Yankees draft right-handed Tommy John patient in first round

Jun 30, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; General view of a New York Yankees cap in the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; General view of a New York Yankees cap in the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 16th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees select Clarke Schmidt, a pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery this past April. What?! Has James Kaprielian taught us nothing!

Leading up to the draft, nine out of 10 mock previews had the Yankees selecting a first baseman with their first round pick. Instead, they chose 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt out of the University of South Carolina — illustrating just how useless mock drafts are in general, regardless of the sport they are prognosticating.

Here’s the skinny on the 6-foot-1, 200-pound former Gamecock.

In nine starts during his junior season, Schmidt went 4-2 with a 1.34 ERA — striking out 70 batters in 60.1 innings pitched while holding the opposition to a .194 batting average and only 18 walks.

By April, Schmidt was being talked about as a top 10 pick with huge upside. Armed with a high-90s fastball that dances in the strike zone, the 25th overall prospect according to Baseball America also possesses a very good slider, curveball and changeup — despite the fact that many scouts were concerned about his unorthodox delivery.

Schmidt’s irregular delivery combined with SC coaches blatant misuse — detailed by ESPN’s Keith Law, were two huge factors in him ultimately deciding to go under the knife this past April to repair the torn UCL in his right throwing elbow.

"Schmidt was probably going to be drafted in the teens anyway, but Tommy John surgery followed some misuse by the SC coaching staff and he’s out till early 2018. He has hit 97 with good control but the mechanics have always been rough.More from Yankees NewsYankees announce corresponding move, make Carlos Rodón signing officialAaron Judge puts more pressure on Yankees after being named CaptainCarlos Correa-Giants-Mets bombshell makes Aaron Judge’s return to Yankees even betterDid Yankees troll Jon Heyman with Aaron Judge contract tweet?Matt Carpenter leaving Yankees for massive raise is hard to argue with"

I’m sorry but did the Yankees not get enough heartburn from former No. 5 prospect James Kaprielian, when he had his own Tommy John procedure around the same time Schmidt did?

I understand successfully coming back from this type of procedure isn’t the death sentence it was, say in the 80s and 90s — but with a mid-first round pick, there had to be other solid shooters still on the board that won’t be out of action until late 2018.

Regardless of the amount of potential Schmidt has, he’s already labeled with one big strike against him — and he’s yet to throw a single professional pitch.

Yes, the draft is a crapshoot. Just look at the Yankees’ other first-round picks since 2010 (Kaprielian, Kyle Holder, Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Ian Clarkin, Ty Hensley and Cito Culver). Only one has begun to reach his potential (in a big way, might I add).

With the chips already stacked against most young players — especially one’s destined to begin their careers on the disabled list, why would the Yankees risk wasting the pick?

For those quick to say that the Yanks’ minor league system is stocked, so it’s OK for them to take a chance — pump the breaks. You can never have too many good athletes, especially when it comes to pitchers. Whether it’s to pepper the major league roster with or to use in trades to bolster the team for a long playoff run (hint), prospects are the Bitcoin of Major League Baseball.

MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd sums up the situation perfectly.

"“I think with that deep of a farm system you can be patient. You can be patient on taking a high-ceiling high school guy or you can be patient with a guy coming off of Tommy John surgery. I think, we’ve seen over the last couple of years since we’ve been doing this, teams are not afraid of this surgery in the first round at all.“He might have better stuff than Erik Fedde did and he went as a Tommy John guy, also. Lucas Giolito was a high school guy who was going to need Tommy John surgery. Jeff Hoffman, another one. So teams don’t shy away from it if they think the stuff can play.“Confusing. The greatest predictor of future injury is past injuries. There are other, healthier players on the board. So he must have been very high on their board, separating everybody else still available.”"

Despite the fact we won’t see Schmidt anytime soon, Yankees Vice President of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer had this to say about the clubs newest farmhand.

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"“Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus. He has command, he has makeup. We really like his delivery. He’s got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff. And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.” Regarding Schmidt’s surgery, Oppenheimer added, “The results were positive and we feel really good about the rehab. He should be back pitching at full strength in approximately 12 months.”"