The MLB Draft is right around the corner, and we will have a lot of coverage available to you here. Before we consider the current needs of the Yankees' farm system, let's look back at some of the top picks over the past few years and see where they are now. This article will focus solely on the 2012 draft, but look out for 2013 and 2014 later this week.
1. The Yankees selected Ty Hensley with their first pick back in 2012. Hailing from Edmond, Oklahoma, the large right-handed pitcher signed with the Yankees and began his minor league career in the Gulf Coast League. During the offseason, he suffered an abdominal strain, followed by a hip impingement that led to double hip labrum surgery and caused him to miss the entire 2013 season. He was able to get things back on track last season, pitching 30.1 innings with a 2.97 ERA and 11.9 K/9 as he split his time between the Gulf Coast Yankees and the Staten Island Yankees. Unfortunately, things took a bad turn over the offseason, when Hensley was brutally attacked and hospitalized. Although he suffered a broken jaw, he didn't let it get in the way of his training and he was back in the normal swing of things during spring training when he started to experience forearm discomfort. An MRI revealed a bone calcification inside of his torn ulnar collateral ligament and Hensley had to undergo Tommy John surgery a few weeks back.
2. With a compensation pick for not signing Sam Stafford in 2011, the Yankees selected Austin Aune next. Drafted out of Argyle High School, Aune was originally a shortstop. After his first stint in the Gulf Coast League, Aune was converted to an outfielder and he primarily plays right field. Aune's 2013 and 2014 seasons weren't particularly impressive, but he's been off to a much better start this season. He started the year in Single-A Charleston and is hitting .289/.333/.500 with 11 doubles and four triples in just 25 games played.
3. With their third pick, the Yankees selected Peter O'Brien out of the University of Miami. At 6'4" and weighing 235 pounds, the catcher's raw power caught everyone's attention. O'Brien started the 2013 season in Charleston, but spent the later half of year in Tampa, finishing the season batting .291/.350/.544 with 22 home runs. He really went on a tear in 2014, hitting ten home runs in 30 games down in Tampa before earning a promotion to Double-A Trenton. He continued to rake, but his career with the Yankees just wasn't meant to be as the Yankees ended up trading him to the Diamondbacks for Martin Prado prior to the trade deadline. O'Brien wasn't ever praised for his defensive abilities in the position of catcher, so the Yankees also tried him at third base (where he committed 18 errors in 30 games), and at first base, where he faired much better. For their part, the Diamondbacks have mostly played him in the outfield. He has yet to make his major league debut, but he has continued to hit well in Triple-A for Arizona this season (.331/.369/.614 with 8 home runs).
4. The Yankees selected Nathan Mikolas in the third round right out of Bradford High School in Wisconsin. His first season in the minors was forgettable, but his 2013 season was better (.256/.355/.405). He played the majority of 2013 with discomfort in his lower abdomen which hampered his abilities, but he played through the season with it. Just ahead of spring training last year, he finally got it checked out only to discover that he had a torn abdominal muscle. The outfielder underwent surgery and rehabbed in time for the 2014 season, which he spent with the Staten Island Yankees. It looks like he'll start his season with the Staten Island Yankees again, or possibly the Pulaski Yankees.
5. Next the Yankees selected Corey Black, a right-handed starting pitcher signed out of Faulkner University. Black is best known for his plus plus fastball, that sits in the mid-90s and can get as high as 100 mph. He had a decent first season, putting up a 3.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through 52.2 innings. During his time in the minors, his strikeout rate has been good (9.1 K/9), but his walk rate has been historically high (4.5 BB/9). In 2013 the Yankees decided to trade for Alfonso Soriano, and Black was the pitcher that went to the Cubs during that exchange. More recently, Black made headlines for being the pitcher who broke Hunter Pence's arm during spring training.
6. The Yankees fifth round pick, Rob Refsnyder, is probably the most well known out of these ten, and is the player who is closest to the majors. Refsnyder was drafted out of the University of Arizona as a right fielder, but the Yankees have since converted him to second base. He's made his way from Charleston all the way up to Triple-A Scranton over the last few years, and his bat has continuously been good (.297/.352/.377 lifetime in the minors). Refsnyder was up for consideration for the second base job during spring training, except for the fact that the Yankees were obviously going to fill that spot with Stephen Drew. Although he is very consistent offensively, he has struggled immensely fielding second base and that was apparent during spring training. Through 30 games in Scranton this season, he's already made eight errors. If he could just get that under control, then his bat might be good enough to take Drew's spot on the team.
7. With their seventh pick, the Yankees drafted yet another right-handed pitcher, Nick Goody from Louisiana State University. Goody has a mid-90s fastball and a late-breaking slider. During his first season in the minors, he bounced from Low-A to High-A, and ended the season with 52 strikeouts in 32 innings. In 2013 the injury bug struck, and Goody ended up having Tommy John surgery. He struggled a bit after returning to action last season, but he still put up good strikeout numbers (13.2 K/9). Goody is off to a phenomenal start in Trenton this season and currently has a 0.93 ERA through 19.1 innings pitched, along with 25 strikeouts, although his BB/9 is a bit high at 4.2.
8. The Yankees eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft was Taylor Garrison. Another right-handed pitcher, Garrison was drafted from Fresno State. Working from the bullpen, Garrison has a low 90s fastball, slider with cutter action, and a changeup considered to be above average. He started with the Staten Island Yankees back in 2012 and finished last season in Trenton. He's pitched very well during that time, sporting a 2.79 ERA and 1.10 WHIP overall, however, his 2015 season is off to a shaky start. Through 22.1 IP in Trenton, Garrison has a 5.64 ERA, having allowed 14 earned runs along with 15 strikeouts and nine walks.
9. In the eighth round, the Yankees selected Taylor Dugas from the University of Alabama. Like Refsynder, Dugas has put up consistently good numbers over the last few years while he's worked his way from the Staten Island Yankees all the way up to Scranton. He has been somewhat overlooked simply because the Yankees have a good amount of outfield depth. In face, he hit .299/.399/.390 last season, and still didn't earn an invitation to spring training. So far, he's off to a slow start in 2015, hovering below the Mendoza Line at .176/.358/.176. He has zero extra base hits and 12 walks through 51 at bats.
10. Finally, the Yankees picked Derek Varnadore, rounding out their top ten draft selections during 2012. Selected during the ninth round, Varnadore was a right-handed pitcher signed out of Auburn University. He spent the 2012 season with the Staten Island Yankees, and posted a 3.55 ERA and 3.78 FIP. Varnadore was promoted to Charleston in 2013, and finished the season with a 3.77 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 1.30 WHIP and 6.8 K/9. Those numbers aren't atrociously bad, but the Yankees must have seen something about him that they didn't like, because they ultimately released him in March 2014 and he has not found a new baseball home since.
Check back tomorrow for the 2013 review!