LHP Sam Stafford
Junior – University of Texas
6’4″ 195 lbs
88th Overall, Second Round
We don’t have a big plurality of sources, but reports having him hitting 92, with some project left in his body. One observer graded his command above average, but he has a history of walking batters at the University of Texas. He has a strong 12-6 curveball, which racks up the strikeouts pretty consistently. He also has a changeup, but can’t throw it too much in college due to metal bats.
He also dominated in the California Collegiate League, striking out 51 batters against 16 walks in 28 innings. He allowed just 9 hits. John Manuel tweeted that he was the #1 prospect in that league last year.
As always, I’m going to reserve judgment for a little bit on the pick. Stafford appears to be a fairly easy sign, and has quite a bit of ceiling in him. In most drafts, a lefty who already throws 92, and could throw harder, would not be available with this pick, let alone one who pitched in college. Stafford didn’t really break into full time duty until this season, but he made the most of his time there. Control seems to be an issue, and we should also be concerned about the cavernous ballpark he plays in. Still, Stafford has strike out stuff from the left side, and a decent amount of fastball power.
He’s a bit of a late bloomer: I suspect that his coming out party in Texas started during his 2010 summer league performance. I think the Yankees will sign him early, but he also could be sent back to summer ball to be tested before they hand him six figures. He’ll need to be handled slowly, since he’s pitched less than 100 innings in over three years of college baseball.
The Yankees drafted him above where he was projected (Stafford wasn’t ranked in the BA Top-200), but he certainly doesn’t seem to lack for stuff. They jumped on him based on scouting reports, not track records. They will have a project on their hands, but with good material to work with. He compares in many ways to Jeremy Bleich, but with inexperience a concern instead of injuries, and a little better stuff.
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