Let’s be perfectly honest: you and I know less about the fate of the New York Yankees’ future farm system than the New York Yankees do. Their scouting department is privy to information that you and I simply can’t find scrawled across the ground in chalk.
Or, at least, I hope so.
When the Bombers selected Eastern Illinois (shoutout Tony Romo) shortstop Trey Sweeney on Sunday night with pick No. 20, it seemed to buck all the conventional wisdom from January through mid-June, but not the wisdom accrued over the past week or so, when experts like Jim Callis believed the Helium Alert shortstop might just be the pick there.
Sometimes, the prognosticators nail it. Sweeney was an analytics darling who tested through the roof in hard-hit rate and who performed admirably in his wood bat summer ball competition. He’s also a left-handed bat, much like recent draftees Trevor Hauver and Austin Wells. Noting their deficiency at the MLB level, the Yankees seem to be collecting those lately.
All of this is to say: we’re not going to yuck anyone’s yum here. Sweeney might be part of the solution. Though he might not be a shortstop long term, the Yankees already do have Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe rocketing through the system, and are poised to sign next summer’s No. 1 international prospect Roderick Arias at the position, too. A left-handed roving third baseman/corner outfield option who’s solid on defense but bat-first doesn’t seem like the worst idea, especially if the team loved the player and wasn’t going to get him at 55 (they weren’t).
From an outsider’s perspective, though, there seemed to be more crowd-pleasing options on the board. We understand Sweeney, but we’re not exactly over the moon. The wood bat numbers are great, sure, but he didn’t record a hit off a 95 MPH fastball this season. We would’ve chosen these three options first, especially in hindsight about where they ended up.
The Yankees should’ve made these 3 first-round picks instead of Trey Sweeney.
3. Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep
On the surface, before we get into any of Solometo’s merits (MLB.com’s 17th-ranked draft prospect overall) … wouldn’t it have been nice to draft a local kid instead of someone who liked the Altuve 2019 ALCS home run on Twitter? OK. That’s out. We got that out.
Solometo, a 6-5 lefty committed to North Carolina, slipped further in the draft than most of us expected, and was pegged to the Bombers by plenty of experts up until the final days of the process. He’s got the big body scouts covet. He’s reportedly got the leg kick of Mackenzie Gore and the funky mess-around, side-slinging delivery made famous recently by Madison Bumgarner. Quite frankly … we just … want that. We want that in our system. We want to be checking in every five days on a tough-as-nails lefty who touches 95.
You can never have too many high-ceiling pitching prospects, but it seems the Yankees would rather use their top pick on a bat without a home, then pivot to selecting lower-ceiling pitchers with their next several selections (like Stanford’s Brendan Beck, the 99th-ranked prospect who the NYY took 55th).
Someday, the Yankees might actually choose someone whose projected slot approaches reality. Instead, they left Solometo hanging, and he went with the first pick of the second round to the Pirates, who will now go over slot to nab him. At least he didn’t fall in the AL East.