Yankees: 4 Draft Picks New York Couldn’t Make Under 2020 Rules

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As the Yankees prepare to mold their future, the 2020 MLB Draft will offer the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to far fewer candidates than ever before.

The draft was once an endlessly sprawling event, replete with 62 rounds of potential selections with treasure at every turn (hello, Pick No. 1,390: Mike Piazza!). The modern iteration had been whittled down to 40 rounds, until the coronavirus pandemic, combined with dissent between MLB and its minor league affiliates, knocked the tradition down to a mere five rounds in 2020.

That’s an entire universe of talent that will be forced to either sign contracts as undrafted free agents, or reenter the pool in 2021.

It’s easy for casual fans to assume that very little talent can be had in the draft’s later rounds, but it’s quite routine to stumble upon cornerstones well after the first five cycles have been completed. In fact, if tragedy had struck in other years, the Yankees never would’ve been able to make these four franchise-altering selections.

Yankees Draft Pick: David Robertson
New York Yankees reliever David Robertson (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

The New York Yankees drafted Houdini in the 17th round.

4. David Robertson, 2006 (17th Round)

The moment he refocused himself with the bases loaded and no outs in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS was the moment David Robertson became an all-caps YANKEE, and it never would’ve happened if he’d been draft eligible in 2020.

Robertson ended up making such an impression in Pinstripes that he was brought back for a return tour of duty midway through the 2017 season after taking his requisite free agent closer contract in Chicago following the 2014 campaign.

His best season, all things considered, was 2011, when D-Rob became the rare non-closer to earn an All-Star selection and serious Cy Young consideration (he finished 11th!), posting an insane 1.08 ERA and 100 Ks in 66.2 innings pitched. His spotless first two rounds of the 2017 postseason also cannot be ignored — save for an aberration late in Game 6 of the ALCS, Robertson was nails for his “new” team, going 4.2 innings and allowing a single hit in a five-game series with Cleveland.

Alas, there won’t be a D-Rob-esque surprise selected by the Yankees this year. They’ll never risk a top-five-round selection on a draft-eligible sophomore with a reliever profile.