There’s no baseball to be played (at least not yet), but there is still the league’s amateur draft tomorrow. It’s quite a bit different than prior years, though. Bobby gave a good explanation of this year’s nuances.
I’m no draft expert nor will I pretend to be. Thankfully, we have a number of fine publications that do have a sense of what to expect. I’ve done my best to summarize below below.
- First round: 28th selection
- Third round: 99th selection
- Fourth round: 129th selection
The Yankees forfeited their second and fifth round picks for signing Gerrit Cole in the offseason. Remember that? Good times. Anyway, the Yanks have a $3,520,000 pool to spend on these picks. $2,493,000 is allocated for the 28th selection. This year’s draftees won’t receive all of that money up front, though. Each pick will receive $100,000 right away, but the remainder of their bonus will be deferred for two years.
Even though the Yankees have only three picks, don’t expect them to stop there. Undrafted players are capped to $20,000, whereas players taken in the tenth round or later (or undrafted) could receive up to $125,000 without it counting against the draft pool. Bobby noted a bunch of late round successes currently on the Yankees right now, so expect a number of other new players in the system in the coming weeks.
I’ll continue updating this list for new mock drafts as they’re released. Spoiler: lots of college pitchers incoming.
- Baseball America, Carlos Collazo: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
- Fangraphs, Eric Longenhagen (1.0): Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)
- Fangraphs, Eric Longenhagen (2.0): Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
- Fangraphs, Eric Longenhagen (3.0): Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
- MLB Pipeline, Jonathan Mayo: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
- MLB Pipeline, Jonathan Mayo & Jim Callis (Final):
- Mayo: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
- Callis: Austin Wells, C, Arizona
- ESPN, Kiley McDaniel (1.0): Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
- ESPN, Kiley McDaniel (2.0): Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
- ESPN, Kiley McDaniel (Final): Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
- The Athletic, Keith Law (2.0): J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
- The Athletic, Keith Law (3.0): Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
- The Athletic, Keith Law (Final): Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville – Video
Three of the latest mocks have Miller going to the Yanks, so let’s debrief on him first. He’s a big right hander (six-foot-five, 220 pounds) and sits in the upper nineties with plenty of downward action. Miller also features a slider and changeup, with the former having plus potential while the other looks fringey per most publications.
There is some concern about Miller’s delivery. Longenhagen calls his arm action “long” and “atypical” whereas Law noted his high effort delivery and stiff landing. You can definitely see some of that in the video linked above. Nonetheless, Miller holds his velocity deep into starts with his nontraditional mechanics.
Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest – Video
The first thing every site mentions about Shuster is his velocity uptick this year. Shuster had a pretty rough start to his collegiate career and posted a 6.79 ERA in his first two seasons with Wake Forest. But the southpaw blossomed last summer in the Cape Cod League and returned this spring with a low-to-mid nineties heater that touched 97. He also offers a plus changeup and above-average breaking ball per Kiley McDaniel.
The combination of Shuster’s ascension and a shortened collegiate season resulted in his big board ranking all over the map. Keith Law has him as the draft’s 26th best prospect, whereas MLB Pipeline has him all the way down at 77th. Lastly, Schuster was on an earlier version of BA’s mock draft to the Yankees.
Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ) – Video
Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen writes that Tucker is motivated to sign immediately, even if it means he’ll receive an under slot bonus. Sounds like he’s not going to honor his commitment to the Texas Longhorns. Tucker’s ranked as the Fangraphs’ 56th-best draft prospect and is described as a “Twitchy shortstop with explosive hitting hands who needs a swing overhaul in his lower half”. The 18 year-old Carson is the young brother of Pittsburgh’s Cole Tucker, also a first-rounder from the same high school back in 2014.
Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor University – Video
The Yankees haven’t drafted a collegiate position player in the first round since 2013 (Eric Jagielo), so Loftin would break the mold. Though none of his tools jump off the page, there is one thing he does particularly well: make contact. In three seasons at Baylor (with this year truncated, of course), the right-handed hitter only struck out 7.1 percent of the time.
MLB Pipeline called Loftin “more of a competent than flashy defender” at shortstop. He’s versatile too, having played all around the diamond and in both corner outfield spots. The site pegged him as the draft’s 36th-best prospect.
Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami – Video
Cecconi was included an an earlier Baseball America mock draft, hence the capsule here. Standing six-foot-four and 212 pounds, Cecconi possesses a coveted frame for a starting pitcher. He’s a draft-eligible sophomore who Baseball America says could have gone higher had the season not been cut short due to COVID-19, though that can be said about others. Here’s what BA had to say about its 32nd-best draft prospect:
“At his best he runs his fastball up into the upper 90s with impressive life and has a slider, cutter and changeup that all flash plus. On top of the quality of Cecconi’s pitches, scouts like his frame and strike-throwing ability but believe he gets too much of the plate at times.”
J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State – Video
Ginn had Tommy John surgery this spring, but as we know with Clarke Schmidt, that hasn’t scared the Yankees away before. The righty was formerly the Dodgers’ first rounder in 2018 out of high school but did not sign.
Despite surgery, Ginn has enticing stuff. He offers a high velocity plus fastball, a wipeout slider, and a developing changeup. That changeup has even flashed plus at times according to MLB Pipeline and Keith Law.
Austin Wells, C, Arizona – Video
The Yankees draft Wells just two years ago out of high school, so there’s clearly some affinity here. He’s a lefty-swinging catcher with lots of power, though there is some uncertainty about his ability to remain behind the plate long-term. Nonetheless, it seems like his power will be able to play at another position should he prove unable to last as a catcher.
There’s quite a bit of skepticism about Wells’ receiving, though one can’t help but wonder if that’s something Tanner Swanson and the organization can fix. On the other hand, arm strength seems to be a problem. Baseball America notes that he has a record of elbow issues dating back to high school while Eric Longenhagen’s brief report states that Wells had shoulder surgery in the past.
Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn – Video
Unlike other college arms included here, Burns is not a big guy on the mound. He stands six feet and 215 pounds and doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but has a pretty high baseline per Baseball America. Wells can dial it up to 97, though Baseball America says he sits in the 92-94 range. He’s got above-average secondaries and good command as well. One drawback: shoulder soreness during his sophomore campaign. That, in combination with his small size, has raised durability concerns.
MLB Pipeline notes that some scouts have likened him to ex-Yankee Sonny Gray based on frame. One other Yankees connection: the team picked him with its 37th round selection in 2017.
Recent Draft History
If the above mock drafts tell us anything, it’s that the Yankees’ recent draft history isn’t particularly indicative of what’s to come on Wednesday. The team has taken prep bats in each of the last two years with its first round pick: prep shortstop Anthony Volpe last summer and backstop Anthony Seigler a year prior.
Instead of a high schooler, a college arm seems all but certain to join the system. The Yankees have taken a couple of collegiate arms recently in Schmidt (2017) and James Kaprielian (2015). Before that, the Yankees hadn’t taken a college pitcher since the they went on a run of Ian Kennedy (2006), Joba Chamberlain (2006), Andrew Brackman (2007), and Jeremy Bleich (2008). Joba and Bleich were supplemental first rounders for what it’s worth.