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Yankees Draft Preview
By Josh Boyd
Scouting Director: Lin Garrett (first draft: 1996.)
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 28th)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 19th)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 24th)
The Yankees have made some surprising first-round selections in recent years. And while they've tended to lean toward college prospects (drafting a surprising six college seniors in the first six rounds of the 2001 draft, when they held five of the first 62 picks), they don't shun high school prospects. They nearly netted Mark Prior out of high school in 1998, the same year they swayed Drew Henson into a two-sport career with a multimillion dollar bonus.
The Yankees didn't make their first choice last June until the 71st pick, where they snagged Brandon Weeden, a raw, athletic high school righthander. They shifted back to the college ranks with 18 of their next 19 picks.
While being conservative in the draft, the Yankees have been aggressive in spending on the international front, as well as with draft-and-follows--though they were unable to sign 2001 draft-and-follow Nick Touchstone prior to last year's draft. They have already spend heavily on a pair of Dominicans this spring--righthander Ramon Ramirez ($350,000) and outfielder Anderson Amador ($800,000)--and are among the leading candidates on other top Latin prospects.
It's not clear how those signings will affect what the Yankees do on draft day. Their system has declined in the last year or so, which is one reason some in the industry believe George Steinbrenner will allow his scouting department, headed by Lin Garrett, to be more aggressive. The influence of senior vice president Gordon Blakeley could also have a positive effect on the Yankees' draft.
One constant has been the Yankees' propensity for drafting players out of Texas--Jon Skaggs, Chase Wright, Alan Bomer, Ross Michelsen (seventh round, 2002), to name a few--thanks to the work of area scouts Mark Batchko and Steve Boros. There is plenty of college and high school talent in Texas again this year. At 27th overall, the Yankees could go for the live arms of Craig Whitaker or Adam Miller from the prep ranks, or the University of Houston's Brad Sullivan and Ryan Wagner. The Yankees might also go after Tennessee backstop Javi Herrera to help their catching depth.