The last time the New York Yankees lost a good deal of their bonus pool, as well as their second- and fifth-round picks for signing a marquee free agent, it was the summer after they nabbed Gerrit Cole, and their first-round selection in the MLB Draft was slugging collegiate bat Austin Wells.
Now, after signing Carlos Rodón, the Yankees are in the same boat. Will they go college again with their first-round pick? And does the context even matter when trying to answer this question?
The Yankees' last three first-rounders have all been advanced college bats (Wells, Trey Sweeney, Spencer Jones). Clearly, the current regime fell in love with Anthony Volpe in '19 -- good pick! -- but has been prone to a different type of target in recent years (Anthony Seigler, selected out of high school the year before, wasn't such a fantastic choice).
All trends seem to be conspiring in favor of a college star with a top-tier hit tool, and Pinstripe Alley's draft coverage noted that while the team has gone up the middle with their past five first-rounders (six if Clarke Schmidt counts, kinda!), there "have been whispers in the past" that the Yankees are willing to choose a corner bat if they fall in love with one.
Submitted for your approval: top-40 draft prospect (and rising) Nolan Schanuel, a lefty-hitting first baseman who outclasses the rest of college baseball in OPS. Plus, he's coming out of Florida Atlantic at the height of his school's athletic prowess (still can't believe San Diego State tracked 'em down in the Final Four).
Oh, and check out Schanuel's stance. Genuinely unique.
Yankees Mock Draft: Could Nolan Schanuel be Yankees' next 2023 MLB Draft pick?
Schanuel, ranked 39th in MLB.com's predraft rankings, could still reach the Yankees at No. 26, though Keith Law of The Athletic believes his ceiling is No. 11 to the Angels. Law projects Schanuel to go 21st overall to the Cardinals in his latest mock.
The Cardinals coveting a left-handed power bat at the corner should be enough to convince the Yankees to pull the trigger if he happens to fall to them instead.
While drafting a first baseman typically means selecting a less athletic player and hoping they don't become bat-only rather than bat-first during the development process, Schanuel is 6'3" and 195 pounds, and could potentially become a corner outfielder at the next level, per Pinstripe Alley's analysis.
First base is one of a few unsettled positions for the Yankees in the long-term. In the short-term, Anthony Rizzo's got things covered through 2024 (we hope) with a team option for 2025 on the horizon, too. But his time in pinstripes won't last forever, which has led to plenty of online theorizing about Japanese import Munetaka Murakami.
In other words, the possibility of adding a young Rizzo replacement won't disappear if Shanuel doesn't last until pick No. 26. The team's timeline -- and Schanuel's exceptional prospect status -- does make the connection worthwhile, though.