ESPN draft expert claims Yankees' first-round pick more unpredictable than usual

Another shortstop? Or off the board?
North Carolina v Virginia
North Carolina v Virginia / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

Typically, ESPN's Kiley McDaniel has a good sense of where the Yankees will go with their first-round MLB Draft selection, given his resources and their recent bouts of shortstop collecting. This year? Not so much.

On a conference call Wednesday, McDaniel noted that, while he usually has a pulse on the Yankees' preferences by now -- good sourcing, or obvious telegraphing, you decide -- he's having a tougher time sorting through the back-of-the-first-round possibilities that satisfy their most recent preferences.

McDaniel suspects that, by the time the Yankees reach the third or fourth round, they'll be prepared to overpay for whichever first-ish-round target drops into their hands. Early on, though? Will they go for whichever one of the many shortstops McDaniel has ranked in the 20s on his pre-draft guide, like Virginia's Griff O'Ferrall, Kyle DeBarge (Louisiana), or Kaelen Culpepper (Kansas State)? Or is New York's preferred college bat still floating somewhere in the ether?

Yankees could target another athletic shortstop in unpredictable first round of MLB Draft

Hilariously, McDaniel noted that the Yankees' scouts are so well-known these days that he's able to track them and the team's registered interest, even from afar. "I don't know if they know this, but they have so many highly respected, recognized scouts, when they show up to a game, everyone texts me, 'Hey, do you know so and so are here?' So I always know who they like and who they're executing," he quipped.

Further down the line, McDaniel mentioned Michigan high school center fielder Dante Nori and SoCal left-hander Boston Bateman (of course, checks every box) as prep players he's well aware the Yankees are tracking. He still anticipates they'll look at a college player in the first round, though, despite picking almost exactly where this year's comparatively weak class of high schoolers is supposed to begin flying off the board.

Which college bats fall to New York? That's for us to all find out, collectively, on Sunday. Right now, it seems their selection is up in the air, dependent on their competitors, and could be any number of collegiate bats.