In Volpe this year and Seigler last year, they’ve made big investments in guys at premium defensive positions who have tools but who are more noted for their all-around game, “plus makeup” preps. Among the guys who seem to have the potential to break out as prospects, only Sanford can be classed as a true power bat. DeMarco is a good all-around hitter, while Smith and Dunn are hit over power. Fans may have preferred this or that high ceiling guy to Volpe, but this is the direction they went. They have gotten, and are expected to continue getting, a lot of offensive ceiling and loud tools in IFA. Shying away from loud tools that had historically underperformed may be a recognition of their limitations. Until this year a lot of their drafted hitters had been stagnant or unimpressive, though the new hitting coordinator already be paying dividends in some of the bat breakouts this year.
On the mound, aside from the run on lefties they nabbed a handful of safer, “high floor” guys in Sikkema, Waldichuk and Wesneski. They were comfortable drafting short pitchers – likely viewed as undervalued – and only went for one mountain of a man this year in Ryan Anderson. Not a lot of huge velocity guys, though hard-throwing college righties were not abundant this year. They also may simply reason that they can improve velocity for guys with the right build or the right Trackman attributes.
A few points of emphasis. The Yankees raided a couple familiar small schools, St. Mary’s (twice) and ULM. They hit up the SEC three times and the ACC twice. Geographically they still leaned heavily on the Southeast, pulling 18 picks from the region. They hit Texas (twice), Oklahoma, Nevada, and Utah. They visited California (6x), predictably, but evenly divided between north and south. They also drafted another kid from the Northwest, though Oregon may be in the same region as the northern California draftees for cross-checking purposes. They went to the Northeast 7x, but Volpe might be the only prep from the region they sign. They drafted a couple Canadians in Sanford and MacDonald. They went prep ten times, but only once in their first twenty picks. They only hit up JUCO twice, and drafted just two DESes. They drafted seven seniors by my count but only one in the first ten rounds; the remainder were juniors.
They drafted nine LHPs, including their first three pitchers, after practically ignoring the demographic the last few drafts. Oppenheimer told Mark Feinsand they though this year’s college lefty class was strong. They drafted just three or four middle infielders, depending on how Kevin Milam is classed. Just two catchers and two true CFs (only one of each is likely to sign), though DeMarco and Sanford can reportedly play CF. After the success of Luke Voit, it’s only fitting that they would draft four of the big bat corner IF types and hope to catch lightning in a bottle.
On the whole I like the draft, though I may like it more depending on who we sign. The Yankees draft budget is $7,092,300. They can go up to $7,446,915 without incurring any non-financial penalties, and they can wiggle the numbers around to get an extra $25,000. It would surprise no one to see three or four of these arms anchoring rotations for Tampa or Trenton in a year or two. If Volpe becomes what they think he can be, it goes a long way toward making this draft a success. If he scuffles or stalls out, it’d take a lot more from the pitchers and from guys like Jake Sanford to make this draft memorable.
Just as a note, I leaned heavily on PinstripedProspects, PinstripesPlus/Scout, BA, Fangraphs, Baseball Cube, and Phil's blog (A Month of Fundays) for analysis. Give each of them a look.
Pick by pick
Round 1 – Anthony Volpe, RHH/SS, Delbarton HS (NJ), 5’11 180
There is little to say that hasn’t already been said. By all accounts Volpe has a host of 50-grade tools, by a few accounts (presumably the Yankees among them) he has a couple potential 60-grade tools in his hit and his speed. He’s a high makeup guy who the Yankees expect to be greater than the sum of his parts. He has been playing against top high school competition both at Delbarton and on the showcase circuit. He’ll probably come in and excel in the GCL or at Pulaski (recall the debuts of Gosuke Katoh and DBJ), but the true test will come in a year or two at Tampa and Trenton. Call it a reach if you want but he was firmly entrenched in that second tier of talent, the “red chip” level, and opinions varied widely within that tier. They scouted him extensively, I’m sure they talked to every coach from Delbarton down to little league, and they came to a conclusion with which many of us, perusing Youtube and reading 1-3-view scouting reports on national pubs, disagree. The likelihood is that he signs for somewhere around $3, potentially as high as $3.5 million.
