Today we will look at what issues the organization needs to address as we get closer to the 2018 MLB Draft. As good as the system is right now, there are three major areas that a few choice draft picks can help fix.
It should be noted that there are a few positions that lack significant depth, but long-term options will be there for the foreseeable future. Gary Sanchez has catcher locked down for awhile and the addition of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton should give the Yankees enough offense in the outfield. That being said, there are a few areas that need some attention.
The Yankees need more corner infield options at this point. Heading into the season, the team had Miguel Andujar as the only in-house option coming down the pipeline, and it’s a good thing that has worked out so far. The problem is there doesn’t appear to be anyone coming down the line after him and Brandon Drury. After these two, you have to go all the way down to Dermis Garcia in Charleston to find a legitimate prospect at the hot corner.
We all hope that Greg Bird comes back from injury and nails down the position for the next decade, but the safe bet is on that not happening. Given his injury history, it’s important to at least have alternatives in mind, but the Yankees don’t have many. After Tyler Austin, the Yankees also have Chris Gittens in Trenton, but after a 21-home run 2016 season, he only hit 13 in 2017. This year will be key to determine whether or not he can be considered a legitimate major league weapon.
The reason the team has such a problem with corner infielders is that they are particularly challenging to draft. You don’t want to take a first baseman too high because there is other talent available at more valuable positions. It’s also difficult to develop a good third baseman in the first place because if their defense is too good they become a middle infielder, and if they are too big and bulky, they become a first baseman. The Yankees already saw recent third base prospects Eric Jagielo and Dante Bichette Jr. move to first and lose all value, but hopefully they can find better this time around.
The Yankees are doing pretty well at developing starting pitching these days with Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery both having important big league jobs. On top of that, seven out of the team’s top 10 prospects are pitchers, but when you look closer, you see exactly what they are missing. Aside from Justus Sheffield, the organization has no left-handed pitching to speak of, and that needs to change.
In the 2017 MLB Draft, the Yankees went crazy when they drafted 23 right-handed pitchers out of 40 total picks. In total, they also only managed to sign one left-handed pitcher, so that should prove just how few lefties the organization has right now. It appears that the only two left-handed pitching prospects in the system are Josh Rogers in Scranton, and the aforementioned signed Dalton Lehnen in Charleston.
There are no left-handed pitchers ranked around where the Yankees will pick. That means they will either have to wait and see if a player drops or look to the later rounds to nab a few. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate doing what the Yankees did last year but with left-handed pitchers, but it would be a nice way to round things out.
Yankee Stadium is noted for its short porch in right field that has proven to be something of a gift to left-handed power hitters over the years. The organization has a long line of All-Stars who have been assisted by the benefits of the left side of the batter’s box in the Bronx. However, the Yankees have seemingly ditched that ideology and now sport a lineup almost entirely filled with right-handed hitters. The problem is that there seems to be no end in sight to this.
The return of Greg Bird will help greatly in this situation, but there are no other left-handed power options on the horizon. The only legitimate left-handed hitting prospect who actually has some power potential is Estevan Florial. Considering he will miss almost an entire year of development time, it doesn’t look like left-handed power is going to be a strength for this team any time soon.