Now that the 2014 MLB Draft is in the rearview mirror, it's obviously time to look back and see what exactly happened and how well the Yankees actually did. It's near impossible to make a determination on the success or failure of this draft class after one whole day, but at least we can break down what they did and whether or not it sounds like a good idea.
Here is a look at everyone the Yankees took in one nice organized list. You're welcome.
|2||55||Jacob Lindgren||Mississippi State (MS)||LHP||R/L|
|3||91||Austin DeCarr||Salisbury School (CT)||RHP||R/R|
|4||122||Jordan Montgomery||South Carolina (SC)||LHP||L/L|
|5||152||Jordan Foley||Central Michigan (MI)||RHP||R/R|
|6||182||Jonathan Holder||Mississippi State (MS)||RHP||R/R|
|7||212||Mark Payton||Texas (TX)||CF||L/L|
|8||242||Connor Spencer||University of California - Irvine (CA)||1B||L/R|
|9||272||Vince Conde||Vanderbilt (TN)||SS||R/R|
|10||302||Ty McFarland||James Madison University (VA)||2B||L/R|
|11||332||Matthew Borens||Eastern Illinois (IL)||RHP||R/R|
|12||362||Chris Gittens||Grayson County College (TX)||1B||R/R|
|13||392||Bo Thompson||The Citadel (SC)||1B||R/R|
|14||422||Sean Carley||West Virginia (WV||RHP||R/R|
|15||452||Andrew Chin||Boston College (MA)||LHP||L/L|
|16||482||Derek Callahan||Gonzaga (WA)||LHP||L/L|
|17||512||Garrett Cave||South Sumter HS (FL)||RHP||R/R|
|18||542||Justin Kamplain||Alabama (AL)||LHP||R/L|
|19||572||Joe Harvey||Pittsburgh (PA)||RHP||R/R|
|20||602||Corey Holmes||Concordia University Texas (TX||RHP||R/R|
|21||632||Porter Clayton||Oregon (OR)||LHP||L/L|
|22||662||Jake Kelzer||Indiana (IN)||RHP||R/R|
|23||692||Will Toffey||Salisbury School (CT)||3B||L/R|
|24||722||Dominic Jose||Stanford (CA)||CF||S/R|
|25||752||Dylan Barrow||University of Tampa (FL)||RHP||R/R|
|26||782||Collin Slaybaugh||Washington State (WA)||C||L/R|
|27||812||Griffin Gordon||Jacksonville State (AL)||OF||L/L|
|28||842||Lee Casas||USC (CA)||RHP||R/R|
|29||872||Mariano Rivera||Iona (NY)||RHP||R/R|
|30||902||Jorge Perez||Grand Canyon University (AZ)||RHP||R/R|
|31||932||Devyn Bolasky||University of California - Riverside (CA)||CF||L/L|
|32||962||Jordan Ramsey||UNC - Wilmington (NC)||RHP||L/R|
|33||992||David Graybill||Arizona State (AZ)||RHP||R/R|
|34||1022||Matt Wotherspoon||Pittsburgh (PA)||RHP||R/R|
|35||1052||Christopher Hudgins||Valhalla HS (CA)||C||R/R|
|36||1082||William Gaddis||Brentwood HS (TN)||RHP||R/R|
|37||1112||Ryan Lindemuth||College of William and Mary (VA)||2B||R/R|
|38||1142||Andre Del Bosque||University of Houston - Victoria (TX)||RHP||R/R|
|39||1172||Cameron Warren||Carl Albert HS (OK)||1B||R/R|
|40||1202||Madison Stokes||A.C. Flora HS (SC)||SS||R/R|
Now let's break down what exactly they did here.
College > High School
The easiest and most glaring thing they did was take college players. A total of 32 of their draft picks were from college while a mere seven were high schoolers. The logic is that college players are more refined players that could move through the system quickly, while high schoolers are raw and might need a few extra years to properly develop. With a big league team that could use help from the minors right now, taking collegiate players means that help will arrive a year or two sooner, at least in theory.
Last year the Yankees went with a half-college, half-high school approach, giving them a nice mix of talent at different levels of development. After spending time in rookie ball, 2013 high school draftees are going to be ready for Low-A and while most college players go to short season-A, it's possible the Yankees could be eyeing a more aggressive approach as they'll place second-round pick Jacob Lindgren in Charleston, and sixth-round pick Jonathan Holder and 14th-round pick Sean Carley could move up quickly, effectively blending two draft classes together. This will allow the older players to catch up to the younger players so that everyone is moving as one unit (barring speedy promotions for individual players) as opposed to in waves.
Pitching All Day, Erryday
They took 24 pitchers altogether, 18 right-handers and six left-handers. The Yankees drafted five straight pitchers out of the draft before ever taking a position player. One thing the organization needed going into the draft was advanced pitching, and boy did they take care of that. Given the fickle nature of pitching prospects, a legitimate strategy would be to stock up on as many arms as possible because chances are that a few of them will either get hurt or fail to develop as major league options. In a system that has been plagued by injuries and has routinely failed to develop frontline pitching, grabbing as many arms as possible is a great way to combat the overwhelming statistics against the success of pitching prospects, or really any player.