Comp Round 1 – TJ Sikkema, LHSP, Mizzou (JR/21), 6’0” 221
Sturdy SEC lefty goes to a team with precious few lefties in the pipeline. Sikkema sits 89-91 with his FB but has been able to dial it up to 93-96 before. The Yankees drafted Garrett Whitlock, who had similarly variable FB velocity, and after two years with NYY he’s averaging 93.5, so it wouldn’t shock me to see Sikkema more in that 93-95 range after the Yankees get through with him. He pairs this with a slider that is plus at its best and an advanced change. He varies his arm slot to get different speeds and movement on his pitches so he can also throw out a slurvy breaking ball. Threw 237.1 IP of SEC ball, 88.2 this year (including two complete games). 101:31 K:BB to go with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. 1.72 ERA and 1 WHIP over 31.1 IP on the Cape last year. He’s a relatively “safe” pick with a high floor, but I’d be willing to bet that if his arm holds up his repertoire will sound more impressive in a year or two. He has signed for slot.
Round 2 – Joshua Smith, LHH/IF, LSU (JR/21), 5’10” 172
Productive SEC bat slashed .341/.431/.507 this year with 24:39 BB:K and 7 HRs. He was also 15/19 on SB attempts. His defense is solid enough at SS but most of the scouting reports just assumed he would be pushed aside by “twitchier” athletes. He should be above average, maybe plus, at 2B, and could end up a super-utility guy. He had an impressive Cape in 2017, OPSing .991 and setting him up for what should have been a breakout sophomore campaign before a back injury derailed it. Back injuries linger, and Mike Axisa suggested it may dent his asking price a bit. My guess is that he is around slot or close to it. Smith’s offensive profile is similar to Solak, Refsnyder, and David Adams, all major college standouts with hit over power (stronger hit tool than power) with wood bat success, and if he can build value the way they did he can be a strong pick, even if he never plays a game in pinstripes.
Round 3 – Jacob Sanford, LHH/OF, Western Kentucky (JR/21), 6’2” 215
Enigmatic power prospect who went unrecruited out of Nova Scotia. He spent two years mashing in JUCO and then switched to WKU, where he destroyed Conference USA pitching en route to a conference triple crown. He slashed .402/.488/.828 with 22 HRs, 43 XBH, and 65 RBIs playing D1 baseball. It’s not the ACC or the SEC, but the conference routinely produces big leaguers. His batting practice is the stuff of legend. This is where the opinions wildly diverge; MLB Pipeline says he has 60 grade speed and can play the OF, while BA says he has below average speed that will limit him defensively. If he can hit enough to tap into that power, which Fangraphs describes as “strength over bat speed”, he could be an impressive offensive prospect. If he actually has 60-grade speed, he could be something else entirely. He has already signed for slot.
Round 4 – Jake Agnos, LHSP, Eastern Carolina (JR/21), 5’11” 207
BA’s 143rd prospect, Agnos is a stocky lefty who had great results for ECU, with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 90 IP with a stellar 131:38 K:BB, cutting his walk rate markedly. He had a cup of coffee on the Cape last year, throwing six shutout innings in a single start. He throws a three pitch mix headlined by a low-90’s FB that touches 95 with movement. He pairs that with a good curve, giving him two potential plus pitches, and he complements that with a developing change. A couple of the pubs think he’s destined for relief, but he probably gets a chance to start first. DO noted he has a bulldog mentality (Melancon was the comp he used) and was a go-to arm for Team USA last year.
