In general the MLB draft is unpredictable, but when it comes to the Yankees two things are entirely predictably; they’ll draft a guy named Austin, and they will re-draft a player. Of course, this is partly in jest, but the overall point is true. The Yankees do like to go back to the well and re-draft players. Last year they re-drafted and signed Jordan Foley. In 2013 they re-drafted Michael O’Neill. And over the years they have re-drafted Pat Venditte, Erick Erickson, Nick Goody, and Kevin Cornelius. It’s a tiny trend, but a trend nonetheless.
This year there are several interesting players that the Yankees could theoretically draft for the second time. Guys like DJ Stewart, Marino Rivera Jr., Tyler Moore, Vincent Jackson, are all good re-draft candidates that might be taken in the top 5 rounds of this year’s draft. Below a small look at each of these players and several other possible future Yankees.
Let’s first begin with DJ Stewart, who is regarded as the best player who fits our limited criteria. Stewart is an outfielder for Florida State University, and originally drafted by the Yankees in the 28th round of the 2012 draft.
At the time considered an okay prospect, and was ranked as the 405th best player in the draft by Baseball America. Stewart, who also played football in high school, has since seen his draft stock soar in the past 3 years. He is now projected to be a potential first round pick, and is one of the best college bats in the draft. He has an above hit tool, and plus raw power. Unfortunately his unorthodox batting stance has inhibited his power, and scouts feel that he needs to straighten up his swing. Defensively he is considered an athletic outfielder with decent speed, whose arm is too weak to play anywhere but left-field.
Most recent mock drafts have Stewart going in the 20-30 range in the upcoming draft, so there’s a possibility that the Yankees could select him with either first-round.
The next best former draft that might interest the Yankees Miami Universities David Thompson. The Yankees drafted Thompson in the 38th in the 2012 draft, he wasn’t considered a top draft prospect at the time, but did come with an impressive resume. Thompson attended the same school as the great Alex Rodriguez, and essentially broke all of A-rod’s records. The 55 homers he hit over his high school career were the most ever hit in the state of Florida.
Another similarity he shares with A-rod is that they were both excelled at football, and both wanted to play quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes. A-rod was a much better prospect, so teams were willing to give him enough money to quit football, and sign out of high school. Thompson on the other hand couldn’t be signed and went to college.
However he never got to play quarterback, due to two shoulder surgeries, and in general his college career has been derailed by injuries. In total he has had to endure four surgeries in his three years in college. The first two surgeries were to his throwing shoulder, then last year he was diagnosed with a blood clot and thoracic outlet syndrome. This cost him 32 games in 2014 and a rib, which had to be removed. His fourth operation was a minor surgery to remove cartilage from his elbow.
He was fully healthy this year, and showed that he still has power, this past season he has slugged 19 homers and has a .683 slugging percentage. This power helps makes up for the fact that his arm might limit him to first base and his overall hit tool is considered below average. His power potential has him led him to be ranked as a borderline top-100 draft prospect. Baseball America has him ranked as the 102nd best prospect, and MLB.com has him ranked as the 127th best prospect.
Considering his path to redemption started in the Cape Cod league, a league the Yankees seem to really focus on, it’s very possible that he caught their interest. Thompson isn’t considered a first-round pick but should go in the first five rounds.
Another player that should go in the first 5 rounds is the son of the great Mariano Rivera. Mariano Rivera Jr. was selected by the Yankees in the 29th round of last year’s draft. At the time there were some that felt he was drafted based off his name, but he has proven those doubters wrong by becoming Iona’s ace this past season. He was able to put the following stats: a 2.53 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and an 11.6 K/9 in 78 1/3 innings. His best pitch is his fastball, which jumped from 88-92 before this year to low-to-mid 90’s this year. His fastball was given a 70 grade by MLB.com, so it is considered plus-plus. He also throws a slider that flashes plus potential, and a split-change, which he still needs to work on. He’s now considered a top-200 draft prospect, ranking as the 170th best prospect by MLB.com, and the 141st best prospect by Baseball America.
