The New York Yankees wrapped up their 2021 MLB Draft on Tuesday by making selections in Rounds 11-20. One of the themes of the day for the Bronx Bombers was they liked to pick tall pitchers as five of the eight pitchers they took on Tuesday were 6’5” or taller.
The final two picks of the day were Vanderbilt catcher Dominic Keegan (Round 19) and St. Joseph’s Regional School right-hander Sean Hard (Round 20). According to Matt Feld on Twitter, Keegan is electing to go back to Vanderbilt to try to win another national championship
Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin on Dominic Keegan returning:
"Put down the bat & ball. When you have a man in Dominic returning whose fibers consist of a man who cares about relationships they've built, who has a good heart, who wants to get better for the team's sake. That says it all." https://t.co/gYWrvrAs3a
— Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612) July 13, 2021
As for Hard, he was named the NJ.com Baseball Player of the Year this year. It will be interesting to see if he decides whether or not to turn pro or go to Boston College. Considering the talented high school pitchers that were in New Jersey such as Anthony Solometo and Chase Petty, that is quite an accomplishment.
After taking Maryland shortstop Benjamin Cowles in Round 10 on Monday, the Yankees went back to the Big Ten with three of their picks on Tuesday. In Round 11, they took Ohio State right-hander Jack Neely. Neely only pitched for one season in Columbus after being at Texas and Iowa Western Community College.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander has a fastball that can get up to 98 mph and he went from being a starter to a reliever in May of this year. He had nine strikeouts and three walks over 5.1 innings in his three relief appearances.
Later in Round 18, the Yankees added another Big Ten pitcher in Penn State right-hander Bailey Dees. While Dees had a 5.59 ERA in 13 starts, he went at least five innings in nine of them. He only had 53 strikeouts on the season, so that will be something to watch at the professional level.
Last year, the Yankees signed an Indiana outfielder as a non-drafted free agent in Elijah Dunham. This year, they elected to draft one as they took left-handed hitting Grant Richardson. Before COVID-19 shut down the season in 2020, Richardson was hitting .424 with five home runs and 17 RBIs while slugging .797. He actually had a better batting average and hit total than Dunham despite drawing only four walks.
One year later, the numbers were not that far off as he had a slash line of .320/.397/.517 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 44 games.
In terms of the other pitchers the Yankees added on Day 3, they took Virginia right-hander Zach Messinger in Round 13. Messinger got his fastball up to as fast as 97 miles-per-hour this season as he had 64 strikeouts to 21 walks in 57 innings of work (four outings of four innings or more).
In Round 14, the Yankees took Durant High School right-hander Sean Hermann, who is a USF commit. This year, he was the 7A State Player of the Year in Florida after he had 135 strikeouts and only walking 13 batters in 78 innings (0.36 ERA). Here is a breakdown of what Hermann throws courtesy of former big league pitcher Jesse Litsch:
2021 Sean Hermann @Baseball_Durant
Hermann has been masterful through 6.
Shows good poise on the mound with repeatable mechanics, throws across his body good stuff overall. Gets good arm side run on FB with a swing and miss slider at times.
FB: 86-89 top 90
CH: 79-81 pic.twitter.com/PIzWUDU3Lx
— Jesse Litsch (@JesseLitsch) May 21, 2021
One round later, the Yankees went back to the college route with VCU right-hander Danny Watson. In an interview with the Times-Union, Watson said he grew up a Yankees fan and he is coming off of a season in which he made 19 appearances (6 starts) and had a 4.06 ERA with 55 strikeouts to 21 walks and an opponents batting average of .225.
For Round 16, New York took State College of Florida Manatee right-hander Cole Ayers. Ten years ago, they took reliever Nick Goody in the draft (Round 22) who also went to that junior college in Bradenton (Goody would play at LSU before the Yankees re-drafted him in the 6th Round back in 2012). Ayers has a fastball that can touch 95 mph to go with a strong curveball, which helped him get 114 strikeouts in two seasons at junior college (87.2 innings) and he told the Cincinnati Enquirer that his curveball stood out in the MLB Draft League.
The final pick to discuss is Dartmouth catcher Ben Rice (Round 12). Rice stood out in summer ball in 2020 when he hit .350/,467/.683 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs and was named MVP of the Futures League. He went to the Cape Cod League this summer and hit .300 with nine RBIs in nine games.
With the draft now in the books, it’s time to see where the careers of all these draft picks end up going to begin a new part of their lives.