2017 Yankees Draft Review
1. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina, JR, 6’1” 200
Schmidt was in the midst of a breakout season at South Carolina with a 1.34 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP over 60.1 IP, with a 70:18 K:BB. He also had a strong 2016, throwing 111.1 IP with a 129:27 K:BB and a 3.40 ERA. His TJS was said to be pretty problem-free. He throws low to mid-90’s, comfortable at 95-96 but touching 97 or 98 on occasion. His slider is a put-away pitch and his changeup is mature. DO said they felt he was one of the top four college arms in the draft, and that he did not believe they would have had a shot at him if he was healthy. His velocity was late in coming, so he relied on command and control in HS and early in college. As he returns from injury, the challenge will be maintaining that finesse with better stuff. If he can do that, he could be a special prospect. By all accounts a great kid and a smart one, should be a good Yankee.
2. Matt Sauer, RHP, Righetti HS (CA), 6’4” 195
A lot of disagreement on Sauer as a prospect. BA had him 28th while Law didn’t consider him a Top 50 guy. Arizona commit and likely to require $2 mil plus (allotted $1.2 pick value) to sign. Maybe the most talented prep RHP since Ty Hensley. 91-94 touching 97 on his FB with deception. Best secondary pitch is a slider but has a promising CB and a rudimentary CH. Big body kid with room to fill out, could even end up throwing a little faster. Some red flags about delivery, which is said to be violent, but the potential is there for him to be very good. Saw a Lackey comp from one of the BA guys, would sign on for that. Said to be under consideration at 16, so a great get.
3. Trevor Stephan, RHP, Arkansas, JR, 6’5” 225
Stephan was a one-year wonder at Arkansas after two years at Hill College. Dominant Friday starter, with a 120:20 K:BB over 91 IP, a 2.87 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in the SEC. Down the stretch he only got better, including a 1-hit shutout against Tennessee and a 12 K gem against Oral Roberts in the regional. 91-95 with deception on the FB, slider with put-away potential and a developing change. Has a chance to be a very solid pickup for us. We have had plenty of luck with SEC starters, most notably Jordan Montgomery. I thought he was a slot guy but he signed for $800K, or $221,300 overslot.
4. Canaan Smith, RF, Rockwall-Heath HS (TX), 6’0” 215
Smith is a lefty power bat who probably ends up in a corner OF. A lot of raw power, good marks for his approach both in terms of discipline and using the whole field. He was chasing the national record for walks, probably in part because he was the best player on a bad team. Arkansas commit, nobody else had him in the 4th (BA at 366) so I wonder if this might be a Donnie Sands scenario where he gets decent but under-slot bonus. Either that or he was a little under the radar and the Yanks just liked him more than everyone else.
5. Glenn Otto, RHP, Rice, JR, 6’5” 240
Otto came on like gangbusters as a frosh at Rice, with a 65:28 K:BB and a 1.54 ERA over 41 IP as a multi-inning reliever. His soph season was solid too, with a 76:30 K:BB and a 2.26 ERA over 71.2 IP as a multi-inning reliever and closer. This year he was less effective, going 81:29 over 59.2 IP with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Rumors about overuse or misuse, some apparent shoulder soreness. At his best he has a 94-96 FB touching 98 and a potential plus spike curve, though sometimes his FB is said to be straight and hittable in the low-90’s. I really like the pick, he’s the sort of guy we’ve had a lot of luck developing. With a managed workload and better coaching he could really impress, whether they give him a chance to start or they keep him in the pen. Based on his interviews it looks like he will at least get a chance to start. Signed for a slot bonus.
6. Dalton Lehnen, LHP, Augustana College (IL), JR, 6’2” 195
Struggled at Cincinnati for two years before transferring to tiny Augustana College, 2.60 ERA and 61:20 K:BB over 52 IP as a starter. Struggled in Northwoods, throwing to a 6.06 ERA over 32.2 IP with a 35:21 K:BB. 92-96 FB, hasn’t developed a consistent breaking pitch (per BA). Piliere, by contrast, says three average pitches and a decent CH. Potential reliever going forward, BA had him at 153 on their top 500. I’d guess he gets around slot, give or take a little.
