Looking at the Last Ten Years of First Round Picks (Part 2)
We have already taken a look at the first half of the past decade of draft picks, so now we will look at the picks from 2015-2019. If you missed 2010-2014, you can find those here.
James Kaprielian (SP): Drafted: 2015, 16th pick out of UCLA.
Career: Kaprielian started his professional career shortly after signing, making five appearances between the GCL Yankees and Staten Island. He was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee in 2016 and was sent to Tampa, continuing what looked like a fast track to the Majors. Unfortunately, Kaprielian’s season ended after just three games and what ended up being a pretty devastating elbow injury.
As he was recovering from the surgery, Kaprielian found himself traded to the Oakland Athletics in the deal that brought Sonny Gray to New York, a trade that may work out well for the A’s in the years to come. Kaprielian didn’t throw a pitch in 2017 or 2018, but he is making a good case for being back on track today. He has made six starts for the Advanced-A Stockton Ports, going 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA. He has 19 Ks and only five walks. He has held opposing hitters to a .194 average and only one home run.
Kyle Holder (SS): Drafted: 2015, 30th pick out of the University of San Diego.
Career: A defense-first shortstop, Holder signed with the Yankees and went to Staten Island. He played 56 games and went .213/.273/.253. He was promoted to Charleston in 2016 and Tampa in 2017, making short work of the lower leagues. He suffered a stress fracture to his back during Spring Training in 2018, but by the end of the season he was in Trenton.
Holder is in Trenton again, where he continues to work on his offense. His defense is still his strong point, but his offensive production is becoming legit. He is currently hitting .257/.320/.410 with four stolen bases and five homers in 57 games.
Blake Rutherford (RF): Drafted: 2016, 18th pick out of Chaminade Prep (California)
Career: Rutherford started his professional career by splitting time with the GCL Yankees and the Pulaski Yankees. He hit a combined .351/.415/.570 with twelve RBIs and three homers in 33 games. Rutherford was viewed as a solid contact hitter who can get on base.
With the depth the Yankees have in the outfield, it was perhaps not surprising Rutherford ended up being one of the prospects sent to the Chicago White Sox for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. He had been hitting .281/.342/.391 in 71 games with Charleston and finished out the year with the Kannapolis Intimidators, where he seemed to struggle to get into a groove.
In 2018 he was promoted to High-A and hit .293/.345/.436 with career highs in homers (7) and triples (9). He has been playing for the Birmingham Barons in Double-A and is the MLB.com 8th ranked prospect for the White Sox.
Clarke Schmidt (RHP): Drafted: 2017, 16th pick out of University of South Carolina.
Career: The Yankees knew they were looking for pitching, so they drafted Schmidt out of South Carolina with the 16th pick. This seemed a bit strange, as he was ranked 32nd by Baseball America and 49th by MLB.com, but more importantly, he was injured. Schmidt had blown out his elbow in a game against the University of Florida. A week later he underwent Tommy John surgery. The Yankees were able to sign him for $2,184,300, more than a million dollars less than slot value.
Schmidt made his professional debut in 2018, throwing in the GCL (East and West), along with Staten Island. Over those eight appearances and 23.1 innings, he had a 3.09 ERA, allowed one home run and struck out thirty batters while walking just six. Schmidt has made a couple trips to the IL this season, and is currently on a rehab assignment with the GCL East Yankees. He has seven starts with Tampa this year for 33.2 innings. He is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA. He has struck out 36 and walked 12. If Schmidt can keep healthy, he is still a few years away from the Bronx, but he is an arm to keep watching.
Anthony Seigler (C): Drafted: 2018, 23rd pick out of Cartersville (Georgia).
Career: Seigler made his professional debut last year with the GCL Yankees and Pulaski, hitting .266/.379/.342 in 24 games. He is only thirteen games into this season, but has moved up to Charleston. Seigler started the season pretty hot, but has gone cold the last week, dropping his average to .220. The switch hitter (and thrower) is struggling most against left-handed pitching, where he is only hitting .077 right now. His on base percentage, however, is .396, so he certainly knows how to get himself on base. Obviously, the young catcher has a long road to go and a lot to learn. One of his strongest points so far, however, has been his ability to work with his pitchers and know when they need to talk. He is a good game manager who can lead well behind the plate. For more on Seigler, check out my prospect profile from December.
Anthony Volpe (SS): Drafted: 2019, 30th pick out of Delbarton (New Jersey).
What to know: Volpe signed with the Yankees, forgoing his commitment to Vanderbilt. He has only played two games as I am writing this, putting on a uniform for the Pulaski Yankees. For more on Volpe (and other drafted players this year) check out this post from earlier in the month.
T.J. Sikkema (LHP): Drafted: 2019, 38th pick out of the University of Missouri.
What to know: Sikkema signed pretty quickly, but has yet to make his debut. Here is a quick write up from NJ.com about the Missouri pitcher. He projects to be a Major League arm, and given the Yankees got this pick for the Sonny Gray trade, perhaps he will help make up for that whole Gray debacle.
So, there is the last half of our list of first round picks over the past ten years. Obviously, the most recently picked are the most mysterious still, but overall I think the Yankees’ draft plans have gotten stronger over the years. I still scratch my head about Cito Culver and Dante Bichette, Jr. and find myself saddened by Ty Hensley’s unending injuries. What do you all think?