The Yankees drafted a college outfielder with their fifth round pick, selecting center fielder Dom Thompson-Williams out of the University of South Carolina. He was ranked ninth in the state of South Carolina and 286th overall by Baseball America. Thompson-Williams was previously drafted out of Iowa Western Community College by the St Louis Cardinals in the 19th round of 2014.
Thompson-Williams is a left-handed batter who some scouts believe profiles as more of a fourth outfielder rather than every day player. The main question will be whether or not he can improve his hitting enough to stick in a big league lineup. Questions about his maturity have been a problem in the past, but he is said to have matured since then.
At the plate, Thompson-Williams has shown the ability to hit offspeed pitches while struggling to catch up to higher velocity. He has batted .329/.430/.529 with seven home runs and 17 stolen bases for the Gamecocks in 2016. While Thompson-Williams has found a way to speed up his hands to try and hit higher velocity pitches, his bat speed needs some work.
It seems as though Thompson-Williams shines the most when he can use his speed. He is a plus runner who can make strong, flashy plays in the outfield when he takes the proper route. Some of his poor defensive decision making comes from being overly aggressive, which can hopefully be corrected as a professional.
The Yankees obviously believe in Thompson-Williams' ability to hit despite all of the questions. It looks like he might be more of a project player than some other picks, but he does have intriguing tools that should help him along the way. Perhaps the team can tap into his potential that will make him a player who can hit well enough to have a future as more than just a backup outfielder. If not, his defense and speed should still provide some value.