No, the New York Yankees aren’t looking to replace Aaron Judge! What are you talking about?! He’s AARON JUDGE! Judge’s next contract has nothing at all to do with the team examining a 6-7 outfielder ahead of next weekend’s draft.
Kidding, kidding … unless you wanna … ? No, OK, kidding. But it’s certainly interesting!
When the first round of the 2022 Draft arrives (on the Sunday between the Futures Game and Home Run Derby), the Yankees could go any number of directions, but they continue to get tied to college outfielders.
Early in the process, there seemed to be some smoke around the Yanks and Tennessee right-hander Blade Tidwell, but since early March, they’ve been tied far more often to mid-20s bats like Dylan Beavers, Sterlin Thompson, Jordan Beck of the Vols (in MLB’s latest mock draft).
And now, add Spencer Jones of Vanderbilt to that list. Though MLB’s experts are much lower on the outfielder (ranking him 51st overall and mocking him to the always-smart Rockies at 31), Jones stands out as a Yankees target to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (subscription required, but aggregated by NJ.com).
There’s a lot of variance in Jones’ game to be nervous about, but … a 6-7 outfielder who mashes with elite exit velocity and significant swing and miss at a higher-profile collegiate program than Judge’s Fresno State … yeah, it would be no great shock if the Yankees rolled the dice and eventually reaped the rewards here.
Yankees Rumors: NYY targeting Vanderbilt’s Spencer Jones in 2022 MLB Draft
Pessimists are split on whether or not the Yankees should go with a safer selection, but if there’s any organization to trust on a 6-7 center fielder’s potential, it’s the Bombers.
In his Mock Draft, McDaniel furthered the comparison between the Yankees’ current all-world slugger and Jones, noting that neither fully tapped into their raw power in college, concentrating most of the hype into their exit velocities, and that both Jones and Judge showed off underrated sprint speed prior to being selected.
If Jones slips down the board past the Yankees, he might end up in a less-favorable situation atop the second round, where a number of poor player development organizations lurk.
Though there’s significant risk here, it might be in both parties’ best interest if the Yankees take the plunge here — and then maybe add a safer bat in Vanderbilt teammate Dominic Keegan, who the organization unsuccessfully drafted in 2021, too.