Going into the 2020 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees only had 3 picks, so it was going to be a tough one for Damon Oppenheimer and his staff to navigate. With a limited amount of selections, the margin for error is small for any club. Time will tell how the organization did. However, for right now, it is hard not to like what the Yankees did in this draft.
With their two position player picks, they went with catcher Austin Wells out of Arizona with the 28th pick in Round 1. Then, in Round 3, they took Arizona State outfielder Trevor Hauver (drafted as a second baseman).
First off, it is hard to ignore the west coast connection that Oppenheimer has, so drafting two players that played college ball in Arizona definitely stands out here. Since the bonus pool is small, college players were going to be the direction the Yankees were likely going to go.
Starting with Wells, it is hard to ignore the power toll that he brings to the diamond. A re-draft by the Yankees in 2018, the scouting department was already familiar with him and the raw power jumps off the screen. Plus, his versatility to play either first base or left field will help him see the diamond more as he develops as the amount of affiliates for the Yankees could decrease in future years.
If the Yankees do stick with Wells behind the plate, it will be an interesting competition between him, Anthony Seigler, and Josh Breaux as we will find out which one can emerge as the top catcher in the system. At the very least, the Yankees added more depth in the system behind the plate and got left-handed power.
With their second pick (3rd Round), Hauver is another player that can play all around the diamond. That is vital for him in his development with the amount of middle infielders that are in the pipeline at the lower levels. Nevertheless, he could play a variety of positions and he showed enough power and contact ability in a loaded Arizona State lineup.
As pointed out in our profile about Hauver, MLB Pipeline gave him a Daniel Murphy comparison. Murphy is more known for his bat than his defense and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In a shortened draft, you sometimes have to look for a standout tool and hope the rest develops later on. With Hauver, the Yankees get a player with good plate discipline and growing power.
Finally, New York went the pitching direction in the 4th round with right-hander Beck Way out of Northwest Florida State University. While Way is a LSU commit, it is hard to ignore the arsenal of pitches that he brings to the mound. His fastball is between 92-94 miles-per-hour and he has a changeup and a slider to add to that mix.
If the Yankees can develop Way as a starting pitcher and get him to continue to improve the command of his breaking pitches, he is a player to watch out for going forward. Of course, the question is going to be whether or not New York can keep him from going to LSU and the SEC.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen the Yankees go to the JUCO route to find some of their best players in the system. Some examples in recent years include Breaux (2018), right-hander Nick Nelson (2016), and Chris Gittens (2014). Way dominated in the shortened season because of COVID-19. In 40 innings of work (7 games), Way had 58 strikeouts to 9 walks and opponents hit .126 against him at the plate.
The work for the Yankees scouting department is far from over. Starting Sunday morning at 9 a.m ET, teams can start signing players that weren’t drafted for a maximum amount of $20,000. New York should be active in bringing new players in the organization
In terms of how they did with the 3 picks that they were given and the small bonus pool, the Yankees were able to look at college/JUCO players with a standout tool. The lower levels are filled with talent, but there can be never enough competition.