New York Yankees: Draft Review

General Manager: Brian Cashman
Farm Director: Pat Roessler
Scouting Director: Damon Oppenheimer

2006-2009 Draft Results:
First three rounds included
x- over-draft signees ($200,000 or more)

2009 1st Round: Slade Heathcott, OF, Texas HS
2. J.R. Murphy, C, Florida HS
3. None
5x – Caleb Cotham, RHP, Vanderbilt
12x – Brett Gerritse, RHP, California HS
14x – Graham Stoneburner, RHP, Clemson
16x – Bryan Mitchell, RHP, North Carolina
44x – Evan DeLuca, LHP, New Jersey HS

Unfazed by make-up questions surrounding Heathcott, the organization nabbed him based on his offensive potential. He appeared in just three games after signing. Murphy appeared in nine games but got off to a fast start and hit .333. Cotham made three appearances after signing. Gerritse had an impressive debut in six games in rookie ball. Stoneburner pitched just one inning after coming to terms. Mitchell and DeLuca did not pitch in ’09 after signing. In other words, we’re really going to have to wait until 2010 to see how this draft class is looking… although starting pitchers Adam Warren (4th round) and Sean Black (7th) got off to stellar starts in low-A with FIPs of 2.19 and 2.96, respectively.

2008 1st Round: Gerrit Cole, RHP, California HS (Did not sign)
1S. Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Stanford
2. Scott Bittle, RHP, Mississippi (Did not sign)
3. David Adams, 2B, Virginia
6x – Brett Marshall, RHP, Texas HS
7x – Kyle Higashioka, C, California HS
9x – Michael O’Brien, RHP, Virginia HS
10x – D.J. Mitchell, RHP, Clemson
15x – Matt Richardson, RHP, Florida HS
27x – Garrison Lassiter, SS, North Carolina HS

This was not a pretty draft for the organization, and losing its first and second round picks really hurt. Bleich has some potential but the ceiling is lower than what you’d want from a supplemental first round pick. Adams has flashed a nice stick. He split ’09 between low-A and high-A and his power really came on in the second half of the year when his ISO rose from .104 to .216. That huge increase, though, could have been a fluke but we’ll know more in 2010.

Marshall was one of my favorite picks from this draft but he had a bit of a rough ’09 season in low-A ball. He allowed 98 hits in 87.1 innings and his strikeout rate was low at just 6.18 K/9. His walk rate, though, was OK at 3.81 BB/9, based on his experience level and his FIP of 4.45 was much better than his ERA of 5.56. Keep an eye on Higashioka in 2010. He tends to get lost on the catching depth chart in the organization, but he has flashed some potential. Higashioka has a nice rates at the plate (10.7 BB%, 14.3 K%). His overall numbers have been plagued by low BABIPs (.288 in ’09), which tend to haunt slow-footed catchers.

Speaking of crazy ERA/FIP differences… check out O’Brien, who has some really bad luck when the ball goes into play. His ERA was 5.09 at rookie ball in ’09 but his FIP was just 2.29. He showed solid control for a 19 year old at 1.76 BB/9 and a good strikeout rate at 8.61 K/9. He’s not overpowering, though, and his 39.7% ground-ball rate is a little worrisome. A former two-way college player, Mitchell is still raw on the mound. Despite his inexperience, Mitchell posted an impressive ground-ball rate at 62% and allowed just two homers. Many project him as a future reliever, but he showed good durability in ’09 with 150 innings pitched. His lefty/righty batting-average splits show some need for improvement: .287/.203.

Richardson is still quite raw and spent time the ’09 season in extended spring training and short-season ball. Lassiter is also raw and he spent much of the year in low-A ball. Pat Venditte (20th round) has the potential to make the Majors as a middle reliever who can throw both right- and left-handed. The club also drafted Chris Dwyer (36th round) but he went to Clemson University and was signed by the Royals in the fourth round for $1.45 million as a rare draft-eligible college freshman.

