clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Yankees sign non-drafted free agents: Cody Hamlin, Andrew Schwaab, Matt Walsh, and Geoff DeGroot

New, comments
Harry How/Getty Images

Just because the MLB Draft is over, it doesn't mean the Yankees can't continue to add new players to their organization. Every year it seems the Yankees go strong into the non-drafted free agent crop, scooping up the best players who weren't drafted and weren't going to return to school. Recent notable players the organization has signed after the draft include Triple-A starter Jaron Long, Double-A starter Eric Ruth, A-ball catcher Radley Haddad, and High-A Tampa first baseman Mike Ford, among others. This year, the Yankees have wasted no time and have already signed four non-drafted free agents to professional contracts.

Coming out of the University of Arizona, the Yankees have signed right-handed starter Cody Hamlin. The redshirted junior spent his freshman season at Western Nevada Community College before transferring to Arizona in 2014. As a six-foot-three, 188-pound sidearmer, he has been a member of the Wildcats' weekend rotation for the last two seasons. In 2015, he pitched to a 3.94 ERA with a 1.14 BB/9 and 5.35 K/9 in 102.2 innings, which was strikingly consistent with his 2014 season. Evaluators don't seem to see much upside in him, so his success has likely come from a deceptive delivery and an admitted tendency to pitch to contact. He'll probably get a chance to start in Staten Island this year.

The Yankees grabbed University of Missouri reliever Andrew Schwaab because of his potential as a shutdown reliever. The righty likely didn't get much attention because of his awful 2014 season where he pitched to a 6.06 ERA over the NCAA season and was even worse in the Cape Code league with a 6.75 ERA. A lot of scouts likely dismissed him at that point, despite being named as Crowder College Pitcher of the Year when he served as their closer in 2013, and going onto an impressive 2015 season. This year, Schwaab pitched to a 2.76 ERA while striking out 44 and keeping batters to a .200 batting average against in 45.2 innings as a reliever. The six-one, 185-pounder was also used as a spot starter at times, but his future is in the bullpen. He has a devastating slider, which the Yankees love to see, and he sits 87-90 mph with his fastball to set up his out pitch.

The Yankees added to their minor league catching depth by signing Franklin Pierce University senior Matt Walsh to a professional contract. The five-ten, 215-pound senior is notable for starting every game over his four-year collegiate career. He also received attention from ESPN out of high school for his ability to throw out runners on the base path–a skill he has not been able to replicate in college. He did manage to hit .366/.438/.505 with four home runs from the right side of the plate this year, though. Interestingly, Walsh also stole 13 bases in 2015. Upon his signing, it was reported that he will start his career in the Gulf Coast League.

Despite not being taken in the MLB Draft, University of Massachusetts-Lowell outfielder Geoff DeGroot decided to go pro anyway when he signed with the Yankees. After being limited to only 11 games in 2014 due to a hamstring injury, he managed to hit .291/.361/.300 with an 11/12 K/BB% in the Cape Cod league. He turned that strong showing into a .274/.369/.319, with a 11/13 K/BB% and five stolen bases in 2015. The six-foot, 190-pounder also served as a pitcher during his collegiate career. He was set to be the team's closer before getting hurt in 2014, but he pitched to a 4.75 ERA with a 3.23 BB/9 and 4.18 K/9 in 47.1 inning as a starter this year. His coach says "He has really good stuff, 88-92 (mph) fastball, with a really good breaking ball. So he's got a chance as a pitcher. If he were two ticks faster as a runner, he would be a prospect at that level as an outfielder." Despite that, his peripherals were pretty bad, and with the Yankees signing him as an outfielder, they seem to think his future is with his bat–even if the speed ends up being an issue.

Maybe nothing becomes of these players, but it's worth a shot. Every so often one of these guys surprises everyone and reaches the majors.