New York Yankees Editorials: Yankees have failed in past drafts, look to change luck


The New York Yankees will pick 16th and 30th in the first round of Monday’s draft.  Their first selection will be their highest since 1993, when they took starting pitcher Matt Drews 12th overall.  Drews, who never made the majors, was a wasted pick, with several future stars drafted later, although he was a piece in the trade for Cecil Fielder.

Since Drews, the Yankees haven’t picked higher than 17th, which occurred in 2005.  The pick?  C.J. Henry, a shortstop who, like Drews, never made the majors.  Henry actually never got higher than High-A, and is currently playing in an Independent League, although he is only 29 years old.  Also like Drews, he was used as a piece in a midseason trade, serving as the main piece in the Yankees 2006 trade for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle.

The Yankees success, combined with player development that was mediocre at best until recently, led to a lack of stars being drafted by the Yankees.  Of the 768 players who had been drafted and played at least one inning this season, 139, or 18.1%, were taken before the Yankees had a chance to pick.

Although the Yankees have developed better in recent years, those players have yet to pay dividends as only four position players (Brett Gardner, Slade Heathcott, John Ryan Murphy, and Austin Jackson) drafted by them have appeared in the big leagues this season.  While Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, and Eric Jagielo should add to that soon, it is still a shockingly low number.

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They have wasted picks in deep drafts, such as in 2007, when they selected Andrew Brackman, who would need Tommy John surgery.  The Yankees passed on Giancarlo Stanton, Freddie Freeman, Jordan Zimmermann, Jonathan Lucroy, Corey Kluber, Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, and Todd Frazier, among others.

While these players have become some of the most recognizable stars in baseball, Brackman made three career appearances, and is out of baseball altogether.  This has become a common theme of Yankees drafts, as from 2002-2011, they have had 13 first-round picks, and only six have made the majors.  Included in those six picks is Brackman, and Jeff Marquez who has four appearances, one more than Brackman.

Of the four players who have contributed to big league clubs, the Yankees botched the development of three (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and to a lesser extent, Ian Kennedy), while failing to sign one (Gerrit Cole) altogether, and outside of maybe Mark Prior (who also didn’t sign), he is the best player they’ve drafted in the first round since taking Derek Jeter in 1992.

As other teams continue to build through strong drafts, the 2015 Yankees have only received significant contributions from three players (Gardner, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren) who the team drafted.  Hopefully that trend will change in this draft, as they will pick higher than they have in 22 years.

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