Analysis: Yankees Pick 16th In This Year’s Amateur Draft

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees, like all teams, have had mixed results in selecting players from the amateur draft pool over the years. In 1991, they selected Brien Taylor as a widely heralded number one pick. For two years, Taylor reigned as the number one prospect in all of the major league baseball, only to fall off the charts, never throwing a single pitch for the Yankees wearing the pinstripes. In this year’s draft, fifteen players will be selected before the Yankees make their choice. What will be the organizational process employed in making that selection?

The Yankee’s possession of the 16th pick doesn’t sound like much. And you might think that the first ten picks will yield the best players in the draft. Not so fast. And that’s mainly because individual teams have individual needs. So, for example, if the top ten has a wealth of power hitters, but your team already has that box checked, and pitching depth is a box not checked, then you will look further down the list before making a pick.

That is, unless (and you can see the complexity already developing) you intend to trade a top ten pick after the draft for a pitcher. Picking like this can be risky, because, for every Derek Jeter, there’s also a Brien Taylor, who became virtually untradeable after just two years.

Yankees At Sweet Sixteen Is A Good Omen

Besides, the 16th pick is a good place to sit. Or, at least it’s proven itself to be for the Yankees. James Kaprielian was the team’s 16th pick in 2014, and Blake Rutherford their 18th pick in last year’s draft, both of whom are well on their way to joining the rotation soon.

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Another good reminder that picking from the top can be overrated is that The Yankees Core Four selections included Andy Pettitte in the 22nd round and Jorge Posada in the 24th round of the 1990 Major League Baseball Draft. Jeter was the exception selected in the first round, with the sixth overall selection, of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft. Mariano Rivera joined the organization as a selection in the International Draft.

So, what will the Yankees be looking for in 2017? Well, if you go by the axiom that it’s pitching, pitching, pitching that wins championships, then the choice is easy. Other than that, this writer is not qualified to name names, and I’ll leave that to the pros in the front office.

Yankees Must Begin The Due Diligence Process Now

But having said that, there are a few observations I would make about this selection, as well as all others the team makes, that bear some thought. The first, and perhaps most important, accents the importance of a player’s makeup, and not just his physical attributes.

Hopefully, the Yankees have already begun the process of due diligence regarding the players they initially have in mind as possible selections. This process means talking to the player’s parents, coaches, friends, teachers, and even a girlfriend if he has one.

High school and college coaches can tell you if he is “teachable.” Does he accept criticism as constructive when it is given in that light,  or, does he insist on doing it his way, and only say, “If you don’t like it, just look at my record.”

In other words, and this is true more and more these days, the Yankees will want to look beneath the headlines surrounding this soon to become a millionaire and his glittering stats.  What kind of a person is he?  Did he complete his homework in high school, or was that just an afterthought. What about his girlfriend and how does he treat her? These are hard questions to get answers to, but if you ask them in the right way and are persistent about, you can learn a lot.

And what you learn in this process may well make the difference down the road. Between, for example, a Derek Jeter and a Jose Fernandez who, for some ungodly reason known only to him thought it was a good idea to do for a boat ride in the middle of the night, with drugs in the picture and friends telling him to “Cool” his jets.

Soon, names will begin popping up as to which players the Yankees are interested in drafting.  And when that happens, I won’t be interested in the 450 ft. home run he hit or the time he hit 102 on the gun.

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I’ll be looking instead at local newspaper stories about this player and Youtube videos that reveal his character. Because in the end, that is the difference between someone like a Derek Jeter and all the rest.