UPDATE: 3:13 PM: I said two days ago that I expected the Yankees to approach signability guys with the Powell Doctrine – overwhelming force – in the middle rounds. They didn’t do a ton of that yesterday, but as Levine from Scout.com has been reporting on twitter, the Yankees haven’t touched a single organizational filler type guy today. They’ve already drafted over a dozen guys who are going to ask for huge signing bonuses. This strategy is what we expected after the fairly cheap top-2 picks they made. I’ll have more information later tonight.
After two long days, the fun part of the 2011 draft is now over. Teams will draft more players today, but for the most part will focus on organizational filler – someone has to be a 2nd shortstop for Staten Island this year. They may draft a few project, difficult signing type players, but not as much as from 1-30. The biggest news: look for Mariano Rivera Jr, a potential walk-on at Quinnipiac, to earn an honorary draft spot at some point.
I get the sense that Yankee fans are mostly disappointed by the first 30 rounds of the draft so far. Dante Bichette was drafted despite some names available for high signing bonuses. Sam Stafford was mostly an unknown and barely ranked. Corner, bad-body bats in Duran and Bird have serious flaws and uncertain positions. Few big bonus guys immediately jump out, although some exist (Justin Jones, Rookie Davis are the most obvious.
I urge caution. We know very little about the vast majority of these players, but that doesn’t mean they are bad picks. The Yankees keep things close to the vest, and tend to be a rather unorthodox club on draft day. People were underwhelmed following the 2010 draft, but after one year its looking like a great effort by the Yankees. Give it some time, see who signs and for how much, and wait for then we’ll judge the Yankee draft day.
A couple of thoughts:
- Dante Bichette screams a couple of things to me. First, they probably paid some extra attention to him thanks to his father’s friendship with Joe Girardi. This does not imply nepotism in any way. Early reports suggest that they might have been impressed both with his hitting ability and his makeup and work ethic, causing them to draft him higher than most teams valued him. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t draft him with a pre-draft deal, brokered by Uncle Girardi, in mind. He should sign quickly for an affordable amount. We’ll know much more about him around when the GCL season starts.
- Sam Stafford is a high-upside gamble on the Yankees’ part – exactly the kind of pick a perennial contender should be making. He has great strikeout stuff, poor control, and a noticeable lack of in-game experience despite his three years in Texas. LHPs with great stuff (His both a solid low-90s fastball and two strikeout breaking pitches) don’t grow on trees. At the 88th pick, the Yankees went with about as much upside as they could ask for. Like Bichette, he should also be a fairly cheap sign. Cross your fingers and hope Nardi Contreras and company can fix his control issues. We might get lucky and see some televised CWS games in the coming weeks from Stafford.
- Overall, it appears to be a fairly low-budget draft. That can obviously change, since I don’t have a lot of information about the bottom half of the first 30 draft picks. However, there is no big-budget Mason Williams or Brad Suttle or Dellin Betances picks to pay seven figures to. There isn’t even a robust supply of college sophomores to buy out. I can think of three possible reasons for this. The first is unlikely: Damon Oppenheimer saw his budget cut. The second is that the Yankees did not see a lot of opportunities in this draft worth the investment. The third is that the Yankees are holding money back to beat up the IFA market in July. Some mix of all three is possible.
- The Yankees really loaded up on college quick-throwing RP-types. They have a mixed record with college relief pitchers in the past, seeing J.B. Cox and Marc Melancon fail, while David Robertson was a tremendous success and Thomas Kahnle is looking like a decent prospect.
This draft looks nothing like the 2010 draft, which was loaded with athletic, up-the-middle high school prospects. The Yankees have a few of those guys, but mostly went for raw, projectable starting pitchers and bad-body corner bats with power. People say bad things about drafting for need, but honestly this draft looks like a potential compliment to last year’s. The Yankees brought in a lot of high school players to fill positions that Angelo Gumbs, Cito Culver, Mason Williams and Ben Gamel, and plenty of college pitchers who won’t take up rotation spots occupied by Gabe Encinas, Evan Rutckyj, and Taylor Morton. It serves no one’s interest to go overboard and have too many players in the same positions. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with bad-body power hitters. They can be pretty good sometimes.
Wait to judge this draft at all until the signing deadline in August. At that point, we’ll know who the Yankees actually successfully added to the organization, and more about those individuals. We’ll provide you plenty of coverage here at TYA up until then, but the picture will be incomplete until everyone knows the true result of the draft.
Use this as your open thread for Day 3 of the draft.
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