7. Dalton Higgins, RHP, Dallas Baptist, JR, 6’2” 200
DBU gave us Chance Adams. Higgins isn’t the prospect Adams is, he’s slightly overaged (22 in Aug) and Adams was a weapon for DBU in the way Higgins wasn’t. Still, Higgins has power stuff, 92-95 FB (touching 96), tight slider, developing CB and CH. 40:17 K:BB and 3.15 ERA over 40 IP as a setup man and closer. I’d wager a guess he gets a little less than the $193,700 bonus slot, but I don’t think he signs for peanuts.
8. Kyle Zurak, RHP, Radford (VA), SR, 6’0” 205
Zurak was little used at Radford for three years and then came on as a successful swingman his senior season. 73:22 K:BB over 60 IP, 2.40 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Said to touch 95 with his FB and have a potential above average SL, also throws a curve and a change. Clear underslot, but with potential. He has signed.
9. Austin Gardner, RHP, UT Arlington, SR, 6’2” 215
Gardner was a multi-inning reliever for UT Arlington. This year was the first sustained success he had at the collegiate level after an awful 2016 for UT-A and a bad 2014 for Wichita State. 2.42 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 55:10 K:BB over 44.2 IP. Per RAB, a low 90’s FB and mediocre breaking stuff. Clear underslot.
10. Chad Whitmer, RHP, Southern Illinois, SR, 6’3” 195
Another clear underslot, Whitmer was 96:26 over 104 IP, with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Said to have three average offerings; FB 88-92 touching 93, slider and change. Also working on a curveball. Fills the zone. They’re pretty good about finding value in senior signs, but the priority is still cost savings. He has signed.
11. Shawn Semple, RHP, University or New Orleans, JR, 6’1” 195
Semple went 109:20 K:BB with a 3.07 ERA over 93.2 IP at New Orleans. All his peripheral numbers improved over 2016. RAB describes him as low-90’s FB with command, passable breaking ball and change. Because that's almost a premium pick at this point because of the slotting system, I wonder if his stuff might have ticked up a bit. He has signed.
12. Steven Sensley, RF, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, SR, 6’2” 220
The Yankees are starting to target Louisiana more, perhaps because of an area scout they particularly trust. Sensley had a .993 OPS and hit 11 HRs last year with a 25:40 BB:K. He was drafted out of JUCO by the Rays in ’15 after a 21 HR performance but elected to go to ULL instead. Someone dropped a Stephen Sousa comparison on him, I’d sign up for that. Big raw power and a little bit of athleticism. Either way, intriguing kid. DO highlighted his exit velo when he IDed him as a potential sleeper. Apparently he has already signed.
13. Eric Wagaman, 1B, Orange Coast College, J2, 6’4” 210
Hit .333/.404/.636 for OCC this year, 25:22 BB:K, said to have as much raw power as anyone in the draft. Could be a slight overslot, BA had him 385/500. Not the most athletic kid, likely to fall into that 1B/DH niche. After Gittens at High A we’re actually a little light on that skillset at the lower levels. He has signed.
14. Harold Cortijo, RHP, Riverdale Baptist School (MD), 6’2” 180
Cortijo moved here from Puerto Rico to face better competition and ended up faring well his last couple years of high school. FB variously described as 88-92 up to low-to-mid 90’s, complemented with a curveball and a change he has thrown competitively for some time. Has two-way potential as a CF if he follows through on a JUCO commit but the athleticism will serve him well on the mound. He has signed, potentially for overslot but I doubt it took a fortune.
15. Aaron McGarity, RHP, Virginia Tech, SR, 6’3” 185
Tech sucks, but McGarity fared pretty well there. 46:20 K:BB over 38 IP as a closer and setup man his senior year, also had a strong cameo on the Cape last year. Easy low to mid 90’s velo on the Cape but RAB indicated he may have cut short his summer ball due to injury. He has signed.
