2017 MLB Draft Grades: New York Yankees
Best Pure Hitter: The Yankees drafted one position player in the top 10 rounds and signed just six in the entire draft. OF Canaan Smith (4) has a very advanced batting eye. Smith walked 57 times as a high school senior, showing a willingness to take free pass after free pass. He then led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in walks. Smith has above-average bat speed and some power potential to go with his picky plate discipline.
Best Power Hitter: OF Steven Sensley (12) has 70 raw power on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He hit 11 home runs for Louisiana-Lafayette this spring and had a number of 110+ mph exit velocities as measured by Trackman.
Fastest Runner: Smith is an average runner. RHP Harold Cortijo (14) turned in plus times as a position player.
Best Defensive Player: SS/2B Ricky Surum (16) is stretched as a pro shortstop and is better as a second baseman, but he’s the only shortstop/catcher/center fielder the Yankees’ signed.
Best Fastball: RHP Clarke Schmidt (1) is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but pre-injury he was locating a lively 92-94 mph fastball that touched 96-97. RHP Matt Sauer (2) has touched 97 as well and RHP Trevor Stephan (3) tickles 94-97 mph regularly.
Best Secondary Pitch: Schmidt’s slider was a plus pitch before his elbow injury. It’s a mid-80s power slider with excellent tilt. Sauer’s (2) low-80s slider has two-plane tilt and the potential to develop into a plus pitch.
Best Pro Debut: Stephan was 1-1, 1.39 with 43 strikeouts in 32.1 innings with short-season Staten Island. His Staten Island teammate RHP Glenn Otto (5) was 3-0, 1.59 with 25 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.
Best Athlete: The Yankees are developing Cortijo as a pitcher, but he was a prospect as a position player as well. He was an athletic center fielder with plus speed in high school and that athleticism is apparent on the mound as well.
Most Intriguing Background: Schmidt’s brother Clate is a pitcher in the Tigers organization and cancer survivor, while their father Dwight is a colonel in the U.S. Marines. C Ryan Lidge (20) is a cousin of former Astros/Phillies righthander Brad Lidge.
Yankees No. 2 Prospect Clarke Schmidt Joins The Pro Podcast
Schmidt discuses Tommy John recovery, his brother's cancer battle and how he asserted himself as one of baseball's top pitching prospects in 2019.
Closest To The Majors: Schmidt’s recovery from Tommy John surgery will slow his development, but he’s a polished college pitcher once he gets back on the mound. Stephan and Otto are a pair of power-arms that could climb quickly as relievers.
Best Late-Round Pick: Cortijo has potential as an athletic righthander. RHP Garrett Whitlock (18) has shown a plus fastball and performed in the Cape Cod League, but a back strain ruined his junior season at UAB. He bounced back as a pro, striking out 22 and walking no one in 14.1 pro innings.