With the Yankees' first selection in the 2016 MLB Draft they selected 19-year-old Blake Rutherford out of Chaminade College Prep high school in California. The lefty outfielder drew comparisons to Alex Gordon from John Manuel in the MLB Draft room. It was mentioned that his arm might be the weakest of his tools and that his power should continue to develop.
Rutherford has been on scouts' radar for a couple years now, and the fact that he wasn't able to take the next step likely cost him a few spots in the draft. That is, of course, to the Yankees' benefit. At 6'2" and 195 pounds, he doesn't have the same kind of projection that comes with other outfield draftees with a mature physique already. If his results this spring had been a bit more consistent, there is a chance we'd be talking about one of the best bats in the draft.
MLB.com thinks that Rutherford has the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average raw power. They like his speed on the bases and in the outfield, but think that his eventual home will be in right field. They graded him at 55 overall on the 20-80 scale with the highest grade coming for his running at 60.
A consensus top 10 pick, Baseball America ranked Rutherford as their ninth prospect in the draft, MLB.com ranked him eighth, and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked fourth, which bodes well for his future. Prospect fatigue was mentioned, possibly contributing to the Yankees getting him at 18th overall. He had just simply been scouted more than most other players on the board.
Rutherford's approach with power to all fields, athleticism, and line-drive swing all drew praise in his evaluation from Baseball America. He was ranked as the second best player in the state of California in the draft.
Even if Rutherford's eventual place in baseball isn't in center field, his abilities as a hitter make him a great selection for the Yankees with their first pick in the draft. It's always nice to hear, at least at first, experts speak highly of the team's selection with a history of some lackluster early picks out of the Yankees in years past.
If the biggest mark against Rutherford is that he has been on many radars for a long time and is a year older than most of his fellow draftees, it seems like the Yankees did pretty well for themselves. His favorite team was the Yankees growing up and his favorite player was Derek Jeter. That doesn't mean much for his future with the team, but I'm sure Rutherford is pretty pleased it worked out this way.
You can check out a sneak peek of what Rutherford has to offer offensively here:
How do you feel about the team's first pick in the draft?