Round 5 – Ken Waldichuk, LHSP, St. Mary’s (California – JR/21) 6’4” 220
Big-bodied, effective lefty who posted solid numbers last year with a 96:30 K:BB over 87 IP, with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. The results were better across the board last year, with a 2.05 ERA and a 118:21 K:BB over 92 IP; had he duplicated that he might have gone a couple rounds higher. He features a low-90’s FB that touches 95, a solid slider, and a developing curve and change. The Yankees are well-regarded for adding velocity, and if they can get Waldichuk to add a couple ticks he could be special. DO said he tried to add velo this year and it adversely impacted his performance, so we’ll see. He has signed.
Round 6 – Hayden Wesneski, RHSP, Sam Houston St. (Texas – JR/21) 6’3” 210
A horse for Sam Houston State with 110:21 K:BB over 105.2 IP with a 3.32 ERA, Wesneski features a sinking FB he throws from a low slot that can vary from high 80’s up to 95 and complements that with a slider and a change. Some thought that he could post more consistent velocity in relief, maybe even add a tick or two, but that remains to be seen. He has signed, probably for slot.
Round 7 – Nick Paciorek, RHRP, Northwestern (Illinois – JR/21) 6’2” 195
Converted catcher with just one year as a full-time reliever, he throws a low-90’s FB that touches 96 and a great slider that BA says could eventually be plus-plus. They also note he’s purely a reliever, unlikely to have the stamina for long outings. Characteristically for a guy with a sick breaking ball, Paciorek had both a big K rate and a big BB rate, with a 44:18 K:BB over 26.2 IP with a 3.37 ERA and a .195 BAA. Because he’s so new to pitching he certainly has a lot of upside, but he’s a heady guy who should be cerebral in his approach and he has MLB bloodlines. A lot needs to go right for him, but he’s absolutely one to watch. He has signed, probably for slot.
Round 8 – Zach Greene, RHRP, S. Alabama (SR/22) 6’1” 215
Senior draftee who had an effective year closing for South Alabama, posting a 1.45 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP, and a crazy 70:8 K:BB in 49.2 IP along with 13 saves in his 27 appearances. Said to be 89-93 with his FB, not sure what his putaway pitch is. DO said he thought he might even have a shot to start, so we’ll see. He has signed for underslot.
Round 9 – Spencer Henson, 1B, Oral Roberts (Oklahoma- JR/21) 6’2” 240
Henson is the quintessential college masher first baseman, slashing .372/.505/.774 with 17 HRs and a 42:48 BB:K in 164 ABs this year. Area scout dropped a Luke Voit comp on him, which is a nice way of saying he’s doughy and he hits the ball far. Grew up a Yankee fan in Oklahoma, which is cool. Henson also closed for Oral Roberts, saving 6 games in 9 appearances. He’s probably an underslot, though as a junior he probably gets more than the standard $10K for senior signs.
Round 10 – Mitch Spence, RHSP, South Carolina-Aiken (JR/21) 6’1” 185
Effective small-school starter with a four-pitch repertoire. FB sits 87-93 T95, curveball, cutter, change, 104:34 K:BB in 93.1 IP with a 3.95 ERA, impressive 16-K complete game earlier in the season. Per DO, the Yankees are said to like his cutter. He has signed for slot.
Round 11 – Oliver Dunn, 2B, Utah (JR/21) 5’10” 185
BA 291st pick with good contact skills and gap power, said to be a plus runner, arm limits him to 2B. .362/.449/.559 this year in the PAC12 with a 30:43 BB:K, 9/13 SBs. OPSed a respectable .712 on the Cape last year but apparently had a pretty prolonged slump and ended the summer on a tear.
Round 12 – Ryan Anderson, LHSP, Nevada (JR/21) 6’6” 205
Big-bodied LHSP who had previously thrown 90-94, though he took a step backward to high 80’s this year. Complements that with a slurvy breaking ball and a change. 4.84 ERA with a 64:30 K:BB over 70.2 IP in the Mountain West, a notoriously hitter-friendly conference because of altitude. Much better numbers in Northwoods last year, where he threw to a 1.33 ERA and a .81 WHIP with a 30:6 K:BB over 27 IP. BA listed him as having some of the highest upside of their late-round picks. He profiles as the quintessential Yankee college project, a guy who already knows how to pitch but who could become a very different pitcher sitting 93.
