This was a light year in terms of the number of guys we signed (21). Usually about 25-30 will get signed. We did manage to sign a lot of high ceiling talent. The way I see it, we signed 6 potential starting pitchers, a host of relievers (7), and a full infield and outfield worth of position players (8). Hopefully we can do a good job supplementing this with some international free agent signings.
Just so you don't think I'm overly optimistic, here are the problems I see with this year's crop. First of all, most of the higher ceiling hitters are corner infield and corner outfield types. These are the types of guys who have to really mash to ever get to the major leagues, and also the types of players that are always available on the free agent market. The other problem I see is that all of the starting pitchers we got seem like projects. They are high ceiling types who have great tools but lack refinement. It's always good to have high ceiling guys, but I also love to see an Adam Warren, David Phelps, or Mikey O'Brien type, who is already refined at draft time but doesn't have that same high ceiling.
I do think there are a ton of positives you can take away from this draft class as well though. First of all, the first round pick has so far been a great success in the GCL, hitting for power and average. Secondly, I think we did a great job supplementing what we already have at the lower levels. We have a ton of high ceiling outfield prospects and up the middle players currently. Now we have power corner bat types as well. The third thing we did well was to pick up effective relievers who could move through the system very quickly. There isn't a single reliever who hasn't has some degree of success so far, and some have been pretty impressive, especially Montgomery. Finally, although I'm not happy with the fact that all of the starting pitchers we drafted are high ceiling project types, I do think there is a good chance that one or two of them pan out.
Here's a list of all of the guys we drafted and their draft position.
3B Dante Bichette Jr. (Comp. A)
RHP Jordan Cote (3rd)
INF Matt Duran (4th)
C Gregory Bird (5th)
OF Jake Cave (6th)
1B Austin Jones (7th)
RHP Philip Wetherell (8th)
RHP Zachary Arneson (9th)
RHP Mark Montgomery (11th)
OF Cody Grice (12th)
OF Justin James (13th)
RHP William Davis (14th)
RHP Branden Pinder (16th)
RHP Hayden Sharp (18th)
RHP Robert Paullus (19th)
LHP Daniel Camarena (20th)
INF Zach Wilson (21st)
RHP Corey Maines (23rd)
LHP Matthew Tracy (24th)
LHP Chaz Hebert (27th)
RHP Joseph Maher (38th)
Starting with Bichette, we will discuss.
1. Dante Bichette Jr.: Known on this blog as "Bichette Happens," this high school draft pick got off to a very slow start to his major league career. Up until a couple of weeks ago, he was hitting well under .200. Then he went on an absolute tear, and he hasn't slowed down since. This situation reeks of "adjustment time" changes to his swing, which occur after about 1 month of play in the GCL. Either way, he has since brought his average all the way up to .344 and he is OPSing at .976 in 167 at bats. This pick was criticized, but I don't think there is much bad you could say about it at this point, except that he's a corner player.
2. Jordan Cote: A 6'6, 215 lb RHP with a lot of projectibility. Apparently he has a frame that could allow him to fill out to 240. He's another high school kid. Damon Oppenheimer described him as "He's a classic projection guy, who's already got some 'now' stuff" to an MLB.com reporter. His fastball currently sits at 88-92, but many scouts are saying he could add some velocity as he fills out. Apparently his off-speed stuff is fringy, but he has great physical tools.
3. Matt Duran: He can play 1B or 3B. Known on this blog as Matt Duran Duran, this 6'1, 208 lb right handed first baseman is known for his power hitting. Another high school kid, he has been described as a tireless worker who has adjusted to the GCL through hard work. Duran has hit .265 with 2 HR and is OPSing at .808 so far for the GCL Yankees in 49 at bats. In 138 plate appearances, he has a .269 average with 9 SB, 1 HR, and 18 RBI.
4. Gregory Bird: This 6'3, 205 lb catcher out of Colorado projects as either a catcher or a first baseman. He's a big, strong kid, and he hits left handed. He has a lot of lift in his swing, and has a ton of power. He had 39 HR in three seasons of high school.
5. Jake Cave: 6'1, 180 lb left handed thrower and hitter drafted as a CF. This kid actually throws a 94 MPH fastball as a pitcher. He's slim, and has good power potential, with quick hands and good lift in the swing. He's an inside out hitter, and an outstanding overall athlete. Unsurprisingly, he has a cannon from the outfield, and he also has good bat speed.
6. Austin Jones: 6'1 left handed hitter who throws righty. He is another potential power bat, and his nickname is Bubba. He's hitting .269 in the GCL in 26 at bats. So far, he hasn't had any extra base hits, but he's still just 18 years old (19 in 4 days), and has a lot of potential.
7. Phillip Wetherell: A 6'5, 225 lb RHP from Western Kentucky. He's 22 years old, but has dominated for the Staten Island Yankees this season. He has an 11.32 K/9 and a 1.79 ERA in 20.2 IP. He has done a great job in relief at this level, although he is old for the level.
8. Zachary Arneson: Another 22 year old, he's 6'2, 190 and has done a good job in limited action for the SI Yankees. In 10 IP, he has 10 K, and he has a 3.6 ERA. He, Wetherell, and Montgomery represent guys who will be used as relievers in the minor leagues for the Yankees. All have done a nice job.
