With the Yankees opening a west coast road trip tonight in Anaheim, tonight's routine will be a little different. Instead of settling in for the usual 7:05pm first pitch, Yankees fans will be able to focus on the club's newest prospect when the organization makes the 16th pick in tonight's MLB draft.
The last time the Yankees selected this high was in 2015, when the organization selected James Kaprielian out of UCLA. Other than Kaprielian, the Yankees haven't had many selections in the teens in the last couple of decades. The others: Blake Rutherford last year (18th) and CJ Henry in 2005 (17th). You have to go all the way back to 1993 to find a pick in the teens again (Matt Drews at 13th). We've grown accustomed to the franchise having its first selection in the mid-to-late 20s, or if they signed a marquee free agent in the previous offseason, even later.
Considering how often the team has drafted late in the first round, there haven't been too many high impact draftees. After 1992, the year Derek Jeter was drafted, Yankees first-rounders (that they signed) with the most WAR rank as follows: Eric Milton (1996), Ian Kennedy (2006), Phil Hughes (2004), and Joba Chamberlain (2006, supplemental). It goes way downhill after Joba. In fairness, despite not signing them, you can give the Yankees credit for drafting Mark Prior and Gerrit Cole, but there are still a ton of duds in the last 25 years. That just goes to show how difficult it is to draft well late in the first round (though Aaron Judge, 32nd overall in 2013, may have something to say about that).
The overall quality of this year's draft crop is not as strong as usual. Keith Law noted this on his big board and Fangraphs' Eric Longenhagen echoed that sentiment on the most recent Ringer MLB Show. Baseball America's John Manuel has heard the same. That's an unfortunate break for the Yankees considering that they're certainly hoping not to pick this high again anytime soon. Nonetheless, it's a better pick than usual. So, who will they take? I'm definitely not the right person to ask. Below is a list of mock drafts from major publications and the Yankees' projected selection:
- Baseball America (John Manuel): Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
- Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen): Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach High School (CA)
- ESPN (Keith Law): David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
- MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo): Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach High School (CA)
- MLB.com (Jim Callis): Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach High School (CA)
To familiarize yourself with those names above, spend some time scanning through the scouting reports/projections for these potential draftees and others to be selected tonight: