The 2012 amateur draft is just one week away. Draft day is my favorite baseball day of the year, because I get 20-30 new prospects to start thinking and writing about. We’ll be providing you extensive coverage here at TYA on draft day and immediately thereafter. Eric is planning some pre-draft analysis as well.
While I think this is valuable for a lot of people, you won’t find me speculating about who the Yankees will draft. I don’t think its productive – I’d rather suggest an overall strategy, then sit back and see who falls to the Yankees. Eric did however nail the Slade Heathcott pick a few years ago, so definitely pay attention to what he writes later this week.
The Yankees are going to be at a slight disadvantage, relative to past years, at the draft, due to new signing bonus rules. Their draft budget sits at $4.19 million, well below the roughly $6 million that we are are used to them spending every year. While this is a hit, I don’t think we’ll feel it very much. The Yankees draft strategy from the last few years – going cheap in the first round while spending in 2-9 – will still work this season. Overall draft prices should also come down, and the Yankees may be able to sign most of the players they normally would have signed otherwise. Negotiations get a lot easier with a mostly hard slotting system.
The amateur draft is going to return to being a contest of scouting. The Yankees can buy players out of their college commitments (in particular, I could see the Yankees loading up on $100,000 players in the later rounds), but for the most part have not signaled that they will try to game the system in any particular way. Luckily, the Yankees have more picks than in recent years, having retained all of their picks during the offseason and holding a compensation pick in the 2nd round for failing to sign Sam Stafford.
All of that said, I’d like to offer some general thoughts on draft strategy:
- Spread the money out. The Yankees would be making a mistake to pay $2 million, half their draft budget, on a first round pick. I’d rather sign five $500,000 players than one $2,500,000 player. The Yankees have had mixed success out of the high-priced guys anyway lately – Mason Williams was a successful pick, but Brad Suttle, Carmen Angelini and Garrison Lassiter were all spectacularly bad at baseball despite the size of their signing bonuses.
- High school second round picks. Recent years have been very kind to Yankee 2nd round picks out of high school. They’ve selected Angelo Gumbs, Austin Romine and JR Murphy. That group of prospects have generally been successful, and one or two could even be stars. When the Yankees have veered into college territory in the 2nd round, results have been less promising: Scott Biddle and Sam Stafford both were not signed due to injury concerns, and J.B. Cox failed in all kinds of ways.
- Later round college picks. The Yankees have been really good lately at finding college talent on a budget. Guys like D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren, Mark Montgomery, David Phelps and Rob Segedin should serve as examples of low-cost signings to replicate.
So, those are just some preliminary thoughts. I’ll be back next week with more detail, plus my mid-season top 30 prospect reranking. Spoiler alert: Tyler Austin is going to jump up a few spots.
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