2007 1st Round: Andrew Brackman, RHP, North Carolina State
2. Austin Romine, C, California HS
3. Ryan Pope, RHP, Savannah College of Art/Design
4x – Brad Suttle, 3B, Texas
6x – Richard ‘Chase’ Weems, Georgia HS
8x – Taylor Grote, OF, Texas HS
10x – Carmen Angelini, Louisiana HS

What to make of Brackman? Well… it’s been said many times and really nothing has changed: He’s a huge talent, but a massive question mark due to healthy and overall rawness on the mound. The Yankees organization, though, has the money and the depth to be patient.

Romine is one of my personal favorite prospects in the system. Defensively, he’s solid and there is no question that he can remain behind the dish. I also think his bat will play as a regular backstop. He’s on the Top 10, which we’ll see tomorrow.

Pope = good control but modest stuff. He reached double-A in ’09 and allowed 155 hits in 141.1 innings or work. His walk rate was solid at 2.17 BB/9 but he didn’t miss many bats with a strikeout rate at 6.75 K/9. His FIP over the past two seasons has been much better than his ERA; In ’09 his FIP was 3.24, compared to his ERA at 4.78. It’s a little disconcerting that his ground-ball rate keeps dropping as he rises through the minors and it bottomed out at 39.9% this past season. He’s likely a middle reliever in the Majors.

Suttle missed the entire ’09 after shoulder surgery (his second his being drafted) and it remains to be seen what affect that will have on his play in the field. Weems was another nice pick but he was flipped to Cincinnati in another trade. The Yankees club still has perhaps the most impressive catching depth in the Majors. Weems needs to cut down on his whiff rate (+30% in his career). Grote has yet to hit above .240 and his career strikeout rate is also above 30%, which is not good for a player that has yet to post an ISO rate above .100. Angelini did not get his batting average above .200 this past season. It was a bad year for over-slot deals.

Infielder Brandon Laird (27th round) has shown some potential. Even if he makes the Majors as a bench player, he would still represent great value as a late-round pick. Chris Carpenter would have been a great signing in the 18th round. He went to the Cubs in the third round of the ’08 draft. The club also drafted right-handed reliever Drew Storen (34th round), who went 10th overall to the Nationals in ’09. Outfielder Eric Thames (39th round) went to the Jays in ’08 and has flashed hitting skills to put himself in the Top 10, if not for injury woes.

2006 1st Round: Ian Kennedy, RHP, Southern California
1S. Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Nebraska
2. None
3. Zach McAllister, RHP, Illinois HS
4x – Colin Curtis, OF, Arizona State
8x – Dellin Betances, RHP, New York HS
9x – Mark Melancon, RHP, Arizona
17x – David Robertson, RHP, Alabama

A lot of people questioned New York’s decision to give Kennedy big money, as he appears to have peaked in high school. However, general manager Brian Cashman did a nice job of using him as trading chip by flipping him to the Arizona Diamondbacks – along with outfielder Austin Jackson heading to the Tigers – for Curtis Granderson (perhaps my favorite deal of the off-season, so far). Kennedy’s stuff was a little short for the power American League East, but he could very well thrive in the National League… and the deal could end up working out better for all three teams than many think. Cashman is a smart deal-maker, when he gets the opportunity.

The club made up for the Kennedy signing (not that it was a huge blunder) by nabbing Chamberlain in the supplemental round. A lot of teams passed on the big right-hander because of his injury history as an amateur, and that has continued to haunt him in the pros, too, but he’s also shown flashes of brilliance. With that said, 2010 should be a big season for him as the club should decide once and for all where he belongs: the starting rotation or the bullpen. Betances could have received consideration for the Top 10 if he had not required Tommy John surgery.

McAllister was a nice third-round choice and we’ll see him tomorrow on the Top 10 list, along with right-handed reliever Melancon. Robertson, another right-hander reliever, is technically is no longer eligible as a “rookie” due to service time, despite the face he has yet to exceed the 50 IP mark at the MLB level. The club really improved its pitching depth with this draft. Curtis split the ’09 season between double-A and triple-A and his numbers were so-so, mainly based on a low BABIP at the triple-A level. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a useful fourth or fifth outfielder at the MLB level.