9. Mark Montgomery: 5'11, 205 lb RHP reliever. Known on this website as Monte Python, he has been just that, a python. Still 20, his K/9 at Charleston has been 15.22. He had 5 K in one inning this season. His ERA has been 2.45. A lot of people are excited about him, but he'll have to duplicate this success at the higher levels to be a major league reliever.
10. Cody Grice: CF 6' 220 Righty. Grice is out of his junior year at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He had a great freshman year at Grand Valley. In 55 games he hit .411 with 5 HRs, 34 RBIs, and 45 runs. During his sophomore year he continued his dominance. He hit .455 with 6 HRs, 49 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases. 2011- He hit .381 with 4 HR, 59 RBIs, and 59 runs. He was second in RBIs and first in runs on his team. He also had 23 stolen bases. They placed him directly in Staten Island probably because of his advanced age (21) and his cool name.
11. Justin James: 20 years old, OF, Sacramento City College. The son of Dion James, Sacramento CC outfielder Justin James is making a name for himself on the diamond. Skipped senior year, and is clearly raw but shows five-tool potential. James is 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds and is an above-average runner. hits lefty, and he shows raw power in batting practice, even to the opposite field. Because of his frame, speed and raw power potential, James could go as high as the third round. During the 2011 season Justin hit .309 with 20 RBIs, 46 runs, and 19 stolen bases. Projectable with power, but hasn't shown it yet. So far in the GCL, he has a .278 average with 4 doubles and a .403 OBP.
12. William "Rookie" Davis: 14th Round - William Davis RHP 6'3" 235 HS. Comitted to ECU. He has a nickname of "rookie." Yankees drafted him as a pitcher and this season he went 9-0 with a 1.02 ERA. He also struck out 136 in only 61.1 innings. Over his four seasons in high school Davis was 25-4 with a 1.67 ERA and 415 strikeouts in 209.1 innings. 89-92 mph FB can sit 90-91. His CB has some shape cen be avg pitch at times.
13. Branden Pinder: Another reliever who has had some success in the minors in his brief career. He's a 21 year old, 6'3 210 lb right handed guy who has done a great job saving games for Staten Island. He has 27 K in 21 IP with a .86 ERA and 10 saves for SI this year. Scouts have been impressed with him, and the results speak for themselves.
14. Hayden Sharp: 6-6, 200, RHP HS, He is signed to play at Central Oklahoma. Nothing on his other pitches though, or his command. As a senior he was used mostly as a reliever and had 82 strikeouts. Keith Law on Twitter: Pop-up guy for the draft this year - Hayden Sharp from Morris, OK. Hit 98 just before the draft, lots of 93-96, quarterback was committed to Central Oklahoma. His first appearance in the minors was rough, but he has plenty of time to adjust. He's just 18 years old.
15. Robert Benson Paullus: 21 year old out of Memphis, another college guy turned reliever. He's 6'1 , 190, throws right handed, and has been okay for Staten Island this season. He has a 4.29 ERA, and 31 K in 21 IP. He has a very low .195 average against, but has a high walk rate that has hurt him. He has 10 BB in 21 IP.
16. Daniel Camarena:LHP, HS, CA. 6 walks in 49 innings this spring while striking out 76, illustrating his superb feel for pitching and ability to carve up the strike zone. worked hard to add strength and his velocity jumped a tick this spring, ranging from 87-91. his 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame lacks projection. He makes up for it with his polish and command. CU- scouts rate as an average pitch. already flashes a big league CB sometimes. Most scouts see Camarena's future on the mound, but he could be a standout two-way player in college. Strong mature build. Top level 2-way prospect. Has been primary LHP but may have higher ceiling as a hitter. varies FB velocity/movement/location, tops at 91 sinks it at 83-84 as well, big CB, nice CU. San Diego committed. Selected for the Aflac All-American team.
17. Zach Wilson: 6'1 205 lb, 3B out of ASU. He's 21, and he started at Staten Island, where he's struggled. He has hit .222 in 171 at bats, although he does have 6 HR.
18. Corey Maines: 6'0, 195 lb kid out of Illinois St. Throw right handed, another reliever out of college. Overall, between GCL and SI, he has sported a 3.95 ERA with 13 K in 13.2 IP. He hasn't been bad, but he's 23. This was probably more of an organizational filler type pick.
19. Matt Tracy: 22 year older who's 6'3, 212 and throws lefty. He's done a great job for Staten Island this year, throwing 32.1 IP and striking out 29 with a 2.78 ERA. Doesn't have the most upside, but as they say in baseball, he's lefty, and he does in fact have a pulse. He has held opposing batters to a .203 average this season.
20. Chaz Hebert: LHP high school kid out of Louisiana, probably a starter for our minor league teams. 6'2, 180 lbs, hits low 90's with his fastball. He supplements that with a slow curveball, but hopefully he can develop some other pitches or improve that curveball.
21. Joseph Maher: RHP 6'5, 185 lb. Mid to high 80's fastball with a sinker, and a breaking ball.
I'll go through the international free agent signings another time.