16. Ricky Surum, SS, U of Mt. Olive, SR, 5’10” 170
Two years as a Hokie, including a decent frosh year where he OPSed .640 and a soph year where he was either hurt or just didn’t play. Went to University of Mt. Olive this year, where he OPSed .593. Maybe he’s a good glove, otherwise I’m not sure.
17. Chris Hess, 2B, Rhode Island, SR, 6’2” 195
Another SR draftee, .347/.414/.581 with 8 HRs and 12 SBs his senior season, 16:40 BB:K this year. Also pitched in summer ball. He is said to have signed.
18. Garrett Whitlock, RHP, UAB, JR, 6’5” 190
Familiar swingman profile, 44:24 K:BB over 60.1 IP, 4.03 ERA as a starter and reliever for UAB. Had a few scoreless innings on the Cape last year. It’s not uncommon for noted college players to get a few reps either before the tourney kids finish up or after drafted players sign. On the Cape he was said to pair a plus slider with mid-90’s heat touching 96-97, but he apparently missed some time with a back injury and food poisoning this spring and came back with diminished velo that marked him for the pen. Frankie Piliere said he has a funky lower-slot delivery that is deceptive but that doesn’t always lend itself to command. If he can get back to his Cape form he could be a nice get.
19. Rod Marinaccio, RHP, Delaware, SR, 6’2” 205
Very effective year as a swingman for the Blue Hens, 68:22 K:BB over 64.2 IP with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. FB/SL combination.
20. Ryan Lidge, C, Notre Dame, SR, 6’2” 205
Cousin of former closer Brad Lidge, he is a defense-first receiver who hit .215/.339/.303 with a 35:32 BB:K while catching 57 of 58 ND games this spring. OPSed .604 out on the Cape last year. Maybe there’s more there, or maybe he ends up one of the high intangibles catchers like Wes Wilson who doesn’t make it to the bigs but who does his part to develop pitching in the meantime.
21. Bryan Blanton, RHP, Catawba College (NC), JR, 6’0” 190
Effective closer last year, throwing to a 2.67 ERA with a 37:24 K:BB over 30.1 IP, perhaps effectively wild. Took some steps forward on peripherals this year, even though his ERA was 2.70 his K:BB was a much improved 50:15 over 33.1 IP. Apparently heavily reliant on his breaking stuff. He has already signed, wouldn’t surprise me if he’s ticked for Pulaski.
22. Janson Junk, RHP, Seattle, JR, 6’1” 177
5.92 ERA and 61:30 K:BB over 76 IP this year as a swingman. Results were better last year, with a 4.21 ERA and a 59:18 K:BB over 69.1 IP. Per RAB, said to be a flamethrower capable of touching 98 and sitting 95-96. Also throws a power slider and a two-seam. DO also described him as a power arm. Will need to develop his change if he’s going to excel at pro ball, but he has sleeper possibilities.
23. Colby Davis, RHP, Chaparral HS (CA), 6’8” 225
Yavapai commit said to sit high 80’s, a couple of secondary pitches he’s working on, very much a projection guy. He’s probably signable, but sometimes that profile is better served to go to school, get regular reps and reenter the draft in a year or two with a stronger repertoire.
24. Pat DeMarco, LF, Winder Barrow HS (GA), 5’11” 190
SI native who started out at Poly Prep but finished HS in Georgia. He’s a toolsy HS, I heard an Adam Haseley comp, but he has been strident in saying he is going to honor his commitment to Vandy, even after being picked. I’m not going to waste a ton of ink on the guys who clearly aren’t going to sign. We redraft from time to time, we could see him again in three years.