Round 13 – Nelson Alvarez, RHRP, U. South Florida (JR/20) 6’4” 220
Said to throw a mid-90’s FB T97 with cut, potential plus slider, with the ceiling of a leverage reliever. 4.08 ERA and a 43:24 K:BB over 35 IP as USF’s closer.
Round 14 – Kevin Milam, IF/RHRP, St. Mary’s (California – JR/21) 6’1” 190
Two-way player announced as a 2B but that both BA and MLB Pipeline seem to prefer as a reliever. He touches 94-95 with the FB and also throws a cutter and a slider in the low 80’s. Slashed .317/.417/.508 with 28:47 BB:K in 199 ABs, struck out 70 in 55 IP on the mound. He has apparently signed.
Round 15 – Edgar Barclay, LHP, CSU-Bakersfield (JR/21) 5’10” 200
Hawaii native who also pitched in Canadian summer ball, which I did not know existed, to a 2.54 ERA over 39 IP with a 44:27 K:BB. Threw 90.1 IP this year with a 111:28 K:BB and a 3.69 ERA. Said to be 90-94 with his FB and to use a curve as his out-pitch. Potentially a reliever at the next level.
Round 16 – Shaine McNeely, RHP, Hope International (California – JR/21) 6’4” 210
Big RHRP posted an impressive 51:5 K:BB over 38 IP, holding opposing hitters to a .207 BA. Said to sit 91-93 and pair his heater with a slider.
Round 17 – Pat DeMarco, OF, Vanderbilt (DES/21) 5’9” 192
DeMarco might be the most interesting Day 3 prospect. He’s a DES whose debut season saw him hit .277/.353/.479 over 242 ABs with 11 HRs, a 23:53 BB:K, and 10 SBs. He followed that up with a decent season on the Cape, hitting .265/.306/.335 with a 9:40 BB:K and 10/13 on SBs. This year he was dinged up with a quad injury and was only hitting .247 when he came back. He has hit .340 since; now he’s at .298/.376/.504 over 171 ABs with a 20:54 BB:K, 23 XBH (5 HRs) and 6 SBs. He’s going to have some swing and miss in his game, but the K rate has dipped since his return from the injury. He’s a capable defender at all three OF spots, though he’s probably not an everyday CF. Described as a throwback-type player. He may very well be signable, but he could go back to school if they’re short of money or if he feels like he has unfinished business.
Round 18 – Evan Voliva, RHP, ECU (SR/23), 5’10” 205
Shortish reliever posted impressive numbers for ECU, 45:12 K:BB over 31.2 IP with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, did not surrender a homerun during the regular season this year. Missed time with TJS. Said to be low 90’s with his FB, complemented by a curve and a change.
Round 19 – Chad Bell, 3B/LHH, University of Louisiana-Monroe (SR/21) 6’3” 210
Hit an impressive .332/.411/.668 with 21 HRs and 29:45 BB:K over 214 ABs. The Yankees drafted his teammate Keegan Curtis, last year.
Round 20 – Jack Leiter, RHSP, Delbarton HS (NJ/19) 6’1” 195
I’m not going to waste the energy, he’s not going to sign. Talented kid and it’d be great to add him to the fold, but we don’t have the resources to make it happen. He has already announced as much.
Round 21 – Zach Kohn, RHP, Central Michigan (JR/21) 6’4” 190
CMU swingman who pitched to a 4.97 ERA and 42:19 K:BB in a variety of roles this year, said to air a 91-94 MPH fastball with a low-80’s slider. Thought to be a reliever going forward. Seemed pretty ecstatic to be a Yankee.
