Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Yes, it's harder to land a sure thing toward the end of the first round, which is where the Yankees pick Monday on the opening day of the MLB Draft.
But the Yanks took Aaron Judge No. 32 overall six years ago, so they know they can hit a home run -- yeah, pun intended -- late in the first round. Perhaps they can do it again this year when they choose No. 30 overall. Or maybe they'll hit it big at No. 38, the pick they got when Sonny Gray signed with Cincinnati.
Whatever happens, they could have a chance to pick another intriguing power hitter on Monday. Not that the player has to be Judge-ian. After all, as draft expert Jim Callis, a senior writer for MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com puts it, "The draft is hard.
"Scouting and projecting these guys is hard. It's not like you line them up and know how they'll come out."
SNY asked Callis and an evaluator from a big-league club for thoughts on some attractive players who might be available when the Yankees draft. Here are five names to watch while following the Yanks' first round:
Kody Hoese, Tulane, Third Baseman
After hitting only five homers over his first two years of college, the 21-year-old Hoese blasted 23 this year while batting .391 and landing American Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors. The righty slugger is "prototypical of what you're looking for in a corner defender," our evaluator says. "He's got a bat that can hit for average and power and good plate discipline. He brings a lot of profile stuff you like for a third baseman."
He's soaring up draft boards, so he might not last until No. 30. "I think he goes in the 20s," Callis says. "I don't think it's impossible for the Yankees, but he may go five picks before them."
Tyler Callihan, Providence High School (Fla.), Third Baseman
Callihan is among the best all-around prep hitters in the draft, Callis says, and he impressed by batting .528 in a recent nine-game stint with the 18U National Team. He's got a scholarship to South Carolina, but may have hit his way to big pro money instead. "The kid's a good offensive player," Callis says. "I don't think the Yankees are targeting third basemen, but I've heard third base more than anything with them. He could be available for them."
One concern with Callihan: He might not stick at third. "He can hit, but there's a big question on the position he ends up playing," our evaluator says. "They've fooled around with him catching. That doesn't work. It's third or first (base)."
Brett Baty, Lake Travis (Tex.) High School, Third Baseman
The Yankees scouted the lefty slugger heavily, Callis says, enamored with his big power and plate discipline. Callis thinks he might rank as highly as the fifth-best hitter in the draft and Baty has a strong arm at third base, too. "The only downside for him is his age," our evaluator says. Baty is already 19 and some clubs may shy away from him because their projection algorithms might dictate picking a younger prep player. But the Yankees have drafted 19-year-old high schoolers in the past. According to Baseball America, Blake Rutherford, taken No. 18 by the Yanks in 2016, is the highest-drafted 19-year-old prepster this decade.
"That might be a dream scenario for the Yankees, if he (Baty) fell to them," Callis says. But, Callis adds, "I think there are enough teams that like him enough to take him. I think he goes in the teens and, if not there, he won't get down to them."
Kameron Misner, Missouri, Outfielder
Misner is a 21-year-old left-handed hitter who had a strong sophomore season (.360 average, .497 on-base percentage, .576 slugging) but stumbled statistically as a junior. Had he come close to duplicating his sophomore success, he likely never would've lasted until No. 30. Misner whacked 10 homers, batted .286 and drew 54 walks in 57 games overall this season, but hit just .222 with a .315 slugging percentage in SEC play. Scouts, though, look at him and see potential. He's listed at 6-4 and 213 pounds and has "maybe the best frame in the draft and all-around tools on the college side," Callis says.
He still has much to prove offensively, though. "Is he disciplined or passive?" Callis says. "You've got to figure that out. I don't know, based on that performance, where he ends up going."
Jack Leiter, Delbarton School (N.J.), RHP
Al Leiter's son is an ace with a commitment to Vanderbilt who some draft observers believe is headed to college no matter what happens on Monday. It's not hard to see why teams are interested in the 19-year-old, though. "He's good," our evaluator says. "He's got a fastball up to 97 (miles per hour), a plus curveball. He was the number one starter for Team USA." Says Callis: "I don't think he's signable. I think he'll end up at Vanderbilt."
Here's a scenario we wonder about, though: Maybe the Yankees, the team that drafted his father in the second round in 1984, takes him with their No. 38 pick. Could the Yanks save bonus money by over-drafting at No. 30 and then offer Jack Leiter enough to keep him away from Vandy?