2014 Draft Capsule: New York Yankees
Intro: The New York Yankees enter the 2014 MLB Draft without a 1st round pick, thanks to a winter spending spree that resulted in the loss of the 17th overall pick and two compensatory picks. Coming into the season, their farm system was generally ranked in the bottom third of the league, making it a rather troubling situation to have to wait halfway into the 2nd round to finally make a pick. One saving grace for the Yankees is that their previous draft class was considered a strong success by multiple outlets. It certainly helped that they had three 1st round picks, (Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, and Ian Clarkin), all of whom were considered to be solid choices for where they were taken. Additionally, their 2nd and 4th round picks, (Gosuke Katoh and Tyler Wade), had very successful debut seasons in the Gulf Coast League. They’ve been reported to be planning on spending very aggressively this July in the IFA signing period to make up for the lack of an early pick in the draft.
But we’re not here to talk about July 2nd but June 5th instead. Before we look at possible targets for New York, let’s take a closer look at recent draft history.
History: the past few drafts have been a mixed bag for New York and, except for the aforementioned 2013 draft, the team has mostly had trouble adding talent to the system. The team’s 2012 1st round pick, Ty Hensley, only has 12 professional IP under his belt due to surgeries on both hips. Their 2nd round pick, Austin Aune, regressed last season in his second season in rookie ball and is already viewed as a bust. The two best picks of the draft were Miami catcher Peter O’Brien and Faulkner College RHP Corey Black. O’Brien is showing off immense power, trailing only Joey Gallo in HRs in the MiLB. However he’s a man without a true position; originally a catcher, the team has tried him at 3B, 1B, and RF and he hasn’t stuck anywhere yet. Meanwhile Black was traded last season to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano.
The top pick in the draft before that, 3B Dante Bichette, Jr., struggled in 2012 and 2013, so much so that it left NY no choice but to use the 1st pick of last years draft on another 3B and has them both playing in high A Tampa. Bichette, to his credit, has played well this year after his promotion. The other top prospects from the draft are 1B Greg Bird and CF Jake Cave. While Bird had a fantastic year offensively, he’s showing signs that staying healthy may be a big problem for him. Cave is a nice and underrated CF who could stick there thanks to his plus range and arm.
Farm system: Now that we’ve seen what the past few drafts have done for NY, what does their system look like today? I would describe it as hitter-heavy, with 8 of the top 10 prospects on my preseason top 25 list being hitters. They’re best pitching prospects are all either super-young (Clarkin and Luis Severino), coming back off major injuries (Hensley and Manny Banuelos), or are best suited for the bullpen, (Jose Ramirez and possibly Rafael de Paula). They’re strength is in catching, with top prospect Gary Sanchez playing in Trenton and number 6 prospect John Ryan Murphy splitting time between Scranton and the Bronx. There’s a lot of talent playing in Charleston, the team’s low A affiliate, (Judge, Katoh, Wade, Clarkin, and SS Abi Avelino).
DRAFT PROSPECTS: Ok, so what does this all mean for the draft. For one thing, predicting one single player is virtually impossible. There are so many possibilities with how the draft can shake out prior to their pick. Add to that the fact that Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer is infamous for taking guys early that few others are on, (referred to as “the Yankees’ guys”). See Katoh, Bichette, Slade Heathcott, and even Cito Culver going back a few years. With that in mind, there are a lot of good prep arms in this class and, like I mentioned, pitching is something this system desperately needs. Plus, none of the players they’ve been purported to have deals with in the IFA class are pitchers making it even more important to hit pitching early and often. Some names I like are Scott Blewett, Mac Marshall, Justus Sheffield, and Keaton McKinney. But those are just some of several names that are ranked in that second round range.
And let me throw this out there: I believe a signable top 30 talent will be available when NY picks at 55. It happened last year with Jon Denney, (who was actually top 20 on my board). There are pitchers like Kodi Medeiros, Cam Varga, and Luis Ortiz for example that have been predicted to be 1st rd picks for 9 months but have a possibility of falling. The only question will be will the Yankees take them. The slot for that pick is $1.02M so they still have a million bonus that they can give to someone.
Alright folks, I hope everyone enjoys the draft and is happy with their team’s haul! You can find me on twitter at @thebronxempire, visit my site, The Bronx Empire, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check there or here at BLF for all of my draft content. Have a great day!