Round 22 – Gerrit van Zijll, LHP, Alvin CC (TX – J1/22) 6’4” 210
JUCO player who missed significant time with Lyme’s Disease but who destroyed his league to the tune of 122:30 K:BB in 76.2 IP with a 2.35 ERA, 88-92 said to touch 94, uses a circle change to keep righties honest and has a somewhat more rudimentary slider and curve. He’s a big, projectable guy with limited miles on his arm because of the almost three year layoff. My guess is they’ll encourage him to pick one of the two breaking options and go with it. He was committed to Texas Tech but either has signed or is likely to sign. Has detailed his struggle with Lyme’s and his faith, it’s an inspiring story. He’s a high upside bet, and like many high upside bets the odds are heavily against him, but if he does click he could be very impressive.
Round 23 – Matt Minnick, LHSP, Mercyhurst College (PA) (SR/23) 6’2” 210
116:32 K:BB over 68.2 IP with a 2.88 ERA last year, dominating small-school competition. He was BA’s D2 preseason player of the year going into 2017 but missed significant time with a UCL injury. He’s a fastball/changeup guy who sits low 90’s, but he also throws a curve and a slider.
Round 24 – Jake Pries, LF/RHH, UCLA (SR/23) 6’4” 226
Hit .285/.400/.519 with 26:28 BB:K over 158 ABs at UCLA, with 9 HRs. OPSed .817 in Northwoods in 2017. Probably an org type, but you never know.
Round 25 – Luke Brown, CF/LHH, John A. Logan JUCO (KY) (J2/20) 5’11” 190
Interesting story, Luke Brown was on scholarship at WKU (the same WKU as the Paul Bunyan of Conference USA, Jake Sanford) but realized he was going to be academically ineligible so he transferred to a JUCO and swiped an insane number of bases. He hit .369 as a frosh at WKU and swiped 11/18 bags. At JUCO he hit .398/.469/.557 with 24 XBHs (4 HRs) and went 66/72 on SB attempts (not a typo). He has top end speed and can play a legit CF. He is a Louisville commit though and will be draft-eligible next year, so there’s a good chance he gets to campus.
Round 26 – Ryan Brown, RHP, South Salem HS (OR), 6’2” 200
Oregon State commit said to sit 90-91 T93 with a curve and a change. Someone said he was intending to walk on so he may be a little more signable, but he’s a guy who might be able to add velo with pro strength and conditioning.
Round 27 – Kyle MacDonald, 1B/LHH, Arkansas St. (SR/22) 6’3” 240
Canadian lefty had a great junior year, posting 15 HRs, a 39:46 BB:K, and a 1.129 OPS in 191 ABs. This year it backed up to a respectable but less impressive .301/.417/.477 slash with 5 HRs and a 28:23 BB:K in 176 ABs. Blasted 16 HRs in Northwoods last year with an .880 OPS.
Round 28 – Michael Giacone, LHP, N. Greenville Univ (SC, JR/22) 6’0” 165
Giacone destroyed D2 competition last year after pitching JUCO, posting a 113:27 K:BB in 83.1 IP with a 2.16 ERA and a .184 opposing BA. Fastball tops out around 92 but he commands it well and locates it, especially high, to get K’s. Change described as “serviceable” by PerfectGame, capable of keeping RHH honest, breaking stuff is clearly lagging.
Round 29 – Chase Illig, C/SH, WVU (JR/22) 6’0” 210
Illig was sidelined all year with a foot injury, the first and only catcher NYY picked after a cluster draft last year. Hit .206/.277/.392 with 10:32 BB:K and 5 HRs in 102 Abs. 1.173 OPS with 7 HRs in the California Collegiate League last summer. Illig seems to be liked and respected for his makeup and has intriguing power potential. Whether he has the ceiling of a big leaguer remains to be seen, but college catchers tend to be worth their weight in gold to pitching staffs in the low minors and he could make his mark that way.
Round 30 – Zachary Maxwell, RHP, N. Spauling HS (GA) 6’6” 245
Georgia Tech commit who is said to top out at 98 with the ability to spin a curve. He is rated as BA’s 138th best prospect, so the likelihood is his ask will exceed their available pool money.
