow made his major league debut. The former seventh rounder was a college reliever who had been put on the fast track in the minors as a potential impact arm. Despite his lackluster debut, he looked to be an important part of the team's bullpen depth in 2016 before suffering an UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery. It was a tough break, but when he returns he should still offer plenty of promise.
The biggest story of that year's draft was the strength of their first-round picks. After letting Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano leave in free agency, the Yankees had three picks in the first round. Their selection of college third baseman Eric Jagielo, college outfielder Aaron Judge, and high school lefty Ian Clarkin was viewed as one of the team's strongest classes in years. In the time after the draft, Jagielo hit well, but struggled in the field, Judge surprised with his hitting skills, and Clarkin proved to be advanced for his age.
Over the three years since getting drafted, Jagielo's bat was overshadowed by the time he spent on the DL and his struggles in the field. If he was unable to stick at third base with Greg Bird ready to take over first base, he would ultimately be expendable, which led to him being dealt in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Because of his massive size, Judge was expected to be a simple power hitter, but he surprised many evaluators with his advanced approach at the plate. Moving quickly over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he is now in Triple-A working on his approach against breaking balls, and if all goes well, he should be the favorite to take over right field in 2017. Clarkin was showing how refined he was before missing the entire 2015 season with some kind of elbow injury. He's pitching again this year, so hopefully everything is fine from here.
Beyond the first round, the Yankees came away with some very solid picks that have turned into very promising players. Tyler Wade is a shortstop taken in the fifth round, and the organization really seems to like him. A high school pick, he's moved quickly despite subpar offensive numbers. He's just 21 and already in Double-A, and the organization is planning to move top prospect Jorge Mateo to second base in order to have them share playing time at short once they are at the same level. Wade has already spent time at second base and could be a future utility infielder for the Yankees.
This draft class has turned out a few guys who should become major league contributors fairly soon. Taken in the 10th round, left-handed reliever Tyler Webb is another promising relief arm that could spend time with the Yankees this season. After missing time with a hand injury last year, he is back in Scranton for the third year in a row. Cale Coshow, taken 13th overall, is a starting pitcher with potential to be an impact reliever if he's ever converted. He should see Triple-A this season, and it won't be long before he's in a position to help in the majors. Former 14th-round pick Caleb Smith could get a chance soon in some capacity. He's been a starting pitcher, but has pitched out of the bullpen at Double-A in 2016.
Considered a sleeper prospect since he was drafted, the former 18th rounder Dustin Fowler has been steadily improving his stock. He stole 30 bases in 2015 and should be another plus defender at all three outfield positions. At one point it didn't look like he'd amount to much, but he's a 21-year-old in Trenton this year, and he could be a major league option in 2017. The Yankees found another sleeper prospect all the way in the 36th round in the form of left-handed starter Nestor Cortes. The 21-year-old followed two seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA in rookie ball with a hot start in Charleston. He's fairly unknown, but it's just a matter of time before he gets the attention he deserves.
Some picks showed promise, but they haven't been able to convert it into results. In the second round of the draft, the Yankees surprised everyone by going after Gosuke Katoh, a second base whiz-kid with a suspect bat. Despite the controversy, it looked like they were right when he OPS'd .924 in rookie ball, but he has since only managed a .621 OPS in A-ball and has largely been forgotten at this point. Another promising pick that has not turned out well is former third-rounder Michael O`Neill. The nephew of Paul O`Neill, his game is much more speed-based than his uncle. He managed to steal 42 bases in 2014, but only took 14 in 2015 on his way to a dismal .562 OPS. Thankfully, he's rebounded a bit this year, managing an .868 OPS through 21 games in his second trip through High-A Tampa.
Other players still in the organization include six-round pick David Palladino, who has been inconsistent as a starting pitcher and was recently converted into a reliever. 11th rounder Kendall Coleman is a 21-year-old outfield who has yet to offer much in the way of offense. Philip Walby is a 23-year-old reliever still in High-A. 20th-round pick Drew Bridges is a corner infield with no bat to speak of. Dillon McNamara is a reliever pitching well in Tampa, but the 27th rounder is already 24. There are also many players from this class who have already been released by the team.
Not every draft pick works out, but the 2013 Yankees draft class is looking like a very strong and promising year for the Yankees and their scouting staff.