George Kontos (5th round) has shown flashes of potential. Daniel McCutchen (13th round) was used as trading chip in the ’08 Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade with Pittsburgh.

Up Next: The New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


13 Responses to “New York Yankees: Draft Review”

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  1. Tom B says:

    is there a website that allows you to categorize current players by the team they were drafted by?

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  2. wahbjo01 says:

    Venditte as a MLB player is quite a stretch, even though it would be an incredible thing to see.

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  3. TixList.com says:

    Poor job of drafting for a team with their financial resources. Something needs to change here, either personnel of philosophy.

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    • Steve says:

      there is a lot of talent in this list.

      add Cole, who screwed the Yankees (as was his right, of course, but he did lead the yankees to believe he would sign) and it looks even better.

      Brackman was always a lottery ticket, but it’s not like they passed on Porcello to take him. he was the highest ceiling talent available at #30 when they picked.

      the Yankees are doing just fine.

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  4. Tank the Frank says:

    2008 really hurt. Having Cole and Bittle would’ve really given the Yankees more top-end pitching depth as many of their better arms went down to injury as was mentioned. That’s the only negative I can see. 2006 was a great draft for them. 2009 could be just as good… Heathcott, Murphy, Cothem, Stoneburner, and Warren all have a legitimate chance to crack the organization’s Top 10 in the future. Some would (and have) put Heathcott and Murphy in the Top 10 already. Nothing is wrong with the Yankees’ drafting philosophy.

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  5. Mike R. says:

    Would have liked to see a mention of Neil Medchill somewhere.

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  6. Dirty Water says:

    “A lot of people questioned New York’s decision to give Kennedy big money, as he appears to have peaked in high school”

    I’m really surprised Yank fans aren’t jumping all over that statement (actually, I’m not. He’s no longer a Yank). Ian Kennedy actually did very well at USC, and pretty much dominated mL ball to the tune of a .985 WHIP, 9.9 K/9 and 3.55 SO/BB ratio. Just because he was given up on in NY after all of 50 some odd innings, does not mean he peaked 8 years ago. I suspect this 24 year old will do very well in time.

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    • Pink Ribbon Scars says:

      pretty much agreed. if he had not had aneurysm on his arm this year and had given some time to prove himself to be worthy of given some tries to fit into the Yankee rotation, he could have been a candidate for 2010 Yankee rotation. He did have some innings logged in AFL so we were mostly confident about IPK’s rebound next year but then trade happened…

      If there was a reason that people questioned of Yankees choosing Kennedy at that pick was that he saw a drop in his effectiveness in the junior year after a stellar sophomore year. he got his effectiveness back as he entered pro and what could have he been if injury and nervousness did not strike Kennedy in ’08?

      and please refrain from snide remark on us, you would not like it if one of us left a snide remark on Red Sox or its fans, would you? ;) (with all due respect)

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      • Steve says:

        Just the fact that he didn’t use the idiotic phrasing “MFY” once in the post is a step in the right direction. welcome to intelligent discourse, DW!

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    • Rob in CT says:

      I noticed the remark, but chose to let it pass. It’s not worth getting all pissy about. Neither is your little dig about why Yankees fans supposedly don’t care about him anymore.

      He pitched awfully well in the minors as well. IPK is a good young pitcher, albeit one with limited upside. Our Bowden, if you will ;)

      I wish him well in the NL West.

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      • Richie Abernathy says:

        The reason I don’t want to let it pass is because it was so damned snarky. Baseball is a difficult sport to acheive success at. Once a guy doesn’t fulfill first-round expectations, he suddenly peaked in high school and any previous faith in him was a mistake? I’d say 163 strikeouts in 146.1 innings with a 0.964 WHIP across three minor league levels and then a promotion to the Show for three more starts has been Kennedy’s pinnacle of his baseball career. I think the guy will be lucky to be an average MLB starter, but to say his baseball peak was in high school is not only mean-spirited, but it’s a damn lie.

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  7. Davor says:

    Before 2006 IPK was considered possible No. 1 pick. So, if he becomes solid mid-rotation starter, that’s still great disappointment for everyone who expected clear ace at the beginning of 2006 college season.

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