The 2016 MLB draft begins tonight, but before the draft takes place let’s look at how the 2015 Yankees draft class is performing this season.
The Yankees had two first round selections last season, and they used both on relatively safe college players. Their number one selection was UCLA righty James Kaprielian. Kaprielian began the season with a lot of buzz; most pundits expected him to fly through the Yankees system. And he certainly lived up to the hype early on this season. Kaprielian posted the following stats: 1.5 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 11.00 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, and a .61 WHIP. Unfortunately, those numbers came in just 18 innings, as he was shut down due to elbow inflammation in mid-May.
The Yankees selection of the 2015 draft was Kyle Holder, who has also missed significant time this year to injury. However, he is currently healthy and is overall is showing more hitting ability than what was expected of him. So far he is hitting for a 93 wRC+, a .311 wOBA, and a slash line of: .288 .320/.349. These aren’t eye-popping numbers, but considering how badly he did in his debut season, and his poor offensive reputation, it’s a very positive start to his first full-season Yankee career.
The next two selections—Jeff Degano and Drew Finley— have yet to play in any affiliated games this year. Making the 4th rounder the next highest drafted player to be reviewed. Hendrix—who recently was placed on the disabled list—started this year off very slowly in A-ball. He had a .608 OPS in April, and a .648 OPS in May. However, he turned things around at the plate and as now he has a .725 OPS overall. That’s still not a strong showing for a college draftee, but it shows that he has been doing much better in recent weeks.
The Yankees selected Chance Adams with their 5th round pick, and so far he has been the most impressive player from the 2015 class. Adams has posted the following numbers; a 2.91 ERA, a 2.68 FIP, a 1.06 WHIP, a 10.77 K/9, and 2.56 BB/9. So far the Yankees decision to draft Adams—a collegiate reliever— and make him a starter is working great, and it’s only a matter of time before Adams is promoted to AA. Perhaps after he pitches in the A+ all-star game.
After Adams the Yankees took the following players: Brandon Wagner, Jhalan Jackson, Donny Sands and Ryan Krill. From this group only Jackson has played so far, and he has struggled for most of the season. He has 87 wRC+, a .301 wOBA, and is striking over 30 percent of the time. This is pretty disappointing because Jackson was so good last year, but it’s not that shocking he is a very raw player. With that said with his power and athleticism they will be very patient with him.
The next two Yankees to have an impact this year are James Reeves and Josh Rogers. The two lefties were drafted in back-to-back rounds. Reeves went in the tenth, and Rogers followed. Reeves been the effective reliever taken from last year draft, though to be fair most of the other relievers haven’t played or moved to the rotation. But with that said he has done a great job in A+, he has a 1.11 ERA, a 2.51 FIP, a .86 WHIP, and has a K/9 if 12.58. He’s walking a lot of batters (4.07 per 9), but overall he is looking like a future traveler on the Scranton shuttle.
Josh Rogers was considered a tough sign in the 11th round, but the Yankees were able to get him for a $485,000 bonus. The 21 year-old Rogers, started the year off hot, and was quickly promoted from A-ball to A+. As one would expect A+ has been a bit more difficult for him. He has had a couple of really bad starts in A+. Overall he put up the following stats: 4.5 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 1.45 WHIP, 5.92 K/9 and a BB/9 of 2.13.
The Yankees 13th round pick—Trey Amburgey—was sent to A-ball to begin the year, and he put up good numbers until hitting the disabled list a couple of weeks ago. Amburgey posted a .281/.347/.500 slash-line before hitting the DL, and stole 7 bases in 16 games. Obviously the sample size is small, and he needs to get to A+ before his numbers really matter, but so far he has performed well at each level the Yankees put him in.
In the next round the Yankees selected Will Carter. Carter made his season debut on April 8th in A-ball, had one start before missing over a month of action. Upon his return the Yankees promoted him to A+, where he has struggled. His K/9 is probably the most concerning part of his stat-line as he is only striking out 2.9 batters per nine. With that said he only pitched 18.1 innings.
The next Yankee pick to play this season is 17th rounder Brody Koerner. Koerner began the year in A+, and was outpitching Chance Adams until he was placed on the disabled list on May 9th. It’s been a month, and there hasn’t been any update on when he will return. But hopefully he gets back soon, and continues his to post strong numbers.
The next round the Yankees selected Zack Zehner. Zerner like many of his fellow 2015 draftees has missed some time this season due to injuries, but he’s healthy now, and doing very well in A+. He has a 143 wRC+, a .379 wOBA, and at 23 he’s age appropriate for the level.
The next 2015 draftee that has played this season is 22nd round pick Cody Carroll. Carroll has been used a starting pitcher in A-ball, and has done decently this season. He has a 2.68 ERA, a 3.59 FIP, and an 8.62 K/9. However, he also has walked 4.6 batters per 9 innings, and at 23 years-of-age he’s old for a prospect in A-ball.
The Yankees selected Austin Afenir, in the 25th round, and so far have used him as a backup catcher in A-ball. Afenir has a .6989 OPS in 21 games at the level.
Finally, Christian Morris is the last Yankee 2015 draftee to play this year. Morris was drafted in the 33rd round, and struggled mightily last season. He began this year in extended spring training, but has pitched in A-ball since April 30th. Morris has had 7 starts in A-ball, and has performed well. He has a 2.62 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 2.10 BB/9, and a 8.39 K/9.
Overall, it’s tough to really get a gauge on any draft after a year, especially if most of the top picks haven’t played, or got injured quickly. But overall there are some positive signs to this draft, Kaprielian looked like a better pitcher. If his velocity spike came two years earlier he would’ve never gotten to the Yankees. The Yankees should also be encouraged with how Holder has looked. Sure a college player should be able to hit in A-ball, but it’s not something we all assumed would happen to Holder.
The second half of the minor league season will be exciting to watch, because a lot of the better draft picks should get playing time. Finley, Degano Isiah Gilliam, are some of the better prospects from that draft, and are all guys to keep an eye on.