By focusing on players who are relievers or have at least experience in both starting and relieving, it allows the Yankees to set themselves up for getting the most out of the draft as they can. If the goal of the draft is to find value, then it could be said that drafting an effective reliever who makes it to the majors is more valuable than drafting a guy who could be a starter, but ultimately fails and never makes it. The odds are already stacked against everyone in the draft, so instead of trying to find the high-risk, high-reward diamonds in the rough like the Yankees have done in the past, taking low-ceiling, high-floor starters and elite-level relievers gives the organization a better chance of at least finding useable talent for their major league team.
On the surface, taking 24 pitchers, many of whom are either relievers or back of the rotation starters might not look exciting, but it will be a heck of a lot less annoying when a majority of these players have a much better chance of contributing at the major league level instead of flaming out well in advance, like we've seen. The Yankees are hoping that in a year or two, we aren't asking where is the farm system, because it'll already be there and helping the big league club out. This will be an interesting draft class to follow because it can prove to be an alternative course of action to the usual method of putting all your hopes and dreams into 18-year-old kids and potential stars who have a good chance to crash and burn anyway.
We Hate Position Players
Where I think this class was unfortunately weak was in its position players. The 2014 MLB Draft was described as a deep pitching draft, but that doesn't mean there couldn't have been any position players out there. In the end they only took 15 position players – four outfielders, four first baseman, two shortstops, two second baseman, two catchers, and a third baseman. As much as the Yankees needed pitching, they also needed position players, and if they were going to go college-heavy, it would have been great to see some collegiate bats enter into the system.
They added a few, but by taking five straight pitchers in their first five rounds, it limited the impact any potential position player could have on the system. As you get further into the draft, college position players become less attractive. If they were better, they would already be taken and the good players are usually pitchers who might have been injured or high school players that have strong commitments. If the Yankees were going to go big on position players, it would have to be in the first few rounds. Seeing as how it was an especially strong pitching draft, the Yankees would have to make a decision: get promising position players first and try to find some decent leftover pitching or go completely overboard insane on solid pitching and try to find some under-the-radar position players where they can. They obviously decided on the latter, which, though it's somewhat disappointing, is fairly logical and the best course of action to take if you want to find legitimate talent that has the best chance to make it to the majors. Maybe another draft will be heavy on position players and the Yankees can go crazy over them.
All the First Basemen
What the Yankees could have really used were some middle infielders, but their second base and shortstop selections left something to be desired, and one of the shortstops, 40th rounder Madison Stokes, is unlikely to sign. While their eye was clearly locked on pitching, they could have chose enough position players to at least find some interesting talent that could help in positions of need. Instead, the Yankees actually chose a total of four first baseman. Four. Maybe they think they can move one or two to third or something, but it seemed pretty excessive for a system that already has several first base/DH types. Especially when they are an organization that likes to move their prospects around and try them out at positions they might not be the best at just to get as much value out of them as possible.
Their 12th rounder Bo Thompkins sounds kind of intriguing and 11th rounder Matthew Gittens has a lot of power, but their eighth round pick Connor Spencer doesn't have the power you would expect a first baseman to have and then their 39th-round pick Cameron Warren is committed to Oklahoma and might not sign. Were all of those picks necessary? I'm not necessarily advocating to pick position over talent, but there had to have been a middle infielder that had as much promise as any of them. The crop of ninth rounder Vince Conde, who might not really be a shortstop at the next level, 10th rounder Ty McFarland, and 37th rounder Ryan Lindemuth aren't going to get the job done for the system. Their lone third baseman, 23rd rounder Will Toffey might be interesting, but he has a commitment to Vanderbilt. That could leave them with a total of three non-first base infielders out of this entire draft. That's kind of yuck.
Bring it in
There is plenty to like out of this draft class. Damon Oppenheimer admitted that they almost took third rounder Austin DeCarr in the second round because he's thought of that highly. Seventh rounder Mark Payton might not have a spectacular ceiling, but a solid player and a decent fourth outfielder are still very useful at the major league level. Their 15th-round pick Andrew Chin was compared to Chien-Ming Wang, and while we can't expect him to be as good as Wang was, that unique skill set is still something very useful to have. Their 32nd-round pick right-hander Jordan Ramsey was a top-of-the-draft talent before some nagging injuries allowed him to drop to the Yankees. There are smart and interesting picks like these spread all throughout the Yankees' newest draft class. Would it have been nice to have some position players added into the mix as well? Of course, but I'll take the players with the best chance to make it. I might continue to complain when the Yankees still have no fielders to backup their solid pitching prospects, but maybe seeing Jacob "Strikeout Factory" Lindgren mow down the side later this year will make it all worth it.