The biggest knock on little Mo, is that he isn’t the big. He’s only 5’11 and weighs 155 pounds. His build will lead some to question his durability, and peg him as a reliever. This is of course in spite of there being no evidence that height affects durability. With that said he should still go within the top-5 rounds, and I would peg him as third round pick.
The next prospect of note—Vincent Jackson– may get selected in the top-5 rounds but isn’t as much of a sure fire pick as the previous mentioned played. Vincent Jackson was actually ranked higher than Stewart and Thompson coming into the 2012 draft; Baseball America had him ranked as the 174 best player in the draft. The fact that he was a tough sign, led him to fall to the 23rd round where he was 727th player selected. For the most part Jackson has not lived up to his high school draft ranking, and is no longer considered a top-prospect. Fangraph’s Kiley placed Stewart in his “Big Tools, Questions About Performance” draft category. Kiley believes that Stewart could go in the top 5 rounds.
A scouting report from baseballdraftreport.com compares him to Alex Rios and states that: “Jackson’s blend of size, speed, raw power, athleticism, and defensive upside (above-average arm and range at present) combine to make a pretty enticing prospect. In other words, he’s also (in reference to Christian Stewart) pretty good.”
Other more questionable former Yankee re-draft targets include Ty Moore, who like Thompson, Stewart and Jackson was drafted in 2012. Going into the draft Moore was ranked as the 246th best prospect by Baseball, but teams knew he was a tough sign so he fell to the 787th pick. The former 25th rounder draft stock has dropped since entering UCLA, and may be the type of pick teams make in the top-10 rounds to save money. With that said there’s still talent there, and it’s possible that hitting talent that attracted the Yankees to him in 2012, still attracts them today. It helps that he is finishing his collegiate career with an OPS above .800.
Other possible re-drafts include: 2011 draftees Reliever Mathew Troupe, and lefty starter Taylor Guilbeau, Guilbeau is the much better prospect. Troupe was considered a decent relief prospect before undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Guilbeau was ranked as the 30th best senior of this year’s draft class, and is a solid bet to be taken by a team looking to save some cap space with a senior sign.
Possible 2014 re-drafts include: LHP Porter Clayton, RHP David Graybill, RHP Jordan Ramsey, RHP Jake Kelzer, RHP Jorge Perez, and RHP Dylan Barrow, It’s tough to say who from last year draft is currently the highest rank prospect, but Ramsey was the highest ranked player by Baseball America in 2014. Baseball America ranked him as the 288th best prospect in the draft. He would’ve gone higher but battled through blisters, and a triceps injury. BA reports that he throws 92-95, with an average at worst changeup, and an inconsistent slider.
Jorge Perez was the next best pitcher from this group and was ranked as the 328th best prospect. Before dropping to the 30th round. Like Ramsey, Perez fell primarily due to injury concerns, as he battled shoulder tendonitis in his senior year. When healthy Perez throws a low 90’s fastball, a 79-83 MPH slider, and a 76-78 MPH changeup with good sink. Perez didn’t sign because he made a promise to his family that he would finish school.
Kelzer was the last of these players to be ranked, as he was the 486th best player in the draft. He fell to the 22nd round and was the 662nd pick of the draft. He fell due to the fact that no one thought he’d sign. Kelzer throws a low-90’s fastball and an above average slider. He had 44 k’s in 32 innings last year, making him an intriguing relief prospect. Of course it should be noted that he was used as a starter this season.
Porter Clayton was unranked but is an interesting pitcher nonetheless. Clayton left Oregon University in 2011 to serve as a Mormom missionary in 2012, and 2013. He came back in 2014, and got himself drafted based on his smooth delivery, and three pitch offering, fastball, changeup, and curveball. Last year he answered a few questions for us.
Barrow is a late-bloomer taken in the 25th round, who only recently transitioned to the mound. In high school he was a shortstop, but has found more success as a pitcher. Barrow throws 92-94, and tops out at 96 MPH.
Graybill was taken by the Dodgers in the 2011 draft, and taken in the 33rd round by the Yankees. He comes from a family of Arizona State University athletes. His grandfather, and father both played baseball at the university, and his dad ended up being drafted by the Expos and played minor league ball from 1984-1995.