Yankees Select OF Blake Rutherford, 1st Round 18th Overall

The Yankees selected Blake Rutherford with their first round pick. Rutherford is a high school outfielder out of California. Some projected as a potential top-10 pick, but he settled into the mid-teens range leading up to the draft.

Jesse Burkhart at Fangraphs describes him as:

"When you boil everything down, Rutherford has no major weakness in his game. For a high-school player with with above-average to plus tools across the board, he’s uniquely polished with a healthy sample of performance against showcase competition, and his athleticism and aptitude lower the risk level in case the pro game proves unexpectedly challenging for him. In my mind, he’s the definitive top hitting prospect in this year’s prep class and belongs in the top tier of position players – along with Louisville’s Corey Ray, Florida’s Buddy Reed and Mercer’s Kyle Lewis – who deserve strong consideration as top-five overall picks. With a combination of skills and athleticism that recalls Grady Sizemore, he has the potential to hit his way into the middle of a major-league order and make multiple All-Star teams."

From the MLB.com scouting report:

"Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

When a player is on the radar for multiple years, there is a danger of prospect fatigue. Rutherford has been a known quantity for a while, playing for USA Baseball's 18U team for two summers in a row, so he has been evaluated more than most high school players.

The left-handed-hitting outfielder from the Southern California high school ranks can do just about everything on a baseball field. Rutherford has the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average raw power. He'll record average to plus run times, and his speed helps him on the basepaths and in the outfield. Rutherford is a solid defender in the outfield, though most feel he'll move to right field in the future. The good news is his bat should profile just fine if that move does happen."

So, how did he fall to #18? For one, a number of players projected to go lower were selected ahead of him. The Yankees likely had several players, including Rutherford, but also Delvin Perez, on their draft board that they did not anticipate being able to draft. 

He's not a pitcher about to get Tommy John. He's not a 'safe' pick designed to save money for later rounds. Blake Rutherford is a legitimate potential future star outfielder, and probably the best player available. Nice pick, Yankees.