25. Riley Thompson, RHP, Louisville, SO, 6’3” 195
I don’t know how signable Thompson is, but he might be my favorite of the guys who haven’t already said thanks but no thanks. He’s in the CWS so he hasn’t really had a chance to be wooed yet. Anyway, big big velo guy, up to 98, but had TJS coming out of HS. Sitting 95-96 and touching 98, with a developed slider, he managed 23:8 K:BB over 14.2 IP of relief, with a 4.30 ERA. He actually has three years of eligibility left, as I understand it. But the thought process is he hopes to return to school, make the Louisville rotation, and come out next year as a possible first round pick. The problem is that Louisville has a very competitive rotation, there is no guarantee he makes it as a weekend starter, and even less of a guarantee that he pitches well enough or stays healthy enough to beat a bonus offer that could be in the $400-$500K range (just a guess, nobody has said that). Josh Rogers was in a similar boat, but Rogers knew he’d have to fight with two very impressive rising sophomores (McKay and McClure) so that Kyle Funkhouser’s decision to return to school probably made the difference.
26. Austin Crowson, LHP, Lane CC (OR), J2, 6’5” 210
Nevada commit, Crowson is said to sit low 90’s with his FB, 29:11 K:BB in 25.2 IP, 2.81 ERA. One of only two southpaws who have a realistic chance of signing.
27. Alex Mauricio, RHP, Norfolk St., JR, 6’0” 180
Drafted as a RHP out of Norfolk St., was a pretty decent hitter as an infielder too. .955 OPS, 11/14 SBs, 19:23 BB:K ratio. As a pitcher, he went 55:27 K:BB over 59.1 IP, 3.49 ERA as a starter. Last year he had a 3.23 ERA as a reliever. He had a 4.26 ERA in the Coastal Plain League last year too. Supposedly could touch 99 but some mix of injury or fatigue dropped that down to low-90’s. If he can recapture that and improve secondary offerings he could be a weapon out of the pen. He has reportedly signed.
28. Shane Roberts, RHP, Dwyer HS (FL), 6’1” 165
Roberts is a South Carolina commit. DO has long displayed faith in the program, drafting Schmidt this year, DTW last year and Jordan Montgomery a couple years ago, among others. He is said to top out around 90 MPH on his FB, though with a slight build I’m sure there’s a belief he could add some velo with strength training. Said to have a developing curve and change. I’m not sure how firm his commitment is, or whether in the judgment of him and his advisor three years in the SEC might be a better bet personally and professionally.
29. Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford, SO, 6’4” 165
I won’t dwell at length on Beck because his bonus demands are said to be in the $2.5 mil range, but he hasn’t SAID he’s going back to Stanford. But he is. Anyway, the best frosh in the country last year, a legit four pitch pitcher with a 90-93 FB, a mature CH, an effective SL and one of the best CBs in the country. Missed all season with a stress fracture in his back.
30. Jake Mangum, CF, Miss. St., SO, 6’0” 185
Speedy spark plug player, hit over .400 as a frosh and was raking before a hand injury limited him this year. Has already announced he is returning to MSU.
31. Jimmy Herron, CF, Duke, SO, 6’1” 195
Duke sucks. Herron is a plus runner, a slap hitter who uses his speed to get on base. .326/.412/.474 and 17/24 on SB attempts, showed a bit of power this year with 5 HRs. 29:34 BB:K suggest discipline. A good prospect, a better one if that power develops, but the likelihood is he chooses another year at Duke over a year in Staten Island. He’s up on the Cape and so far (a week of games) doing very well, a nice summer may put him on the radar for the first few rounds.
32. Alika Williams, SS, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA), 6’2” 175
Arizona State commit who went to the same HS as Gosuke Katoh. He gets high praise for his defense, his instincts and his work ethic. His bat is described as raw, but playing for a premier HS program in the country that’s probably not the case. He hasn’t grown into his man strength yet, so his power potential is uncertain. BA slapped a Nick Ahmed comp on him, which would be just fine for the 32nd round. He’s probably going to school, but ASU has some turmoil right now so it’s at least theoretically possible that a big bonus could make him think twice. Unlikely, but not impossible.
33. Jacob Stevens, RHP, Boston College, SO, 6’3” 225
Stevens had a great frosh campaign at BC, going 74.1 IP with a 2.54 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP and a 70:33 K:BB. Had an okay summer on the Cape, throwing to a 4.66 ERA. Came back this spring and pitches to a 5.10 ERA over 83 IP, with a 73:42 K:BB. Not sure if there was an injury or what. Supposedly more of a high-80’s FB, reliant on breaking pitches to get outs. He’s a DES, but he turned 21 in February so he doesn’t have quite the same leverage a guy six or seven months younger might.
