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Draft Report Card


Jason Arnold
NEW YORK YANKEES

Best Pro Debut: RHP Jason Arnold (2) threw a no-hitter and went 7-2, 1.50 in the short-season New York-Penn League, with a 74-15 strikeout-walk ratio and a .158 opponent average in 66 innings. OF John-Ford Griffin (1) and SS Bronson Sardinha (1), the club’s top two picks, both hit better than .300 with some power and double-digit steal totals in the NY-P and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. LHP Charles Manning (9) went 8-4, 3.49 and topped the NY-P with 87 strikeouts in 80 innings. 1B Aaron Rifkin (4), somewhat of a surprise early pick, batted .318-10-49 in the NY-P and was named that league's MVP.

Best Athlete: The Yankees believe Sardinha will be able to stay at shortstop despite lacking the quickness usually associated with the position. He’s not slow by any means, and he has the arm strength and bat to play anywhere he might eventually move, such as second or third base, or an outfield corner. LHP Chase Wright (3) has average velocity and showed power and speed as a high school outfielder. He was the best two-way player in Texas this year.

Best Hitter: Florida State coaches considered Griffin a better pure hitter than J.D. Drew, who like Griffin starred for the Seminoles. Griffin hit .400 or better in each of his three years in college. He walked (40) nearly as much as he struck out (41) in his pro debut.

Best Raw Power: OF Shelley Duncan (2), who holds every University of Arizona home run record imaginable, can hit the ball out of the park to all fields. His tremendous pop is his only plus tool, but it may be enough to carry him.

Fastest Runner: OF Kaazim Summerville (23) is a 7 runner on the 2-to-8 scouting scale. He hit .186 and reached base just 22 times in 35 NY-P games, but he did steal 13 bases in 14 attempts.

Best Defensive Player: Once Sardinha improves the accuracy of his throws, he’ll be a strong defender in the middle infield.

Best Fastball: Arnold proved better than even the Yankees expected. He threw a consistent 93-95 mph and topped out at 97. His palmball changeup is a strikeout pitch, and he also shortened his slider. RHP Jon Skaggs (1) works at 92-94 mph. But the most electric arm signed this year by New York was LHP Sean Henn, a 26th-round draft-and follow from 2000 who tops out at 98 mph. All three pitchers weren’t able to finish the year at Staten Island because of elbow woes, however. Arnold had tendinitis and Skaggs had a strain; Henn required Tommy John surgery.

Most Intriguing Background: At 34th overall, Sardinha was the highest-drafted high school player ever out of Hawaii. His brother Dane signed with the Reds as a 2000 second-round pick, while another brother, Duke, turned down the Rockies as a 41st-rounder this year. Duncan’s brother Chris was a Cardinals first-rounder in 1999, while their father Dave was a former big league catcher and is St. Louis’ pitching coach. Unsigned OF Brandon Jones (28) was one of college football’s most coveted wide receiver recruits and landed with defending national champion Oklahoma. Unsigned RHP Tate Wallis (39) is playing tight end at Southern Methodist–which doesn’t have a baseball program. RHP Brian Strelitz (11) is the son of former Rangers scouting director and current agent Len Strelitz.

Closest To The Majors: Ticketed for Double-A in 2002, Arnold is at the head of the pack. Right behind him are Griffin and Skaggs, who will begin next season in high Class A.

Best Late-Round Pick: RHPs Adam Wheeler (13), who threw as hard as 94 mph in the GCL, and Bobby Wood (24), who has an 88-92 mph fastball. Both will need time to develop.

The One Who Got Away: The two highest picks the Yankees couldn’t sign should be in Wichita State’s rotation next spring. RHP Adam Peterson (8) would have gone higher in the draft had he not been curtailed by a pulled lat muscle in his back, while RHP Trent Henderson (14) transferred in after blossoming at Pratt (Kan.) CC. Both throw in the 92-94 mph range.

Assessment: Signing Henn was a coup, even if it cost New York $1.7 million, a record for a draft-and-follow. That took a sizable chunk out of the Yankees’ signing budget--yes, they have a budget--in a year in which they had a rare run of extra picks. They adapted well by signing Griffin and Sardinha, two of the better hitters in the draft, but they were forced to take eight college seniors in the first 10 rounds.

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