Signability a factor for Yanks in Draft
Offering no compensation, No. 29 overall pick a critical one
It may work out for the best that the Yankees came away from last year's Draft without signing their top selection. Had they been able to, New York would have watched three rounds cycle by without a pick this year.
When right-hander Gerrit Cole opted for UCLA over the Yankees, New York wound up with the 29th overall selection in this year's Draft. And following a spending spree that put CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett in pinstripes, the Yankees now feel like they have the best of both worlds.
"Who wouldn't trade their first-, second- and third-round picks for Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett?" said Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer. "If we put them on our Draft board, you'd feel real good about that. But now we do get an opportunity to pick in this Draft, and hopefully we make the best of it."
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11 at 6 p.m. ET. The MLB Network will broadcast the first round on the evening of June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB Headquarters in New York, at noon ET on Wednesday, June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on Thursday, June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Here's a glance at what the Yankees have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
As always, the Yankees will shoot for quality over need at No. 29, but they must be sure they can actually sign the player since there is no compensation. A position player looks like a strong possibility. The Yankees believe the pool is more unique and balanced than past years.
"We've been given a budget by ownership this year, and we're going to work within that budget. We have parameters that we're going to use. You have to be a little more cautious and you have to pay attention to certain players' wishes and needs. It might not be what we value that player as. If some of these guys are going to hold true to what they're looking for, you're going to see a few more kids roll into college this year." -- Oppenheimer
The Yankees could highlight an athletic outfield prospect like California's Brett Jackson on their Draft board, and there has been talk about Southern California shortstop Grant Green and Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez. One wonders how flexible the idea of a Draft budget is for the Yankees, who shelled out $423.5 million to lock up Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett without much of a second thought.
Oppenheimer outlined desires for athleticism, power arms and left-handed pitching. "There are holes that we need to address -- the system is in pretty good shape, but we need to continue to pound stuff in it," he said.
The Yankees haven't been shy about taking high-risk players early, knowing that Cole had a signability issue, while 2008 compensation-round pick Jeremy Bleich and 2007 first-rounder Andrew Brackman had injury issues. After not signing Cole and letting second-rounder Joseph Bittle walk unsigned due to health concerns in '08, the Yankees may be somewhat less courageous in that department.
Recent top picks
2008: Cole, Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School -- Despite having attended the 2001 World Series in Arizona as a Yankees fan, Cole was not ready to begin his professional career and instead opted for college. The Yankees never even reached a stage in negotiations where they could have made an offer to Cole.
2007: Brackman, North Carolina State University -- The 6-foot-10 Brackman missed the 2008 regular season with Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and began this season with Class A Charleston of the South Atlantic League. Through his first 11 starts, Brackman is 1-4 with a 3.53 ERA, though control continues to be an issue.
2006: Right-hander Ian Kennedy, University of Southern California -- It has been a mixed bag for Kennedy as a professional, with his success at the Minor League level outweighing his contributions as a big leaguer so far. Kennedy is 1-4 with a 6.14 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) with the Yankees, including an 0-4 record and an 8.17 ERA last year. He is currently sidelined as he recovers from an aneurysm.
The Yankees are very high on catcher Austin Romine, who was the club's second-round selection in 2007 and has earned raves for his defensive ability and maturity. Romine hit .300 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs in 104 games last year for Class A Charleston and is playing well this season at Class A Tampa.
Now a trusted arm in New York's bullpen, left-hander Phil Coke was a 26th-round selection in the 2002 Draft and did not escape Class A ball for five seasons, battling weight issues as a professional. He was sidelined with elbow problems in 2004 and '07 before standing out last summer with a clearer mind-set.
In The Show
Pitchers Joba Chamberlain (2006), Coke (2005), Phil Hughes (2004) and David Robertson (2006) -- plus outfielder Brett Gardner (2005) -- are all recent products of Yankees Drafts currently serving on New York's active 25-man roster.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.