Through four months into the season, and after many call-ups from the minor leagues, it has become increasingly evident that the Yankees don’t have any big-league ready gems down in the farm system (except for Preston Claiborne). The Bombers have played David Adams, Thomas Neal, Zoilo Almonte, Austin Romine, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, and other promising rookies at various points during the season. While they have all played decently at times, these players probably won’t be the Mickey Mantles or Whitey Fords of this decade.
Considering half of the aforementioned players were drafted in the top four rounds of their respective years (Adams 3rd, Romine 2nd, Warren 4th), it’s a little disappointing for the players to not be successes… or at least at this point in time. However, several current Yankees graybeards (if they had been allowed to grow them) were not expected to find as much success during their careers as they did. All of the following players were all relatively low draft picks who have become solid players in the MLB. After all, a high draft pick does not necessarily constitute a star. Just ask Brian Taylor.
Lyle Overbay (18th Round, 1999)- The 36 year-old first baseman was drafted fourteen years ago out of the University of Nevada-Reno by the Arizona Diamondbacks back when they still wore purple. The knock on him was his poor glove at first base, and for his first two years in the minors, the scouting reports were correct; Overbay recorded 23 errors in 126 games. However, he crushed minor league pitching, never batting less than .342 and 96 RBI in his first four minor league seasons! After a quiet 2003 season with the D-backs, he was involved in a megadeal that sent Overbay to the Milwaukee Brewers with a litany of other prospects for slugger Richie Sexson. Overbay went on to lead the league in doubles in 2004 with 53, and became one of the best two-bag hitters in the game while also improving his glove at first. After stays in Toronto, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Atlanta, he joined the Yankees in 2013.
Travis Hafner (31st round, 1996)- A former wrestler, “Pronk” was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of alliterative Cowley County Community College. He toiled in the minor leagues for a few years as a powerful first baseman with a powerful bat and an average glove, while also playing some outfield and third base. After a trade that sent him to the Cleveland Indians, Hafner blossomed in 2004, with a 28/109/.311 slash line. He had a career year in 2006, smashing 42 homers and finishing eighth in the MVP voting. However, Hafner injured himself in 2008, and was never able to stay healthy afterwards. In 2013, after playing a total of 72 games at first base and over one thousand at DH in his major league career, he signed a two million dollar contract with the Yankees, hoping to rejuvenate his career.
Andy Pettitte (22nd round, 1990)- Arguably the greatest postseason pitcher in history, Pettitte was drafted out of Deer Lake High School in Texas. He went on to tear up the minors, consistently winning at every stop in the minors before he was called up in 1995. He finished the year 12-9, while finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting. The next year, he torched the majors with 21 wins, placed second in the Cy Young Award voting, and earned his first (of three) all-star game berths. After seven strong seasons, he signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros, teaming up with Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt. Three years and one World Series appearance later, he returned to the Bronx in 2007 and helped the Yanks win their 27th title in 2009. In 2011, 39 years old and mentally exhausted, he retired, but came back in 2012. Now Pettitte is 41 years of age, but is still itching to become a six-time World Series champion.
David Robertson (17th Round, 2006)- Ok, maybe Robertson is still a little inexperienced to be considered a veteran. However, he’s been in The Show since 2008 and is more than qualified to be considered a solid Major League reliever. Drafted two years after his brother, Connor Robertson, the skinny righthander incinerated the minor leagues, posting career numbers of 1.28 and 0.931 in ERA and WHIP, respectively. After three average seasons in New York, Robertson blossomed into a superior pitcher in 2011, going 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and a K/9 inning ratio of 13.5! He’s been sterling since then, and when Mariano Rivera ends his illustrious career, Robertson looks more than capable of succeeding Rivera and creating a legacy for himself.