June 6th marked the start of one of the most underrated drafts in professional sports, the MLB First-Year Player Draft. It brings the draftees more personally and emotionally into the fold, while the high school/college split creates an interesting dynamic. Additionally, the lack of certainty and familiarity with the player pool all but eliminates ugly scenes like this, where Knicks fans vigorously booed Gamecock Ronaldo Balkman being drafted in the 1st round. Conversely it makes the draft largely about learning who may become the up-and-coming stars.
As of late, Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, has been vigilant about conserving funds and stockpiling draft picks. This year’s draft marked the first pay-off from his strategy, as the Yankees had compensating draft picks for Nick Swisher (32nd) and Rafael Soriano (33rd), both who rejected qualifying offers, as well as their own 26th pick. Now, let’s break down selections.
26th Pick – Eric Jagielo (3B – Notre Dame)
Jagielo is a power hitting third baseman. Given the makeup of the Yankees and their farm system, he immediately becomes the third baseman of the future. His left handed power swing will play extremely well in Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right field. This is a pick that Yankee fans should be excited about. He is considered a safe choice, he just posted a .388 batting average (.500 OBP) with nine home runs in 196 at bats as a junior. He also blasted 13 home runs in the Cape Cod league and he may not be too far away from the Bigs.
He could return for his senior year, but that seems unlikely. His defense is his achilles heel, but scouts believe he can improve enough to handle the position a the big league level and avoid moving to first base where offensive expectations are higher. Jonathan Mayo figured the Yankees would pick him here and was right. A College Baseball Daily scouting report is here.
32th Pick – Aaron Judge (OF – Fresno State University)
At 6’7″ and 255 LBS, Aaron Judge would be the tallest MLB outfielder ever. Not only is he an outfielder, but he successfully held down center field for the Fresno Bulldogs. He’ll likely shift to a corner outfield slot in the majors. That said, he is rather fast and solid defensively.
He won the 2012 college home run derby in Omaha, and tripled his regular season home run total from his sophomore year (4) to his junior year (12). Taller players often have bigger swings and take longer to develop, but he’ll still be quicker to develop than 18-year-old high schoolers. He is considered a high-upside pick. Jonathan Mayo had him going towards the middle of the first round, making this pick a steal.
33rd Pick – Ian Clarkin (LHP – Madison High School, California)
Clarkin is a “young projectable left-hander” with the best curve ball in high school baseball. His favorite baseball moment was the Luis Gonzalez blooper in the 2001 World Series. Growing up, he “couldn’t stand” the Yankees, but quickly changed his tune after donning the pinstripes, saying “Now I do love them, and my dad’s going to have to learn to love them too.”
He spent a lot of time speaking with the preceding pick, Aaron Judge, at the MLB studio and already has a friend in the Yankees farm system. Jonathan Mayo believes he will move more quickly than other high schoolers who oftentimes take five years to develop. He is considered a high upside lefty that balances out this first round.
I’m very satisfied with Cashman’s decisions in the first round, and I’m most excited about Eric Jagielo. What about you? Who do you like? are you thrilled? Disappointed?
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