34. Jordan Butler, LHP, Alonso HS (FL), 6’1” 180
Effective LHRP for Team USA, with a low 90’s FB and a great slider, Butler has a firm Florida commit and has announced he will honor it.
35. Steven Williams, C, Deerfield-Windsor HS (GA), 6’3” 215
Williams is an Auburn commit who checks a lot of the right boxes. Big-time power, solid hit tool, reasonably athletic with a strong arm. Probably too big to catch, but gets high marks for makeup so could try it for the time being. Moot point anyway, he was a 2-4 round talent and he has announced he’s going to Auburn.
36. Andrew Abbott, LHP, Halifax County HS (VA), 6’0” 157
Virginia commit who sits high 80’s with polish, has already said he’ll honor his commitment and go to UVA.
37. Tanner Burns, RHP, Decatur HS (GA), 6’0” 210
Mid-90’s velo, power breaking ball and a developing change, he isn’t the biggest but his raw stuff is very impressive; he was talked about in the 2-3 round range. That said, he has a firm Auburn commit and has already announced he will honor it.
38. Brent Burgess, RHP, Spartanburg Methodist College (SC), J2, 6’0” 200
Hit to an .896 OPS as a catcher, with 9 HRs, in 2016. Apparently the Rangers drafted him in the 40th and wanted him to pitch, and he ended up not signing. .826 this year, though this is JUCO so that’s not as impressive. Pitched a little this year, 7 Ks and 3 BBs in 4.1 IP, just 1 ER. Still just 20 years old, so he could go to a four-year school if he doesn’t like our offer. Similar in trajectory to Paddy O’Brien, whom we drafted in the 24th round in 2015 and ultimately signed. Hype tweet has him at 92-96 FB with a SL and CH in the low 80’s but that could be just that.
39. Andrew Nardi, LHP, Ventura College (CA), J1, 6’3” 185
Originally I confused him with a Radford pitcher of the same name, Kyle Zurak’s teammate. Nardi had a 1.17 ERA in JUCO, with 38:9 K:BB over 33 innings of relief. FB/SL guy, not big velocity (said to be 88-89 touching 91, though he has the frame to potentially throw harder if he fills out) but a deceptive slider that he locates pretty well. Might have an opportunity to start next year, which could really boost his draft stock. Playing summer ball this year in Alaska. We’ll see if he signs.
40. Hayden Cantrelle, SS, Teurlings Catholic HS (LA), SS, 5’10” 175
ULL commit and two-sport athlete noted for his plus speed, strong arm and good defense at short. Said to be a strong contact hitter with limited pop. Likely a solid commit, though we could revisit him in a few years.
It’s a difficult draft to read until Schmidt and Sauer sign. If their combined bonuses are somewhere in the $4-$4.5M range, they’ll have money to try to woo one or two of the high bonus demands from later in the draft. If they’re at $5M or more, figure they’re going to end the draft with about 20 signees and none of them the sort that had us excited on the latter half of Day 3. They had ballpark salary figures for Schmidt and Sauer before the draft so they knew what they were doing, but it’s difficult to figure out exactly what that was/is until those first dominos fall.
In some ways this draft was a significant departure from drafts of the recent past. It was very pitching-heavy, with 28 drafted out of 40 picks. Barring something unforeseen, only three signees with prospect bonafides (distinct from organizational guys) are position players, Canaan Smith, Steven Sensley and Eric Wagaman. Last year that number was probably seven or eight. Last year they “dreamed on” a bunch of tooled-up positional prospects, guys like Edel Luaces and Evan Alexander. This year Canaan Smith is as close as it gets.
