Draft Update: The First Ten Rounds
Today is the final day of the 2019 Draft, where Major League Baseball will plow through the last thirty rounds. The first ten rounds played out over the last couple days, with the Yankees so far preferring college players and pitching. Here is a quick rundown of their picks so far.
Anthony Volpe (Round 1, Pick 30): Birthdate: 4/28/2001 School: Delbarton (NJ) Position: Shortstop B/T: R/R Ht: 5’11 Wt: 180
The Yankees’ only draft out of high school so far came in the first round. Anthony Volpe is committed to Vanderbilt, which leads to concern about his signability. Presumably, the Yankees are confident they can persuade him to forego Vanderbilt by paying him above slot.
Volpe is fast on the bases and is a good defender with advanced footwork, quick reflexes and a high baseball IQ. He also has a quick bat and short swing that gives him good coverage at the plate. On the other hand, Volpe’s power is underwhelming and projects to be average at best. T.J. Sikkema (CBA, Pick 38): Birthdate: 7/25/1998 School: University of Missouri Position: Pitcher B/T: L/L Ht: 6’0 Wt: 221
While the Yankees’ first pick will need a fair amount of development, they went with a more polished player in T.J. Sikkema with the pick they got in the Sonny Gray trade. Sikkema doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he has three solid pitches and an ability to use them in just about any situation. Sikkema usually throws in the low 90s, but can reach 93-95 at times. The young southpaw projects as a Major League reliever at his floor, though he certainly has the tools to be a back of the rotation starter.
Josh Smith (Round 2, Pick 67): Birthdate: 8/7/1997 School: LSU (LA) Position: 2B/SS B/T: L/R Ht: 5’10 Wt: 172
Drafted by Detroit in the 38th round in 2016, the Louisiana native decided to play for the LSU Tigers instead. Smith missed most of 2018 due to a stress reaction in a vertebra, but made it up with a strong season this year and some time in the Cape Cod League. Playing shortstop primarily, the Yankees appear to view him as a second baseman. He has strong instincts in the infield, with reliable hands and good arm strength. On offense, the infielder has decent power, but he is more of a contact hitter with the ability to use the whole field and control the zone. Smith also has plus speed and uses it well on the bases.
Jacob Sanford (Round 3, Pick 105): Birthdate: 10/24/1997 School: LSU (LA) Position: CF B/T: L/R Ht: 6’2 Wt: 215
Sanford wasn’t on scouts radars, but he certainly was determined to make them notice him. After the only interest he got during high school in Nova Scotia was to play volleyball at a nearby school, Sanford walked onto the McCook Community College team in Nebraska. Sanford then broke McCook’s slugging record twice (using wooden bats) and then transferred to Western Kentucky. He won the first Conference USA triple crown, hitting .402/.488/.828 this year. He had 22 homers and 65 RBIs, showing his impressive power. Sanford has impressive bat speed and quick hands. Quick on the bases, Sanford shifted from first base to the outfield with little trouble. He doesn’t have great arm strength, so he may end up moving out of center.
Jake Agnos (Round 4, Pick 135): Birthdate: 5/23/1998 School: East Carolina University (NC) Position: LHP B/T: L/L Ht: 5’11 Wt: 207
The Yankees’ have made left-handed pitching a priority during the draft, first with Sikkema and now with Agnos. Despite his smaller build, Agnos throws low to mid-90s. His go-to pitch is his curve, a plus pitch in the upper-70s with a big break. He has a decent changeup, but it needs more work. His fastball and curve could quickly send him to the majors as a reliever, though with more polish he could prove himself as a starter.
Ken Waldichuk (Round 5, Pick 165): School: St. Mary’s (CA) Position: LHP B/T: L/L Ht: 6’4 Wt: 220
This time, the Yankees went with a big lefty pitcher. Waldichuk has the type of frame that excites scouts. His fastball is low to mid-90s, while his above-average slider is a great weapon against right-handed hitters. Waldichuk has a changeup that needs work, but has good fade. He also plays good defense, taking pride in his ability to be ready for anything that might come his way. This highlight has been making the rounds, exemplifying his heads-up defense.
Hayden Wesneski (Round 6, Pick 195): Birthdate:12/5/1997 School: Sam Houston State (TX) Position: RHP B/T: R/R Ht: 6’3 Wt: 210
After taking three left-handed pitchers, the Yankees went with a righty in the sixth round. Wesneski was drafted by the Rays in the 33rd round of the 2016 Draft. His fastball ranges from 88-95, but it has above-average life and results in plenty of misses and ground balls. Wesneski’s slider is effective, particularly when used in conjunction with his fastball. A changeup makes for a third dependable pitch, giving him a ceiling as a 4 or 5 starter, though he may be best used as a long-reliever.
Nick Paciorek (Round 7, Pick 225): Birthdate: 6/1/1998 School: Northwestern (IL) Position: RHP B/T: R/R Ht: 6’2 Wt: 195
Paciorek started his collegiate career as a catcher, where he struggled mightily at the plate and was relegated to the bench his sophomore year, while Northwestern began to convert him to the mound. It wasn’t an easy transition, but as a junior he became one of Northwestern’s best pitchers this past year. Paciorek is a reliever and while he is still very raw, he should have two plus pitches to work with. His fastball can hit as high as 96mph and his mid-80s slider is his best pitch. He will have a lot of work to do as he continues to develop into a pitcher, but the Yankees’ system is well-suited for this.
Zach Greene (Round 8, Pick 255): Birthdate: 8/29/1996 School: University of South Alabama (AL) Position: RHP B/T: R/R Ht: 6’1 Wt: 215
The college senior was drafted in the fifteenth round by the Marlins last year, but returned to South Alabama, where his ERA stayed under 1 for most of the season. Greene has a great fastball, picking up 70 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. The closer picked up thirteen saves. A couple interesting, though rather irrelevant, notes – his full name is Zachary Blue Greene and his favorite athlete is Bartolo Colon.
Spencer Henson (Round 9, Pick 285): Birthdate: 5/23/1998 School: East Carolina University (NC) Position: LHP B/T: L/L Ht: 5’11 Wt: 207
The Oklahoma native must have been pretty excited when he got drafted by his favorite sports team yesterday. He started his collegiate career mostly appearing out of the bullpen, however, his sophomore year he spent more time in the field, where he picked up the fourth Summit League Triple Crown ever. Henson hit .362/.509/.768 this season, picking up 51 RBIs and 19 homers. He has been compared to a Luke Voit type player.
Mitch Spence (Round 10, Pick 315): Birthdate: 5/6/1998 School: USC Aiken (SC) Position: RHP B/T: R/R Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185
The Yankees ended the day by picking Spence, who lead the Peach Belt Conference in wins and strikeouts this season. Spence has a fastball that can range anywhere from 87 to 95. He has a solid curveball, along with an average cutter and changeup to round out his repertoire.
Well, that’s it for today’s draft round up. The Yankees made some interesting picks and there are some players both to be excited about in the long term and short term. Pitching ruled the day, now let’s see what the rest of the draft brings to the Bronx.