The order for the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft was largely set after James Shields signed in mid-February, and the New York Yankees will pick twice in the first round, at #16 and #30. John Manuel at Baseball America published updated bonus figures earlier this week, drawing from sources who have reviewed an internal MLB memo to teams. Despite not picking in the first half of the first round, the Yankees will have the sixth largest bonus pot overall at $7.885 million. The compensation pick for losing David Robertson is of course a big reason why.
These team values are naturally a function of their draft position, with each individual pick having a graduated slot value based on an internal MLB formula. Having a relatively large bonus pot will provide flexibility for signing higher rated prospects, perhaps offering the option to go over the slot levels on an individual pick where needed. In another sense, it does allow for comparing the overall 'value' of a team's selections heading into the draft. For example Arizona has the #1 overall pick but Houston has the largest total pot due to having two picks in the top five, including a compensatory pick for failing to sign last years top pick Brady Aiken.
Certainly the Yankees will be more involved early on in the 2015 draft compared to 2014, where they did not have a first round pick and the second smallest bonus pool overall at $3.202 million. A key element of the New York Yankee farm system revival has been the minor league success of recent high picks. Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin were taken with compensatory picks in 2013, and despite not having a first rounder in 2014 the Yankees added top relief prospect Jacob Lindgren who is already knocking on the door of the majors. Continuing to add quality talent though the draft, particularly at the top of the draft, will be essential to the franchise developing a stable pipeline of talent up to the Bronx. Particularly in 2015, where New York won't have the ability to spend $30 million to sweep up multiple talented 16 year olds in the international amatuer free agent market.
In recent days, the conversation about the Yankee farm system has largely revolved around the missed opportunity to vault up rankings by adding a consensus top-15 prospect in Yoan Moncada. Think back a couple of weeks though, and the farm system was drawing positive sentiments for what has felt like the first time in a while. You've probably seen the individual pieces published on 30 key Yankee prospects here, and even if the majority of those prospects don't help the team in 2015, the hope is in the coming years the Bronx Bombers can develop talented starters in-house.
It is worth remembering the momentum that the New York Yankees seem to be carrying with internal player development. Signing one of the Yoan's, Moncada or Lopez, would have helped accelerate the rise of the franchise up farm systems rankings in 2015 and more importantly improved their chances of getting major league talent out of the farm in coming years. However, there will continue to be opportunities to add talent to the system, and with two top-30 picks, four in the top-100, and the sixth largest bonus pool heading into the upcoming first-year player draft, the Yankees have a particularly big one coming up.
It will be an important run-up to June for the amatuer scouting wing and key draft decision makers of the organisation.