In a normal world, the MLB Draft would already be over, and the Yankees would have already made their latest sure-to-disappoint first-round addition.
Kidding. We think? Wake us up when Austin Wells is ready and we’ll reassess.
In 2021, though, we have to wait until after the College World Series, and the proceedings won’t get underway for another several weeks, beginning on Sunday, July 11.
That leaves plenty of time for fluctuations, projections, and changing tides. We’ve already gotten extremely angry at Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker likely dropping into prime Red Sox territory, and we’re bound to get upset by some other shifting opinion over the course of the next few weeks.
Things seem crystal clear for the Yankees no matter what projection or mock draft you read, though: they seem tuned into pitching, pitching, pitching, and will only alter their strategy based on who’s available when they select at No. 20 overall … pending a Jacoby Ellsbury grievance win that pushes their pick back 10 spots? Is that still possible? Hope not.
The Bombers have a lot of electric pitching in the lower-to-mid levels of their farm system, with Luis Gil and Luis Medina both harboring semi-breakouts this season, but there isn’t a lot of polished help at the top tier. Clarke Schmidt has taken much longer to get ready than we anticipated, and Deivi Garcia needs a bit more time to cook. Polished, college arms aren’t the worst investment for a team that needs both fast-risers to keep their window propped open and low-floor candidates who won’t bust.
As we see it, there are two names that keep coming up with the Yankees that fit this mold — and one wild name that could blow up the whole process, forcing us to play an extra-long waiting game.
Yankees fans should watch for these 3 MLB Draft prospects.
3. Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy
MLB Pipeline’s latest Mock Draft claims Painter will be the pick, though expert Jim Callis also expects the team to eye Chase Petty, a Somers Point, NJ high school pitcher and Florida commit.
A high school righty isn’t quite the same as a collegiate one, but expect these two names to be atop the Yankees’ list if they go with a prep arm.
Painter, also bound for the Gators if he bypasses his chance at an MLB job this time around, has hit 96 on the gun, and touched 94 at the Perfect Game Junior National. Side note, there’s nothing like the feeling of reading a high school pitcher’s Perfect Game profile. For instance, did you know Painter’s seen his fastball velo spike by 25% since 2016? Oh, but for reference, he was in eighth grade then, so … yeah. Great. Nice. What else’ve you got?
In all seriousness, the 6-7, 225-pound Painter is built like a prototypical tank, and is said to possess the best changeup in the draft, which Matt Blake’s Yankees have emphasized above all other pitches. That alone is enough to follow the tracks here and believe the interest is serious.
Of course, they could also go with a certain collegiate arm we’ve heard a lot about…