The 2014 MLB Draft is only days away, so you would figure we'd have reported the results of mock drafts being conducted throughout the internet. Unfortunately, most mock drafts only do the first round, so no one has predicted who the Yankees would pick this year. Minor League Ball, however, has decided to do a community mock draft that covers the first four rounds.
Round 2: With the 55th overall pick, the Yankees have selected Chase Vallot, a catcher and outfielder from St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Listed at six-foot-one and 205 pounds, Vallot bats right-handed, and though he will be taken as a catcher, is unlikely to last behind the plate for very long. Based on my research of the Yankees' drafting patterns, he could be a guy they have been scouting as Louisiana has been a hotbed for Yankee draft picks in recent years.
What they're saying about him:
MLB.com has him ranked 49th on their list and grades him out to having a 50-hit tool, 60 power, and a 60 arm. They say "Vallot has a quick swing with a lot of leverage, giving him above-average power. The Mississippi State recruit has a reliable approach and consistently makes hard contact."
Over at Minor League Ball, Matt Garrioch ranked him at 39 and says he has a 60-grade ceiling with a 35-grade floor. He describes Vallot as having "big bat speed and power. Good arm. Good athelte. Hit tool questions. Needs work defensively but is young for the draft. Intriguing potential."
Baseball America ranks him at 48 and is the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Louisiana. They spoke highly of his work ethic and gave a detailed report on his troubles behind the plate:
He has plus arm strength, although the arm doesn’t consistently play at that level in game action. Vallot struggled to receive on the showcase circuit, especially out of the strike zone and can have what one scout called an "ejecto mitt". His footwork and blocking skills will also require improvement at the professional level. Although scouts are not confident he can stay behind the plate, they believe his bat has a chance to play wherever he lands on the defensive spectrum, including left field or first base, where he saw time on the showcase circuit.
Averaged out, Vallot ranked 45, making the possibility that he will drop to the Yankees in the real draft relatively slim. Still, if it's one thing the Yankees like, it's offensive-minded catcher who hit for power and Vallot profiles exactly as that. The one hold up I see is that the system is already filled with 1B/DH type hitters with Peter O`Brien, Greg Bird, and Mike Ford all making good impressions this season. While he sounds like a very solid pick, the Yankees could probably do without another player like that.
Round 3: With the 93rd overall pick, the Yankees have selected Aaron Brown, an outfielder/left-handed pitcher from Pepperdine University in Malibu California.
Brown is listed at six-foot-two and 200 pounds, giving him a solid build. He bats and throws left-handed and was previously drafted in the 30th round of the 2013 draft by the Cleveland Indians. While the Yankees have gone big in California, they haven't exactly flocked to the Malibu area in the last five years, having also backed away from Los Angeles as well.
What they're saying about him:
Garrioch at Minor League Ball isn't as confident in his abilities, ranking him 169th and giving him a 45-grade ceiling. He believes Brown to be "A solid hitting corner outfielder without the needed power. Decent pitcher without dominant stuff. He's a tweener each way."
Baseball America, on the other hand, includes him in their top 100 at No. 88, which is a huge variance from his other two rankings. Despite some nagging injuries that have plagued him in his early years, Brown has reached stardom this season by going 9-1 with a 2.34 ERA and hitting .331/.370/.579 with nine home runs so far. BA believes that he will be taken in the top four rounds as either a pitcher or an outfielder:
Scouts widely agree that he is a top-four-rounds talent as both a pitcher and an outfielder, and they are divided about where he fits best. Off the mound, he is physical, athletic and aggressive and attacks hitters with an 89-91 mph fastball that bumps 92-93. His ability to throw quality strikes with his fastball has improved, and his 82-85 mph slider has become a plus pitch with good depth, generating swing-throughs against righties and lefties. He mixes in a changeup that has a chance to be an average pitch and gives him a chance to start, though some scouts still see him as a better fit in the bullpen because of his fair command. If a club drafts Brown as a position player, he has the plus raw power and solid arm strength to profile in right field, though he plays center for the Waves this spring. The biggest knock on Brown’s bat is his tendency to swing and miss, as evidenced by his 36-7 strikeout-walk mark through 178 at-bats.
Brown averages out to a 125 ranking, making him a slight overdraft for the Yankees at No. 93. To take him they would have to be very impressed with his ability to maximize his skillset because he doesn't seem to stand out in any regard. I suspect he might be taken as a pitcher where he could end up as a David Phelps-type who mixes his pitches well, but isn't overpowering, though it seems that everyone, including the Minor League Ball community members, are in disagreement about where his future lies:
Round 4: With the 122nd overall pick, the Yankees have selected Alex Pantojas, a shortstop from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
Pantojas is listed at five-foot-eleven and 150 poounds, so there's plenty of room for him to fill out and get stronger.While they haven't been big on drafting out of Puerto Rico in the past, the Yankees might be enticed by the switch-hitting shortstop.
What they're saying about him:
MLB.com ranks him at 176 overall and grades him out to a below-average 40-hit tool, with 30-power, and 45-run. However, they did give him a 55-arm grade and 60-field grade, showing that he could be an elite defender, but his offensive game might not be much to look at. MLB praises him on his aggressive style of play and high baseball IQ, though his actual talent might be lacking as "Pantojas' defense is well ahead of his offense, and scouts wonder if he will hit enough to be an everyday player."
Matt Garrioch of Minor League Ball ranks Pantojas at 133rd, believing he has a 50-grade ceiling and describing him as having "Long arms. Long swing. Skinny. Great defender at short and should stick there. Gained some muscle over winter and should have some pop because of it." He seems more optimistic about his bat, but the flaws are still there. It's also nice to finally read about someone who will definitely stick at shortstop.
Baseball America has him ranked No. 173 overall and is the No. 1 prospect coming out of Puerto Rico. They believe that he is one of the best defensive shortstops in the draft class, but not much is thought about his offense:
He grows on scouts in game action because of his defensive prowess as a soft-handed, reliable defender with above-average range and a strong, accurate arm. Pantojas' speed plays as average out of the box and better on the bases with good baserunning instincts. Added strength has helped his swing as a contact-oriented hitter with a slightly uphill path, but he’s still unlikely to produce much impact with the bat and will have well below-average power.
Pantojas averages out to a 160 overall ranking, which makes him somewhat of an overdraft by over a round. Pantojas sounds a lot like Gosuke Katoh, who they actually ended up drafting in the second round last year, and Cito Culver, who they took with their first-round pick in 2010. I'd prefer they go with someone who can actually hit the ball, though.