Round 31 – Chad Knight, SH/C, Staples HS (CT) 6’0” 205
Duke Commit, Knight first came to public attention in the 2013 LLWS. He has since been a fixture on the showcase circuit for a couple years. He has power potential and his pop times are strong, though there are some concerns over whether he’s a long-term catcher. Either way, he’s not likely to sign.
Round 32 – Ethan Hoopingarner, RHP, Aliso Niguel HS (CA) 6’3” 200
USC Commit that PrepBaseballReport says is up to 93 with his FB, throwing it with a 12/6 curve, a slider, and a change. Absent additional information the likelihood is he gets to campus.
Round 33 – Javier Reynoso, SS/RHH, Colegio Angel David HS (PR), 6’2” 190
Puerto Rican prep and mystery man, per Pinstriped Prospects he has signed (somewhat unexpectedly). He is said to have a big arm, impressive straight-line speed, and power potential; a move to 3B may be in his future, per PerfectGame. We’ve tabbed a few low dollar preps the last couple drafts (Sincere Smith, Terrence Robertson) with limited success, but it’s always worth a shot.
Round 34 – Joey Lancellotti, RHP, UNC (DES/21) 5’11” 205
Effective reliever for UNC, pitching to a 2.08 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, 56:24 K:BB over 52 IP; last year 3.96 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 43:18 K:BB over 38.2 IP. 3.38 ERA on the Cape last summer, with 17:3 K:BB over 13.1 as a starter and reliever. He is said to sit around 95 touching 97 with his FB and pairs it with a hard slider that also grades out as plus. With two plus pitches, his draft position suggests his ask is pretty high. I’d be surprised if he signs.
Round 35 – Nathaniel Espelin, LHP, The Winchendon School (MA/HS) 5’11” 185
University of Dayton commit, did a post-grad year in Massachusetts. Nothing I’ve seen says he’s interested in signing. FB said to be high-80’s, college may be the best bet for him.
Round 36 – Montana Semmel, RHP, Westill HS (CT) 6’4” 225
Chipola (top JUCO program) commit, said to be mid-90’s with his four-seam, also throwing a two-seam, curve and change. Had TJS a couple years back. He told a local paper he was deciding between signing and going to school.
Round 37 – Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke (DES/21) 6’2” 185
Draft-eligible sophomore who was at his best at the end of the year for Duke, outpitching 1st rounder Alex Manoah with 8 shutout innings and 11 Ks (albeit on 126 pitches, which is more than a draft-eligible ballplayer should be permitted to throw). He also pitched a gem against my Cavaliers, going 7 IP and allowing just 1 unearned run. He was the usual Saturday starter, throwing 68.2 IP with a 4.06 ERA and a 86:33 K:BB. As a frosh he pitched to a 2.45 ERA and a 67:25 K:BB over 47.2 IP of relief and posted a respectable 5.34 ERA over 28.2 IP on the Cape. Three-pitch pitcher, as of March was 91-92 with his FB, throwing an 80 MPH slider as a putout pitch, and mixing in a change. As a proven ACC pitcher with gaudy K totals, his draft position tells me he probably had a significant ask. Duplicating or improving upon this year could make him an early Day 2 pick.
Round 38 – Dontae Mitchell, CF/RHH, Lakewood HS (FL) 6’0” 185
UCF Commit, I know little about him other than that he has big-time speed. He has apparently announced that he will not sign.
Round 39 – Jake Farrell, 1B/LHH, Northeastern (SR/23) 6’4” 215
A bit of a curiosity in that his numbers dipped a good deal this year, from an impressive slash of .342/.412/.631 over 225 ABs with 27:40 BB:K and 11 HRs to a good but somewhat less dynamic .322/.382/.581 with 18:39 BB:K and 10 HRs.
Round 40 – Alex Garbrick, RHP, Morehead St. (KY – JR/21) 6’1” 205
Swingman with a solid K rate, 59:32 in 48 IP with a 5.03 ERA. He is presently up on the Cape, getting ready to pitch when a slot opens up and contemplating signing or returning to school.