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New York Yankees Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: LHP Alex Graman (3) and RHP David Walling (1) formed an almost unbeatable combination at short-season Staten Island, going 14-5, 3.07 with 167 strikeouts in 161 innings between them. New York-Penn League managers voted Graman the league’s No. 1 prospect.

Best Athlete: OF Tommy Winrow (2) is not a blazing runner, but the rest of his tools are average to above-average. He plays with grace and balance.

Best Hitter: Winrow has the most natural hitting ability, but SS Andy Phillips (7) is a gifted performance hitter who has a solid line-drive stroke. Winrow hit .317-0-28 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League; Phillips batted .322-7-48 at Staten Island. Phillips had a 36-game hit streak at Alabama this spring.

Best Power: OF Brad Ticehurst (10) is strong and can loft the ball from the left side of the plate. He hit eight homers at Staten Island. Winrow did not hit a home run in the GCL but will develop at least average power down the road.

Fastest Runner: SS Seth Taylor (5), who stole a team-high 23 bases at Staten Island, is an average runner with good baserunning instincts. But this was not a very fast draft class.

Best Defensive Player: Taylor has above-average hands and good quickness at shortstop, but limited arm strength may move him to second base eventually. Winrow has an easy plus arm in right field.

Best Fastball: Graman pitches in the low 90s and tops out around 93 mph. His fastball seems faster because of its explosive late life.

Most Intriguing Background: C Chad Sutter (23) is the son of former all-star closer Bruce Sutter. LHP Chad Bentz (34), who went unsigned and is at Long Beach State, has a similar background to Jim Abbott in that he is missing most of his right hand.

Closest to the Majors: Graman and Walling are both mature college pitchers who should move quickly. Graman has better stuff; Walling has better command and a better changeup.

The One That Got Away: RHP Robert Corrado (4) had one of the better breaking balls among high school pitchers in the draft, but will be throwing it for Kentucky instead of the Yankees.

Best Non-Draft Sign: Few in the industry questioned the Yankees’ wisdom when they paid Dominican OF Wily Mo Pena a $3.6 million signing bonus last spring. They just wished they had the money to match the offer. A 1998 draft-and-follow, LHP Brandon Claussen (34) showed three solid average pitches in going 6-4, 3.38 at Staten Island.

Summary: The Yankees make their biggest mark outside the draft by signing players like Pena. Their drafts tend to be college oriented and conservative, but few organizations are more adept at identifying draft-and-follow players.

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