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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Mark Payton

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Nothing was expected from Mark Payton, but he surprised everyone and put up the best season in his draft class

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: A+

2014 Statistics: .320/.418/.497, 13.9 BB% between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa

2014 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Non 40-man

The Yankees made a lot of safe picks in the 2014 MLB Draft, taking primarily college players with little upside with their picks this year. After taking five pitchers in a row, the Yankees took outfielder Mark Payton with their seventh-round pick and it wasn't very exciting. A college senior outfielder with little power doesn't sound very exciting and nothing was expected of him going forward, however he seemed to prove everyone wrong and ended up having the best season of the organization's draft class.

Instead of starting him off slowly in Short Season Staten Island, where most college draft picks start out, the Yankees decided to be aggressive with his development and let him begin his professional career in Low-A Charleston. He hit a ridiculous .357/.443/.500 with a 13.4% walk rate in 97 plate appearances, and despite his success, it was expected that he'd simply stick around and continue to tear up the Sally league for the remainder of the year. Instead, the Yankees decided they had seen enough and pushed him up to Tampa. He impressed again by hitting .286/.396/.495, this time hitting a total of 11 doubles and walking at a 14.4% rate in 111 plate appearances. Payton went from question mark to standout rivaling Jacob Lindgren for the best debut season in the system.

Of course, one great season, especially to kick off a career, does not a prospect make. We've seen this before, like when Dante Bichette tore up rookie ball right after being drafted and proceeded to fall apart after that. We can't expect Payton to put up an .900+ OPS every year from here on out, but seeing as how he has control over the strike zone, has plenty of experience from college, and beat up a higher level, there is reason to believe he won't flop in his sophomore season like Bichette did.

As a 23-year-old next year, the Yankees could move him up to Double-A to put him on pace with Aaron Judge in 2015 and add him on the radar in the coming seasons. The Yankees already have a plethora of outfield prospects coming down the line in Ramon Flores, Tyler Austin, Jake Cave, Aaron Judge, and Taylor Dugas, but one more shouldn't hurt and not all of them will end up working out in the end. What was originally expected to be organizational filler has turned into an asset that could become an integral part of the system going forward. We just have to see what he does in his encore performance next year.