Senior draftees were heavily represented, and not just in picks 6-10; we drafted 9 or 10 depending on how you classify a couple of the picks. Four JUCO guys, on par with last year (though two this year were in the last three picks and neither is a lock to sign). Last year we signed our standard lone high school arm; this year we’re almost certainly going to sign two with the possibility we land a third or a fourth.
This is very much a delayed gratification draft. Even last year we drafted a couple guys who were likely to move in Nick Solak and Widener (and a few more we may have hoped would move but who haven’t). This year Stephan, Otto and Higgins could move but the first two picks clearly won’t. Schmidt’s surgery was said to be clean and he should be back on a mound at some point early next year, but alternatives like Faedo, Evan White and Kendall all would have been fast movers. Even if Sauer is mature for a prep, his trajectory might take him to Charleston to start 2018, and SI or even Pulaski wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. And that’s a reasonable move on the part of DO and Cashman, who don’t have a need for short-term impact and who would much prefer to have a staggered stream of high-upside prospects to continue rejuvenating what they hope will be a consistent competitor. Both also have the upside of 2-3 starters, and they’re lucky if they get to add one such talent in a draft.
In terms of positional players, Wagaman, Sensley and Smith are all corner guys. The latter two are athletic, it’s not a knock, but it speaks to perceived organizational strengths and weaknesses. They have a fair amount of CF types in the lower levels, including a batch from last year’s draft. Power is always at a premium and unless/until some of the 7/14 guys start clicking (looking at you, Dermis) it’s something we’re lacking in short season. Last year there was a huge emphasis on speed, this year they drafted a couple speed merchants in Herron, Mangum and Cantrelle but the likelihood is that none of the three signs.
South Carolina and the Deep South, especially Louisiana, have become prospect pools on par with SoCal in recent years. Ten draftees combined from GA, SC, AL, MS and LA.
One clear emphasis this year was on big velocity. Some, like Junk and Higgins, have now-velocity. Others, like Alex Mauricio, Glenn Whitlock, Aaron McGarity and Glenn Otto, have shown sustained mid to upper 90’s velocity in the past but have been diminished lately. It’s been an organizational emphasis in trades too, with Abreu and Guzman the most noted examples. If Riley Thompson signs, he could be the hardest thrower of all of them.
Also noteworthy was what they didn’t draft. Only Chris Hess plays a middle IF position (unless they pull a rabbit out of their hat with Alika Williams or Hayden Cantrelle, and they probably won’t), and as a senior sign he likely profiles as an org type at the lower levels. They probably won’t sign a CF, and the only C they likely signed is Lidge from ND, a defense-first guy who is probably an org type. It wasn’t a great draft for catchers and usually their stock is inflated anyway, but they have a few Latin American kids they’re said to be especially high on.
You can’t look at this draft in a vacuum. The Yankees cut one DSL team, so they sent an above average group of kids north this year. An even bigger roster crunch exists in the transition from short-season to full-season ball. That helps to explain why they probably will only sign one prep position player. They have minimal reps in the middle IF and at CF, and very few preps who aren’t athletic enough to at least play corner OF are worth drafting. They’re holding over kids like DTW and Timmy Robinson from last year, players who could certainly handle Charleston but who aren’t going to take reps from Florial and Rutherford.
In this scenario, it’s easier to take pitching. You can dream on a guy who throws 98 improving his command. You can dream on a prep pitcher who weighs 150 soaking wet adding 5 MPH when he gets his man strength (like Cortijo). And frankly, you can turn a college prospect over in a year or two if they don’t emerge, as they’ve done over the last several years.
So in summation, a weird draft that is heavily dependent on the “two-headed monster” at the top turning into one or two legit high-end pitching prospects. Some impressive arms with a shot not just to make the bigs but to stay there. A couple offensive prospects with upside. But the really interesting question about this draft is whether or not they’ll manage to land one or more of the Day 3 guys with bonus demands. Colby Davis and Shane Roberts would add a couple more lotto tickets to the mix. Riley Thompson could emerge as an elite prospect. If a few things go right, and if a few more kids put pen to paper, could turn into a very good draft and help put the org’s arms on par with its bats in terms of esteem.