When the New York Yankees traded Sonny Gray to the Cincinnati Reds in the winter, the organization did something that they rarely ever do. They acquired Cincinnati’s competitive balance pick in Monday’s MLB Draft, which is the 38th pick. It is the first time they have had multiple picks inside the top 40 since 2015.
Now, the 38th pick does not have much history for the Yankees. In fact, they have only made that pick once in the entire history of their franchise. You have to go all the way back to 1972 when they selected right-hander Ken Clay out of E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia.
While Clay did make the big leagues with the Yankees, he went 6-14 with a 4.72 ERA over the course of three seasons (81 games, 14 starts). Clay would eventually be traded to the Texas Rangers in 1980 in a deal that got the Yankees Gaylord Perry.
If you take a deeper look into the history of this pick, there is a pretty good track record for players selected at 38. Going back to 1999, 12 players that were chosen with that selection and five of those players have a WAR of 10 or higher, according to Baseball Reference.
Among those five players are very notable names in New York, such as Kelly Johnson (Atlanta Braves, 2000), David Wright (New York Mets, 2001), and Noah Syndergaard (Toronto Blue Jays, 2010). The other two players are Gio Gonzalez (Chicago White Sox, 2004) and Mitch Haniger (Milwaukee Brewers, 2012).
By having two picks in the top 40, it allows the New York Yankees to have more margin for error because they will have multiple chances to find that top prospect. That made acquiring the pick from Cincinnati valuable because the organization went on a spending spree in international free agency last July.
If the Yankees take a player at 30 that might take up a lot of their bonus pool money, they could go the safe route by taking a college player at 38. One name that has been considered according to Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs is Ball State right-hander Drey Jameson.
Jameson was pitching in the MAC this season, but he was the Freshman Pitcher of the Year in the conference in 2018 and backed that up with a strong sophomore season year. He went 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA and had 146 strikeouts in 91.2 innings of work. This included a 16-strikeout performance against Northern Illinois on May 3 and throwing six no-hit innings in the season opener against Stanford on February 15. Here is some video of that outing against Northern Illinois courtesy of 2080 Baseball:
According to Baseball America’s Top 500 prospects in this draft (subscription required), Jameson is ranked right at number 50. Here is what they had to say about the six-foot-one right-hander:
“Jameson works with an up-tempo delivery and has been up to 97 mph with his fastball, although he’s more regularly in the 93-95 mph range. While it’s a plus offering, Jameson’s control of his fastball isn’t great, which leads to him pitching off of an average slider. He has better feel to throw strikes with his slider, but it’s not currently a wipeout pitch.”
There are many ways that the Yankees could go with the 38th pick, but if they follow the trend of late with this selection, they could find a contributor in the big leagues, which is always the goal when you make these early round selections.